Written By – Lee Hays
|2||Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still|
Written By – J.E. Carpenter, William Thomas Wrighton
|3||Only A Hobo|
Written By – Bob Dylan
|4||The Other Side Of This Life|
Written By – Fred Neil
|5||Tomorrow Is A Long Time|
Written By – Bob Dylan
|6||Pack Up Your Sorrows|
Written By – Pauline Marden Bryan, Richard Farina
Written By – Leonard Cohen
|8||Draft Dodger Rag|
Written By – Phil Ochs
|9||Early Morning Rain|
Written By – Gordon Lightfoot
|10||Hard Times Come Again No More|
Written By – Stephen Collins Foster
|11||I Ain't Got No Home|
Written By – Woody Guthrie
|12||Buy For Me The Rain|
Written By – Greg Copeland, Steve Noonan
It seemed like there was always music playing from the house in La
Habra , CA that I grew up in.
My father, David had a high end stereo system: a glowing power amp, a reel to reel deck, and a pair of speakers, each as big as a large safe.
He had a record collection full of big bands, vocalists, and crazy stereo demonstration albums.
Most of my mother, Evelyn’s music was played on a small radio. Her taste was what she called, “hillbilly”: Johnny Cash, Patsy Cline, Hank Williams, Marty Robbins and the like.
But it was the music that my brother Dave (David Jr.) listened to that really got me.
When he wasn’t home I would sneak into his room and look at his record collection, careful to not leave a trace of my intrusion.
Dave had some Elvis, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly, but the music that I remember the most was Folk Music.
It was 1963 and we were smack dab in the middle of the 60’s Folk Era.
One of the first folk songs I remember hearing was “Green Green” by
The New Christy Minstrels:
Well I told my Momma on the day I was born
Don't you cry when you see I'm gone
You know there ain't no woman gonna settle me down
I just got to keep traveling on
I remember thinking, “that was one tough infant!”
The Kingston Trio, Phil Ochs, Peter, Paul & Mary and Pete Seeger seemed to strike the same chord in my brother that Glenn Miller did for my dad or Patsy Cline did for my mom.
As a nine year old, I didn’t understand the meanings of all the songs, but I enjoyed
In 1964, The Beatles appeared on Ed Sullivan and I got my first record player.
My record collection from that through high school graduation in 1971 was all Rock.
Folk Music had become passé.
In the Spring of 2008, I was staying with Dave at his place in Cabo San Lucas.
He had an Ipod-style music device with a small enough number of songs on it that we heard them repeated many times over the course of 7 days.
One of the songs was Early Morning Rain by Gordon Lightfoot. I was struck at how the song affected my senses. I could smell the rain, I could hear the engines roar, I could feel the sand in my pocket.
I was also inspired by the book, How Can I Keep From Singing? The Ballad of Pete Seeger by David King Dunaway
I decided that I must go back and explore the folk music of my past.
THE SONGS :
The first song that I would record was Early Morning Rain .
I am proud to be among the recording artists, which include Bob Dylan, Ian & Sylvia and Elvis Presley, that have covered this understated masterpiece.
Woody Guthrie said, “I hate a song that makes you think that you are just born to lose. Bound to lose. No good to nobody.” His recording of I Ain’t Got No Home is actually a carefree sounding romp considering how sad the lyrics are. My interpretation has a more somber tone, I didn’t want to turn it into a loser’s lament, that Woody would have hated.
Sometime around 1985, the Vietnam Traveling Wall came to Santa Rosa Jr. College.
I put my young son Ry in his stroller and walked a few blocks to see it. I really didn’t give it much thought, but the sight of all those names, along with thinking about all those unfulfilled dreams, turned me into a sobbing inconsolable wreck.
I was prepared to become a Canadian had I been drafted during the Vietnam War“; fortunately, I wasn’t…
Now, some 40 years later, some of the ailments listed in The Draft Dodger Rag are coming true for me : “I got eyes like a bat, my feet are flat, and my asthma's getting worse”.
Hard Times Come Again No More was penned by Stephen Collins Foster in 1854. It is a plea for tolerance and compassion. Foster wrote many songs including "Oh! Susanna" "Jeanie with the Light Brown Hair," and "Camptown Races." Ironically he died a broken man in 1864 at the age of 37; a nearly penniless alcoholic in New York. Foster saw very little money from his songwriting, as lots of sheet music was printed and sold without paying royalties.
Tomorrow Is a Long Time, is a song written by Bob Dylan and has been covered by Elvis, Rod, Joan, Judy and Dion. Perhaps the world does not need another version, but here is one anyway.
Lonesome Traveler was written by Lee Hays and was performed with Pete Seeger, Ronnie Gilbert, Fred Hellerman and Hays as The Weavers. From 1948 to 1952, The Weavers sold over Four million records. During that time, they worked on peace campaigns and demonstrations for human rights, civil rights, and workers rights. A cheesy Republican Senator from Wisconsin named McCarthy started “The Red Scare" of the 1950s, and the Weavers were brought in to testify in front of the House Committee on Un-American Activities. They lost popularity after being labeled “Commies” and disbanded in 1953. The Weavers paved the way for the folk music revival of the 1960’s.
Influential singer songwriter Fred Neil was born in Cleveland, raised in Florida, and cut his folk teeth in New York City. His recording career was brief: he released only four LP’s from 1964-1967, and one LIVE album in 1971. Fred retreated to Coconut Grove Florida, and became a reclusive musical figure. In 1970, Fred founded The Dolphin Research Project, an organization that attempts to stop the capture, trafficking and exploitation of dolphins. Fred died in 1971. The Other Side Of This Life has also been recorded by The Youngbloods and Jefferson Airplane.
The writers of Buy For Me The Rain, Steve Noonan and Greg Copeland are from the La Habra / Fullerton area of Southern California. This is the same part of Orange County where I grew up, but we went to different high schools, (Sonora Rules, Sunny Hills Drools!), and I never met these guys. The song was a hit for The Nitty Gritty Dirt Band in 1967. Steve Noonan was one of the first artists signed to Elektra Records in the 1960’s as the label began evolving from being mainly a folk label.
I first heard Leonard Cohen in 1969, and I wasn’t a huge fan. I did notice however that girls seemed to really love him, so I always kept a few of his records in my collection. Over the past few years I have been awed by the depth of his lyrics, and by his haunting melodies, some of which remind me of the sounds of European folk songs. Suzanne is one of Leonard’s most gorgeous songs, and was made famous by Judy Collins.
I learned Bob Dylan’s Only A Hobo from my friend Jeff Duncan who I met in Durango Colorado. Jeff was sitting in the sun one morning whittling a piece of wood with a knife. I asked him what he was making and he answered “I’m not sure, but I hope I can sell it for enough money so I can buy breakfast.” That’s how we met. Jeff played an Ovation guitar with a plastic back. He had a Martin, but he fell out of bed one night and landed on it, rendering it unplayable. Jeff and I played as a duo for almost a year, performing in Southern Colorado and New Mexico. This was around 1978...
I first heard Her Bright Smile Haunts Me Still sung by Eleazar Tillett. It was a field recording of an a-capella performance from the 1950‘s, and I was taken by the lyrics about a tough sailor who has seen it all, but he just can’t forget that girl. The lyrics were written in 1870 by J.E. Carpenter and the music by William Thomas Wrighton.
Richard Fariña and Pauline Bryan wrote Pack Up Your Sorrows. Richard recorded it with his wife Mimi Baez Fariña. The song has been covered by Peter Paul & Mary, and Johnny Cash and June Carter to name a few. I love the positive outlook and bravado of the song.
My version is dedicated to my sweet wife Barrett.
“I know how to lose them, give them all to me.”
I have struggled with the idea that perhaps it is disingenuous of me to sing songs about being lonesome, being a rambler, being homeless, unemployed or down and out.
But first blues music that I listened to were from long haired, British rock bands.
So why not a record store owner from Santa Rosa singing “I Ain’t Got No Home”?
I hope that you enjoy my trip to Folk University.
Santa Rosa, CA