Notes for Sings
Songs for the Masses
weren't on my mind when designing
cover for the CD and space was at a premium. Now however, with
effectively endless storage space on this site's server, I can go on at
banjo in gDGCD (sawmill as it's often called. I doubt it's actually at
that pitch, I like to tune my banjos down, but that's the relationship.
This holds true for any other tunings I mention). One of my tunes, I
can't remember much
about coming up with this one though. When
the Stars threw down their spears/and watered Heaven with their
tears/did He smile his work to see?/did He who made the Lamb make Thee?
- W. Blake
Had Eyes - This
is played on an instrument I made out of a tin-can after seeing a
documentary about Africa with a guy playing something similar. There's
a picture here of mine. It has two
strings. I overdubbed the bowed part. This was a song that never got
off the ground, but I kept the tune.
three finger picking. Sawmill tuning again. Scary old ballad. Seems to
be a descendant of The Gosport Tragedy. This version doesn't give much
motive, but it seems from older ones that Willie's knocked Polly up and
he takes drastic measures to maintain his carefree bachelor ways. A lot
of versions end with Polly in the ground, birds mourning overhead and
Willie skulking off. I'm glad my version ends with him going to hell.
- This is a great song I learned from a great record put out by Folk Legacy,
Traditional Music From Beech Mountain. Go over there and get it. Get
Hobart Smith's and Frank Proffitt's albums too. I took some liberties
in my arrangement of it. The guitar is tuned CGCCGC (as on all the
Somebody on Your Bond-
One-man-bands are so much fun - every limb going at once! Here there's
bass drum, high-hat, kazoo and slide banjo. I first heard Captain
Beefheart's You Gonna...
and eventually Blind Willie Johnson's. I kept the refrain and added the
Dom Ospritch - I have no
clue anymore as to where this
comes from. It's played on a fretless banjo my father made, strung with
Soldier's Joy -
clawhammer banjo. A concatenation of my father's playing, Hobart
Smith's and John Burke's with hopefully my own personal touch.
- again clawhammer in gCGCD. Learned Bonaparte's
from the Folk Legacy album by Hobart Smith (he plays it on fiddle).
He's by far my favorite fiddle and banjo player. He was also a great
guitarist and piano player. There are a lot of versions of this tune, I
like the way this one rolls along. Salmon
Tails up the River
is a tune I heard played on the Northumbrian smallpipes by Jack
Armstrong, Northumbrian Minstrelsy the album might have been called. It
was a fleamarket find. Great music from the north of England. Ducks on the Millpond
is a well known banjo/fiddle tune from the Round Peak guys, I learned
it from my father and John Burke's arrangement. Milo Mou Kokkino (My Red
a song from the north of
Greece. If I could play these "exotic" tunes on the pipes and clarinet
I would, but I think they translated to banjo well enough.
Gonna Make Up
My Dyin' Bed
- I first learned this from a Bob Dylan album, but in quite a different
form. This one is from John and Ruby Lomax's '39 recording trip in the
South, sung by Dock Reed, Vera Hall & Jesse
Crawdad Hole - I don't recall
where I got this from. Nice
though. "What you gonna do when the crawdads die? Sit on the bank until
I cry, honey, sugar baby mine".
Mécanique - gDGBD.
Must have come to me after
listening to lots of Henry Burr. Along the lines of When You and I were Young
the Good Old
Someone told me it sounded like mechanical rodents. That, roughly
into French, sounds pretty spiffy as a title. I believe this was Frank
Zappa's most hated chord progression.
You Go Lassie, Go
- From another flea market find, a tape of snippets of Scottish folk
songs. It was very strange, I still wonder what its purpose was. But
this was sung beautifully on it. Oops, I lied in the CD's liner notes
when I said that She
Had Eyes was the only one
with any overdubbing - the
pseudo throat singing at the end of this is overdubbed.
- gDGBD. I
learned a clawhammer arrangement of this somewhere, and eventually
turned it into three finger picking. Versions by Harry MacDonough and
Buell Kazee informed it. Played on my father's fretless
gut-strung banjo. A real tear jerker.
- Electric guitar tuned GGDGBD. I say this is one of my own, and it is
to a large degree, but it's based on We're
No Awa Tae Bide Awa. I
don't know how it came to be in my head, but I had worked it out
somewhat and asked my father what it was, and he sang a bit of We're No Awa Tae Bide Awa.
What a tune! I mixed this up with another dim memory - a friend
had a wind-up doll which played some melancholy melody. As it wound
down it would slow and falter. It was one of the sadder things I've
instruments played by Hunter Robertson.
No’s 1, 2, 5, 6, 11 & 14 written by H. Robertson.
No’s 3, 4, 7, 8, 9, 10 & 12 trad., arranged by H.