Saturday, November 15, 2008

Carter Family Songs: Starting with the letter A


The original Carter Family (Sara, AP and Maybelle) recorded 292 songs by my count and concluded their recording career in 1941. Other recordings were made with members of the original group notably the 1939 Border Radio recordings (with Maybelle's children) and the 1952-1956 Acme sessions which I did not include since they are not really by the three original members.

Although The Carters wrote some songs they primarily recorded songs they knew from their family and friends in the Clinch Mountain region and the songs collected by AP on his many song hunting trips. Many times AP would find lyrics and put them together or change lyrics to existing songs. They would sing the melody of the song if they knew it and if they didn't they'd sing a new melody to fit the lyrics.

Some of the rewrites clearly created new songs or new arrangements and arguably should be credited to the Carter Family. Many of their songs are just songs they found and copyrighted but are not their songs. Still their role in perpetuating the songs found in the region should not be denied. Many of their songs are being played today.

Let's look at their songs and where they got them. Here's a list of songs starting with the letter A. Of the 6 songs, one is a rewrite of their early hit "Bury Me Beneath the Willow" and one is a rewrite of a folk song. The other 4 are based entirely on earlier songs.

Amber Tresses: is from "Amber Tresses Tied in Blue," 1874. Words by Samuel M. Mitchell, music by H. P. Danks. Sheet music at Levy Site.

(Words: Samuel M. Mitchell Music: H.P. Danks, c.1874)

Far away in sunny meadows,
Where the merry sunbeams play'd,
Oft I linger'd 'mid the clover,
Singing to a village maid;

She was fairer than the fairest
Ever faithful, fond and true;
And she wore beneath a bonnet
Amber tresses tied in blue.

Chorus: She was fairer than the fairest
Ever faithful, fond and true;
And she wore beneath a bonnet
Amber tresses tied in blue.

Ere the summer days departed,
We had made a solemn vow,
And I never, never wearied
Kissing her sweet cheek and brow;

She was dearer than the dearest,
Pure as drops of morning dew,
And adown her neck was hanging
Amber tresses tied in blue.

'Twas decreed that fate should part us,
Ere the leaves of autumn fell,
And two loving hearts were sever'd,
That had loved each other well;

She was all I had to cherish,
She has bade a last adieu,
And I see in every vision
Amber tresses tied in blue.

AMBER TRESSES- Carter Family

Far away in some deep mountain
Where the merry sunbeams play
There I wandered through the clover
Singing to a village maid

CHORUS: She was dearer than the dearest
Ever loving kind and true
And she wore beneath her bonnet
Amber tresses tied in blue.

Fact decreed that we parted
When the leaves of autumn fell
Then two hearts were separated
That had loved each other well.

She was all I had to cherish
Every loving king and true
Now I see in every vision
Amber tresses tied in blue


Anchored in Love: is the original title of the James D. Vaughan-James Rowe song; 1911. Words from Vaughan book, "Crowning Phrases."

ANCHORED IN LOVE (Carter family version)

I've found a sweet haven of sunshine at last,
And Jesus abiding above,
His dear arms around me are lovingly cast
And sweetly He tells His love

The tempest is o'er (The danger, the tempest forever is o'er)
I'm safe evermore (I'm anchored in hope and have faith evermore)
What gladness what rapture is mine
The danger is past (The water's receding, the danger is past)
I'm anchored at last (I'm feeling so happy I'm anchored at last)
I'm anchored in love divine

He saw me endangered and lovingly came
To pilot my storm-beaten soul
Sweet peace He has spoken and bless His dear name
The billows no longer roll

His love shall control me through life and in death
Completely I'll trust to the end
I'll praise Him each hour of my last fleeting breath
Shall sing of my soul's Best Friend

Answer to Weeping Willow: is a rewrite by the Carter Family of "Bury Me Beneath the Willow." Early country recordings that were hit songs often would be rewritten with different lyrics and the same melody. Sometimes by a different artist but usually by the group or individual that recorded the first hit.


My love is dead and buried yonder
Beneath the weeping willow tree
What wrecks my life and makes me wonder
Is because she died for me

Then lay me down in death beside her
For she's all this life to me
That I may join and e'er caress her
In a land beyond the sea

Yes she died before I told her
That I loved her true and kind
And that I did not mean to fool her
But she left me to repine

God shall I ever get forgiveness
For the deeds that I have done
And meet up yonder her sweet charming
For I know she did me some

Are You Lonesome Tonight?: A number one hit for Elvis. A 1926 song with lyrics Roy Turk, music Lou Hindman. Ralph Peer wouldn't have allowed the Carters to record this song had he known it was a song composed in 1926 and not the Carters. Did Elvis get the song from the Carters? There's a good chance.

Are You Tired of Me, My Darling?: is an 1877 song by Cook and Roland
Here's a link to the original "Are You Tired of Me My Darling":

Away Out On Saint Sabbath: is a rewrite of Bury Me on the Lone Prairie. Here is a link with chords and a recording:
Clearly this is rewritten to such an extent it should be considered an original song by the Carter Family.

Here's the lyrics to the cowboy song dating back to 1872:

"O bury me not on the lone prairie"
These words came low and mournfully
From the pallid lips of the youth who lay
On his dying bed at the close of day.

CHORUS: "O bury me not on the lone prairie
Where the wild coyote will howl o'er me
Where the buffalo roams the prairie sea
O bury me not on the lone prairie"

More to come,


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