Folk Songs from the Southern Highlands - online songbook

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

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Introduction
Dishonest Miller", etc. Other interesting sources of the songs will appear in the head-notes.
As has been seen, the ballads of this collection have come to us from the accident almost of our habits of life in the southern mountains. The sur­prising thing is the ease with which they did come. The collecting has not been a job as some have been inclined to make out. Rarely have we journeyed to any particular place with the one object of obtaining ballads. I here quote a comment from thzNewarkEveningNews of April 12, 1930, mainly for the purpose of showing that the manner of securing ballads therein described has not been our way of obtaining them. The author of the article says that I have "developed an unusually interesting and fertile hobby as a recent
publication of___'Ballads and Songs of the Southern Highlands'16 amply
proves." And he continues later: "To collect his ballads from the lips of the quaint inhabitants of the Southern Appalachians in Kentucky, Tennessee, and North Carolina, it has been necessary for him to spend weeks and months living intimately in their midst, often tramping many miles a day to get some especially striking bit of balladry from the lips of an old inhabitant." All this sounds very romantic and heroic, but aside from living much in the midst of people of the mountains I have tramped few miles to obtain songs. Nor have we ever taken the quest for ballads as seriously as our friend, Richard West Saunders, banker and author, implies in the following bit of verse in a letter of August 1, 1931:
" 'Why are you looking so pallid ?'
Mrs. Henry asked, nibbling her salad;
Her husband replied:
'All day have ] tried,
And not got a trace of a ballad'".
We have never made ballad collecting a burden. We love the mountains and we love the people. As the daily life of our summers was spent in close association with the natives, we in a measure fell into their habits of life. We talked much to them of their lives, their traditions, and their folk stories. The singing of songs often followed as a matter of course, Mrs. Henry sometimes joining in when she could. In this way many airs were learned. Others hearing of our interest in songs, came again and again because they liked us and regarded us, as they expressed it in their language, as common (able to mingle with them).
16 Journal ofWmerican Folk-Lore, XL1I, 253—300.
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E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III