Sunday, November 30, 2008

Nova Scotia Farewell

Rise Up Singing chapter: Seas & Sailors, p.204
G - - - / Em - - - / G D - - / Em C Bm Em

I play it just as above. This song kicks, even though I feel like the lyrics to the verses kick just a little less hard than the hard-rocking chorus. "Drear-i", I really like saying that.

A.K.A. Farewell to Nova Scotia

Bonus: Aikendrum (The Scottish One)

Ye Jacobites By Name - Robert Burns (starts at 1:50)
Aikendrum - James Hogg (starts at 4:37)
Em - G D / Em G Em - / G - D - /
Em - G D / Em G Em -

Some links:
Lyrics and to the song here
Footnote (from
"Another song from James Hogg, The Ettrick Shepherd, to celebrate his birthday on 9th December 1770. He used to claim that he shared the same birth-date as our National Bard, Robert Burns! The term Whig was used as a disparaging term for the Covenanters who fought in support of the cause of Presbyterianism in Scotland and against the succession of James VII, King of Scots, The term was later used to describe those who opposed the Jacobites and in the fullness of time, a political party: the Liberals."


From a much-altered Scottish folk song, apparently.
Rise Up Singing chapter: Play, p.166
D G D A7 / D G DA7 D

This appeared in my childhood on yet another Raffi album. But in quickly looking up its origins according to the internet, I found what must be the lyrics to the Scottish song in question, attributed not to a figure lost in the mists of time, as Rise Up Singing suggests, but to James Hogg (1770-1835). On the other hand, I think it likely that, like everyone else those days, he just grabbed an existing tune and maybe even just altered existing lyrics to come up with his politicised version, which may be why Rise Up Singing lists no author.

Links to those lyrics are here:
and here:

The second page names the tune as being the same as "Ye Jacobites By Name", a tune I happen to know, so without being absolutely sure whether the two go together, I think I may just record a mix & match version and see if it works. Check back tomorrow for that

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Going to the Zoo

A.K.A. Mama's Taking Us to the Zoo Tomorrow
Words and music by Tom Paxton
Rise Up Singing chapter: Play, p.169

Verse: D - / A D ://
Chorus: G - / D - / A - / DG D

A kids' song today. Another one I know from Raffi.

Friday, November 28, 2008

The Rising of the Moon

Traditional (Irish)
Rise Up Singing chapter: Struggle, p.218
C - G - / F C F C :// 3x

I know it from the Clancy Brothers' album Irish Songs of Rebellion.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

May There Always Be Sunshine

(Song begins at 0:58)
Words (Russian) by Lev Oshanin
English translation by Thomas Botting
Music by Arkadi Ostrovsky
Rise Up Singing chapter: Peace, p.161
D - / - Em / - A / - D

Short & simple today. The travelling* folk singer I mention in the video also showed us sign language signs to the lyrics, which I have NOT forgotten, although I clearly forgot to show them to you in the video. E-mail me if you want to know them. I don't, however, know which sign language they were from.

My remembered pronunciation is wrong, it turns out. The first line is: "Пусть всегда будет солнце" which transliterates roughly as "poost vegda", not "poost voogda". So switch that up mentally or you'll remember it wrong (wrongly?) like I did.

There are several wonderful Russian renditions on YouTube. Here are four of them:
Tri (This one has unrelated English lyrics to the same tune. Worth a listen)

*I've been told before that travelling takes only one 'l', but I just looked it up, suckers, and it turns out my inclination to use two is perfectly acceptable. Just a touch British, that's all.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Twofer! God Bless the Grass and The Lakes of Ponchetrain

Today is another twofer (a term I learned off the cover of a Doc Watson CD). God Bless the Grass, followed by The Lakes of Ponchetrain (Pontchartrain) by our first guest performer! Check it out below.

Words and music by Malvina Reynolds
Rise Up Singing chapter: Ecology, p.35
Am - AmE Am / E - AmE Am
C Am C Am / F Am CD E / Am E Am -

Now video two: guest performer! Sal from Vermont sent this in for me to share with you. I wish I'd made the audio better, but it was in a .ogg file, which I couldn't really figure out what to do with. I'll come back and retrofit this movie when I do, though.

Rise Up Singing chapter: Ballads & Old Songs, p.12
G D C G Em C G - / - - Em D G - C - / / 1st

Sal and I were both introduced to this song by The Be Good Tanyas, from Vancouver, who have, as I mention in the video, a pretty special sound.

P.S. Ponchetrain/Pontchartrain, whatev.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Cat Came Back

Original words and music by Harry S. Miller (some of these verses are later additions)
Rise Up Singing chapter: Funny Songs, p.70
Em D C B7 / / / /

I don't feel terribly comfortable recording when there's someone nearby, and today there was someone nearby. Still, the show must go on.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Twofer! Everyday and The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face

Words and music by Ewan MacColl
Rise Up singing chapter: Love, p.123
D A D - / - - F#m G / D Em D - / C - D - / /

Now you'll see if you watch the video that I don't hit all the chords exactly on the beat represented above. But it's no big deal. I think it sounds good the way I do it, and it sounds good if you adhere strictly to the pattern above too. I just come in a little early on some of the chords, I think.

Also, I shouldn't have had the gall to have an opinion on the number of Ewan MacColl's marriages. Clearly it's none of my business.

Words and music by Norman Petty and Charles Hardin
Rise Up Singing chapter: Love, p.123
D - G A / / D - G A (x2)
G - - - / C - - - / F - - - / Bb - A -

Go listen to Buddy Holly and the Crickets' version. I consider it to be definitive. As for the president, I was thinking of Warren G. Harding, and also John Wesley Harding the outlaw, who's name is "Wes Hardin" in Johnny Cash's "Hardin Wouldn't Run". Good song, too.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Be Kind To Your Parents

Words and music by Harold Rome
Rise Up Singing chapter: Home & Family, p.107

D - A7 - / - - - D / 1st / A7 - D -
G - D - / A E A EmA / D - A7 -
A7 - D - / G - Gm A7 D -

This is low for a lot of people to sing in, so Rise Up Singing recommends that you use a capo to raise the key. I agree. Or you could transpose. I did it in G:

G - D7 - / - - - G / 1st / D7 - G -
C - G - / D A D AmD / G - D7 -
D7 - G - / C - Cm D7 G -

I know this song from Eric Nagler, who is an awesome kids' singer in Canada. He's doing more adult music/storytelling performances these days and relationship counseling, which is what he was trained in before becoming a performer.

Saturday, November 22, 2008

House of the Rising Sun

- coll, adap & arr with new words and music by John A. Lomax, Alan Lomax & Georgia Turner
Rise Up Singing chapter: Hard Times & Blues, p.101

I don't use the first chord pattern provided, I prefer the alternate one:
Am C D F / Am C E - / 1st / Am E Am E

And that's all there is to it. I didn't talk much in this video because I wasn't alone in the apartment, which makes me uncomfortble about talking to the camera. This is the last Hard Times & Blues song I'll do for a while, since other chapters need some loving too. Maybe a round. Maybe a family song. Sal, a good friend of mine in Vermont, recorded a Rise Up Singing song and sent it to me and I'm going to ask for her permission to post it on here this week too.

Friday, November 21, 2008

I'm So Lonesome I Could Cry

Words and music by Hank Williams
Rise Up Singing chapter: Hard Times & Blues, p.102

R.U.S. chords:
C ↓ C C7 / F C CG C

Those work fine, but I prefer to play it this way. Don't get confused, it's very similar to the R.U.S. chord pattern, it's just been transposed into the key of G:

G ↓D G G7 / C G GD G

Or you could do the same thing but stop at C and walk down to the final G:

G ↓D G G7 / C G GD C↓G

Normally I'd throw that in only on the very last verse, even though I lay it on a bit thick here.
This is my 4th Hard Times and Blues song in a row and my 5th
overall, so soon it's going to be time to move on to fresher pastures. You may or may not see one final H.T&B song from me tomorrow before we switch gears, it'll all depend on what side of the bed I get up on.

Last note: please leave comments if you have anything to say. Bad comments are better than nothing at all, especially if you're a stranger. My ego isn't quite that fragile.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Hard Times Come Again No More

Words and music by Stephen C. Foster
Rise Up Singing chapter: Hard Times & Blues, p.101
Verse: D - A DG / D DA D - ://
Chorus: D - G D / - - DE A /

I play the chorus a little differently:
D - G D / - - DE A / the first time round, but then
D - G DG / D DA D - / to finish (I'm not clear on why Rise Up Singing has the chorus ending on an A. It sounds wrong to me.)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Long Black Veil

Words and music by Marijohn Wilkin & Danny Dill
Rise Up Singing chapter: Hard Times & Blues, p.102
D - - - / A - G D ://
G D G D - / / D - G D / G A D -

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I Shall Be Released

Words and music by Bob Dylan
Rise Up Singing chapter: Hard Times & Blues, p.102
C - Dm - / Em FG C F ://

I play it like this (with bar chords)
E - F#m - / G#m AB E - ://

Monday, November 17, 2008

Deportee (Plane Wreck at Los Gatos)

Words by Woody Guthrie
Music by Martin Hoffman
Rise Up Singing chapter: Farm & Prairie, p.50
D - G D / / G - D - / - - G D

Here's an article from 1948 about the plane crash that inspired Guthrie's poem (later set to music by Martin Hoffman).

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Old Time Religion

Rise Up Singing chapter: Spirituals, p.211
G - / D7 G / - C / GD7 G

Here's today's offering, but truth be told, it's not my best effort. I'd check out yesterday's or the day before's if you haven't seen them yet. On the other hand, today's is still better than a kick in the pants. "And that's good enough for me."

Saturday, November 15, 2008

No More Auction Block

aka: Many Thousand Gone
Traditional (Spiritual)
Rise Up Singing chapter: Freedom, p.62
D G D -     - - A - / D G D Bm     Em A D -

or, if you like Roman numerals:

I IV I -     - - V - / I IV vi     ii V I - (lower case means minor)

Friday, November 14, 2008

New River Train

(This is a pretty good one)
Traditional (US - last 3 v. Raffi)
Rise Up Singing chapter: Good Times, p.89
D - / - A / D G / A7 D

I put and extra D in the last line, like this: DA7 D (you'll see in the video)

I know this song off of Canadian children's (and adult's) singer Raffi's album More Singable Songs. It's maybe the most rocking song on that album.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Worried Man Blues

Traditional (US)
Rise Up Singing chapter: Hard Times and Blues, p.105
G - - - / C - - G / - - - - / D - - G

I don't sing all the verses that Rise Up Singing has. Here are the three I leave out.

The train came to the station, 21 coaches long (3x)
The one I love is on that train and gone.

I looked down the track as far as I could see
A little bitty hand was waving after me

If anyone should ask you who made up this song
Tell 'em 'twas I & I sing it all day long

I'm trying to learn the tunes to all the songs in Rise Up Singing from friends, or off recordings I find. If you want to have all the tunes in one place though, one of the editors of Rise Up Singing made teaching CDs, 20 in all, and sells them here for 12$ each:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

R.U.S. Bonus: Follow Me

This bonus song isn't from Rise Up Singing, but I've written down the lyrics in my copy of Rise Up Singing because that's how much I like it.

Words by Dennis Lee
Music by Philip Balsam
Performed on Fraggle Rock by Gobo and Uncle Travelin' Matt


Every day the world begins again
Sunny skies or rain
Come and follow me
C - F / C F / C G -

Every sunrise shows me more and more
So much to explore
Come and follow me

Every morning, every day
Every evening, calling me away
F C F C / F C Am G

While the sun goes 'round I'll still be found
Following the sound
Something's calling me

When the world goes drifting back to bed
Memories in my head
Wonders follow me

Chorus 2X

There but for Fortune

Words and music by Phil Ochs
Rise Up Singing chapter: Rich and Poor, p.186

Rise Up Singing has:
C Fm C Fm / C Am Dm G
C Am F Dm / Em C Dm G     C (Fm C -)

I use:
C Fm C Fm / C Am D(major!) G
C Am Dm G / C Am D(major!) G     C (Fm C -)

I've tried both, they both sound good. I feel like Phil Ochs does this pretty rocking, and I try to rock it when I do it too, because otherwise it just sounds soooo mouuuurnful.

I wrote to Annie Patterson (co-editor of Rise Up Singing) 3 days ago now to ask her if it was ok that I do this, posting chords and all, and she hasn't written back yet, so for now I assume everything's ok. And here's her daily plug:
If you want a serious learning resource, you can buy the complete Rise Up Singing teaching CDs at Annie's website: . So go check it out. Then, once you know all the songs, come back here to YouTube and help me learn them by posting your versions!

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

My Land is a Good Land

There'll be a new president in the United States soon, and even though I'm from Quebec and live in Thailand, that's meaningful to me. So here's a patriotic song. I'm pretty sure it's about the US, even though it doesn't name names, but I like that in the lyrics "my homeland" is nameless. It could be Canada, and if I don't feel comfortable with that, it could be just Quebec, or Thailand, or anywhere. That's an "I love China" T-shirt I'm wearing, by the way, and I really do. Love China.

(Can't see the movie? Click here. )

Words and music by Eric Andersen
Rise Up Singing chapter: America, p.3
F G C Am (2x)/ F G C Am / / F G C -
You'll notice that when I play the song I prefer leaving out some A minors, so it's more like this:
F G C - (2x)/ F G C Am / / F G C -
Also I say "rainbow blades" not "rainbow waves". I think that's what Pete Seeger says, although I my have just imagined it. Either way, I like the word contrast in "rainbow blades" more, so that's what I always go with.

This is day 5 and song 5 for me.
I'm trying to learn and record all 1200 songs in the Rise Up Singing songbook. If you're interested, you should help out and make your own video.
If you just want to know the songs a.s.a.p. though, Annie Patterson (co-editor Rise Up Singing) recorded and sells CDs of these songs here at . So go check it out. You can buy the set, or individual CDs at 12$ each.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Pretty Saro

Arr. and adap Jean Ritchie
Rise Up Singing chapter: Mountain Voices, p.149
D Em D A ////
I like to switch the second D for a G:
D Em G A ////
On the video I play it in the key of G, so:
G Am C D ////
It all works.

This is song 4 for me. I'm trying to learn and record all 1200 songs in the Rise Up Singing songbook.
If you're interested, Annie Patterson (co-editor Rise Up Singing) recorded and sells CDs of these songs here at . So go check it out. You can buy the set, or individual CDs at 12$ each. I'm going to keep trying to do it song by song though, free and easy (and slowww).

Sunday, November 9, 2008


Words and music by Bill Staines
Rise Up Singing chapter: Time & Changes, p.226
D - G D / - - A - / D - G D / - A D - ://
D Dmaj G A / / G - A D / G D G D / G A - G - D

My version (in G)
Verse: same as above, transposed to G
G - C D / / C - G - / C G Am Em / C D C↓ G

As you can see, there's a little difference between my version and the book's, but not too much. You can play the song with the same melody either way, so it's just a difference of taste. That, and Rise Up Singing seems to draw out the last line of the chorus more than I do. No big deal. Still, if someone else knows the song more precisely the way Bill Staines does it, please post it up too for comparison.

This is the third song I've recorded from the Rise Up Singing songbook, with the end goal of recording all of them. I'm most interested in the ones that aren't widely known these days, and the problem there is that in most of those cases, I don't know them either. So I'm simultaneously trying hard to dig up recordings, and learn the songs as quickly as I can.

For those who have a little bit of cash and want to bypass this process, Annie Patterson, who co-edited Rise Up Singing, sells her own lovingly-made CDs of these songs here at . I hope if I direct you to her site, she won't feel like I'm trying to undercut her business, which, in all honesty, I wouldn't ever want to do. There you can also find out how you can help get Pete Seeger nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. So check it out. I'm still going on with the project, though. I have a high enough chance of failure and a low enough quality index that I don't think there's much danger of me cutting in on Annie's turf.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Hobo's Lullaby

Words and Music by Goebel Reeves
Rise Up Singing chapter: Lullabies, p.133
D G / A D ://
or, as played in the video:
G C / D G ://

This is the second episode in my project of recording all of the songs in the Rise Up Singing songbook, which was conceived, developed and edited by Peter Blood and Annie Patterson, illustrated by Kore Loy McWhirter, and given a lovely introduction by Pete Seeger.
I have a well-cherished copy bought by my mother, and I'm a big fan, even though I occasionally find myself frustrated when the chords they give for a song I know don't seem to fit the way I expect them to. I can't really complain. I just switch them up and play them like I feel like. And so should you.

Also, if you know any songs in Rise Up Singing, you should record them yourself and put them on YouTube! It doesn't matter if you can't play an instrument. Rise Up Singing has the chords and lyrics, all you need to do is hum the tune. Or whistle, or anything. The more versions of good folk songs we get on up on the Internet, the richer the slice of musical culture we spread. Otherwise hard-to-find albums from a few decades ago are still not that hard to order online, but that might not be the case 20 years from now, and these songs shouldn't stop getting sung because no one wants to pay to publish them anymore.

ALTHOUGH....... here's an update:
I just found out that Annie Patterson, who co-edited Rise Up Singing, sells her own lovingly made CDs of these songs here at . I hope if I direct you to her site, she won't feel like I'm trying to undercut her business.

Friday, November 7, 2008

Because All Men Are Brothers

Because All Men Are Brothers
Words by Tom Glazer
Melody by J.S. Bach ("Passion Chorale")
Rise Up Singing chapter: Unity, p.238

F Dm G C    Am E Am - /   /
F G F C    F Dm A - / G Am D G    F G C -

This is the first video in my project to learn and record all the songs in the "Rise Up Singing" songbook, so that everyone can learn the tunes and teach the songs. Priority will be given to hard-to-find songs over still popular songs, although exceptions will be made for songs I just happen to like best. I'm not sure if there's trouble with copyright law ahead. Let's hope not.

I just found out that Annie Patterson, who co-edited Rise Up Singing, recorded and sells CDs of these songs here at . So go check it out. You can buy the set, or individual CDs at 12$ each. I'm going to keep trying to do it song by song though, so stay tuned.

Quick addendum: I mention that some of the songs are not on any albums, but now that I think about it, that's probably not true of any of the songs on Rise Up Singing. The ones that are hard to find are mostly just hard to find because the albums they're on are rare these days. And they're all on Annie Patterson's teaching CDs too.