Martin Said To His Man

Martin said to his man, fie, man, fie
Martin said to his man, who’s the fool, now
Martin said to his man, Fill thou the cup and I the can
Thou hast well drunken man, who’s the fool now

I saw the man in the moon, fie, man, fie
I saw the man in the moon, who’s the fool, now
I saw the man in the moon, I heard a banjo play in tune
Thou hast well drunken, man, who’s the fool, now

I saw the goose ring the hog, fie, man, fie
I saw the goose ring the hog, who’s the fool, now
I saw the goose ring the hog, saw the tail chase the dog
Thou hast well drunken, man, who’s the fool, now

I saw the mouse chase the cat, fie, man, fie
I saw the mouse chase the cat, who’s the fool now
I saw the mouse chase the cat, Saw the cheese eat the rat
Thou hast well drunken, man, who’s the fool now

I saw the hare chase the hound, fie, man, fie
I saw the hare chase the hound, who’s the fool, now
I saw the hare chase the hound, Twenty miles above the ground
Thou hast well drunken, mn, who’s the fool, now

I saw a flea heave a tree, fie, man, fie
I saw a flea heave a tree, who’s the fool now
I saw a flea heave a tree, twenty miles out to sea
Thou hast well drunken, man, who’s the fool now

Martin said to his man, fie, man, fie
Martin said to his man, who’s the fool, now
Martin said to his man, Fill thou the cup and I the can
Thou hast well drunken man, who’s the fool now

YWW 008 - Diamond Joe

Hi Worksongers!Your Weekly Worksong is... Diamond Joe   Background There are actually several songs that people refer to as Diamond Joe.  One is a cowboy song, another is a Woody Guthrie classic, and then there is this one, which has been referred to as a river shanty.  It was recorded first in 1937 at the Mississippi State Penitentiary, also known as Parchman Farm, a prison that is notorious for prisoner abuse and also for the extraordinary music of the inmates who were incarcerated there.  In this case, Diamond Joe was sung by an inmate named Charlie Butler for a Library of Congress collector named Duncan Emerich.   Diamond Jo was the name of a steamer on the upper Mississippi River, the Chicago, Fulton and River Line, commonly called the Diamond Jo line.  The owner of the company was Joseph “Diamond Jo” Reynolds, and the logo of the company was a diamond with the letters JO inside, and it was painted on the boat.  The flagship steamer was named “Diamond Jo” and along with 19 other steamboats they transported cargo and passengers.   We don’t know if Charlie Butler ever saw these steamships (the company sold in 1911), if he wrote the song or just passed it along, but his recording is epic, mysterious, subtle and haunting.  He probably would’ve sung it in the fields at Parchman, which was the home of a prison labor system that David Oshinsky calls “worse than slavery.”  Worksongs were a tradition that helped crews weed fields and chop wood as long as the sun was up.     Where I learned it I learned it from Max Godfrey, who was on the crew at Sylvester Manor in 2010 and 2011.  He has the most incredible rendition, which draws heavily on Charlie Butler but carries his unique style and emphasis.  Definitely check out the film that Andrew Plotsky made of him on worksongs.org   Why it’s a great song: - Great harmonies in the the chorus  - Simple lyrics  - Rhythm doesn’t have to be rigidly locked in - works for big fields    If you try it: - Holler like you mean it!     Check it out: Here is a link to the song on worksongs.org   -  This includes:  - a link to Charlie Butler Version  - lyrics from Mudcat.org  - a video of Max leading the song at the Plant & Sing festival on Shelter Island.  - a recording of Max leading it at NOFA-NY Conference 2012 - the original Diamond Jo logo Here is a great discussion on mudcat.org Worse than Slavery: Parchman Farm and the Ordeal of Jim Crow Justice by David Oshinsky Wake Up Dead Man: Hard Labor and Southern Blues by Bruce Jackson 

Holler back with any questions or ideas!   And let me know if you decide to sing it... -Bennett 

PS.  If you missed past weeks of Your Weekly Worksong, I’ve posted them here...   

Tiny Bubbles

Here is the worksong version that we sing in the fields.  I'm teaching it at an "East End Sing" at Sylvester Manor on Shelter Island, NY

Below is the official Don Ho verse- I think it’s the only “real” verse:

Tiny bubbles    Tiny bubbles
In the wine    In the wine
Make me happy    Make me happy
Make me feel fine    Make me feel fine

But I like to add lots and lots of other verses:

Tiny bubbles    Tiny bubbles
In my juice    In my juice
Make me happy    Make me happy
Make me feel real loose    Make me feel real loose

In my tea… Make me need to pee
In my drink… Make me really think
In my milk… Make me smooth as silk
In my water… Make me feel like I oughter
In my beer… Make me lose all fear
In my bacardi… Make me want to party

and so on…

FYI Don Ho sings a chorus but I never do.
I think these verses are enough.

 

Tanzania

In 2005 I spent two months living and working with a group of farmers who are part of a widespread tradition in northwest Tanzania: making music and dance in the fields, as they work.

It's a sort of singing, dancing, farming cooperative.  One day they'll till or weed one member of the groups field, another day they'll move on to someone else's.  Imagine getting together with fifteen of your friends and saying: okay, today we're going to weed Tom's garden, tomorrow we're going to weed Chrissy's and on Wednesday we're going to go over to Ellen's place.

It's called "reciprocal village labor" and that's exactly what they do in Tanzania only they sing and dance and have fun while they do it.  It's a community party in the field and and it's amazing to behold- or event to try out in your own neighborhood.  It makes your work seem so much more doable if you've got a mob of friends helping you out.

To top it off, many of these groups develop songs and dances throughout the farming season that they then use to compete against similar groups during harvest festivals.

There are many different styles of musical labor in the region: one style uses only bells on the wrist to accompany songs, some are purely a capella, others include drums or other instruments.

The first part of the clip (which is the title sequence for a longer film about musical labor that I will share with you over time) is a tradition called "magungulu" which only uses bells.  In the second clip Hoja Charles, the group leader, plays the Kadete, a "spike fiddle", which is made from a small lizard-skin drum, bicycle brake cable, and a bow made of a stick and sisal fibers.

YWW 005 - Gold Dust Fever

Your Weekly Worksong is... Gold Dust Fever

Introduction

So far for weekly worksongs we’ve had southern, New England original, Sea Chanty, and an Tanzanian jogging song.  Today I’m going to bring you a California gold-digging / Maine woodstacking song that I wrote myself.  I’ve choosen it because we were singing it the other day while filling the wood closet at John & Ellen Gawler’s house in Belgrade, Maine.  I recorded it and I like the spirit of it so much I want to share it with you.

Background

This song fits into simple the call and response tradition, and it’s got a kind of old-timey adventure in the lyrics.  But it’s pretty new.  I wrote it in 2006.

How I wrote it

Well, I had a good hook “well the gold dust fever gets you down” and I just started building the song from there.  I typically focus on finding melodies first and then I spend a bunch of time on the rhymescheme.

If you’re trying to write your own worksongs but struggling, try on these tips: - Keep it simple.  Simple melody.  Simple lyrics.  Direct call and response. - Simplify it even more.  Take out any unnecessary notes, beats, words, and ideas - Start with a catchy turn of phrase and then find a rhyme that completes it.  Then do that again, and again, again, so that the rhyming phrases for a story, and that’s how I build songs. - If you don’t have a catchy phrase, look for a catchy melody line, and build three more lines that build (simply) on that.

Why I like this song:

- Call and response enthusiasm.  People just love singing along with this song! - Easy to find the harmonies - A clear storyline - There’s a little pause between verses that gives you time to catch your breath - Making up verses is a fun challenge

If you try it:

- Try memorizing the lyrics while you’re stuck in a small space, like a bathroom, or an airplane.  It will be easier, somehow. -  You might hold off on teaching the entire chorus to your whole workcrew unless you’ve got some time on your hands.  There’s a lot of words in there! - Look at the lyrics as a story arc - it’s got a beginning, middle and end, and remembering that the story follows that trajectory will help you remember the verses and their order.

Check it out:

Here is Gold Dust Fever on worksongs.org - Enjoy!

Holler back with any questions or ideas!

And let me know if you decide to sing it...

-Bennett

 

 

YWW 002 - The Farthest Field

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

One More Day

Here are both the leaving version and the homeward bound version.  Both are from Mudcat, and Mudcat got the homeward version from Joanna C. Colcord's- Songs of American Sailormen.  The leaving version was recorded by a group called Lime Bay Mutiny in 1990 and can be found in several youtube versions.

 

Leaving Version

Oh row me 'cross the river I heard a maiden say Oh take me to me lover One more day

Cho: Only one more day, me Johnnys One more day Oh rock and roll me over One more day

I'm almost broken hearted I can no longer stay Once more must we be parted One more day Cho:

So do not fear my beauty I can no longer stay And love makes way for duty One more day Cho:

I've seen the sea birds flyin' Ashore from o'er the bay I felt they was all cryin' One more day Cho:

'Cause sea birds get the warnin' Which one and all obey The tempest loud is stormin' One more day Cho:

So heave onside the anchor We sail out from the bay Oh heave onside the anchor One more day Cho:

 

Homeward Bound Version

Oh, have you heard the news, My Johnny? One more day! We're homeward bound tomorrow, One more day!

cho: Only one more day, my Johnny One more day! Oh, rock and row (or roll) me over, One more day!

We're homeward bound tomorrow, Johnny We leave you without sorrow.

Can't you hear the old man snarling, Johnny? Can't you hear the capstan pawling?

Oh, heave and sight the anchor, Johnny Oh, heave and sight the anchor.

I'm bound away to leave you Johnny But I will not deceive you.

 

OR, the Stan Hugill Version:

Only one more day, me Johnnies, One More Day! Oooh come rock 'n' roll me over, only one more day.

Don't ye hear the Old Man growin'? One more day! Don't ye hear the Mate a-howlin'? Only one more day

Don't ye hear the caps'n pawlin, Don't ye hear the pilot bawlin?

Ony one more day a-howlin;, Can't ye hear the gals a callin'?

One one more day a-rollin', Can't ye hear them gulls a callin'?

Only one more day a-furlin', Only one more day a-cursin',

Oh, heave an' sight the anchor, Johnny, For we're close aboard the port, Johnny.

Only one more day for Johnny, An' yer pay-day's nearly due, Johnny.

Then put out yer long-tail blue, m'Johnny, Maker yer port an' take yer pay, Johnny,

Only one more day a-pumpin', Only one more day a-bracin'.

Oh we're homeward bound today, me Johnny, We'll leave 'er without sorrer, Johnny.

Only one more day a-workin', Oooh, come rock 'n' roll me over.

 

YWW 001 - Stewball

Hi Worksonger! Your Weekly Worksong is... Stewball

"Stewball was an irish racehorse who fame has survived on both sides of the Atlantic.  Laws notes several versions of the song from Kentucky and quote D.K. Wilgus on "Ten Broeck and Mollie,: the American counterpart of the Irish horserace: "The July 4, 1878, march race in which the Kentucky thoroughbred Ten Broeck deeated the mare Miss Millie McCarthur, went into the record books as the last four-mile heat race in American turf history" (Laws, p 243).  But it is the Irish horse and hisrace that have survived in American Negro folksong."

- Bruce Jackson, "Wake Up Dead Man" p 102

"The facts are that sometime around 1790 a race took place on the curragh of Kildare (near Dublin) between a skewbald horse owned by Sir Arthur Marvel and "Miss Portly", a gray mare owned by Sir Ralph Gore. The race seemed to take the balladmakers' fancies, and must have been widely sung; an early printed version appeared in an American song book dated 1829." - mudcat.org  lyrics page

It wasn't the American Negro folksong or an American Songbook introducedStewball to me, though- it was Andy Irvine, who sing a completely different version on the iconic album Andy Irvine / Paul Brady.  Theirs, which is called "Plains of Kildaire" details the story extensively and so when I heard the more mysterious version as sung by Leadbelly (and introduced to me by Max Godfrey) I thought- hey- I know about Stewball!

But of course I was only just getting to know the driving rhythm, the rippling, dissonant harmonies, and the overlapping call and response of Max's version.  This song became an instant favorite.  Here's why:

1) It is easy to teach.  The response lyrics repeat and you can be half-numb and still remember them.

2) It drives.  Whatever frustration you've got going, whatever hard work you're chopping or hoeing at, you can channel that right into the song.

3) It's positive.  Everybody's singing uh-huh and oh yeah.  Nice way to turn around an ugly mood out in the field.

4) It's old-timey and hairy.  Racehorses?  Gambling?  Girls?  Does it get any better?

Bruce Jackson recorded this one four separate times in 1964 and 1965 at Ramsey and Wynne prisons in Texas.  Maybe that's where Leadbelly learned it, in prison, and incorporated it into his performance repertoire.

Any case, enjoy Leadbelly's version of it on worksongs.org, and let me know what other versions of Stewball (Irish, Kentucky, Texas or otherwise) you like.   And memorize it, for god's sake!  It's one of the best!

Holler back... -Bennett

Check it out: - More Bruce Jackson on Stewball in "Wake Up Dead Man" - Paul Brady and Andy Irvine's Stewball, "The Plains of Kildaire" - Leadbelly's versionMassive amounts of discussion on Mudcat.org

Yomo Begga

Here is a recording of Edith Gawler leading this song as a part of the Sylvester Manor Worksongers workshop at the 2013 NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY

 

It is a Ghanaian fishing song, taught to Bennett Konesni in October 2005 by Bortey Sooyodi Radi and Nii Alabi on a fishing boat off Nungua Beach, Accra

 

We All Need a Fruit

Here is a recording of song author Steve Eaton leading this song as a part of the Sylvester Manor Worksongers workshop at the 2013 NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY

 

We all need a fruit, to house the seed
We all need a fruit, to house the seed
We all need a fruit, to house the seed
And we’ll all bake bread in the morning

I love the birds and they love the trees

A field full of flowers and billions of bees

I got something you got to believe

Plenty of food for everyone to eat

We all need a fruit, to house the seed

…invent other verses as needed…

 

Warm them pipes

By Bennett Konesni, 2013
Make up lyrics as you go along…

————————————————

Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
I’m a gonna warm them pipes-o…
I’m a gonna warm them pipes-o…

Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Steve’s gonna warm them pupes-o
Steve’s gonna warm them pipes-o

Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Who’s gonna warm them pipes-o?
Farmers gonna warm them pupes-o
Farmers gonna warm them pipes-o

Warm them pipes well warm them pipes
Warm them pipes well warm them pipes
We’re a gonna warm our pipes-o
We’re a gonna warm our pipes-o

Dada Mele

Click here to hear Dadamele
 

Part A:

Call: Dada mele, acha maringo yako,
maringo hayoo, yatakuuaa

Response:
Dada mele, acha maringo yako,
maringo hayoo, yatakuuaa

Part B:

C: Namlilia mwana
R: Namlilia mwana sana
C: Mwana wangu
R: Namlilia mwana sana

C: Namlilia mama
R: Namlilia mama sana
C: Mama yangu
R: Namlilia mama sana

x2

 

This Mchakamchaka song is used to aid and enliven group jogging.  It was taught to me by Yohanne "Kiddo" Kidolezi, my college roommate  Freshman year at Middlebury College, 2001.  Kiddo grew up singing these songs as a warm up for the schoolday with his classmates.

 

Hammer Ring

 

Well, my hammer, (hammer ring)
Got a ten-pound hammer, (hammer ring)

Cap’n went to Houston, (hammer ring)
To git me a hammer, (hammer ring)

Way down in de bottom, (hammer ring)
Hew out de live oak, (hammer ring)

Son, you got fever, (hammer ring)
Son, you got fever, (hammer ring)

Said, come here, nigger, (hammer ring)
Don’t you see you got fever? (hammer ring)

Oh, sergeant . . . .
Ain’t got no fever. . . . .
Better get to rollin’. . . . . gonna hang you.
Oh, cap’n..

Hammer am a ringin’
Ringin’ for de captain,

Ringin’ for de sergeant.
What de matter wid my pardner?

Oh, my hammer, (hammer ring)
Way down in the timber.

I’m goin’ to Austin, (hammer ring)
Have a talk wid de Gov’nor.

I heard dat sergeant
Talkin’ to Marble Eye.

Clemens state farm, Brazoria, Texas, April 16, 1939.

The Mudcat Lyrics

Cornbread, Peas, Black Molasses

Cornbread and Peas, Black Molassesattributed to Sonny Terry

click here for a great recording of Max Godfrey leading the song as a part of the Sylvester Manor Worksongers workshop at the 2013 NOFA-NY Winter Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY 




I don't want no cornbread, peas and black molasses (3)
It's supper time, Lord, Lord, Lord, it's supper time

I got a letter, a letter  from my mother this morning (3)
She said: come home, Lord ,Lord, son, come  home!

I ain't got no, got no letter this morning (3)
I can't come home, Lord, Lord, I can't go home

If I can make June, July and August
Then I'll come home, mother, you know your son will come home

I don't want no cornbread, peas, black molasses (3)
It's supper time, Lord, Lord, Lord, it's supper time


 

More info

Mudcat has a solid thread on this song here with an extra verse or two.

Here is a Sonny Terry and Brownie McGee recording on Amazon.

The Farthest Field

by David Dodson

There is a land high on a hill where I am going There is a voice that calls to me The air is sweet, the grasses wave The wind is blowing away up in the farthest field

REFRAIN: Oh walk with me and we will see the mystery revealed When one day we went our way up to the farthest field The sun will rise, the sun will set Across the mountains and we will live with beauty there The fragrant flowers the days and hours Will not be counted and peaceful songs will fill the air

REFRAIN

I know one day I'll leave my home Here in this valley and climb up to that field so fair And when I'm called and counted in That final tally I know that I will see you there

REFRAIN

Oh my dear friends I truly love To hear your voices lifted up in radiant song Though through the years we all have made our separate choices We've ended here where we belong.

__________________________________

Though I've heard this in many different settings I learned this song from Mia Bertelli for the 2013 NOFA-NY Winter Farmer's Conference.

Wind and Rain

Oh, there were two sisters come a-walking down the stream
Oh, the wind and rain
And one of them pushed the other one in
Crying, oh, the wind and rain

Johnny gave the younger one a gay gold ring
Didn’t give the elder one anything

She pushed her sister in the river to drown
And watched her as she floated down

She floated ’til she came to the miller’s pond
Crying, Father, oh father, there swims a swan

Well, the miller laid her out on the banks to dry
And the fiddling fool come a-passing by

Way down the road come a fiddler fair
Way down the road come a fiddler fair

And he’s made fiddle strings of her long yellow hair
And he’s made fiddle strings of her long yellow hair

And he’s made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones
And he’s made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones

And he’s made a little fiddle body of her breast bone
Whose sound would melt a heart of stone

But the only tune that the fiddle could play
Was, Oh, the wind and rain
The only tune that the fiddle could play
Was, Oh, the cruel wind and the rain

Circle of the Sun

CIRCLE OF THE SUN
By Sally Rogers  www.sallyrogers.com
If you want to purchase a clip of Sally singing it you can find it here.

 

Baby was born in the circle of the sun,
circle of the sun on the birthing day

Baby was born in the circle of the sun, 
circle of the sun on the birthing day

Clouds to the north, clouds to the south
Winds and the rain to the east and west

Baby’s first steps in the circle of the sun... on the walking day
Baby’s first words in the circle of the sun... on the talking day
Baby’s first food in the circle of the sun... on the eating day
Gonna get married in the circle of the sun.... on the wedding day
Sing my song in the circle of the sun.... on the singing day
Live my life in the circle of the sun.... all the live long day
Bury my bones in the circle of the sun... on the dying day

_______________________________________

This song was taught to us by John Gawler, my wife Edith’s dad.  He learned it from Pam Weeks at Maine Fiddle Camp.  Not sure where she got it, but it seems to be written by Sally Rogers of Connecticut, who is a pretty legendary folk singer, songwriter and educator.   Recently Sally has been working on a project where she travels to schools and teaches childeren to collect oral histories about their community and landscapes, then they write songs using the oral histories.  Great stuff!

Rosie in the Posie

ROSIE IN THE POSIE
By Bennett Konesni

Rosie in the posie roll, Rosie in the posie roll
Rosie in the posie, Rosie in the posie roll

First you’re gonna plough it deep, first you’re gonna plough it deep
First you’re gonna plough it, first you’re gonna plough it deep

Then you’re donna disc it up, then you’re donna disc it up
Then you’re donna disc it, then you’re donna disc it up

…seed it down…
…roll it out…
…watch it grow…
…turn it in…
…Rosie in the posie, roll…

I wrote this song while prepping a field for a buckwheat covercrop in the summer of 2012 on Shelter Island, NY.  I was on an old Ford 850N tractor that I call Rosie and she hums along with a nice low drone.  I got to humming along with her and eventually this song emerged out of the roar of the engine.  This song lends itself to inventing verses, anything really, can be nonsense or describe any process, like grilling ribs or baking biscuits.