Sep 032011
 

Kumbaya

Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbayah;
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbayah;
Someone’s laughing, Lord, kumbayah,
O Lord, kumbayah.

Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbayah;
Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbayah;
Someone’s crying, Lord, kumbayah;
O Lord, kumbayah.

Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbayah;
Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbayah;
Someone’s praying, Lord, kumbayah;
O Lord, kumbayah.

Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbayah;
Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbayah;
Someone’s singing, Lord, kumbayah;
O Lord, kumbayah.

The tune: Kumbayah in G(ish) PDF

Sep 022011
 

Last night the Western Kentucky Hilltoppers lost to University of Kentucky 3 to 14 in what was really a beautiful football game. The Hilltoppers were on fire in the first quarter; I think the Kentucky had maybe a net gain of one yard in the first quarter. Maybe they got two or three… but Western held them to a number that the Kentucky students can reach without taking off their shoes.

What’s that got to do with moonshine, you ask. Well….. Probably nothing. I guess. Kinda made me nostalgic for good ol’ Western… and the top of the hill. I sure would like to go back there someday.

Come all you booze-buyers if you want to hear
About the kind of booze they sell around here.
Made way back in the swamps and hills
Where there’s plenty of moonshine stills.

Some moonshiners make pretty good stuff
Bootleggers use it to mix it up.
He’ll make one gallon, well he’ll make two
If you don’t mind boys, he’ll get the best of you.

One drop will make a rabbit whip a fool dog
And a taste will make a rabbit whip a wild hog.
It’ll make a toad spit in a black snake’s face
Make a hard shell preacher fall from grace.

The Tune: Kentucky Bootlegger in G (PDF)

Aug 312011
 

I danced in the morning when the world was young;
I danced in the moon and the stars and the sun;
I came down from heaven and I danced on the earth,
At Bethlehem I had My birth.

Dance, dance, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.
And I lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I lead you all in the dance, said He.

I danced for the scribes and the Pharisees;
They wouldn’t dance, they wouldn’t follow me.
I danced for the fishermen James and John;
They came with Me so the dance went on.

Dance, dance, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.
And I lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I lead you all in the dance, said He.

I danced on the Sabbath and I cured the lame;
The holy people said it was a shame.
They ripped, they stripped, they hung Me high–
Left Me there on the cross to die 

Dance, dance, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.
And I lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I lead you all in the dance, said He.

I danced on a Friday when the world turned black;
It’s hard to dance with the devil on your back.
They buried My body, they thought I was gone —
But I am the Dance, and the Dance goes on!

Dance, dance, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.
And I lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I lead you all in the dance, said He.

They cut me down and I leapt up high;
I am the life that will never, never die.
I’ll live in you if you’ll live in me —
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.

Dance, dance, wherever you may be;
I am the Lord of the Dance, said He.
And I lead you all, wherever you may be,
And I lead you all in the dance, said He.

The Tune: The Lord of the Dance in D (PDF)

Aug 212011
 

Ivory Lady

By request, here are two version of the reel The Ivory Lady. There is one version in G, which is much more playable, and one version in D, which is the key requested. To play in the key of F, the first one should be played on a Bb whistle and the second one on an F whistle. (Pick a low F and not a high F or else you may damage the hearing of nearby housepets.)

The Ivory Lady in G (PDF)

The Ivory Lady in D (PDF)

Jul 122011
 

I received an e-mail about the song “The Ballad of William Bloat.” The writer said:

Your site still doesn’t give proper credits for copyright material.  William Bloat was written by Raymond Calvert and should be credited to him.

The e-mail was signed, but because the writer comes off as being a bit of a jerk I’ve decided to save this person from herself and not post her name with her e-mail.

Despite any implication in this rather terse e-mail that there were past e-mails, there were not. And while it is easy to claim that I “still” don’t give credit for a song, the fact is if there is information available about a song that I have always heard as being “traditional” or “anonymous,” I’m interested. My first goal with this site is advancing the playing of a somewhat obscure instrument that many toss into the convenient and overused “folk” box (with the understanding that something so easily dismissed as “folksy” is worthy of little serious consideration,) nevertheless a significant part of meeting that goal is to come to at least some understanding of where the music for the tinwhistle originated (and continues to originate). It is the people behind the music that gives the music soul, and so the people interest me as much as the music itself interests me.

In searching for information on this song, I found this interesting quote posted on a discussion board:

“Raymond Colville Calvert, the only son and second child of William Henderson Calvert (1865-1952) and Barbara (nee Williamson) (1865-1938). Raymond was born at Banchory House, Helen’s Bay, County Down, on Oct.30, 1906 and was educated at Bangor Grammar School and Queen’s University, Belfast, where he took his degree in English in 1927 at the age of 20. He was a leading member of the University Dramatic Society, and it was for a cast party in 1926 that he composed “The Ballad of William Bloat,” which has so firmly become part of Irish folklore that some well-known literary critics have erroneously believed it to be a traditional ballad. It was first published in a collection called Brave Crack in 1950 and more recently in an illustrated edition by the Blackstaff Press; as a song it has been recorded in the United States by the Clancy Brothers.”

This quote was attributed to something called the EARLS FAMILY CHRONICLES of Christopher Earls Brennen, but when I followed the link provided to that site, the information above was not there.

The basic information in the quote above was echoed by someone named Gay Firth, also commenting on that discussion board and writing:

Raymond Calvert, a lifelong friend and colleague of my father’s in Northern Ireland, wrote The Ballad of William Bloat in 1926, while a student at Queen’s University in Belfast. The text given here is nearly correct – but not quite. The last two lines should read: “For the razor blade was foreign made,/But the sheet was Irish linen.” Mrs Gay Firth, London, UK

So, it appears the song today called “The Ballad of William Bloat” and sung by troubadours at Renaissance Festivals all across America (and, for that matter, perhaps in other countries as well; I don’t know if the Renaissance Festival is something that is done in other countries or not!) found its beginnings at the pen of a 19-year-old student in Belfast more than 80 years ago.

It’s a long, long way from Belfast to Raytown… but that’s another song. Still, you have to wonder if the young Raymond Calvert, in reading his poem for the first time at a cast party, ever suspected that it might endure all these years to the point of becoming a staple of Irish folksinging. I hope after he read his poem, someone else at that cast party said something along the lines of, “Good man, Ray,” or whatever might have been the proper way to say “very well done” in Belfast in the 1920s.