The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #167850   Message #4054489
Posted By: cnd
23-May-20 - 02:14 AM
Thread Name: Manly Wade Wellman
Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
"Nine Yards of Other Cloth had 9 songs:
  - O No John - p. 170, 185
  - Pretty Polly - p. 171
  - Vandy, Vandy - p. 172
  - Little Black Train - p. 172
  - Lights in the Valley - p. 177
  - Pretty Little Pink - pp. 177, 186
  - I Dreamed Last Night Of My True Love - p. 178
  - Nine Yards of Other Cloth - p. 179, 181
  - The Lone Pilgrim - p. 183

The final chapter in my copy of the book, this chapter had more songs mentioned than any other. Pretty Polly is a classic murder ballad which you can read more about here, here, or here, among other places. In the book, it is sung by Obray Ramsey, so it should be no surprise that the opening line of the song matches almost exactly with the version Ramsey sang with his cousin, Byard Ray, old time fiddle player of some renown. Vandy, Vandy, Little Black Train, and I Dreamed Last Night Of My True Love have been previously discussed.

O No John
"On yonder hill there stands a creature,
Who she is I do not know...
Oh no, John, no, John, no!..."

"On yonder hill there stands a creature,
Who she is I do not know,
I will ask her if she'll marry . . .
Oh, no, John, no, John, no!"

This song fit so well with the story that at first I assumed Wellman had just made it up. But, a quick search led me to the site of the inestimable Joe Offer. You can read more about the song here or here.

Lights In the Valley
Lights in the valley outshine the sun--
Look away beyond the blue!

A classic among North Carolina folk musicians (recorded by Doc Watson, Wade and Julia Mainer, Lights In the Valley is believed to have originated as a hymn sung by slaves in the South. Another common name for the song include Do Lord (Remember Me)," while the tune is a clear relative of "Long Journey Home" (aka Lost All My Money/Two Dollar Bill). For further reading, see here, on Mudcat, or plenty of other sites.

Pretty Little Pink
"My pretty little pink, I once did think
That you and I would marry,
But now I've lost all hope of you,
And I've no time to tarry."

"I'll take my sack upon my back,
My rifle on my shoulder,
And I'll be off to the Western States
To view the country over...."

"And don't you think she's a pretty little pink,
And don't you think she's clever,
And don't you think that she and I
Could make a match forever?"

A second song to match the hints that the roving John may settle down and become a married man at the end of this novel. You can see more about this song here or here.

Nine Yards of Other Cloth
"I wove this suit and I cut this suit,
And I put this suit right on,
And I'll weave nine yards of other cloth
To make a suit for John...."

"I'll weave nine yards of other cloth
For John to have and keep,
He'll need it where he's going to lie,
To warm him in his sleep...."

"I came to where the pilgrim lay,
Though he was dead and gone,
And I could hear his comrade say,
He rests in peace alone--"

"Winds may come and thunders roll
And stormy tempests rise,
But here he sleeps with a restful soul
And the tears wiped from his eyes--"

The title name to the short story, this story is one of Wellman's most popular compositions and is the only (currently*) available recording from Joe Bethancourt's CD of songs in the book (listen here) appears to be an original Wellman composition. Bethancourt added two verses between the second and third stanza which go:
"I'll weave nine yards of other cloth
Of linen clean and white
And give the cloth to my friend John
To shroud him in the night..."

"I made my wish before this day
I make my wish tonight
I'll weave nine yards of other cloth
To see John dead in spite."

While the two stanzas above are clearly not traditional, as admitted by Bethancourt, are the rest? As best as I could find, no, and I don't recognize the melody either, though that doesn't necessarily mean it's not traditional.

*Only easily available and mentioned by Wellman, and the only one I'm going to go over. The other mentioned song, "Silver John" (from "The Lost and the Lurking" and "After Dark"), can be heard here. Finally, a live version of Lonesome Water is available online, but that song was not mentioned in Wellman's stories; Bethancourt instead included it because it "probably encapsulates the whole 'feel' of Mr. Wellmann's stories the best of any song I know."