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

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

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

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…

 

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

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.

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.

 

Haul Away Joe

Malcom Ward:

 

Lead Belly:

When I was a little boy my mother always told me
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe
That if I did not kiss the girls my lips would all grow moldy
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe

Once in my life I married a wife but she was fat and lazy…
Then I met an Irish girl, she damn near drove me crazy…

’Way, haul away, we’ll haul and sing together
’Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe

Once I was in Ireland, a-digging turf and taters
But now I’m on a Limey ship, a-hauling on the braces

St. Patrick drove away the snakes, then drank up all the whiskey
This made him dance and sing a jig, he felt so fine and frisky

’Way, haul away, we’re bound for better weather
’Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe

You call yourself a second mate but you can’t tie a bowline
You cannot even stand up straight when the ship it is a-rolling

The cook is in the galley making duff so handy
The captain’s in his cabin drinking wine and brandy

’Way, haul away, the good ship now is rolling
’Way, haul away, we’ll haul away Joe

CC Rider

You C C Rider, see what you done done
C C Rider, you see what you done done
You C C Rider, you see what you done done
You done made me love you and now your man don't come

My home is on the water, I don't like no land at all
Home's on the water and I don't like no land at all
My home's on the water and I don't like no land at all
I'd rather be dead than to stay here and be your dog

So you C C Rider, see what you done done
C C Rider, you see what you done done
You C C Rider, you see what you done done
You made me love you and now your man don't come

I'm goin' away baby, sure don't wanna go
Goin' away baby, but I sure don't wanna go
I'm goin' away baby, but I sure don't wanna go
When I leave this time you never see me no more

So you C C Rider, see what you done done
C C Rider, you see what you done done
You C C Rider, you see what you done done
You have made me love you and now your man don't come

My home is on the water and I don't like no land at all
Home's on the water and I don't like no land at all
My home's on the water and I don't like no land at all
So goodbye baby I'm tired of bein' your dog

So you C C Rider, see what you done done 
C C Rider, you see what you done done 
You C C Rider, you see what you done done 
You have made me love you and now your man don't come

So I'm goin' away now baby, and I won't be back till fall
I'm goin' away now baby, and I won't be back till fall,
I'm goin' away now baby, and I won't be back till fall, 
Just might find me a good girl, might not be comin' back at all

Well now see, C C Rider, see now the moon is shining bright
Well now see, C C Rider, see now the moon is shining bright
Well now see, C C Rider, see now the moon is shining bright 
Just might find me that good girl, and everything would be alright

Ham and Eggs

 

Ham and eggs, pork and beans,
I would eat more but the cook wasn’t clean.

I got to Roll, Roll and Hurry
To make it to the side of the road

If I had known my captain was bad,
Would not sold that special that I once have had.

If I had known my captain was blind,
I wouldn’t a went to work boys, till the clock struck nine.

I looked over that lone corral
Tryin’ to find that mule with a shoulder well.

If I’d a know my captain was mean
I wouldn’t a left, St. Augustine

If I had known my captain was tall,
Wouldn’t have gone to work, till I’d saved them all (?)

If I had known that man wasn’t there
I wouldn’t gone to work, boys, till he gone back.

Stewball

 

Way out in California where stewball was born
All the jockies in the country said he had that inner stone

You bet on stewball and you might win win win
You bet on stewball and you might win

Well the big day in dallas don’t you wish you was there
You could bet your last dollar on that iron grey mare

You bet on stewball and you might win win win
You bet on stewball and you might win

the ? was a bangin’ and the word was do an run
oh stewball was a tremblin like a criminal to be hung

You bet on stewball and you might win win win
You bet on stewball and you might win

when the horses were saddled and the word was give an go
all the horses they shot out like an arrow from a bow

You bet on stewball and you might win win win
You bet on stewball and you might win

Oh Stewball was a racehorse oh Molly was too
oh stewball gotten old molly right out of her shoe

You bet on stewball and you might win win win
You bet on stewball and you might win

The old folks they holler the young folks they ball
The children say look look at that noble stewball

You bet on stewball and you might win win win
You bet on stewball and you might win
You bet on stewball and you might win win win
You bet on stewball and you might win

 

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."


Berta

 

Chorus
oh berta berta, oh lord gal, ho ah
oh berta berta, oh lord gal, well now

Verses
When you marry don't you marry a farming man
When you marry don't you marry a farming man

Every day monday hoah, in your hand
Every day monday hoah, in your hand

Raise em up high and then a, drop em down
Raise em up high and then a, drop em down

Wasn't no difference when the, sun goes down
Wasn't no difference when the, sun goes down

Go ahead marry him, don't you, wait on me
I may not want you when a, I go free

When you marry marry a, railroad man
Cause every day a sunday dollar, in your hand

Got an buddy in Houston and she living at ease
I'm on old parchment got to work for leave

Who's that coming well ah down the road, ho ah
walks like Alberta but she walks too slow, ho ah

Mudcat