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music stores. Records that are played over and over, night after night, do wear out so.
Of course, if you're going to record the tragic details of any disaster, you can't afford to let any grass grow under your feet, once the accident has occurred. The day after the sinking of the steamship Vestris I had an appointment to lunch with Robby. But he telephoned me early in the forenoon.
"Listen," he said, "we'll have to call that date off today. You know this Vestris sinking? Well, I've got to make four recordings of it this afternoon and I haven't finished the ballad yet."
He did finish it in time, however. And it quickly prom­ised to outdistance the sales of Floyd Collins. For the in­terest in the sea disaster was widespread. On one side of the record is the story of the affair. The other pays tribute to the heroes of the Vestris. Here's how the moral goes, as Robison banged it out on his faithful typewriter:
There on the deck stood the gray-haired captain
Waiting for death to befall. And tho' we know that someone blundered
We should forgive after all. We're all adrift on life's mighty ocean
Where each mistake has its cost And we should learn from this sad story—
If we hesitate we are lost.
Picking 'Em Out of the Air
When there occur no catastrophes worthy of preserva­tion in song, Robby draws upon old legends, as you have seen. But even these give out occasionally and then he reaches out into the air and makes his own old legend to order. He did that in case of the currently popular Left My Gal in the Mountains. Here is a song with all the ear­marks of the old-timers, even to the lugubrious wind-up:
Left my gal in the mountains, Left her standin' in the rain,
Went down to the railroad, Caught myself a midnight train,
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III