Songs & Ballads Of The Maine Lumberjacks

A Collection Of Traditional & Folk Songs of the area with Lyrics & Commentaries -online book

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xiv                    Introduction
One bitter cold day in December, 1916,1 went in search of ballads in the little town of Mattewamkeag. I had been told that men were there who had spent most of their lives in the woods or in boats in lumber operations. My arrival had to be previously arranged, for the lumberjack is diffi­dent about singing his songs to one from the polite world. I was bundled up in a big fur coat and taken in a sleigh some miles into the country, to the home of a Mr. Shedd. When I arrived, he was out of doors in his shirtsleeves and without head-covering. He was over seventy years of age, tall, slim, and rugged, with gray hair and beard. Aware of my mission, he was kindly in manner and willingly con­sented to sing his songs to me. When we went into the house,he sat in a rocking chair with his head resting on the back, and, rocking gently as if to keep time to the melody, he sang,in a kind of chant, ballad after ballad, for over two hours. He sang as if he loved to do it, and he never hesi­tated, though all was from memory. Some of the songs had been taught him from the memory of his parents, some he had heard in the woods. So far as he knew, none had ever been printed. He had taught them to his daughter. I found it difficult to take down these songs while they were being sung. To facilitate my work Mr. Shedd good-naturedly consented to recite them. One ballad, called "Mary Aclon," was a favorite. The father and daughter sang it to me; then I took it down from the lips of the father. The quaintness and the simple charm of that singing abide with me but baffle description.
In another part of the town I found two other old men, over seventy, who had been woodsmen all their lives. One,






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III