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Origins: Erie Canal


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal? (51)
Lyr Req: From Buffalo to Troy (canal song) (24)
(origins) Origins: The Erie Canal (E-Ri-E) (12)
Irish-American Railroad or Erie Canal Song? (4)

Mick Lowe 28 Feb 18 - 04:41 AM
Joe Offer 28 Feb 18 - 04:57 AM
Dave Ruch 01 Mar 18 - 07:53 AM
Mrrzy 01 Mar 18 - 10:06 AM
Dave Ruch 02 Mar 18 - 10:43 AM
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Subject: Origins: Erie Canal
From: Mick Lowe
Date: 28 Feb 18 - 04:41 AM

Sorry but there's a lot of backwash to my thread here, so please bear with me. Many years ago I bought what I now know to to be the Penguin book of American folk edited by Alan Lomax, I know this because I have just bought a 2nd hand copy off Amazon... my original purchase was in England in the late 60's... Since then I've been through all sorts of music some of which would be castigated here on Mudcat. Relationships later I started playing "Irish" music, still do when I can... but whilst still in England I saw a BBC4 program with Bruce Springstein and the Seeger Session Musicians playing all these brilliant tunes I thought were in the song book I had bought way back when..

I particularly liked what on his album is called "the Erie Canal" more so now since I live in Syracuse. Now where am I going with this thread?.. Good question. The song in the Alan Lomax book is not the tune Bruce was singing.

Here in Syracuse we have a Erie canal museum which I have been to.. worth a visit for anyone here.. in their gift shop they had a song book of like 20 or more songs called "Erie Canal"...

So where am I going with this thread?

First off I'd like the lyrics and chords to whatever version Bruce is playing, but I would love to be able to put together a whole web site about the importance of the Erie canal focusing on the music that surrounds it

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Subject: RE: Origins: Erie Canal
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Feb 18 - 04:57 AM

Hi, Mick -
Here's a YouTube recording of a Dublin recording by Springsteen of "Erie Canal" (low bridge):It seems to be related to the usual "Low Bridge" melody, but Springsteen has changed it.
I think Springsteen's lyrics are mostly the usual "mule named Sal/Low Bridge" lyrics: @displaysong.cfm?SongID=6231 - but I'm guessing the tune is his own, since I've never heard it before.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Erie Canal
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 01 Mar 18 - 07:53 AM

Hello Mick, from just down the road in Buffalo. The Erie Canal Museum is a wonderful resource.

Bruce Springsteen did indeed change the melody a bit for "Low Bridge Everybody Down," and, of course, he sang what is more or less the "folk revival" version of the lyrics which you can find easily online.

If you'd like to see the original music and lyrics for the song (5 verses and 5 distinct choruses!), I put a webpage together a few years ago which you can find right here.

There are a few musicians around the state who have spent decades researching, performing, and contextualizing the music of the Erie Canal, using it to tell stories about the canal's history and importance. You can find George Ward here as "georgeward" and Bill HUllfish from Brockport NY is another one. I can provide you his email address if you'd like to PM me. His book is likely the one you saw in the gift shop at the museum.

And, there are a fair number of canal song posts here on Mudcat where people have contributed their knowledge.

Hope that's helpful.

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Subject: RE: Origins: Erie Canal
From: Mrrzy
Date: 01 Mar 18 - 10:06 AM

I always knew the Mule / Low Bridge one, but when did the gin start a-gittin' low?

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Subject: RE: Origins: Erie Canal
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 02 Mar 18 - 10:43 AM

Mrrzy, the "E-ri-e was 'risin" song, or I should say an earlier version of it, appeared as early as the 1870s in a Harrigan and Hart songster under the title "Buffalo," and the theme of "terrible storms and heavy weather" stretches back even further than that to "The Raging Canal/Kanawl" of the 1840's.

The folk revival version of "The E-ri-e" might be the one you are more familiar with, as performed by people like The Weavers. I believe that came about mid 20th century, perhaps influenced by the version in Carl Sandburg's book of the 1920's.

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