Tell Ole Gil


h1 August 3rd, 2014

We don’t know exactly what kind of trouble Gil ran into but one might suspect from the first verse it had something to do with those “downtown gals” or perhaps their male “protectors.”

Lyrics:
Capo on second fret
[G] Tell old [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home, this [G] mornin’ [Em] [G] [Em] ,[G] 

Tell ol’ [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home this [Am] evenin’[D] [Am] [D] ,[G] Tell old [Em] Gil when [G] he gets [Em] home, [G] 
Leave them [Em] downtown [Am] gals [D] alone,
[G] This mornin’, [Bm] this [Am] evenin’,[D] [G] so soon! [Bm] [Am] [D]

Gil he left by the alley gate, this mornin…
Old sal said, “Now, don’t be late.”…
They brought Gil home in a hurry-up wagon, this mornin’,
They brought…poor dead Gil–his toes were a-draggin’…

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Tell old Gil when he gets home, this mornin’,

Tell ol’ Gil when he gets home,
Leave them downtown gals alone,
This mornin’, this evenin’, so soon!

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Oh no, it can’t be so, this mornin…
Oh no, it can’t be so—Gil he left about an hour ago, This morning, this evening, so soon.

Hard Times of Old England


h1 July 1st, 2014

As Camilla and I prepare for our extensive Concert Tour through the UK, The Netherlands, Belgium and Germany, I’m reminded of this song. As part of the Folk Process, I’ve replaced the last line: “And soon I’ll have occasion to alter my song” with “
And soon we’ll have England financially strong,” a wish for now as it was in the Nineteenth Century.

The earliest broadside of this ballad came out before 1820, following the Napoleonic Wars. English tradesmen couldn’t find work. Soldiers and sailors returning to civilian life were faced with possible starvation. The singer however, ends on an optimistic note hoping there will be good times in old England once again.

Lyrics:
[G] Oh come all you [Bm] tradesmen who [Em] travel along

I’m [C] asking you [D] now where the [G] work has all gone
[C]
Long time I’ve been [D] traveling and I [G] cannot find none
Sing, Oh the hard [D] ti-m-es of old [G] England
In old [C] England [D] very hard [G] times

Provisions you find in the shops, it is true

But if you’ve got no money, there’s none there for you

So what are the poor folk and their families to do
Sing, Oh the hard times of old England
In old England very hard times

Our soldiers and sailors have come from war

They’re fighting for King and for country once more

Home to be starved, better stayed where they were
Sing, Oh the hard times of old England
In old England very hard times

And now to conclude and to finish my song

I’m hoping these hard times will not be here long

And soon we’ll have England financially strong
Sing, Oh the good times of old England
In old England very good times

Peg & Awl


h1 June 1st, 2014

This is a traditional song that chronicles the impact of the Industrial Revolution on the shoemaking craft. In 1801 a cobbler would spend all his time doing manual labor with his primitive tools “peg and awl” to create shoes. But by 1804 a machine was invented that could make a hundred pair to his one.

Lyrics:
[E] In the year of eighteen and one
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and one
[B7] Peg and awl
[E] In the year of eighteen and one
Peggin’ shoes was [A] all I done
[E] Hand me down my [B7] peg, my peg, [E] my peg and awl

In the year of eighteen and two
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and two
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and two
Peggin’ shoes was all I’d do
Hand me down my peg, my peg, my peg and awl

In the year of eighteen and three
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and three
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and three
Peggin’ shoes was all you’d see
Hand me down my peg, my peg, my peg and awl

In the year of eighteen and four
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and four
Peg and awl
In the year of eighteen and four
Said I’d peg them shoes no more
Throw away my peg, my peg, my peg and awl

They invented a new machine
Peg and awl
They invented a new machine
Peg and awl
They invented a new machine
Prettiest little thing you ever seen
Throw away my peg, my peg, my peg and awl

Makes one hundred pairs to my one
Peg and awl
Makes one hundred pairs to my one
Peg and awl
Makes one hundred pairs to my one
Peggin’ shoes it ain’t no fun
Throw away my peg, my peg, my peg and awl

Take A Drink On Me


h1 May 1st, 2014

In 1970 the Byrds recorded “Take a Whiff on Me” for our “Untitled” double record set. “Take a Drink on Me” is a variation of that song. John Lomax stated that its origins were uncertain. I’m playing 7-string acoustic guitar, mandolin and 5-string banjo.

Lyrics:
[A] Now, what did you do with that ring on your hand,
[D] You sold it to a rounder and he moved to England,
[E7] Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on [A] me.

[D] Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
[B7] All you rounders, take a drink on me,
[E7] Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on [A] me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

If you keep on stalling, you’ll make me think
Your daddy was a monkey and mama was an ape,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

You see that gal with a hobble on,
She’s good looking just as sure as you’re born.
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

Take a drink on me, take a drink on me,
All you rounders, take a drink on me,
Oh, oh, honey, take a drink on me.

The Lazy Farmer Boy


h1 April 1st, 2014

Another fine song from The Anthology of American Folk Music. I emulated the performance of Buster Carter and Preston Young, staying in the same key and tempo.

It’s a tale of a misunderstanding between a corn farmer who has lost his crop due to freezing weather, and his fiancée who thinks he’s just too lazy to grow the corn.

Lyrics:
I’ll sing a little song but it ain’t very long
About a lazy farmer who wouldn’t hoe his corn
And why it was I never could tell
For that young man was always well
That young man was always well

He planted his corn on June the last
In July it was up to his eye
In September there came a big frost
And all that young man’s corn was lost
All that young man’s corn was lost

He started to the field and got there at last
The grass and weeds was up to his chin
The grass and weeds had grown so high
It caused that poor man for to sigh
Caused that poor man for to sigh

Now his courtship had just begun
She said, “Young man have you hoed your corn?”
“I’ve tried I’ve tried I’ve tried in vain
But I don’t believe I’ll raise one grain
Don’t believe I’ll raise one grain”

“Why do you come to me to wed
If you can’t raise your own cornbread?
Single I am and will remain
For a lazy man I won’t maintain
A lazy man I won’t maintain”

He hung his head and walked away
Saying “Kind miss you’ll rue the day
You’ll rue the day that you were born
For giving me trouble ’cause I wouldn’t hoe my corn
Giving me trouble ’cause I wouldn’t hoe my corn”

Now his courtship was to an end
On his way he then began
Saying “Kind miss I’ll have another girl
If I have to ramble this big wide world
If I have to ramble this big wide world”

Engine 143


h1 February 28th, 2014

Because I will be in Shanghai China on March 1, and not sure what Internet availability will be there, I’m releasing this a day early.”Engine 143″ is a famous Carter Family song preserved in the Anthology of American Folk Music (Edited by Harry Smith). It’s a cautionary tale of a young lad too dedicated to his machine to save his life. Are we slaves to our machines? Georgie’s mother warned him not to try to make up the time but to run his engine right. It’s a good reminder to always run our engines right.

Lyrics:

[A] Along came the F15 – the [D] swiftest on the [A] line

Running o’er the C&O road – just [B] twenty minutes [E] behind

[A] Running into Cevile – [D] head porters on the [A] line

Receiving their strict orders – from a [E] station just [A] behind

Georgie’s mother came to him – with a bucket on her arm

Saying my darling son – be careful how you run

For many a man has lost his life – in trying to make lost time

And if you run your engine right – you’ll get there just on time

Up the road he darted – against the rocks he crushed

Upside down the engine turned – and Georgie’s breast did smash

His head was against the firebox door – the flames are rolling high

I’m glad I was born for an engineer – to die on the C&O line

The doctor said to Georgie – my darling boy be still

Your life may yet be saved – if it is God’s blessed will

Oh no said George that will not do – I want to die so free

I want to die for the engine I love – one hundred and forty three

The doctor said to Georgie – your life cannot be saved

Murdered upon a railroad – and laid in a lonesome grave

His face was covered up with blood – his eyes they could not see

And the very last words poor Georgie – said nearer my God to thee

Winter’s Almost Gone


h1 February 1st, 2014

Photo by Camilla McGuinn

Another “Winter Song” during one the coldest winters in North America, due to several successive “Polar Vortices.” A song brought to mind by the passing of the great folk legend and personal mentor, Pete Seeger. Click here to see our tribute to Pete.

I’ve added new words and new music as part of the “Folk Process” a term Pete’s father Charles Seeger came up with to describe how folk songs change by one means or another; sometimes because they were passed by the oral tradition and the person listening didn’t hear it properly. Or as in this case where the song was modified to fit a different circumstance. Pete Seeger found his time to “travel on.” Our thoughts and prayers are with his family. We will miss him!

Lyrics:

[A] Done laid around and stayed around
This old town too long
Winter’s almost gone
[D] Spring’s a-comin’ [A] on

[A] Done laid around and stayed around
This old town too long
[D] And I feel like it’s [E] time to travel [A] on

Yes I [D] feel like it’s [E] time
[A] Time to travel [F#m] on
[D] I feel like it’s [E] time to travel [A] on

I’ve waited here for ‘most a year
Waitin’ for the sun to shine
Waitin’ for the sun to shine
Hopin’ you’d be mine

Waited here for ‘most a year
Hoping you’d change your mind
Now I feel like it’s time to travel on

Yes I feel like it’s time
Time to travel on
I feel like it’s time to travel on

Well, the chili wind it soon will end
I’ll be on my way
Gone a lonesome day
Going home to stay

Chilly wind it soon will end
I’ll be on my way
Cause I feel like it’s time to travel on

Yes I feel like it’s time
Time to travel on
I feel like it’s time to travel on

2014 McGuinn Music

The Month of January


h1 January 1st, 2014

This traditional song [Roud Folksong Database #175] has been sung all over the world. It’s the tragic story of a young woman who became pregnant by her poor lover. Her rich parents bribe the young man to disappear. She is left to freeze in the cold with her infant.

I recorded this with the “Jetglow” Rickenbacker given to me by my friend Bill Lee, using my new Janglebox 3 for both Rickenbacker 12-string and bass.

Lyrics:
Capo 1st fret Key of D

[D] It was in the month of January, the [C] hills were clad in [D] snow
And over hills and valleys, to my true love I did [G] go
[D] It was there I met a pretty fair maid, with a salt tear in her [C] eye
[D] She had a wee baby in her arms, and [C] bitter she did [D] cry

“Oh, cruel was my father, he barred the door on me
And cruel was my mother, this fate she let me see
And cruel was my own true love, he changed his mind for gold
Cruel was that winter’s night, it pierced my heart with cold”

Oh, the higher that the palm tree grows, the sweeter is the bark
And the fairer that a young man speaks, the falser is his heart
He will kiss you and embrace you, ’til he thinks he has you won
Then he’ll go away and leave you all for another one

So come all you fair and tender maidens, a warning take by me
And never try to build your nest on top of a high tree
For the roots, they will all wither, and the branches all decay
And the beauties of a fair young man, will all soon fade away

It Came Upon A Midnight Clear


h1 December 1st, 2013

The poem for this carol was composed in 1849 by Edmund Sears at the request of his friend, William Parsons Lunt, pastor of United First Parish Church, Quincy, Massachusetts. It was not until a year later that Richard Storrs Willis, a composer who trained under Felix Mendelssohn came up with the beautiful melody.

I have recorded this with layers of Rickenbacker 12-string guitar to emulate bells ringing from an old grey stone church tower.

Lyrics:

[G] It came [C] upon the [G] midnight clear,
That glorious [C] song of [D] old,
[G] From angels [C] bending [G] near the earth,
To [C] touch their [D] harps of [G] gold:
[Bm} "Peace on the earth, [Em] goodwill to men,
From [D] heaven’s [A7} all-gracious [D] King.”
[G] The world in [C] solemn [G] stillness lay,
[C] To hear the [D] angels [G] sing.

Still through the cloven skies they come,
With peaceful wings unfurled,
And still their heavenly music floats
O’er all the weary world;
Above its sad and lowly plains,
They bend on hovering wing,
And ever o’er its Babel sounds
The blessèd angels sing.

Yet with the woes of sin and strife
The world has suffered long;
Beneath the angel-strain have rolled
Two thousand years of wrong;
And man, at war with man, hears not
The love-song which they bring;
O hush the noise, ye men of strife,
And hear the angels sing.

And ye, beneath life’s crushing load,
Whose forms are bending low,
Who toil along the climbing way
With painful steps and slow,
Look now! for glad and golden hours
come swiftly on the wing.
O rest beside the weary road,
And hear the angels sing!

For lo!, the days are hastening on,
By prophet bards foretold,
When with the ever-circling years
Comes round the age of gold
When peace shall over all the earth
Its ancient splendors fling,
And the whole world give back the song
Which now the angels sing.

She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain


h1 November 1st, 2013

Widely believed to be a children’s song, “She’ll Be Coming Round The Mountain” has some interesting roots. It was derived from a spiritual, “When the Chariot Comes” about the second coming of Jesus Christ and the subsequent Rapture. In this version “she” refers to union organizer Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, who traveled the southern United States to promote the formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal mining camps.

The song was also popular with railroad work gangs in the Midwestern United States in the 1890s.

This variation with the answers “Yum Yum, Hi Babe, Whoa Back, Yee Ha” was one my wife Camilla learned as a child in her Beaufort, South Carolina elementary school.

Lyrics:

[G] She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she comes Yee Ha
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she [D] comes Yee Ha
[G] She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
She’ll be [C] comin’ round the mountain
She’ll be [D] comin’ round the mountain
[G] When she comes Yee Ha

She’ll be driving six white horses
When she comes Whoa Back
When she comes Whoa Back
She’ll be driving six white horses
When she comes
When she comes
She’ll be driving six white horses
She’ll be driving six white horses
She’ll be driving six white horses
When she comes Whoa Back, Yee Ha

Oh, we’ll all go to meet her
When she comes Hi Babe
Oh, we’ll all go to meet her
When she comes Hi Babe
Oh, we’ll all go to meet her
Yes, we’ll all go to meet her
Yes, we’ll all go to meet her
When she comes Hi Babe, Whoa Back, Yee Ha

We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
When she comes Yum Yum
We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
When she comes Yum Yum
We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
We’ll be eating chicken and dumplings
When she comes Yum Yum, Hi Babe, Whoa Back, Yee Ha

She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she comes Yee Ha
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she comes Yee Ha
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
She’ll be comin’ round the mountain
When she comes Yee Ha, Yum Yum, Hi Babe, Whoa Back, Yee Ha