Bards Old Time Fiddle Tunebook Supplement/Printable version

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Bards Old Time Fiddle Tunebook Supplement

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Angelina Baker

Angelina Baker, sometimes sung as Angeline the Baker (Roud 18341) is a song written by Stephen Foster for the Christy Minstrels, and published in 1850.[1] The original laments the loss of a woman slave, sent away by her owner.[2] The lyrics have been subjected to the folk process, and some versions have become examples of the "Ugly Girl" or Dinah song.

An instrumental version, as collected by John A. Lomax under the title "Angelina the Baker"[3] is a popular fiddle or banjo tune, and differs from the Stephen Foster melody. It is part of the old time fiddle canon, but is also played by bluegrass fiddle|bluegrass musicians. [4] This old time tune was also played as bluegrass by Stuart Duncan at the 2007 Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival. [5] Duncan also played this tune at the Grand Oprey in 2008 with Bela Fleck, Sam Bush, Jerry Douglas, Brian Sutton, Stuart Duncan, & Mark Schatz on Grand Ole Opry playing "Major Honker."[6]

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

According to Lyle Lofgren, writing for Inside Bluegrass, publication of the Minnesota Bluegrass and Old-Time Music Association, "Foster published Angelina Baker in 1850, and it was featured on stage by the original Christy Minstrels."[7] His report of the by now public domain lyrics is as follows.

1. Angeline the baker lives in our village green,
The way I always loved her beats all you ever seen.

Angeline the baker, her age is forty-three,
I bought her candy by the peck, and she won't marry me.

2. Her father is the miller, they call him Uncle Sam.
I never will forget her, unless I take a dram. CHO.

3. Angeline is handsome, Angeline is tall,
They say she sprained her ankle a-dancing at the ball. CHO.

4. She can't do hard work because she is not stout,
She bakes her biscuits every day, and pours the coffee out. CHO.

5. I'll never marry no other girl, no matter where I go.
I said I'd marry Angeline just twenty years ago. CHO.

6. The last time I saw her was at the county fair.
Her father run me almost home and told me to stay there. CHO.

The Arkansas Traveler

"The Arkansas Traveler" was the state song of Arkansas from 1949 to 1963, and has been the state historical song since 1987. The music was composed in the 19th century by Sanford Faulkner|Colonel Sanford C. 'Sandy' Faulkner (1806–1874); the current official lyrics were written by a committee in 1947 in preparation for its naming as state song.

Arkansas' other official state songs are "Arkansas (song)|Arkansas" (state anthem) as well as "Arkansas (You Run Deep In Me)" & "Oh, Arkansas" (both state songs).

The bumble bee verse has become a popular children's song, but has altered lyrics from the original:

I'm bringing home a baby bumble bee Won't my mommy be so proud of me? I'm bringing home a baby bumble bee Ouch! It stung me!

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

The song has had several sets of lyrics which are far older than the original composition. The official lyrics as state historical song of Arkansas are under copyright, but can be found on the website of the Arkansas Secretary of State. The words were composed by the Arkansas State Song Selection Committee, 1949

On a lonely road quite long ago,
A trav'ler trod with fiddle and a bow;
While rambling thru the country rich and grand,
He quickly sensed the magic and the beauty of the land.

For the wonder state we'll sing a song,
And lift our voices loud and long.
For the wonder state we'll shout hurrah!
And praise the opportunities we find in Arkansas.

Many years have passed, the trav'lers gay,
Repeat the tune along the highway;
And every voice that sings the glad refrain
Re-echoes from the mountains to the fields of growing grain.

Repeat Chorus

A more traditional lyric (first two stanzas were used on the version on the Peter Pan children's record label except for "on" instead of "it's" just before "a rainy day") is

Oh, once upon a time in Arkansas,
An old man sat in his little cabin door
And fiddled at a tune that he liked to hear,
A jolly old tune that he played by ear.
It was raining hard, but the fiddler didn't care,
He sawed away at the popular air,
Tho' his rooftree leaked like a waterfall,
That didn't seem to bother the man at all.

A traveler was riding by that day,
And stopped to hear him a-practicing away;
The cabin was a-float and his feet were wet,
But still the old man didn't seem to fret.
So the stranger said "Now the way it seems to me,
You'd better mend your roof," said he.
But the old man said as he played away,
"I couldn't mend it now, it's a rainy day."

The traveler replied, "That's all quite true,
But this, I think, is the thing to do;
Get busy on a day that is fair and bright,
Then patch the old roof till it's good and tight."
But the old man kept on a-playing at his reel,
And tapped the ground with his leathery heel.
"Get along," said he, "for you give me a pain;
My cabin never leaks when it doesn't rain."

There's another set of lyrics about the traditional situation of a fiddler who only knows the first part of a two part tune. This one seems to be for a slightly different tune.:

Oh, 'twas down in the woods of the Arkansaw,
And the night was cloudy and the wind was raw,
And he didn't have a bed, and he didn't have a bite,
And if he hadn't fiddled, he'd a travelled all night.

But he came to a cabin, and an old gray man,
And says he, "Where am I going? Now tell me if you can."

"Oh, we'll have a little music first and then some supper, too,
But before we have the supper we will play the music through.
You'll forget about your supper, you'll forget about your home,
You'll forget you ever started out in Arkansaw to roam."

Now the old man sat a-fiddling by the little cabin door,
And the tune was pretty lively, and he played it o'er and o'er,
And the stranger sat a-list'ning and a-wond'ring what to do,
As he fiddled and he fiddled, but he never played it through.

Then the stranger asked the fiddler, "Won't you play the rest for me?"
"Don't know it," says the fiddler. "Play it for yourself!" says he.

Then the stranger took the fiddle, with a riddy-diddle-diddle,
And the strings began to tingle at the jingle of the bow,
While the old man sat and listened, and his eyes with pleasure glistened,
As he shouted, "Hallelujah! And hurray for Joe!"

Another set of traditional lyrics, about a boy and a fiddling bear, inspired Albert Bigelow Paine to write the children's novels The Arkansaw Bear (1898) and The Arkansaw Bear and Elsie. It also apparently inspired Aurand Harris in the 1970s to write a play about a circus and a child confronting death named The Arkansaw Bear, with a totally different storyline and bear. It also was probably the origin of the name of the ventriloquist dummy that gave Hank Williams, Jr. his nickname of "Bocephus".

Oh, there was a little boy and his name was Bo,
Went out into the woods when the moon was low,
And he met an old bear who was hungry for a snack,
And his folks are still a-waiting for Bosephus to come back.

For the boy became the teacher of this kind and gentle creature
Who can play upon the fiddle in a very skillful way.
And they'll never, ever sever, and they'll travel on forever,
Bosephus and the fiddle and the old black bear.

However, the best-known lyrics today are probably those of a traditional American children's song which is sung to the first part of the tune only. Various gestures are used to act it out as well.

I'm bringin' home a baby bumblebee
Oh, my mommy be so proud of me
I'm bringin' home a baby bumblebee—Ow! It stung me!

I'm squishin' up my baby bumblebee (same structure as first verse)
...Yuck! It's dirty!

I'm scraping off my baby bumblebee
...Mmm. I'm hungry!

I'm scooping up my baby bumblebee (gestures show scooping into mouth and eating)
...Ow! My tummy!

I'm throwing up my baby bumblebee
...Yuck. It's messy.

I'm bringing home my baby bumblebee....

Here is a version from a 1957 elementary school song book. It has the same tune and rhythm as the official version.

Far and far away down in Arkansas
There lived a squatter with a stubborn jaw.
His nose was ruby red and his whiskers gray
And he would sit and fiddle all the night and all the day.

Came a traveler down the road and asked if he could find a bed
Yes try the road the kindly squatter said.
Then could you point me out the way to find a tavern or an inn.
Down the road a piece I reckon though I've never been.

Then the rain came down on the cabin floor
But the squatter only fiddled all the more.
Why don't you mend your roof said the travler bold
How can I mend the roof when the rain is wet and cold.

Squatter pick a day with weather bright and fair and nice.
Patch up your roof, that is my advice.
The squatter shook his hoary head and answered with a stubborn air
Cabin never leaks a drop when days are bright and fair.

The first known vocal recording of the song was made by Dan Hornsby and Clayton McMichen on 4/12/1928 and commercially released as Columbia 15000D Series #W146039 15253 Part 1 & #W146038 15253D part 2. An instrumental version of the song was recorded as early as 1922 by fiddlers Eck Robertson and Henry C. Gilliland.

Uses in film[edit | edit source]

"The Arkansas Traveler" was frequently featured in animated cartoons in the 1930s and 1940s, most prolifically by Carl Stalling in music he composed for the Merrie Melodies and Looney Tunes series. It usually was played, sloppily, when a yokel, hillbilly, or "country bumpkin" character would appear on screen.

A slow version of the "Bringing home a baby bumble-bee" version is sung by Beaky Buzzard in some of his Looney Tunes appearances, notably "Bugs Bunny Gets the Boid". This probably use the same yokel image that the tune evokes elsewhere in the Warner Bros. Cartoons|Warner Bros. cartoon series.

The popularity and joyfulness of "The Arkansas Traveler" was attested to in the 1932 Academy Award winning Laurel and Hardy short, The Music Box. In this film, the boys labored to haul a player piano up a long flight of stairs and into a house through a bedroom window. Near the conclusion of their adventure, as they are starting to clean up their mess surrounding the newly installed piano, Stan and Ollie play a roll of "Patriotic Melodies". They dance with much grace and amusement to "The Arkansas Traveler", followed briefly by "Dixie (song)|Dixie". Marvin Hatley, who composed Laurel and Hardy's Cuckoo theme song, was the pianist during this sequence; the player piano was not real.

Videographic musicology[edit | edit source]

  • Tommy Jarrell and ALy Bain in a memorable rendition of this seminal tune which aired on Aly Bain's 1985 TV Series Down Home .[8] This includes clogging (buck dancing or flat footing).




Vaudeville[edit | edit source]

"The Arkansas Traveler" was a popular comedy sketch on the Vaudeville circuit. It revolved around the encounter of a (usually lost) traveling city person with a local, wise-cracking fiddle player. Various jokes at the city slicker's expense were interspersed with instrumental versions of the song. In many versions, the city person is also a fiddle player, and as the sketch progresses, eventually learns the tune and plays along with the country bumpkin.

Michelle Shocked includes a Vaudville-style version of "Arkansas Traveler" on her Arkansas Traveler (Michelle Shocked album)|1992 album of the same name. Jerry Garcia and David Grisman also do a version on their 1993 album "Not for Kids Only"

Blackberry Blossom

This resource is authorized to include instructional ("how-to") information not available on Wikipedia. Please help to expand that section below.

The flower of a Blackberry plant.

The fiddle tune "Blackberry Blossom", a fiddle tune in the key of G Major, [9] is classified as a "breakdown" and is popular in old time, bluegrass [10]and Celtic traditional circles.[11] It is considered one of the best known fiddle tune of the twentieth century.

History[edit | edit source]

The tune [12] has been added to many tune books - as many as 277, according to The Session, an online resource for traditional musicians. [11] The tune became popular as a tune recorded by "Fiddlin'" Arthur Smith and that version, according to Alan Jabbour, supplanted an earlier tune played by Sanford Kelly from Morgan County,[13] which is now represented by the tune "Yew Piney Mountain". [14] [15] It is also called Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom, perhaps to distinguish it from the earlier version.[16] Contradicting Jabbour, who clearly distinguishes the earlier version, is the account of Andrew Kuntz to the effect that "Betty Vornbrock and others have noted a similarity between 'Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom' and the West Virginia tune 'Yew Piney Mountain', a variant...also played by Kentucky fiddlers J.P. Fraley and and Santford Kelly". [16]

Culture: use in different genres[edit | edit source]

Although the tune is closely associated with the old time/ bluegrass traditions of the United States,[17] it enjoys the distinction of often being frequently played by traditional Irish musicians.[11]

In Irish music[edit | edit source]

This is a partial list of covers by Irish musicians and bands.

  • An Fhidil, Sraith 2 by Sean Keane, Kevin Burke, Paddy Glackin And Seamus Creagh
  • Ireland's Best Session Tunes CD 1 by Waltons Recording
  • Irish Dances by Various Artists
  • Top Of Coom by Conal Ó'Gráda
  • Traditional Irish Dance Music by All Star Ceilidhe Band
  • Traditional Irish Dance Music: All Star Ceili Band by Joe Derrane
  • Traditional Irish Music by William Sullivan
  • Traditional Irish Tunes Played On The Tin Whistle (1/2) by Geraldine Cotter
  • Traditional Music Of Ireland by Various Artists


In Bluegrass[edit | edit source]

According to Devon Wells, Blackberry Blossom, as a banjo tune, was brought to the public's attention as one of the earliest arrangements of Bill Keith. [18] Wells, a bluegrass teacher, asserts that the tune is a standard in the bluegrass banjo repertoire.[18] Some of the older recordings archived at the Digital Library of Appalachia include:

  • Davenport, Clyde
    • Fiddle tune played by Clyde Davenport at the Berea College Celebration of Traditional Music on 11-03-84
  • Rawlings, Carlton
    • Fiddle tune played by Carlton Rawlings and recorded by John Harrod in Bath County, Kentucky [1970s].
  • Higgins, Charlie
    • Smithsonian Folkways [3]

Structure[edit | edit source]

Like most traditional fiddle tunes, Blackberry Blossom has an A part and a B part; the former is in the key of G Major but the latter switches explicitly to the key of E minor. E minor is the relative minor of the key of G Major - it uses the same sharps and flats but its' modal center is E rather than G. This provides the tune with an unusual mood shift which adds complexity. [10] According to Anthony, "The note played on the 1st & 3rd beat of the first 2 measures are the first 4 notes of the descending scale of G. Each of these notes is the beginning of a 3-note run, returning to to this base note, before moving on to the next note in the G scale. "[10]

Videographic documentation (various instrumentation)[edit | edit source]

Fiddle and Guitar [19]

Fiddle Guitar and Banjo [20]

Mandolin [Mark O'Connor)[21]

Fiddle & percussion- interpretive - (Carrie Rodriguez) [22]

Twin fiddlin' [23]

Electric violin/ rock band [4]

Collection of video links at World News website

Instructional resources[edit | edit source]

Played slow.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Foster, Stephen (1850). Angelina Baker (musical score). Foster's plantation melodies. Vol. 4. as sung by the Christy Minstrels. Baltimore, New Orleans: F. D. Benteen. OCLC 23161833.
  2. The Center for American Music. "Professional Career". University of Pittsburgh. Retrieved 22 November 2010.
  3. Uncle Alec Dunford, John A. Lomax. "Angelina the Baker". Retrieved 26 November 2010.
  4. "It's Olt Time we don't have to be in tune" -|Telling remark, intended as humorous, indicating that this tune is OT|Lonesome River Band at Gettysburg Bluegrass Festival 082308 0000 "Angeline the Baker"|
  5. NBB at the 2007 Delaware Valley Bluegrass Festival. For more info, visit
  6. data in text
  7. pub Inside Bluegrass
  8. Arkansas Traveler|Tommy Jarrell with Aly Bain|Down Home|UK TV|1985| (Note - This was a UK Channel 4 broadcast, NOT BBC as some folks assume)
  9. "Blackberry Blossom". Sean Ray Studios. 2010-08-15.
  10. a b c Wendy Anthony. "Building a Traditional Tune Repertoire". Archived from the original on 2010-01-16.
  11. a b c d "The Blackberry Blossom". ISSN 2633-9285.
  12. played by Emma Lee Dickerson and recorded by Barbara Kunkle. (1974-02-09). Blackberry Blossom. [Reel-To-Reel Audio Tape]. Greenup County, Kentucky. Archived from the original on 2011-09-29. 
  13. Note: As an E minor tune. He ends the tune "that's the way that God made peace".|
  14. ref name=Jabbour BBB Transcript|cited=Wikiversity Ethnography of Fiddle|Fiddle tune played by Alan Jabbour at Berea College on 5-28-08, while participating in Berea's Appalachian Music Fellowship Program.c; Jabbour, Alan; Blackberry Blossom;
  15. Blackberry Blossom|Lecture and performance by Alan Jabbour|Madison County, Kentucky|Audio Compact Disc|On web Digital Library of Appallachia| Archives, Hutchins Library, Department of Special Collections & Archives.
  16. a b Andrew Kuntz (1996). "Black". The Fiddler’s Companion. BLACKBERRY BLOSSOM [2].
  17. Note: The Digital Library of Appallachia has recordings primarily from Kentucky.
  18. a b "Exploring Blackberry Blossom - Part I: Simple Backup". Devon's Banjo Homeplace. 2011-04-02.
  19. Doc and the Lady (Fiddle and Flatpick Guitar)Operation Smile ocncert|instumentation=(fiddle and guitar)|
  20. Inland Northwest Bluegrass Association in Spokane Washington. Every month the INBA has what they call a Bluegrass Thang
  21. album =Markology|label= Rounder| Released: 24 Jul 2007| url=|
  22. Carrie Rodriguez performing live at the Rosendale Cafe in Rosendale, NY on January 3, 2008. Playing with Carrie are her band members Hans Holzen and Javier Vercher.|

Cripple Creek

Cripple Creek is an Old Time Appalachian folk song for the fiddle, though it is often played on the banjo as well.. No one knows when it was composed, but there are theories about just where Cripple Creek is. Some say it is Cripple Creek, Virginia, while others say it is based on Cripple Creek, Colorado during the gold rush. It was frequently recorded by early country musicians in the 1920s.[1]

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

The following are lyrics from a 1909 version.[1]

  • A. "(From East Tennessee; mountain whites; from memory; 1909)"
Goin' to Cripple Creek, goin' ter Rome (roam),
Goin' ter Cripple Creek, goin' back home.
See them women layin' in the shade,
Waitin' fer the money them men have made.
Roll my breeches ter my knees
En wade ol' Cripple Creek when I please.

"A well-known mining district in Virginia." Probably Rome, Tennessee; there is also a Rome in Georgia.

  • B. "(From South Carolina; country whites, MS. of Mr. Bryan; 1909)"
Goin' to Cripple Creek, going in a run;
Goin' to Cripple Creek to have my fun.

When Cecil Sharp collected folksongs in the Appalachian Mountains in 1917 he found one version of Cripple Creek:

  • "Gone to Cripple Creek" sung by Mrs. Wilson Pineville, Kentucky, Aug 27, 1917.
Gone to Cripple Creek, gone in a run,
Gone to Cripple Creek to have some fun.
Gone to Cripple Creek, gone in a run,
Gone to Cripple Creek to have some fun.
"Gone" is probably a mishearing of- goin'.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. a b Cripple Creek Song History

Devils Dream

"The Devil's Dream" is an old fiddle tune of unknown origins. Usually played as a reel, it is attested to as a popular tune from at least 1834 in New England.[1] It also appears in a folk tale from central England dated to c. 1805.[2]

"The Devil's Dream" is, and has been since its introduction, a popular tune with fiddlers and dancers and has been recorded numerous times.

It is used by Bernard Herrmann as one of the principal themes in the film score to the movie The Devil and Daniel Webster to represent the plight of the New Hampshire farmers.

Notable Performances[edit | edit source]

"Mark O'Connor performed it as an encore after his concerto with the Brooklyn Philharmonic at Prospect Park, NYC in 2008. The first portion of the encore is improvised, and then last portion is his arrangement of Devils Dream". PRINT LINK:

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Gilman, Memoirs of a New England Village Choir, p. 20: "Now, by a seemingly miraculous rapidity and perfection of execution,he would exert an irresistible power over the muscular frames of his delighted auditor, putting their feet and hands in motion as they sat before him, and often rousing up the younger individuals who were present to an unbidden, spontaneous dance, to the tune of 'The Girl I left behind me,' the 'Devil's Dream,' or and equally magical and inspiring combination of notes that extemporaneously flowed into his own mind on the occasion."
  2. Allies, On the Ignis Fatuus, pp. 31-32: "As an old fiddler, of the name of Pengree, was one night, about forty years ago, returning home by himself to Old Storage, from the wake which had been held at Knightford Bridge Inn, he had to pass a place called 'Hell Garden,' which was situated at the bottom of the Cherry Bank, near to the Upper House, in Alfrick; and when he came there he said, "Oh I am come to 'Hell Garden!' well, I'll give the 'Devil's Dream;'" which no sooner had he struck up than (to show he was not alone in his glory) about 150 strange female figures came and danced all round him in pattens,which made him not only unshoulder his fiddle pretty quickly, but take to his heel as fast as he could run."

Pop Culture[edit | edit source]

Mentioned in Johnny Lee's song "Cherokee Fiddle".

Bibliography[edit | edit source]

  • Allies, Jabez. On the Ignis Fatusus: Or Will-O'-The-Wisp, and the Fairies. London: Simpkin, Marshall, and Co. (1846).
  • Gilman, S. (A Member). Memoirs of a New England Village Choir with Occasional Reflections. Boston: Benjamin H. Greene (1834).

External links[edit | edit source]

Turkey in the Straw

Sheet music cover for "Zip Coon", 1830s.

"Turkey in the Straw" is a well-known American folk music|folk song dating from the early 19th century. The song's tune was first popularized in the late 1820s and early 1830s by blackface performers, notably George Washington Dixon, Bob Farrell (minstrel singer)|Bob Farrell and George Nichols. Another song, "Zip Coon", was sung to the same tune. This version was first published between 1829 and 1834 in either New York or Baltimore, Maryland|Baltimore. All of the above performers claimed to have written the song, and the dispute is not resolved. Ohio songwriter Daniel Decatur Emmett is sometimes erroneously credited as the song's author.[1]

Lyrics[edit | edit source]

"Zip Coon" has a vocal range of an octave and a minor sixth. Both the verse and the chorus end on the tonic, and both begin a major third above the tonic. In the verse, the highest note is a fifth above the tonic and the lowest is a minor sixth below. In the chorus, the highest note is an octave above the last note, and the lowest is the last note itself. The song stays in key throughout. It has many different lyrical versions. The earliest lyrics under the name "Zip Coon" were written by Dan Bryant (head of Bryant's Minstrels) and published in 1861. The words were set to new music, with the "Turkey in the Straw" tune added at the end. The chorus as first published by Dan Bryant goes:

Turkey in de straw, turkey in de hay
Turkey in de straw, turkey in de hay
Roll 'em up an' twist 'em up a high tuc-ka-haw
An' twist 'em up a tune called Turkey in the Straw

One traditional version has a chorus with these lyrics:

Turkey in the hay, in the hay, in the hay.
Turkey in the straw, in the straw, in the straw,
Pick up your fiddle and rosin your bow,
And put on a tune called Turkey in the Straw.

Another goes:

Turkey in the straw — Haw haw haw
Turkey in the hay — Hey hey hey
The Reubens [farm people] are dancing to Turkey in the Straw
Hey highdy heydy, and a haw haw haw

There are versions from the American Civil War, versions about fishing and one with nonsense verses. Folklorists have documented folk versions with obscene lyrics from the 19th century.

Another version is called "Natchez Under the Hill". The lyrics are thought to have been added to an earlier tune by Bob Farrell who first performed them in a blackface act on August 11, 1834.

Another one goes:

Turkey in the straw, turkey in the hay,
Turkey in the straw what do you say.
Funnest thing I ever saw.
It's a little tune called Turkey in the Straw.

Contemporary uses[edit | edit source]

"Turkey in the Straw" is still popular today among busking|street fiddlers and ice cream vans. It is a playable song in the popular 2008 in video gaming|2008 video game Wii Music for the Wii video game console|console. It can be heard in many movie sound tracks as well as in many Children's music albums; the song was already public domain by the start of sound film, so it was extensively used in movies. In animated cartoons it is commonly used for suggesting farms or rural life, or old fashioned country people. Perhaps the first use of the tune in an animated cartoon soundtrack was in Steamboat Willie. The popular children's song "Do Your Ears Hang Low?" is typically sung to the tune of "Turkey in the Straw".

George Gobel sang this version on TV:

Oh, I had a little chicken and she wouldn't lay an egg,
So I poured some hot water on her left-hand leg,
Then I poured some hot water on her right-hand leg,
Now my little chicken laid a hard-boiled egg!

In the acclaimed 1930 film Billy the Kid (1930 film)|Billy the Kid, actor Roscoe Ates sings "Turkey in the Straw".

References in pop culture[edit | edit source]

  • In John Kennedy Toole's comic novel A Confederacy of Dunces, Ignatius J. Reilly refers to the song as "a discordant abomination", and remarks that "veneration" of it "is at the very root of our current dilemma."
  • Recorded for the 1978 debut album of children's entertainers Sharon, Lois & Bram titled One Elephant, Deux Éléphants and featured on their long-running children's television series on Nickelodeon (TV channel)|Nickelodeon called The Elephant Show.
  • In The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles episode "Mystery of the Blues", a pianist plays around 4 different versions of the song, including straight-time, Caribbean, African, and his own twist. The whole band then plays it in jazz form.
  • The song is used as Barney Stinson's ringtone in the How I Met Your Mother episode entitled "Rabbit or Duck" (originally aired February 8, 2010).
  • The tune is played by an ice-cream van in season four, episode one ("Boys of Summer"), of The Wire. In the audio commentary, writer David Simon says that the sound is ubiquitous in West Baltimore during the summer.
  • In a segment of Animaniacs, Wakko sings a song to the tune of "Turkey In The Straw", naming all the US states and their capitals, in response to a question in a Jeopardy! clue during school. However, he failed to state his response in the form of a question, and lost "money".
  • An instrumental version of the song is performed by the Hill Valley Festival Band (played by ZZ Top) in 1885 in Back to the Future Part III.
  • It is used in the horror film Carver (film)|Carver in a few on the murder scenes.
  • Homer Simpson hums along to the tune in The Simpsons episode Simpsoncalifragilisticexpiala(Annoyed Grunt)cious.
  • It is the first song played in the music class of the "Bully" Scholarship Edition video game.
  • The 2009 song "What Do You Do?" by Mickey Avalon uses the melody of this song throughout its entire duration.
  • JibJab used the tune for their 2005 Year In Review, called "2-0-5" and sung by a cut-out version of George W. Bush.

References in classical music[edit | edit source]

  • Erno Dohnanyi used the tune (and also two other traditional American folktunes) in his final composition American Rhapsody (1953).
  • David Guion wrote a piano transcription.

See also[edit | edit source]

  • Coon song
  • Unsquare Dance

References[edit | edit source]

  1. [1]

Further reading[edit | edit source]

  • Fuld, James (1966). The Book of World Famous Music, Classical, Popular and Folk.

External links[edit | edit source]

Wildwood Flower

"Wildwood Flower" is an United States|American song, best known through performances and recordings by the Carter Family. However, the song predates them. The original title was "I'll Twine 'Mid the Ringlets". The song was written in 1860, with words by Maud Irving and music by Joseph Philbrick Webster (1819-1875).[1]

Evolution and usage of the song[edit | edit source]

The tune was used by Woody Guthrie for the verses of his song "The Sinking of the Reuben James (Woody Guthrie song)|Reuben James" (about the USS Reuben James (DD-245)|USS Reuben James). Guthrie's song had a tune of his own devising on the chorus.[2]

Although originally a parlor music|parlor song, the song had undergone quite a bit of the folk music|folk process by the time the Carter Family recorded it. For example, the original first verse was:

I'll twine 'mid the ringlets of my raven black hair,
The lilies so pale and the roses so fair,
The myrtle so bright with an emerald hue,
And the pale aronatus with eyes of bright blue.

The better-known Carter Family version begins:

Oh, I'll twine with my mingles and waving black hair,
With the roses so red and the lilies so fair,
And the myrtle so bright with the emerald dew,
The pale and the leader and eyes look like blue.[3]

Other variants exist; for example Iris DeMent sings "...The pale emanita and hyssop so blue...". Joan Baez sings "the pale and the leader," but retains the original reference to "raven black hair" on her self-titled debut album "Joan Baez" (1960). That is also the variant printed in "The Joan Baez Songbook" (1964). Most other singers (Roger McGuinn, for instance) substitute "amaryllis and violets so blue" here. [citation needed]

Plant expert Ed Hume reports that he is unaware of a plant known as aronatus.[4] In an unpublished monograph, Dr. Richard Blaustein, professor of sociology and anthropology at East Tennessee State University, has made a thorough analysis of the question, and identifies the amaranthus or amaranth (Latin: aramanthus), a flower of some literary heritage,[5] as a possible source of the "aronatus" of the Maud Irving song.

However, Bryan Chalker, a well known country singer from Bath, England, following a visit to the Appalachians and collecting folk music, suggests that the last line is "The pale oleander and violets so blue." This is very close to the misheard "The pale and the leader and eyes look so blue." The oleander was introduced into America in 1841, so if the original date of the song is 1860, this is perfectly feasible. The word is also much more singable than aronatus. What's more, amaranthus do not have eyes looking blue - they are shades of white, pink and red.

Another famous mondegreen stems from a later verse:

I'll think of him never, I'll be wildly gay
I'll charm ev'ry heart, and the crowd I will sway.

Most contemporary singers render that second line,

I will charm every heart; in his crown, I will sway.

The final two lines provide the song's title and central theme:

I'll live yet to see him regret the dark hour
He won, then neglected, this frail wildwood flower.

The song was first recorded by the Carter Family in 1928 on the Victor label. The song has also become a standard instrumental piece for guitarists of all skill levels. In 1955, Hank Thompson (music)|Hank Thompson and Merle Travis recorded an instrumental that reached number 5 on the Country charts.[6]

In 1960, Joan Baez included it on her Vanguard debut album Joan Baez. Jean Ritchie recorded a version in 1955 and Hobart Smith in 1963, as did Mike Ness in 1999.

In 1974, Don Bowman (comedian)|Don Bowman appropriated the tune as a background for "Wildwood Weed", a monologue about cannabis (drug)|marijuana.[7] Performed by Jim Stafford, it peaked at number 7 on the Billboard magazine|Billboard Country chart.[8]

In the 2005 film Walk the Line, Reese Witherspoon, playing June Carter, sings "Wildwood Flower" solo while strumming her autoharp. The film also features an instrumental version performed on guitar by Bill Frisell.

US band Trans_Am_(band)|Trans Am included a somewhat unconventional rendition of Wildwood Flower on their EP Who Do We Think You Are.

Robin & Linda Williams recorded a version of the song, with the original title and lyrics, for their album Visions of Love. The title of the album is taken from the last line, "My visions of love have all faded away."

Videographic documentation[edit | edit source]

Ben Clark plays Wildwood Flower (Guitar-pedagogic)

Notes[edit | edit source]

  1. "I'll Twine 'Mid the Ringlets" on
  2. Rod Smith, Rod's Encyclopedic Dictionary Of Traditional Music, retrieved 1 December 2002 by the Internet Archive.
  3. Dorothy Horstman, Interview with Maybelle Carter, Nashville, Tennessee, September 6, 1973; also two versions of the song. Reprinted in Sing Your Heart Out, Country Boy, New York, 1976, pp. 201-202 Lyrics as reprinted ibid., p. 202
  4. Ed Hume, Finding Rare Flowers, retrieved 22 December 2005.
  5. See Milton, Paradise Lost, 3.353-57. See also Spenser's Faerie Queene, 3.6.45.
  6. Dick Spotswood, Wildwood Flower, audio commentary from The NPR 100, 14 December 2000.
  7. Michael Allen, "'I Just Want to be a Cosmic Cowboy'": Hippies, Cowboy Code, and the Culture of a Counterculture", in The Western Historical Quarterly, Vol. 36, No. 3, Autumn 2005.
  8. Billboard ranking of August 24, 1974 is cited at [2]

Yew Piney Mountain

Yew Piney Mountain is part of the canonical Appalachian music tradition which has been highly influential in American fiddle tradition generally, including its old time fiddle and bluegrass fiddle branches. According to Alan Jabbour at The Digital Library of Appalachia, the tune was called at one time Blackberry Blossom (tune)|Blackberry Blossom until that title was taken over by a different tune. The earlier Blackberry Blossom, as played by Sanford Kelly from Morgan County is what is now called Yew Piney Mountain. [1] which is now represented by the tune "Yew Piney Mountain". [2] [3] Differing from Jabbour, however, another influential secondary source, Andrew Kuntz's Fiddler's Companion asserts that the tunes are related [4] Contradicting Jabbour, who clearly distinguishes the earlier version, is the account of Andrew Kuntz to the effect that "Betty Vornbrock and others have noted a similarity between 'Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom' and the West Virginia tune 'Yew Piney Mountain', a variant...also played by Kentucky fiddlers J.P. Fraley and and Santford Kelly". [5]

Culture: History and Influence[edit | edit source]

According to Andy Kurtz, similarities between an unspecified variant of Blackberry Blossom, which may be the different song identified by Jabbour as today's Yew Piney Mountain, were acknowledged in the literature. [6] Whichever version that overlap refers to, it was reportedly also played by the well known Kentucky fiddler J.P. Fraley and the more obscure Owen “Snake” Chapman, as well as by Santford Kelly and others. [7]

The tune is such a solid exemplar of Americana that it is the title of a radio show, [8], serious blogging about Old Time fiddle music [9] and a Smithsonian Folkways compilation [10]

References and Notes[edit | edit source]

Bibliographic resources[edit | edit source]

  • Stacy Phillips' Phillips Collection of American Fiddle Tunes, Vol. 1 (Mel Bay Pub.)
  • Andrew Kuntz's Fiddler's Companion

Graphic, audio and videographic resources[edit | edit source]

  • Digital Library of Appalachia provides online access to archival and historical materials related to the culture of the southern and central Appalachian region. The contents of the DLA are drawn from special collections of Appalachian College Association member libraries. It has about twenty files pertaining to Yew Piney Mountain.
  • Sheet music for Yew Piney Mountain here
  • Digital Library of Appalachia provides online access to archival and historical materials related to the culture of the southern and central Appalachian region. The contents of the DLA are drawn from special collections of Appalachian College Association member libraries.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Note: As an E minor tune. He ends the tune "that's the way that God made peace".|
  2. ref name=Jabbour BBB Transcript|cited=Wikiversity Ethnography of Fiddle|Fiddle tune played by Alan Jabbour at Berea College on 5-28-08, while participating in Berea's Appalachian Music Fellowship Program.c; Jabbour, Alan; Blackberry Blossom;
  3. Blackberry Blossom|Lecture and performance by Alan Jabbour|Madison County, Kentucky|Audio Compact Disc|On web Digital Library of Appallachia| Archives, Hutchins Library, Department of Special Collections & Archives.
  4. ref name=Kuntz|The Fiddler’s Companion|Andrew Kuntz|1996[?]|Citing Jean Thomas's Ballad Makin' in the Mountains of Kentucky|[2]
  5. Kuntz
  6. Kurtz |"Betty Vornbrock and others have noted a similarity between “Garfield’s Blackberry Blossom” and the West Virginia tune “Yew Piney Mountain [1],” a variant.
  7. Kuntz|"Jean Thomas recorded the tune for the Library of Congress in 1930 from fiddler Ed Morrison (Boyd County, Ky.) at the American Folk Song Festival (AFS 300A). Sources for notated versions: (Buddy Thomas (Ky.) [Phillips]; a home recording of Ed Haley (Ashland, Boyd County, Kentucky) by his son Ralph [Titon]; Scott Marckx [Silberberg]. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes), vol. 1, 1994; pg. 27. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; pg. 11. Titon (Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes), 2001; No. 10, pg. 43.
  8. “Yew Piney Mountain,” which airs on Wednesdays from 6-7 pm CST on KRUI, 89.7 FM in Iowa City, Iowa. url=
  9. Notes from Yew Piney Mountain|A Blog About Old-Time Music||
  10. ref name=Yew Piney SF|title=Yew Piney Mountain|url= fiddler Jake Krack and Folkways archivist Jeff Place compiled and annotated this collection of vintage Southern Appalachian string band music from the Smithsonian archive