The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #33359   Message #551766
Posted By: GUEST
16-Sep-01 - 04:48 PM
Thread Name: FRANK PROFFITT CD on Folk-Legacy
Subject: RE: FRANK PROFFITT CD on Folk-Legacy
What was funny about that release, Jean, was the incredible number of "mondegreens" in the printed texts of the songs. Obviously, Frank and Anne Warner, who wrote the notes at my request for this Folkways record, didn't have time to transcribe the texts. That task seems to have been assigned to some poor, innocent New Yorker who didn't understand the Appalachian language. I do have a letter from Frank stored away somewhere in which he commented on the hilarious mistakes.

In "Old Abe," for example, the opening lines of this soldier's song from the Civil War are: "Old Abe is in the White House, taking him a snooze; Grant, he's a bustin' his gut with the booze..." The printed text had "Gramps" boozing it up. I thought all young Americans learned of Grant's dedication to whiskey in their ninth grade history classes. (Remember the reply he supposedly gave to someone complaining about the drinking habits of one of his more successful field commanders? "Tell me what brand he's drinking, and I send a case of it to all the others!")

In another song, this one about moonshining, the line "Along come a man in a Chevrolet car, lookin' for the man with the old fruit jar." Now any student of Appalachian culture knows that the container of choice for home-made liquor is a classic Mason fruit jar, but our text transcriber decided that the fellow was looking for the man "with the old fruit yard." In his letter, which I'd have to spend a full day looking for, Frank created a wonderful send-up of these and similar errors, writing a delightful paragraph about old Gramps and his fruit yard, etc. I will have to find it, as I just received a letter from someone who is gathering Frank Proffitt material for a projected book, and this superb example of his wit must be included.

Speaking of his wit, at a rural auction in Vermont, I once purchased an ornately framed charcoal drawing of a man I thought bore a remarkable resemblance to our late partner, Lee Haggerty. I gave it to Lee with a note pasted below the portrait reading: "Our Founder." When Frank visited us in Vermont, he added a note on a scrap of paper: "I have a hard time decidin' if this is a picture of Jesus Christ or Jessie James. Either way, both has had some recognition!"

Among my letters from him is a brilliant series describing his plans to make use of the meat being wasted from the many ground hogs he was shooting to use their hides as heads for his home-made fretless banjos. He grandly envisioned a chain of "Ground Hog Steak Houses" scattered along the Blue Ridge Parkway. In order to give the anticipated tourist clientele the proper perspective, of course, these would all be built underground, resembling the natural habitat of the beast.

God, he was a wonderful friend!