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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Joe Offer Bob ColtmanCD: Before They Close the Minstrel Show (22) ADD: Before They Close the Minstrel Show (Coltman) 22 Oct 13

So, here it is, Bob Coltman's greatest hit. But if you stop here, you miss so much.

Before They Close The Minstrel Show
© 1971 BobColtman
In the four years since I wrote it, this song has put me through the most changes of any. I never expected it to do well; it's a risky song so that if you don't listen carefully it calls up a fringey set of reflexes having to do with the old blackface shows. But when you know your music and where it's been, you know what a debt we all owe to the old traveling shows which, even before the radio and phonograph, carried songs and ways of playing from place to place, setting up by kerosene light in schoolhouses and off of wagon gates in town squares. We move our music around differently today, which is both a gain and a loss, like any other change. There is something to mark in the passing of the old minstrel men, and no stereotypes are adequate to deal with their reality. And when did you last hear anybody play anything pretty out in front of your house?

I had the pleasure of sitting in with Ed Trickett when he made his beautiful, really definitive, version. Since then Ed and I have tried it another way, with guitar and piano, which you ought to hear sometime. But for this album I wanted to hear the lonesomeness come out front, and Jay's fiddle said it exactly right.

(Bob Coltman)

The poster's peeling underneath
Last summer's morning glory vine,
An old white hat and a stump of cigar
And an empty bottle of wine,

    Lay me down, Carolina, lay me down,
    Don't want to wake up in the morning no more,
    Sing me one slow sad song for this one last old time
    Before they close the minstrel show.

Banjo's got a broken string,
Don't 'spect I'll get to fix it now.
Won't be no more chance to sing,
I'm rusty anyhow.

Daddy Bones is dead, I guess,
You probably don't know or care.
And Frank and Arch has gone away
Somewhere, I don't know where.

The money and the crowd run out
Before we left the last town.
This old show done played its run
And rung the curtain down.

I don't know where we go from here,
Come to that, I just don't care.
Maybe we'll go to a better place
And the minstrel show'll be there.

Copyright 1971, by Bob Coltman

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