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Survey of Traditional Music, Vol. 5: Grown on American Soil

by Field Recorders' Collective

Oh, when I left old East Virginia North Carolina I did roam. There I courted a fair young lady What was her name I did not know. Her hair it was of a dark brown curly Her cheeks they were a rosy red. Upon her breast she wore white lilies Oh, don't I wish that I was dead. Her papa said that we might marry Her momma said it would not do So come here dear and I will tell you I will tell you what I'll do. On some dark night we'll take a ramble I will run away with you. For I'd rather be in some dark holler Where the sun refused to shine Than for you to be some other man's woman Never on earth to call you mine.
On Greenland Mountain there once did dwell A youthful lad that I knew so well. Refrain: Right-toodle-ling-a-day (4) This youthful laddie one day did go Way down in yonder meadow to mow. He had only mown half way 'round the field When a serpent popped him on the heel. He turned around to see what was best And he jumped in the middle of a hornet’s nest. So they took him home to his Molly dear And made him feel so mighty queer. “Oh, Tommy dearie, what made you go Way down in yonder meadow to mow?” “Oh Molly dearie, now don’t you know? It was daddy’s hay and it had to be mowed.” Poor Laddie ’s dead now, he’s in his grave But he’s numbered up among the brave.
Come all you old Virginia girls and listen to my noise Don't you never marry none of these Kentucky boys. 'Cause if'n you do, your fortune will be Cornbread and buttermilk is all you will see. (2) If you want to go a-courting, boys, I'll tell you where to go Down to the old man's house below. The girls all mad and their heads not combed The children's all a-crying and the old folks gone. (2) When they go to milk, they milk in a gourd They set it in the corner and they cover it with a board. An old cotton apron, greased all around And an old leather bonnet with a hole in the crown. (2) All I saw for supper was an old piece of beef About half done and about half raw About half done and about half raw And the ashcake, cornbread, bran and all. (2) They put me to carving on an old piece of beef They had no knife and they had no fork They had no knife and they had no fork And I sawed about an hour, and I couldn't make a mark. (2) I just kept a-sawing 'til I got it off the plate One of them girls said, "You'd better wait" I just kept a-sawing 'til I got it on the floor I give it a kick and I kicked it out the door. (2) Saw the old man a-coming with a double-barreled gun One of them girls said, "You'd better run." I stood my ground just as brave as a bear And I tangled my fingers in that old man's hair. (2)
Well, I come from West Virginia with my head a-full of knowledge I never went to free school and I never saw a college. But I've been told that it was a certain fact That the world was made in a twinkle of a whack. Made the world in six days and finished on the seventh According to the contract it ought to been eleven. Well the mason got drunk and the carpenter wouldn't work And the only way to finish it was fill it up with dirt. First they made the sun and then they made the sky Then they hung it overhead to let the dirt dry. Then they made a star out of a n--r woman's eye For to give a little light when the moon it wasn't high. Then they made the ocean, then they made a whale Then they made a raccoon, a ring around his tail. Made all other animals one by one, Set ‘em up against the fence as soon as they was done.
Come all you good people I pray you draw near And a comical ditty you shortly shall hear, A comical ditty to you I’ll unfold, I went to Missouri when twenty years old. Refrain: Down, down and a derry down, down (2) I stopped at a tavern to stay all night, The supper and breakfast I thought was alright, The table was set and the nicknacks were spread ‘Twas hoecake and hominy and a possum head. And after those people were heartily fed On hoecake and hominy and a possum head, The pallet was made, the sheepskin was spread, “And now,” said the old man, “we’ll all go to bed.” I laid myself down, expecting some ease, But scarcely couldn’t rest for the lice and the fleas, The lice they would bite and the fleas they would crawl. ‘Twas enough to torment any human at all. I kicked and I cuffed and I fought them all night I scarcely could scratch as fast as they’d bite The roughest entertainment that I ever saw Was a-lying on a pallet of sheepskin and straw. Adieu to Missouri, l bid you farewell, I’ll go back to Arkansas where I used to dwell, Where the ladies was a-raring and a-tearing their hair With thoughts of their lover when I left them there. Where the ladies was a-raring and a-tearing their hair With grief for their lover when I left them there. Down, down and a derry down, down.
Walk and talk to Ginger Blue Sure you are a-joking Oh, my Ginger never die. You know I got sick the other day, and I went up to see the doctor. He said, “Boy, you’ve been to the toilet yesterday?” I said, “No.” Said, “Today?” Said, “No.” Said, “You’re constipated. That’ll be five dollars.” Well, I went out of there, and I felt pretty blue, so I started singing: Walk and talk to Ginger Blue Sure you are a joking Oh, my Ginger never die. Said to myself, “That’s a pretty good racket, so I [should] hang up my own shingle. So I got me a shingle, and I wrote up on it, “Doctor Ginger Blue Lives Here,” and I hung it up. A big, fat woman come in, the first customer, and I said, “Lady, you been to the toilet yesterday?” She said, “No.” I said, “Today?” Said, “No.” I said, “Lady, you’re full of something — that'll be five dollars, please.” And she hit me over the head with her purse. I run out of there, but I went down the street singing: Walk and talk to Ginger Blue Sure you are a-joking Oh, my Ginger never die.
My name is Ginger Blue, and what I'll tell you is mighty true I'm fresh from the old Virginia mountains Free as a bird what sails in the air I'm as pure as the water from the fountain Spoken: "Well, sir, I was born when I was just a little bitty baby, way down in them old Virginia mountains. So I went all the way through school when I was very young. Yes, sir, I went in the back door and come out a the front door and then I turned around and went back through, and that made me go through twice. So when I gets up about 14 years old, a big strip of a boy, my pap said to me one morning, he said, 'Ginger Blue, don't you know it's about time you was making up your mind to be something?'" I said, "Pap, what do you want me to be?" Said, "Well, now, that's for you to decide, what you want to be." Said, "You get out here and get you a job of some kind." I said, "O.K., Pap." So I always did want to be a cowboy. So I just goes down and I gets me one of these 10-gallon hats and I sticks it on my head, and gets me a big .45 and I straps it on my hip. I starts right on out to being a cowboy. But you know, someway them cows didn’t seem like they liked me much; never did know why hardly unless, maybe, I shot a little too much bull. So I decided I’d better do something else. Then the idea hit me — I’d be a lover, ‘cause, boy, I sure do like the gals. But someway them gals they didn't like me too much either. So after I get a few scratches, bumps, black-eyes and hair-pullings, I said, 'Uh-uh, this ain't no life for me. I'm going to have to do something else. So I takes off my hat, and I scratched my head and I studied. So I just started right on out, down the line, and seein’ what I was going to do. Chorus: Walking, talking Ginger Blue, You cause me double trouble. Oh, Ginger, every time. Walking, talking Ginger Blue You cause me double trouble, Now you've got old Ginger on the line. Spoken: Well, sir, I thought, "Now what am I gonna do?" and so the idea hit me all at once. I'm just gonna be a doctor. So I goes down to Tazewell, Tennessee, and I puts me up a doctor's shop. So one day a lady come into my doctor shop and says, "Are you Dr. Ginger Blue?" I says, "Yes, ma'am, I sure is. What can I do for you, lady?" Says, "Oh, Doctor, I got the miseries just something terrible, and I just want to see what you can do for me." I says, "Lady, you sure have come to the right place." I jumped up, and I grabbed a handful of pills, and a bunch of herbs, mixed 'em all up in castor oil, and now says, "Now, lady, you take these right straight home with you, and when you get there, you take a teacup full of them at bedtime, and I think by morning you'll be.... Chorus: Walking, talking Ginger Blue You cause me double trouble, Oh, Ginger, every time. Walking, talking Ginger Blue You cause me double trouble, Think it'll put you on the line. Spoken: So, early the next morning, a little boy come into my doctor’s shop, and he says, "Are you Doctor Ginger Blue?" I says, "I sure [am]. Didn't you see my name out there on that door?" He says, "Yes. I just want to know what you give my Mammy, for the miseries, last night.” I says, “Well, boy, I give her something for the miseries, what you think I was gonna give her? Why?” He said, “I don’t know. My mammy sure did act funny this morning." I said, "Well, how did she act?" “Well, she jumped right up out of that bed, right out in the middle of the floor, and turned around and around and around, and she grabbed up that Sears Roebuck catalog. She tore outa that back door sideways. She went all the way down behind the barn, just as hard as she could go. And you know, Doctor, she was just.... Chorus: Walking, talking Ginger Blue You cause me double trouble, Oh, Ginger, every time. Walking, talking Ginger Blue You cause me double trouble, You sure have put me on the line.
Come all young men and maidens and listen to my rhyme I'll tell you what you're doing, all at the present time You're taking from your parents a young and youthful day You're spending them in folly and many wicked ways. Now, all about the age of eighteen, boys thinks they're very smart They think they know it all, but their parents knows their part No matter what he does, he'll have some place to flirt He'll order his old mother to wash and starch his shirt. "Now, stop," said the old man, "Now, Son, you cannot go The work is all behind and this you very well know." "I do not care for that, Dad, I'm bound to see my fun. Now do your work yourself, old man, or let it go undone." Now perhaps he goes a-courting, no one but him can tell He'll sit down by his sweetheart, perhaps he loves her well. He'll sit awhile cross-legged, with now and then a flirt And watch him chew his tobacco, but daddy does the work. Now, about the age of sixteen, girls think they're very smart They think they know it all but their parents knows their part. To every show and frolic they are bound for to go For they’re all the time a-thinking they'll catch theirselves a beau. Now the girls are just as guilty as this you plainly see. They generally make the matters worse by being most too free. I hope you don't get angry when I sing to you this song, But if you do get angry, it'll tell us where you're wrong.
Going up Cripple Creek, going in a whiz Going up Cripple Creek, to see Mary Liz Going up Cripple Creek, going in a run Going up Cripple Creek to have some fun. Chorus: Fare you well, Old Joe Clark Goodbye Betsy Brown Fare you well, Old Joe Clark I’m gonna leave this town. Old Joe Clark built a house Thirteen stories high And every room in that house Was filled with chicken pie.
I was walking down the street one day I met that Wild Bill Jones. He was walking and a-talking with that girl of mine. I bid him to leave her alone. He said his age was twenty-two Too old to be controlled. I drew my revolver from my side I killed that poor gambler’s soul. He staggered and he reeled, and he fell to the ground, And he gave a dying groan. I threw my arms around my Lula girl’s neck, I said, “Honey, you’re left alone.” If I had a-learned what my mama said I’d have been at home tonight, Instead of being here in this old jail, Still wearing my life away. I wrote me a letter to my Lula girl’s house And she answered the very next mail. She sent to me a ten dollar bill Saying, “Honey, I’ll go your bail.” Won’t you pass around that jug of mine Let’s all get on a spree. Today was the last of Wild Bill Jones Tomorrow’ll be the last of me.
Down in the willow garden where me and my love did meet, Was there we set a-courting, my love dropped off to sleep. I had a bottle of burgundy wine which my true love did not know Was there I poisoned that dear little girl down under the banks below. I drew a saber through her, which was a bloody knife, I threw her in the river, which was a dreadful sight. My father always told me that money would set me free If I would murder that dear little girl, whose name was Rose Connelly. He’s sitting now in his own cottage door, a-wiping his weeping eye Looking at his own dear son up on the scaffold high. My race is run beneath the sun, the devil’s now waiting for me, For I did murder that dear little girl, whose name was Rose Connelly.
All on old Smokey all covered with snow, I lost my own true lover by courting too slow. Yes, courting it is a pleasure, and parting is a grief. Some false-hearted true lover is worser than a thief. They’ll hug and they’ll kiss you, they’ll tell you more lies Than the crossties on the railroad or stars in the skies. Your parents, they are against me, they say I’m too poor, They say that I’m not worthy of entering your door. I know that I drink whiskey, but my money is my own, And if they don’t like me, they can leave me all alone. I'll build me a log cabin on top of the rise, Where the wild birds and the pretty women can hear my sad cry.
Two old boys from Harlan town, they was Perry County bound The law caught them upon their way, and they bound these poor boys down. The jailer man he wouldn't turn them loose, he kept those boys tied down. "Turn me loose," said little Sam Ward, "or I'll tear your jailhouse down." Now these two men from Harlan town was very bad men, you see. When you met them on the street, they were as bad as Frankie Dupree. They quarreled while in the prison about some things that had happened before. One boy said to the other one, "Now let's not quarrel no more." "Well," he said, "I guess you're right, my boy, but you called me a liar You'll never go back to the old coal mine, my boy, you're gonna die. They turned around, walked ten spaces, pulled their guns and fired When this poor boy looked around, Lord, he'd shot and killed his pard'. He fell down, he hit the curb and he lay there on the street. When they picked that poor boy up, Lord, he couldn't stand on his feet. The sheriff rushed down, picked him up, and he placed him in the can, Said, "I guess you'll be good now 'cause this was made by man." But he escaped on a Wednesday night, they caught him on the Perry County line. Said "I'm sorry for you, my boy, but you're gonna pull out your time." But he escaped again on a Saturday night, I never did know how, But he'll never leave the jail no more 'cause he's in the graveyard now. So listen to my story, boys, if you don't want graveyard bound Keep your tongue right in your mouth when you visit Harlan town.
Poor Ellen Smith, how she was found, Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground. Her clothes were all scattered and thrown all around, Her blood marked the spot where poor Ellen was found. They picked up their rifles and hunted me down. They found me a-loafing in Mt. Airy town. They picked up her body and carried it away, And now she lies sleeping in some lonesome old grave. I got a letter yesterday, I read it today The flowers on her grave have all faded away. Some day I'll go home and stay when I go On poor Ellen's grave, pretty flowers I'll sow. I've been in this prison for twenty long years. Each night I see Ellen through my bitter tears. The warden just told me that soon I'll be free To go to her graveside 'neath that old willow tree. My days in this prison are ending at last, I'll never be free from my sins of the past. Poor Ellen Smith, how she was found Shot through the heart, lying cold on the ground.
Come you of you good people and listen to a tale of woe That happened in Kentucky not very long ago. Floyd Frazier was lodged in prison for the murder on the first degree For the murder of an innocent woman, this world can plainly see. He killed poor Ellen Flannery, and he hid her in the woods. He hurriedly traced her footsteps and washed away the blood. Then he went home to his cabin and there he stayed all night Realizing his crime was hidden from everybody's sight. There were four little children they ran from door to door A-crying, “Mother, Mother” but still no mother came. At last their hearts grew weary and they fell fast asleep To rise in the morning only to mourn and weep. At last they alarmed their neighbors, they gathered one by one And soon they formed a search party to see what had been done. In little groups they squandered, they wandered up and down At last Joseph Williams found her, she’s deadly wounded now. They hid her in the brook on the cold and dewy ground And the rocks that’s piled upon her weighed more than a thousand pounds. They took her home to her children, but she did not long to stay They took her to the graveyard to stay ‘til Judgment Day. Now this young man was arrested, placed in the county jail For doing such a murder no one could go his bail. They took him down in Pikeville and they locked him in a cell For the crime that he committed would send his soul to hell. The jurors all cried out, “Hang him,” on the gallows he was hung For the murder of an innocent woman that’s mouldered in her tomb.
Last Wednesday night I saw a light Bright shining on those hills (?) Their mother run with all her might While everything was still. She went into a neighbor's house Some hundred yards away “Don’t stay too long, dear Mother, there For we’ll be lonesome here.” “I’ll get some liniment,“ she said And then return again But on her way as she turned home She saw her house in flames. She cried, “Oh Lord, my babes are gone And I’m the one to blame." Their little bones lay on the ground They both lay face to face Their souls did fled to God on high Their bones they twined embrace. (?)
’’No home, no home,” cried the orphan girl As she stood at the prince’s hall. Trembling, she stood on the marble steps And leaned on the polished wall. Her clothes were thin, and her feet were bare, And the snow drops covered her head. "Oh, give me a home," she mournfully cried "A home and a piece of bread.” "A father’s love I never knew,” And the tears dropped from her eyes. "My mother sleeps in her new-made grave, ’Tis an orphan here tonight.” The night was dark, and the snow fell fast As the rich man closed his doors. His proud lips curled as he scornfully said, "No home, no bread for the poor.” “I must not freeze,” the orphan cried As she sank on the steps of the door. She wrapped her feet in her tattered dress All covered with sleet and snow. The night rolled on, and the midnight storm Rolled on like a funeral knell, The earth seemed wrapped in a blinding sheet, And the chilly snow still fell. The rich man slept on his velvet couch, And he dreamed of his silver and his gold, While the orphan slept on her bed of snow And murmured, "So cold, so cold.” When morning dawned, the little girl Still lay at the rich man’s door, But her soul had fled to its home above, Where there’s room and bread for the poor. No more she stood at the rich man’s door And moaned in her misery and cold With a crown on her head and a harp in her hand, She sang in the streets of gold.
It was on the fourth of May, half past ten o'clock that day J.B. Marcum then was standing in the door In the courthouse of his town, where Curt Jett was lurking round Just to get a chance to lay him on the floor. Thomas White, a friend of Jett's, no worse man was ever met Then came walking boldly through the courthouse hall. And as he was passing by, he looked Marcum in the eye Knowing truly well poor Marcum soon would fall. Jett advanced through the hall with his pistol, lead and ball And he killed poor J.B. Marcum on the spot. Chorus: Marcum leaves a wife to mourn all her life His little children stand it well and brave But that little Curtis Jett, Thomas White and others yet Are the men that laid poor Marcum in his grave. Now the final trial is past, Jett and White are doomed at last To a lifetime in the penitentiary When that and other crimes they must labor all the time [Until] death shall come and set them free.
Around the bend came a passenger train On the bumpers was a Hobo John. He's a good old hobo, but he's dead and gone. He’s dead and gone, dead and gone. He’s a good old hobo, but he's dead and gone. Charley Snyder was a good engineer, He told his fireman not to fear. All he needed was water and coal, Put your head out the window, watch the drivers roll. Watch the drivers roll, watch the drivers roll Put your head out the window, watch the drivers roll. Jay Gould's daughter said before she died, "There was one more road that I'd like to ride.” "Tell me, daughter, what could that be?” "It's the southern California on the Santa Fe." On the Santa Fe, on the Santa Fe It’s the southern California on the Santa Fe.
John come home all in a wonder Rattled at the door went like thunder "Who is there?" Mister Hendley cried "It’s my husband! You must hide!" His wife held the door 'til old man Hendley Jumping and jerking went up the chimbley John come in, he looked all around But not a soul could be found. John sit down by the fireside weeping Up the chimbley got to peeping There he saw the poor old soul Sittin' a-straddle of the pot-rack pole. John built on a rousing fire Just to suit his own desire His wife cried out with a free good will, "Don't do that, for the man you'll kill." John reached up and down he fetched him Like a raccoon dog he catched him. He blacked his eyes and then did better And he kicked him out upon his yes sir. His wife she crawled in under the bed, He drug her out by the hair of her head. “Now, when I'm gone, remember this" And he kicked her where the kicking is best. The law came down and John went up He didn't have the chance of a yellow pup So they took him back to the old chain gang For beating his wife, the dear little thing. They took John back to the old town jail His wife she come and paid his bail. John didn't holler and John didn't cry But when he got close, he socked her in the eye.
Oh that’s my gal, oh shake it now Oh that’s my pal, oh stir it now I ain’t gonna take nobody’s word, I’ll stir it with myself. Oh, that’s my baby, [???] Oh, stir it gal, oh, shake it now I ain’t gonna take nobody’s word, I’ll stir it with myself. Oh, see that girl with a red dress on, oh, she’s got good ..., sure as you’re born (2) I ain’t gonna take nobody’s word, I’ll try it for myself. Oh, baby, baby, look at old Sis, in the backyard, doing the twist (2) I ain’t gonna take nobody’s word, I’ll cook it with myself. Oh, get back gal, oh stir it now Oh, shake that thing, oh stir it now I ain’t gonna take nobody’s word, I’ll stir it with myself.
Come all of you young fellows and listen what I say, The day that I got married, I swore my life away. Now she’s over in Europe and I certainly wish her well. I can drink my whiskey and she can go to... I’m glad my wife’s in Europe and she can’t get back to me. If she gets back from Europe, going have to swim the sea. I’m glad my wife’s in Europe and she can’t get back to me. While she’s over in Europe and I certainly wish her well. I can drink good whiskey, and she can go to... I’m glad my wife’s in Europe and she can’t get back to me.
Now over there In Vietnam, they've got another war. Wonder if them crazy fools knows what they're fighting for, In that war, that crazy war. In 19 and 45, we helped them win the fight. All that we got’s what Hitler said was right, In that war, that crazy war. Now, I was a country lad, lived down on the farm. I never killed a flea or done a body harm, ‘Til that war, that crazy war. Got a letter from the President, said “Greetings, my son.” “Uncle Sam, he needs you to help him tote a gun,” In that war, that crazy war. They took me out to the rifle range to hear the bullets sing. I shot and shot and shot all day and never hit a thing, In that war, that crazy war. Now, the captain said to fire at will and I said, “Who is he?” The doggone fool got raving mad and took a shot at me, In that war, that crazy war.


Outside of the Preview volume (FRC800), the 15 volumes of this survey focus on specific themes within North American traditional music. The tracks are entirely drawn from the North American Traditions (NAT) collection, recorded between 1972 and 2008, primarily by myself, Lou Curtiss, John Harrod, Morgan MacQuarrie, Gordon McCann, and Gus Meade. Most of these recordings were made in connection with a series of commercial releases by Rounder Records, although much of the present survey has not been previously released in any form. The 16 FRC releases serve both as a guide to the full NAT Research Archive (which is now publicly accessible; see tinyurl[dot]com/NAT-Research-Archive) and as a vehicle for outlining what we have learned about these songs and their position within historical tradition. To this end, Norm Cohen, myself, and others have prepared extensive notes for each volume (see tinyurl[dot]com/NAT-volume-notes).

A wide range of what are now called “folk songs” and “folk tunes” directly reflect our national experience, often with little surviving indication of original authorship. Many of these chronicle historical events or local modes of culture in appealing and unexpected ways.

—Mark Wilson

Extensive album notes are included with this download, or may be found at tinyurl[dot]com/V5-NAT-notes.


released August 7, 2023

©2022 Field Recorders’ Collective, Inc. Produced by Mark Wilson and John Schwab. Mastered by John Schwab. All tracks Ⓟ Mark Wilson. Cover photo of Bert Hatfield & Paul Smith © Mark Wilson. Graphic design: Jim Garber. Detailed credits in the accompanying PDF notes, included with this download. Special thanks to Norm Cohen, Bill Nowlin, and John Harrod.


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