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Manly Wade Wellman


Related thread:
(origins) Origins: Vandy Vandy (31)

Thomas Stern 13 May 20 - 10:20 PM
cnd 13 May 20 - 11:19 PM
Thomas Stern 14 May 20 - 07:26 PM
cnd 15 May 20 - 02:26 AM
cnd 15 May 20 - 03:54 AM
cnd 15 May 20 - 05:32 PM
cnd 15 May 20 - 06:06 PM
cnd 16 May 20 - 10:25 PM
cnd 17 May 20 - 01:25 AM
cnd 17 May 20 - 10:40 PM
cnd 18 May 20 - 12:27 AM
cnd 18 May 20 - 12:38 AM
cnd 18 May 20 - 10:49 PM
GUEST,open mike 19 May 20 - 03:45 AM
cnd 23 May 20 - 12:25 AM
cnd 23 May 20 - 12:51 AM
cnd 23 May 20 - 02:14 AM
cnd 23 May 20 - 02:46 AM
cnd 27 Jul 20 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 27 Jul 20 - 08:38 PM
Thomas Stern 30 Sep 20 - 10:26 PM
Richard Mellish 01 Oct 20 - 03:35 PM
cnd 08 Oct 21 - 11:36 PM
Thomas Stern 17 May 23 - 07:30 PM
Thomas Stern 01 Aug 23 - 09:30 PM
Richard Mellish 10 Mar 24 - 05:10 PM
mikechatty 10 Mar 24 - 06:03 PM
Thomas Stern 10 Mar 24 - 09:07 PM
Thomas Stern 01 Apr 24 - 08:13 PM
Thomas Stern 02 Apr 24 - 06:31 PM
cnd 02 Apr 24 - 06:38 PM
Thomas Stern 02 Apr 24 - 09:19 PM
Richard Mellish 21 May 24 - 05:09 PM
Richard Mellish 10 Jun 24 - 11:08 AM
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Subject: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 13 May 20 - 10:20 PM

a number of threads on MUDCAT mention Wellman (Vandy Vandy a.o.).

For those interested in his fiction, a couple of
compilations of his stories from pulp fiction magazines
have recently been RE-published by SHADOWRIDGE PRESS:
Worse Things Waiting
Lonely Vigils

Hope they (or someone) will republish the JOHN THE BAlLADEER stories and WHO FEARS THE DEVIL.

Manly Wade Wellman - WIKI

Cheers, Thomas.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 13 May 20 - 11:19 PM

Not quite the same enjoyment as reading a real book, Thomas, but the whole John the Balladeer book, including the preface and (original) versions of the short stories is available online:

(I say "original" above because the compilation version Who Fears the Devil as printed by Ballantine Books [1964]--the copy I have--which was the first time they were published together as a series, had Wellman modify the stories slightly to have better continuity. In general, the modifications are pretty obvious and a bit clunky, a statement Wellman [I think] made himself in the introduction to the John the Balladeer series above)

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 14 May 20 - 07:26 PM

Thanks CNS!!!

also, from Shadowridge Press:

Unfortunately, we don't have any additional Wellman in the works at the moment, but there is a terrific two-volume set of JOHN THE BALLADEER forthcoming from Haffner Press that is sure to be the definitive edition for the John stories once and for all. We have no association with Hafner Press, but we sure love their books. You can pre-order it here.

Thanks for your interest in Manly Wade Wellman, and our books!

Robert Barr
Shadowridge Press

Cheers, Thomas.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 15 May 20 - 02:26 AM

Thanks for sharing that Thomas.

While we're on the topic of Wellman and "Silver John," I'd like to take this opportunity to share with people a bit of a pet project I've been working on for a while: attempting to compile and trace the origins of (when possible) every song mentioned or created by Wellman in the "Silver John" stories. I'll be going in the order of the songs provided in my 1964 copy of Who Fears the Devil.

In general, I'm going to try to list every song, but I'll provide lyrics and some research of more obscure ones as best as I've found.

So, with that said, let's get started!

"O Ugly Bird!" mentions 4 songs:
  - Mister Onselm (fragment) - p. 18
  - The Roving Gambler - p. 19
  - "the ugly bird song" - pp. 20-22
  - Northumberland Betrayed By Douglas [Child 176] - p. 30

Mister Onselm
"Mister Onselm,
They do what you tell 'em---"

Tragically short and entirely unidentifiable, I include this here only for thoroughness. Mr. Onselm was a "hoodoo man" who sort of commensally lived with the Ugly Bird.

The Roving Gambler
"I had been in Georgia
Not a many more weeks than three
When I fell in love with a pretty fair girl
And she fell in love with me.

"Her lips were red as red could be,
Her eyes were brown as brown,
Her hair was like a thundercloud
Before the rain comes down."

While the verses of this song are similar to floating verse lyrics which can be heard in many songs, it most closely (to me) resembles the verses of Roving Gambler. The first stanza matches (nearly) word-for-word the renditions Harvey Reid & Joyce Anderson and Larry Sigmon & Barbara Poole (my personal favorite).

This song has been researched fairly extensively; much can be read about it here and here, though the song has been paid comparatively little attention on Mudcat and Richie's Bluegrass Messenger's site, though the song's many names could be hindering my abilities to find it at those places.

The song fits well with John's nature as a rough-around-the-edges rover, and also foreshadows to Winnie, the archetypal damsel in distress. Unlike the song, though, Minnie does not fall in love with John or follow him on his adventures--the song foreshadows only her appearance when John encounters Minnie and Mr. Onselm again later.

Ugly Bird Song
"You all have heard of the Ugly Bird
So curious and so queer,
It flies its flight by day and night
And fills folks' hearts with fear."

"I never came here to hide from fear,
And I give you my promised word
That I soon expect to twist the neck
Of the God damn Ugly Bird."

"O Ugly Bird! O Ugly Bird!
You spy and sneak and thieve!
This place can't be for you and me,
And one of us got to leave."

"His father got hung for hog stealing,
His mother got burnt for a witch,
And his only friend is the Ugly Bird,
The dirty son—"

This song is entirely Wellman's composition, as best as I can find. The text scans well to the lyrics of Roving Gambler. Folk musician Joe Bethancourt attributed the verses to Wellman (source).

Northumberland Betrayed By Douglas
"Lady, I never loved witchcraft,
Never dealt in privy wile,
But evermore held the high way
Of love and honor, free from guile... ."

Here just a stanza of the much longer ballad is quoted. Being one of the original Child ballads, this song has been studied thoroughly; read the DT's version, some from Fresno State, or a detailed search by Bluegrass Messengers

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 15 May 20 - 03:54 AM

"One Other" mentions 3 songs:
  - The Magic Wheel (Theocritus) - p. 33
  - "Hark Mountain song" - pp. 34-35
  - "Last Judgement Song" p. 43

The Magic Wheel
"... it is the bones of JOHN that I trouble. I for JOHN burn his laurel.
Even as it crackles and burns, even thus may the flesh of JOHN burn for me.
Even as I melt this wax, with ONE OTHER to aid, so speedily may JOHN for love of me be melted.
Thrice I pour libation. Thrice, by ONE OTHER, I say the spell.
Be it with a friend he tarries, a woman he lingers, may JOHN utterly forget them.
This from JOHN I took, and now I cast it into---"

Perhaps less a song than ancient verse, this ritual was chanted by a woman who later identified herself as Miss Annalinda in an effort to get John to love her. After using the spell to draw John in, Annalinda has to pay One Other, a creature that lived in the bottomless pool atop Hark Mountain, for the spell. You can read the original Ancient Greek spell in its entirity here.

Hark Mountain
"Way up on Hark Mountain
I climb all alone,
Where the trail is untravelled
The top is unknown."

"Way up on Hark Mountain
Is the Bottomless Pool.
You look in its waters
And they mirror a fool."

"You can boast of your learning
And brag of your sense,
It won't make no difference
A hundred years hence."

I can say with a fair degree of certainty that Wellman modeled this song after a version of the popular folksong Rye Whiskey/Jack of Diamonds/Rebel Soldier titled "Clinch Mountain" or "Way Up On Clinch Mountain." Like Roving Gambler, this is another song often made entirely of floating lyrics, but the main tie I see to the Clinch Mountain song is the final stanza. A 1905 transcription from East Tennessee finishes with the lines "You may boast uv yore knowledge / En brag uv yore sense; But 'twill all be furgotten / One hundred years hence." You can read more about the song here. Additional threads from Mudcat are too numerous to link.

Last Judgment Song
"Three holy kings, four holy saints,
At heaven's high gate that stand,
Speak out and bid all evil wait,
And stir no foot or hand..."

"The fire from heaven will fall at last
On wealth and pride and power,
We will not know the minute, and
We will not know the hour"

Of the songs from the book, this should be one of the easiest to find. Wellman (by way of John) credits the song to "old Uncle T. P. Hinnard" as a way to ward off any and all evil things of this world. Yet try as I might, I could find no specific references to this song, or any evidence that T. P. Hinnard was a real person.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 15 May 20 - 05:32 PM

"Then I Wasn't Alone" mentions only 2 songs:
  - Pretty Saro - p. 47
  - My Blue-Eyed Boy - p. 47

This isn't really a chapter so-to-speak, but a half-page vignette, but still mentions two songs. Both are just mentioned in passing.

Pretty Saro is an extremely well-known song and has been researched heavily here and elsewhere: Fresno State and Mainly Norfolk both have excellent pages on it.

The second song John calls "The Ring That Has No End." This is a floating verse found in several songs. The Riddle Song usually includes a verse about an un-ending ring, but I find it more likely Wellman was referring to a song of the family of songs based around Blue Eyed Boy due to the fact that John plays it after finding a young boy to play guitar with him; versions of the song go: "It's hard to find a constant friend, / But when you find one good and true, Don't never change 'em for the new. Additionally, the song opens with that line instead of having it as the third verse. You can read more about the family of songs related to Blue Eyed Boy here and here.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 15 May 20 - 06:06 PM

"Shiver In the Pines" mentions 5 songs:
  - Cuckoo Waltz - p. 48
  - In the Pines - pp. 49, 57
  - Pretty Fair Maid - p. 64
  - Willie From the Western States - p. 64
  - I Dreamed Last Night Of My True Love - p. 64

Cuckoo Waltz
"Choose your partner as you go,
Choose your partner as you go."---

"Fare thee well, my charming gal,
Fare thee well, I'm gone!
Fare thee well, my charming gal,
With golden slippers on!"

This text matches almost exactly with a version of Cuckoo Waltz collected in Indiana by Miss E. F. Laud. The song has been discussed a pretty good deal on Mudcat, but its Fresno State entry is rather lacking. It's one of the less-researched songs I've been able to identify from the book.

In the Pines
Where were they, where were they,
On that gone and vanished day
When they shoveled for their treasure of gold?
In the pines, in the pines,
Where the sun never shines,
And I shiver when the wind blows cold...."

Here, the song is obviously the classic mournful lament In the Pines, though the lyrics have been localized for the song here. At least, that's my assumption, since I can't find any verses matching these.

The last three songs were only mentioned in passing. Pretty Fair Maid is a well-known ballad dating back to early in the 19th century, while I Dreamed Last Night of My One True Love (also known as Locks and Bolts) dates as early as the later half of that century. Both have been extensively studied. The song identified as Willie From the Western States is probably a variant of Barbara Allen. You can see a version collected in Beech Mountain, NC (bearing in mind that Wellman was close friends with North Carolinian folk song collector Bascom Lamar Lunsford, as well as being a Chapel Hill resident himself) which you can read here.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 16 May 20 - 10:25 PM

"Old Devlins Was A-Waiting" had only two songs:
  - In the Pines - p. 69
  - "Old Devlins Was A-Waiting" - pp. 69, 74-75, 78

The first song, In the Pines, was referred to as Shiver In the Pines in this chapter, but has been covered in a previous post.

Old Devlins Was A-Waiting
"Old Devlins was a-waiting
By the lonesome river ford,
When he spied the Mackey captain
With a pistol and a sword...."

"Old Devlins, Old Devlins,
I know you mighty well,
You're six foot three of Satan,
Two hundred pounds of hell...."

"Old Devlins was ready,
He feared not beast or man,
He shot the sword and pistol
From the Mackey captain's, hand...."

"Old Devlins, Old Devlins,
Oh, won't you spare my life?
I've got three little children
And a kind and loving wife."

"God bless them little children,
And I'm sorry for your wife,
But turn your back and close your eyes,
I'm going to take your---"

"He killed the Mackey captain,
He went behind the hill,
Them Mackeys never caught him,
And I know they never will...."

"When there's no moon in heaven
And you hear the hound-dogs bark,
You can guess that it's Old Devlins
A-scrambling in the dark...."

"Up on the top of the mountain,
Away from the sins of this world,
Anse Hatfield's son, he laid down his gun
And dreamed about Ran McCoy's girl...."

One student at the fictional Flornoy College, named Rixon Pengraft, knew the song and wanted to sing it to mock and taunt Moon-Eye, because he knew what it was about and the implications of singing it. Eventually, the boys got in a fight over it, leading Moon-Eye to sing the song to summon Devil Anse Hatfield's ghost to rectify Rixon's bullying (and their disagreement over who got to date Anda Lee McCoy, an ancestor of "Old Ran" McCoy), and went on to allege that the cause of the dispute was the courtship of Roseanna McCoy and Jonce Hatfield. In the end, the dispute is settled and Moon-Eye was granted permission to date Anna Lee by his ancestors, who decide that enough blood has been spilled already.

This song is a representation of the process of oral transmission, with "Devil Anse" Hatfield becoming "Devlins" and McCoy becoming "Mackey," so the story goes.

Identifying the song is another issue. They refer to the song as "a song about killing a captain at a lonesome river ford," but still, the song seems to be mostly original verses of Wellman's creation. However, based on the subject matter, the description, and flow of the text, I think the song is based on The Banks of Sweet Dundee.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 17 May 20 - 01:25 AM

"The Desrick on Yandro" mentions different songs, despending on the version.
In the 1964 Ballantine Books edition, the songs mentioned are:
  - Rebel Soldier - p. 86
  - Well I Know That Love Is Pretty - p. 86
  - When the Stars Begin to Fall - p. 86
  - "The Yandro Song" - pp. 86, 94

In the original version, the songs listed are:
  - Witch in the Wilderness
  - Rebel Soldier
  - Vandy, Vandy, I've Come to Court You
  - "The Yandro Song"

To be completely frank, I have no idea why they would change something as minor as 3 songs listed before the fifth paragraph of the story from one version to the other--especially since the three changed songs have no relevance on the outcome of the story. For some reason, Rebel Soldier (aka Jack of Diamonds) was the only song mentioned in both versions of the book; it has been discussed earlier in this thread. The Vandy, Vandy song will be discussed later, as it has its own chapter in the book. When the Stars Begin to Fall is a Christian song dating to at latest the 1860s, but published in several Christian songbooks in the 1920s and 1930s. You can read more about it here.

The last two songs listed briefly in the introduction are a bit harder to find. Though Dolly Parton's song "When Love Is New" matches well with the name of Well I Know That Love Is Pretty, I have some doubt that that's the song Wellman was referring to (ok, ok, more than some). I haven't found a song I'm quite happy with to match this song, but I'll assert that it's a song related to O Waly Waly (Water is Wide), an Americanized version known as Young Ladies or Little Sparrows. My only real backing behind that claim (and it's a sort of tenuous one) is that Wellman was aware of a version of the song that went "Oh, love is fair and love is charming, / And love is pretty when it is new" (source). Aside from that, I've got nothing on it.

To be totally honesy, Witch in the Wilderness has got me stumped. Maybe someone else would be able to better identify a song by this name? Though it's tempting to say that it could be the same song as the Yandro song, given the subject of the chapter (a male witch who lives in a shanty in the forest), this is not the case: the song is introduced as follows: "Staying off wornout songs, I smote out what they'd never heard before--Witch in the Wilderness and Rebel Soldier and Vandy, Vandy, I've Come to Court You. When they clapped and hollered for more, I sang the Yandro song, like this...." Again, not an important aspect of the story, but it certainly makes you wonder...

And finally, The Yandro Song, which is known as "He's Gone Away"
"I'll build me a desrick on Yandro's high hill,
Where the wild beasts can't reach me or hear my sad cry,
For he's gone, he's gone away, to stay a little while,
But he'll come back if he comes ten thousand miles. "

"Look away, look away, look away over Yandro,
Where them wild things are flyin'
From bough to bough, and a-mating with their mates,
So why not me with mine?"

The first line of this song matches nearly verbatim a line from the version of He's Gone Away in the DT here at Mudcat, however, aside from a reference in Sandburg's American Songbag, I haven't seen much about this song. In a 1965 article for the Raleigh News and Observer, Wellman hinted that he thought the local residents may have been "putting Sandburg on," so-to-speak, citing Sandburg's 1927 American Songbag publication; despite that, apparently local residents agreed to call a section of Walnut Mountains (Madison Co., NC) "Yandro," though Wellman consented that they had probably meant "yonder" in its original sense of the word.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 17 May 20 - 10:40 PM

"Vandy, Vandy" mentioned 4 songs:
  - Fire In the Mountain - p. 101
  - Vandy, Vandy - pp. 101-102, 107
  - Dream True - p. 108
  - The Rebel Soldier - p. 108

Fire In the Mountains is a fiddle tune, more often called Fire On the Mountain (read more here and here). Wellman's (seemingly) favorite tune Rebel Soldier comes up once again as well. Unfortunately, I don't even have a guess as to which song Dream True was.

Vandy, Vandy
"Vandy, Vandy, I've come to court you,
Be you rich or be you poor,
And if you'll kindly entertain me,
I will love you forever more."

"Vandy, Vandy, I've gold and silver,
Vandy, Vandy, I've a house and land,
Vandy, Vandy, I've a world of pleasure,
I would make you a handsome man."

"I love a man who's in the army,
He's been there for seven long year,
And if he's there for seven year longer,
I won't court no other dear."

"What care I for your gold and silver,
What care I for--"

"There was a fair and blooming wife
And of children she had three.
She sent them away to Northern school
To study gramaree."

"But the King's men came upon that school,
And when sword and rope had done,
Of the children three she sent away,
Returned to her but one...."

"Wake up, wake up! The dawn is breaking,
Wake up, wake up! It's almost day.
Open up your doors and your divers windows,
See my true love march away...."

By far the most well-known song "introduced" by Wellman, this song has already been discussed pretty extensively on Mudcat; you can find the article linked at the top of the page. You can also read about the song's original formal publication in the magazine North Carolina Folklore, along with the tune and its full lyrics. All the other research I've found on the song has already been mentioned on the Mudcat page. You can also listen to a nice version of the song here.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 18 May 20 - 12:27 AM

"Dumb Supper" (1964) or "Call Me From the Valley" (original) mentioned only 2 or 3 songs, depending on the version of the story:
  - Dumb Supper - pp. 116, 121
  - In the Pines (original version only)
  - A Farewell to Arms - p. 126

Despite being materially the same story, this chapter has been published under two different names: Dumb Supper (1964 Ballantine Books), or Call Me From the Valley (original). The chapter mentions fairly few songs in comparison to most of the other chapters. The original version of the chapter includes John singing a fragment of "In the Pines" exactly as they appeared in Shiver In the Pines while walking in the late night rain, while the 1964 version omits this song.

Dumb Supper
"Oh, call me sweetheart, call me dear,
Call me what you will,
Call me from the valley low,
Call me from the hill."

"I hear you as the turtle dove
That flies from bough to bough,
And as she softly calls her mate,
You call me softly now...."

I believe that this song is based on the folk ballad Mary Ann/Turtle Dove/Fare Thee Well. You can read more about the song here, here. You can read a version collected in Carmen, NC here, and a very good breakdown of the songs related to it from Mudcat (though several other threads on the song exist as well).

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 18 May 20 - 12:38 AM

Oops, left off the final song on the previous post!

A Farewell to Arms
"Beauty, strength, youth, are flowers and fading seen--
Duty, faith, love, are roots and ever green...."

This song's introduction in the book ("the song I sang is really an old song") is no exaggeration: the poem dates to 1590. Originally written as a lyric poem for the retirement of Queen Elizabeth I's champion knight, the original song's them of an ageing but valiant man's increased youth over time fits ironically with the story's resurrection of the once-deceased Jeremiah Donovant by way of a dumb supper.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 18 May 20 - 10:49 PM

"The Little Black Train" mentioned 4 songs:
  - Hell Broke Loose In Georgia - p. 129
  - "The Little Black Train" - pp. 131, 134, 140
  - Many Thousands Gone - p. 134
  - Sourwood Mountain - p. 135

The first and last two songs are, like many of these songs have been, mentioned only briefly and in passing as songs John performed. Hell Broke Loose In Georgia is a famous "old-time" song popularized by the Skillet Lickers. You can read more about the song here, though I will comment that the Fresno State and Mudcat's research on the tune is rather lackluster. You can listen to the Skillet Lickers' version here. Many Thousands Gone (aka No More Auction Block or just Auction Block) is an interesting choice of song to mention. Almost every version of the song I've found is very blatantly anti-slavery, making the song's inclusion virtually the only overtly political comment in the Silver John series. Perhaps Wellman included it as a commentary on the mountain regions' opposition to the Civil War and slavery in general? The song is not exactly less political than other slave-related songs collected in the area, most notably Those Cruel Slavery Days, as reported by Fields Ward (no professional recording online, but the New Ballard's Branch Bogtrotters verion, Heritage HRC-CD-116 - 1995, is a very authentic one). You can read more about Many Thousands Gone here and here on Mudcat, or here. Popular modern versions of the song were recorded by folkies Bob Dylan and Pete Seeger. Sourwood Mountain is a popular fiddle and banjo tune often found in the Appalachian Mountains; you can read more about it here or here, and listen to the first commercial recording by Uncle Am Stuart here.

The Little Black Train
"I heard a voice of warning,
A message from on high,
'Go put your house in order
For thou shalt surely die."

"Tell all your friends a long farewell
And get your business right--
The little black train is rolling in
To call for you tonight.' "

"A bold young man kept mocking,
Cared not for the warning word,
When the wild and lonely whistle
Of the little black train he heard."

" 'Have mercy, Lord, forgive me!
I'm cut down in my sin!
O death, will you not spare me?'
But the little black train rolled in."

"Go tell that laughing lady
All filled with worldly pride,
The little black train is coming,
Get ready to take a ride,"

"With a little black coach and engine
And a little black baggage car,
The words and deeds she has said and done
Must roll to the judgment bar."

"Oh, see her standing helpless,
Oh, hear her shedding tears.
She's counting these last moments
As once she counted years."

"She'd turn from proud and wicked ways
She'd Leave her sin, O Lord!
If the little black train would just back up
And not take her aboard."

This song, about a black train which haunted the property surrounding Ms. Donie Carawan's land, was the manifestation of tormented spirits created after Donie cheated on her fiancé, High Fork Railroad owner Trevis Jones, with a man named Cobb Richardson, who worked on the HFR. People believed that Donie convinced Cobb to kill Trevis, who had already willed her his railroad operation and a large plot of land. Cobb was caught, but refused to implicate Conie in the murder. After Cobb's execution, his mother, Mrs. Amanda Richardson, spoke the curse into existence, and the train continued to haunt Conie until she (quite literally) faced her demons.

Though one recording of the song made by Joe Bethancourt employed his own rhythm, believing the song to be a Wellman original, it turned out to actually be a traditional song. You can read more about the song at Fresno State here or on Mudcat here or here (featuring Gargoyle's prescient comment that "links are BS in the long run"). You can hear a nice recording by the Carter Family here.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: GUEST,open mike
Date: 19 May 20 - 03:45 AM

I had the pleasure and joy in 1988 to participate in a local musical dramatic production of "The Ballad of Silver John" we had great fun including a square dance, quilts and the tunes in the production. The script and direction were part of a college thesis, for which our director, I am certain, got a good grade!! The whole deal was on videos but never achieved final production. There was also a musician from Arizona, now deceased, R. I. P. Joe Bethancourt, who recorded a c. D. With many of the songs, Ugly Bird, etc. My copy was lost in the fire that took my home and all possessions. Oh I just noticed that Joe was mentioned above. I wish we had a recording of our play from Chico Calif.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 23 May 20 - 12:25 AM

"Walk Like a Mountain" had 4 songs:
  - "Lonesome River" - p. 145
  - No Hiding Place - p. 148
  - "Strap Buckner" - pp. 150-151
  - John Henry - p. 153

Lonesome River
"By the shore of Lonesome River
Where the waters ebb and flow,
Where the wild red rose is budding
And the pleasant breezes blow,"

"It was there I spied the lady
That forever I adore,
As she was a-lonesome walking
By the Lonesome River shore...."

This one's got me stumped. I really wanted it to be "Young Ronald" because of the song's text of a man fighting a giant for the hand of a woman and how well it worked with the story, but unfortunately the text doesn't scan well enough to make me happy with that selection, and because the ballad has never been recorded in America. Honestly, not sure for this one. I'm really tempted to read it to the tune of "Rose Conelly" but Rose Conelly's is really the opposite mood of what we're going for. "Lonesome River" by the Stanley Brothers is also a tempting guess but still has the same wrong mood and doesn't quite match the pacing of the text to me.

No Hiding Place
"Went to the rock to hide my face,
The rock cried out, 'No hiding place!'..."

This is a short snippet of the hymn, No Hiding Place

Strap Buckner
"Strap Buckner he was called, he was more than eight foot tall,
And he walked like a mountain among men.
He was good and he was great, and the glorious Lone Star State
Will never look upon his like again."

While Strap Buckner is a real life Texas folk hero, I haven't been able to find a single song about him. It reads a lot like John Henry, though, so I'll just say it's a version of that song.

John Henry
"John Henry said to his captain,
'A man ain't nothing but a man,
But before I let that steam drill run me down,
I'll die with this hammer in my hand'...."

"John Henry drove steel that long day through,
The steam drill failed by his side.
The mountain was high, the sun was low,
John he laid down his hammer and he died...."

While the last stanza appears to be more or less a Wellman original, the John Henry song is otherwise one of the most well-known folk songs of the United States, and I find no point in making links elsewhere.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 23 May 20 - 12:51 AM

"On the Hills and Everywhere" had just one song:
  - Go Tell It On the Mountain

Go Tell It On the Mountain
"I was a powerful sinner,
I sinned both night and day,
Until I heard the preacher,
And he taught me how to pray:"

"Go tell it on the mountain,
Tell it on the hills and everywhere,
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ was born!"

Easily one of the most well-known songs of the series, "Go Tell It On the Mountain" was probably the first song on most reader's minds when they saw the title of this story. This is another song well known enough that I don't feel the need to link anything.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 23 May 20 - 02:14 AM

"Nine Yards of Other Cloth had 9 songs:
  - O No John - p. 170, 185
  - Pretty Polly - p. 171
  - Vandy, Vandy - p. 172
  - Little Black Train - p. 172
  - Lights in the Valley - p. 177
  - Pretty Little Pink - pp. 177, 186
  - I Dreamed Last Night Of My True Love - p. 178
  - Nine Yards of Other Cloth - p. 179, 181
  - The Lone Pilgrim - p. 183

The final chapter in my copy of the book, this chapter had more songs mentioned than any other. Pretty Polly is a classic murder ballad which you can read more about here, here, or here, among other places. In the book, it is sung by Obray Ramsey, so it should be no surprise that the opening line of the song matches almost exactly with the version Ramsey sang with his cousin, Byard Ray, old time fiddle player of some renown. Vandy, Vandy, Little Black Train, and I Dreamed Last Night Of My True Love have been previously discussed.

O No John
"On yonder hill there stands a creature,
Who she is I do not know...
Oh no, John, no, John, no!..."

"On yonder hill there stands a creature,
Who she is I do not know,
I will ask her if she'll marry . . .
Oh, no, John, no, John, no!"

This song fit so well with the story that at first I assumed Wellman had just made it up. But, a quick search led me to the site of the inestimable Joe Offer. You can read more about the song here or here.

Lights In the Valley
Lights in the valley outshine the sun--
Look away beyond the blue!

A classic among North Carolina folk musicians (recorded by Doc Watson, Wade and Julia Mainer, Lights In the Valley is believed to have originated as a hymn sung by slaves in the South. Another common name for the song include Do Lord (Remember Me)," while the tune is a clear relative of "Long Journey Home" (aka Lost All My Money/Two Dollar Bill). For further reading, see here, on Mudcat, or plenty of other sites.

Pretty Little Pink
"My pretty little pink, I once did think
That you and I would marry,
But now I've lost all hope of you,
And I've no time to tarry."

"I'll take my sack upon my back,
My rifle on my shoulder,
And I'll be off to the Western States
To view the country over...."

"And don't you think she's a pretty little pink,
And don't you think she's clever,
And don't you think that she and I
Could make a match forever?"

A second song to match the hints that the roving John may settle down and become a married man at the end of this novel. You can see more about this song here or here.

Nine Yards of Other Cloth
"I wove this suit and I cut this suit,
And I put this suit right on,
And I'll weave nine yards of other cloth
To make a suit for John...."

"I'll weave nine yards of other cloth
For John to have and keep,
He'll need it where he's going to lie,
To warm him in his sleep...."

"I came to where the pilgrim lay,
Though he was dead and gone,
And I could hear his comrade say,
He rests in peace alone--"

"Winds may come and thunders roll
And stormy tempests rise,
But here he sleeps with a restful soul
And the tears wiped from his eyes--"

The title name to the short story, this story is one of Wellman's most popular compositions and is the only (currently*) available recording from Joe Bethancourt's CD of songs in the book (listen here) appears to be an original Wellman composition. Bethancourt added two verses between the second and third stanza which go:
"I'll weave nine yards of other cloth
Of linen clean and white
And give the cloth to my friend John
To shroud him in the night..."

"I made my wish before this day
I make my wish tonight
I'll weave nine yards of other cloth
To see John dead in spite."

While the two stanzas above are clearly not traditional, as admitted by Bethancourt, are the rest? As best as I could find, no, and I don't recognize the melody either, though that doesn't necessarily mean it's not traditional.

*Only easily available and mentioned by Wellman, and the only one I'm going to go over. The other mentioned song, "Silver John" (from "The Lost and the Lurking" and "After Dark"), can be heard here. Finally, a live version of Lonesome Water is available online, but that song was not mentioned in Wellman's stories; Bethancourt instead included it because it "probably encapsulates the whole 'feel' of Mr. Wellmann's stories the best of any song I know."

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 23 May 20 - 02:46 AM

Even though I still technically have a few more stories to cover (Owls Hoot in the Daytime, Trill Coster's Burden, Can These Bones Live?, Nobody Ever Goes There, and Where Did She Wander?), I don't have them in paperback form and probably won't read them unless I do.

Handy sites to use when searching for info regarding Wellman:
Link 1 - This is a web-archive of Joe Bethancourt's website for his CD of the song. Though certainly not highly detailed or descriptive, it's a useful and interesting starting point.
Link 2 - A second archived website, this link gives a pretty solid summary of the characters/creatures you encounter while reading the book
Link 3 - the previously-mentioned online link to the Silver John series
Link 4 - a link to the text of the play mentioned by Open Mike above. Not digitized, unfortunately.
Link 5 - the only way I currently know of to hear the rest of Bethancourt's adaptation of the songs: in person at ETSU
Link 6 - if, for whatever reason, you want to watch the (poorly received) 1972 film adaptation, Hillbilly John

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 03:50 PM

Some additions upon receiving Bethancourt's CD in the mail recently:

Bethancourt sang verses to Roving Gambler in a medley with Oh Ugly Bird, validating my comment that the text scanned to the tune well. He sings the lines to Oh Ugly Bird first, then the segments of Roving Gambler quoted in the book, and adds as a final stanza that goes "As through this world I ramble/As through this world I roam/It's nothing but the wanderlust that makes me leave my home," which the notes credit as a composition by Bethancourt.

Still having some trouble identifying the "Old Devlins" song. If anyone thinks they could be of help in identifiying it using the tune from the CD, please PM me.

Additional lyrics from Bethancourt's CD suggest to me further that my assumption that Hark Mountain was based on a derivative of Rye Whiskey. Bethancourt's version is slower than any version I've ever heard, but the tune is definitely right, in addition to the fact that he includes several of the common floating lyrics from the song in addition to Wellman's text. Bethancourt also melds part of Desrick on Yandro to this song, but with different lyrics. He sings "There's a desrick on Yandro hid down in the pines/Where a lady is waiting where the sun never shines." This addition is fitting since the story does reference Yandro.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 08:38 PM

What a fascinating thread. I read Manly Wade Wellman as a kid. Only in my young adulthood, when I got interested in folk music, did I realize that John the Balladeer was singing traditional mountain songs. By then I'd outgrown my adolescent obsession with SF and fantasy and had long since disposed of my Wellman books.

In the early 1990s I was doing research in an archive for a book I was writing. I was the only one there, so when the phone rang, I picked it up. The caller identified himself as Wade Wellman, and a pleasant conversation on matters of mutual interest followed. At one point I asked him if he was related to Manly Wade Wellman, and he told me he was his son. He was then working as an engineer in Milwaukee.

I'm glad to learn that the elder Wellman's stories are back in print. Maybe I'll look them up.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 30 Sep 20 - 10:26 PM

The HAFFNER 2 volume JOHN THEW BALLADEER is nearing publication according to their recent newsletter.

Haffner Press newsletter

Cheers, Thomas.

Manly Wade Wellman's THE COMPLETE JOHN THE BALLADEER is 99% complete! Since our last newsletter, we took receipt of the Afterword to Volume One by folksinger Hedges Capers. For those that may not know, Mr. Capers portrayed John in the 1970s film, Who Fears the Devil? (aka The Legend of Hillbilly John). While few would argue that the film is an entirely successful adaptation of Wellman's work, we're pleased to have Hedges comments on making the film and we also have several heretofore unseen pics of the production of the film, some featuring Manly Wade Wellman and Karl Edward Wagner on location!
    Currently, the preorder offer (with an exclusive chapbook with the unpublished story, "Not All a Dream") is set at $100. The final price is not set, but may climb as high as $120 or $125 for both volumes.
    We've added five images below of page-spreads featuring the work of artist Tim Kirk. Let us know what you think!
    In a future newsletter, we'll share the pricing and contents of the slipcased edition(s?) of THE COMPLETE JOHN THE BALLADEER. If you want to get in early, go ahead and preorder a set and drop us a line that you want to apply your preorder to a purchase of the slipcased edition. Customers who ordered the slipcased edition of THE COMPLETE JOHN THUNSTONE will have their number reserved, so you loyal--and lucky!--folks are covered.
    Finally, after much digital juggling, we have set the contents of both volumes (see below); we are using the "Wagner Chronology" which features the stories in order of creation/publication.

Manly Wade Wellman
Introductions by Stephen Jones and Pat LoBrutto
Afterword by Hedges Capers
Wellman Interview by Karl Edward Wagner
Covers by Raymond Swanland
Interior art by Tim Kirk
Decorated Endsheets
Two Volumes, each a 500+ page Smythe-sewn Hardcover

Pre-Order price: $100

Pre-Order Bonus!!
Shipping with exclusive 32-page chapbook featuring the unpublished short story, “Not All a Dream”!

Volume One:
"Manly Wade Wellman: The Voice of the Mountains"
    by Stephen Jones
"O Ugly Bird!"
"The Desrick on Yandro"
"Vandy, Vandy"
"One Other"
"Call Me from the Valley"
"The Little Black Train"
"Shiver in the Pines"
"Walk Like a Mountain"
"On the Hills and Everywhere"
"Old Devlins Was A-Waiting"
"Nine Yards of Other Cloth"
"Then I Wasn't Alone"
"You Know the Tale of Hoph"
"Blue Monkey"
"The Stars Down There"
"Find the Place Yourself"
"I Can't Claim That"
"Who Else Could I Count On"
"John's My Name"
"Why They're Named That"
"None Wiser for the Trip"
"Nary Spell"
"Trill Coster's Burden"
"The Spring"
The Old Gods Waken (1979)
"Owls Hoot in the Daytime"
After Dark (1980)
Afterword by Hedges Capers

Volume Two:
“They Say He Walks the Mountains Even Now”
    by Patrick J. LoBrutto
"Can These Bones Live?"
"Nobody Ever Goes There"
The Lost and the Lurking (1981)
The Hanging Stones (1982)
The Voice of the Mountain (1984)
"Where Did She Wander?"
"Interview: Manly Wade Wellman"
    by Karl Edward Wagner

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 01 Oct 20 - 03:35 PM

I did email Haffner back in July to ask when the book would be released, but got no reply. With it now stated to be imminent I have placed my order. I will be pleased to re-read stories that I read donkey's years ago and even more pleased to read some that I have not read before.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 08 Oct 21 - 11:36 PM

I was reading the liner notes to an album I recently purchased and was struck by how similar they were to the Silver John stories for at least a section of it. It's got the silver-stringed guitarist, similar language, similar characters, and even Hosea's Hollow (from "Nine Yards of Other Cloth", among others), etc. Importantly, the album is by "White Lightnin'", a band composed of Obray Ramsey (one of Wellman's closest Appalachian friends and informants) and his cousin, Byard Ray. Thought others may find it of interest.

From the "White Lightnin'" album Fresh Air:
That's what's happening here. Byard and Obray have been picking and fiddling at Saturday night square-dances up on Bald Mountain in the Carolina Smokies for the past forty years or more -- "Now, we wouldn't play Liza Jane before it got after midnight," says Obray, "The spirit of Liza Jane doesn't rise up till after midnight," -- rise up! -- that's the hoedown spirit he means. There are an untold unseen number of spirits hovering about in the Smokies, in all those deep dark hollows in the pines like Hoseah's Hollow, whore they say there's a man playing a jetblack fiddle he got from the Devil in barter for his eternal soul, and he plays so-o-o sweetly, and with such malevolent power and amazing grace, that he can lure young girls into his den, fiddle spells on people, and only the wandering mountain minstrel with his guitar strung with strings of purest silver can play him down. You hear a lot of queer tales down there, half-history half-myth, they talk about the dead in present tenses up in Madison County, way up in the Smokies on the very edge of your imagination, where Byard and Obray live -- Bloody Madison, they call it, because there's been a lot of bad bloodthirsty feuding up there; during the Civil war Obray's grandfathers fought on different sides; and still today when you cross somebody's property line he'll make it a point to tell you; there's still a deep-bred suspicion and mistrust between the clans -- the Smokies are haunted, often misty, and there's this thick blue haze that hangs in the valleys but, somehow, whenever you got near it, even when you head straight into it, it vanishes; it's mysterious ghostly territory, and people who've lived there for generations, like the Rays and the Ramseys, have got a faraway gleam in their eyes... what makes the music so wild and misty and narcotic, whether it be a sassy sizzler like Cumberland Gap or Liza Jane, or one of those chilling lonesome laments like Little Margaret that Obray sings in his high mournful tenor like a banshee in the dark, or whether it be a country hymn like Farther Along, what makes Byard and Obray's music not just tunes but trances is the lunacy that's in the air up in Madison County, all those restless spirits prowling about in the moonlight, the spooks of murdered moonshiners and the girls who died of heartbreak. Obray once told me about this old black cat he had that caught a fever, so he took it out into the woods and he was going to shoot it -- he shot once, but the gun jammed; the second time it jammed again -- the cat didn't move -- and it jammed the third time too; so Obray took the old cat back home, but just before he did he fired a couple of wild shots into the pines, and the gun worked fine, there was nothing wrong with it at all... and Obray grins his foxy, deeply inscrutable grin, like George Raft's grin, and his pale eyes shine just a shade brighter than the city folks around him. They say the only fiddler who might've held his own with the demon down in Hoseah's Hollow is Byard Ray.
--liner notes by Michael Thomas

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 17 May 23 - 07:30 PM

news from Haffner Press:
Wellman - Haffner Press

In This Issue:        April 4, 2023

THE COMPLETE JOHN THE BALLADEER by Manly Wade Wellman has been at the printer for the last few weeks and we're satisfied enough that we can give all of you what you've been asking for: a release date. Barring unforeseen events, we expect to take possession of the 1500-copy trade hardcover edition of this incredible two-volume omnibus so as to begin shipping the initial preorders on May 15, 2023. Orders will be processed on a First-in / First-out basis. Please be patient as we work to pack and ship the hundreds of preorders for this title.


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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 01 Aug 23 - 09:30 PM

more news:


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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 10 Mar 24 - 05:10 PM

I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: mikechatty
Date: 10 Mar 24 - 06:03 PM

Delighted to find this thread! I stumbled on a copy of "Who Fears the Devil" last year and recommend it to anyone who likes music or fantasy.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 10 Mar 24 - 09:07 PM

I also am still waiting.

They have announced that the books are ready and being shipped, though
very slowly.

Has anyone gotten their copy ??


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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 01 Apr 24 - 08:13 PM

FYI - package arrived today.
2 books, bonus booklet, corrected jackets.

Anyone else ??


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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 02 Apr 24 - 06:31 PM

Does anyone know of a DVD or BD release of the film based
on 2 Wellman stories: THE LEGEND OF HILLBILLY JOHN (1973) ???

released on VHS and Laser.
on Youtube:

Thanks, Thomas.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: cnd
Date: 02 Apr 24 - 06:38 PM

Looks like it was released on Blu-Ray in 2017:

Several copies for sale on eBay:

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Thomas Stern
Date: 02 Apr 24 - 09:19 PM

I've seen the proposed KINO release, but have not found
any actual release. All the eBay items are either vHS or LD.

Anyone have a legitimate KINO DVD or BD ?????

The film is listed at some "rare movie" purveyors sites, but seem
to be copies of the LD.

Thanks, Thomas.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 21 May 24 - 05:09 PM

I have just had an email from Haffner saying "The time is come to begin shipping the International pre-orders of THE COMPLETE JOHN THE BALLADEER!". I am disappointed that shipping to the UK is costing me nearly as much as the purchase but I am very glad that the long wait is over and I have made the payment.

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Subject: RE: Manly Wade Wellman
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 10 Jun 24 - 11:08 AM

Stephen Haffner was as shocked by the shipping cost as I was and found a cheaper option, so sent me a partial refund, for which he deserves thanks. And my books have just now arrived. Once I bury my nose in the first volume I may not be good for much for a while.

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