Sunday, November 15, 2009

Folk Wisdom

LONG ago, I sang folk songs.  A lot of them.  I used to be able to play guitar and actually make some accompaniment to my singing.  They weren't the popular songs on the radio, I got them because they were easy pieces to learn for folk guitar, and my dad encouraged me to come along with him and learn folk guitar.  Looking back on it, it was some of the best times I spent with him.  It was just us, though there were the others in the class and the instructor.  I had dad mostly to myself and we were doing something that we both enjoyed a great deal, singing.  Neither of us were ever virtuosos with the guitar, but we were better than average singers. (It's my blog, I can take credit like that. mkay?)  At the moment, all I have is my dad's guitar sitting in my closet where it's been for a decade or so.  I have, apparently, no interest in playing guitar.  I still sing a lot though.

Sometimes I just sing a little song to myself while I'm working on something.  I knew lots of songs but the one that comes back most often is Tom Dooley.  Now Tom was a fellow that wound up on the wrong end of the law in 1866, or so the song goes.  Let's see if my memory is any good on this.
Hang down your head Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head Tom Dooley
Poor boy you're bound to die

This time tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Down in the Lonesome Valley
Hangin' from a white oak tree
Now, that's a sad song if I EVER heard one, Tom facing impending death on the gallows and all, but I really like that tune and the way that the chorus and verses are sung from two perspectives.

Of course, there is a Wikipedia article on the song.

I like another song a great deal.  It isn't nearly as famous but it is very dear to me and I sing it often.  My grandfather wrote it and had it recorded in the 40's.  It's called, You Never Can Tell The Depth Of A Well.

Everybody wants to write a love song
All about the moon and stars above
I just have a thought for you to pass along
Before you build that dream house for the one you love...

You never can tell
The depth of a well
By the handle on the pump
You never can see the height of a tree
By the bark upon the stump
You go to town
To shop around
You walk into a store
You never can say the price you will pay
By the sign upon the door

You fellows in a hurry
To call some girl your own
You shouldn't oughta hurry
Cause you never can win when trouble begins
Take my advice
Consider twice
Before you take that jump
You never can tell
The depth of a well
By the handle on the pump

[Accordion solo]
Now that little song packs in a lot of stuff.  Let's just see...
Don't get all moony.
Don't make your judgments about a mate on superficial qualities.
Don't rush into marriage

I really like that song.  I agree with it.  I like the word play.  It rhymes like songs don't anymore.  It is a crooner sort of song and I'm a crooner at heart.
Bob, so what?
Well my point (Hey, stop laughing. I make points sometimes.) is that those songs made, in a big way, an impression on me when I was a teenager.  They became a part of me that I incorporated, that is to say they literally became part of me.  They carry me through the day sometimes, much more than many of the songs I listened to a lot more in that time.  My father and grandfather brought me those songs, and they are a small part of what makes me, me.

I am the sum of all of my thoughts up til the present moment.  Over the years I've summed a lot of thoughts.  I grow richer every day.

1 comment:

Chip said...

Wow, Bob, I didn't know that about you. Thanks for sharing!