The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #457   Message #932858
Posted By: Stewie
14-Apr-03 - 02:19 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....

Poole didn't write it. According to Kinney Rorrer ['The Life and Songs of Charlie Poole' Old Time Music Booklet #3, 1982, p87], the song first appeared in a songbook called 'Mowry's Songster' printed around 1905. He noted also: '... the great Baltimore fire occurred the year before, wiping out over a hundred blocks of the city. No author for the song is given, but he must have gotten his inspiration from Joe Gulick's 1873 song "The Boston Fire". Poole must have taken his version from the 1905 edition. However, there are a few distinct differences between the two. For example, the 1905 text has "It was only through a fault and by an error", while Poole sings the line "It was going to a falls by a narrow". The chorus in both versions is almost identical to that of Gulick's "Boston Fire"'.

The line in NLCR songbook and DT, which claim Poole as their source, is something else again. Personally, I hear Poole singing something closer to the original than either the NLCR or the Rorrer transciption. Poole's recording may be found on the second of County's Poole CDs: 'Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers Vol II' County CD-3508.