Cluck Old Hen
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Audio CD, January 7, 2013
Santa Fe Trail (3:40)
Cluck Old Hen (2:26)
Mole in the Ground (2:44)
Soldier’s Joy/Over the Waterfall (4:37)
Georgia Railroad/Waterbound (4:26)
Red-Haired Boy (1:36)
Seeing the Elephant (3:35)
Margaret’s Waltz (2:07)
Banks of the Sweet Primroses (2:47)
Temperance Reel (2:19)
Total running time, 30:19
The 10 tracks on “Cluck Old Hen” are my new adaptations of old-time American songs. “Santa Fe Trail” was first published in 1911 by Comet Publishing Co. of Denver. The lyrics were written by James Grafton Rogers, the melody by John H. Gower.
The title track is a new adaptation of an Appalachian modal fiddle/banjo tune. Because it’s modal, the rhythm guitar flexes between minor and major chords. I’ve added a light drumbeat to keep it lively.
“Mole in the Ground” was recorded by Bascom Lamar Lunsford in 1928. Lunsford learned it from Fred Moody, a North Carolina neighbor, in 1901.
I’ve medleyed together two old banjo/fiddle tunes, “Soldier’s Joy” and “Over the Waterfall.” "Soldier's Joy," which may refer to the morphine the wounded used in the Civil War for injuries, is one of the best-known fiddle tunes of all time, and has its roots in Celtic tradition. "Over the Waterfall," collected by Alan Jabbour from fiddler Henry Reed, also serves as the melody for the song "Eggs and Marrowbones."
Another medley is “Georgia Railroad” with “Waterbound.” "Georgia Railroad" is also known as "Peter and I Went Fishing." It was recorded in the 1920s by Gid Tanner and the Skillet Lickers. "Waterbound," also known as "Stay All Night," appears to originate in North Carolina.
“Red-Haired Boy” is a wonderful banjo-fiddle tune. I’ve done it here at a medium tempo over a bodhran track.
“Seeing the Elephant” is a funny song about migrating across America in the frontier days. The title seems to come from an early joke about a farmer going to town for feed, with the circus just passing through. A friend asks, “Where are you going?” He says, “To see the elephant.” But the elephant spooks his horses, his wagon tips over, and he comes home in terrible shape. His friend says, “What happened?” He replies, “Saw the elephant.”
“Margaret’s Waltz” is a beautiful fiddle tune, which I’ve rendered here on the mandolin.
“Banks of the Sweet Primroses,” an oft-sung tune, was recorded by Phil Tanner in 1936.
“Temperance Reel” is a favorite banjo-fiddle tune, which I’ve done here as a banjo-mandolin tune, with rhythm guitar and bodhran, again at medium tempo.
Dean Rathje: voices, guitar, banjo, mandolin
cover art is based on a photo by Andrei Niememaki from Turku, Finland. It is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike Generic license.
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