Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Song Research


It's always a challenge trying to find out the origin of a song; especially a song from the 1920s or 1930s. What's intriguing is that there is more information available than ever because of the internet and old sheet music and song books becoming digitized.

There are authorities on folk music, old-time music, fiddle tunes and early blues and jazz. There are slueths that ferret out the secrets of the past and shine some light upon them. Certainly the late great Charles Wolfe was one of the greatest pools of knowledge in Country Music history. The same can be said for Gus Meade and his amazing book, Country Music Sources.

There are some authors that certainly reach the authority status including Tony Russell, who I know, and Nolan Porterfield, who wrote "the" Jimmie Rodgers biography. I remember arguing by email with Nolan over certain Jimmie Rodgers' details at the Bristol Sessions.

There are others who contribute their time and talents to folk related discussion forums like Mudcat:

and old-time

What's really amazing is when you find out the origin of a song that perhaps no one else has found. This has only happened to me several times. I think my best contribution was the origin of "Whoa Mule" certainly a well known song- after all, it was on Andy of Mayberry! [It was "Hold Onto the Sleigh" by W.S. Hays. I found the actual sheet music on-line]

So yesterday I found another one when checking out Carter Family songs. It was "Darling Daisies" This song is based on "Down by the Garden Wall" by Max Vernor. Published in 1882. Here's the link:

As far as I know no one has attributed this to the Carter's song. Even a blind squirrel finds an acorn sometimes!


When first I met my darling Daisy,
Down by the garden wall
I was walking along the street so shady
I was going for a twilight call

CHORUS: I'd love to sing and dance among the roses
Down by the garden wall
It's there I'd like to meet my Daisy
When I make a twilight call

I've been lucky to have other people to help me. Thanks especially to the folks at Mudcat and my friend and fellow researcher John Garst, who does some excellent research.

Next post we'll look at the Carter's songs titled with the letter D.


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