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

                                                                               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]


 I heard this song before I knew it was by Pete Seeger, It could be taken as “political.”  Or not.  I took it as a pretty cool piece of music, and a good cautionary tale, and still do.  You can hear Pete perform this song at the link below.

                                     Waist Deep In The Big Muddy [video]                                               Waist Deep In The Big Muddy [lyrics and chords]


Dave van Ronk is often associated with blues and jazz – and he did not write a great many songs.  Dave is quoted as having said there were so many great songs by other people that it didn’t make sense to spend time writing more.  But he penned this lovely lyric that appeared in his 1985 album, Going Back to Brooklyn.  It is quite easy to learn.  I have transcribed it in the key Dave performed it in.  If you don’t fancy making the C# minor barre chord, you can capo at IV and play it C chord shape, so that the C#m becomes a comfy old Am shape.  You can play along with Dave on the recording posted at the link below.
                                     Another Time and Place [video]                                               Another Time and Place [lyrics and chords]


This one is a shout-out to my wonderful friends from the North of England.  Geordie Ridley was not the original Geordie, but a much revered one among these folks who love their music and their musicians.  Blaydon is about 4 miles from Newcastle.  And yes, interurban bus service (horse-drawn) did exist in England in 1862.  Some of the events in the song are real, it seems.  Coffy Johnny was an actual historical figure.  Ridley sang this song at Balmbra’s Music Hall on June 5, 1862.  “Blaydon Races” has become an anthem for Newcastle United, and they sing it at all the games.  Indeed, some call this song the unofficial Geordie anthem.  This goes out to Helen, Steve, Chris, Michael and John – though Helen is the one actually from the town where they hung the monkey.  You can hear this song at the link below.

                                            Blaydon Races [video]                                                          Blaydon Races [lyrics and chords]


David Massengill put on an outstanding show for us at the March second Saturday concert.  This song is always one of his most-requested, and I have heard a number of people say that it is their favorite among David’s many great songs.  The rolling, dulcet tones of his dulcimer provide a perfect accompaniment.  David has graciously given us permission to publish his song.   The rendition here is from a live performance at the Austin Acoustical Café;  you can hear at the link below.

                                              Rider on An Orphan Train  [video]                                              Rider on An Orphan Train [lyrics and chords]



The notion of an afterlife called Fiddlers Green where old sailors go (those who don’t go to hell, anyway) first appears in literature in an 1856 novel by Frederick Marryat called The Dog Fiend.  This song was written in 1960 by John Connolly and paints a lovely picture of this place long-celebrated in myth, story and song.  You can hear a nice version of this song by The New Barleycorn at the link below.

                                               Fiddler's Green [video]                                                 Fiddler's Green [lyrics and chords]


The Folk Alliance International invited Joe Crookston, our February 10 Second Saturday artist (see Page 1) to be the Artist in Residence at the 2016
Conference in Kansas City MO. Joe collaborated with the National World War I Museum in Kansas City, digging into their archives of letters,
photographs, field recordings and objects from WWI. After reading hundreds of letters, Joe chose to tell the story of Florence Hemphill, a woman.
 A nurse of Scottish ancestry from Wilson County Kansas. A worker less honored in the history books. Florence was a courageous medical presence
in France during some of the most intense fighting.  This song is on Joe’s newest CD, Joe Crookston 2017, or you can hear it at the link below.

Letters of Florence Hemphill [audio]                                   Letters of Florence Hemphill [lyrics and chords]



This song was not composed by Lead Belly, but is a traditional song that he seems to have been the first to record.  Though popular in the folk music and bluegrass community for decades, this song received its greatest boost when Nirvana performed it on MTV Unplugged in 1993, and Kurt Cobain referred to Lead Belly as his favorite performer ever.  The song is played in E major, but to sing it like Lead Belly you need to start the first note on the word “my” a little flat – around a G note – and slide up in the direction of the G# that is contained in the E chord.  You can hear this song performed by Lead Belly at the link below.

                                      Where Did You Sleep Last Night [video]                                    Where Did You Sleep Last Night [lyrics and chords]


Michael Troy’s music may be one of the lesser-known treasures of 21st century American acoustic music.  His sad ballads of life in his home town of Fall River, Massachusetts earned him the sobriquet of “The Poet Laureate of Fall River”.  Michael played for us at Second Saturday in 2007 and 2011, and was a Kerrville New Folk winner in 2010.   We lost Michael to cancer on November 29, 2015.  This deeply evocative Christmas song from his CD Mill Town Boy is representative of Michael’s best work.  The CD is still available on CDBaby, or you can hear the song on the link below.
                                                                             Shine Boy [video]                                              Shine Boy [lyrics and chords]


Oklahoma singer-songwriter Steve Fisher graciously gave us permission to publish this excellent song of his from his CD, The Ancient Causeway.  Steve has performed at Second Saturday, and was a Kerrville New Folk winner in the 1990’s.  Steve has a pretty low voice, so you might want to capo it a bit higher, or even transpose it to C or D.  You can also hear Steve perform this song at the link below.
                                                                    Best That I Can Do [audio]                            Best That I Can Do [lyrics and chords]        



The delightfully bawdy Maid of Amsterdam was first documented in the mid-1800’s, but is attributed by some scholars to a work by Thomas Heywood in 1608.  You can hear it performed by Wylde Meade on the link below.   Wylde Meade introduces the song with Bayou Town Shanty, which is also shown here.
Maid of Amsterdam [audio]                      Maid of Amsterdam [lyrics and chords]



We are very fortunate to have Thad Beckman as our September, 2017 Second Saturday artist, and he generously gave us permission to publish one of his songs this month.  This bluesy lyric is the title song of Thad’s 2015 CD, Streets of Disaster.  Not only will we hear this and many more of Thad’s fine originals Saturday night, but he has promised to teach us that cool introductory lick at the fingerpicking workshop he will give Sunday afternoon, September 10 at 2:00 PM at Paul Cooper’s house.  You can hear this song at the link below.
Streets of Disaster [video]                                Streets of Disaster [lyrics and chords]



Written in 1970 by Pete St. John, this song became world famous in 1990 when it was adopted as an anthem by the Irish National Football team.  The song is set during the Great Famine of 1845-1850.  “Trevelyan” in the song refers to Charles Edward Trevelyan, a senior British civil servant at Dublin Castle who famously said, “The judgement of God sent the calamity to teach the Irish a lesson.”  You can hear this song performed by The Dubliners at [Daily Motion Video], or at the link below.
                                                 Fields of Athenry [video]                                                 Fields of Athenry [lyrics and chords]



This tune will be familiar to most of us.  IRA rebel Bobby Sands was a fan of Gordon Lightfoot, and composed this song to the tune of “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” while in an English prison.  Musically, I like this song better than Lightfoot’s because the short but powerful chorus provides a break from the repetitive melody of the verses.  For the music track, I’ve chosen a self-posted video by “Sheena” because she shows us how to do a fine solo rendition with guitar (which is how most of us would be doing it), and you can see exactly what she is doing on guitar.  She is playing in Am Capo IV.
Back Home in Derry [video]                                     Back Home in Derry [lyrics and chords]


We are a little late to bring you this song for May Day, but still very pleased to offer this one up.  Though he penned scores of great songs, like the one below, Jack Hardy’s influence on folk and acoustic music goes far beyond the songs he wrote.  He was a mentor and coach to a great many young singer-songwriters, hosting regular Monday night workshops at his flat in New York for decades.  He established a musical cooperative called Fast Folk, which provided the first recording opportunity for a large number of young artists, including Lyle Lovett, Suzanne Vega, Tracy Chapman and Shawn Colvin.  You can hear his song on Jack’s 1978 CD, The Nameless One,  or the link below.

                                       May Day [youTube Video]                                                        May Day [lyrics and chords]



We could consider this a 19th century anti-war song.  It was first collected around 1840 in Limerick by Patrick Weston Joyce.  Many traditional songs tell of aggressive recruitment tactics and paying the king’s gold or getting young men drunk to get them to enlist.  I haven’t previously seen one where the would-be “recruits” take matters into their own hands quite as forcefully as Arthur McBride and his cousin.  You can hear a charming rendition of this song by an unidentified group at the link below.

                                   Arthur McBride [video with lyrics]                                                            Arthur McBride [lyrics and chords]



Our March Second Saturday artist Danny Schmidt graciously gave us permission to reprint this anthem-like song.  His partner Carrie Elkin did a wonderful job singing lead on it at our March 11 concert.  Danny and 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).
                                                Company of Friends [audio]                                                             Company of Friends [lyrics and chords]


                                                                            NEVER TURN YOUR BACK ON A BONNIE WEE LASSIE


In 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.

                                            Sweet Cornlough Bay [video]                                                    Sweet Cornlough Bay [lyrics & chords]

The Road to Lubeck  by Paul Cooper

In 1705, when he was twenty years old, J.S. Bach took a six-week leave of absence from his job as music director at the Lutheran Church in Arnstadt, Germany and walked two hundred miles to Lubeck to hear an organ recital by his hero Dietrick Buxtehude  the greatest organist of his day.  I was struck by this commitment and passion for music on Bach's part.  I started speculating about what might have gone through his mind on this journey.  First I guessed he might have been thinking about his career and his contributions to music  inventing the well-tempered scale and such.  Getting a little more whimsical, I saw him looking into the future, comparing himself to other composers  maybe getting a little jealous of Handel.   Listen carefully to the melody in the last two lines of the chorus.  The song changes key every measure as it works its way around the circle of fifths.

                       Road To Lubeck(audio)           Lyrics and Chords

                                       MINSTREL BOY TO THE WAR HAS GONE              
submitted by Paul Cooper

This is one of those songs that many can recognize, but few can name that tune. The tune is familiar, because it has been used as background in several movies (Saving Private Ryan, Blackhawk Down, The Man Who Would Be King) and TV shows (Star Trek). The song was originally composed as an Irish patriotic air by Thomas Moore (1779-1852) who composed it in memory of his Trinity College friends who died in the irish rebellion of 1798. Over the centuries it has come to stand as a universal anti-war song.
                                 The Minstrel Boy sung by Tommy Makem (audio)                            Lyrics and Chords



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  (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)


By Steve Goodchild

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.

Lyrics and Chords                                            Time, Gentlemen Please (audio)