February 4, 2019 at 8:48 AM #69009
Hey guys. This is a thought that came to me today…I’d gotten a response from my online music (which is my only music platform at this time) from someone with broken English, telling me their kids like to listen to my music. Ok, wow…to know somebody listens and wants to listen is always an undeserved and humbling and wonderful thing…yet, I feel like telling anybody who does listen or even like mine that I think they would find more fulfillment by learning and jamming along. That’s another subject though. Here…if I think of an online audience, and them being kids (even if this audience consists of 2 or 3…lol), then I get very self-conscious. I mean, give me an old murder ballad to wail out at the top of my lungs and play with a chugging drag…yeah then I’m happy. I always sang my little toddler daughter to sleep with murder ballads…lol. I just never thought about the words…it was just good music and fun to sing. It didn’t turn her into a criminal or anything, thank goodness. But it was one time, back years ago, when I was singing in a church, but not for a church service, it was for volunteers who had come down during college spring break from anothe state, to help out with work people needed done and couldn’t get up the money for or didn’t have the manpower for, etc., very helpful. Anyway, I would play for them all the time at the eveing when they sat around resting, etc. Once I was singing The Banks of the Ohio…a woman gasped out loud when the guy kills the girl…it shocked me…mainly, because I just never noticed how gruesome the words were until that moment. After I finished the song, I tried to make it better by telling them I sang my daughter to sleep at night with that song many times. That horrified them and made them sure I was raising a serial killer…lol. Well lately I’ve just felt like playing and singing Down in the Willow Garden…it’s probalby the most gruesome of the murder ballads. I just can’t do it. If I think somebody’s kids are listening to my songs once in a while…I can’t do it. So…anybody else get what I’m saying here? There’s so many good murder ballads…lol…what’ll we do with them?February 4, 2019 at 10:07 AM #69010
I don’t know Cricket ? , I sing the banks of the Ohio once in a while , and I find myself skipping past it more often than not because of it’s content , I tend to sing more Love songs , I am seriously thinking of modifying the words to it and turn it into a happy lovers song or failed love story of love lost but not dead ?February 4, 2019 at 11:11 AM #69011
I understand completely what you are saying. Just two weeks ago while playing “Will the Circle be Unbroken” a gentleman said he had just lost his wife this past summer and didn’t like that song, especially “Undertaker please drive by slow for the lady that you’re carrying , I hate to see her go.”
I will respect his wishes and not play that around him.
In other jams, a man once asked my wife if she knew any songs that didn’t have someone getting murdered, drinking or something that was sad.. Many of the old songs we know were about hard times and music was a way to express sorrow or grief.
Gives us all something to ponder about our song selections.February 4, 2019 at 12:31 PM #69014
I was in a strings workshop at the Red Deer college. I was with my student in a class for 1st graders and it was being taught by an older lady that was the most revered violinist/instructor of the program, and I was setting in to see how this famous lady taught. …Many of these kids were home school kids that didn’t have tv or at least where it was seriously controlled. So this famous lady had some motivational skit she was going to do with the kids and was assigning the kids roles to act out. She pointed out this one particular sweet little girl and told her, “You be the murderer!” The child just froze and stared at the teacher. The teacher was obviously completely harden by today’s inundation of violence in cartoons & media and had not a clue that she had just traumatized this innocent child. When the child just stared at her, she thought the child didn’t understand so she loudly repeated, in an annoyed voice….”You be the murderer!” several times. This little child broke out in hysterical crying….and loud screaming…seriously traumatized, and could not be consoled, because this revered idolized instructor, that turned little kids into accomplished musicians, had just turned her into a …murderer! That ended that. And it probably ended that famous teachers exulted reputation also. I was in shock just watching. Truly a clash of idealistic childhood innocence with a typical modern, media hardened adult mind.
Cricket, we had so much bloodshed in our family history that it was hard to endure stuff like Tom Dooley & such, because for us it brought up memories of family being shot. Had no appeal in our home at all. Whatever the mystic of those songs, we never could handle them.
Kenny….all I can say is “Wow”…that really brings it home doesn’t it? I mean, do we really expect to make this guy stay home. I can totally see his point and understand why he couldn’t set in on that.February 4, 2019 at 1:34 PM #69015
For me, it hasn’t been an issue because I don’t sing much, and I’m that super sheltered homeschooling kid also, but I can totally understand that, and it is part of the reason why I don’t sing much (how about long black veil, church people? What? Oh, it’s a ballad about… oh never mind. We’ll do I’ll fly away)February 4, 2019 at 3:31 PM #69016
It’s disturbing. I have always loved the old ballads, and I love to sing them. I sang them to my own child as she was growing up. I went to her school and sang them for her classmates. For some reason, the words never really registered in my mind until the out-of-state volunteer gasped out loud that one time when I was singing…
I love the songs and I love to sing. I have to admit, there aren’t many happy songs I like…lol. Not because of the happy words, but I just don’t care for the music of them. The cool music goes with the gruesome, awful things that people have (and still do) done to each other. Daggone…this is a problem.
Steve had a great idea to re-write words. I had thought about doing Down in the Willow Garden, not really changing the words a lot, but softening up the whole story…just implying, rather than the gruesome detail of the song, but just dancing around the idea that the murder occurred.
Kenny…I had a weird experience with Will the Circle be Unbroken too. It was after my mom has just died a terrible death…my daughter was expecting her child. She and I were in her car going somewhere and discussing how his due date might be really close to my mom’s birthday…how sad it was she never got to know of another great grandchild coming into the world…how cool it would be if he was born on her birthday, etc. Then, that song suddenly starting playing from her back seat. We had to wait until we got to a parking lot to shut that ipod up…I told her I didn’t know she had those kinds of songs on her ipod…she loves opera, ya know. Well, she told me she never put that song on her ipod. Anyway… i don’t really believe in ghosts or visits from the departed or anything, but it was weird enough that hearing that song is disturbing to me…I mean, it just makes me miss my mom and wish she would have known about her great grandson, etc. Makes me too upset to hear it much.
I feel that way about a lot of religious music…it takes me back to the farm, and the whole family there and how much i miss them, the farm, the times, the way life was and the way i grew up thinking life could be no other way, that it would be that way forever…that beautiful farm along the river and the nice people who lived there.
But yeah…I guess I’m having a real conflict with my old favorites for singing…lol.
Maybe i’ll do The CLouds r’ gonna Roll Away…lol. That’s a good ‘un …stuff like Groundhog…little crazy funny stuff, I guess. Maybe I’ll think up new words…lol. Mike says right now I’m yakkin’ too much…yes, I’m a yakker, but when I try to think up words…I go blank!February 4, 2019 at 10:18 PM #69036
That story is sad about the innocence of children. I can tell that some songs are tough for you to hear. You are right in that we shouldn’t have someone leave or not come because we hurt them with our choice of songs.
This is a tough subject. Some long to hear songs that take them back to the past and others don’t want to be reminded. That is a strange experience you and you daughter had.
I love the old songs. Heartaches and tragedy can be transposed from the heart, through the fingers, to the fiddle. This is my goal – to someday be able to make my fiddle cry if I can ever get the basics down and then start to play with emotion.
Lofty goal – that is to play with emotion so that someone can feel what I feel.
Maybe someday.February 5, 2019 at 12:46 AM #69040
Cricket ponder this ? I play pretty much to the same folks most of the time ! You can never satisfy everyone all the time and if the majority is happy you have a win , I am never rude to someone that doe’s not like what the majority of the folks are loving , so just maybe this person should be more understanding that they are taking away what the main group is loving and there being the stick in the mud or Debbie downer spoiling the show for everyone else , also most of the songs are, the standing past request , or current song request from friends and fans alike So I do request and say this song is for Bob and if this person makes a big deal out of it then just maybe they should leave as they are say one person out of 50 and their views do not represent the mass ? It’s not all about them !February 5, 2019 at 8:20 AM #69045
Kenny…keep those fiddling aspirations going. Every fiddler I’ve ever heard talk about that, even the pros, say the same thing…the same way…they are still waiting for the fiddle to do their crying and dancing, etc. I think it’s a lifelong effort, and maybe we get it little by little to the point where others will hear it, while we are still in that struggle to get there. Even John Hartford said he could never fiddle like in his imagination. We just keep going with it. I think it’s a great lifelong goal…lol…keep us all out of trouble.
Steve…I don’t think the woman who gasped out loud when I was singing was rude or trying to be rude…I think she was shocked…and really the entire group was shocked. They were younger (college kids and profs)…I was in my early 30s, so I wasn’t that much older, but I had heard those songs so much the words just didn’t stand out to me. I think these guys had only heard Michael Jackson or whatever and were just shocked or something…had never heard the old ballads, etc. But I guess it demonstrated to me, for the first time, just how gruesome the words were. I heard some stories on the farm…about the young kid who killed his parents with a hot pokcer…lol…yeah, some relative of mine…they called it ‘the madness,” and said it was terrible for the whole family to deal with. There were other things too, but to me, the ballads weren’t the same thing…they were just great songs. I never thought really about what they said…just the general feeling of the song. Well, anyway, here and now, that someone told me their kids listen to my music on youtube, I started feeling self-conscious about that. If there are a couple of kids somewhere who listen to my music once in a while…I don’t wanna shock the daylights out of them with gruesome, violent, weird stuff they might not be used to listening to.
I always thought the old murder ballads were absolutelty beautiful. The Kentucky state song, My Old KY Home, is dubious in its own way, a song not written pro-slavery, but at least in the times of slavery, and singing about how “lucky” Kentucky slaves were to have more “freedom,” so to speak…get to stay united with families and stuff like that…until…if hard times hit the farm they would be split up from families and sold down the river, where tretment was a lot worse and would eventually kill you. Now, it’s a beautiful song, but I know people who are hurt by the words, the concept that consider yourself lucky to be a slave in KY. Even though it’s not pro slavery, it brings up a painful past that some people can’t stand to hear…KY has often discussed changing the state song. It’s beautiful, but if you took those words out of the song and just said them, you’d see the whole idea is pretty horrible.February 5, 2019 at 10:13 AM #69047
I can already make others cry when I play the fiddle – just saying!
Interesting thoughts on “My Old Kentucky Home”February 5, 2019 at 12:18 PM #69050
LOL…me too, Kenny! Now we just have to make the fiddle cry, for the protection of the others…lol. I always think of my own music as sort of a medicine…it helps me, makes me feel good no matter what…I mean, sometimes when something hurts if I play music for a few minutes, it works better for me than an aspirin. When I was sitting in the hospital room that my mom was in, in her last days…and she was sleeping one time and I was so exhausted, I leaned my head back against the wall and closed my eyes…right then…amidst all the noisy hospital sounds, I could hear a very faint flute…Like the Native American style flutes, and the music that you usually hear played on them. It was very faint, somewhere way down the hall…I never saw anybody playing it and didn’t know where they were, but it just helped me so much…it was the exact medicine I personally needed right then…tears flooded my cheeks as I sat and tried my best to filter out the hospital sounds and focus on the N.A. flute music. Anyway, for me at least, music has always been a healing thing…I only hope my music can do that for anybody who takes the time to listen. I never used to pay much attention to the words…they were just something to do with my mouth while I’m singing…lol. But then I gradually started being more conscious that maybe the words impact people just like the music impacts me. So…now I’m confused…lol. Maybe I should stop singing and just play. Down in the Willow Garden makes a beautiful fiddle waltz!February 5, 2019 at 4:36 PM #69052
Years ago at the Ted Wrench Bluegrass Festival in Coventryville, NY, I spent the whole afternoon at my dear friend, Steve Lane’s motor home with a couple of other fellows. We were playing sad old Bluegrass numbers – the only kind any of us ever knew and ever played – when Steve’s wife came out of the camper after listening to three hours of non-stop Bluegrass tear-jerking ballads and stated that she was going up to the stage area to visit with some friends and asked that when she got back if I (Fred) would sing one, just one, happy song. I told her I would do my best to think of a happy song. Later, she returned and said “OK Fred, play a happy song”. Here are the words to the first part of what I came up with:
“She lay on a cold marble slab at the morgue…Thousands viewed her, but none knew her name…..they dragged her from that muddy old river…she’ll lay there unloved and unclaimed!
At this point, she stepped up into the camper and disgustingly spoke the words “Never mind!”
(The rest of us had a quiet chuckle and continued with our perfectly wonderful jam.) :mrgreen:February 5, 2019 at 4:49 PM #69053
Who listens to my music. I sort of have a captured audience on Wednesday nights at church haha. Every once in awhile someone will tell me good job afterwards. So I think am I getting better ? Or are they just being nice. Did get asked to do a special on a Sunday morning the other day with a guitar player. Its fun for me and I enjoy it and really helped with my learning to play by ear also.February 5, 2019 at 10:59 PM #69059
If you get lucky enough to play for people, people you can see in person, you get a little bit of feedback as to what sorts of things might be good with those folks, and what sorts of things might not fit the crowd. If you play on youtube, and can’t see who might end up listening at one point or another, you start wondering what effect your music might have on unseen listeners.
Fred…funny story.February 6, 2019 at 2:13 PM #69076
We play at the nursing home on Tuesdays, and it’s pretty much anything goes…. but often we’ll revert to they hymnal for requests. I don’t know them usually, but can pick out a solo after hearing the verse once or twice. I often see the residents tearing up, usually because it brings back a personal memory for them.
I used to play/sing “Jambalaya” for one of the residents, because her name was “Yvonne.” She passed away last week. Sad.
At the Thursday night Community Center jam it’s all old country… and I try to stay away from certain drinking songs because people bring their kids to the center.
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