Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Carter Family Songs titled with C


We'll look at some of the Carters songs titled with the letter C: Can the Circle Be Unbroken (Bye and Bye); Can't Feel at Home; Cannonball (Blues); Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers in Texas; Carter's Blues; Charlie and Nellie; Chewing Gum; Church in the Wildwood; Coal Miner's Blues; Cowboy Jack; Cowboy's Wild Song to His Herd; Cuban Soldier; and Cyclone of Rye Cove.

There are 12 songs and one skit featuring music by Jimmie Rodgers.

Can the Circle Be Unbroken (Bye and Bye); Based on the gospel song: Will the Circle be Unbroken Words: Ada Habershon, Music: Charles Gabriel. Date: 1907.

WILL THE CIRCLE BE UNBROKEN Words: Ada Habershon, Music: Charles Gabriel. Date: 1907. (First Verse and Chorus only)

There are loved ones in the glory,
Whose dear forms you often miss;
When you close your earthly story,
Will you join them in their bliss?

CHORUS: Will the circle be unbroken
By and by, by and by?
In a better home awaiting
In the sky, in the sky?

Clearly this is the same song the Carters used and made famous. The real question is: Did the Carters rewrite the verses or get them from other sources as well? The Carters 1935 recording was preceeded by the 1930 recording by Frank Welling & John McGhee. Their version most likely is based on this early recording.

Certainly this song is now accepted as traditional and is published everywhere. The Carter's famous version begins:

I was standing by my window,
On a cold and cloudy day.
When I saw a hearst come rolling,
For to carry my mother away.

Can't Feel at Home; Also know as "I Can't Feel at Home" and "This World is Not my Home." I've played this many times and was told it was an old hymn. The song does appear in many old hymn books. It's listed as being published in 1919 by Meade.

Meade lists Stovepipe No 1 (Sam Jones) 'Lord Don't You Know, I Have No Friend Like You' recorded August 1924 in NYC and issued as Co 210-D in November 1924. This is followed by The Kentucky Thorobreds 'This World Is Not My Home' recorded in April 1927 in Chicago and issued as Paramount 3014 (no date given), and then the Carters' 1931 recording. J.E. Mainer's Mountainers, with vocal by Zeke Morris, recorded it on 6 August 1935 in Atlanta, issued as Bluebird B60288 - several months before the Monroe Brothers 17 February 1936 recording (Bluebird B6309).

The song was the basis for Woody Guthrie's "I Ain't Got No Home." Charles Wolfe says the Monroes learned the song from the 1935 'hit' record by the Prairie Ramblers on ARC, but the song had its roots deep in the black gospel tradition. In his liner notes to vol 5 of the Rounder set of Carter RCA material, Wolfe said it had been recorded before the Carter's 1931 recording by several black gospel groups - unfortunately, he doesn't say which - and 'had appeared in a number of white gospel songbooks as "arranged" by one composer or another'.

There are two black gospel recordings of "This World Is Not My Home" before World War II listed in Blues and Gospel Records 1890-1943 (Oxford): Golden Echo Quartet (rec. Atlanta, Ga; 1 April, 1927) and Jessie May Hill (rec. Chicago; 5 May, 1927). Hill's version (backed by Sisters of Congregation ("The Church of God in Christ") and probably accompanied by Arizona Dranes on the piano) is a variant.


This world is not my home, I'm just passing through
My treasures and my hopes are all beyond the blue
Where many many friends and kindred have gone on before
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Over in Glory land, there is no dying there
The saints are shouting victory and singing everywhere
I hear the voice of them that I have heard before
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Oh, lord, you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home, oh, lord, what would I do
Angels beckon me to heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Heaven's expecting me, that's one thing I know
I fixed it up with Jesus a long time ago
He will take me through though I am weak and poor
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Oh, I have a loving mother over in Glory land
I don't expect to stop until I shake her hand
She's gone on before, just waiting at heaven's door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Oh, lord, you know I have no friend like you
If heaven's not my home, oh, lord, what would I do
Angels beckon me to heaven's open door
And I can't feel at home in this world anymore

Cannonball (Blues): The Carters learned "The Cannonball" ("The Cannonball Blues") from African-American guitarist Lesley Riddle. Here's more info from my upcoming book: "He was just gong to get old music, old songs, what had never been sung in sixty years," said Riddle. "He was going to get it, put a tune to it, and record it."

Riddle also taught the Carter Family such songs he knew like "Coal Miner Blues," "The Cannon Ball," "I Know What It Means To Be Lonesome," and "Let the Church Roll On." Maybelle Carter learned to fingerpick and play slide guitar from Riddle.

"You don't have to give Maybelle any lessons," said Riddle. "You let her see you playing something, she'll get it- you better believe it."It was Riddle's job to learn the melody of the song. "If I could hear you sing, I could sing it too," said Riddle. "I was his tape recorder. He'd take me with him and he's get someone to sing the whole song. Then I'd get it and learn it to Sara and Maybelle."

I have information somewhere of earlier sources for this song which is related to Whitehouse Blues and some versions of Delia's Gone. This is from another of my books: The origin of "White House Blues" is found in the murder ballad "One Mo' Rounder Gone" also known as the popular song "Delia." "One Mo' Rounder Gone" was collected by Howard Odum between 1906-1908 and appeared in print in the JOAFL in 1911. The song can be traced back to around 1900 when the murder of Delia Green took place in Savannah, Georgia. The lyrics and form are the same as "White House Blues" and was surely a song Charlie Poole must have heard in his travels.

Listen and watch Maybelle and Sara play it:

Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers in Texas: is a skit with Jimmie Rodgers. The session began in Louisville, Kentucky on June 10, 1931 with "Why There's a Tear in My Eye" and "The Wonderful City." A.P., who did not sing or play, contributed the song, "Why There's a Tear in My Eye" and had some lines in the skits. A.P's song as many collected came from other sources, "An Old Man's Story" was copyrighted by Carson Robinson in 1928.

On June 11 Jimmie recorded "Let Me Be Your Side Track" and the whole group recorded their song-and-spoken-word skits "The Carter Family and Jimmie Rogers in Texas" and "Jimmie Rogers Visits The Carter Family." On June 12 the first skit was redone to its released form. "The Carter Family and Jimmie Rodgers in Texas," though recorded in Kentucky, asks the listener to imagine the Carters paying a visit to Jimmie in the Lone Star State.

The number begins with Jimmie offering a short-lived snatch of song on 'Yodelling Cowboy', switches into repartee as the three Carters knock at the door, and then segues into Jimmie and his guests performing "T for Texas." Carter's Blues: was recorded in Nov. 1929 in Atlanta GA. It's clearly a take-off on Jimmie Rodger's who was quickly becoming the number one country recording artist in the country. Unfortunately the Great Depression was just around the corner.

Carter's Blues is rewrite of "As I Walked Out One Morning Fair" and is related to "Love Has Brought Me to Despair." Here's a short clip of "As I Walked Out One Morning Fair:" Someone may find better versions.

CARTER'S BLUES- Carter Family

As I woke up one morning fair
To view the fields and taste the air
For to view the fields and the meadows around
I thought I heard some mournful sound
I thought I heard my true love say
"Oh, do turn and come this way"
Yodel-ay-ee, oh-lay-ee, ay-oh-lay-ee

You love some other, you don't love me
You care not for my company
You love some other, and I know why
Because he has more gold than I
But gold will melt and silver will fly
My love for you will never die
Yodel-ay-ee, oh-lay-ee, ay-oh-lay-ee


There is a flower, I've heard them say
That can be seen from day to day
And if that flower I only could find
To cure this aching heart of mine
Yodel-ay-ee, oh-lay-ee, ay-oh-lay-ee


So fare you well, my charming little love
Oh, meet me in that land above
And when we meet there in that land
We'll take no more this parting hand
Yodel-ay-ee, oh-lay-ee, ay-oh-lay-ee

Charlie and Nellie; This song is usually called "Nellie Dare and Charlie Brooks." This is clearly an earlier song with little rewriting. Riley Puckett first recorded the song in 1925 as "Send Back My Wedding Ring." It's also called "Charlie Brooks." The Carter's didn't record this until 1938 hence the name change to avoid copyright issues.

This is almost the same as Holland Puckett's 1927 version:

Charlie and Nellie Carter Family Recorded 6/8/38 - Charlotte, NC

Dear Nellie since I left the city
I've found I've changed my mind
I hope you won't think me untruthful
Or do me the least unkind

I think we're both mistaken
I know you'll never suit me
I owe my heart to another
Of course kind friends will agree

Please send me my ring and pictures
Also my letters and books
My clothes with many kind wishes
Respectfully yours Charlie Brooks

I heard all about it dear Charlie
I knew it would end this way
I hope you will always live happy
With your loving little wife Miss Gray

Now here's your ring dear Charlie
Don't give it to her I pray
Unless you tell her twas once mine
I wore it one year today

One year today dear Charlie
So happy were we both
You vowed you'd never forsake me
But I find you untrue to your oath

Here's your picture dear Charlie
It's almost faded away
Because I kissed it so often
And this you can tell Miss Gray

As far as your letters dear Charlie
I burned them as they came
I feared by reading them over
Would cause our love to inflame

I must say goodbye dear Charlie
My letter is near an end
Remember I'm always and always
Forever and ever your friend

"Chewing Gum" by the Carters is a different song than "Chewing Gum" by Uncle Dave Macon. This was one of Macon signature songs:

She Was Always Chewing Gum: Uncle Dave Macon Vo 5040

I'm going to sing you 'bout my pretty little girl,
She's just as pretty as a plum,
Habit she had was one that was bad,
She was always a-chewing gum,
Chewing gum, yum, yum, yum, yum

Whenever she came to Sunday school,
She always come with a chum,
Well right where they's at, and right where they sat,
They were always chewing gum,
Chewing gum, yum, yum, yum, yum

The song was first found in 1800s songbook entitled "A Collection of Favorite Songs as Sung by Ben Maginley, the clown and jester of the Great Consolidation," also contained advertisements of a score of patent medicine companies, and was 64 pages in size, with words of 40 to 60 songs included.

The Carter Family's "Chewing Gum" with the line "chewin chawin gum" first was published in the 1915 folk song book by Louise Pound. The Carter's version also became quite popular.

CHEWING GUM- Carter Family

Mama sent me to the spring
She told me not to stay
I fell in love with a pretty little girl
Could not get away

Chawin' chewin' gum, chewin' chawin' gum
Chawin' chewin' gum, chewin' chawin' gum

First she give me peaches
Then she give me pears
Then she give me fifty cents
Kissed me on the stairs

Mama don't 'low me to whistle
Papa don't 'low me to sing
They don't want me to marry
I'll marry just the same

I wouldn't have a lawyer
I'll tell you the reason why
Every time he opens his mouth
He tells a great big lie

I wouldn't have a doctor
I'll tell you the reason why
He rides all over the country
Makes the people die

I wouldn't have a farmer
I'll tell you the reason why
Because he has so plenty to eat
Specially pumpkin pie

I took my girl to church last night
How do you reckon she done
She walked right up to the preacher's face
And chewed her chewing gum

Church in the Wildwood: is based entirely on gospel song "Little Brown Church in the Vale" by James Rowe- words, William P. Pitts- music, DATE: Pitts 1857

There is a rewrite by Rowe in 1911. The Little Brown Church in the Vale has become a famous tourist attraction in Iowa, and the song describing its beauty is still sung.

Coal Miner's Blues;

"Coal Miner's Blues" A.P. Carter (1938)Lead vocal: Sara Lead Guitar: Maybelle

Some blues are just blues, mine are the miner's blues.
Some blues are just blues, mine are the miner's blues.
My troubles are coming by threes and by twos.

Blues and more blues, it's that coal black blues.
Blues and more blues, it's that coal black blues.
Got coal in my hair, got coal in my shoes.

These blues are so blue, they are the coal black blues.
These blues are so blue, they are the coal black blues.
For my place will cave in, and my life I will lose.

You say they are blues these old miner's blues.
You say they are blues, these old miner's blues.
Now I must have sharpened these picks that I use.

I'm out with these blues, dirty coal black blues.
I'm out with these blues, dirty coal black blues.
We'll lay off tomorrow with the coal miner's blues.

In "Yonder Come the Blues" by Paul Oliver, Tony Russell, Robert M. W. Dixon, they report that this song was collected by the Carters on a song trip in Lee County, Virginia and that it was popular in the mining community. This was a song Leslie Riddle helped collect and teach the Carters.

Cowboy Jack Laws B24: was first published in the 1928 Songs of the Open Range. It was recorded three times in 1929 first by Marc Williams for Brunswick.

COWBOY JACK Carter Family

He was just a lonely cowboy
With a heart so brave and true
He learned to love a maiden
With eyes of heaven's own blue

They learned to love each other
And named their wedding day
When a quarrel came between them
And Jack, he rode away [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

He joined a band of cowboys
And tried to forget her name
But out on the lonely prairie
She waits for him the same

One night when work was finished
Just at the close of day
Someone said, sing a song, Jack
We'll drive those cares away

When Jack began his singing
His mind did wander back
For he sang of a maiden
Who waited for her Jack [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

When he reached the prairie
He found a new-made mound
His friends they sadly told him
They laid his loved one down

They said as she was dying
She breathed her sweetheart's name
And asked them with her last breath
To tell him when he came

Your sweetheart waits for you, Jack
Your sweetheart waits for you
Out on the lonely prairie
Where the skies are always blue

A bit more on Cowboy Jack: The earliest recording was Jack Mathis for Columbia. Peg Moreland's 1929 recording was one of the early popular recordings. This should be considered a traditional cowboy ballad probably from Arizona which is based on an earlier song.

According to Dallas Turner A.P. Carter was still drawing royalties on the song in the early 1950s and considered it to be "his song." When Turner told A.P. he heard it as a young boy AP said, "I don't mean I composed it but I wrote it down."

Ira Sines 1928 "Songs of the Open Range" contradicts that claim. The Carter's version was one of the most popular versions and they sang it on Border Radio.The song actually is a rewrite of "Your Mother Prays for You Jack" by F.M. Eliot in 1893. The Carter's also recorded this song.

Here's some great info about the song:

Cowboy's Wild Song to His Herd was printed in 1912 book, Rhymes from the Rangeland by Wesley Beggs: This is a rewrite by the Carter's.


One beautiful night when the moon was full
And the air was crisp and clear
A cowboy lay on the starlit plain
And thought of his home so dear [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

He thought of his mother he loved so well
And the slumber of sleep was buried
Not a sound to be heard but those of the night
As he sang a wild song to his herd [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

The cattle are lying so quiet and still
On the carpet that mantles the west
While the golden links from the sky at night
Brings peace to the cowboy's breast [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

Still he thinks of his mother in a faraway land
And his thoughts by memory was stirred
And he sees himself to the old home again
As he sings a wild song to his herd [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

He's far from the din of the city noise
Where the links of folly do shine
He's far from the brawls of the dives of sin
And the flow of the sparkling wine [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

He's in the great west with its mantle of green
Where his neighbors say never a word
A land of mirages, mountains and plains
Where the cowboy sings low to his herd

"Cuban Soldier" was based on the Cuban revolution of 1898-1902. At this time I haven't found the song it's based on. There are hundreds of songs about Spanish American War.

THE CUBAN SOLDIER- 1938 Carter Family

Far away in a Spanish dungeon
A Cuban soldier lay
Slowly dying from the torture
Inflicted day by day

He begged to send a message
But his kindness was denied
So he called his comrades to him
And told his story 'ere he died

CHORUS: When Cuba gains her freedom
And the Spaniards cease to reign
There's a loved one on that island
I will never see again

Oh, find her for me, comrades
And tell her you were by my side
And I bid you take this message
To a soldier's promised bride [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

'Tis the same old story, comrades
Love weeps when duty is done
When Cuba was struggling for her freedom
I was ordered to my gun

Though I'm a captain dying
The struggle will soon be o'er
Tell her I said to meet me
Where the soldiers fight no more CHORUS:

Cyclone of Rye Cove is an event song composed by AP Carter. On May 2, 1929, an unusually violent storm struck the little community of Rye Cove, located in the mountains of Scott County. During the storm the local two-story schoolhouse, with over 150 children and teachers inside, was struck directly by a tornado.

The building was completely leveled, and the debris caught fire from an overturned stove. Thirteen were killed. The dozens of injured were rushed by special train to the hospital in Bristol.A. P. Carter was in the next valley on the day of the storm. He rushed to Rye Cove to help with the rescue efforts. Carter was touched by the horror of what he saw and soon composed "The Cyclone of Rye Cove." The Carter Family recorded the song that same year for RCA Victor. "The Cyclone of Rye Cove" easily became a part of the musical traditions of Southwest Virginia.


Oh, listen today and a story I'll tell
In sadness and tear-dimmed eyes
Of a dreadful cyclone that came this way
And blew our schoolhouse away

CHORUS: Rye Cove (Rye Cove) Rye Cove (Rye Cove)
The place of my childhood and home
Where in life's early morn I once loved to roam
But now it's so silent and lone [INSTRUMENTAL BREAK]

When the cyclone appeared it darkened the air
Yes, the lightning flashed over the sky
The children all cried, don't take us away
And spare us to go back home CHORUS

There were mothers so dear and fathers the same
That came to this horrible scene
Searching and crying each found their own child CHORUS

Oh, give us a home far beyond the blue sky
Where storms and cyclones are unknown
There by life's strand we'll clasp this glad hand
With children in a heavenly home CHORUS

That's the original Carter Family songs in C,

Take it easy,


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