Sunday, September 7, 2014

Songs upon songs

We found a stack of songs books — Great American, sing-along, Bob Dylan, bar songs, 'traditionals,' you name it — at a yard sale the other day.  A trove of books giving voice to everything from gambling and drinking, cheating and lying, loving and losing, to winning and bruising, and everything in between. We picked up a few, some likely out of print, and I've been thumbing through the pages, marveling at how such a clear snapshot of humanity can be preserved in a few lines.
Railroads songs, of course, were in the mix:
The wind it blew up the railroad track, 
    It blew, it blew, 
the wind it blew up the railroad track, 
   It blew, it blew;
The wind it blew up the railroad track, 
It blew away up and half way back, 
   And the wind it blew, 
   Holy Jiminy! how it blew! 

As were slave 'day spirituals':
I know moonlight, 
I know starlight
I lay this body down

I walk in the moonlight
I walk in the starlight, 
I lay this body down

And I'm a bit partial to the chapter that included 'Darn Fool Ditties' such as this one:
I had a gal and her name was Daisy
And when she sang the cat went crazy
With delerium — St. Vituses —
And all kinds of cataleptics. 

Yup, you never know what songs will be hits, or persist!
There are millions of songs, billions of people, and still some of us write more. Why not?
This moment. This mood. This. Now. There's nothing quite like it.

There's gotta be a song left to sing
'Cause everybody can't have thought of everything
One little song that ain't been sung
One little rag that ain't been wrung out completely yet
Just gotta a little left

 — Gillian Welch 'One Little Song'

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