I BELIEVE IN LIGHTNING BUGS
March Second Saturday artist Danny Schmidt graciously gave us
reprint this anthem-like song. His
Carrie Elkin did a wonderful job singing lead on it at our
Carrie were both veteran road warriors and singer-songwriters
when they became
a couple a few years ago.
You can hear
their arrangement on their 2104 duo CD, For Keeps, or
at the link below to
Danny Schmidt's webpage (Company of Friends is track #4).
honor of St. Paddy’s day this month, we offer this well-known
Irish ballad. Despite the Scots-sounding“bonnie wee lassie”,
this song is definitely Irish in origin. Carnlough Bay is in
Northern Ireland, and is, in fact, the location of Pat Hamill’s
Hotel (though it is now called the Glencloy Inn). Pat Hamill’s was a
center for cycling enthusiasts, where folks could stop off on
their excursions, and a brisk business in renting bicycles was
carried on there. You
can hear a lovely version of this song, sung by Jenny Martin at
the link below.
The Road to Lubeck by Paul Cooper
STEADY AND GRACEFUL, SOLID AND WISE
Submitted By Paul Cooper
For those of us who don't attend hockey games or ice skating rinks, a Zamboni is the big four-wheeled machine that comes out and smooths out the ice between skating sessions. Named for its inventor, Mr. Zamboni, this graceful monster makes quite an impression especially on kids. This song was written by Chris Hartman's sister Mary Hartman. The chorus of it was read by Garrison Keiller on his radio show during his Christmas song contest, and the song has also been heard on NPR's popular program, Car Talk. Mary says "Our local (minor league) hockey arena sometimes plays part of it between periods at hockey games when the Zamboni comes out". Mary says "We play it in C. I play G chords with the capo on the 5th fret, and Janet plays in C with no capo."
Mary performs with the trio Humphrey, Hartman and Cameron out in state of Washington. Their website is http://humphreyandhartman.com/. (It is worth visiting for the banjo haiku alone.) Please note that the audio file was made available by Mary for purposes of learning the song. It is not to be added to your permanent collection.Lyrics and Chords Zamboni (audio)
The notes to Across the Water's second album say: Joe Scurfield was a schoolmate, fellow soccer and rugby team player, and one of Steve's first musical collaborators. Came the time for the leaving, Steve and Joe went separate ways, neither knowing that they were to attend universities in adjacent towns, not 20 miles apart, both continuing to pursue their musical interests. Thirty years later, watching the Old Rope String Band while both were appearing at the Chester (England) Folk Festival, Steve recognized the balding, bearded troubadour as his erstwhile friend despite playing the fiddle whilst being supported upside-down with his head in a bucket of water! Sadly only a couple of years after renewing the acquaintance, Joe was run down by a drunk, speeding 'joyrider'in a stolen car whilst making his way to his local pub in Newcastle to catch last orders. "Time gentlemen, please" is a common phrase in the parlance of English pub landlords to announce that it is closing time.
WILLIE GOGGIN'S HAT
By Jack Hardy
Hardy was kind enough to give Across the Water permission
to record this song, and I am boldly assuming his
permission also extends to reproducing our version of it
song was inspired by one of Jack's many trips to
We perform the song in G, capoed up two frets. You can of course adjust the capo position to suit your vocal range,
A POPPY BY ANY COLOR
A HOLE IN THE HEART
Lucy Nell Andrews passed away, her family's Email screens
lit up with condolences and tributes from singers and
songwriters from all over the country who had graced her
living room. Lucy
Nell's house concerts were one of the pillars of the
Way out Here by Ken Gaines
opened our May Second Saturday Concert songwriter's circle
with this fine original.
Having heard Ken perform it for six or seven years
now, it's still one of my favorites. You can
substitute an F chord
for the Fmaj7
Ken plays at several points if you want a more folky
feeling, instead of the shimmery Fmaj7. You can
hear Ken perform this song with Karen Mal on his excellent
CD, Catfish Moon,
or solo on the HFMS Music archive web page at http://houstonfolkmusic.org/HFS_Audio_Archive.html
MY WEDDING DAY
(C. Mims) Pandulce Music BMI
Connie was one of the panel of three singer-songwriters who gave us such a fantastic show at our May Second Saturday Concert. She graciously gave us permission to publish this song of hers in the Rag. "My Wedding Day" is from Connie's 2008 CD release "Go Deep", produced by Jack Saunders at White Cat Studios, Houston. Connie performs this one with capo at Fret III. The chord designated as C2 in the chorus looks like this:
You can see Connie perform this song on YouTube at: Connie on YouTube, or listen to it on the Audio Archive page of the HFMS website at: http://houstonfolkmusic.org/HFS_Audio_Archive.html.
JUST PUT 'IM IN A HEARSE
Bully of the Town
You will hear this tune frequently as an instrumental performed by bluegrass and old-time music groups. For years I thought it was a fiddle tune without words until I heard someone sing it at a bluegrass jam in New Jersey. There are many variations on the lyrics -- these are my favorites. I think the last verse is a classic! Even if you don't choose to learn the song, you should listen at least once to Gid Tanner and his great guitarist Riley Puckett. They were important pioneers in the development of the music we know today as bluegrass.
THAT RIVER LIFE FOR ME WAS JUST A DREAM
1856 the steamboat Arabia struck the stump of a
submerged walnut tree in the mighty Missouri River
just south of
THE ANGELS SING A LULLABY
Bedford's songs are often historical -- sometimes
literary -- sometimes both, as in this fine song
about Jack London.
The last verse is comprised almost entirely
of allusions to
AND WILLIE WILL SING AT MY SERVICE
By Paul Cooper
by Paul Cooper
Joe Crookston's songs about people
and events draw the listener in emotionally as much as
any singer-songwriter I know. Joe's CD,
"Able, Baker, Charlie and Dog", of which this is the
title song, received the most airplay of any folk
album at the time it was released, and was awarded
"Album of the Year" by the International Folk
will perform at our March Second Saturday concert
March 9. This
song can be heard on Joe's CD by the same title or at
the link below.
SECOND GENERATION SUNSHINE
By Paul Cooper
is a first for our recently inaugurated song column. In January
we featured Mattie
May by Zachary's mom, Carolyn Davis. This month
we are happy to present this lyrical delight which
Zachary first performed for us at one of the pickin
parties a few months back. The first
verse and chorus show the actual chords created by
the lively guitar lick he uses in the accompaniment. The second
verse and chorus show a simplified version if you
just want to strum it.
You can hear this song on Zachary's online
profile at Reverbnation
or at the link below.
Lyrics and Chords Sunshine [audio]
GARFIELD, HE'S AS HUMAN AS HUMAN CAN BE
song by Eric Johnson
song by Eric Johnson
song by one of our talented members, Eric
wrote this song back in the 1980s. He
says he sent the song to the creator of the
is another song by one of our many talented
members, Lloyd Ernstes. Lloyd
has helped us out many times by running sound
at our Second Saturday concerts. You
can hear Lloyd's demo of this song at the link
recorded and mastered the demo at his studio
and music store in
FAEN WOULD I BE IN MY AEN COUNTRY
HFMS member Tony Paiotti did a nice job performing this fine old traditional song at our May 2013 Second Saturday concert. Tony plays it in G, capoed at the third fret. You can of course capo to suit your own vocal range. You can hear a recording of Tony's performance by using the link below. You can hear more of Tony's songs at www.youtube.com/user/1AcousticTony.The Broom of the Cowdenknowes [Lyric & Chords] Audio_File
SO LONG IT'S BEEN GOOD TO KNOW YUH
by Paul Cooper
by Paul Cooper
This one is dedicated to
our member and good friend Cal Perry,
who passed away on June 6. This
is one of the songs Cal and I performed
at Houston Christian High School's
presentation on Shakespeare's As
You Like It with a backup folk
So Long It's Been Good To Know You [Lyrics] Video with Rob Tepper lyrics as shown Video with Woody (alternative lyrics)
THEY FOUGHT ALL IN ONE MIND
I WAS ONCE A STATELY MANSION
this gospel-sounding melody, Bryan speaks
through the voice of an ante-bellum Southern
song will work with guitar just as well as
can hear this song on Bryan’s CD Home, Home
on the Road or at the link below. by Paul
by Paul Cooper
RUN OL' MOLLY RUN
by Paul Cooper
TELLIN’ HER LIES ON ME
by Paul Cooper
Elizabeth Cotton was a pioneer of American urban folk music, and particularly of the guitar style known as two finger pickin’. She played a standard strung guitar left-handed, which to most of us would be upside down. If you don’t know the story of how she was “discovered’ while working in the household of Pete Seeger’s family, it is worth looking up. Cotton wrote a number of other great songs, including Freight Train and Shake Sugaree, that have been recorded by a great number of artists. I suspect a lot more people know her music than know her name. You can hear this song performed by Elizabeth Cotton on YouTube on the link below:
BEEN SO LONG
HFMS member Gaylee Malone performed this classic sixteen-bar blues at the November pickin’ party – one of many fine songs she has written. Gaylee says everything in the song is taken from actual experience. She was one of the girls sittin’ at the station waving at the boys in green. You can hear this song on Gaylee’s CD, or at the link below.
SHE WAS VERY FOND OF DANCING
ago I took a trip to Connecticut with the
At the restaurant where we were
having lunch one day, a quartet dressed in
renaissance garb was performing folk and
traditional music, and they were very good. Fine
guitar players, terrific harmony. One
of the members was a a red-haired Australian
lady with a wonderful strong soprano voice. I
bought their tape (remember
audiocassettes?), learned that the name of
the group was Sheelta,
and listened to it all the way home. Fast
forward twenty years. When
I moved to Houston and heard Sue Atkins sing
at a pickin’ party, her voice seemed very
I overheard her mention Sheelta,
and sure enough, it was the same person. This
is the closing song on the tape – a great
story of disappointed love, as sad as it is
For the rhyme to work, you have to
give “clerk” the English pronunciation –
more like “clark”. You
can hear Sue perform this song at the link
MOVED HIS BODY LIKE A CANNON BALL
BANKS OF MARBLE
By Les Rice
Les Rice was a New York State apple farmer and one-time president of the Ulster County chapter of the Farmers Union. His songs have made him well-known to farmers throughout the northeast. This song, ‘Banks of Marble’, written around 1948-49 deals with the farmer’s perennial problem of “parity” and how it affects the farmer’s life. Pete Seeger recorded the song on at least two albums; and in a note in one of his songbooks he wrote that Rice ‘farms across the Hudson from me, near Newburgh [Orange County, New York]. Like most small farmers, he was getting intolerably squeezed by the big companies which sold him all his fertilizer, insecticide and equipment, and the big companies that dictated to him the prices he would get for his produce. Out of that squeeze came this song.. You can hear Pete perform this song on YouTube at the audio link below.
At our April 2014 song circle, Jorge Palomarez sang this beautiful love song in Spanish. His title for the song is “No Me Dejes Aqui” (Don’t Leave Me Here).
You can go to links below for the audio and the lyrics in Spanish along with the English translation.
We learned this song at a a
performance of English music hall numbers
the last night of the Chester Folk
The connection with folk music is
that many old music hall songs, such as
this one, from the 1800s are now
considered folk music, and thought by
many to be traditional. You
can hear this song on YouTube at link
UPSIDE DOWN LICKIN’ UP THE WHISKEY
by Paul Cooper
HAVE TO DO IT WHILE I’M HERE
Phil Ochs was a major voice in the Folk Revival and Anti-war Movement of the 1960’s, though his music is not heard much today. Born in El Paso, Texas, he took his own life in 1976 at the age of 35. This song, "When I'm Gone", is a philosophical statement couched in lovely poetic images, and based on a simple “turnaround” chord progression.
ONCE WE WERE BOLD…
A MIGHTY DAY
The Hurricane of 1900 made landfall on September 8, 1900, in the city of Galveston, Texas. It had estimated winds of 145 miles per hour (233 km/h) at landfall, making it a Category 4 storm on the Saffir–Simpson Hurricane Scale. It was the deadliest hurricane in US history, and the second costliest hurricane in U.S. history based on the dollar's 2005 value (to compare costs with those of Hurricane Katrina and others).
the dramatic melody and chord
changes suggest the hand of a
skilled composer, this song is
listed as “Traditional” in the
online sources I was able to find. You
can hear the song as performed by
the Chad Mitchell Trio at the link
Chad Mitchell’s lyrics are
somewhat different from those shown
here, but most of the verses are the
I believe the verses tell the
story best in the order shown below.
THAT KIND OF LOVEPierce Pettis gave us a fine show at the September Second Saturday concert, which included this song, one of his best known. If you are looking for a love song to learn, this near-scriptural paean to love itself would certainly qualify. This is the title song of a wonderful CD Pierce produced on his own label, Compass records Group of Nashville www.compassrecords.com. See links below for the audio file and the lyrics and chords document. Pierce performs the song in the key of E. I have transposed it down to D to make it a little more easily sung for most of us.
THROW THE VANDALS IN COURTThe lyrics to this song are from a 1938 work by the Welsh poet Idris Davies, later set to music by Pete Seeger, and first released in 1958 on an album Pete recorded with Sonny Terry. The song was made more famous in 1960’s recordings by the Byrds, Judy Colliins and others. You can hear how Pete Seeger performed it in 1964 at a concert in Australia at the link below. Pete takes careful pains to pronounce the Welsh place names correctly in this performance, which makes it useful for learning purposes.
BRENNAN ON THE MOOR
was an outlaw from County
Tipperary – the same county as the
Clancy brothers, whose inspiring
version of this song can be heard
at the link below.
This is such a great story,
it is hard not to be sympathetic
to Willie – though he is hanged in
the end, according to the rules
that outlaw ballads must follow.
Brennan on the Moor [youTube video] Brennan on the Moor [lyrics and chords]
Growing up in Dallas in the 1950s, I was aware there was a place east of downtown called Deep Ellum, but I knew very little about it. I did know that it was inhabited by folks with considerably darker complexions than ours, but I did not know that much of the music that represents mainstream 20th century American blues was being invented and performed there. Most importantly, I knew that Mom and Dad didn’t think it was any place us kids should be going. In the 1920s and ‘30s, Leadbelly, Robert Johnson, Blind Lemon Jefferson and Bessie Smith all performed there. The 1950s still saw the likes of Lightnin’ Hopkins, Blund Willie Johnson and T-Bone Walker performing there, among many others. Today, Deep Ellum’s status has been elevated to that of a historical district, but I think this song captures well the flavor of the place in its heyday. You can hear Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead perform this tune at the link below.
MAYBE – IT’S HARD TO SAYJoe Crookston from Ithaca, N.Y. is an amazing songwriter who has penned a great many songs about a great variety of people and their stories. In this highly philosophical tale, the melody is simple and traditional-sounding, but the chords are actually a little bit tricky, with frequent changes creating a lot of harmonic movement. This song, from Joe’s excellent 2011 CD, Darkling & the Bluebird Jubilee is published here with Joe’s gracious permission. You can access the lyrics, chords, and audio from the links below.
RIDE THROUGH THE LONELY NIGHTThis song was first published in Carl Sandburg’s The American Songbag in the 1930’s. Sandburg said he collected the song from a cowboy who was in the hospital with a broken leg. The portrait of the cowboy’s lost love (Laura) in the song is as poignant as it is brief. You can hear this lovely song at the link below.
put on a fine show for us at the
April Second Saturday concert.
This song by John Early,
one of the founding members of the
group, was among the ones they
Like many bluegrass lead
singers, John pitches his songs
I have taken it down from
the key of A to G for slightly
easier singing. If you want to
play along with the recording, you
can just capo at the second fret
and follow the chord symbols shown
You can listen to the song
on Hockory Hill’s CD, Freedom,
or at the link below.
Freedom [audio] Freedom [lyrics and chords]
This beautiful song tells the story of how Prince Charles Edward Stuart (Bonnie Prince Charlie) escaped in a small boat after the defeat of his Jacobite uprising of 1745. Disguised as a serving maid, Charles was spirited from Uist to the Isle of Skye after his defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. You can hear this song at the link below. If you want to play along with the group on the recording, capo at the first fret and play the chords in D as indicated below.
TO BUY THE COMPANY STORE
who died June 1 of this, first
L & N Don’t Stop Here
Anymore in 1965.
Since then it has been
covered in recordings by at least
21 other artists, and live by
countless other folk singers.
Born in an unincorporated
community in the Cumberland
Mountains of south eastern
Kentucky, Jean went on to graduate
Phi Beta Kappa from Kentucky
University, and later was awarded
a Fulbright Scholarship to trace
the links between American ballads
and songs from Britain and
You can hear Jean’s
original recording of this song at
the link below.
have transcribed the song below in
the same key as the original
The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore [video] The L & N Don't Stop Here Anymore [lyrics and chords]
This traditional song has been covered countless times by folk, folk rock and country artists – often with the lyrics altered to memorialize the passing of a particular person, as in the Byrds’ 1963 version that was a eulogy for John F. Kennedy. The lyrics shown here are the way I learned it from a folksinging friend in the early 1960’s, before different versions such as Willie Nelson’s (which can be heard on the sound track of Brokeback Mountain) and others became popular. The version recorded by The Greenbriar Boys, which can be heard at the link below. It is very similar to the way I first heard it (which is the way that sounds right to me, of course). A couple of chords shown below are slightly different, but fit perfectly with the melody.
GONNA LAY MY HEAD
Wikipedia lists 38 recorded covers of this song since it was written in 1924 by jazz pianist Richard M. Jones. It quickly became a blues standard, and many artists added lyrics of their own. I have included my favorite verses from a variety of sources in this transcription. The song can be found in a variety of styles, treatments and chord progressions. The Jerry Garcia Acoustic Band’s 1987 version is based on the chords shown here. You can hear this version at the link below.
A FLOWING GLASS I’LL RAISE
I was thinking about our October Second Saturday concert with Bryan Bowers, and remembered Bryan’s lovely rendition of this song (The Lake of Ponchartrain). The story obviously happens in America, though the song is a staple in the repertoire of many Irish groups, such as the Hothouse Flowers, whose beautiful version can be heard at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GKq0odvgtmc, or at the link below.