The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #16793   Message #158881
Posted By: Stewie
06-Jan-00 - 03:01 AM
Thread Name: Is there a real Sourwood Mtn & where?
Subject: RE: Is there a real Sourwood Mtn & where?
The following is the full text of the entry from the Fiddler's Companion if that is of any help:

I GOT A WOMAN ON SOURWOOD MOUNTAIN. AKA and see "Sourwood Mountain." Old-Time, Breakdown & Song. USA, north Georgia. G Major. Standard. One part (Rosenbaum). A reworking of the traditional Appalachian song "Sourwood Mountain" by Georgia fiddler Earl Johnson, who added some new verses and subsituted the "hey-de-ing-dang, diddle ally-day" refrain with "What in the world can I do?" Well, I got a woman on Sourwood Mountain, What in the world can I do? Had so many children I couldn't count 'em, What in the world can I do? (Rosenbaum) Source for notated version: Earl Johnson via his protege L.D. Snipes who taught it to Ray Knight (Lumpkin County, Georgia) [Rosenbaum]. Rosenbaum (Folk Visions and Voices: Traditional Music and Song in North Georgia), 1989; pg. 216. County 544, Earl Johnson & the Clodhoppers - "Georgia Fiddle Bands, Vol. 2".

SOURWOOD MOUNTAIN [1]. Old-Time, Breakdown. USA; Arkansas, Oklahoma, Virginia, North Carolina, Kentucky, Alabama. D Major (Thede): A Major (Phillips). Standard. AABB (Thede): AABB' (Phillips). The tune has been widely collected in the South, especially in a banjo settings. In the repertoire of Albert Hash (Rugby, Va.), and was identified by him as originating in the British Isles. Sourwood is chestnut or other bark used in tanning leather, however, Sourwood Mountain is a placename in Massachusetts, where the ballad originated. It was one of the first trully American ballads, and the tale of a young man fatally bit by a snake made its way into folk traditions throughout the country. The tune in mentioned in a 1931 newspaper account as having been played at a LaFollette, northeast Tenn. fiddlers' contest. It was also listed as one of the standard tunes in a square dance fiddler's repertoire, as asserted by A.B. Moore in his History of Alabama, 1934 (Cauthen, 1990). Wolfe (1982) states it was popular with Kentucky fiddlers./ The title appears in a list of traditional Ozark Mountain fiddle tunes compiled by musicologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Many comic rhymes were sung with the tune: I got a gal on Sourwood Mountain, Da da da da-da da-da-da da; Pretty girls there 'til you can't count 'em, Da da da da-da da-da-da da. Sources for notated versions: Clyde Ward (Bates, Arkansas) [Thede]; W. Franklin George (W.Va.) [Phillips]. Phillips, Vol. 1, 1994; pg. 229. Thede, 1967; pg. 102. Recorded for the Library of Congress (2740-A-3 and 2744-A-1/2), 1939, by Herbert Halpert from the playing of both H.L. Maxey and J.W. "Peg" Thatcher (Franklin County, Va.). Recorded for Edison in 1925 and Victor in 1924 by Fiddlin' Cowan Powers (b. 1877, S.W. Va.), and for Vocalation in 1924 by Uncle Am Stuart (b. 1856, Morristown, Tenn.). County 778, Tommy Jarrell - "Pickin' On Tommy's Porch" (1984. Learned from his father, fiddler Ben Jarrell and his Uncle Charlie Lowe). Gennett Records (78 RPM), Taylor's Kentucky Boys {with Doc Roberts} (1927). Heritage XXIV, Tommy Jarrell - "Music of North Carolina" (Brandywine, 1978). Tradition TLP 1007, Boone Reid - "Instrumental Music of the Southern Appalachians" (1978).

SOURWOOD MOUNTAINS, THE [2]. American, Jig or Quadrille. USA, southwestern Pa. G Major. Standard. AB. Unlike version #1, there is no relationship to the famous American folksong "Sourwood Mountain." Source for notated version: James Taylor (Greene County, Pa., and Wetzel County, W.Va., 1930's) [Bayard]. Bayard, 1981; No. 486, pg. 452.

Personally, I know the song best from the Earl Johnson 'I've got a woman on Sourwood Mountain' mentioned above. It has the sort of nonsensical fiddle tune words quoted, but nothing about snakes! It's a rip-roaring fiddle performance though. Gene Wiggins says the tune is of 19th century vintage and usually called merely 'Sourwood Mountain' but that Johnson 'wrought such a change' in it 'that it might be considered a different tune'. [cf G.Wiggins, liner notes to 'Georgia Fiddle Bands Vol 2 County LP 544].