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Lyr Req: Old Coat Song

DigiTrad:
CONESTOGA ON THE JORDAN ROAD
FRANK PIERCE'S SOLILOQUY.
JORDAN IS A HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL
OLD PIKE
PARKWAY IS A HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL
RICHMOND IS A HARD ROAD TO TRAVEL


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel (28)
Lyr Req: Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel (9)
Lyr Add: Jordan Is a Hard Road to Travel (20)
Tune Req: Jordan Is a Hard Road (banjo tab) (2)
Take off your old coat and roll... (6)


GUEST,mcclinto@shaysnet.com 21 Apr 00 - 03:01 PM
GUEST 21 Apr 00 - 03:25 PM
The Beanster 21 Apr 00 - 03:51 PM
Allan C. 21 Apr 00 - 03:52 PM
The Beanster 21 Apr 00 - 03:54 PM
GUEST,mcclinto@shaysnet.com 21 Apr 00 - 08:12 PM
Susan of DT 21 Apr 00 - 08:19 PM
Stewie 21 Apr 00 - 08:41 PM
Uncle_DaveO 22 Apr 00 - 11:39 AM
GUEST,B. Sokolow 27 Jun 15 - 04:36 PM
GUEST,Guest 28 Jun 15 - 06:19 AM
Sunnyjohn 07 Feb 19 - 10:44 AM
Jim Dixon 08 Feb 19 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Susannah Rose 05 Jun 20 - 01:03 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jun 20 - 01:54 PM
cnd 05 Jun 20 - 02:36 PM
Reinhard 05 Jun 20 - 04:17 PM
GUEST,Art 18 Jul 20 - 10:23 AM
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Subject: Old Coat Song
From: GUEST,mcclinto@shaysnet.com
Date: 21 Apr 00 - 03:01 PM

Greetings!

I'm trying to find lyrics for two songs, each called Old Coat, one written by Henry Steele and Patrick Walters, one written by Paul Stookey, Mary Travers and E. Mezzetti. Does anyone know of sources for lyrics for either song? I've tried the various web sources I know and can't find them.

Thanks for any leads you can give me!
Mary

See this thread (click) for I Had an Old Coat / Little Overcoat


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD COAT (from Peter, Paul & Mary)
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 00 - 03:25 PM

This is what Peter, Paul, and Mary recorded [not sure which album, probably early 1960's]. I don't know if it's what you're looking for, but it's about an old coat.--Ely
=======================================================

Take off your old coat and roll up your sleeves,
Life is a hard road to travel, I believe.

I looked the East; I looked to the West,
A youth asking faith to be rewarded,
But Fortune is a blind god, flying through the clouds,
And forgetting me on this side of Jordan.

Take off...

Silver spoons to some mouths, golden spoons to others,
Dare a man to change the give order.
Though they smile and tell us all good men are brothers,
Never was it true this side of Jordan.

Take off...

Like some ragged owlet with it wings expanded,
Nailed to a garden gate or border [? see below],
Thus will I by some men all my life be branded.
Never heard it done this side of Jordan.

Take off...

[?]= I'm not sure what he's saying here. It sounds like "borden" but that doesn't make sense, obviously.

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 11-Sep-02.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: The Beanster
Date: 21 Apr 00 - 03:51 PM

GUEST,mcclinto--

This Peter, Paul & Mary site has gajillions of lyrics...well, quite a few. Old Coat is there. When you get the the page, scroll down 'til you see it and then click on "Moving"--the album name. Click here

And GUEST, you were right--the word is "boardin'" although that still doesn't make sense!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: Allan C.
Date: 21 Apr 00 - 03:52 PM

Look here for PP&M's lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: The Beanster
Date: 21 Apr 00 - 03:54 PM

hahahahaa Allan--great minds think alike!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: GUEST,mcclinto@shaysnet.com
Date: 21 Apr 00 - 08:12 PM

Thanks for the leads to the Peter, Paul and Mary song. I'm still looking for clues to the one by Steele and Walters. Mary


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: Susan of DT
Date: 21 Apr 00 - 08:19 PM

Actually, it's a century or so older than Peter, Paul OR Mary--It was copyrighted by Daniel Decatur Emmett, better known for a little ditty called Dixie.

Much parodied during and after the Civil War. We have several versions in DigiTrad. (dick greenhaus, who forgot to reset a cookie)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: Stewie
Date: 21 Apr 00 - 08:41 PM

Seems like the chorus was lifted from 'Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel', a favourite of Uncle Dave Macon:

Pull off your overcoat, roll out your sleeves
Jordan am a hard road to travel
Pull off your overcoat, roll out your sleeves
Jordan am a hard road road to travel, I believe

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 22 Apr 00 - 11:39 AM

The word someone thought sounded like "bordon" is "hoarding". It's a signboard, I believe.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: GUEST,B. Sokolow
Date: 27 Jun 15 - 04:36 PM

I think the lyric is "... board and thus will I be some men...."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 28 Jun 15 - 06:19 AM

Why do people have problems with fairly straightforward words?

The boarding mentioned is merely a common expression for a flat piece of wood of indeterminate size.

Eg He used an old piece of boarding to cover the hole in the door and stop the draught.


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Subject: Lyr Add: TAKE OFF YOUR OLD COAT (Eliza Gilkyson)
From: Sunnyjohn
Date: 07 Feb 19 - 10:44 AM

There is a beautiful version of this song recorded by Eliza Gilkyson on her 2005 album, Retrospecto. The notes to the album state that these songs are old and previously unreleased song, so Take of Your Old Coat may come from some way back. It appears to have been written by a team of three, as shown below, but clearly owes much to Peter, Paul and Mary's 'Old Coat', unless, of course, it predates it. As you can see from the associated posts, the roots of the song go way back!

“Take Off Your Old Coat”
By Terry Gilkyson/Richard Dehn/Sam Eskin
© Blackhawk Music/BMI

I've searched in the east
I've searched in the west
For the riches that others
Were hoardin'
Fortune is a blind god
Smilin' in the breeze
And forgetting me
On this side of Jordan

(Chorus)
Take off your old coat and roll up your sleeve
Life is a hard road to travel
I believe

Thunder in the dark Clouds
Lightnin' in the trees
No shelter above my head afforded
Battered by the hail stones
Beaten by the breeze
That's my way of life
This side of Jordan

(Chorus)

See that ragged owl
His tattered wings expanded
He's nailed to the doorway
As a warnin'
So am I by good folk
As outlaw branded
Yet I've hurt no one
This side of Jordan

Up above an angel
Patchin' up our blunders
Trials and troubles
He's recording
Will I find a change there
Better times I wonder
When I reach the
Other side of Jordan

(Chorus)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 08 Feb 19 - 12:50 PM

I notice in that last song sung by Eliza Gilkyson, she sings:

“I've searched in the east; I've searched in the west”

If she would switch “west” with “east” there would be an approximate rhyme with “breeze,” so I’m guessing that’s what the songwriters intended.

I’ve done a lot of transcribing songs from recordings or from sheet music, and when I do, I like to arrange the line breaks to emphasize the rhyme, and this usually also emphasizes the regularity or symmetry of the metrical structure. In other words, put each rhyming word at the end of a line, and make sure each line ends with a rhyming word, if the song allows you to do that. If you do that, the lines of this song would end with the rhyming words:

1. ... east ... hoardin’ ... breeze ... Jordan
CHORUS: ... sleeve ... believe
2. ... trees ... afforded ... breeze ... Jordan
3. ... expanded ... warnin’ ... branded ... Jordan
4. ... blunders ... recording ... wonder ... Jordan

...which makes a nice regularity: each verse has 4 lines, with a rhyme scheme ABAB, and the chorus has 2 lines, CC. I find that folk songs—and recently composed songs that do a good job of imitating the style of folk songs—usually have lines and rhyming words in multiples of 2, 4, or 8—except blues, where 3 or 6 lines are more common.

I figure if the songwriter has taken the trouble to make sure the song has a regular structure, then I should take the trouble to emphasize what the songwriter has accomplished. Also, I believe that when the singer is aware of the regularity of a song’s structure, it is easier to remember the words.

Sorry if I have hijacked this thread to turn it into a lecture—but I have been thinking lately of writing down some of the rules I follow—tricks of the trade, so to speak—in case anyone else wants to apply them, and this song provided a fine example.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: GUEST,Susannah Rose
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 01:03 PM

The words that Peter Paul and Mary sing mostly come from a version in Baring Goulds A Garland of Country Song, first published in London 1895.. That is the tune, too. The song apparently Crossed over the pond. However, the words are very different and the feeling is different. It sounds like a Jim Crow protest, asking the question in the jazz song, “What did I do to be so black and blue?” Baring Gould collected it from an old laborer. The word someone asked about is transcribed as hoardin. Makes sense for it to be a sign board.

Here are the words:
I looked in the East, I looked in the West,
For Fortune a chance to Me accordin
But fortune is a blind god flyin in the clouds
Forgettin me on this side of Jordan
Pull off your old coat, and roll up your sleeves,
LIfe is a hard road to travel I believes.

Thunder in the clouds, and lightening in the trees
Shelter to my head no leaf affordin
Battered by the hailstones, beaten by the breeze
That’s my lot on this side o Jordan. (Pull...)

Silver spoons to some mouths, golden spoons to others
Providence unequally awardin
Dash it! THough they tells us all of us be brothers
Don’t see it clearly this side o Jordan.

Like a ragged owlet with its wings expanded
Nailed against a garden door or hoardin
That am I by good folk as a rascal branded
Never hunted none o this side Jordan.

Aloft a pretty cherub patchin up o blunders
My troubles and distresses is recording
Will there come a whirl about? Better times I wonders
Een to me on tother side of Jordan?

I apologize, my keyboard doesn’t do apostrophes except when Spellcheck catches something. So that is the Baring Gould British version, collected in North Devon.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 01:54 PM

Plenty of English broadsides for 'The Other Side of Jordan' but none of them appear to be older than c1850.They all have the same first line, but the number of stanzas varies from 6 to 10. I Haven't checked but I'd guess there'll be some on the Bodl.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: cnd
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 02:36 PM

The song did indeed cross over the pond. As Susan of DT mentioned in 2000, the song was written by Dan Emmett and started life as "Jordan Am a Hard Road to Travel."

Emmett wrote the song in 1853, so broadsides existing around then would make sense.

This is (partly) backed up by an article published in 1857 in The Birmingham Daily Post, Dec. 14th, 1857, p. 3, which writes:

"During each Entertainment will be pourtrayed [sic], through the Medium of Glees, Songs, Overtures, Dances, Lectures, Refrains, Sayings and Doings, the Oddities, Peculiarities, Comicalities, Eccentricities, and Whimsicalities, of the Slaves and Free Blacks of America.

"The Programme will be changes each Evening, and consist of the following SONGS, &c. :--.
...
"T'OTHER SIDE OF JORDAN"

-------------------------------

T'other Side of Jordan or The Other Side of Jordan is pretty clearly just a derivative work of Jordan Am A Hard Road to Travel. A copy from 1853 can be found in the Levy Sheet Music Collection; it attributed the song to Luke West. An 1854 copy in the Library of Congress cited J. R. Thomas as the arranger and attributed the song to Christy's Minstrels, a band with which, notably, West sang with in 1853.

Though it's hard to say which came first, I think "Jordan Am A Hard Road" came before "T'Other Side of Jordan" simply because I found references to the sheet music being for sale sooner, in addition to the belief of most historians that Emmett wrote "Jordan Am A Hard Road" (though I didn't find any explicit mentions of "T'Other Side of Jordan").

"Jordan Am A Hard Road" could be found for sale in December 1852 (source), though the earliest attribution of the song to Emmett I found was 1854.

"T'Other Side of Jordan" wasn't found for sale until December 1853 (source)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: Reinhard
Date: 05 Jun 20 - 04:17 PM

Lyle Lofgren's article Remembering The Old Songs: Jordan Is a Hard Road to Travel says:

Emmett also took credit for the first version of Jordan is a Hard Road to Travel, for an 1853 New York minstrel show. It was hugely popular and spread to the hinterlands via traveling shows. There's some evidence that he took an existing song and substituted political and topical verses. Later minstrel performers updated the commentary depending on what was in the news.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Old Coat Song
From: GUEST,Art
Date: 18 Jul 20 - 10:23 AM

Actually, "boardin' " does make sense. One of the dictionary definitions of "boarding" is "a structure made of boards".


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