This week’s song is The Farthest Field by David Dodson. When you hear it you might say “that’s not a worksong!” It doesn’t have a driving rhythm. It’s not up-tempo. The chorus isn’t easy to remember. But all that said, it is a great worksong. Why? It’s got wide open harmonies that are easy to find because the song lopes along at a reasonable tempo. It works even when songsters aren’t in perfect rhythmic lockstep- so you can be a hundred feet or more apart and the song still works. And it’s call and response melody lines mean that the lines sung by the crew change throughout the song, but in a way that doesn’t require memorization. It’s a simple song that stays interesting to beginners, and therefore it’s a gem for a worksong leader in the fields.
As a Maine boy who went to college in Vermont I feel a personal connection to the song because it describes many of my favorite places... away up in the farthest field. David says that he wrote this song about a walk he was on with friends in northeastern Vermont. It was in a field that went way up to the ridgeline and you could look out across rows and rows of mountains. Who wouldn’t want to be transported into that scene from a hot and weedy carrot patch in sweaty August?
Click here to see the Sylvester Manor Worksongers leading this song before the opening Keynote at the 2013 NOFA-NY (Northeast Organic Farmer’s Association of New York) conference. Thank you to Brendan McMullan for recording it on Edith’s phone.
The lyrics are on the worksongs.org post for “The Farthest Field”
Here is David Dodson’s website. He recorded the song on his album “Weasel Rhythm” When we spoke he mentioned Rise Up Singing might be interested in including this song in their newest edition. Hope it makes it David!
This song is also recorded on the Kallet, Epstein and Cicone album “Heartwalk.”
Until next time worksongers- keep them pipes warm! Bennett