Far From The Lowlands Judy Cook

Unaccompanied Songs and Ballads

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1) THE WEEPING WILLOW TREE (traditional Vermont) 5:11Lyrics
There are plenty of wonderful versions of this old, old ballad (Child ballad #286).Sometimes the little cabin boy dies, sometimes he doesn't. The number of holes he bores varies widely. I love singing this one; more than once I've had audiences cheer for the cabin boy in the middle of the song. This version is found in Helen Hartness Flanders' Ancient Ballads Traditionally Sung in New England. Margaret MacArthur brought it to life on her 1982 Front Hall Records recording Make the Wildwoods Ring, and I learned it from her singing and that of John Roberts.

2) BOWENA (traditional Wisconsin) 2:23Lyrics
All versions I've heard of this English hunting song have wonderful and outrageous choruses. This is my favorite; it feels great to sing. It seems "Bold Reynard" the fox changed his name to "Bowena" when he reached Wisconsin. It was sung by Mr. J.L. Peters at Beloit, WI on Library of Congress L55.

3) DEAR COMPANION (traditional North Carolina) 1:42Lyrics
A classic mountain song of lost love. I found the first four verses in Sharp & Karpele's 80 Appalachian Folk Songs and the Council of the Southern Mountains' Songs of All Time.

4) SWEET WILLIAM (traditional Virginia) 2:47Lyrics
There is an old tradition that calling someone's name in extreme situations is disastrous to them. When Fair Ellen calls Sweet William's name in the 7th verse, it causes him to receive his death wound. This is a version of Earl Brand (Child ballad #7) from the singing of Fields Ward, Galax, VA. Andy Cohen and Julie Henigan introduced me to this song and Mr. Ward's singing of it.

5) LAZY ROBIN (traditional Wales) 0:46Lyrics
This is a fine little fiddle tune of a song. I love the smugly snug feel to it. I found this traditional Welsh folksong in a small book, Vermont Sings

6) GREENCASTLE JENNY (Cone / Zentz) 3:19Lyrics
A poem by turn of the century poet Helen Cone put to music by Bob Zentz. In the midst of the American Civil War, June 22, 1863 a young girl by the name of Dolly Harris waved the Union flag as General Pickett and his division marched by her home in Greencastle, PA on their way to the Battle of Gettysburg. Pickett saluted and his soldiers cheered her bravery. Bob Zentz is a master at finding wonderful poems and writing tunes that make them come to life.

7) PETER AND I  (traditional Michigan) 1:50Lyrics
Here's an unusual version of "The Two Sisters" (Child ballad #10) from Gardner & Chickering's Ballads and Songs of Southern Michigan The cheerful schoolyard tune does not mask the chilling evil of the story.

8) A SAILOR'S LIFE (traditional Arkansas) 2:33Lyrics
Putting marbles on the grave seems strange until you realize they refer to tombstones. I learned this from the singing of William Harrison Burnette, an Ozarks singer. It is another of the songs Julie Henigan introduced me to. For a good time, listen to the Wisconsin River raftsman version of this story that Art Thieme sings. It is called "The Pinery Boy" on his 1986 Folk-Legacy recording On the Wilderness Road.

9) DAUGHTERS OF THE REVOLUTION (Armstrong) 3:06Lyrics
Angie Bladen gave me this song written by Berni Armstrong. Berni says the song came to him through an Appalachian dulcimer that had belonged to a friend's grandmother, a Daughter of the American Revolution.

10) TITANIC (traditional Georgia) 3:28Lyrics
Here's a story of the sinking of the Titanic from the Georgia Sea Islands by way of Tom Gibney. I'm joined on the choruses by Dennis Cook, Mary LaMarca, & George Stephens. Bessie Jones sings this on New World Records CD Georgia Sea Islands Songs.

11) THE BANKS OF THE LITTLE EAU PLEINE (Allen) 5:02Lyrics
During the 1870's W.N. (Billy) Allen a.k.a. "Shan T. Boy" worked at timber surveying and sang his songs in lumber camps he visited in the course of his duties. This is one of his most famous; many versions have been collected from oral tradition. The Little Eau Pleine is a tributary of the Wisconsin River. I used words from Franz Rickaby's Ballads and Songs of the Shanty-Boy, and the tune of a version collected in New Brunswick.

12) LORD RANDAL (traditional Kentucky) 2:53Lyrics
I thought it would be fun to include three versions of the same ballad, "Lord Randal" (Child ballad #12). I love hearing how different the songs can be and still be obviously the same story. I put this version together from two that Cecil Sharp collected in his English Folk-Songs of the Southern Appalachians.

13) THE WILD, WILD BERRY (traditional UK) 1:38Lyrics
This is the second version of Lord Randal on this recording. It has a much more literary sound to it. This was collected by Gwilym Davies from Ray Driscol in England.

14) GREEN & YELLOW (traditional) 1:41Lyrics
This is the third version of Lord Randal on this recording. I learned it when I was young.

15) THE PLOUGHBOY OF THE LOWLANDS  (traditional New Hampshire) 2:16Lyrics
It should be noted that, in the first verse, "plain and homely" refers to simplicity of lifestyle and a satisfaction with domestic pursuits and is no reflection on the appearance of the main character…or the singer. This ballad may be a version of "Edwin in the Lowlands Low." In 1940 Lena Bourne Fish in NH sang it for Anne & Frank Warner. I found it in their Traditional American Folk Songs.

16) THE PRICKLE HOLLY BUSH (traditional UK) 3:47Lyrics
I always wonder what happened before and after the action described in this classic ballad. This is a version of "The Maid Freed from the Gallows" (Child ballad #95) from the singing of Fred Hewett from Hampshire. I learned it from The Voice of the People collection of traditional singers on Topic Records.

17) THE FALSE YOUNG MAN  (traditional Tennessee) 1:22Lyrics
The false young man sings the first verse. The rest of the song is his rejected love's bitter response. I found this in 80 Appalachian Folk Songs collected by Cecil Sharp & Maude Karpeles from Sharp's Folk-Songs of English Origin collected in the Appalachian Mountains.

18) CHILD WATERS (traditional Scotland) 4:24Lyrics
Child Waters is the name of the hero in the earliest version of this Scottish ballad printed in the mid 1700's. Professor Child included it as #63 in his collection and thought it one of the best of the ballads he found. Scottish ballad singer, Gordeanna McCulloch gave me this song at the 1997 Whitby Festival. She sang it as "Lord William and Lady Margaret" on Folk Songs of North-East Scotland; Songs from the Greig-Duncan Collection put out by Greentrax Recordings.

19) DRY BONES  (traditional North Carolina) 2:02Lyrics
In addition to a great chorus, this song gives you five different Bible stories in very condensed form. I'm joined on the choruses by Dennis Cook, Mary LaMarca, Lisa Null, & George Stephens. I learned this song from Lisa Neustadt and the singing of Bascom Lamar Lunsford on Smithsonian Folkways Anthology of American Folk Music. Mr. Lunsford recorded the song in 1928 and said he first heard "Dry Bones" from a traveling Black preacher named Romney who came through western NC.

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Coming Performances Home PR Pictures Contact Information
Past Performances Biography Quotes Demo Travel Finds