Ballad Roots of California Folk-Rock — Commentary

Featuring Paul Clayton, Kilby Snow, the David Nelson Band, the Flying Other Brothers, Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, Sarah Hawkes, and Peter Rowan and the Rowan Brothers.

Performances:

Paul Clayton: “The Twa Sisters (The Two Sisters)”
Kilby Snow: “Wind and Rain”
The David Nelson Band: “Wind and Rain”
The Flying Other Brothers: “Johnny B”
Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger: “The Bonnie Lass of Fyvie”
The David Nelson Band: “Peggy-O”
Sarah Hawkes: “Little Sparrow (Come All You Fair and Tender Ladies-Sharp 118)”
Peter Rowan and the Rowan Brothers: “Fair And Tender Ladies”
The Flying Other Brothers: “Gwendolyn”

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From the European troubadours of the 16th Century to the early settlers of Appalachia, people have been singing songs about desperate men, senseless violence, murders and executions, damsels in distress, hard traveling, whiskey, gambling, and lost loves. Centuries have past, but we sing about the same things, and sometimes we sing the same songs.

In this episode we explore the roots of several ballads that found there way into contemporary rock, and in particular into the repertoires of Jerry Garcia, David Grisman, David Nelson, and Peter Rowan. A ballad, or story in song, is typically a rhythmic saga of a past affair, which may be heroic, romantic or satirical, almost inevitably catastrophic, which is related in the third person. Ballads are most often folk poetry in a musical format, passed along orally from generation to generation, set to conventional tunes and usually sung by a solo voice.

“The Twa Sisters (The Two Sisters)” (Traditional). Performed by Paul Clayton, from the recording entitled Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World (Folkways 02310), provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Copyright (c) 1969. Used by Permission.

Francis J. Child‘s five volume work, The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (1882-1898), is considered by many as the “canon” of folk music (see also the Child Ballads Project). Child collected something like 21 different versions of this song, “The Twa Sisters” a.k.a. “Cruel Sister” and “Oh, the Wind and the Rain”. It first appeared on a broadside in 1656 as “The Miller and the King’s Daughter” (a.k.a. “The Bonnie Milldams of Binnorie”, “The Bonny Bows o’ London”, and so on). The ballad also appears in Scandinavia.

In most versions, two sisters go for a walk and one throws the other into a river. (Don’t you just hate that?) In a version that spawned the “Wind and Rain” variations, a miller discovers the body floating down the river, pulls her out, and makes a harp out of her breastbone (so “he can play it forever…”). Child considered the making of a musical instrument from the sister’s body (or hair) to be the heart of the ballad, as it is through this musical instrument that the identity of the killer is revealed. In a Norse variation, the authorities bring a pipe for the family to play to determine who killed her. When the sister plays the pipe, blood spews forth and the pipe plays of her guilt — so she is condemned and pulled apart by horses. Oh well. One version from Sweden has a miller discover the girl and bring her back to her family where she forgives her sister. That must be the politically correct version.

Here’s an excerpt from Child’s collected version #10:

Somtymes she sanke, somtymes she swam,
Until she came unto the mill-dam.
The miller runne hastily downe the cliffe,
And up lie betook her withouten her life.
What did he doe with her brest-bone?
He made him a violl to play thereupon.
What did lie doe with her fingers so small?
He made him peggs to his violl withall.
What did he doe with her nose-ridge?
Unto his violl he made him a bridge.
What did he doe with her veynes so blew?
He made him strings to his violl thereto.
What did he doe with her eyes so bright?
Upon his violl he played at first sight.
What did he doe with her tongue so rough?
Unto the violl it spake enough.
What did lie doe with her two shinnes?
Unto the violl they danc’d Moll Syms.
Then bespake the treble string,
‘O yonder is my father the king.’
Then bespake the second string,
‘O yonder sitts my mother the queen.’
And then bespake the strings all three,
‘O yonder is my sister that drowned mee.’
‘Now pay the miller for his payne,
And let him bee gone in the divel’s name.’

Paul Clayton sings an Americanized version that found its way into the hills of Virginia. He learned it from Mrs. Kit Williamson of Campbell County, Virginia.

Lyrics:

There was an old man in the North Countrie,
Bow down, bow down.
There was an old man in the North Countrie,
The boughs they bend to me,
There was an old man in the North Countrie,
He had daughters, one, two, three.
Love will be true, true to my love,
Love will be true to you.

There was a young man came courting there,
Bow down, bow down. [repeat, etc.]
He did choose the youngest fair.
Love will be true, [repeat, etc.]

He gave the youngest a gay gold ring,
And to the oldest not a thing.

He gave to the youngest a beaver hat,
And the oldest she thought hard of that.

“Sister, O sister, let’s walk the sea shore,
To see the ships come sailing o’er.”

They were walking along on yonder sea-brim
When the oldest shoved the youngest in.

“O sister, O sister, hand me your hand,
And you may have my house and land.”

“O sister, O sister, hand me your glove,
And you may have my own true love.”

“I’ll neither hand you hand nor glove,
For all I want is your true love.”

So down she sank and away she swam
Until she reached the old mill dam.

The miller threw out his old grab-hook
And pulled the fair maiden out of the brook.

“O miller, O miller, here’s three gold rings,
If you’ll take me to my father’s again.”

He up with her fingers and off with her rings
And threw her back into the brook again.

The miller was hung at this mill gate
For the drowning of my sister Kate.

From the sea shanties and whaling songs which he learned from his grandfather, Paul Clayton collected and recorded folk songs of every nature which he found in his travels throughout the United States, in Canada, Cuba, and various European countries.Clayton collected extensively in the South, and during the fifties he made a collecting tour with Liam Clancy, who spent time in Virginia, North Carolina, and South Carolina gathering instrumentals, ballads, blues, and gospel music. During the fifties and sixties Clayton’s reputation as a young professional folksinger spread nationally and internationally, and he became part of the Greenwich Village scene during the folk boom. He was among the first to perform at Cerde’s Monday night hoots, a showcase which boasted appearances by such notables as Bob Dylan, Dave Van Ronk, Len Chandler, Judy Collins, Tom Paxton, Jack Elliott, and Arlo Guthrie. See the Paul Clayton discography and Paul Clayton’s influence on Bob Dylan.


“Wind and Rain” (Traditional, arranged by John Kilby Snow). Performed by Kilby Snow, from the recording entitled Kilby Snow: Country Songs and Tunes with Autoharp (Folkways 03902), provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Copyright (c) 1969. Used by Permission.

“Wind and Rain” is related to the Child Ballad #10, “The Twa Sisters (the Two Sisters)” and “Pretty Polly” and to the Irish-Celtic song “The Bonny Swans”. You may recognize the melody — Bob Dylan used this tune to create “Percy’s Song”, versions of which appeared on Dylan’s Biograph box set and on various bootlegs.

The story in “Wind and Rain” is similar to “The Twa Sisters” — a man that brutally murders his sweetheart and throws her body into a river to float away. She is plucked out of the water by a miller who then uses her body parts to fashion a magical violin which will only play one plaintive haunting tune. The song is part of the repertoire of many Appalachian mountain singers, including Kilby Snow. The mountain areas of Virginia through North Carolina, Kentucky and Tennessee, with their isolated small towns, villages and hollows, are nearly unsurpassed as a repository of old-time music and ballads reaching back to the time of settlement.

Born in 1905, John Kilby Snow was an outstanding autoharpist from Appalachia who was virtually unknown until discovered by Mike Seeger of the New Lost City Ramblers and the Smithsonian, who was responsible for bringing him to a wider audience in the 1960s. This version was recorded in 1966 in Kenneth Square, PA, live in an auditorium by Mike Hudak. Snow learned the song from his part-Cherokee Indian grandfather, who was 95 years old when Kilby was eight.

Lyrics:

It was early one morning in the month of May
Oh the wind and the rain
Two lovers went fishing on a hot summer’s day
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

He said to the lady “won’t you marry me”
Oh the wind and the rain
“And my little wife you’ll always be”
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

Then he knocked her down and he kicked her around
Oh the wind and the rain
Then he knocked her down and he kicked her around
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

He hit her in the head with a battering ram
Oh the wind and the rain
He hit her in the head with a battering ram
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

He threw her in the river to drown
Oh the wind and the rain
He threw her in the river to drown
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

He watched her as she floated down
Oh the wind and the rain
He watched her as she floated down
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

She floated on down to the miller’s mill pond
Oh the wind and the rain
Floated on down to the miller’s mill pond
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

Then the miller fished her out with a long fishing line
Oh the wind and the rain
The miller fished her out with a long fishing line
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

He made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones
Oh the wind and the rain
He made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

He made a fiddle bow of her long curly hair
Oh the wind and the rain
He made a fiddle bow of her long curly hair
A crying the dreadful wind and rain

The only tune that fiddle would play, was
Oh the wind and the rain
The only tune that fiddle would play, was
A crying the dreadful wind and rain


“Wind and Rain” (Traditional, arranged by John Kilby Snow). Performed by the David Nelson Band at Mexicali Blues, Teaneck, NJ, April 30, 2004. Featuring David Nelson (guitar), Barry Sless (guitar), Billy Laymon (bass), Charlie Crane (drums), Mookie Siegel (keyboards).



The David Nelson Band has been on the road for nearly 12 years. David Nelson, an old friend of Jerry Garcia’s and one of the founders of the New Riders of the Purple Sage, also worked with the Grateful Dead on the Dead’s Workingman’s Dead and American Beauty albums. He played with Robert Hunter and Garcia in the Thunder Mountain Tub Thumpers (in 1962).

David Nelson’s version includes a second instrumental part that takes us back to the British Isles through a time portal located somewhere in the Appalachian mountains of West Virginia.

Lyrics:

There were two little sisters come a walkin down the stream
Oh the wind and rain
One came behind pushed the other one in
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

Johnny gave the youngest one a gay gold ring
Oh the wind and rain
Would not give the oldest one anything
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

She pushed her in the river to drown
Oh the wind and rain
And watched her as she floated down
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

She floated till she came to the miller’s pond
Oh the wind and rain
Crying ‘Father Oh Father there swims a swan’
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

The miller fished her out with his drifting hook
Oh the wind and rain
And he brought this maiden from the brook
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

He laid her on the bank to dry
Oh the wind and rain
And a fiddling fool came passing by
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

Way down the road came a fiddler fair
Oh the wind and rain
Way down the road came a fiddler fair-
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

Way down the road came a fiddler fair
Oh the wind and rain
He took thirty strands of her long yellow hair
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

He made a fiddle bow of her long yellow hair
Oh the wind and rain
He made a fiddle bow of her long yellow hair
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

And he made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones
Oh the wind and rain
Made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

And he made a little fiddle of her little breast bone
Oh the wind and rain
Whose sound would melt a heart of stone
Crying oh the dreadful wind and rain

And the only tune that fiddle would play was
Oh the wind and rain
Only tune that fiddle would play was
Oh the dreadful wind and rain


“Johnny B” (Tony Bove, Bert Keely, Ann McNamee). Performed by the Flying Other Brothers on the CD 52-Week High. Featuring Bill Bennett (bass), TBone Tony Bove (harmonica, vocals), Bert Keely (guitar), Ann McNamee (vocals, percussion), Roger McNamee (guitar, vocals), Larry Marcus (drums), Corrine Marcus (percussion), and Pete Sears (keyboards). Published by Fobros Music.

The Flying Other Brothers are from Northern California and include the legendary Pete Sears on keyboards (Jefferson Starship, Hot Tuna, Rod Stewart, John Lee Hooker, and many others). The FOBs have played with Country Joe, Mickey Hart, Steve Kimock, Leftover Salmon, Little Feat, David Nelson, G.E. Smith, String Cheese Incident, and Bob Weir.

Like a great many folk-rock songs, the melody of this original song is similar to tunes like “Wind and Rain” and retains some of feel of a Scottish ballad. The story is about a popular singer from Philadelphia (which is why the New Year’s Mummers Parade is mentioned), a leader and a seeker of truth, who lived on the edge and died of loneliness after the tragedy of his wife’s death left him despondent.

Lyrics:
It’s time to remember the great ones
The leaders and the seekers of truth.
You were always a fast gun
Your energy a fountain of youth

And they never could understand you
No they never could pin you down
You were always pushing the limits
You were always changing the sound.

Johnny B., Johnny B., where did you go?
Johnny B., Johnny B., where are you now?

And the girls would line up beside you
While the rest of us would stand behind
And we jumped on the tour bus to fly with you
And who knew what we would find.

And we partied long past midnight
You were rockin’ rollin’ ringin’ that bell
And you knew we’d follow you anywhere
Almost through the Gates of Hell

What are we, what are we, all supposed to do?
Without you, without you, we don’t have a clue.
No! We don’t have a clue!

It was New Years Day with the Mummers
The party on Two Street was on
We were all looking forward to the New Year
But you went out on your own.

You had us runnin’ round town, wearin’ a frown,
‘Cause you wouldn’t answer the phone.
You got caught in the life, on the edge of the knife,
And you went out on your own.


“The Bonnie Lass of Fyvie” (Traditional). Performed by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, from the recording entitled Popular Scottish Songs (Folkways 08757), provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Copyright (c) 1960. Used by Permission.

A favorite among country singers of Northeast Scotland, “The Bonnie Lass of Fyvie” is an ancient folk song with roots that go back hundreds of years. It originated in Scotland as a story about a soldier passing through town, seducing a girl, and getting her pregnant. The soldier is ordered to leave and marches away. In some versions the girl follows him, though only for a little while, but in most versions she ends up abandoned, or she actually says no to the soldier. Either way, broken hearts are the result.

Lyrics:

It was a troop of Irish dragoons
Came marching down thru Fyfie, O.
And the captain fell in love with a very bonnie lass
And the name it was called was pretty Peggy-o.

There’s many a bonnie lass in the howe of Auchterless
There’s many a bonnie lass in Garioch-o
There’s many a bonnie Jean in the streets of Aberdeen
But the flower of them all is in Fyvie, O.

“O come down the stairs, Pretty Peggy, my dear
Come down the stairs, Pretty Peggy-o
Come down the stairs, comb back your yellow hair
Take a last farewell to your daddy-o.”

“It’s braw, aye it’s braw, a captain’s lady for to be
And it’s braw to be a captain’s lady-o.
It’s braw to ride and rant, and to follow the camp,
And to march when your captain he is ready-o.”

“I’ll give you ribbons, love, and I’ll give you rings,
I’ll give you a necklace of amber-o,
I’ll give you silken petticoats with flounces to the knee,
If you’ll convey me doon to my chamber-o.”

“Fit would your mammy think if she heard the guineas clink
And saw the haut-boys playing all before you O?”
“O little would my mamma think though she heard the guineas clink,
If I followed a soldier laddie-o.”

“A soldier’s wife I never shall be,
A soldier shall never enjoy me-o.
I never do intend to go to a foreign land
And I never will marry a soldier-o.”

The colonel cries, “Mount, boys, mount, boys, mount.”
But the captain, he cries, “O tarry-o.
O tarry yet a while, just another day or twa,
For us to see if this bonnie lass will marry-o.”

“I’ll drink nae more o your good claret wine,
I’ll drink nae more o your glasses-o.
Ay, the morn is the day that I maun march away,
So adieu to ye, Fyvie lasses-o.”

Twas early next morning that we marched awa,
And O but the captain he was sorry-o.
The drums they did beat over the bonnie braes o’ Gight,
And the band played “The Bonnie Lass of Fyvie, O”.

It’s long ere we came to Auld Meldrum town,
We had our captain to carry-o.
And long ere we won into bonnie Aberdeen
We had our captain to bury-o.

Green grow the birks on bonnie Ethanside,
And low lie the lowlands of Fyvie, O.
The captain’s name was Ned and he died for a maid,
He died for the chambermaid of Fyvie, O.


“Peggy-O” (Traditional). Performed by the David Nelson Band at Dead on the Creek (Uncle John’s Camp), Willits, CA, 8/14/2005. David Nelson (guitar, lead vocal), Barry Sless (pedal steel guitar), and Vince Littleton (drums), with Pete Sears (bass) and TBone Tony Bove (harmonica). Recording by Dan Ward (house mix Howard Danchik).

“This is one of the first songs I ever heard Jerry sing,” says David Nelson at the opening of the song, referring to Jerry Garcia. Also known as “Fennario” (as covered by Joan Baez and Judy Collins), the song popped up irregularly in concerts by the Grateful Dead. (For more information about folk songs and the Grateful Dead, see Grateful Dead: The Folk Tradition.) Based on “The Bonnie Lass of Fyvie”, the song crossed the Atlantic to become “Fennario” or “Peggy-O” in the U.S. Versions started to include the “All your cities I will burn” line, which may refer to the Civil War (or War Between the States). Simon and Garfunkel, Hoyt Axton, and Bob Dylan also covered it. This version comes from a Jerry Garcia tribute concert called Dead on the Creek, performed by a stripped-down David Nelson Band (Mookie was absent, and Pete Sears sat in on bass) in Northern California in August, 2005.

Lyrics:

As we rode out to Fennario, as we rode on to Fennario
Our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove
And called her by a name, pretty Peggy-O.

Will you marry me pretty Peggy-O, will you marry me pretty Peggy-O
If you will marry me, I’ll set your cities free
And free all the ladies in the are-O.

I would marry you sweet William-O, I would marry you sweet William-O
I would marry you but your guineas are too few
And I fear my mama would be angry-O.

What would your mama think pretty Peggy-O,
What would your mama think pretty Peggy-O,
What would your mama think if she heard my guineas clink
Saw me marching at the head of my soldiers-O.

If ever I return pretty Peggy-O, if ever I return pretty Peggy-O
If ever I return your cities I will burn
Destroy all the people in the area-O.

Come steppin’ down the stairs pretty Peggy-O,
Come steppin’ down the stairs pretty Peggy-O,
Come steppin’ down the stairs combin’ back your yellow hair
Bid a last farewell to your William-O.

Sweet William he is dead pretty Peggy-O, sweet William he is dead pretty Peggy-O,
Sweet William he is dead and he died for a maid
And he’s buried in the Louisiana country-O.

As we rode out to Fennario, as we rode out to Fennario
Our captain fell in love with a lady like a dove,
And called her by a name, pretty Peggy-O.


“Little Sparrow (Come All Ye Fair And Tender Ladies-Sharp 118)” (Traditional). Performed by Sarah Hawkes, from the recording entitled Ballads and Songs of the Blueridge Mountains: Persistence and Change (Folkways 03831), provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. Copyright (c) 1968. Used by Permission.

Various arrangements exist for this Celtic ballad dating back to the 17th Century, many of which are claimed by songwriters such as A.P. Carter (patriarch of the Carter Family), Bill Hansen (the writer of “Goober Peas”), Clark Gene (no, not the Gene Clark of the Byrds), Jim Ed Brown, and Dave Guard (from the early Kingston Trio). A version with slightly different lyrics, “Let No Man Steal Your Thyme”, was covered by Pentangle on its first album, and by June Tabor and others. Cecil Sharp — the English folksong collector who gathered songs in the Appalachian mountains during the period 1916-1918, referred to this song as #118. The title “Come All Ye Fair And Tender Maidens (or Ladies)” has only been regularly used since the 1960s; it was more commonly known as “Little Sparrow”.

Sarah Hawkes was born sometime around 1900 and raised in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. At the time of this recording in the mid-1960s, she was in her late sixties. She has also performed songs such as “Ho Lilly Ho (Jack Went A-Sailing)” (a.k.a. “Jack-A-Roe” as covered by Jerry Garcia and the Grateful Dead). She learned her songs from her mother — at that time, women were the main carriers of the ballad tradition, singing while performing chores and tending to children, and transmitting memorized songs from mother to daughter. Many of these ballads were transplanted from the British Isles to Appalachia while retaining their forms and melodies; lyrics were slightly changed to American place names and style of language.

Lyrics:

Come all ye fair and tender ladies
Be careful how you court your men
They’re like a star on a summer morning
They do appear and then are gone.

They’ll sit by your side and tell you many stories
They’ll tell you about the love they have for you
And then they go and court another
That shows the love they have for you.

Once I had an old true lover
Indeed I thought he was my own
Away he went and courted another
And left me here to weep and mourn.

I wish I was a little sparrow
And I had wings that I could fly
When my true love was courting another
I guess I’d be somewhere close by.

But I’m not a little sparrow
And have not wings that I can fly
So I’ll sit down in grief and sorrow
And sing and pass my troubles by.


“Fair And Tender Ladies” (Traditional). Performed by Peter Rowan and the Rowan Brothers on the CD Tree on a Hill (Sugar Hill Records, a Welk Music Group Company). Featuring Chris Rowan (guitar, vocals), Lorin Rowan (guitar, mandolin, vocals), and Peter Rowan (guitar, banjo, and vocals), with Kester Smith (percussion), Viktor Krauss (acoustic bass), Cindy Cashdollar (Weissenborn guitar), and Richard Greene (fiddle). Published by Sea Lion Music.

Buy album direct from Peter Rowan or Amazon.

Peter Rowan is one of the major cult bluegrass artists with a devoted, international fan base. In 1964, after performing with Jim Rooney and Bill Keith, Rowan became a rhythm guitarist and lead singer with Bill Monroe and his Blue Grass Boys. He remained with them through 1967, leaving to join mandolinist David Grisman in the folk-rock band Earth Opera. After leaving Earth Opera, he became a part of Seatrain, a rock-fusion unit whose records were produced by George Martin (Seatrain/Marblehead Messenger).

Rowan left the band in 1972 to form the Rowan Brothers with siblings Chris and Lorin, and recorded one eponymous album. After the group disbanded Rowan then recorded Old and in the Way with Grisman, Jerry Garcia, Vassar Clements and John Kahn.



The Rowan Brothers (Chris and Lorin) opened for the Grateful Dead at the closing of the Fillmore West in 1971. All three brothers played in folk, bluegrass and pop bands. They joined together as The Rowans for a series of albums, including Tree on a Hill.

Lyrics:

Come all ye fair and tender ladies
Take warning how you court your men
They’re like a star on a summer’s morning
They first appear and then they’re gone

They’ll tell to you some loving story
And they’ll make you think they love you well
And away they’ll go to court another
And leave you there in grief to dwell

I wish I was a little sparrow
And I had wings to fly so high
I’d fly away to my false true lover
And when she’d ask, I would deny

Oh love is handsome, love is charming
And love is pretty while it’s new
But love grows cold as love grows older
And fades away like morning dew


“Gwendolyn” (Roger McNamee). Performed by the Flying Other Brothers at Union Square, San Francisco, CA on 9/5/2005. Featuring Bill Bennett (bass), TBone Tony Bove (harmonica, vocals), Bert Keely (guitar), Ann McNamee (vocals, percussion), Roger McNamee (guitar, vocals), Jimmy Sanchez (drums), Pete Sears (keyboards), and Barry Sless (guitar). Published by Fobros Music.

Pete Sears takes a solo on keyboards and Barry Sless takes a solo on lead guitar on this song, performed outside in the heart of the financial district of San Francisco.

This is an original rock song that uses the ballad form and sounds similar to the ballads of the U.K. and Appalachia. It tells a story of a damsel in distress, forced to live out a lonely life serving the needs of her father. An entire catalog of ballads exist that document violence against women, usually by their lovers, or subservience of women to some cause. The reason is rarely given, though in this case the reasons are more obvious.

Lyrics:

Long ago and far away, in a farmhouse near Chisholm Abbey
There lived a girl, Gwendolyn was her name
Mother died when she was young, so Gwendolyn took care of Daddy
Broken in spirit, Daddy took all she could give

Early morning evern morning Gwendolyn would toil at farming
She milked the cows, worked the garden, cooked the meals
Every time she met a young man, Daddy’s needs would grow again
No flame could last, with Daddy, no flame could last

Gwendolyn met many men, hoping one would be The Man
Who’d soothe her heart and soul, and help to make her love unfold
Gwendolyn met many men, but in the end she belonged to Daddy,
Woe, belonged to Daddy

Then one day near Chisholm Abbey, a soldier’s love would make her happy
They dreamed of life, they dreamed as one
After only weeks together, to war her true love was sent forever
By old men who smiled, with young men who cried

War was bad for Chisholm Abbey, farming failed for her and Daddy
Work in town was scarce, as Gwendolyn would learn
At night she washed her neighbor’s laundry, did their mending, did their bidding
She made ends meet, begging money just to eat

Gwendolyn met many men, but none could e’er replace The Man
Who soothed her heart and soul, and helped to make her love unfold
Gwendolyn met many men, but once again she was alone with Daddy,
Woe, alone with Daddy

Daddy’s spirit was never broken, his daughter’s fears were left unspoken
Gwendolyn struggled on, though hope was hers no more
Then one night she lit a lantern, to serve all men in need of comfort
She gave her soul, getting pennies in return

Gwendolyn lived to serve her Daddy at the farmhouse near Chisholm Abbey
It was no life, though she struggled till the end
Gwendolyn died near Chisholm Abbey. She left behind her worthless Daddy.
Her spirit fled to the fields where soldiers fell.

Gwendolyn knew many men, in spirit she rejoined The Man
Who soothed her heart and soul, and helped to make her love unfold
Gwendolyn knew many men, but she only loved on Man,
He soothed her heart and soul, and helped to make her love unfold
Gwendolyn embraced her Man, a love renewed inside the gates of heaven
Woe, at last together

And that concludes Rockument’s second podcast episode. You can find the ballad song form in all types of American music made since popular music recordings began. Future episodes will explore the Delta blues, country blues and jug band, ragtime, jazz, and rhythm and blues roots of rock. Thanks for listening!

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