The Cowboy’s Dream


h1 March 1st, 2021

My friend Bill Lee recently said, “You haven’t done a cowboy song for the Folk Den in a long time. So here’s one:

Most people think “Cowboy’s Dream” is a traditional song by an anonymous author. I did some digging and found this from John White,
 Westfield, NJ,
 May, 1934:

“Many poets have written of the cowboy. Only a few have seen their poems become a part of the folklore that has grown up around American frontier history. D. J. O’Malley has been accorded that distinction. He wrote a few verses for a poem called: “Sweet By-And-By Revised.” Mr. O’Malley recalls that “Sweet By-and-By Revised” was one of his earliest attempts at verse making. He believes it probably was the third or fourth poem of the forty or more that he wrote while following the cowpuncher’s trade. The original, which he says appeared in the Stock Growers’ Journal during the middle 1880’s, is a rather crude set of verses, only five in number. These apparently furnished the foundation for the ballad often called “The Cowboy’s Dream”, which was completed by Will C. Barnes and has been given a place in nearly every collection of American frontier songs.”

It has been traditionally sung to the tunes of “My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean” and “Red River Valley.” I decided to use “My Bonny Lies Over The Ocean” because the tune rolls like the sea.

Lyrics:
[A] Last night as I [D] lay on the [A] prairie
And looked at the [B7] stars in the [D] sky,
[A] I wondered if [D] ever a [A] cowboy
Would [D] drift to the sweet [A] by and by.

The road to that broad happy region
Is a dim narrow trail so they say;
But the bright one that leads to perdition
Is posted and blazed all the way.

CH: [A] Roll on, [D] Roll on,
[E] Roll on, little dogies, [A] Roll on, Roll on,
[A] Roll on, [D] Roll on,
[E] Roll on, little dogies, [A] Roll on,

They say there will be a great round-up,
And cowboys, like dogies will stand,
To be marked by the riders of judgment
Who are posted and know every brand.

And I’m scared that I’ll be a stray yearling
A maverick unbranded on high;
And get cut from the bunch with the rustlers
When the Boss of the riders goes by.
CH:
For they tell of another big owner
Who’s ne’er overstocked, so they say,
But who always makes room for the sinner
Who drifts from the straight narrow way.

They say he will never forget you
That he knows every action and look;
So, for safety, you’d better get branded
Have your name in the great Tally book.
CH:X2

Origin of “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine”


h1 February 1st, 2021

This is the strange history of an obscure Irish ballad that became a popular song. I only played the public domain melody on my Rickenbacker 12-string with some 5-string banjo and bass thrown in. I left out the copyrighted lyrics. The original song is about a dead cow. It was adapted from the traditional “Drimindown / Drumion Dubh.” Lead Belly heard folk singer Sam Kennedy perform it in Greenwich Village and had it translated to English. It was not an easy translation. Pete Seeger and Lee Hays loved the melody but they felt they needed to rewrite the lyrics. The love song “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine” was the result of their collaboration. Once you read the lyrics, you will understand why Pete and Lee changed the words.

We hope your Valentine kisses are sweeter than ever!

These are the original Lyrics almost translated from Gaelic:

Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

And that everyone but Dicky I would change you right now
But this old man he had but one cow
He would send her to the field to be fed
And the way they beat old Jemma dropped dead
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

When the old man heard that his cow she was dead
Over hedges and ditches and fields he had fled
Over hedges and ditches and fields that were ploughed
—– visit to the wife til they came to his cow
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

When he first saw Jemma she was in the green grass
No ——————— Jemma so fast
She gave her milk freely without any bill
But the blood of her life spilled out of her pail
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

So now I sit down and eat my dry meal
But I have no butter to put in my tea
I have no milk to sup with my bread
————————–
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

If it wasn’t for Dicky I would change you right now
But this old man he had but one cow
He would send her to the field to be fed
And the way they beat old Jemma dropped dead
Ooohhhh, oohhhh, switches beated him down

The Dodger Song


h1 January 1st, 2021

“The Dodger” was used as a campaign song to belittle Republican James G. Blaine in the 1884 Presidential election between Blaine and Grover Cleveland, the Democratic candidate. Cleveland had won the support of progressives by his fight against Tammany Hall in New York. The version known today is based on a Library of Congress recording by Mrs. Emma Dusenberry of Mena, Arkansas, who learned it in the 1880s.

Aaron Copland wrote an arrangement for it as part of Old American Songs, a collection of arrangements of folk songs.

I have often been called “Roger Dodger.” Here’s a story about the origin of that phrase: It’s set in the Pacific Theater of Operations of World War II:

A squadron of Navy aircraft was returning to base after a wildly successful mission. One pilot in particular was feeling especially cocky. After receiving landing instructions, the pilot signed off his radio message with, “Roger Dodger!”
The next transmission was from an irate-sounding naval officer. He bellowed, “In this man’s Navy, there will be no flippant remarks on the radio!” He went on to say that he was a U.S. Navy Commander and intended to find the offender to personally reprimand him.
The rambunctious pilot acknowledged by saying, “Roger Dodger, you ol’ codger. I’m a Commander too!”

Lyrics:
[D] Oh, the candidate’s a dodger, yes, a well-known dodger,
Oh, the candidate’s a dodger, [A] yes, and I’m a dodger [D] too.
He’ll meet you and treat you and ask you for your vote,
[A] But look out, boys, he’s a-dodgin’ for your [D] vote.
We’re all a-dodgin’,
Dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin’,
Oh, we’re all a-dodgin’ [A] out the way through the [D] world.

Oh, the lawyer, he’s a dodger, yes, a well-known dodger,
Oh, the lawyer, he’s a dodger, yes, and I’m a dodger, too.
He’ll plead your case and claim you for a friend,
But look out, boys, he’s easy for to bend.
We’re all a-dodgin’,
Dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin’,
Oh, we’re all a-dodgin’ out the way through the world.

Oh, the merchant, he’s a dodger, yes, a well-known dodger,
Oh, the merchant, he’s a dodger, yes, and I’m a dodger, too.
He’ll sell you goods at double the price,
But when you go to pay him you’ll have to pay him twice.
We’re all a-dodgin’,
Dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin’,
Oh, we’re all a-dodgin’ out the way through the world.

Oh, the general, he’s a dodger, yes, a well-known dodger,
Oh the general, he’s a dodger, yes, and I’m a dodger, too.
He’ll march you up and he’ll march you down,
But look out, boys, he’ll put you under ground.

We’re all a-dodgin’,
Dodgin’, dodgin’, dodgin’,
Oh, we’re all a-dodgin’ out the way through the world. X2

What A Friend We Have In Jesus


h1 December 1st, 2020

What A Friend We Have In Jesus is an old Christian Hymn. The song started out as a poem written by Joseph M. Scriven in 1855 sent to his Irish mother who missed her son living in Canada.

In 1868 Charles Crozat Converse and William Elden Bolcom composed the tune.

Camilla, my wife has been playing this on the keyboard for a while and I liked the tune so much I thought it would be a good one for the Folk Den.

I’ve made a video of me playing it on a Martin D-12-45 given to me by my friend Bill Lee.

Merry Christmas 2020!!!

What a Friend we have in Jesus,
  All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
  Everything to God in prayer!
O what peace we often forfeit,
  O what needless pain we bear,
All because we do not carry
  Everything to God in prayer!

Have we trials and temptations?
  Is there trouble anywhere?
We should never be discouraged,
  Take it to the Lord in prayer.
Can we find a friend so faithful
  Who will all our sorrows share?
Jesus knows our every weakness,
  Take it to the Lord in prayer.

Are we weak and heavy-laden,
  Cumbered with a load of care?
Precious Savior, still our refuge–
  Take it to the Lord in prayer;
Do thy friends despise, forsake thee?
  Take it to the Lord in prayer;
In His arms He’ll take and shield thee,
  Thou wilt find a solace there.

Hush Little Baby


h1 November 1st, 2020

This is a traditional Southern United States lullaby. The father promises many rewards for the baby’s silence. If one reward fails he vows to replace it with a better one.

This marks the 25th Anniversary of the Folk Den with over 300 songs YIPPEE!!!

Lyrics:
[G] Hush, little Baby, [D] don’t say a word,
Papa’s gonna buy you a [G] Mockingbird.

And if that mockingbird don’t sing,
Papa’s gonna buy you a diamond ring.

And if that diamond ring turns brass,
Papa’s gonna buy you a looking glass.

And if that looking glass gets broke,
Papa’s gonna buy you a billy goat,

And if that billy goat won’t pull,
Papa’s gonna buy you a cart and bull,

And if that cart and bull turn over,
Papa’s gonna buy you a dog named Rover.

And if that dog named Rover won’t bark,
Papa’s gonna buy you a horse and a cart.

And if that horse and cart fall down,
You’ll still be the sweetest little baby in town.

Flowers In The Valley


h1 October 1st, 2020

This is a traditional English song. I’ve created a little video with the lyrics to make it easy for you to sing along.

Lyrics:
Flowers in the Valley

[G] There was a woman, [C] oh but she was a [G] widow
Fair as the flowers in the [C] valley [D]
[G] With a daughter as fair as a [C] bright shining [G] meadow
The red and the green and the [C] yellow [D]

Ch.: [D] No harp, no lute, nor pipe nor flute nor [G] cymbal
As sweet grows the [C] treble violin [D]

This maiden so fair and the flower so rare
Together they grew in the garden
Oh, then came a knight all dressed in green
Fair as the flowers in the garden
“Will thou be my bride, Will thou be my queen”
The red and the green and the yellow

Ch.: No harp, no lute, nor pipe nor flute nor cymbal
As sweet grows the treble violin

“Oh no” said she “Oh you’ll never win me”
Fair as the flowers in the valley
then came a knight all dressed in yellow
Fair as the flowers in the valley
““Will thou be my bride? and my fair one said he
The red and the green and the yellow

Ch.: No harp, no lute, nor pipe nor flute nor cymbal
As sweet grows the treble violin

Oh yes said she, I’ll come with thee
Farewell to the flowers in the garden

Oh yes said she, I’ll come with thee
Farewell to the flowers in the garden

The Keeper Did A-Hunting Go


h1 September 1st, 2020

This old English song (Roud 1519) dates back to the 14th century. A favorite of school children in the UK and abroad.
The hunting of the doe in this song originally suggested sexual pursuit, although this implication is quite lost on the children who now sing this song at school. “The second doe he trimmed he kissed” “Trimmed” meaning to hold a woman around the waist.

Lyrics:
[D]The keeper did a [G] hunting [D] go
[D] And under his cloak he [G] carried a [D] bow
All for to shoot a merry little [A] doe
[D] Among the leaves so [A] green, [D] O.

(Chorus:)
[D] Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry [A] down
[D] Among the leaves so [A] green, [D] O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry [A] down
[D] Among the leaves so [A] green, [D] O

The first doe he shot at he missed;
The second doe he trimmed he kissed;
The third doe went where nobody wist
Among the leaves so green, O.

(Chorus:)
Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O

The fourth doe she did cross the plain,
The keeper fetched her back again.
Where she is now, she may remain,
Among the leaves so green, O.

(Chorus:)
Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O

The fifth doe she did cross the brook;
The keeper fetched her back with his crook;
Where she is now you may go and look
Among the leaves so green, O.

(Chorus:)
Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O

The sixth doe she ran over the plain;
But he with his hounds did turn her again,
And it’s there he did hunt in a merry, merry vein
Among the leaves so green, 0.

(Chorus:)
Jackie boy! (Master!) Sing ye well! (Very well!)
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O
To my hey down down (To my ho down down )
Hey down (Ho down) Derry derry down
Among the leaves so green, O

Farther Along


h1 August 1st, 2020

This is a traditional gospel song. We sang this in the Byrds and Clarence White did such a great vocal.
We sang this at Clarence’s wake.

This is the 300th post in the Folk Den.

Lyrics:
CH: [G] Farther along we’ll [C] know more about it.
[G] Farther along we’ll [A] understand [D] why;
[G] Cheer up my brother [C] live in the [G] sunshine
We’ll understand it [D] all by and [G] by.

When we see Jesus coming in glory;
When He comes from His home in the sky;
Then we shall meet Him in that bright mansion.
We’ll understand it all by and by.

Pretty Peggy-O


h1 July 1st, 2020

Pretty Peggy-O is about the unrequited love between a captain of Irish dragoons for a beautiful Scottish girl in the fictional town of Fennario. The narration is from the voice of one of the captain’s soldiers. The captain promises the lady safety and happiness, but she refuses the captain’s advances saying she would not marry a penniless soldier. The captain subsequently leaves Fennario and later dies of a broken heart.

This tune was used in the song “Oh Freedom” and the last line “Before I’d be a slave, I’d Be buried in my grave” comes from that.

I’m amused that a lazy way to make lyrics rhyme is to put a -O after each last word in a sentence.

Peggy-O

[E] As we rode out to [A] Fennario,[E] as we rode on to Fennario [B7]
[A] Our captain fell in [C#m] love with a lady like a [A] dove
[E] And called her by a name, pretty [A] Peggy-O.[E]

Will you marry me pretty Peggy-O, will you marry me pretty Peggy-O
If you will marry me, I’ll set your cities free
And free all the people in the are-O.

I would marry you sweet William-O, I would marry you sweet William-O
I would marry you but your guineas are too few
And I fear my mama would be angry-O.

What would your mama think pretty Peggy-O,
What would your mama think pretty Peggy-O,
What would your mama think if she heard my guineas clink
Saw me marching at the head of my soldiers-O

Come steppin’ down the stairs pretty Peggy-O,
Come steppin’ down the stairs pretty Peggy-O,
Come steppin’ down the stairs combin’ back your yellow hair
Bid a last farewell to your William-O.

Sweet William he is dead pretty Peggy-O, sweet William he
is dead pretty Peggy-O,
Sweet William he is dead and he died for a maid
And he’s buried in the Louisiana country-O.

As we rode out to Fennario, as we rode out to Fennario
Our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove,
And called her by a name, pretty Peggy-O.

Courteous Knight


h1 June 1st, 2020

This is Child Ballad #112 and has many variants. One of the most interesting to me is the sea chantey “Blow Ye Winds Of Morning.”

[E] There was a knight a courteous knight
A-walking [B7] up the [E] hill
[A] It was a fine June [E] morning
[F#m] He spied some [B7] daffodils

Chorus

[E] Singing blow away the morning dew
Adieu, and [A] Adieu.
[E] Blow away the morning dew,
[B7] How sweet the winds do [E] blow.

He looked high, he looked low,
He cast an under look;
And there he saw a pretty maid
A-swimming in the brook

Cast over me my mantle fair
And pin it o’er my gown;
And, if you’il take hold of my hand,
Then I shall be your own.

If you come down to my father’s house
Which is walled all around,
And, you shall have a kiss from me
And twenty thousand pound.

He mounted on a milk white steed
And she upon another;
And then they rode along the lane
Like sister and like brother.

But when they came to her father’s gate,
So nimble she popped in:
And said: There is a fool without
And here’s a maid within.