The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #30961   Message #3508993
Posted By: Jim Dixon
26-Apr-13 - 01:59 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: John Hartford songs
Subject: Lyr Add: MISS FERRIS (John Hartford)
The version posted by bluerabbit10 above is very abbreviated compared to this one. The song tells a lovely story and is a great tribute to a teacher.

As sung by John Hartford on "Me Oh My, How the Time Does Fly: A John Hartford Anthology" (1987).

1. Now I had a teacher when I went to school.
She loved the river, and she taught about it, too.
I was a pretty bad boy, but she called my bluff
With her great big collection of steamboat stuff,
Oh, yeah.

2. She had log books and bells and things like that,
And she knew the old captains, and where they were at.
She rode the Alabama and the Gordon C. Greene,
As the Cape Girardeau she was later renamed,

3. But her very favorite, as you all know,
Was the Golden Eagle, Captain Buck's old boat.
This old stern wheeler sank and went to heaven
When I was in the fourth grade, in 1947,

4. Well, the fash'nable Saint Louis society,
Takin' a trip on the Mississippi,
Asleep in their bunks with an after-dinner drink,
They didn't think that the boat would sink,
Oh, no.

5. Well, I know Captain Buck was a very sad man
When that old wood hull went into the sand,
And Miss Ferris she was sad for sure,
But immediately her mind went to work,
Oh, yeah.

6. Well, she did some politickin' that was tricky and hard,
And she got the pilot house for the schoolhouse yard,
And so instead o' studyin', I became a dreamer,
Dreamin' 'bout boats on the Mississippi River,

7. Now the Saint Louis levee was away downtown.
It was the lowest and the funkiest and the furthest down,
An elevated track and a cobblestone grade.
You could go down there and get hit in the head,

8. But the river was life; it was changin' all the time.
It was the street; it was the sluice; it was the old main line.
I started readin' the Waterways Journal and all,
A-followin' Captain Fred Way and C. W. Stahl(?),

9. I had to work real hard to get my school work done,
'Cause you couldn't fool Miss Ferris none,
And if I went to sleep, or I weren't supposed to talk,
Oh, she was a dead shot with a little piece o' chalk,

10. Oh me, oh my, how the time does fly!
Time and the river keep a-rollin' on by.
Now I'm not a student, and she's not a teacher,
But we both still love the Mississippi River,

11. Well, I went to see her this Christmas last,
And we took a little trip back through the past.
On the easy rocker we looked at pictures,
And we dreamed our dreams of the Mississippi River,

Repeat Verse 10.

[In this recording, on which Hartford plays banjo, he invites the "audience" to sing verse 10 line by line after him, both times—but their voices sound too good to be a typical audience, so I suspect they were a specially-recruited group of singer/musicians.

[A shortened version of this song—on which Hartford plays fiddle and omits verses 7 & 8, and there is no audience participation—appears on the various-artists albums "Classic Bluegrass Vol. 2 from Smithsonian Folkways" (2005) and "The Mississippi River of Song: A Musical Journey Down the Mississippi" (1998).]