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Has anyone mentioned "Wildwood Flower"?

The original title was "I'll Twine Mid The Ringlets" The song was written in 1860, with words by Maud Irving and music by Joseph Philbrick Webster. Covered by Iris DeMent, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Roger McGuinn, The Carter Family, Emmylou Harris, Johnny Cash, et al.

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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Posted : 14/08/2009 4:34 pm
David Hodge
Posts: 4472
Topic starter

No, I think you're the first. And that was on my short list, too. Thank you (again)!


Posted : 14/08/2009 4:39 pm
Posts: 2241
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I'm an idiot.

If Robert Johnson is still in, you can use Love In Vain as covered by the Stones on Let It Bleed.

Can't believe I only just thought of that. Can I claim majo distraction as a defence?

Ra Er Ga.

Ninjazz have SuperChops.

Posted : 14/08/2009 6:14 pm
Posts: 4338
Famed Member

Ran across something interesting (to me, anyway!).

The song "Black Betty", origins unknown, but often wrongly attributed to Huddie "Lead Belly" Ledbetter as the author, though the earliest recordings are not by him. Some sources claim it is one of Lead Belly's many adaptations of earlier folk material; in this case an 18th century marching cadence about a flint-lock rifle.

The song was first recorded in the field by U.S. musicologists John and Alan Lomax in 1933, performed a cappella by the convict James Baker (also known as Iron Head) and a group at Central State Farm, Sugar Land, Texas. The Lomaxes were recording for the Library of Congress and later field recordings in 1934, 1936 and 1939 also include versions of "Black Betty".

The origin and meaning of the lyrics are subject to debate. Some sources claim the song is derived from an 18th century marching cadence about a flint-lock musket with a black painted stock; the "bam-ba-lam" lyric referring to the sound of the gunfire. Soldiers in the field were said to be "hugging Black Betty". In this interpretation, the rifle was superseded by its "child", a rifle with an unpainted walnut stock known as a "Brown Bess".

The earliest meaning of "Black Betty" in the United States (from at least 1827) was a liquor bottle. In January 1736, Benjamin Franklin published The Drinker's Dictionary in the Pennsylvania Gazette offering 228 round-about phrases for being drunk. One of those phrases is "He's kiss'd black Betty."

David Hackett Fischer, in his book 'Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America' (Oxford University Press, 1989), states that "Black Betty" was a common term for a bottle of whiskey in the borderlands of northern England/southern Scotland, and later in the backcountry areas of the eastern United States.

In an interview conducted by Alan Lomax with a former prisoner of the Texas penal farm named Doc Reese (aka "Big Head"), Reese stated that the term "Black Betty" was used by prisoners to refer to the "Black Maria" — the penitentiary transfer wagon.

Covered by:
1933 James Baker (AKA Iron Head) and group
1939 Huddie Ledbetter (AKA Lead Belly), originally on the 78rpm album Negro Sinful Tunes
1964 Odetta, Odetta Sings of Many Things album
1964 Alan Lomax, Texas Folk Songs album
1964 Koerner, Ray & Glover, Lots More Blues, Rags and Hollers album
1976 Starstruck
1977 Ram Jam, US #18
1986 Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Kicking Against the Pricks album
1989 Mekong Delta (band), Toccata 12" Maxi-Single
1994 Electric Boys, Freewheelin' album
2002 Tom Jones
2002 Throttlerod, on the compilation album Sucking The '70s
2004 Spiderbait, AUS #1
2005 Pumpjack, Triple Platinum album
2005 Tony C. and the Truth
2006 Meat Loaf, Bat Out Of Hell III single B-side
2006 Joe Brown, Down To Earth album
2006 Ying Yang Twins' song "Dangerous" contains a sample of the Ram Jam version
2007 Big City Rock on the TMNT soundtrack
2007 Soil, on the re-release of the album Throttle Junkies
2008 Ministry, on their cover album Cover Up

So, according to Chris' link to "A Traditional Music Library" and to "Roud's Folk Song Index" and Wikipedia. It's a traditional song that was never copyrighted by the original author, only by those who did covers.

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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Posted : 14/08/2009 7:52 pm
Posts: 4338
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"Midnight Special" is a traditional folk song thought to have originated among prisoners in the American South. The title comes from the refrain which refers to the Midnight Special and its "ever-loving light" (sometimes "ever-living light").

"Let the Midnight Special shine her light on me,
Let the Midnight Special shine her ever-loving light on me". (Traditional)

The song is historically performed in the country-blues style from the viewpoint of the prisoner. The song has been covered by many different artists.

Lyrics appearing in the song were first recorded in print by Howard Odum in 1905.

"Get up in the mornin' when ding dong rings,
Look at table—see the same dam thing".

The first printed reference to the song itself was in a 1923 issue of Adventure magazine, a three-times-a-month pulp magazine published by the Ridgway Company. In 1927 Carl Sandburg published two different versions of "Midnight Special" in his The American Songbag, the first published versions.

The song was first commercially recorded on the OKeh label in 1926 as "Pistol Pete's Midnight Special" by Dave "Pistol Pete" Cutrell (a member of McGinty's Oklahoma Cow Boy Band). Cutrell follows the traditional song except for semi-comedic stanzas about McGinty and Gray and "a cowboy band".

Covers include ABBA, Burl Ives, Johnny Rivers, Big Joe Turner, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Mungo Jerry, Van Morrison, Odetta, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, Little Richard, Buckwheat Zydeco, Pete Seeger, The Kingston Trio, The Spencer Davis Group, Lonnie Donegan, Eric Clapton, Harry Belafonte and Paul McCartney, et al.

(I'm loving the site that Chris found "A Traditional Music Library"!! :D I've also been collecting some really good dulcimer and mandolin songs!! And I needed more dulcimer music!)

(EDIT: Also found this .... DE MIDNIGHT SPECIAL
Two prisoners are leaning against a barred window, their minds heavy and listless with the monotony of days and endless, unsatisfied desires. Eager to notice anything that will break through their narrow horizon, hedged in by bars, guns, curses, day-long rolling in the fields, they comment and let their imaginations play upon the few passers-by. Sung in prisons all over the South, this song is probably of white origin."

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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Posted : 14/08/2009 8:29 pm
Posts: 4338
Famed Member

"The Wabash Cannonball" is an American folk song about a fictional train, thought to have originated sometime in the late nineteenth century. It's first documented appearance was on sheet music published in 1882, titled "The Great Rock Island Route" and credited to J. A. Roff. All subsequent versions contain a variation of the chorus:

"Now listen to the jingle, and the rumble, and the roar,
As she dashes thro' the woodland, and speeds along the shore,
See the mighty rushing engine, hear her merry bell ring out,
As they speed along in safety, on the "Great Rock-Island Route."

A rewritten version by William Kindt appeared in 1904 under the title "Wabash Cannon Ball".

The song "The Wabash Cannonball" is part of the The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame's 500 Songs that Shaped Rock and Roll list.

The Carter Family made one of the first recordings of the song in 1929, though it was not released until 1932. Another popular version was recorded by Country Music Hall of Famer Roy Acuff in 1936.

There are many theories of the origin of "The Wabash Cannonball". Utah Phillips states that hobos somewhere imagined a mythical train called the "Wabash Cannonball" and created the lyrics and music to go with the myth.

Another theory states that the song is based on a tall tale in which Cal S. Bunyan, Paul Bunyan's brother, constructed a railroad known as the Ireland, Jerusalem, Australian & Southern Michigan Line. After two months of service, the 700-car train was traveling so fast that it arrived at its destination an hour before its departure. Finally, the train took off so fast that it rushed in to outer space, and for all is known, it is still traveling through space. When the hobos learned of this train, they called her "The Wabash Cannonball" and said that every station in America had heard her whistle.

Covered by Roy Acuff, The Carter Family, Jerry Reed, Doyle Dykes, Arlo Guthrie, Kinky Friedman, The Chieftains & Ricky Skaggs, Johnny Cash, Hank Williams Jr., Boxcar Willie, Doc Watson, Wanda Jackson, Bruce Springsteen, Boots Randolph, Willie Nelson, Earl Scruggs, Leon Russell, and many, many others.

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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Posted : 14/08/2009 10:17 pm
Chris C
Posts: 3454
Famed Member

More terrific research EB! :D

Midnight Special was one of the first songs that I remember hearing and singing as a kid. If I remember rightly it was a version by Lonnie Donnegan, who also did Rock Island Line and such memorable songs as "My Old Man's a Dustman" and "Does Your Chewing Gum Lose its Flavour on the Bedpost Overnight"... Dear old Lonnie... Incidentally, he also recorded "I Wanna Go Home" which is yet another version of the John B Sails, aka Sloop John B.

Your suggestion of Black Betty is inspired! Most of the songs I can think of were covered some time ago, but Black Betty was a hit for Spiderbait quite recently, in a version that people of a wide age range could relate to. In the video, Black Betty was cast as a hot rod car. :)

Black Betty - Spiderbait

NIce.... :mrgreen:

Glad you're enjoying that great traditional music site. It can be a good songwriting source too, in that it has so many examples of simple but strong melodies, lyric styles and so on. Studying how and why they work seems to be a good way to learn a bit about the craft. I never seem to get around to learning other people's set piece songs, but I enjoy taking an existing chord progression or melody line and going in another direction - noodling off to somewhere completely different - so those old tunes can provide good kicking off points.



Posted : 14/08/2009 11:31 pm
Posts: 4338
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Love that video! Very nice! And what make of car is that? I like the way they're actually playing in a garage! :D That song's come a long way from a marching cadence (of which I am very familiar, having been in the Army!), to what we're listening to today and even 30 years or so ago (when we wuz young!).

And, thank you for posting that link! I've only made my way through the first two sections (the American and African American) (and I jumped over to the Carter Family Archives, too). I'm just taking it one link at a time. Fascinating things in there! Combined with Wikipedia and Google and Roud, crossreferencing between them all to make sure they all say the same things, I bet we're going to come up with everything David needs! (At least I hope we can!) I just LOVE this sort of research! The history of modern music, the things you learn about songs you've heard most of your life as well as the things that were old when you heard them but you thought were brand spanking new ... the only word that applies is ... fascinating! I can spend hours at a time reading through the facts and the stories and never get bored! I'm really glad David got this project! For him, but for me, too, because I get to learn more and more about one of the things I love most ... music!


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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Posted : 15/08/2009 3:56 pm
Posts: 4338
Famed Member

How about "Walkin' The Dog"?

"Walkin' the Dog" is a song written by Shelton Brooks in 1916. Written for the Dancing Follies of 1916, its chorus is:

"Get way back, and snap your fingers,
Get over Sally, one and all,
Grab your gal, and don't you linger
Do that slow-drag 'round the hall.
Do that step, the "Texas Tommy" drop,
Like you're sitting on a log,
Rise slow, that will show,
The dance called Walkin' the Dog."

Covered by Rufus Thomas, Aerosmith, Johnny Rivers, Karyn White, Webb Pierce, The Sonics, Greenday, Ronnie Bowman, T-Bird, Bill Anderson, George Clinton, Patsy Cline, Toni Basil, The Hurriganes, John Cale, The Boogie Kings, Hamilton Loomis, Steve Gardner w/ Washboard Chaz & Jake Leg Stompers, et al.

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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Posted : 15/08/2009 5:46 pm
Chris C
Posts: 3454
Famed Member

I just LOVE this sort of research! The history of modern music, the things you learn about songs you've heard most of your life as well as the things that were old when you heard them but you thought were brand spanking new ... the only word that applies is ... fascinating! I can spend hours at a time reading through the facts and the stories and never get bored! I'm really glad David got this project! For him, but for me, too, because I get to learn more and more about one of the things I love most ... music!


Me too. :) The whole learning aspect of music has been a real joy, and the fact that I'm now slowly but surely getting to actually PLAY as well, seems like some kind of magical bonus! 8)

I must admit that I've only scratched the surface of that site - having mostly just popped in occasionally to check out the Irish and Scottish sections, but this exercise has made me look a bit more thoroughly. The guy that's put it together - Rod Smith - has done a great job. It was interesting to read his comment that:

"What seemed to work best for me was a combination of by-ear and a standard music score to help me find the right notes more easily. "

That's just what I like to do as well - get a few pointers, and then trust my ear.

He also has some comments about the copyright issues, and other relevant stuff here:

About the Site

Perhaps he would be willing to give David some suggestions and general tips if he got in touch??



Posted : 16/08/2009 12:24 am
Posts: 2736
Famed Member

I would like to suggest La Bamba, which is a spanish traditional song.

Hope that hasn't been mentioned already as I didn't quite read the posts completely...

Posted : 16/08/2009 12:14 pm
Posts: 4338
Famed Member

"La Bamba" is a Mexican folk song, originally from the state of Veracruz, best known from a 1958 adaptation by Ritchie Valens, a top 40 hit in the U.S. charts and one of early rock and roll's best-known songs.

Influenced by Spanish flamenco and Afro-Mexican rhythms, the song uses the violin, jaranas, guitar, and harp. Lyrics to the song greatly vary, as performers often improvise verses while performing. However, versions (such as those by musical groups Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlan and Los Pregoneros del Puerto) have survived because of the artists' popularity and have become the "definitive" versions. The traditional aspect of "La Bamba" lies in the tune itself, which remains the same through all versions. The name of the dance, which has no direct English translation, is presumably connected with the Spanish verb, bambolear meaning "to shake", or perhaps "to stomp".

The traditional "La Bamba" was often played during weddings in Veracruz, where the bride and groom performed the accompanying dance. Today this wedding tradition is mostly lost, but the dance survives through the popularity of ballet folklórico. The dance is performed in much the same way, displaying the newlywed couple's unity through the performance of complicated, delicate steps in unison as well as through creation of a bow from a listón, a long red ribbon, using only their feet.

The "arriba" (literally "up") part of the song suggests the nature of the dance, in which the footwork, called "zapateado", is done faster and faster as the music tempo accelerates. The repeated lyric, "Yo no soy marinero, soy capitán" (lit: "I am not a sailor, I am a captain"), refers to Veracruz's marine locale and the husband's promise that he will remain faithful to his wife.

At many gatherings, including the youth conventions of Esperanto (IJK, Internacia Seminario), one traditionally dances to La Bamba in a circle. People dance in the circle and people dance out of it. The people within the circle can take a place in the outer circle by kissing one of the people dancing in it, after this ritual one swaps places. Multiple versions are used for this, Spanish as well as partly or completely sung in Esperanto. (Wikipedia)

From I found this:

La Bamba did not jump out of some songwriter's head in the 1950's - in fact, it probably dates back to the beginning of the last century. Its birthplace is southern Veracruz, eastern Oaxaca, and northern Tabasco. This song is in fact not a “song” at all but a “ son .” Sones are a musical form that is found in seven areas of Mexico (with regional variation) including Jalisco where it is the root of Mariachi music. By definition, a Son must be of 4/6 time, have an unlimited number of verses (each one of which is a complete thought unto itself), and be played for dancing. Those of you who are musical are going to quickly say “CAUGHT CHA!!! La Bamba is in 4/4 time!” And you are correct. The Son Jarocho (Jarocho designates someone or thing from southern Veracruz) is the only form that has both 4/6 and 4/4 time. While La Bamba is the most famous of the Sones Jarochos, there are somewhere around 100 others.

As for the coplas (verses), La Bamba has hundreds – they say over a thousand – but who can count them as they are being created everyday. Part of the Son tradition is the creating of verses by cantadores (singers) including adlibbing on the spot. These talented wordsmiths will take a situation and sing messages, jokes, or insults to the dancers, observers, and other musicians. It can be a lot of fun, but also dangerous if someone decides to take offence. In the countryside where this music is still vital and undiluted, this type of play has led to many a fistfight and on occasion the use of machetes.

The instruments used by the musicians are varied but come from the stringed and percussive families. In The Port and along the Rio Papaloapan one is likely to see arpas (harps) and occasional panderos (tambourines) while further south one might run across a bocona (a four string bass), the quijada (literally an asses jaw), and violins. But no matter where one is, one will see jaranas (a six to ten string instrument, from 18” to the size of a small guitar, that is strummed) and guitarras de son (4 strings, various sizes, and plucked with a long cow horn pick). Though most people don't realize it, the tarima is another essential instrument. A tarima is a platform about a foot high, approximately the size of a piece of plywood and usually made of cedar planks. This is where the dancers pound out the rhythms, interacting with the other musicians sometimes following and sometimes dictating the direction of the music. The roots of this music are Spanish and African. The belief is that for the slaves, who were deprived of their drums, the tarima was the replacement.

(EDIT: I almost forgot!) Covers by:
The Los Lobos version of the song, released in as part of the soundtrack of the 1987 movie La Bamba about Valens' life, concludes with the traditional ever-faster instrumentation, instead of the "bamba-bamba, bamba-bamba..." fadeout of Valens' version. The single went to No. 1 on the Billboard charts. It also went to No. 1 on the UK charts and the Australian charts.
In 1956, Harry Belafonte made a studio recording of La Bamba.
In 1960, La Bamba was included in the album Belafonte Returns To Carnegie Hall LSO6007, playing time 8:06.
In 1975, the song appeared on the New Riders of the Purple Sage album Oh, What a Mighty Time.
In 1986, "La Bamba" featured as the background music to a British TV ad for the Vauxhall Nova motor car.
In fall, 1987, the Grateful Dead incorporated "La Bamba" within their version of "Good Lovin'" during several concerts.
In 1988, Latin superstar Selena released the song on her album entitled Preciosa.
In 1988, song parody writer/performer "Weird Al" Yankovic wrote and recorded a parody of "La Bamba" entitled "Lasagna". The original tune is played with Italian instruments to fit the parody's theme.
In 1988, Alvin and the Chipmunks included a version of the song, sung in their signature style, on their album Born to Rock.
In 2000, the German-Portuguese singer Marco da Silva released "La Bamba"
In 2001, country music superstar Clay Walker covered this song in his Tex Mex style on his album Say No More.
In 2003, the song was successfully covered in France by the Star Academy 4 (#2 in France, #1 in Belgium, #11 in Switzerland).
In 2004, fans of Liverpool Football Club adapted the lyrics of "La Bamba" into a song celebrating their new Spanish manager Rafael Benítez and the Spanish players he brought to the club. The song's popularity grew and became an anthem of their UEFA Champions League win in 2005. It has been updated and changed several times to accommodate the transfer of players. Xabi Alonso is the only player whose name has remained in the chant.
In 2005, the Japanese J-ska band Yum!Yum!ORANGE recorded a ska punk cover released in their third album Orange Funky Radio. That same year, Paul Shanklin released a satire about U.S. Senator Ted Kennedy goofing up the names Osama bin Laden and then-freshman Senator Barack Obama.
In 2006, it was performed in the Hungarian version of Pop Idol competition (local name: Megasztár) by Magdolna Rúzsa, a Serbia-born Hungarian singer. Her recording was also released on her first CD album (A döntőkben elhangzott dalok).
In 2007, the game Rayman Raving Rabbids featured this song on the jukebox.
In 2007, a cover by Leon Thomas III was featured on the soundtrack of the film August Rush.
The cover by Los Lobos is one of the featured songs in the game Guitar Hero World Tour in the final gig at Times Square and also Guitar Hero On Tour: Decades.
More cover versions :

Bobby Darin
Mike Berry (1963)
Dean Reed (1965)
Unit 4 + 2 (1965)
The Sandpipers (1966)
The Ventures (1966) - instrumental version
Willie Bobo (1967)
Trini Lopez (1966)
Dusty Springfield (1968)
Neil Diamond (1966)
The Merrymen, 1966
Antonia Rodriguez (1978) - a 'disco' version
Baccara (1978)
The California Raisins (1987)
Selena (1988)
Rory Gallagher (1993-1994 tour)
Allsortz (2000)
Clay Walker (2001)
Helmut Lotti, 2000
Wyclef Jean feat. Ro-K & Gammy (October 5, 2004)
Bubba Hernandez and Alex Meixner aka Polka Freak Out feat. Scrote and Zebar (November 16, 2007)
Lila Downs
Mattias Eklundh
Henry Mancini and The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra
Deer Tick
The Wiggles (2008)
Drake Bell (2008)
Yuri for her album Mi Hijita Linda (2008)
Tito and Tarantula
Nickasaur! (2009)
Khalil Fong (2009)

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"Don't wanna ride no shootin' star. Just wanna play on the rhythm guitar." Emmylou Harris, "Rhythm Guitar" from "The Ballad of Sally Rose"

Posted : 16/08/2009 3:24 pm
Posts: 10
Active Member

Not weighing in on issues of copyright law, just suggesting a song for your project:

Moonshiner, traditional, recorded memorably by the Clancy Brothers, Bob Dylan, and, more recently, Uncle Tupelo.

Posted : 18/08/2009 6:24 pm
Posts: 1882
Noble Member

Completely aside from David's topic. but...
Love that video! Very nice! And what make of car is that?
I think it's a 1933 Ford Coupe. You might be familiar with this slightly modified version of the same car.

I wrapped a newspaper ’round my head
So I looked like I was deep

Posted : 20/08/2009 12:59 am
Posts: 9
Active Member

If Mr. Hodge is not already maxed out, here are few more possibilities.
Cripple Creek, Frankie and Johnny, John Henry, could be added to the list, with lots of covers.

Freight Train (NOT boogie or blues) by Elizabeth Cotten; others are Pete Seeger, Peter, Paul and Mary
Railroad Bill, by Etta Baker; also by Joan Baez and Van Morrison

The latter two songs could make great lessons.

Elizabeth Cotten, Freight Train and Other North Carolina Folk Songs and Tunes
Etta Baker, Mrs. Etta Baker Family and Friends, Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians

Both these albums also have a version of Going Down the Road Feeling Bad, also done by Roger McGuinn, Grateful Dead, etc

They are available at and other web sites (probably not at your local Best Buy!)

Posted : 20/08/2009 9:50 pm
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