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Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)

16 Aug 04 - 05:15 PM (#1248882)
Subject: copper kettle and 1792
From: Noah Zacharin

I just started singing copper kettle. As I like to understand what I'm singing, I'm wondering if anyone knows the significance of the year mentioned in the line "we ain't paid no whisky tax since 1792". That's all. Thanks.

16 Aug 04 - 07:13 PM (#1248971)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: Midchuck

I heard someone say that was the year of the Whisky Rebellion, but I googled it and it was in 1794. So I don't know.


16 Aug 04 - 07:25 PM (#1248978)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

It rhymes.

16 Aug 04 - 07:27 PM (#1248979)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: ddw

Maybe the singer was a leader of the whiskey rebellion and started his boycott earlier than everybody else....



16 Aug 04 - 07:29 PM (#1248981)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: Amos

I always understood the Whiskey Rebellion to have begun in 1792. If that's wrong I have been carrying a crashing misapprehension around for decades!! However I now find in any case that it was the year Kentucky became a state. From the following brief summation it seems perfectly possible that an individual family could stop paying tax in 1792 in advasnce of the actual rebellion two years later.

"Whiskey Rebellion was an insurrection in 1794 by settlers in the Monongahela Valley in western Pennsylvania who fought against a federal tax on liquor and distilled drinks.

The ineffective government of the United States under the Articles of Confederation was replaced by a stronger federal government under the United States Constitution in 1788. This new government inherited a huge debt from the American Revolutionary War. One of the steps taken to pay down the debt was a tax imposed in 1791 on distilled spirits.

Large producers were assessed a tax of six cents a gallon. However, smaller producers, most of whom were farmers in the more remote western areas, were taxed at a higher rate of nine cents a gallon. These Western settlers were short of cash to begin with, and lacked any practical means to get their grain to market other than fermenting and distilling it into relatively portable distilled spirits. From Pennsylvania to Georgia, the western counties engaged in a campaign of harassment of the federal tax collectors. In the summer of 1794, George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, remembering Shays' Rebellion from just eight years before, decided to make Pennsylvania a testing ground for federal authority. Washington ordered federal marshals to serve court orders requiring the tax protesters to appear in federal district court in Philadelphia.

By August of 1794, the protests became dangerously close to outright rebellion and on August 7 several thousand armed settlers gathered near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Washington then invoked the Militia Law of 1792 to summon the militias of several states. A force of 13,000 men was organized, roughly the size of the entire army in the Revolutionary War. Under the personal command of Washington, Hamilton, and Revolutionary War hero Henry "Lighthorse Harry" Lee the army marched to Western Pennsylvania and quickly suppressed the revolt. Two leaders of the revolt were convicted of treason, but pardoned by Washington."

"This response marked the first time under the new Constitution that the federal government had used strong military force to exert authority over the nation's citizens. It also was the only time that a sitting President would personally command the military in the field.

The whiskey tax was repealed in 1802, never having been collected with much success."


16 Aug 04 - 08:14 PM (#1249005)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: curmudgeon

The first tax on spirits was enacted in 1791, the collection of which was a disaster. The Whisky Rebellion was 1794.

Q is absolutely correct.

This song is "new," having been written by a Texan whose name is avoiding me at this moment.

It's still a fine song -- Tom

16 Aug 04 - 09:59 PM (#1249053)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Song by Alfred Beddoe, recorded by Bob Dylan in 1970. I like it too.

17 Aug 04 - 01:01 AM (#1249130)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: khandu

Tony Joe White did a good, but unusual version in the early 70s


17 Aug 04 - 01:27 AM (#1249135)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: Joe Offer

the Digital Tradition says the song was 1953 for a folk opera, "Go Lightly, Stranger." Anybody know anything about songwriter Albert Frank Beddoe, or about the folk opera?
Here's a bit:

In 1946, a tall awkward man came upstairs to the offices of People's Songs and offered to help with the typing. The offer was gratefully accepted. Three days later, we asked his name.
But what's your last name?
Just Frank Frank? No middle initial?
So, Frank O. Frank came to help us, and invaluable help it was, too. A few months later, he said that in his home county, Bexar County, Texas, were some fine songs, and that he had mimeographed a collection of them. Later, it appeared that many were rewritten by him, and some were almost totally original songs, but in any case, they went from hand to hand, and some people sing them now as old folk songs, such as "Get You a Copper Kettle," "See Them Buzzards," and "Quantrell Side." Good songs, folk or Frank.

Pete Seeger, The Incompleat Folksinger, Simon and Schuster, New York, NY, 1972, pp. 278-279.

-Joe Offer-

17 Aug 04 - 05:29 PM (#1249734)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: Noah Zacharin

thank you all for your witty and incisive assistance. now I can sing the tune in good conscience. nz

07 Sep 05 - 01:34 PM (#1558612)
Subject: 'Copper Kettle'--origin??
From: greg stephens

I was just listening to Bob Dylan's superb version on Self Portrait, and the copyright attribution is "traditional". Now, this sounds like a very modern "fakesong" about the old days to me.(No criticism intended, I think it's a fantastic song). Anybody know who wrote it, or when?

07 Sep 05 - 01:37 PM (#1558614)
Subject: RE: 'Copper Kettle'--origin??
From: Les B

Greg - I've wondered about the provenance of that song as well. It was all the rage among campus folkies in the mid '60's.

I believe Joan Baez had it on one of her early albums and there was some indication in the liner notes of where it came from.

Unfortunately I can't find that album just now.

07 Sep 05 - 01:43 PM (#1558622)
Subject: RE: 'Copper Kettle'--origin??
From: MMario

This would be the one in the DT attributed to Frank Beddoe (elsewhere I have seen it as A.F. Beddoe) written in 1953?

07 Sep 05 - 03:05 PM (#1558670)
Subject: RE: 'Copper Kettle'--origin??
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Notes by Joan Baez-
"Here, in a song, are a moonshiner's recipe and instructions for making whiskey. It was written by Albert Frank Beddoe and included by him in a little known collection of ballads from Bexar* County, Texas. Its present popularity places it first on the moonshiner's hit parade." *San Antonio the County seat.

Music is given for piano and guitar. Pp. 116-117, "The Joan Baez Songbook," 1964, ed. Maynard Solomon. Pub. Ryerson, 1964; Amsco, NY, 1989.
Joab Baez changed the order of the verses; the DT version is the original,

28 Nov 05 - 09:02 PM (#1615978)
Subject: RE: copper kettle and 1792
From: GUEST,

Dylan gets all the hype for his recording, but Joan Baez did it first and hers is hauntingly beatiful.

I'm at a lose tracking down the 'Go Lightly, Stranger' folk opera. No scores, no scripts, no reviews, no recordings. Pity.

07 Oct 11 - 05:59 PM (#3235538)
Subject: ADD Version: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)
From: Joe Offer

Here are the lyrics from The Joan Baez Songbook (1964, Ryerson Music Publishers, New York - a division of Vanguard Records). It's just a bit different from the version in the DT.

(Frank Beddoe)

Get you a copper kettle.
Get you a copper coil,
Cover with new-made cornmash
And nevermore you'll toil.
    You'll just lay there by the juniper
    While the moon is bright,
    Watch them jugs a-fillin'
    In the pale moonlight.

My daddy, he made whiskey,
My granddaddy did too.
We ain't paid no whiskey tax
Since seventeen ninety two.
We just lay there....

Build you a fire with hickory,
Hickory, ash, and oak.
Don't use no green or rotten wood,
They'll get you by the smoke.
While you lay there....

Get you a copper kettle.
Get you a copper coil,
Cover with new-made cornmash
And nevermore you'll toil.
You'll just lay there....

07 Oct 11 - 06:31 PM (#3235552)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)
From: RTim

This is one of the songs, sung by Joan Baez, that really got me into singing unaccompanied.
Before that I was in a rock band in the 1960's!!

Tim Radford

28 Nov 11 - 10:00 PM (#3265159)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)

In 1791, Washington offered incentives for pioneers to move southwest to the frontier of Virginia beyond the Allegheny mountains. However, in conjunction with this migration Thomas Jefferson offered sixty acres to his countrymen to "create a permanent structure and crops of native origin." [1]. This led to the foundation of Bourbon County in 1785, named after the French royal family (whose government helped the US defeat the British not long before). Bourbon was a rich agricultural area consisting of 34 modern day counties and around the turn of the nineteenth century, was on the main frontier of American westward expansion.

Bourbon County, KY- Kentucky was admitted to the union in 1792 and as farming region, was heavily dependent on two exports, hemp and whiskey. Trade was conducted at that time by water, and the closest outlet for the Bourbon region was the Ohio River on Kentucky's northern border. The Ohio flowed to the Mississippi, and eventually to the port of New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico.

08 Dec 12 - 05:08 PM (#3449461)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)
From: GUEST,P.H. White

Besides Joan Baez's version, another hauntingly beautiful rendition was by the late Charlotte Daniels on the album "Charlotte Daniels and Pat Webb" issued by Prestige circa 1960. Legend has it that this one album was their only collaboration and something of a jam session produced with minimal expense.* A pity they didn't do more, since they were a very talented duo.

*The cover art, for one thing, probably didn't cost much, and yet it is uncannily effective and appropriate. The artists appear to be performing in front of a rather timeworn brick wall, with spare, almost gloomy lighting. The sort of wall on which we used to see "Bird Lives!" and other such elegiac graffiti back then.

11 Jun 13 - 02:16 PM (#3525298)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)
From: GUEST,Patrick McCabe

The great Tony Joe White's version is the definitive one. On his '71 LP, it was credited to Dylan, thru no fault of Tony's. But on a CD reissue, it was correctly credited to Albert Frank Beddoe. See the Wiki entry on the song's title.

If memory serves, on the "Self Portrait" LP, Dylan also takes credit for 'It Hurts Me, Too'. Which is, of course, an Elmore James song.

See Wiki for Dylan & plagiarism, too. Apparently, on a recent release, Bob "borrowed" heavily from a Civil War-era(?) minor poet. Without any attribution or credit.

11 Jun 13 - 02:58 PM (#3525311)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)
From: Don Firth

I would swear that I first heard it sung by Bob Gibson. But a check of his discography doesn't list "Copper Kettle."

He and Dick Rosmini did a live concert in Seattle in 1958. He hung out in Seattle for about two weeks (his brother, Jim, lived here) and we had several song fests and informal get-togethers, so that's maybe were I heard him do it.

I've been doing it since the late 1950s. I pair with with another song, "Kentucky Moonshiner," a somewhat mournful ditty that I learned from Rolf Cahn. I first sing "Copper Kettle," then go directly into "Kentucky Moonshiner."

Got real good audience response with it.

Don Firth

24 Jul 15 - 01:17 AM (#3725711)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)

Bob Gibson version on Amazon

24 Jul 15 - 02:07 AM (#3725714)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)
From: Joe Offer

This Bob Gibson recording might be easier to access:

04 Jan 19 - 07:42 AM (#3969763)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)
From: GUEST,guest

Funny I ran into Bob Gibson in 1966. He was with Ramblin Jack. All they did was jam Chuck Berry. Very well....

04 Jan 19 - 12:03 PM (#3969795)
Subject: RE: Origin: Copper Kettle (Albert Frank Beddoe)
From: GUEST,Kenny B(inactive)

I sung this song early this century at a local session and the resident trad grumpy commented that it was good to hear a traditional song, he was even grumpier when I smiled and pointed out that it was a 1950s written song (TY mudcat" song) , some you win some you lose