The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #50640   Message #771006
Posted By: John Minear
24-Aug-02 - 06:56 PM
Thread Name: Wild Boar: History, Lyrics & Discussion-Child #18
Subject: RE: Wild Boar: History, Lyrics & Discussion
Dicho, Stecher got that line, "Blow your horn, Center", from the Sam Harmon version I discussed above. I don't know whether Stecher knew what it meant or not, but I'm sure that "Center" is a name - see Rena Hicks version above - the name of Abram Bailey's third son (or "Abe and Bailey's" third son). I also think that this refrain, apart from Stecher's borrowing of it, is unique to the Hicks/Harmon family from Beech Mountain, North Carolina. And I think that "Center" was a family name taken from a cousin of Sam Harmon and Nathan Hicks, Rena Hicks' husband, a man named Center Hicks, the son of Hiram Hicks.

If Herb Halpert, who recorded the song from Sam Harmon for the Library of Congress in 1939, knew what the refrain met, he failed to note it anywhere. When Bronson picked up Sam Harmon's version for his book on the Child tunes, he confessed that he was puzzled over the refrain and could make nothing of it, guessing along the lines of "centaur", etc. Peggy Seeger, who recorded this song for THE LONG HARVEST collection, told me recently that she never knew what the refrain meant. Sandy Paton, who recorded the version posted above by Buna Hicks, which also has the refrain, "Blow your horn, Center", declines to speculate on the meaning of it other than to suggest that it is similar to "Blow your horns, hunter" in a version recorded by Alfred Williams, in FOLK SONGS OF THE UPPER THAMES.

The Buna Hicks version, the Rena Hicks version, and the Sam Harmon version, all come from a common, family background. Stecher borrowed the refrain and many of the verses, as well as the basic tune for his version, which I would assume is a composite one. I like Stecher's version, especially the added second bass voice on the refrains, and the fact that it is sung unaccompanied.