God Speed the Plough

(First verse off a mug at my grandmother's house)
(aka "the farmer's arms" the first verse is part of a song farmers in England apparently used to sing on Ploughman's Monday as a way to embarrass people who hadn't yet paid for their services... it was like trick-or-treat for farmers)
(It is also a Morris Dancing song...)

(Verses 2,3,4 by Bennett Konesni) 

Let the wealthy and great, roll in splendor and state, I envy them not I declare it
I eat my own lamb My own chickens and ham I shear my own fleece and I wear it
I have lawns I have bowers I have fruits I have flowers The lark is my early alarmer
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer

Well I wake every morn To the dew on the corn when light hasn't quite touched the sky-o
To the lowing of cows And the grunting of sows And the mare with a glint in her eye-o
There are deals to be made, There are debts to be paid, To feed madame credit, the charmer
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer

Well I think every day of my girl far away of the riches she'll find on her travels
of the sharp foreign smells and the barbaric yells and the fine silty loams and the gravels
But they can't be as fine As just spending some time in the field in the dusk in the summer
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer

Well of all that I love Under heaven above these things are the best of them all-o
It's the smell of the land and the touch of your hand how it grips soft and warm close to mine-o
and your voice like a bell well it casts quite a spell an arrow to pierce through the armor
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer
So Jolly boys now Here's God speed the plough Long life and success to the farmer

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...   

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.

 

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

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

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

Hal an Tow

And here is what it sounds like when you get 70 young farmers together singing it, led by Nate Kraus-Mallet and Mia Bertelli:

audio Block
Double-click here to upload or link to a .mp3. Learn more

 

CHORUS

Hal-an-Tow, jolly rumble-o,
We were up long before the day-o,
To welcome in the summer,
To welcome in the May-o –
For summer is a-coming,
And the winter’s gone away-o! 

Since man was first created
His works have been debated
And we have celebrated
The coming of the spring

Take no scorn to wear the horns,
It was the crest when you were born;
Your father’s father wore it,
And your father wore it too.

CHORUS

Robin Hood and Little John
Have both gone to the fair-o,
And we shall to the merry green wood,
To hunt the buck and hare-o!

CHORUS

What happened to the Spaniards
That made so great a boast, oh?
They shall eat the feathered goose,
And we shall eat the roast, oh!

CHORUS

And as for that good knight, St. George
St. George he was a knight o
Of all the knights of Christendom
St. George is the right o

CHORUS

God bless Aunt Mary Moses
With all her power and might-o;
Send us peace in England,
Send us peace by day and night-o!

CHORUS

More info:
Quite a long Mudcat Discussion
An MP3 of how the Watersons sang it.

Bold Riley

 

Click here for a sensational version led by Mia Bertelli at the NOFA-NY Worksong Workshop 2013 

 

BOLD RILEY

Verse
Oh the rain it rains all day long, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, And the northern wind, it blows so strong, Bold Riley-o has gone away.

CHORUS
Goodbye my sweetheart,goodbye my dear-o Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Goodbye my darlin',goodbye my dear-o, Bold Riley-o has gone away.

Well come on, Mary, don't look glum, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Come White-stocking Day you'll be drinkin' rum Bold Riley-o has gone away.

CHORUS

We're outward bound for the Bengal Bay, Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley, Get bending, me lads,it's a hell-of-a-way, Bold Riley-o has gone away

CHORUS

More Info:

A different set of Lyrics, courtesy of Mudcat
A Mudcat Discussion
Amazon MP3

I learned this song from Mia Bertelli and Mia Friedman at Maine Fiddle Camp

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.

Hollow Leg

By David Lewis, Belmont View Music, Belmont, Maine hollowleg

I’m eatin to fill my hollow leg, hollow leg, hollow leg
I’m eatin to fill my hollow leg, and then I’m goin home

I’m gonna dig just one hole, one more hole, one more hole
I’m gonna dig just one hole, one more hole, one more hole

Gonna work until the sun comes up, sun comes up, sun comes up
Gonna work until the sun comes up, and then I’m goin home

Gonna drink until the beer’s all gone, beer’s all gone, beer’s all gone
Gonna drink until the beer’s all gone, and then I’m goin home
(but I ain’t drivin)

Then I’ll sing just one more song, one more song, one more song
Then I’ll sing just one more song, and then I’m goin home

————————————————————————————————–

The above audio recording was made on 1/26/2013 by Erik Jacobs from Plough & Stars Project Farm Blog and Photography, at the 2013 NOFA-NY Young Farmer’s Conference in Saratoga Springs, NY. Song leader is Steve “Shepsi” Eaton, teaching a song during the Sylvester Manor Worksongers’ workshop “Worksongs on Small Farms.” Steve used this song in the fields in 2012 at Sylvester Manor Educational Farm.

Song author David Lewis is a hard-working musician and boat electrician in coastal Maine. A homesteader in the 70s and 80s David doesn’t farm so much these days, but he does lease out his back field to local organic farmers Mike and Christa Bahner of Bahner Farm. Dave plays lots of Bluegrass and Jazz and from time to time writes songs. One day with wild eyes he turned to me and said “Bennett, I’ve written a worksong!” We worked it into the repertoire of our band “Free Seedlings” and it worked its way into the fields at Sylvester Manor through Steve, who took a strong liking to it. It’s a great song to add verses to and see how long you can keep it going.

This song is beloved by beginning worksongers for several reasons:

1) Not too many words
2) Simple melody
3) but the format isn’t too square
4) The sentiment “I’m going home” is timeless and universal
5) The song can handle a pause at the end of each verse as you think of a new one. Very forgiving.

It’s a great song to use for practicing improvisation because it doesn’t even require a rhyme scheme. You can literally just say whatever comes to mind, “I’m gonna XXXXXX” as long as you keep it in the rhythm of the original melody.  And the chorus is nice and long, which gives you a chance to think up the next line. An extra challenge is to make consecutive verses rhyme, but it’s not necessary- that’s just a little spit and polish to make the crew smile.

If you listen to the video of this song above you’ll hear me and Edith Gawler inventing lines ad nauseum, using simply what’s going on around us, what we’re up to (clearing sticks and debris and then mulching a garden site where we’ll eventually plant potatoes.)  We simply make up lines like “I’m gonna toss this log over there”, “I’m gonna mulch it deep and mulch it thick” and even “I’m gonna huck and chuck and buck and luck” which is just rhyming that has something to do with what we were doing but was mostly just fun to say.