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Old Ties

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Audio CD, March 25, 2013
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Editorial Reviews

Old Ties (3:51)
Born to Die (2:14)
Wreck of the Old 97 (5:39)
Long Black Train (3:33)
Loving Nancy (3:45)
Rocky Banks of the Buffalo (3:43)
Wild Bill Jones (3:18)
Send Me An Angel Down (2:42)
Love Has Brought Me to Despair (4:14)
You Led Me to the Wrong (3:39)
Cool Drink of Water (3:03)
The Lover’s Return (4:10)
Total running time, 44:04

“Old Ties” are my renditions of some traditional American songs — folk, country, blues, and a little jazz. “Old Ties” comes from the work of Uncle Dave Macon, an entertainer and performer in the pre-bluegrass days of old-time banjo and fiddle music. Wikipedia says, “Although Macon toured with Bill Monroe in the late 1940s, he was neither impressed by the new bluegrass nor by the banjo picking of Monroe’s bandmate Earl Scruggs.” When he performed at the Grand Old Opry on the same ticket with Earl Scruggs, Macon opined that Earl “isn’t one bit funny.”

“Born to Die” comes from the work of Blind Willie McTell, who recorded it in 1933. My version of “Wreck of the Old 97” is about twice as long as the standard bluegrass version, which normally starts with the lyric, “They gave him his orders in Monroe, Virginia.” This version starts long before that, with the narrator setting the scene. The narrator’s standing on a bridge, looking down at the smoke from the funnel of Old 97.

“Long Black Train” comes from the work of Lonnie Johnson (1894 – 1970), an American blues and jazz singer/guitarist. “Loving Nancy” is one of those beautiful minorish ballads we find sprinkled throughout the folk tradition. The story is of a parting. She wants him to stay, get his wheels greased, and pay his bills. He’ll have none of it, and is off. But the next morning, he’s “crossing deep waters with tears in my eyes.”

“Rocky Banks of the Buffalo” is an Ozarks variant of Child Ballad #14, known in the British Isles as “The Bonnie Banks o Fordie.” “Wild Bill Jones” is a jealous murder tale. The narrator, having shot his rival (“busted open that poor boy’s soul”), is now buying rounds of drinks with his remaining money, and preparing to ride a prison train into “some lonesome hole.”

“Send Me an Angel Down” was recorded by Blind Willie McTell in September, 1933. “Love Has Brought Me to Despair” is another of those beautiful, melancholy early country songs. This version comes from the singing of Berzilla Wallin on the Folkways title “Old Love Songs & Ballads from the Big Laurel, North Carolina.”

“You Led Me to the Wrong” comes from the work of early country artist Ola Belle Reed, an American folksinger, songwriter, and banjo player coming from the Appalachian music tradition. “Cool Drink of Water” is a song I’ve adapted from a late 1920s recording by Tommy Johnson (1896 – 1956), a Delta blues musician from Terry, Mississippi.

“The Lover’s Return” is attributed to A.P. Carter, but there is some evidence the song may have existed previously to the Carter Family version, as “Too Late (Lover’s Return).”

Dean Rathje: vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, piano, bass

When sold by, this product will be manufactured on demand using CD-R recordable media.'s standard return policy will apply.

Track Listings

Disc: 1

  1. Old Ties
  2. Born to Die
  3. Wreck of the Old 97
  4. Long Black Train
  5. Loving Nancy
  6. Rocky Banks of the Buffalo
  7. Wild Bill Jones
  8. Send Me An Angel Down
  9. Love Has Brought Me to Despair
  10. You Led Me to the Wrong
  11. Cool Drink of Water
  12. The Lover's Return

Product details

  • Audio CD (March 25, 2013)
  • Original Release Date: February 21, 2013
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: New Leaf Music
  • Run Time: 44 minutes
  • ASIN: B00C142MA4
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,381,699 in CDs & Vinyl (See Top 100 in CDs & Vinyl)
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