The Audio Archive of Songs Illustrated in the CPR
All music archived here by permission of the artist.


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]

                                                                                              YER ILL-SPUN YARN

This old Scottish song has an interesting prescription for the young man whose girl is in a family way:  Enlist and see the world.  If you don’t care for the dialect, it is perfectly appropriate to sing the conventional English words.  Most are easy to figure out.  “Owsen wis tae rin”  means “Oxen was to run”.  A bairn is, or course, a baby.  You can hear this song performed by The Corries at the link below.

                                        TWA Recruiting Seargants [video]                              TWA Recruiting Seargants [lyrics and chords]   

                                                                                                 IT AIN’T NO USE

Paul Clayton recorded this song in 1960, and it is widely acknowledged to be the source of Bob Dylan’s Don’t Think Twice.  This is an excellent song in its own right, and Paul’s autoharp accompaniment is a very nice touch.   Paul’s rendition from a Monument Records compilation is on an  album that included tracks by Roy Orbison, Billy Grammar, Grandpa Jones and others.  Sounds interesting.  I would like to look it up.  You can also hear the track available on youTube at the link below.

                            Who's Is Gonna Buy You Ribbons  [video]                           Who's Is Gonna Buy You Ribbons  [lyrics and chords]

                                                         THE WORST THAT I’VE EVER BEEN HURT IN MY LIFE

The Louvin Brothers were an American country music duo composed of brothers Ira Lonnie Loudermilk (1924–1965) and Charlie Elzer Loudermilk (1927–2011), better known as Ira and Charlie Louvin. They helped popularize close harmony, and could be considered direct forerunners of duos like The everly Brothers.. The brothers are cousins to John D. Loudermilk, a Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame member.  You can hear a lovely rendition of this sing by Jim and Jesse at the link below.
                                   When I Stop Dreaming [video]                                      When I Stop Dreaming [lyrics and chords]

                                                                         STILL AN ODE TO JOY


Our March 9 Second Saturday artist Steve Fisher has graciously given us permission to publish this lovely and wistful song from his new 2-CD release, Growin’ Roses.  Old-time Kerrverts will remember him winning New Folk in 1990, and his presence around the late-night campfires (and he’s there still).  You can hear this song on Steve’s new CD, or  at the link below.

                                      An Old House Near the Corner [audio]                        An Old House Near the Corner [lyrics & chords]                                                                

                                                                                  NO ONE EVER ASKED ABOUT IT


Pierce says he carried the idea for this song and his memories of Mr. Zeidman around for many years before he finally wrote it.  The newspaper article that you can find here:  open_the_article  tells the story better than I could.  He uses a very original chord progression in the song, but just about all the chords are quite accessible.  For the A9 chord in line 2, just fret the third and fourth strings both at the second fret, and that will work fine in this song.  This song is on Pierce’s new CD, Father’s Son, just released in January of this year, or you can listen to it by using the link below to view Pierce and David Webb performance of the song.   To play along with the recording, capo at the first fret and refer to the lyrics and chord sheet linked below.

                                        Mr. Zeidman [video]                                                    Mr. Zeidman [lyrics & chords]

                                                                                    TO MAKE THE WOUNDED WHOLE


“Is there no balm in Gilead?  Is there no physician there?  Why then is there no healing for the wounds of my people?”  This fine old African-American spiritual uses these words from Jeremiah 8:22 to also allude to faith in the healing and redemptive power of Jesus.  You can hear a lovely rendition of the song on the Audio Archive at the link below.  I have transcribed it in the same key as the recording.

                              Balm in Gilead [audio]                                                               Balm in Gilead [lyrics & chords]

                                                                                                  HEAVEN CANNOT HOLD HIM


This is my favorite Christmas carol, "In The Bleak Midwinter", and it goes very nicely with a guitar accompaniment.  The words are from a poem by Christina Rossetti published in 1872, and it was set to music in 1906 by the great Scandinavian composer Gustav Holst.  You can hear a very creditable version of this carol (in the same key, but slightly different chords) by James Taylor at the link below.

                            Heaven Cannot Hold Him [video]                                             Heaven Cannot Hold Him [lyrics & chords]

                                                                                       THERE IS NO JUDGE MORE FAIR THAN TIME

Benny Hughes tells the story that the first time Jack Hardy played at Tom Yeager’s Songbird Sanctuary, I called him up and said, “Benny, you’ve got to go hear this guy – he’s the real deal.”  Jack Hardy was indeed the real deal, and when we lost Jack in 2011, we lost not only a brilliant songwriter, but a major exponent of the folk music movement.  This is one of Jack’s many “Celtic” tunes, and a personal favorite.  You can hear this tune and play along with it at the  link below. 
                                             Blackberry Pie [video]                                                                Blackberry pie [lyrics & chords]



This song became well known around Houston when Bill graciously allowed Across The Water to perform and record it.  Bill and Kate are returning to Second Saturday October 13, and Hobos will no doubt be requested, and much of the audience will sing along.  Here are the chords and lyrics in case you want to practice up for Second Saturday.  You can hear Bill and Kate perform this song at the link below. I have transcribed the song in G.  If you want to play along on the video, capo at the first fret.

                                            Hobos in the Roundhouse [video]                              Hobos in the Roundhouse [lyrics and chords]

Paul Sachs is an alumnus of Jack Hardy’s Monday night songwriting gatherings in Greenwich Village. In 2010, he ventured from his life-long home of New York City for a road trip to Kerrville, Texas with Jack. He returned to Texas as a finalist in the Kerrville Folk Festival New Folk Competition in 2012 and as a winner in 2013. Paul’s maternal grandparents met in New York City after they emigrated from Ireland. This Irish heritage is subtly evident in some of his songwriting, including Family Secrets. You can hear this song on his excellent just-released CD, Full Detroit, or at the link below.
                                               Family Secrets [audio]                                              Family Secrets [lyrics and chords]


I first learned this song either from Pete Seeger’s record, How to Play the Five-String Banjo, or from his book, Americn Favorite Ballads in about 1961.  You wouldn’t expect a slow love ballad like this to be performed on the banjo, but Pete makes it work.  I have transcribed the chords in the key of G.  I think Pete plays it on the banjo in G tuning with the capo at the second fret, so capo II if you want to play along.  You can access the video at the link below.

                              All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies [video]                                      
All Ye Fair and Tender Ladies [lyrics and chords]