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Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster

Genie 05 Jun 12 - 01:26 AM
GUEST,Guest Charles Macfarlane 05 Jun 12 - 12:40 PM
GUEST,Guest Charles Macfarlane Harrison 05 Jun 12 - 12:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jun 12 - 01:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jun 12 - 01:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jun 12 - 01:41 PM
Genie 05 Jun 12 - 08:10 PM
GUEST 05 Jun 12 - 09:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Jun 12 - 01:30 PM
Genie 06 Jun 12 - 01:32 PM
GUEST 06 Jun 12 - 01:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Jun 12 - 01:49 PM
dick greenhaus 06 Jun 12 - 02:05 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Jun 12 - 01:27 PM
Genie 08 Jun 12 - 03:00 AM
Genie 09 Jun 12 - 02:10 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jun 12 - 12:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jun 12 - 01:24 PM
RoyH (Burl) 09 Jun 12 - 03:51 PM
Genie 09 Jun 12 - 04:32 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jun 12 - 04:50 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jun 12 - 05:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jun 12 - 05:45 PM
GUEST 24 Nov 17 - 08:46 PM
leeneia 25 Nov 17 - 12:03 PM
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Subject: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Genie
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 01:26 AM

I've just discovered, if I can believe my online sources, that Joseph Philbrick Webster, who wrote the music for the American Civil War song "Lorena," was also the compose for the music to Maud Irving's lyrics to "I Will Twine 'Mid the Ringlets" - predecessor and source of "Wildwood Flower," which is usually attributed to The Carter Family.

This is an interesting piece of music history, especially to me, as "Wildwood Flower" and "Lorena" are both among my favorite songs to play and sing.

Anyone know more about the connection of these two songs and/or songwriters?

Genie


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: GUEST,Guest Charles Macfarlane
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 12:40 PM

Yes, I think this must be right.

The best version of Wildwood Flower I have ever heard, even after all these years, was released by Joan Baez on, I believe, her very first vinyl, which I think was then titled eponymously, but is now usually known as "Joan Baez - Volume 1", there is an equally good companion album "Volume 2". Thank heavens for minor miracles, these were released on CD in 1987 unmucked about by ignorant modern audio engineers. The result is that these two, to me priceless, albums still sound as fresh as when first released in the 60s. Other wonderful tracks are "Fare Thee Well" aka "Ten Thousand Miles" - so much better a rendition than the dirge version of the song popularised by Nic Jones (I'm a fan of Nic's, but IMHO that was one of his least successful renditions) - "Donna, Donna", "Little Moses", "Wagoner's Lad", "Engine 143", "Lonesome Road", "Banks Of The Ohio", "Pal Of Mine", etc.


I also have the Joan Baez song book, which gives the lyrics to Wildwood Flower the same as that handed down by the Carter Family:

1
I will twine with my mingles of raven black hair,
With the roses so red and the lily so fair,
The myrtle so bright with its emerald hue,
And the and the leader and eyes look so blue.

2
I will dance, I will sing and my life shall be gay,
I will charm every heart, in its crown I will sway.
I woke from my dream and all idols was clay,
And all portions of lovin' had all flown away.

3
He taught me to love him and promised to love
And cherish me over all other above,
My poor heart is wondering, no misery can tell,
He left me no warning, no words of farewell.

4
He taught me to love him and called me his flower,
That was blooming to cheer him through life's weary hour,
How I long to see him and regret the dark hour,
He's gone and neglected his frail wildwood flower.

It is clear that the meaning of the first verse has been mangled almost beyond recognition by the oral tradition, but some time ago, before the age of the www, I reckoned that with applied intelligence one could retrieve most of it. The girl is singing about putting flowers in her hair, and the rest of the verse seems to be describing the flowers. This makes it clear that the "With" at the beginning of second line probably wasn't originally there, and the that the last line was misheard, and sticking as closely as possible to the sound of the currently accepted version, was most probably originally something like:

And the pale oleander and lilac so blue.

This would have given ...

I will twine with my mingles of raven black hair,
The roses so red, and the lily so fair,
The myrtle so bright with its emerald hue,
And the pale oleander, and lilac so blue.

... which, besides now making perfect sense, is a really pretty lyric.

However, there are problems with this interpretation.

The first I discovered even back then is that oleander is a herb from the Levant. When it first came to be grown in gardens of North America, I have no idea, but it's possible that it was sufficiently widespread to have appeared in songs of about the vintage of Wildwood Flower.

Then later, with the advent of the most complete library in the world, the www, I too discovered the same source that you appear to have found, and quite a few other others, and, which rather galled me, none mentioned even the lilac, let alone the oleander:

This appears to be the original penned lyric:
And the pale aronatus with eyes of bright blue.

I'll twine 'mid the ringlets of my raven black hair
The lilies so pale and the roses so fair
The myrtle so bright with an emerald hue
And the pale aronatus with eyes of bright blue.

This is yet another version different from both the original and the Carter family's.
The pale emanita and hyssop so blue
www.mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID%3D2957

So, you can either go with the original penned lyric, aronatus, or the one of the other versions, but I would recommend at least correcting the Carter Family version to make sense.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: GUEST,Guest Charles Macfarlane Harrison
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 12:49 PM

Ugh! Please ignore the spurious mudcat URL underneath the link to the 'emanita' lyrics. I put it temporarily to edit it to make the link to the penned version, and forgot to delete it afterwards.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 01:20 PM

Genie, you posted the original (from pdmusic.com) in thread 4074 back in August nineteen and ought one.

Any reason for a new thread?

(1860 date, according to pdmusic.com, music Joseph Philbrook Webster and Maud Irving lyrics with reference M 1621.W)

Maud Irving's "aronatus" has been subject to much idle speculation at mudcat; she took the meaning with her to the grave.

I like the singing of Joan Baez on this song as well, but she often had her own take on lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 01:23 PM

Thread 4074:
Origins: Wildwood Flower

The primary thread on this song.

Combine?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 01:41 PM

"Lorena" in DT; Genie's post was in thread 14713, 10 Sept. 02
Lyr/Chor add Lorena

(Song written in 1857, words by Rev. H. D. L. Webster, music by Joseph Philbrook Webster acc. to pdmusic.org (sorry for the mistaken .com in my previous post) and sheet music at American Memory).


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Genie
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 08:10 PM

Yes, I knew that J P Webster composed the music for "Lorena."   I just never realized he also composed the music for the predecessor of "Wildwood Flower."   Not sure if I just didn't notice the attribution or if sources I've seen before just credited Maud Irving with having "written the song."

Q, this thread is about Joseph Philbrook Webster's contribution to both those songs (and maybe also to some other very familiar songs), not about the lyrics to "Wildwood Flower" or any of its earlier versions.   (We have, indeed, discussed those lyrics at great length in other threads.)   And J P Webster wasn't the lyricist on either song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Jun 12 - 09:37 PM

> I just never realized he also composed the music for the predecessor of "Wildwood Flower."

Well, did he actually in fact?

One of the other mudcat threads has this: "In his notes to the Carter Family Victor set on Rounder, Charles Wolfe also refers to the Webster/Irving song which he describes as 'a popular parlour song of 1859'"

I haven't seen the orignal book mentioned in other threads, or even a reproduction of it, but if the above is correct, it is possible, even probable, that its authors were collecting songs that they heard others singing, cleaning them up and formalising them, and publishing the results, partly no doubt to make money, but perhaps they also thought they were doing something to preserve them?

If that's the case, then there is no guarantee that Webster wrote the tune, he may only have scored it, or that Irving composed the lyrics, she may only have written down what she heard, possibly composing her own where the original didn't seem to make much sense.

So, although in the absence of further evidence we probably have to make an ongoing working assumption that this earliest currently known publication was the original source, we shouldn't forget the possibility that it might simply be their own tidied up version of a pre-existing, and therefore even older, song that they had, as we would now say, collected. If the latter is true, it may well be that, apart from the obviously mistaken lyrics the originals of which can be reasonably be surmised, the Carter Family version is just as old and therefore just as valid as this book.

Since my first post I've now found the Wikipedia article on the song:
Wikipedia - Wildwood Flower which is definitely worth a read:

"""
However, Bryan Chalker, a well known country singer from Bath, England, following a visit to the Appalachians and collecting folk music, suggests that the last line is "The pale oleander and violets so blue." This is very close to the misheard "The pale and the leader and eyes look so blue." The oleander was introduced into America in 1841, so if the original date of the song is 1860, this is perfectly feasible. The word is also much more singable than aronatus. What's more, amaranthus do not have eyes looking blue—they are shades of white, pink and red. But other versions include the line "... the pale emelita and islip so blue" ("emelita" and "islip" being other flowers), and this line sounds very much like the Carter Family's hearing of "... pale and the leader and eyes look so blue."
"""

However, if oleander was only introduced into America in in 1841, I doubt if 20 years would really be sufficient to get it into such everyday consciousness as to appear in a parlour song of the 1850s/60s. This rather turns attention to emelita, which also sounds close to the Carter Family version. Do we know anything about this flower. Is it one native to America, or else would it have been introduced comfortably before the mid-1800s?

And if we accept emilita, do we not also accept islip? Perhaps that depends on how the first syllable is pronounced - if it's is as in Lizzie, then I think lilac sounds more like the Carter's, but if it eyes as in Eliza, then certainly that would fit. Also, we'd need to know more about this plant as well.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 01:30 PM

I can find no indication of flower genera with the names 'emelita', or 'islip'.
Among references see J. Hutchinson, The Families of Flowering Plants.

More pertinently, there seems to be no reference to either of these names having ever been used as 'common' names for a flower species.

There has been previous discussion in other threads.

(Oleander, Nerium oleander, a Mediteranean species of the genus, was introduced to North America including Florida and southeastern states by Spanish settlers, ca. 1600s. (Ref. include Fox et al., 2005, IFAS Assessment of the status of non-native plants in Florida's natural areas, etc.). A common name for this plant is dogbane, although the plant is poisonous to all animals except a particular caterpillar. It is a shrub, growing to ca. 12 feet.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Genie
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 01:32 PM

Q, all that is interesting, but again you are veering off into a discussion of the lyrics to Wildwood Flower and their origins.    That discussion fits better into the already existing lengthy thread discussions about those.

As for Webster possibly having "collected" and possibly modified an existing folk tune, that could be true of all sorts of musical "compositions" over the centuries.   It certainly was true of many classical music composers.   Who knows whether Webster's tune for "Lorena" was or was not borrowed, at least in part, from some older folk tune?

At any rate, "Lorena" was the only tune of which I was aware of John Philbrick Webster having been the composer, and it's interesting to learn that he is also the composer of record for "I Will Twine 'Mid The Ringlets."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: GUEST
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 01:43 PM

> From: Q
>
> Oleander, Nerium oleander, a Mediteranean species of the genus, was introduced to North America including Florida and southeastern states by Spanish settlers, ca. 1600s

Nice research, Q. So that brings me back to liking my original idea for the line:

"And the pale oleander and lilac so blue"

But, hey, what about lilac? I think we can safely say that North Americans of recent English descent would have known about it, but when was it first actually introduced there? Anyone know?

> From: Genie
>
> Q, all that is interesting, but again you are veering off into a discussion of the lyrics to Wildwood Flower and their origins.    That discussion fits better into the already existing lengthy thread discussions about those.

Well, perhaps yes, but perhaps also you should have thought about the likely consequences of starting a new thread!

Perhaps we should just combine them?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 01:49 PM

Joseph Philbrook Webster (1819-1875), a prolific composer of music for songs (over 1000, some 400 documented), with words by a number of lyricists, of course is best known for "Lorena," sung by both sides in the Civil War. He also wrote music for "I'll twine mid the ringlets" and "In the sweet by and by."

I can find no credible evidence that "I'll twine ....." was preceded by a similar tune, but there could be lyrics with a similar thought. I cannot find original sheet music- anyone?

Google brings up many references, but "Wildwood Flower" in Wikipedia is a good one to start with.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 06 Jun 12 - 02:05 PM

When you don't know the words, mumble.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Jun 12 - 01:27 PM

Has anyone found the original sheet music?

I can't translate the reference given at pdmusic.org


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Genie
Date: 08 Jun 12 - 03:00 AM

@ Guest
[[Well, perhaps yes, but perhaps also you should have thought about the likely consequences of starting a new thread!

Perhaps we should just combine them?]]

Or maybe people who want to discuss Wildwood Flower lyrics might consider posting in this thread.   

J P Webster having been a composer, not a lyricist, I do find the retracing of of the Wildwood Flower lyrics development a bit tangential here. : )


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Subject: RE: Joseph Philbrick Webster 19th C. Composer
From: Genie
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 02:10 AM

It appears that Joseph Philbrick Webster composed (or at least collected, arranged & published) over 1,000 songs,
including the music to "In The Sweet By And By"   (Popular songs of nineteenth-century America : complete original sheet music for 64 songs and that all-time favorite "We Are the Gay & Happy Suckers, From the State of Illinois".


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 12:36 PM

Genie, already posted.
Original sheet music for "Lorena" is at American Memory.

I am looking for "In the sweet...." original sheet music. The lyricist is given as Sanford F. Bennett, 1868, at Cyberhymnal. The cover sheet of the original sheet music is illustrated in the Wikipedia article.

Bennett wrote a description of Webster, quoted at Cyberhymnal-
http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/i/n/t/intsbab.htm


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 01:24 PM

Found my scan of the sheet music of "Lorena."

"Ballad Lorena by J. P. Webster, Chicago, Published by H. M. Higgins, 117 Randolph St. Entered according to Act of Congress aD 1857 by Higgins Bros. in the Clerks Office ... North. Dist. Ill."

The first page of the music states "Poetry by Rev. H. D. L. Webster, Music by J. P. Webster.

The six verses were posted with chords by Rex in 2001, thread 31209, and are in the DT.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 03:51 PM

Johnny Cash on You Tube sings 'Lorena' in duet with Burl Ives.


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Subject: We Are The Gay & Happy Suckers From ... Illinois
From: Genie
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 04:32 PM

I already have a scan of some original published sheet music for "Lorena," Q. This particular version, from ca. 1858, differs from some others in that the last line of each verse is repeated with only the tune being modified - slightly - when the line is repeated.


The sheet music I would really love to see would be for "We Are the Gay & Happy Suckers, From the State of Illinois."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 04:50 PM

Contact the Newberry Library in Chicago. They may have a copy of "We are the gay..... Illinois."
Much of the old sheet music published in Chicago was lost in the Chicago fire.

The Newberry was able to provide me with a copy of "My Pretty Quadroon" which in its original form is an abolitionist song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 05:28 PM

The Library of Congress library has a copy of "We are the gay ...."
Full pdf: ("as sung by the boys of Col. Stewart's Regt.")

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.200002247/200002247.pdf


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 05:45 PM

"In the Sweet By and By," first printed in The Signet Ring: a new collection of music and hymns composed for Sabbath schools &c. Joseph Philbrook Webster, Chicago, Lyon & Healy, 1868, Pp. 90-91.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Nov 17 - 08:46 PM

The FINAL, most complete/correct set of words to this is sung by Reese Witherspoon (researched by WHO?) in the soundtrack album of Walk The Line. It makes sense which JB and the Carter Family failed at. This has been gnawing at me for about 50 years.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Lorena' & 'Wildwood Flower' via Webster
From: leeneia
Date: 25 Nov 17 - 12:03 PM

A Catter called Taconicus has located original sheet music for Wildwood Flower at UCLA. The mystery flower is the aronatis. Or maybe aronatus.

Since I can't find a record of any such flower, I changed the words to "pale, blooming iris with falls of bright blue." The Long petals of an iris which drop down toward the ground are called falls, and they are usually more intense in color (hence brighter) than the rest of the flower.


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