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Audio CD, December 7, 2012
A Rude & a Rambling Man (4:56)
Poor & a Rambling Boy (5:03)
The Girl I Left Behind (3:36)
Lost Highway (3:38)
Reek & a Rambling Blade (4:18)
Reckless Rambling Boys (3:45)
Ramblin’ On My Mind (3:05)
Ramblin’ Man (3:17)
Total running time, 31:41
Delving into the folk music tradition, I’m especially drawn to rambling songs. What is a rambler?
A rambler is somebody who’s always on his way to somewhere else. He often leaves home at an early age to seek his fortune, and works for a while, but then discovers the life of gambling and dissipation, which he falls into. In some cases, he has left a sweetheart behind, with a pledge to be true until they meet again, but in most cases, this relationship ends with a letter in the evening post, in which his beloved or betrothed is either married to somebody else or dead.
In some cases, the rambler is a gambler who takes a pretty little wife, and is so caught up with her that he must become a thief in order to support her expensive tastes. In some cases, the pretty little lady must explain to her mother why she prefers this highly attentive gambling man to men of other trades, who are often too caught up in the demands of their work.
In the end, the rambler is overtaken either by his own rough living, or by the law. The last verse of a rambling song of often written on a train heading to prison, along with notes to mother, sister, and sweetheart — and a pardon request to the governor.
In some cases, the rambler has specific requests for his interment:
Oh, when I die, don’t bury me at all.
Go pickle my bones in alcohol.
Place a marble stone at my head and feet.
And go tell Hettie I’m just asleep.
“Lost Highway” by Leon Payne and “Ramblin’ Man” by Hank Williams courtesy of Sony/ATV Acruff Rose Music.
Dean Rathje: voices, guitars, banjo, mandolin, bass.
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