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Lyr Add: Hard for to Love (Hayes Shepherd)

Jim Dixon 13 Feb 11 - 04:55 PM
Stewie 13 Feb 11 - 09:02 PM
12-stringer 14 Feb 11 - 01:19 AM
12-stringer 14 Feb 11 - 01:53 AM
Jim Dixon 18 Feb 11 - 04:33 PM
12-stringer 18 Feb 11 - 06:38 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: HARD FOR TO LOVE (Hayes Shepherd)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 13 Feb 11 - 04:55 PM

I ran across this while searching for something else, and I thought we ought to have it.

You can hear this song at YouTube. The transcription is mine.

You will recognize several "floater" verses, but verse 4 is new to me and rather mysterious.

To me, this sounds about as close as you can get to the primordial American folk music.

As sung by "The Appalachian Vagabond" (Hayes Shepherd*), Vocalion 5450, 1930.

1. So it's hard for to love when you can't be loved.
Oh, it's hard for to change your mind.
You have broke the heart of a many poor boy.
Oh, you'll never break this heart of mine.

2. So I'm goin' away but I ain't a-go'n' to stay
If I go ten thousand miles.
Though I'm goin' away but I'm coming back again
If I go ten thousand miles.

3. So you see—the turtledove
Sing in yonder's pine.
It's a-grievin' over the loss of his love
Just like I grieve about mine.

4. So the farm is fee'd like a solid block of ice,
Oh, the fee run raw an' barr'n.
Though the farm is fee'd like a solid block of ice,
But my love for you won't care.

5. So it's who will shoe them pretty little feet?
Oh, it's who will glove them hands?
Oh, it's who will kiss them red ruby cheeks** ?
Lord, I'm in some far-off land.

6. So it's papa will shoe my pretty little feet.
Oh, mama will glove my hands.
Oh, sister will kiss my red ruby cheeks**,
And I ain't a-gonna marry no man.

* While listening to samples at, I'm sure I have heard the same recording attributed to Dock Boggs. I think this is a mistake. The voice sounds like Shepherd; it doesn't sound like Boggs. Furthermore, I think whoever put up the recording at YouTube is mistaken in saying that Hayes' brother Bill also performs in this song.

** "cheeks," sic. According to most versions of this floater verse, he should have sung "lips," but "cheeks" is a better rhyme (or, strictly speaking, assonance) with "feet."

VERSE 4: Am I hearing this correctly? Please let me know if you think otherwise. The meaning of the verse seems to hinge on the words "fee" (as a verb) and "fee'd" (participle). I don't remember ever hearing this word used this way in an American folk song, but some old English expressions do survive this way.

"The doctor is fee'd for a dangerous draught."
--from Henry Fielding, Don Quixote in England

"If lawyer's hand is fee'd, sir, he steals your whole estate."
--from John Gay, The Beggar's Opera

"He is fee'd like other lawyers to make the worse appear the better reason."

"His gardener, who is fee'd by the nurseryman...."

"The fiddler is fee'd by the gallants that dance."

So to fee someone is to hire their services. But what does it mean for a farm to be fee'd? I couldn't find any examples, but I guess it means money is owed on it, for rental or mortgage payments. "Like a solid block of ice" implies that the payment is a serious burden on the farmer. "The fee runs raw and barren" suggests that the farmer is getting little or no profit for his work and investment. "My love for you won't care" suggests that the narrator-farmer expects his love will provide compensating joys.

That's the way I understand it. Any comments?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Hard for to Love (Hayes Shepherd)
From: Stewie
Date: 13 Feb 11 - 09:02 PM

Vocalion 5450 was the only record issued of Hayes Shepherd - the flip side of 'Hard For to Love' was 'Peddler And His Wife'.

Jim, you are correct that it is definitely Shepherd Hayes and it is a solo recording by him. The Revenant collection of early Boggs, which I have before me, has the 12 early recordings of Boggs 1927-29. Separated from these by a 2-minute pause are an additional 5 unissued and alternate takes. Separated again from the Boggs recordings by a 2-minute pause are 4 non-Boggs tracks: 2 by Hayes Shepherd and 2 by Bill Shepherd. The Hayes Shepherd is Vocalion 5450 and the Bill Shepherd is Champion S-16383 recorded on 29 January 1932 and also his sole issued record: 'Bound Steel Blues' and 'Aunt Jane Blues'. The Champion sides are in far worse condition than the Vocalions.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Hard for to Love (Hayes Shepherd)
From: 12-stringer
Date: 14 Feb 11 - 01:19 AM

It's approximately:

So the FIRE may FREEZE like a solid block of ice
The SEA run DRY and BURN
So the fire may freeze like a solid block of ice
But my love for you won't TURN.

"Fire," of course, is pronounced "far" in Appalachia. You also have TARS on your automobile, but the sticky black stuff they mix with gravel and use to patch potholes is usually called TIRE, for some reason.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Hard for to Love (Hayes Shepherd)
From: 12-stringer
Date: 14 Feb 11 - 01:53 AM

Should be "FAR may FEEL like a solid block of ice," on second thought.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Hard for to Love (Hayes Shepherd)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Feb 11 - 04:33 PM

I wanted to listen to the song again, to check the transcription, but I see it's been removed from YouTube!

Fortunately I found's listing for this album: Old-Time Music from Southwest Virginia and I played the sample there of HARD FOR TO LOVE, and as luck would have it, the sample included verse 4.

12-stringer: I'm convinced your transcription is accurate.

So all my rationalization of "fee'd" was in vain. As Emily Litella would say, "Never mind."

By the way, regarding verse 5 line 3: I listened to someone else's recording, and was surprised to hear them sing "red rosy cheeks," so now I wonder if that's what Shepherd sings. In my opinion, it should be either "red rosy cheeks" or "red ruby lips" but not "red ruby cheeks"—which would be a symptom of a skin disease!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Hard for to Love (Hayes Shepherd)
From: 12-stringer
Date: 18 Feb 11 - 06:38 PM

For a free download of both the Vocalion sides of Hayes Shepherd, see , a site devoted to the two Vocalion-Brunswick recording sessions in Knoxville, 1929 and 1930.

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