I wish I wish My Baby Was Born

 

I wish, I wish my baby was born,
And sitting on its papa’s knee.
And me, poor boy, were dead and gone,
And the green grass growing over my feet

I ain’t a hater, nor never will be
‘Til the sweet apple grows on the sour apple tree,
But still I hope the time will come
When you and I shall be as one

I wish I wish my love had died
And sent his soul to one wander free
Then we might be where ravens fly
Let our poor bodies rest in peace

The owl the owl is a lonley bird
It chills my heart with dread and terror
That someone’s blood there on it’s wing
That someone’s blood there on it’s feather

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...   

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

 

Thousands or More

The time passes over more cheerful and gay,
Since we’ve learnt a new act to drive sorrows away.
Sorrows away, sorrows away, sorrows away,
Since we’ve learnt a new act to drive sorrows away.

Bright Phoebe awakes so high up in the sky
With her red, rosy cheeks and her sparkaling eye,
Sparkaling eye, sparkaling eye, sparkaling eye,
With her red, rosy cheeks and her sparkaling eye.

If you ask for my credit you’ll find I have none,
With my bottle and friend you will find me at home.
Find me at home, find me at home, find me at home,
With my bottle and friend you will find me at home.

Although I’m not rich and although I’m not poor
I’m as happy as those that’s got thousands or more,
Thousands or more, thousands or more, thousands or more,
I’m as happy as those that’s got thousands or more.

The Copper Family:

This is a slightly newer recording. The thing to do though, is to find the oldest recordings. They were reissued recently on a release called "Come Write Ye Down."