donderdag 24 december 2015

Kennady I-O (1830's) / Canada-I-O (1830's) / Sailor And His True Love (1954) / Canadee-I-O (1963)

"Canada-I-O" is a traditional Canadian and English folk ballad. It is believed to have been written between 1813 and 1838

When her love goes to sea, a lady dresses as a sailor and joins (his or another's) ship's crew. When she is discovered, (the crew/her lover) determine to drown her. The captain saves her and they marry.

The song first showed up on a ballad-sheet dated between 1813 and 1838 and collected by Walter Newton Henry Harding in his Book Collector 11 (see Broadside Ballads Online from Bodleian Libraries)

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More sheets in the Harding collection, concerning this song:

Based on similarity of title, some connect this song with "Canaday-I-O"/ "Michigan-I-O"/ "Colley's Run I-O" [Laws C17].
(SEE )

There is no connection in plot, however, and any common lyrics are probably the result of cross-fertilization. (MacEdward Leach in his 1965 songbook "Folk Ballads and Songs of the Lower Labrador Coast" has a report though, that "Canaday-I-O" was written in 1854 by Ephraim Braley from Charleston, Maine, using "Kennady I-O"/ "Canadee-I-O" as a pattern.)

Also according to Frank Kidson, "Canada-I-O" is a song which first appeared during the 18th century.

In form, it is related to the Scots song "Caledonia"—versions of which were collected by Gavin Greig—although exactly which song came first is one of those ‘chicken and egg’ questions that so frequently beset folkmusic studies.

Here are some recordings:

(c) Willie McNeily 1953 as "Canadie-I-O"

Recorded May 1953 by Seamus Ennis in Kirkcudbrightshire

(c) Togo Crawford (1954)  (as "A Sailor And His Own True Love")
Recorded July 20, 1954 by Peter Kennedy in Mossdale, Kirkcudbrightshire, Scotland

Listen here at 9 minutes and 20 seconds in the soundfile on the next link:

(c) Robert Cinnamond (1955) (as "Canada-I-O")
Recorded and interviewed in Belfast by Sean O Boyle in 1955.
Edited by Peter Kennedy and first published on Folktrax Cassettes 1975.

(c) Harry Upton (1963)  (as "Canadee-I-O")
Harry, a retired cowman, had learned "Canadee-I-O" from his father, a Downsland shepherd.
Recorded September 5, 1963 by Peter Kennedy in Balcombe, Sussex.
This recording was included in 2012 on the Topic anthology of songs by Southern English singers, "You Never Heard So Sweet (The Voice of the People Volume 21)"

Listen here:

Another recording made by Mike Yates (with Harry Upton singing) in 1974 was included in 1975 on the Topic collection of traditional songs from Sussex, "Sussex Harvest".

Listen here:

Or here:

(c) Nic Jones (1980)  (as "Canadee-I-O")

Listen here:

In 2001 Penguin Eggs was voted to 2nd place in the "Best Folk Album of all Time" by listeners of the Mike Harding show on BBC Radio 2. The opening track on this album, "Canadee-I-O" was also recorded by Bob Dylan and included on his 1992 album Good as I Been to You. Some critics have accused Dylan of stealing Jones' arrangements for this song without credit or offer of royalties. Others disagree, and believe the arrangements to be different. Another school of thought is that the arranger's copyright on recordings of traditional songs is little more than a legal fiction, allowing artists to receive mechanical royalty payments that would otherwise be kept by their recording labels.

Well, judge for yourself:

(c) Bob Dylan (1992)  (as "Canadee-I-O")

Listen here:

Or to a sample here:

(c) Seven Nations (1995)

Listen here:

Or here:

(c) White Stripes (2010)  (as "Canadee-I-O")

On the live album "Under Great White Northern Lights, B-Shows")

Listen here (at 11 minutes and 45 seconds in the next YT)

(c) 10.000 Maniacs (2015)  (as "Canadee-I-O")

Listen here:

maandag 14 december 2015

Canaday-I-O (1855) / Buffalo Skinners (1873) / Boggus Creek (1923) / Hills Of Mexico / Trail Of The Buffalo

Almost anything you want to know about Woody Guthrie's "Buffalo Skinners" and where it's derived from is on the next beautiful site:

"The Buffalo Skinners" ("The Hills of Mexico") is a traditional American folk song. It tells the story of an 1873 buffalo hunt on the southern plains.
According to Fannie Eckstorm, 1873 is correct, as the year that professional buffalo hunters from Dodge City first entered the northern part of the Texas panhandle.
It is thought to be based on the song Canaday-I-O (NOT to be confused with Canada-I-O or Canadee-I-O : There is no connection in plot, however, and any common lyrics are probably the result of cross-fertilization). (SEE:

In 1914 Fannie met John Lomax at one of his lectures and pointed out to him that "Buffalo Skinners" was "only a variant of  'Canaday-I-O'" (Eckstorm/Smyth 1927, p. 21), an older local ballad about a group of lumberjacks and their exhausting trip to Canada.

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The editor of the 1926 songbook "Songs and Ballads of the Maine Lumberjacks", Robert Palmer Gray, was given a fragment of the old song by Mrs. Fannie H. Eckstorm of Brewer, Maine, in 1914.
And in his book Palmer Gray mentions the link between "Canaday-I-O" and "Buffalo Skinners".

In turn that old song was given to Mrs Eckstorm by Mr. J. Eldredge from Edinburgh (Howland) Maine, twenty years or more prior to 1914. It was then regarded as an old song, and Mrs. Eckstorm remembers having heard a verse or two of it in her childhood. She places the date of the ballad at about 1855. On the basis of these facts it could not be much later than 1859.
Henry W. Shoemaker in his 1919 book North Pennsylvania Minstrelsy, gives a somewhat fuller text, as sung by Leary Miller, Lick Run, Clinton County in 1901.
It is song #31 ( "The Jolly Lumbermen") on page 76-78 of the next link.

Only in the twenties Eckstorm managed to get hold of a complete text. It was sent to her by one Annie Marston who "had learned it in her youth". This set of lyrics was first printed in 1927 in her collection Minstrelsy of Maine (Eckstorm/Smyth 1927, p. 28/9):

    Come all ye jolly lumbermen, and listen to my song,
    But do not get discouraged, the length it is not long,
    Concerning of some lumbermen, who did agree to go
    To spend one pleasant winter up in Canada-I-O.

    It happened late one season in the fall of fifty-three,
    A preacher of the gospel one morning came to me;
    Says he, "My jolly fellow, how would you like to go
    To spend one pleasant winter up in Canada-I-O?"

    To him I quickly made reply, and unto him did say:
    "In going out to Canada depends upon the pay.
    If you will pay good wages, my passage to and fro,
    I think I'll go along with you to Canada-I-O."

    "Yes, we will pay good wages, and will pay your wages out,
    Provided you sign papers that you will stay the route;
    But if you do get homesick and swear that home you'll go
    We never can your passage pay from Canada-I-O."

    "And if you get dissatisfied and do not wish to stay,
    We do not wish to bind you, no, not one single day,
    You just refund the money we had to pay, you know,
    Then you can leave that bonny place called Canada-I-O.

    It was by his gift of flattery he enlisted quite a train,
    Some twenty-five or thirty, both well and able men;
    We had a pleasant journey o'er the road we had to go,
    Till we landed at Three Rivers, up in Canada-I-O.

    But there our joys were ended, and our sorrows did begin,
    Fields, Phillips and Norcross they then came marching in.
    They sent us all directions, some where I do not know,
    Among those jabbering Frenchmen up in Canada-I-O.

    After we had suffered there some eight or ten long weeks,
    We arrived at headquarters, up among the lakes;
    We thought we'd find a paradise, at least they told us so,
    God grant there may be no worse hell than Canada-I-O.

    To describe what we have suffered is past the art of man;
    But to give a fair description I will do the best I can;
    Our food the dogs would snarl at, our beds were on the snow,
    We suffered worse than murderers up in Canada-I-O.

    Our hearts were made of iron and our souls were cased with steel,
    The hardships of that winter could never make us yield;
    Fields, Phillips and Norcross they found their match, I know
    Among the boys that went from Maine to Canada-I-O.

    But now our lumbering is over and we are returning home,
    To greet our wives and sweethearts and never more to roam;
    To greet our friends and neighbors; we'll tell them not to go
    To that forsaken G---- D--- place called Canada-I-O.

This song is evidently the original of "The Buffalo Skinners" in Lomax's Cowboy Songs. Internal evidence places that ballad at about 1873. There was very little, if any, killing of buffalo for hides after 1876. In 1880 the buffalo were almost extinct.

 "Buffalo Skinners" was first published by "Jack" Thorp in his Songs of the Cowboys (1908, as "Buffalo Range", pp. 31-33). He only included a text but not a tune:

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"The Buffalo Skinners" then appeared in John Lomax's Cowboy Songs, and Other Frontier Ballads in 1910. The song tells of crew of men hired in Jacksboro, Texas to go buffalo hunting north of the Pease River.

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But then there's the rumour that "Buffalo Skinners" was derived from John B Freeman's "The Buffalo Song", which he seemingly wrote in 1877 while on a buffalo range in Fort Griffin.
In the summer of 1941 J Frank Dobie talked about it with John B Freeman and wrote down the results in his 1943 book "Backwoods To Border".

In 1934 Pete Harris recorded a version of "Buffalo Skinners" for the Library Of Congress, that was released in 1976 on the next album

(o) Pete Harris (1934) (as "Buffalo Skinners")

The buffalo skinners | Library of Congress

Listen here:

(c) Bill Bender (The Happy Cowboy)  (1939)  (as "Buffalo Skinner")
Recorded ca. October, 1939, probably in New York, NY.
Released on Varsity 5144

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And on Asch 410-3.

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Listen here:

(c) Woody Guthrie (1945) (as "Buffalo Skinners")
Recorded March 1945.
It was first released in 1946 on Struggle: Asch American Documentary, Vol. 1 (Asch 360 1-A, later Stinson 360, now SFW 40025

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Listen here:

Come all you old time cowboys
And listen to my song
Please do not grow weary
I'll not detain you long

Concerning some wild cowboys
Who did agree to go
Spend the summer pleasant
On the trail of the buffalo

I found myself in Griffin
In the spring of '83
When a well known famous drover
Come walking up to me

Said, "How do you do, young fellow
Well, how would you like to go
And spend the summer pleasant
On the trail of the buffalo?"

Well, I being out of work right then
To the drover I did say
"Going out on the buffalo road
Depends on the pay

If you will pay good wages
And transportation to and fro
I think I might go with you
On the hunt of the buffalo

Of course I'll pay good wages
And transportation too
If you will agree to work for me
Until the season's through

But if you do get homesick
And you try to run away
You will starve to death
Out on the trail and also lose your pay

Well with all his flattering talking
He signed up quite a train
Some 10 or 12 in number
Some able bodied men

Our trip it was a pleasant one
As we hit the Westward road
Until we crossed Old Boggy Creek
In Old New Mexico

There our pleasures ended
And our troubles all began
A lightening storm hit us
And made the cattle run

Got all full of stickers
From the cactus that did not grow
And the outlaws watching
To pick us off in the hills of Mexico

Well, our working season ended
And the drover would not pay
If you had not drunk too much
You are all in debt to me

But the cowboys never had heard
Such a thing as a bankrupt law
So we left that drover's bones to bleach
On the plains of the buffalo

As we see the town and the year ( Fort Griffin in '83) mentioned in Woody's version differs from the "Buffalo Skinners" version notated by Lomax (Jacksboro in '73).
In fact Woody's version might be an amalgation of Lomax's "Buffalo Skinners" and another variant published by W.P. Webb in 1923 as "Boggus Creek".
In "Boggus Creek" a group of cowboys are hired in '83 at the now abandoned cowtown at Fort Griffin, Texas, to work cattle in New Mexico.

In early September 1938 Alan Lomax spent a day recording in Traverse City. Acting on a tip that Lautner’s Place on Union Street was a hangout for sailors and lumberjacks, he recorded seven discs of lumbermen songs and Irish songs in the tavern.

Lomax's recording of “Michigan‐I‐O” that year is interesting for a number of reasons.

This song is based on the popular lumberman's song "Colley's Run I-O" (or "The Jolly Lumbermen") and uses the same tune.

It’s also closely related to the regional song “Canaday‐I‐O” and it stops just short of the dire ending in western epic in the same song family, “The Buffalo Skinners.” In that song, the cowboys who are tricked and robbed of their wages leave the company man’s “bones to bleach on the range of the buffalo.”

Similarly, “Michigan‐I‐O” chronicles the miserable disparity between the luxuries that the company agents promise prospective workers and the dreadful living conditions in the camps. In the song, the workers retaliate against the bosses and wreak their pent‐up frustrations at being robbed, cheated, and oppressed, a theme common enough in folk songs. It must have appealed not only to Lomax’s interest in song families, but also to his progressive political sensibilities.

In this recording of "Michigan I‐O", the 82‐year old Lester Wells, described in Alan's field notes as “another tough and intelligent oldster” sings a rousing version of the song he learned in the lumber camps during the 1880s.

“Michigan‐I‐O”, performed by Lester Wells, Traverse City, MI, Sept. 3, 1938. Alan Lomax Collection of Michigan and Wisconsin Recordings (AFC 1939/007, AFS 2303b), American Folklife Center, Library of Congress [4:16]

Listen here:

A variant "Sung by Mr. Arthur Milloy, Ornemee, North Dakota" was included in Franz Rickaby's 1926 book "Ballads and Songs of the Shanty Boy"

Song #8 on  Page 41 and on Page 42.

Compare also a railroad man's song ("Way Out In Idaho"), known in the 1880's, printed by R.W Gordon in Adventure for October 20, 1923 (page 191).

In 1938 Alan Lomax recorded Blaine Stubblefield performing this song for the Library Of Congress:

Listen here:

Another song related to "Buffalo Skinners" is "Following The Cow Trail" or "The Trail To Mexico" as it is titled in John a. Lomax's "Cowboy Songs and other Frontier Ballads" (1910)

The first one to record this version seems to be Carl T. Sprague.

(c) Carl T. Sprague, "Following the Cow Trail"
Recorded August 5, 1925 in Camden NJ
Released August 1926 on Victor 20067.

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 Listen here:

This version was also recorded by Harry "Mac" McClintock in 1928 (as "The Trail To Mexico"), Jules Allen (1929)  (as "Cow Trail To Mexico"), Len Nash and his Country Boys (1929)  (as "The Trail To Mexico"), Massey Family (1933) (as "The Trail To Mexico"), The Texas Rangers (1935) (as "The Trail To Mexico"), Cass County Boys (1941)  (as "The Trail To Mexico"),  Pete Seeger (1954) (as "The Trail To Mexico")

More cover-versions in the "Canaday-I-O" / "Buffalo Skinners" song family:

(c) Paul Clayton (1958)  (as "Canaday")

Released in 1958 on the album "Timber-r-r. Lumberjack Folk Songs and Ballads" (Riverside label RLP 12-6480

Listen here:

(c) Johnny Cash (1964)  (as "New Mexico")
Recorded around 1955 and overdubbed on April 21, 1964
Released on the album "The Original Sun Sound of Johnny Cash"

(c) Roscoe Holcomb (1962) (as "The Hills Of Mexico")
Recorded in New York City, 1961.
Released on the album "The Music of Roscoe Holcomb and Wade Ward (Folkways FA 2362)


When I was in Old Ford Worth in eighteen ninety three
Some old Mexican cowboy come stepping up to me,
Saying I'll hire you, young fellow, how would you like to go
To spend another season with me in Mexico

Lord, I had no employment and back to him did say
Tis according to you wages, according to your pay.
I will pay to you good wages, also to go home
If you spend another season with me in Mexico

Well, they sent along that old steamboat and back to home did go
How the bells they did ring and the whistles they did blow
How the bells they did ring and the whistles they did blow
In that God forsaken Fort Worth in the hills of Mexico.

Listen here:

(c) Bob Dylan (1961) / (1967)

The first known performance of this song was recorded in the East Orange, New Jersey home of Bob and Sidsel Gleason in early 1961. The tape was made by the Gleason’s son Kevin. This 1961 version was directly derived from Woody Guthrie's version.

Trail Of The Buffalo 1

(Buffalo Skinners / Range Of The Buffalo / Hills Of Mexico)

recorded Feb. / Mar. 1961, East Orange, New Jersey


Come 'round you old time cowboys and listen to my song
Please do not grow weary, i'll not detain you long
Concernin' some young cowboys who did agree to go
Spend the summer pleasantly on the trail of the buffalo.

Well, i found myself in Griffin in the year of '83
When a well known famous drover come a-walkin' up to me
Sayin', "How'd you do, young cowboy, how'd you like to go
Spend the summer pleasantly on the trail of the buffalo?''

Well, me bein' out of work right then to this drover I did say
"This goin' out on the buffalo range depends upon your pay
But if you pay good wages, transportation to and fro
Think i might go with you on the hunt of the buffalo.''

"Yes, i'll pay good wages an' transportation too
If you'll agree to work for me until the season's through
But if you do get homesick an' try to run away
You'll starve to death on the prairie and also lose your pay.''

Well, with all this flatterin' talking, he signed up quite a train
Some ten or twelve in number, some able-bodied men
Our trip it was a pleasant one as we hit the westward road
Until we head old Boggy Creek in old New Mexico.

Well, there our pleasures ended an' our troubles they begun
A lightnin' storm did hit us, made the cattle run
I got all full of stickers from cactus that did grow
Outlaws watchin' to pick us off on the hills of the buffalo.

Well, the working season ended but the drover would not pay
He said, "You went drunk too much, you're all in debt to me.''
But the cowboys never did hear of such a thing as a bankrupt law
So we left that drover's bones to bleach on the hills of the buffalo. 

Listen here:

Dylan's second version was recorded while the tape was rolling by accident during the Basement Tapes period. Dylan tries to find the proper key – The Band, unfamiliar with the song, straggles in after a few minutes. After the song winds down, Dylan asks Garth not to waste tape on it.

Trail Of The Buffalo 2 (incomplete)

recorded, June / October 1967, Big Pink, West Saugerties, NY


T'was in the town of Griffin in the year of '65
A well-known famous villain stepped up to me and tied
Sayin', "How d'you do, young cowboy and how d'ya like to go
Spend the summer pleasantly in the hills of Mexico?''

Well, me bein' out of work right then to this drover I did say
"Well, this goin' out on the buffalo range depends upon your pay
But if you pay good wages, transportation to and fro
I think I might go with you to the hills of Mexico.''

Well, we crossed the Laughtin river, boys, our troubles they begun
Lightning flashed like hell-fire and made the cattle run
I [.........................]  sun is as hot as snow
Comanches a-waitin' to pick us off on the hills of Mexico.

Listen here:

During his Never Ending Tour performed "On The Trail Of The Buffalo" many times.

More versions here;

  • Hermes Nye Texas Folk Songs (1955, Folkways FW 02128)
  • Ed McCurdy Songs of the Old West (1956, Elektra EKL 112)
  • Raphael Boguslav Songs From A Village Garret (1956, Riverside RLP 12-638)
  • John A. Lomax, Jr.[11] Sings American Folk Songs (1956, Folkways FW 03508)
  • Pete Seeger At first on American Industrial Ballads (1956, Folkways SW 40058) and then on American Favourite Ballads, Vol. 5 (1962, Folkways SW 40154; this is an abbreviated version with five verses, the lyrics are from Lomax' original "Buffalo Skinners", the melody and accompaniment are closer to Woody Guthrie)

  • Cisco Houston Sings the Songs of Woody Guthrie (1961, Vanguard VRS 9089) and later on Folk Song and Minstrelsy (1963, Vanguard RL-7624)

  • Carl Sandburg Cowboy Songs and Negro Spirituals (1962, Decca DL 9105)

  • Jim Kweskin Relax Your Mind (1965, Vanguard VSD-79188)

  • Slim Critchlow Cowboy Songs: The Crooked Trail To Holbrook (1969, Arhoolie 479; includes also "John Garner's Trail Herd" and "The Crooked Trail To Holbrooke"; recorded 1957-63)