Folk Songs from the Southern Highlands - online songbook

Southern Appalachians songs with lyrics, commentary & some sheet music.

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Introduction
part of the country. There is something very homely in the vernacular of
their speech, their folk-tales, and their songs. It is not necessary to search
for their strange bits of narrative and snatches of melody. If you will bide
among these hospitable and cultured Americans for a time, you will hear the
stories and songs. However, it is not always easy to gain the confidence of
these interesting highlanders so that they will give expression to their
melodies. They are naturally diffident. One must live with them, talk with
them of their lives, become a part of their family interest, and tactfully
suggest by the reciting of some tale, their own folk-songs. Once interested
in romance and started in the songs that have been orally transmitted through
the generations, they are likely to pour forth a well of literature unguessed in
people so simple.
To illustrate this manner of tarrying and the way ballads came as a result, I can do no better than draw from my account of "Life in the Great Smokies" as printed in various newspapers and later rewritten and published in The New Jersey Journal of Education for October, 1930.
After a ballad search that took us into the mountain regions of South 1 Carolina and Georgia, we left the Blue Ridge Range with its remarkably •varied scenes, went into the great Smokies on their western side and estab­lished our headquarters in Cade's Cove, Tennessee, one of the most isolated spots in these mountains, and the base from which the ascent to the high altitudes was made.
1 On August the 7th, 1930, accompanied by Mr. John Oliver, whose cabin we occupied, his two boys and Edmund Waring, another young man, I went up Shuler's Creek, formerly Anthony's Creek, at Spruce Flat School House 'and over Bote Mountain to Thunderhead. We stopped for lunch just under i Rocky Top, one of the three peaks of Thunderhead. As we finished our lunch a violent electrical storm broke with a suddeness that was startling. We were held there for an hour, protected only by our slickers. The lightning played all around us. Five trees were shattered within a radius of one hundred feet. One of the trees was set on fire and was still burning the next day. Later we found many other trees that were literally riddled. The leaves were strewn on the ground. It occurred to me that Thunderhead was well named.
While passing over Bote Mountain I was interested in the nests of "hang­ing birds." One I was able to reach from my horse. I bent down the limb to peep into it, but the young birds had flown. The nest was quite empty,
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III