The Audio Archive of Songs Illustrated in the CPR
                                                                               (all post done with permission of the artist)
                                                                     I’LL JUST KEEP ON KICKING THIS STONE DOWN THE ROAD
           Jeff Black, our October Second Saturday artist, has graciously given us his permission to publish this excellent song of his. Jeff has plenty more great songs, so we hope to see you there October 14. Jeff does this song in C as written, no capo, so you can play along with the recording if you like. You can hear this song on Jeff’s website at the link below.
                                        Until I Learn To Fly [video]                                               Until I Learn To Fly [lyrics and chords]
                                                                                               The Lowlands, Low  by Paul Cooper

I learned this song in the 1960s, but it is very old. A Child Ballad published as early as 1635. My niece used to ask me, “Uncle Bo, sing Lowlands Low”. You can listen to the song here as performed by Peter, Paul and Mary:  The Golden Vanity . Peter, Paul and Mary do it in the  key of A, so to play along with them, Capo II.
                                                                                     THE GOLDEND VAINITY [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                      The Little Cabin That Could :^)

In the year 1875, Brewster Higley was a doctor who moved into a small cabin in Smith County, Kansas. At the time he had widowed by three wives and loss several children. He would go on to marry twice more. He led a simple life, and after living there for some time, he wrote a poem, “The Western Home”. Later, a friend of his, Daniel Kelley, set the poem to music. It became popular with the ranchers and the western settlers. The poem did not include “home on the range”.  That line was added to the first verse and became the refrain  when song by the ranchers who established the popularity of the song.  It was sung on the steps of the White House, the night Franklin D Roosevelt for first elected. Admiral Richard E. Byrd carried a mechanical Edison phonograph in his equipment during his expedition to the South Pole in the 1930’s.  When the spring on the record player froze, he sang “Home On The Range” to pass the time after his daily work was done.  In 1935, there was a lawsuit by someone who claim to be the composer of this most popular tune. Fortunately, there was the likes of John Lomax who had documented the origin of the tune in 1910 in his book, “Cowboy Songs and Other Frontier Ballads”.
              Michael Martin Murphy's Rendition-Home on the Range              Lyrics and Chords            The Original Poem - The Western Home    
                                                                                         GOODBYE FAIR LADIES
I first heard the Kingston Trio’s spirited recording of this song in 1962 – the year I graduated from high school. I was already well on my way to being a hard-core folkie. Away Rio is a traditional capstan shanty – dating to the 1860s or before. The “Rio Grande” of this song is almost certainly not the river of southwestern North America, but rather the province Rio Grande do Sul of southern Brazil. You can hear a traditional rendering of the song at the link below.   Every version I have heard has different verses, or the lyrics in a different order.

                                  Away Rio [video]                                                                 Away Rio [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                        HOW COULD I HAVE KNOWN
 Brian Kalinec has been a well-known performer, producer and friend of acoustic music on the Houston scene for many years. He will perform at our Second Saturday concert Saturday, May 13, and has graciously given us permission to publish this song from his new CD, The Beauty of it All, which will be available at the concert. You can hear this song at the link below.

                                      Next Door Stranger [video]                                                   Next Door Stranger [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                    TOMORROW WAS OUR WEDDING DAY

 This song is often attributed to the Carter Family, who were the first ones to popularize it, but it is much older than the Carter Family. The song is first cited in a 1909 compilation of songs by the Missouri Folklore society. I like this version by Dolly Parton, Emmylou Harris, and Linda Ronstadt. Their version is found in the link below. To play along with Dolly, capo at the first fret.

                                       Bury Me Beneath The Willow [video]                             Bury Me Beneath The Willow [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                        WE TURN TO THE SUN

Our February Second Saturday artist, Dana Cooper, is a highly accomplished singer, songwriter and guitarist with strong connections to Houston. He is a recipient of Folk Alliance International’s Spirit of Folk award, and has performed on Austin City Limits, Mountain Stage, and at the Kerrville Folk Festival. He has over 15 CDs to his credit, and dozens of wonderful songs. Dana has graciously given us permission to publish this charming love song, which you can hear on his latest CD, I Can Face the Truth, orat the link below.
                                           Flower and the Vine [video]                                    Flower and the Vine [lyrics and chords]

                                                                   BACK TO BACK, BELLY TO BELLY


It might be considered unusual to start the new year with a song about zombies, but this one has special significance for me.  In about 1959, when my Dad brought home our first Hi-Fi record player – a little RCA in a blonde cabinet on spindly legs, the first two LP albums he bought were The Kingston Trio at the Hungry I and Harry Belafonte at Carnegie Hall.  I was hooked from that point on.  I wanted to do nothing but play folk music for the rest of my life.  Zombie Jamboree was one of the more notable songs on the Kingston Trio’s album.  Dave Guard tells about this song in the introduction to their rendition, which you can hear at the link below.

                                     Zombie Jamboree [video]                                           Zombie Jamboree [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                         HEY FOR CHRISTMAS

This song was first published as a broadside in London in the 1600s. The tune is by the legendary English Baroque composer Henry Purcell. I am pretty sure the good Master Purcell did not write the words, which tell of a festive and rather bawdy Christmas celebration, which apparently was not unusual in seventeenth century England. Many more verses exist in the various sources. The version below is as performed by Houston’s Wylde Meade. To hear the tune go to the link below.
                                       The Shropshire Wakes [video]                                 The Shropshire Wakes [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                               TEXAS IS CALLIN’ ME


Blair Powell was a close friend and mentor of our November Second Saturday artist Steve Fisher.  Blair asked that Steve sing at his memorial service, which took place in Kerrville at the festival.  Steve wrote more than one song for Blair, because he said that just one song was not enough of an homage.  You can hear Steve perform this song at   MEMORIAL DAY , on his CD, Count Me In or at the link below

                                    Memorial Day [video]                                               Memorial Day[lyrics and chords]                    

                                                                                IT’S NOT A MASQUERADE BALL

Our song this month comes from the timely pen of our editor, Cehlena Solus, and is published here with her permission.  This song’s back story is pretty self-evident.  One of the things I like about it is the uncommon way it begins on the IV chord.  Many Celtic songs do that – not surprising, considering that Cehlena is the leader of a Celtic band called Wylde Meade.  You can hear this song performed at the link below.

                             Pandemic Shadows [video]                                       Pandemic Shadows [lyrics and chords]

                                              A-CRAWLIN’ IN YOUR WHISKERS


One of Canada’s most iconic folk songs, the song recounts his experience while he was visiting Northern Ontario with an Ontario Hydro survey party to study the feasibility of a dam on the Little Abitibi River, which flows north towards James Bay.  You can hear this song performed by the author at the link below.

                             Black Fly Song [video]                                               Black Fly Song [lyrics and chords]

                                              WHERE WERE YOU LAST FRIDAY NIGHT


There are many versions and verses of this song.  This is how Tony Rice recorded it fairly early in his career.  You also get to hear some of Tony’s unparalleled flat-picking.  This was back when his playing was still fairly traditional, which is my favorite era of his work.  You can hear the song at the link below.

                            Way Downtown [video]                                                 Way Downtown [lyrics and chords]


                                                     DID THE HOT DOGS TASTE BETTER?

The things in this song are true, except for the ones that I made up.  Mostly true.  The streetcar ran down Colonial Ave. in South Dallas right by Grandpa’s house.  You can hear this song performed by Across the Water at the link below.

                         Grandpa, Do You Wonder [audio]                                      Grandpa, Do you Wonder [lyrics and chords]

                                                  MY FEET THEY ARE SO TENDER

The historical setting of this ballad is most likely either the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714) or the Seven Years War (1756-1763).  High Germany refers to the mountainous, Alpine southern part of Germany.  Cecil Sharp collected a version of this song in 1906, and it was actually recorded on phonograph by Percy Grainger in 1908.  You can hear the great English folksinger Martin Carthy perform this song at the link below.

                              High Germany [video]                                               High Germany [lyrics & chords]


Otto P. Kelland wrote this song in 1947.  Kelland was a prison warden at St. John’s Penitentiary in Newfoundland when he decided to set to music a conversation he once had with a sea captain about a sailor longing for his southeastern Newfoundland home.  You can listen to Stan Rogers perform the song here at the link below.
                           Let Me Fish off Cape St. Mary's [video]                     
Let Me Fish off Cape St. Mary's [lyrics & chords]


Our member and friend John A. Lomax III sent us some CDs copied from a vinyl album he produced in 1964 of live performances at the Jester in Houston.  For those of us who remember The Jester, the CD is a wonderful 60’s cultural document.  The artists include Guy Clark, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Frank Davis, Alex Martin, Kay Oslin, Scott Holtzman, and others.  I have transcribed Guy’s performance of Cotton Mill Girls.  You can hear this performance on the HFMS Audio Archive page at  I have transcribed the song in D.  It sounds like Guy is playing in D with a capo on the first fret.  For the first three people who email me at, I will bring a free copy of the CD to the April 9 Second Saturday concert with New York singer-songwriter Paul Sachs.
                                             Cotton Mill Girls [audio]                            Cotton Mill Girls [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                                   CAN’T BELIEVE WHAT I SAW

This one is from the pen of Rag editor Cehlena Solus.  Cehlena says:  “I was sitting at Meyer Park looking at the nutria and thinking how fun  it would to write a song that included  them.  And I was reading a murder mystery around the same time about a bunch of crazy guys doing some wild stuff down in the Louisiana bayous.  I got to thinking, we have bayou's here but you don't really see nutria too often.  I wonder why? From there my imagination just went kind of wild and I wrote a song about what might happen if we had pirates and spotted nutria on our bayou during Mardi Gras!”  You can hear this song performed by Wylde Meade at the link below.

                                    Bayou Pirates [audio]                                              Bayou Pirates [lyrics and chords]


Old-time banjo fans, this is your moment!  This is one of Uncle Dave Macon’s classic banjo tunes – and a lively, fun one it is.  I found a charming performance on Youtube by young Nora Brown CumberlandMtnDeerChase, and she gives a great demonstration of frailing the way Uncle Dave played it.  I couldn’t understand all her words, so the lyrics below are the way I learned it.  But the tune is the same.  You  can also hear it at the link below.

                               Cumberland Mtn Deer Chase [video]                           Cumberland Mtn Deer Chase [lyrics & chords]


This is a Canadian folk song, though it was first published on song sheets in America in the 1820s.  It became better known when it was referred to in a serialized story in Vanity Fair magazine called The Prrimpenny Family in 1861.  It has been recorded by an imposing list of Celtic and folk artists, including The Clancy Brothers, The Dubliners, The Chieftains, and Sinaed O’Connor.  You can hear a beautiful version of this song by Malachi Cush and Dierdre Bonner at the link below.

                                             Peggy Gordon [video]                               Peggy Gordon [Lyrics & Chords]

Jimmie Joe and Chrissy Natoli – The Better Halves -- gave us a wonderful show at the November Second Saturday Concert.  In this one, from their 2014 CD, All Over the Map Jimmy Joe dazzled us with both his Chet Atkins-style picking and his songwriting.  You can hear it performed at their website:
                                                           Olden_Days                 Olden_Days_Lyrics & Chords


There is a traditional version of this song.  You can hear Rhiannon Giddens perform it here:  Rhiannon Giddens Version  And then Dirk Powell came along, and penned this extraordinary song of the same title – similar in some respects.  I was so impressed with Powell’s version that I emailed him requesting permission to publish his song here, and he answered me right back, graciously giving his permission, and adding that he wouldn’t mind playing Houston some time.  So here it is.  You can hear a beautifully arranged version by him at:  Dirk Powell or on the Audio Archive page of the HFMS website at

                                      Video:  Waterbound - Dirk Powell                                                 Lyrics and Chords:  Waterbound

                                                                                       IT STUNG LOTS WORSE THAN A HIVE OF BEES

This is one of the “orphan” lyrics Woody Guthrie wrote towards the end of his life when he was too sick with Huntington’s Chorea to play the guitar, so he could not compose music.  In 1998, Woody’s daughter Nora commissioned Billy Bragg and the band Wilco to compose and record music for some of these lyrics.  This version is from Across The Water’s second CD, Waterproof.  You can hear it at the link below.  Capo IV to play along with the recording.

                           Audio by Across The Water                                            Lyrics and Chords:  Way Over Yonder in the Minor Key


Woody Guthrie wrote this song in 1940, and it was published that year in his album of Dust Bowl Ballads.  Woody performs it in his inimitable boom-chuk upbeat style, which you can listen to here:  Woody's Version  I have also heard this song performed as a slow, mournful lament, like this version by Billy Bragg:  Billy Bragg's Version  I like both versions so much that I chose to put them both out here.  I have transcribed the chords to Woody’s version.  If anyone wants the more elaborate chords for the Billy Bragg version, Email me (posted on the last page of this issue), and I will work them out and send them to you.  You can get most of them just by watching Billy’s left hand in the video.

                  Video:  Woody's Version                 Video:   Billy Bragg's Version          Ain't Got No Home [Lyrics & Chords]


Born Joseph Emmanuel Hagglund to Swedish-American parents in 1879, union activist and songwriter Joe Hill was executed for committing murder in 1915 in Salt Lake City.  Documents uncovered in the 21st century strongly suggest that Hill was innocent.  He was executed by a police firing squad.  His political notoriety as a vigorous and effective organizer for the IWW may have influenced his conviction.  Thus, with his death he became a towering martyr to the cause of organized labor.  Joan Baez performed this song at Woodstock in 1969, and it was released as a single by Vanguard in 1970.  I learned it from her recording.  You can hear Joan perform the song at the link below.

                                                         Joe Hill [video]                                                              Joe Hill [lyrics and chords]
                                                                                              AMELIA, OPEN UP THAT THROTTLE

Amelia Earhart was the first female aviator to fly solo across the Atlantic Ocean in 1928, for which she received the Distinguished Flying Cross medal.  In July, 1937 – three weeks prior to her fortieth birthday, she and her navigator Fred Noonan disappeared over the central Pacific Ocean in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe.  Second Saturday artist Ben Bedford has generously granted us permission to publish his inspiring (and unabashedly feminist) ballad about her.

                                            AMELIA [video]                                     AMELIA [lyrics and chords]                             

                                                                    WITH HEARTS UNDAUNTED AND COURAGE TRUE

A song about cold weather seemed to be in order.  This traditional ballad about Lord John Franklin’s ill-fated expedition in 1845 to find a Northwest Passage around the pole is one of my favorites.  There were a great many recordings on Youtube to choose from – some by big “names” like Sinead O’Connor and Pentangle.  I liked this version by Andy Toman, which you can hear at the link below.  As with all traditional songs, you will find somewhat different words with different versions.

                                     Lady Franklin's Lament [video]                                         Lady Franklin's Lament [lyrics and chords]

                                                    THEY ATE OF OUR MEAT

On February 13, 1692, an estimated 30 members and associates of Clan MacDonald of Glen Coe were killed by government forces for failing to pledge allegiance to the new monarchs, William III of Scotland and Mary II.  The MacDonalds were Jacobites, participating in an uprising to restore James II to the throne.  The government of William III sought to make a brutal example of them for all the Jacobites.  This tactic worked; the uprising in the Highlands ended with the massacre of Glen Coe.  You can hear a nice version of this song by The Corries at youTube link, or at the link below.

                                       Massacre of Glencoe [video]                                    Massacre of Glencoe [lyrics and chords]


Our January issue actually comes out closer to Christmas than the December one, so here goes with my favorite Christmas carol.  Christina Rosetti composed it as a poem in 1872, then the noted English composer Gustav Holst set it to music in 1906.  It makes a lovely vocal piece with acoustic guitar.  You can hear a beautiful version of this song by Dan Fogelberg at In The Bleak Mid Winter.

In the Bleak Mid Winter [video]                                In the Bleak Mid Winter [lyrics and chords]

                                                               Starin' Out My Window

This song by our Editor, Cehlena Solus, “…really came from staring out the window,” she says.  “Seeing the wind blow through the trees on the walks I take daily with the dogs along the bayou.”  “Music is all around us in nature if we just take a moment and listen.”  You can hear this song at  or at the link below.
                                              Stepin' Into Color [video]                                             Stepin' Into Color [lyrics and chords]

                                                          I CLIMBED THE WALLS THE ROMANS LEFT BEHIND


Jack Williams has graciously given us permission to print this song from his fine album, Walkin’ Dreams.  He wrote it on one of his several tours performing in England.  Jack tells us that the brothers mentioned in verse four were actually his ancestors – sixteen generations back.  Walkin’ Dreams is still available through Jack’s website:

                                  An English Moment [video]                                        An English Moment [lyrics and chords]

                                       ONE KIND FAVOR


I was listening to Lightnin’ Hopkins sing this on 33rpm vinyl before I ever heard him do it at the Will Rice commons in Houston in 1962.  But this song goes way back before that.  It was recorded (and some say written) by Blind Lemon Jefferson in 1927.  The list of people who have recorded it since goes on forever, as does the number of different ways to treat the song.  Listening to different versions on Youtube was so interesting that I have provided two versions for contrast.  First, a modern ensemble arrangement by Del McCoury and Friends where they treat it almost like a spiritual.

                  One Kind Favor - Del McCoury              One Kind Favor - Blind Lemon Jefferson      One Kind Favor [lyrics & chords]

                                         ON THE LEFT FOOT, PEG FOOT


I got chills the first time I heard this song in about 1959.  It must have been The Weavers’ version, because I don’t know if anyone else had recorded it yet.  The song was first published in 1928 by the Texas Folklore Society.  The A major IV chord at the beginning of the chorus gives the song a very interesting Dorian mode flavor.  The Weavers are actually performing it in E flat minor, so to play along with them you could tune down a half step, or transpose it to D minor and capo up one.  The drinking gourd is, of course, the Big Dipper constellation in which two of its stars point to Polaris, the north star.  Pete Seeger tells more of the story of the song in the intro to their recording, which you can hear at the link below.

                            Follow the Drinking Gourd [video]                                  Follow the Drinking Gourg [lyrics and chords]

                                BRING ALL MY WORRIED NATIONS

 I think this song is a gem tucked away amid the hundreds and hundreds of Woody’s songs.  Some of the concerns Woody writes about are little different from those of today.  You can hear an excellent rendition of this song by Joel Raphael from his 2-CD tribute album of Woody Guthrie songs at the link below.

                           Dance Around My Atom Fire  [video]                                               Dance Around My Atom Fire [lyrics and chords]


                                                       WHO WILL WEAR THE ROBE AND CROWN?

A lot of us may think of Valley to Pray as a folk song.  In fact it was written by the great gospel composer Albert E. Brumley (1905-1977), who also composed I’ll Fly Away, Turn Your Radio On, and many other gospel classics.  The song is also widely known as Down in the River to Pray, as recorded by Allison Krauss and many others.  To me, it is Valley to Pray because that is the version I first heard by Arlo Guthrie 50 years ago.  The song has been recorded by a great many people, perhaps least notably by Across the Water on their a cappella CD, No Strings Attached, so that is the version I have transcribed here, and that you can hear at the link below.

                                 Valley To Pray [audio]                                                                 Valley to Pray [lyrics & chords]            

                                         I WILL PAWN YOU THIS HEART IN MY BOSOM

We haven’t had a Carter Family song in this space for quite a while.  Here is one that A. P. Carter wrote in 1933 and recorded for RCA Victor.   They recorded the song in B-flat, which means it was probably played in G shape with the capo on the third fret.  So I have transcribed it in G, and you can capo wherever it is comfortable for you to sing it.  You can listen to the Carter Family’s original version of this song at the link below.
                           GOLD WATCH AND CHAIN [video]                                       GOLD WATCH AND CHAIN [lyrics & chords]



Thinking of absent friends in this time of isolation, I reached out to my old band mate Steve Goodchild, and he gave us his permission to publish this song of his – also about an absent friend.  This song was recorded by Across the Water, but also more recently by Steve on his excellent solo CD, Nooks and Crannies.  You can hear Steve’s rendition at the link below.
                                   Time, Gentlemen Please [audio]                                       Time, Gentlemen Please [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                                       WILL YE GANG TO THE HIELANDS


It’s been a while since we had a good old Child ballad in this space, so here’s a pretty one to learn.  Like most songs this old, there are many variants out there, especially of the lyrics on this one.  You can hear this version performed by The Corries  at YouTube location ,  or at the link below.  I have Americanized some of the dialect, but not all.  Capo at the second fret and play in C as indicated and you will be in tune with the recording.  Thanks to Cehlena Solus of Wylde Meade for digging this one up.

                                                Will Ye Gang ... [video]                                                  Will Ye Gang ... [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                                       DID YOU TRY TO ABSCOND WITH A BEAUTIFUL BLONDE?

This song was first published in 1927 in Carl Sandbug’s American Songbag.  But it obviously harks back to an earlier time when the Territories were a place a person could get a new start, and sometimes, of necessity, with a new name.  You can hear this song performed by Jimmy Driftwood at (Jimmy sings completely different lyrics, which pretty well clinches the fact that this is a folk song.  So just pick the verses you like.)  You can also hear this song at the link below.

                                   What Was Your Name in the States [video]                                 What Was Your Name in the States [lyrics and chords]

                                                                    SHE CHURNED THE BUTTER IN DAD’S OLD BOOT

This one was always a standard to do for kids – young or old.  I learned it from Pete Seeger’s record, How to Play the Five String Banjo, published around 1961.  I wonder how many kids today would know what a churn was, or a dasher.  Or butter, for that matter.  You can hear how Pete did the song with audience participation at, or at the link below.
                                         Risselty Rosselty [video]                                            Risselty Rosselty [lyrics and chords]                                      

                                                                                       THE ANGELS SING A LULLABY


Ben Bedford returns to Second Saturday January 11 (see Page 1).  Ben can bring history and literature alive with his songwriting, and this song from his excellent CD, Lincoln’s Man, is a fine example.  The last verse, with its interwoven references to Jack London’s works, is a songwriting tour de force.  I’ve transposed it to a lower key for easier singing.  You can access a video of Ben Bedford singing this at the link below.

                                             Goodbye Jack [video]                                                     Goodbye Jack [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                                            A HUNGRY FEELIN’


This song was first performed as part of a play by Brendan Behan, who is credited with composing it.  Learning that came as a surprise to me, because when I first heard it performed by Ian and Sylvia in the early 60’s it sure sounded like an old folk song.  It is based on Behan’s personal experience at Mountjoy Prison, where he was confined at one time.  You can hear this song at, or at the link below.
                                               Royal Canal [video]                                                            Royal Canal [lyrics and chords]

                                                                                     HOW CAN A YOUNG MAN STAY AT HOME

This is a great jamming tune, and the verses can go on forever.  Any of the dozens of verses to “Shady Grove” will fit, among others.  You can hear a nice rendition of this song by the Dublin group We Banjo 3 at,, or at the link below.

Down The River Uncle Joe [video]                                       Down The River Uncle Joe [lyrics and chords]

                                                                               BEND DOWN THE TALLEST TREE       


It’s not Christmas yet, but not too early to start learning a carol or two.  This song has the rare distinction of being both a Child ballad and a Christmas carol.  It dates back to at least the 15th century, where it is known to have been sung at the Feast of Corpus Christi  This is the version I learned from a 1961 Joan Baez record (Yes, a vinyl record.  I still have it).  The chords are slightly different from some other versions, but I love her treatment of it, which you can hear at the link below.

                                       The Cherry Tree Carol [video]                                          The Cherry Tree Carol [lyrics and chords]


                                                                             ALL THE LADS HAVE GOT THE SACK


The Rhondda Valley in South Wales has been synonymous with coal mining since the mid-nineteenth century, and the fortunes of the region and its people have always paralleled those of the coal industry.  Pete Seeger’s song “The Bells of Rhymney” based on the poem by Welsh poet Idris Davies mentions “the black bells of Rhondda” – black from the coal dust.  This song was written by Frank Hennessey during a miners’ strike.  The reference to “Roben’s axe” refers to Alfred Robens, who was Chairman of the National Coal Board from 1961 to 1971.  You can hear this song performed by The New Barleycorn at the link below.  If all the Welsh names in the last verse don’t roll easily off your tongue, it would probably not violate the folk process to substitute Anglicized Welsh names like Morgan, Davis, Edwards.

                                  Farewell to the Rhondda [video]                                      Farewell to the Rhondda [lyrics and chords]


                                                                                                                      ONE CHORD  WOODY

This one presents a real dilemma between authenticity and art.  As you can see here, Woody performed it playing a D major chord throughout the song.  And the purity and earnestness of the song certainly comes out when it is done that way.  But to my musical taste, the melody cries out for a minor chord at the beginning, and the dramatic change to the relative major in the second line, as in this fine rendition from 1965 by Tracy Newman   You can take your pick.  That’s why they call it folk music.  I have notated the chords the way Tracy plays it.  You can play it as she does in the A minor chord shape and capo anywhere from open up to V or so to fit your vocal range.

     Pastures of Plenty [video with Woody]               Pastures of Plenty [video with Tracy Newman]        Pastures of Plenty [lyrics and chords]

                                                                       ‘TIS NATURE’S NEED; ‘TIS GOD’S DECREE

The leaders of the Abolitionist movement set up anti-slavery singing circles and wrote special songs for them, generally set to the tune of old hymns. The best of them was this “Abolitionists Hymn” set to the familiar “Old Hundredth.”, which was published in the Genevan Psalter in 1551.  John Pierpont wrote the lyrics as a poem in 1842.  If you have ever accompanied a hymn singalong, you will know that many hymn tunes change chords just about every beat. This one is no exception, so don’t take it too fast.  I have simplified the chords somewhat from the nice rendition by Stephen Griffith that can be found at the link below.

                                    The Abolitionist Hymn [video]                                                     The Abolitionist Hymn [lyrics and chords]