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.

 

Go Down Old Hannah

 

Why don't you go down old Hannah, well, well, well,
Don't you rise no more, don't you rise no more
Why don't you go down old Hannah, Hannah,
Don't you rise no more.

If you rise in the morning, well, well, well,
Bring judgement sure, x2
If you rise in the morning, morning,
Bring judgement sure.

Well, I looked at old Hannah, well, well, well,
She was turning red, x2

Then I looked at my partner, partner 
He was almost dead

You should-a been on this old Brazos 
Back in nineteen and fo' x2

You could find a dead man 
Layin' across your row

Why don't you wake up old dead man,
Help me carry my row,... (repeat)

You should-a been on this old river,
Nineteen and ten,...

You could find them workin' the women 
And killin' the men

My mother called me
And I answered, Ma'am

She said ain't you tired of rolling 
Rolling for that old sun-down man?

Then my father he called me
And I answered Sir

He said if you're tired of rolling 
What do you stay here for

Then my sister she called me
And I answered hey

She said ain't you tired of rolling
Why don't you run away

Then my brother he called me 
And I answered huh

He said if you're tired of rolling
You know you got too long

I got a letter from the Governor 
What do you think he said

He said he'd give me a pardon 
If I didn't drop dead.

 

 

Hannah was the name workers on Texas prison farms gave the sun.  This song was widely popular on prison farms throughout the south- according to Bruce Jackson in his excellent book “Wake Up Dead Man” there are at least ten different recording of different versions of the songs in various archives.  Through recordings by Alan and John Lomax this song made its way into folk music performance by Leadbelly, Lightning Hopkins and Pete Seeger.

Moses, Moses, Don't Get Lost

John Davis and the Georgia Sea Island Singers

 

Moses, Moses, don’t get lost | In that red sea
Smite your rod and come across | In that red sea

Oh Moses, Moses take my hand | In that red sea
Take me out of Egypt land | In that red sea

Oh Moses, Moses part the waters | In that red sea
Take us to the lands of our fathers | In that red sea

Moses, Moses, Pharoah coming | In that red sea
Don’t you hear those horses running | In that red sea

Promised land is just across | Across that red sea
Moses, Moses don’t get lost | In that red sea

Stop and talk about your host got lost, got lost, got lost
Talkin’ about your host got lost | In that red sea

Stop and talk about your host got lost, got lost, got lost
Talkin’ about your host got lost | In that red sea

Oh Moses, Moses, don’t get lost | In that red sea
Smite your rod and come across | In that red sea

Oh Moses, Moses, don’t get lost | In that red sea
Smite your rod and come across | In that red sea

Yeah, ol Pharoah and the host got lost, got lost, got lost
Pharoah and the host got lost| In that red sea

Yeah, ol Pharoah and the host got lost, got lost, got lost
Pharoah and the host got lost| In that red sea

Oh Moses, Moses, don’t get lost | In that red sea
Smite your rod and come across | In that red sea

Oh Moses, Moses, don’t get lost | In that red sea
Smite your rod and come across | In that red sea

Oh Moses, Moses, don’t get lost | In that red sea
Smite your rod and come across | In that red sea

Moses, Moses, don’t get lost | In that red sea
Smite your rod and come across | In that red sea
In that red sea
In that red sea

Lightning Long John

Here s a version from Lighning and a group of convicts, Darrington State Prison Farm, sandy Point Texas. Recorded by John and Alan Lomx,1934.

1 It’s a long John
He’s a long gone
Like a turkey through the corn
Through the long corn

2: Well my John said
in the ten chap ten
If a man die
He will live again
Well they crucified Jesus
And they nailed him to the cross
Sister Mary cried
My child is lost
Ch; Well Long John
He’s long gone
He’s long gone
Mister John John
Oh Big-Eye John
O John John
It’s a long John

3: Says-uh Come on gal
And-uh shut that door
Says The dog’s is coming
And Ive got to go

Ch: Its a long John
He’s long gone
Its a long John
He’s a long gone

4 WEll-a two three minutes
Let me catch my wind
In-a two three minutes
I’m gone again

Ch He’s long John
He’s long gone
He’s long gone
He’s long gone

5: Well my John said
Just before he did
Well I’m going home
See Mary Lid
Ch: He’s John John
Old John John
Withhis long clothes on
Just-a skippin through the corn

6: Well my John said
On the fourth day
Well to tell my rider
That I’m on my way

Ch: Hes long gone
He’s long gone
He’s long gone
Its a long John

7: Gonna call this summer
Aint gon’call no more
If I call next summer
Be in Baltimore

MUDCAT DISCUSSION

Grey Goose

It was one sunday morning, Lord, Lord, Lord
The preacher went a-huntin’
Well, he carried along his shotgun
Well, along come a grey goose
Well, he throwed it to his shoulder,
An’ he ram his hammer’ way back
Well, he pulled on de trigger
The gun went a boo-loom
And down came the grey goose
He was six weeks a-fallin’
He was six weeks a-findin’
An’ he put him on de wagon,
An’he taken him to de white house
He was six weeks a-pickin’
Lordy, your wife an’my wife,
Oh, they give a feather pickin’
They was a six weeks a pickin’
An’ they put him on to boilin’,
He was six months a boilin’,
An’ they put him on de table,
An’ the knife wouldn’t cut him
Now, the fork wouldn’t stick him,
An’ they throwed him in the hog-pen,
An’ the hog couldn’t eat him,
An’ he broke de the hog’s teeth out,
An’ they taken him to de sawmill,
An the saw wouldn’t cut him
An’ he broke the saw’s teeth out
An’ the last time I seen him,
He was flyin’ across the ocean,
With a long string of goslin’s,
An’ they were all going quack quack
Well the hell with the grey goose

Join the Band

A hauling tune from the days when the big sailing schooners used to load timber at Brunswick, Georgia. Recorded by Alan Lomax at St. Simon's Island, Georgia, on October 12, 1959.

 

All ready?
Join the band
Oh come ’round and join the band

All ready?
Join the band
Everyone come ’round and join the band

bo bo bo bo bo bo bo band…
bo bo bo bo bo bo bo band…

All ready?
Join the band
Hey run along come join the band

All ready?
Join the band
My big bullride come join the band

bo bo bo bo bo bo bo band…
bo bo bo bo bo bo bo band…

All ready?
Join the band
Hey run along come join the band

All ready?
Join the band
Everyone come around come join the band

bo bo bo bo bo bo bo band…
bo bo bo bo bo bo bo band…

All ready?
Join the band
Everyone come ’round come join the band

All ready?
Join the band
My big bullride come join the band

Black Betty

Oh black betty (x2)
Black Betty where you come from (x2)
Well I come from.....?...
Well I'm going to Corsicana
Black betty what's your number (x2)
750 (x2)
Oh lord (lordy) black betty (x2)
Black betty had a baby (x2)
and the damn thing crazy
ah, she dipped it's head in gravy (x2)
Oh lord black betty (x2)
Black betty where she (you) come from (x4)
Oh lord (lordy) black betty (x2)
Now (oh) the baby had blue eyes (x2)
Well it must have been the captains (x2)
Oh lordy black betty (x2)

 

Oh Black Betty... Bam Ba Lam
Oh Black Betty
Black Betty Black Betty
Jump Steady Black Betty
Oh Black Betty
Look Yonder Black Betty
Turn Around Black Betty,
Jump Down Black Betty
Oh Black Betty
Black Betty had a baby
Little thing went crazy
Oh Black Betty
Oh Black Betty
Jump Steady Black Betty
Lookie Yonder Black Bettie
Oh Black Betty
Oh Black Betty
Little thing went blind
Said it wasn't none o mine
What about it Black Betty
Oh Black Betty
Look Yonder Black Betty
Jump Steady Black Betty
Run Yonder Black Betty
Turn Around Black Betty

Red River Blues

Henry Thomas, Red River Blues (1928)

Look where the sun done gone
Look where the sun done gone
Look where the sun done gone poor boy
Look where the sun done gone

Yest it’s gone gone god knows where
Yes it’s gone god knows where
Look where the sun done gone dar-lin
Look where the sun done gone

Now baby I’m all out and down
Now baby I’m all out and down
I’m all out and down I’m (?-burg) bound
Look where the sun done gone

I’m a poor boy I’m a long way from home
Poor boy a long way from home
I’m a poor boy a long way from home darlin
Look where the sun done gone

Which a-way : do the Red River run
Which a way do the red river run
Which a way do the red river run poor boy
Which a way do the red river run

Well she run north and south
Yes she run north and south
Which away do the red river run poor boy
Well she run north and south

Go Down Old Hannah

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qihABs5sQk&w=420&h=315] Why don't you go down old Hannah, well, well, well, Don't you rise no more, don't you rise no more, Why don't you go down old Hannah, Hannah, Don't you rise no more.

If you rise in the morning, well, well, well, Bring judgement sure, bring judgement sure, If you rise in the morning, morning, Bring judgement sure.

Well, I looked at old Hannah, well, well, well, She was turning red, she was... Then I looked at my partner, partner, He was almost dead.

You should-a been on this old Brazos, Back in nineteen and fo' You could find a dead man, Layin' across your row.

Why don't you wake up old dead man, Help me carry my row,... (repeat)

You should-a been on this old river, Nineteen and ten,... You could find them workin' the women, And killin' the men

My mother called me And I answered, Ma'am,... She said ain't you tired of rolling,... Rolling for that old sun-down man?

Then my father he called me And I answered Sir He said if you're tired of rolling,... What do you stay here for.

Then my sister she called me, ... And I answered hey,... She said ain't you tired of rolling,... Why don't you run away.

Then my brother he called me, And I answered huh, He said if you're tired of rolling,... You know you got too long.

I got a letter from the Governor, What do you think he said,... He said he'd give me a pardon,... If I didn't drop dead.

Mudcat

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

Whoa Back Buck

Lead Belly sang two versions of this song. One usedthe mule-driver appropriate "God Damn" and the other replaced it with "Cunningham" which Lead Belly thought was better for polite company.

The God Damn version:

The Cunningham version:

Here is a a discussion on the song over at Mudcat.org

Here is a composite of verses taken from different several
different sources.

Tom done buck and Bill won’t pull,
Papa gonna cut that other little bull.
Whoa back Buck, an’ gee by the Lamb!
Who made the back-band? Whoa, goddam!

Whoa, Buck, an’ gee, by the Lamb!
Who made the back-band? Whoa, goddam! (x2)
Whoa, goddam, an’-a whoa, goddam!
Who made the back-band? Whoa, goddam!

I taken my gal to the country store,
I bought my gal some calico,
I bought my gal some calico,
I taken my gal to the party-o

Me and my gal walkin’ down the road,
Her knees knock together playin’ “Sugar In The Gourd”,
Sugar in the gourd and the gourd in the ground,
If you want a little sugar got to roll the gourd around.

Eighteen, nineteen, twenty years ago,
I taken Sal to the party-o,
I taken Sal to the party-o,
Wouldn’ let her dance but a set or so.

18, 19–20 years ago,
Took my gal to the country store,
Took my gal to the country store,
Buy m’ pretty little gal little calico.

Chicken in the bread-tray, mighty good stuff,
Mama cook him chicken an’ he never get enough,
Jawbone eat an’-a jawbone talk,
Jawbone eat with a knife an’ fawk.

My old man’s good old man
Washed his face in a frying pan,
Combed his hair with a wagon wheel,
And died with a toothache in his heel.

Papa loved mama—mama loved men,(three times)
Mama’s in the graveyard and papa’s in the pen.

I gee to the mule but the mule wouldn’t gee, (3 times)
So I hit him side the head with the single tree.

I haw to the mule but the mule wouldn’t haw, (3 times)
So I broke his back with my mother-in-law.

Eastbound train on the westbound track
Westbound train on the eastbound track
Both those trains were running fine
But what a terrible way to run a railroad line!

 

Can't You Line 'Em

Ho, boys, is you right?
I done got right

What I hate about linin' track
These ol' bars 'bout to bust my back

Chorus:
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em
trackalacka
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em
trackalacka
Ho, boys, cancha line 'em
trackalacka

See Eloise go linin' track

Down in the holler below the field
Angels are workin' on my chariot wheel

Mary and the baby were settin' in the shade
Thinkin' of the money that I ain't made Chorus

Well, I bin on the river, nineteen and ten
But I didn't have no women like the drivin' men

Moses stood on the Red Sea shore
He was battin' at the waves with a two-by-four 

Well if I could I surely would
Stand on the rock where Moses stood 

Mary, Marthy, Luke and John
Well all them 'ciples now they're dead and gone 

Well you keep talkin' 'bout the break ahead
Ain't said nothin' 'bout my hog an' bread 

 

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

 

Good Lord (Run old Jeremiah)

By myself. (5)
You know I’ve got to go.
You got to run.
I’ve got to run.
You got to run.
By myself. (3)
I got a letter, (2)
Ol’ brownskin.
Tell you what she say.
“Leavin’ tomorrow,
Tell you goodbye.”
O my Lordy. (6)
Well, well, well. (2)
O my Lord. (2)
O my Lordy. (2 )
Well, well, well. (2 )
I’ve got a rock.
You got a rock.
Rock is death.
O my Lordy.
O my Lord.
Well, well, well.
Run here, Jeremiah. (2)
I must go
On my way. (4)
Who’s that ridin’ the chariot? (2)
Well, well, well . . .

(New Leader:)

One mornin’
Before the evening
Sun was goin’ down (3)
Behind them western hills. (3)
Old number 12
Comin’ down the track. (3)
See that black smoke.
See that old engineer.
See that engineer. (2)
Tol’ that old fireman
Ring his ol’ bell
With his hand.
Rung his engine bell. (2)
Well, well, well. (2 )
Jesus tell the man,
Say, I got your life
In My Hand;
I got your life
In My Hand. (2 )
Well, well, well.
0l’ fireman told,
Told that engineer,
Ring your black bell,
Ding, ding, ding,
Ding, ding, ding, ding.
0l’ fireman say
——?—- -
——?—- -
——?—- -
That mornin’,
Well, well, well, (2)
0l’ fireman say,
Well, well,
I’m gonna grab my
Old whistle too.
Wah, wah, ho,
Wah, wah, wah, wah, ho,
Wah, wah, ho,
Wah, wah, wah, ho. (etc.)
Mmmmmmm
Soon, soon, soon,
Wah——— -o.
Well, well, well,
0l’ engineer,
I’ve got your life
In my hands. (2)
Tol’ your father, (2)
Well, well, well,
I was travellin’, (2)
I was ridin’ (3)
Over there. (2)
Ol’ engineer.
This is the chariot. (2)