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Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood

DigiTrad:
THE JAMESTOWN FLOOD


Related thread:
Lyr Req: Night of the Johnstown Flood (54)


GUEST,Lukas Janda 27 Jul 20 - 03:40 AM
cnd 27 Jul 20 - 09:36 AM
GUEST 27 Jul 20 - 12:05 PM
GUEST,cnd 27 Jul 20 - 12:50 PM
GUEST,Lukas Janda 29 Jul 20 - 08:40 AM
Mysha 29 Jul 20 - 09:48 AM
DonMeixner 29 Jul 20 - 09:55 AM
cnd 29 Jul 20 - 10:18 AM
Mysha 29 Jul 20 - 11:44 AM
cnd 29 Jul 20 - 12:07 PM
Mysha 29 Jul 20 - 01:44 PM
cnd 29 Jul 20 - 01:57 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood by Richard Bennett
From: GUEST,Lukas Janda
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 03:40 AM

Hello, I'm looking for lyrics of Johnstown Flood song as recorded by Richard Bennett on Walking Down the Line album. As I'm not native english language speaker, it's quite difficult for me to understand some parts of lyrics. Thanks in advance.
Here's link to YouTube video of this particular version of this song that I'm looking for.
Johnstown Flood


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: cnd
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 09:36 AM

As transcribed from your linked video:

JOHNSTOWN FLOOD
(Richard E. Bennett)

In 1889 there came a mighty flood
When the South Fork River broke the dam high above
On the 31st of May, when the waters rushed the town
2200 souls were lost as the river held them down

CHORUS
The Johnstown Flood swept the people underground
The Johnstown Flood washed away the town

Patrick Downs had a daughter, a beauty with golden hair
As the water swept her from the bank, her hands were raised in prayer
Among the floating timber, the rubble and the dead
Rode a thundering horseman, a madman it is said

CHORUS

"There must be more" was all he said, there were many to be saved
Cries of anguish stung his ears as the horseman rode away
Day after day, the water, fire and mud
Beat the town to the ground of the river, day-du-duh

Now the few who were lucky and the ones on hard ground
With nothing said to face to dead in that flooded old town

CHORUS

Some 40 years later, some 40 years again
The waters of the river struck Johnstown again


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 12:05 PM

Twenty-two hundred as opposed to 2,200, no offence cnd.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: GUEST,cnd
Date: 27 Jul 20 - 12:50 PM

None taken; I honestly read 2200 as twenty two hundred instead of two thousand two hundred but not everyone does, so it's a good differentiation to make


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: GUEST,Lukas Janda
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 08:40 AM

Thank you very much!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: Mysha
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 09:48 AM

Hi,

Yes, difficult for us with a different mother-tongue.
"... beat the town to the ground as the river gave it up"
Doesn't make much sense either. Not the most easy to understand singer.

I think I'd go for "Now the few who got lucky, and the ones on higher ground,
with nothing said faced the dead ..."

Final chorus has the lines in reverse order.


Probably more can be gleaned from playing it a few more times, changing the volume, the speed and all those tricks. If anyone finds the song worth the trouble, let her/him try, but I'm probably not going to. I don't think there's anything worth saving in it.

BFN
Mysha


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: DonMeixner
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 09:55 AM

From The History Channel:

"""The South Fork Dam in Pennsylvania collapses on May 31, 1889, causing the Johnstown Flood, killing more than 2,200 people.

Johnstown is 60 miles east of Pittsburgh in a valley near the Allegheny, Little Conemaugh and Stony Creek Rivers. It is located on a floodplain that has been subject to frequent disasters. A dam was built in 1840 on the Little Conemaugh River, 14 miles upstream from Johnstown. Nine hundred feet by 72 feet, it was the largest earth dam (made of dirt and rock, rather than steel and concrete) in the United States and it created the largest man-made lake of the time, Lake Conemaugh. The dam was part of an extensive canal system that became obsolete as the railroads replaced the canal as a means of transporting goods. As the canal system fell into disuse, maintenance on the dam was neglected."""

The properties around the lake and dam were owned by some of the wealthiest people in the region. None would take the responsibility to do maintenance and repairs of the dam. They did nothing to see that lake wasn't over filled or additional water was diverted. When the dam broke most lost nothing more than a dock and boat. But the residents of Johnstown and those down river were those who suffered.

Don


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: cnd
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 10:18 AM

Mysha, I agree with most of the second half of your corrections, it should definitely read, in my opinion:

"Now the few who were lucky, and the ones on higher ground,
with nothing faced the dead in that old flooded town"

I'm not convinced on the first one, though. I agree the end starts with a "g" sound, but as you say, gave it up doesn't make much sense.

I don't think the song is *that* bad, it has some really nice guitar work. The singing's certainly not the clearest but it's far from the most garbled I've heard.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: Mysha
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 11:44 AM

Nope; maybe listen again. I don't think he sings "were lucky"; that doesn't quite fit the sounds. The best fit I can find is for "got lucky". Also, I can't help but hearing something between "nothing" and "said". Typo?

Well "gave it up" just filled in a bit of scat in your initial try. I wonder whether the problem is actually in the "water, fire and mud" part. Maybe there's a change there that will give the rest of the sentence meaning.

Yeah, it has some fair guitar work, played slightly too fast, IMO, but what is it doing here? And I think the song really is that bad, with the lyrics not knowing where they are going. It's a disaster ballad, a grim reaper ballad, a lesson and what not.

The Johnstown Flood must have been a serious event, but all I've so far seen it is (are?) sentimental ditties and this. There must be something better than that.

BFN
Mysha


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: cnd
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 12:07 PM

I did have a typo in my last lyrical snippet, but I don't think it's worth worrying more further; we've got the gist of the song.

"What is it doing here?" -- not sure I get the question. Mudcat hosts all kinds of folk music and discussion, "traditional" or not. I really don't get what makes this thread more objectionable than plenty of other discussions. Sure, it's not some song that comes from the British Isles, and it hasn't been passed down orally since the 1800s, but it's a song related to the folk idiom--and I don't think it's a huge stretch to think that.

In my experience, a lot (note: NOT all) of the tragedy songs from America in that period didn't really start as "folk" songs; they started as overly-sentimental poems in newspapers or other local sources and filtered into singing tradition like that, often further simplified and refined. This song is a modern construction, as best as I can find, so it's probably attempting to imitate that tradition. I am, of course, speaking in suppositions, but that's my assumption for the sort of trawling nature of the song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: Mysha
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 01:44 PM

OK, but the OP asked for the lyrics, so though we may not worry about it, it may not be enough for the intended purpose.

Other than that, I wasn't asking about what the song was doing here, but rather what that guitar work is doing in this song. Look, the Devil went down to Georgia has beating the devil as its topic. That theme in itself doesn't need a violin battle, but there is one in that song for a good reason: That violin work is there as it's part of the story.

So, similarly: What is that guitar work doing here in what appears to be intended as a story about a dam giving way? A disaster ballad isn't about the music; it's about the disaster: A recent disaster if it's still news, and a traditional story if it's old. The music should preferably support the story and at the least not hinder it. Here we have guitar work that doesn't seem to do anything in this song except take time that could otherwise have allowed more of the story to be told. So, I wonder why that guitar work is in the song.

I hope that makes the "here" a bit clearer.

BFN
Mysha


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Johnstown Flood
From: cnd
Date: 29 Jul 20 - 01:57 PM

Ah, yes, I see what you mean now, sorry about that!


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