Ballads & Songs of Southern Michigan-songbook

A Collection of 200+ traditional songs & variations with commentaries including Lyrics & Sheet music

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278         Ballads and Songs of Michigan
Most of the men who ever worked in lumber camps or mills m Michigan know of this accident and song even if they cannot sing it. For other texts see Finger, pp. 33-35; Lomax, pp. 172-173; Rickaby, pp. 110-112; and Shoemaker, pp. 92-93.
According to Mr. John B. Redhead, Grayling, who at the time of this tragedy was working for a Mr. Newton in another mill, about three miles away, Harry Bail was injured about ten o'clock in the morning and died about three in the afternoon of the same day. His account of the accident tallies very nearly with other details of the Michigan texts. Mr. Redhead said there were three Bail brothers, Charles, Martin, and Harry, who were all very intelligent and witty, and the song was written by Charles, who was "an extreme wit and was always the life of a party.'*
Version A was sung in 1935 by Mr. William Rabidue, West Branch, who said that Charlie Bail, a brother of Harry, and Johnny Coffey wrote this song. At the time of the accident Mr. Rabidue, who said it occurred in Gerry Goodrich's mill in Lapeer County, was working in another mill a few miles distant.
According to Mr. Rabidue, when he sang the song at West Branch it was his custom to change line 8 of stanza 1 to indicate the distance from West Branch to Lapeer.
1 Come kind folks, friends, and parents, Come brothers, one and all. If you'll but listen unto me, 'Twill make your blood run cold.

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