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Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain

DigiTrad:
ADALIDA
CHARLIE RUTLEDGE
LAKES OF PONCHARTRAIN
LAKES OF PONCHARTRAIN 2
LAKES OF THE PONCHARTRAIN (4)
THE LAKES OF PONTCHARTRAIN 3


Related threads:
Lakes of Ponchartrain on banjo (11)
Lyr Req: The Man That Shot the Dog (Mick Quinn) (22)
Chords Req: The Lakes of Ponchartrain (65)
Question about Lakes of Pontchartrain song (36)
Spelling of 'Pontchartrain' ? (16)
Lyr Req: Lakes of Ponchetrain? / Ponchartrain (47)
Lyr/Chords Req: Lakes Of Ponchartrain (Deanta) (13)
Lyr Req: Lakes of Pontchartrain - Irish Words (77)
Lyr Req: On the Banks of Lake Pontchartrain (13)
Lakes of Ponchartrain through Irish lang (7)
Lyr Req: Lakes of Ponchartrain (from Sam Henry) (16)
Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain (2) (closed)
Lakes of Ponchartrain (20)
Banks of Ponchatran...how old? (17)
Recording Req: Lakes of Ponchartrain (17)
Inf. Lakes of Ponchatrain? / Ponchartrain (4) (closed)


GUEST,Mrbisok@aol 04 May 00 - 09:44 PM
Susan A-R 04 May 00 - 09:54 PM
Joe Offer 04 May 00 - 09:56 PM
alison 04 May 00 - 10:15 PM
Murray MacLeod 04 May 00 - 10:21 PM
Malcolm Douglas 04 May 00 - 10:22 PM
GUEST,Mrbisok@aol 04 May 00 - 11:05 PM
Stewie 05 May 00 - 01:21 AM
GeorgeH 05 May 00 - 08:14 AM
Kim C 05 May 00 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,PJ Curtis. 05 May 00 - 01:06 PM
DADGBE 05 May 00 - 01:48 PM
Charlie Baum 05 May 00 - 02:09 PM
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Jon W. 05 May 00 - 05:50 PM
Joe Offer 05 May 00 - 09:26 PM
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Subject: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Mrbisok@aol
Date: 04 May 00 - 09:44 PM

I just finished reading, again, the great lyrics to "Lakes of Ponchartrain." Who first wrote this song, lyrics and tune? Where does it come from? Is there any connection to Hank Williams' "By the banks of Ponchartrain"? This has been on my mind for l0 years, but now that I'm on the net, I can make my questions public.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Susan A-R
Date: 04 May 00 - 09:54 PM

Hmmm, is that the one with THE best line ever "If not for the aligators, I'd sleep out in the woods." or is it a more recent one?

Susan A-R


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 May 00 - 09:56 PM

Hi - the information in the Traditional Ballad Index (click) on this song isn't satisfying, but it's a start. I'm not sure about that date, 1924, that they have listed - I think it's the earliest date they found it in print.
Here's what I found in Sam Henry's Songs of the People:
The Lakes of Ponchartrain
[H619: 12 Oct 1935; Laws H9]

Source: Paddy M'Closkey (Carnamenagh, Corkey, County Antrim), learned from Frank M'Allister (Carnagall, Corkey) c. 1905, learned when a woodsman in America.

This is a very interesting song...Ponchartrain Lakes are five miles north of New Orleans in the state of Louisiana. These lakes are a constant menace to New Orleans, their waters having to be kept away by great earthen dykes. The land there is so waterlogged that no cellar can be built and all tombs are above-ground erections.
A Creole is a native of Louisiana of French extraction.

-Joe Offer-

Lake of Ponchartrain, The [Laws H9]

DESCRIPTION: A young man (Union soldier?), lost in the south, is taken in by a Creole girl. He asks her to marry; she cannot, for she is promised to another who is far away (at sea?). He promises to remember her always
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1922 (Pound)
KEYWORDS: courting separation promise
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,NE,So) Ireland Canada(Mar,Ont,West)
REFERENCES (13 citations):
Laws H9, "The Lake of Ponchartrain"
Flanders-NewGreen, pp. 147-148, "The Lake of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 882, "The Ponsaw Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
Larkin, pp. 46-48, "On the Lake of the Poncho Plains" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peters, p. 134, "On the Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
LPound-ABS, 55, pp. 127-128, "The Creole Girl" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering 45, "The Lake of Ponchartrain" (1 text plus mention of 1 more)
Stout 67, pp. 90-91, "The Creole GIrl" (1 text)
Creighton-NovaScotia 137, "On the Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manny/Wilson 78, "The Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
SHenry H619, pp. 373-374, "The Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-AFS1, pp. 342, "The Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text)
DT 649, PONTCHAR PONCHAR2 PONCHAR3 PONCHAR4

Roud #1836
RECORDINGS:
Sarah Ann Bartley, "Lakes of Ponchartraine" (on Saskatch01)
Walter Coon, "Creole Girls" (Superior 2521, 1930)
Frances Perry, "On the Lakes of Ponchartrain" (AFS, 1946; on LC55)
Pie Plant Pete [pseud. for Claude Moye], "The Lake of Ponchartrain" (Supertone 9717, 1930) (Perfect 5-10-14/Melotone 5-10-14, 1935; rec. 1934)
Art Thieme, "The Lake of Ponchartrain" (on Thieme05)
Mrs. William Towns, "Lakes of Ponsereetain" (on ONEFowke01)

ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Lakes of the Ponchartrain
File: LH09

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: alison
Date: 04 May 00 - 10:15 PM

Heard Andy M Stewart singing this earlier this year.. he claimed it was an American civil war song..... about a soldier who found himself on the wrong side of enemy lines, with the wrong currency hence "my money it is no good"....

The Christy Moore Songbook says "I learned this song in 1966 from the singing of Mike Waterson of Hull. Ponchartrain is situated outside New Orleans and is reputed to be an American Civil war song about a soldier who found himself on the wrong side of the line after the truce and was helped out of his predicament by a woman."

so there's 2 opinions for you...

slainte

alison


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 04 May 00 - 10:21 PM

"Lakes of Pontchartrain" is one of my all time favourites too, especially the "alligator" version, as sung by Paul Brady. The first time I ever heard the song was listening to Paul Brady's set at Cambridge Folk Festival in 1975.

I was told some years ago that the "alligators" in this line is actually a corruption of "Alleghenians", presumably referring to a tribe of Indians. However even my sketchy knowledge of American geography tells me that the Alleghenian mountains are nowhere near Lake Pontchartrain, so this may have been misleading information.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 04 May 00 - 10:22 PM

There are 4 versions on the DT, here,  here,  here,  and  here.  Also worth looking at this thread:   The Lakes of Ponchartrain.  A search through the new "Digitrad and Forum Search" box on the Forum page for "Lakes of Ponchartrain" and "Lily of the West" will also get you lots of additional information.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Mrbisok@aol
Date: 04 May 00 - 11:05 PM

You got it, that's the best line, I've always loved it as I love anyone who loves what I love. Signed, happily married (and retired from 36 years of teaching) Harold from Hawthorne.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Stewie
Date: 05 May 00 - 01:21 AM

My favourite rendition is Martin Simpson's - with a decidedly cajun flavour which suits it admirably.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GeorgeH
Date: 05 May 00 - 08:14 AM

Yup, I'll go with the Martin Simpson recommendation on this . . as I recall he's sung some different arrangements of it over the years.

Great to here Martin featured on the UK's Radio 3 "Late Junction" the other evening - tracks from two very contrasting CDs of his.

G.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Kim C
Date: 05 May 00 - 12:15 PM

It's my understanding that this song goes back at least to the War of 1812 and that the melody is older. Whether that's true or not, I don't know. I have seen several different versions of lyrics. I think it's just one of those that's so old, and has undergone so many transformations, the original composer is lost to history.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,PJ Curtis.
Date: 05 May 00 - 01:06 PM

What!!! Not one mention of Paul Brady's definative version. PJC.


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Subject: Lyr Add: ON THE LAKE OF THE PONCHO PLAINS
From: DADGBE
Date: 05 May 00 - 01:48 PM

Hi all,
There's an unusual version of "Ponchartrain" called "On The Lake Of The Poncho Plains" in Margret Larkin's 1931 book, "Singing Cowboy, A Book of Western Songs". Oak Publications reprinted it in 1963. Ms. Reva Cordell collected it from an unnamed cowboy at a rodeo in the late 1920's.

ON THE LAKE OF THE PONCHO PLAINS

It was late one summer's evening when I bid L.A. adieu,
And started my way to Texas which I was forced to do,
Through swamps of alligators I started my weary way,
Over railroad ties and crossings my weary feet did play.

It was getting late one evening when higher ground I gain,
It was there that I met the Cree girl on the Lake of the Poncho Plains,
"Good evening fair damsel. My money is no good.
If it wasn't for the alligators I'd sleep out in the woods."

She taken me to her mother's house and treated me quite well,
Her raven hair in ringlets around her shoulders fell,
I tried to paint her beauty but found it was in vain,
Oh how handsome was that Cree girl on the Lake of the Poncho Plains.

I begged her then to wed me, she said it ne'er could be,
She said she had a lover and he was far at sea,
She said she had a true lover and true she would remain,
'Till he returned to her again on the Lake of the Poncho Plains.

Adieu to you my pretty miss I may never see you more,
But I'll always remember your kindness that was shown by your cottage door,
It's around the flaming circle, a cup to my lips I drain,
Drink success to the beautiful Cree girl on the Lake of the Poncho Plains.

It's a great piece of folklore where older words have gotten mixed up with newer adaptations. I mean, imagine riding east from Los Angeles through swamps of alligators!! The melody is completely changed too so you'll have to find the book or give me a shout when you're in California and I'll sing it for you.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Charlie Baum
Date: 05 May 00 - 02:09 PM

LA is the abbreviation, not only for Los Angeles, but Louisiana as well.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Peter T.
Date: 05 May 00 - 02:43 PM

Makes sense to me: in Puccini's Manon Lescaut, the heroine dies of thirst in the deserts of Louisiana.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Jon W.
Date: 05 May 00 - 05:50 PM

But Louisiana was pretty big in 1803 when Jefferson Purchased it and included some areas considered to be desert back then (the Great Plains).


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 May 00 - 09:26 PM

OK, I don't want to be a wet blanket around here or anything, but here we have scholars as esteemed as Charlie Baum and The Artist Known Only By His Guitar Tuning (DADGBE), and we still don't have a solid answer to the original question. It seems like this is a song that everybody has known forever, but yet we can't find mention of it before Sam Henry's contention that it was heard in Ireland in 1905. Helen Creighton put in in Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia (1932), but doesn't give a date for it. I believe the tune is often also used for Peter Emberley, isn't it?
So, allow me to repeat the original question - when and where does this song come from?

I've been tempted to do this at our Wednesday night sing, but I'd much rather have DADGBE grace us with his presence and sing his Los Angeles version for us. How 'bout it, Ray?

-Joe Offer in Sacramento-


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Mbo
Date: 05 May 00 - 09:31 PM

No no, Andy M. Stewart's version is THE best, with Gerry O'Beirne playing dobro along with him. Goosebumps!

--Mbo


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 05 May 00 - 09:38 PM

If I remember right, there was a thread on this song and a possible relationship to Flora the Lily of the West in rec.music.folk last year. Maybe worth a look in deja news but all I seem to remember is the same tune being used to by somebody.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: raredance
Date: 06 May 00 - 02:38 PM

Well Joe, it seems clear the 1924 early date of publication from the Traditional Ballad Index is not correct. A text version of it was collected in Ohio and published by Tolman in the Journal of American Folklore Vol 35, which was 1922. this is cited by both Laws and Randolph. Randaolph also says it can be foun in Americn Ballads and Songs by Louise Pound also published in 1922. Randolph's collection was in 1924 from a Mrs Carrie Baber of Pinville, MO. Mrs. Baber stated that she learned the song about 1898 and that she always wondered about the title. She said, "It don't seem to make sense, but that's what it is..." The reason being is that her version had the line "From the banks of the Ponsaw Train". So either she corrupted it or her source in the late 1890's had it messed up. If an incorrect version dates from 1898, then you might argue that the correct version predates that. Both Randolph and Laws also mention a version by Stout in "Folkore From Iowa" where the stanzas end witrh the line "on the Lakes Upon". Stout's work was published in 1936. A version is also found in "The New Green Mountain Songster" by Flanders and Barry (1939). They put forth the proposition that LOP is a companion piece to "The Little Mohea". IN Mohea, the man declines the marriage proposal because he has a girl at home. In LOP it is reversed, the girl refuses the proposal because of a lover away. They state "It is very probable that the author knew and imitated 'The Little Mohea'". Flanders and Barry also claim that theirs is the first pinted version with music. They obviously did not have a copy of Creighton's Ballads and Songs of Nova Scotia. The two tunes, however, are not the same.

Time to go back out and do some more gardening

rich r


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Brendy
Date: 07 May 00 - 01:40 AM

Whatever about whatever and whosever version is the best, Paul Brady's is the definitive version and all subsequent versions have been in one way or another influenced by it.

Good on you P.J.
Apropos an earlier question in an earlier thread:
We have at least one mutual friend, and I'm sure more, in the famous vet from Tulla, having lived around Tulla, Feakle, and Ennis for many years. Many's the note I have had with Eoin and Mary and the gang out and about in Clare. I live in Norway now (Oslo) and do my 'thing' over here (playing and writing). If you follow the links to bbc's resource page you will find a non too flattering picture of me along with my E-mail.

I always loved your shows on Clare FM and listened religiously to them. I was going to provide a link there, but I see you have moved to Lyric FM.

Fair play to you, my man. It's good to see you here.

Brendan McKeever


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Brendy
Date: 07 May 00 - 01:44 AM

Sorry. I put a link in that didn't work. This one shouldP.J. Curtis

BTW If you see Austin Durack - tell him I said hello.

B.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,PJ Curtis.
Date: 07 May 00 - 05:00 AM

Brendan, Nowhere to run ....nowhere to hide!!. Nice to meet you in Mudcat land. Ill pass your regards to our mutual friend. Yes, I do a worldmusic/roots/trad. prog . on LyricFm 'Reels To Ragas' wed 7-8pm (www.lyricfm.ie). also a prog. called Rhythm & Roos on Radio 1 Sun 8-9pm (www.rte.ie) I must get around to playing Paul Brady's version of The lakes of Ponchartrain soon. best wishes from all in Co. Clare, PJc


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Frankie
Date: 07 May 00 - 08:44 AM

BTW, Paul Brady recorded Ponchartrain (as well as Arhtur McBride) again for his Nobody Knows collection which mostly contains his original Rock/Pop numbers. To my ears the newer version is even better than the original on Welcome Here Kind Stranger, if that's possible.
Drop D, thanks for the very cool cowboy version.

Frankie


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: DADGBE
Date: 07 May 00 - 07:26 PM

Hi Frankie,
A pleasure! Check out the book for the melody, it's pure cowboy through and through.

Hi Joe,
If I ever get free of friday night gigs, Jane and I'd love to come and sing! Although the world knows me as DADGBE, my close friends call me herr professor doktor DADGBE.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: IanC
Date: 08 May 00 - 05:23 AM

Joe

We seem to be getting there quite fast. Don't forget folk music isn't an exact science.

If you're looking to pin down an origin, though, it's often useful to find a logical earliest date as well as a latest date (as we are doing so far). Any offers on when the items in the song could have been first assembled (creole girls, pontchartrain etc.) ??

Cheers!

IanC


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Kim C
Date: 08 May 00 - 04:38 PM

It may be we haven't come across a definitive answer simply because there isn't one. I don't like that either, but sometimes that's what happens when you try to date a song ----- the dates just aren't available for whatever reason. Just because a song was collected in 1898 or 1922 or whatever doesn't mean it wasn't around LONG before then. Songs can get passed around bookoos of times before they're ever seen in print. If you were to say that it has its origins -sometime- in the 19th century, you would probably be quite correct. ------------ KFC


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Subject: Lyr Add: LAKES OF PONCHARTRAIN (Illinois version)
From: Art Thieme
Date: 08 May 00 - 06:16 PM

This is "definitely" from Illinois !?

It was on the 3rd of January I bid Cairo town adieu,
Traveled down the river road my fortune to pursue,
No money in my pocket--no credit could I gain,
And my mind it turned with longing to the lakes of Ponchartrain.

I swung on board of an old boxcar just as the day did dawn,
I rode the rods from sun to sun---then I lit down again,
As the shades of evening fell the lowground I did gain,
And 'twas there I met a creole girl on the shores of Ponchartrain...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Brendy
Date: 08 May 00 - 10:43 PM

Good man P.J.

I hope you don't mind if I put the links in.

1: Lyric F.M. Homepage

2: RTÉ Online

It is good to know where you are these days.
I used to really love the evenings and nights on Clare FM; special times, special memories.

B.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Arkie
Date: 09 May 00 - 12:18 AM

Isn't this song also sometimes known as "The Creole Girl"?


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: IanC
Date: 09 May 00 - 07:55 AM

I've been looking at the broadside ballads in the Bodleian Library collection. There are a number of copies of a C19th ballad called "The Indian Lass" which appears to have quite a few features in common with the Banks of Pontchartrain song, including the approxiamte location. The slant is slightly different, but it has the element of the stranger made welcome.

By the way, Planxty do my favourite version. What does definitive mean in this context?


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Brendy
Date: 09 May 00 - 06:25 PM

The definitive version in any context means the version that defines the song; the benchmark by which all else is judged; Of recognized authority or excellence, perhaps. Authoritative, classical, determinate, unequivocal. Then of course we could have, conclusive, explicit, expressed, standard.

Or to be more obtuse "Pick the bones out of that one!"

Incidentally, have you listened to Paul's version on 'Your welcome here kind stranger'? You'll know what is meant then.*BG*

B.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: MartinRyan
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 04:52 PM

What tunes do we have for this - apart from the one Paul Brady uses? I heard a guy singing it to Irish Molly/The Sash the other day. I know I've heard it used before but am damned if I remember who or when.

Regards

p.s. Helen Creighton was the oldest reference I remember coming across. Must have another look.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: MartinRyan
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 05:00 PM

In fact THIS interesting article makes the same link.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Brendy
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 05:00 PM

There's a few of them, all right.
I use the melody Paul uses, but one of the other melodies is on the tip of me tounge, so to speak.

B.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Brendy
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 05:22 PM

Nice one, Martin.
I particularly liked his oblique reference to Dr. Oliver Sacks' book on Aphasiacs - "The man who mistook his wife for a hat"

B.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: raredance
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 10:06 PM

I found an abbreviated version of LOP in "Folk songs Out of Wisconsin" by Harry Peters. The notes say that it was sung by Mrs. Fances Perry of Black River Falls in 1946. Mrs. Perry said that the song came from the mountain people of Georgia. The tune included is not the usual one and sounds sort of familiar to me, but I am unable to place it. The claim of a Georgia origin is interesting since most of the collected versions seem to come from up north.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,John of the Hill
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 10:19 PM

Art, Maybe it should be pointed out that it is kay-ro or care-o, anything but kie-ro. Thanks for posting that version, I'll have to sing it around the campfire at the Stringbender Festival at Cairo this fall. John


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Axeman
Date: 01 Jun 00 - 11:29 PM

I'm indebted for all the citings! All hail to Paul Brady, and especially to his latest version on "Nobody Knows" which I find electrifying. I loved looking at the big Lake flying N. away from the Big Easy! As I recall, Nanci Griffith does a bnice version too. -Axe'


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 Jun 00 - 01:56 PM

Singing it to the tune of The Sash? Now that could be fun. It's a great tune after all.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Ship'scat
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 11:43 AM

With applogies to Joe and all but us amateur navigators have buttons too:

Ponchartrain Lakes are five miles north of New Orleans in the state of Louisiana.

Actually Lake Pontchartrain is on the border of the city of New Orleans and Orleans Parish (our equivilent of county). 5 Miles north of New Orleans is in the middle of the lake which itself is 24 miles wide at the Causeway connecting the South shore (New Orleans) with the North shore (Mandeville, Covington, Folsom, etc)

New Orleans is bounded by the Mississippi River on its South (and East and West which is why we are called the Crescent City) and by Lake Pontchartrain on its North. Locals don't use points of the compass but "river-side" and "lake-side" to communicate directions.

The distance between the Lake and the River is 4.98 miles at its narrowest and 8.03 at its widest. (Its 4.17 between river and lake in the suburb of Metairie)

These lakes are a constant menace to New Orleans, their waters having to be kept away by great earthen dykes.

The great earthen dykes are called levies

As an aside, New Orleans is bounded on the East and West by aligator-infested wetlands (swamps). The gators stocked are harvested on an annual cycle with the proportion males to females carefully controlled by incubating the gathered eggs. So much for romance!


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 03:32 PM

Informative contribution, Ship'scat. So now I can be certain that "alligators " is not a corruption of "Alleghenians " ?

Murray


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 Jun 00 - 04:15 PM

They had this programme about Croc hunting in Australia the other night on our telly. Strewth, you wouldn't catch me sleeping out in the woods if any of them fellas were about...


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: JedMarum
Date: 31 May 01 - 11:48 AM

so what did we decide? why is his moeny no good? I sing a variation of this version and use a DADF#AD tuning (D major).

The story in all the versions I've seen seem to report a real experience of an almost romance - I find it hard to believe the original version was not written by someone who had this experience. The other circumstances change a bit. It seems possible it's a story from just after the US Civil War; my money's no good, and I curse all foreign money - a Confederate soldier would have felt the US currency to be foreign, perhaps, but he also would have found his confederate currency worthless for some time, even if he had any - and it is likely that following the CW he would have need of renewing his fortune. I am just convinced the song describes this era accurately. BUT, the main issue of the song, of course is the relationship ... so what matter when ... or even where?

Any more thoughts on the song?


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Peter T.
Date: 31 May 01 - 01:49 PM

Jed, How do you do your version? (if you wanted to send me a Personal Message, that would be nice, or you can roll along here, depending on the alligators). I have been working on it in open D for awhile, and cannot get the hang of it. The chord structure seems so wayward, and the changes are so fast. Where do you place the chords, or do you do the melody, or how? I would be very grateful for any advice. I have been stuck on it.

yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: JedMarum
Date: 31 May 01 - 04:02 PM

Peter - there may be others who have interest in reading this info, so I'll respond on the forum.

I actually use an open D major tuning that is based upon a Nashville tuning; ie. the bottom four strings are an octave higher then the standard tuning. This creates an odd octave break between the 3rd and the 2nd string. It also creates a very pretty combination of high notes on the botton, with drone strings on top. There is a more detailed article about this tuning here, but I am now doing this with a full sized guitar too.

Anyway - this tuning adds to beauty of this haunting melody. I do use a slight variation of the melodies linked in the DT ... I will make a tape and send it to you, if you provide me with your mailing addr via PM.

To play the song, I finger pick and brush playing the melody a bit while I sing ... I use a chord that looks like the standard E7 and slide it up the neck to make the run from the root to the 4 chord, then use a minor based chord (with drones) and the 5 chrod. I could actually do a chart for this pretty easily. Then I'll post it. It should be done today. I'll be back with a link!


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Mr Red
Date: 31 May 01 - 04:13 PM

Art Thieme
"Riding the Rods" is pretty well documented
for those not familiar
Derroll Adams reckoned that Woody Guthrie told him that hobos would hook their legs and hands over the axles of boxcars and travel un-noticed by the company henchmen
the point is this was a common practice during the depression
but how much earlier was it done?
when would the phrase be coined?
the "Riding the Rods" version has a twentieth century ring to it.

BTW Derroll Adams said the railroad henchmen had poles with iron spikes at right-angles which they poked under the boxcar from the roof, while in motion!
probably at slow speed but brutal times!

I like this background info, it helps my wish to sing a song, I sing the Ride the Rods version but the tune is very Irish. Is this surprising, it is probably the version with the Irish connection.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: JedMarum
Date: 31 May 01 - 09:32 PM

I wondered about 'ride the rods' - thanks for the update. And now that I think of it, what a wonderful reason for young man to carry the lifelong habit of drinking a 'flowing bowl' at each social gathering, to this young beauty!

I am sorry to say I did not get the opportunity to write the chart today, and I'm going out of town in the morning. I will complete it, though and have a link posted by Tuesday (6/5).


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Art Thieme
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 12:07 PM

The version I did on my old cassette ON THE RIVER had not only the "Cairo" --- "rode-the-rods" differences.

So adieu to you my creole girl that I'll never see no more,
But I'll ne'er forget your kind carress in that cottage by the shore...

Yes, she was true to the guy who went to sea------but there was more to this than arms length courting happening. And more power (and a health) to them both.

A lovely story I've always though.

Art Thieme (P.S.---Go see Shakespeare In Love)


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Jun 01 - 05:16 PM

The tune sounds old and familiar, very "Irish" or British Isles. The railroad references at the earliest have a late 19th or early 20C origin, but I wouldn't be surprised if someone comes up with the tune in a much older context. Many thanks to DADGBE for the Poncho Plains version. No one has mentioned Lomax- did he ever collect Lakes of the Ponchartrain?


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 04 Jun 01 - 11:32 PM

There are several tunes to which this song is sung, but I imagine you're talking about the one popularised by Planxty and, later, Paul Brady.  That tune is obviously related to Come All You Tramps and Hawkers (a relatively recent title), which was one of the tunes associated with [Blooming] Caroline of Edinburgh Town.  There are quite a few references to these, and to Lily of the West in the DT and Forum, but I'm far too tired to supply exhaustive links; you can find them all for yourself via the "Digitrad and Forum Search" on the main Forum page.  There's a particularly useful example at  The Max Hunter Folk Song Collection:

Caroline of Edingboro Town  As sung by Mr. C. W. Ingenthron in Walnut Shade, Missouri on November 19, 1958.  The resemblance is unmistakable.  The "original" melody probably has an even chance of being Scottish or Irish -it turns up fairly consistently in both countries, and has of course been found in England, too- but perhaps somebody else will be able to supply more precise details.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Jun 01 - 12:59 PM

I sang it to "Come All You Tramps And Hawkers".

Art


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jun 01 - 04:08 PM

Don't blame Malcolm for being tired. I have gone through some of the threads, especially his, and obviously some of us (my only excuse is that I am relatively new to Mudcat) have been chasing our tails on this one for a long time. It obviously is an old tune that lends itself well to a number of lyrics, old and new. The Max Hunter-collected version of Caroline of Edingboro Town is worth listening to.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Art Thieme
Date: 14 Jun 02 - 11:56 AM

We either will or we won't come to the "correct" decision on which was the right/original tune sung for this. At this late date, it just doesn't matter. For me, "TRAMPS AND HAWKERS" is the one that fits best. Also gives the song the best looking back longingly at what might have been feel to the song. So many of us know this bitter/sweet feeling from personal experience. Now, though, we can e-mail with just the click of the mouse and be in touch with the CREOLE GIRL----over the miles and the years...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Jun 02 - 01:20 PM

Your post reminds of another of my old favorites: "My Pretty Quadroon." Probably would get disapproving glances if you sang it today.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Ben
Date: 14 Jun 02 - 04:20 PM

I heard Aly Bain and Phil Cunningham play The Lakes of Pontchartrain and Midnight On The Water as an instrumental set at the Playhouse in Alnwick, England. It worked well- maybe they have recorded the set.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: JedMarum
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 01:16 AM

'tis a lovely song ... lots of variations; melodies and lyrics. I play it often.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Clara Pincus
Date: 13 Feb 04 - 09:37 PM

There is a great version of this song by the Be Good Tanyas on their Blue Horse album, 2000.


http://www.begoodtanyas.com/begood.php?loc=albums


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 01:26 PM


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: JedMarum
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 01:36 PM

Looks like I could run for political office, judging by the promises I made above, and did not keep! I had offered to develop a chart and post it. What was I thinking???

I have taken to playing this song in normal open D (VESTAPOL) tuning too, not just in the high strung configuration I mention above. I've heard variations on the melody - I'm not sure what melody I use, but it is the one I heard from tape a friend gave me ... a live performance by someone I do not know.

I played this song at almost every show in New Orleans over the last two weeks, and if I didn't, it was requested. I wish the song was as well known throughout the music world.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 01:36 PM

I went back through all the different threads concerning this great song, looking for tablature for the popular open-D-tuning version. I *thought* I had found tabs a year or so ago, but didn't study up and learn the song back then. Now I'm motivated to take a serious stab at it, but I couldn't find tabs in any of the threads.

I'm refreshing *this* thread rather than any of the others because it contains a "tease" -- way back in '01, Jed Marum (who does a very nice rendition) had volunteered to post a chart "later today."

Here's a link I found containing tabs for an arrangement that is purportedly Paul Brady's, which seems to be considered more-or-less definitive. I haven't yet started trying to work it up, so I can't vouch for its correctness/completeness, but I'm hoping for the best:

http://www.expectingrain.com/dok/atlas/pontchartrain.html

Hey Jed: If this differs from the way you know the song, want to post any corrections?

PS: Sorry about the empty message I accidentally posted a moment ago -- my bad!


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 01:45 PM

Quick response, there, Jed! We must both be online at the same time.

Of course, I wasn't aware that Jed had posted his immediate response while I was writing my message after inadvertently sent an empty "refresh" message.

Incidentally, I caught his act at O'Flaherty's in New Orleans last week -- he was great. He asked for a request as soon as my wife and I walked in the door, and of course I asked for this number. After finishing up, he asked "How'd you know I would know that song?" My first response was "Just a wild guess," but then I had to own up to knowing him via Mudcat.

(This was my first-ever real life encounter with any fellow Mudcatter, by the way.)

Maybe we're both writing simultaneously again, and cross-posting. I'll shut up and make sure it doesn't happen a third time. Hope the above link is a good one and several of you put it to use. Over and out.

Pops


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Stephen
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 03:36 PM

Yeah, I second that vote for the Be Good Tanyas' version... phenomenal!


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: JedMarum
Date: 01 Aug 04 - 11:05 PM

I looked at the chart linked above, and noted that the lyrics pretty much the same as the ones I sing - but I use a different tuning. I don't really know how to write a chart for the way I play it in open D, because I have pretty much constant movement going, and don;t settle too often on whole chords. I will put some thought into it, though. I started out with a chord progression, and I believe I can reconstruct that. Maybe I can chart the song in standard tuning ...

I'll look at it tonight ...


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: JedMarum
Date: 02 Aug 04 - 11:49 PM

fooled with this a bit today. I'll work out a chart for standard tuning, using the melody I sing. It seem like that mat work best.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 03 Aug 04 - 10:59 AM

Christy Moore does a good job with this, pre-Paul Brady, Planxty days


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 15 Aug 04 - 09:23 PM

I've been searching, on and off for weeks, for the "right" tabs for this tune. The open-G version I mentioned above (August 4) is all over the internet, in three versions that differ only in the level of detail and the introductory paragraph. They all seem to be the work of one Barry Hutchinson, who says he doesn't guarantee they represent the original, just his best approximation.

However, I'm pretty sure that the renditions I've seen and heard and want to emulate (Jed's, and that of a regular at Gogarty's in Temple Bar, Dublin) are in open-D tuning.

I finally found this one:

http://www.paulbrady.com/tablature/lakespontchartrain.asp

which is a bit ambiguous -- it is said to be in open D, but the tuning is described in detail as open D-minor: D A D F# A D. I suppospe the only recourse is to try playing the tablature two ways, with the "G" string tuned down one half step and also one full step.

Well, I think I have enough to work with now to start trying to learn this. I have very little experience and absolutely no comfort level with open and alternate tunings, but I'm motivated to learn this version of this song; maybe this will be the start of learning a whole new bag of tricks.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 07:05 PM

D A D F# A D ain't open D-minor, it is simply Open D.

Major.

D B D F# B D would be open D -minor


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 08:41 PM

Oops !

Glad I got back to this in time.

open D-minor would be: D A F D A D

The tuning I posted previously is of course open B-minor.


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Subject: RE: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 01:17 PM

Thanks, Murray -- my bad.

It should be only too obvious that:
(1) I am still much less than conversant with non-standard tunings, and
(2) that I hadn't even tried to retune and start reading the tablature when I made that last post. Of course, I could have tuned to the major chord by ear without realizing that the G-string had been tuned down to F#, not F.

Mistaking B-minor for D-minor, of course, is certainly understandable, since B-minor is the relative minor for key of D.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Aug 04 - 03:12 PM

Isn't Cajun the proper name for a person from Lousiana of French origin, with Creole referring to African-Americans (as in "My Creole Belle")?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 19 Aug 04 - 05:00 PM

Cajun is a corruption or abbreviation of "Acadian" -- it refers specifically to the people of French ancestry who fled Nova Scotia (formerly Acadia) when the British defeated the French. Sorry, don't have the date at my fingertips, but this happened well after Louisiana had become an established French colony.

These refugees from maritime Canada were seeking a new French-speaking homeland, and many of them found their way to the swamps and prairies of southwest Louisiana, where they preserved their language and unique culture well into the 20th century.

Not all Louisianans of French ancestry and/or culture have been Cajuns -- the term refers specifically to members of this originally isolated rural community with its own unique music, rustic cuisine, etc.

The word "Creole" comes from the Spanish "crillo," which originally referred to the first generation born in the "New World," offspring of settlers from Europe (Spain or France). It has come to mean different things to different people; the most controversial aspect of the various debates is probably whether the term "Creole" refers to white or to black/mixed-race people. (Way back during the days of that first generation of American-born "Creoles," there may have been disagreement over whether the term was restricted to kids with two white parents, as opposed to those born to a Frenchman and an African or Native American woman.) You'll find staunch proponents of one interpretation to the exclusion of the other, plus plenty of us who accept "either/or."

Whether referring to Caucasians or colored folk, the adjective "Creole" usually connotes a more urban, aristocratic, and/or sophisticated cultural quality than the funky down-home "Cajun."

One very common meaning for "Creole" refers to the New Orleanian population of light-skinned black folks (most of them no more than 1/16 or 1/32 African) whose ancestors were never slaves and who maintain their own little elite society to this day.

Another meaning for "Creole" refers to any and all French-speaking black people of southwest Louisiana, the community that developed Zydeco music. Unlike most of the other meanings, "Creole" in this context has absolutely no connotation of urbanity or aristrocracy. These Creoles come in all shades of brown and black, including pure African blue-black, and they're farmers, not city folk. Of course, their numbers do include royalty, such as Clifton Chenier, the late great King of Zydeco.

A couple of us debated meanings of these terms in another recent thread on this same song, along with a few other questions and opinions brought up by the lyrics -- you might be interested.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Aug 04 - 12:24 AM

"Creole" is further complicated when usages in the Dominican Republic, Trinidad, Venezuela, etc. are added to the mix.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Ljung
Date: 20 Aug 04 - 02:20 AM

Hi Murray
I am Kerstin from Sweden and I only want to say thank you for the short moment in Pitlochry, when I got the opportunity to listen to your music. The person who "recommend" you is Kenny Baxter, but you have only "talked" to each other in Mudcat.
I had a nice trip back to Sweden, and now I have to start planning for my next trip to Bonnie Scotland. Can I get your e-mail address?
Take care and CARPE DIEM
Kerstin    kerstin.lo@comhem.se


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 20 Aug 04 - 07:05 AM

Doesn't seem that anybody yet has mentioned the bluegrass version by Jim Smoak and the Louisiana Honeydrippers (I think that's the correct group name) I have two vinyl albums of theirs at home, one on Prestige and one on Folk Lyric. Not being at home at present can't tell you which one it's on. I think that is where I first heard it.
More up tempo than many of the more recent versions.

Incidentally, I thought that during heavy rains in New Orleans which I've had the misfortune to experience on more than one occasion that the excess surface water was pumped into Lake Pontchartrain. Do I have that right ?

Re Riding the rods, aren't these the brake rods underneath the wagon parrallel to each other across which the board was laid ?

An interesting thread and no insulting language and snide remarks which so often seem to creep in and mar the worthwhile contributions.

Keep on pickin'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 20 Aug 04 - 03:27 PM

Hootenanny,

Yes, excess rainwater is *often* pumped into Lake Pontchartrain. The city of New Orleans is basically bowl-shaped, lowest in the middle between the lake and the Mississippi River, and the average elevation is below sea level. The riverfront has always been the highest part of the city, and both the riverbanks and the lakeshore have been further elevated by levees. There is an extensive system of pumping stations and drainage canals (some of them underground) designed to rid the city of floodwater by moving it into the lake.

The capacity of the pumps is something like 2 or 3 inches of rainfall per hour. When we get really torrential rains, over 3 inches per hour, the streets start to flood, and then some houses.

You are also correct about "riding the rods," which refers to the underside of railroad cars (wagons).

And finally, you are also right about this remarkably civil thread. Like all half-dozen or more current and recent discussions of this topic, all participants are nice as can be. I suppose it says something about those of us who are interested, more of less equally, in things Irish and Louisianan.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 07:29 AM

Someone here posted that 5 miles out of New orleans is smack dab in the middle of the lake. My question is, wouldn't the city have grown since Sam Henry compiled his book?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 01:06 PM

Five miles north of N. O. would put you five miles into the Lake, but not in the middle, since at that point the Lake is some 20 miles wide. Lake Shore Drive and housing developments are along the south shore of the Lake. This is a fair bit north of the old French Quarter. Don't know how old the subdivisions on the lakeshore are.
Poppagator could tell you.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 05:50 PM

The Lake Vista neighborhood was reclaimed from the lake bottom, laid out, and built by the New Orleans Levee Board in the mid-1930's. They built a seawall, thereby creating a well-defined lakeshore, about a mile or so beyond (i.e., north of) where mostly-dry land formerly began gradually turning into swamp and then lake. The neighborhood is a notable example of a planned community ~ houses face each other across parklike, unpaved "commonses" while vehicular traffic navigates streets towards which the backs of the houses (and the fronts of the garages) face.

My late mother-in-law used to say that Lake Vista and the larger "Lakeview" district of which it is a part were "built on eggshells and coffee grounds." It is definitely true that the land upon which this pricey real estate is built is less than stable, thanks to being reclaimed from the Shores of the Pontchartrain. Streets need repaving much more often than in other areas of the city, and even the foundations of houses are shakier there than elewhere.

This has probably been explained well enough already, but: Yes, the city has "grown," but in regards to its northern boundary, the growth (in terms of reclaimed lake bottom) only means that the north shore of the lake is only 26 miles away now, instead of 27 or 28. Five miles north of town is still way out in the water.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 22 Jun 05 - 05:55 PM

Ok, just wondering.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,hg
Date: 13 Oct 07 - 02:20 PM

I went looking for a version of this song on iTunes for my Shuffle (which I love) and I found Jed Marum's version. Very sweet, Jed. Thanks you for recording it. Abby


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Rowan
Date: 14 Oct 07 - 01:08 AM

G'day PoppaGator,
When you wrote (on 19 Aug 04) that
"The word "Creole" comes from the Spanish "crillo," which originally referred to the first generation born in the "New World," offspring of settlers from Europe (Spain or France). It has come to mean different things to different people"
I was reminded of one of the different meanings that linguists apply to it.

A paper in Scientific American (from about 20 years ago) described the influences (local Polynesian, Philippino, Japanese and English, as I recall) that created the "creole" language used in Hawa'i and that was my first exposure to the term in that context. I vaguely recall the author made a distinction between creole languages and pidgin but can't now bring the details to mind.

Because of the high number of language groups in the Top End of the Northern Territory in Oz, many local Aboriginal people speak about 10 different languages and English is pretty well last on their list. To facilitate communication between disparate groups, a "creole" (as linguists would call it) has developed among Aboriginal people there and one of its features is ruthlessly simplified spelling when written. Which is why, when the name of this creole language is written, it is spelled Kriol.

And technically, I'm a Balanda (pronounced with the emphasis on the first syllable). Enough thread drift from me, on a really interesting thread.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Susan A-R
Date: 31 Jan 10 - 10:06 PM

Thanks magic thread person. I guess it's still ambiguous about 10 years later, but it is still a great song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Tradsinger
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 05:03 AM

I always think of this song as a version of the English folksong "The Indian Lass", which is related to "The Little Mohi", well-known in the States. Can anyone trace the lineage?

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 01:44 PM

Hi Alice in 2010!

I popped over here after seeing that your newer thread had been quickly closed. I'm sure you've noticed by now that there is a "T" in "Pontchartrain."

I am absolutely convinced that this song has to have had its origins in the 1830s, when the first wave of 19th-century famine in Ireland drove so many immigrants to the US ~ specifically, to New Orleans, where plenty of unskilled labor was available digging the New Basic Canal, which would run from Lake Pontchartrain several miles into the center of town.

Most of the laborers were immigrants, mostly Irish, and huge numbers died of Yellow Fever. The word got back to Ireland that New Orleans was a very dangerous desitination, and subsequent waves of immigration from Ireland very consciously avoided Louisiana.

Since Irish folk came to this area only during this relatively brief period, and since they worked so close to the lakeshore, AND since the song is about the only example within the Irish-traditional repertoire that includes any reference to the New Orleans area, I'm sure that there must be some connection.

Whoever wrote it probably either hurried back home to Ireland before he'd die of a tropical disease, or perhaps was an Irishman who stayed home and culled the setting and other refences from letters received from friends and family who had left him behind. There are several clearly mistaken geographical bits (for starters, there's only one Lake Pontchartrain, not plural "lakes"), which might support the idea of the author writing from across the ocean based on his understanding of correspondence from Louisiana. However, even a person right on the scene might not have had an accurate big-picture map in his mind. God only knows how confusing it must have been to be up to one's knees in a swamp, in the middle of an epidemic!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Susan A-R
Date: 01 Feb 10 - 10:18 PM

I had wondered. I've read the wonderful series of 1830s mysteries set in New Orleans by Barbara Hambly (well researched, starting with Free Man of Color) and all of the information you lay out is in there, as well as the fact that things were really still shaking down between the French and the Americans, so maybe the "foreign money" refrence fits that. Some of those guys did survive (There is a pretty remarkable St. Patrick's Day celebration to this day in New Orleans, but perhaps that's just the partying city celebrating whenever given a chance?)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 07:42 PM

Several commentators have guessed that the "foreign money" in the song had to do with Confederate vs Union currency, which doesn't fit the time-line of the theory I believe, which has the narrator living in New Orleans more than 20 years earlier.

Back in the 1830s (and even later, through the Civil War), there was no standarized nationwide paper money ~ different local banks issued their own bills, hence the word "banknote." The proliferation of different-looking dollar bills may have looked confusing to a newcomer used to life under the more-tightly-organized British crown. Or maybe banknotes from one's hometown bank were not recognized once you traveled out of town, requiring the traveler to go to a local bank to exchange currency.

(Aside: The ten-dollar bills issued by Francophone institutions in New Orleans prominently dislayed the word "DIX" (french for "ten"); some believe that this is the origin of the terms "Dixie" and "Dixieland.")

I belong to the Irish Channel St Parick's Day Marching Club and participate in the oldest of the city's several Irish-themed parades each March. The organization was founded shortly after WWII, when veterans from the very tight community in the Irish Channel neighborhood began scattering into the suburbs to take advantage of the GI housing bill. (Those postwar loans were available only for NEW housing, presumably thanks to the construction lobby. The money could NOT be used to buy and/or renovate old buildings in old neighborhoods, which explains that postwar "white flight" to the suburbs was not entirely about racism.)

The parade was founded not only to honor Ireland and St Patrick, but also as a sort of reunion back in the old neighborhood, which over time became predominantly African-American and, later, Hispanic. The Saturday before March 17, our parade day, is sometimes jokingly called "White History Day in New Orleans."

Anyway ~ the real old-timers of the Irish Channel neighborhood were and are largely Irish, but also Italian and German. And their Irish forebearers all came to the states MANY generations ago, so there has been a lot of intermarriage with the other Catholic immigrant nationalities, and little or connection to any known relatives back in the Old Country. (Remember: the Irish quit coming to N.O. after that Basin Canal / Yellow Fever fiasco.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,Betsy
Date: 02 Feb 10 - 08:22 PM

It seems like a slow and lovely version of the Blarney roses tune
Dunno which came first but a lovely story and song


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 03:38 PM

Here's a Mapquest map showing the (approximate) route of the long-since-filled New Basin Canal, built by immigrant labor (mostly Irish) in the 1830s. Slaves were considered too valuable to risk in the disease-ridden swamps, so newcomers from Europe were welcome to defy death for a few pennies a day.

Ironically enough, we now know that natives of the area, white and black alike, were immune to Yellow Fever and other such local diseases, and would have survived the same working conditions that killed so many immigrant workers. Nobody understood that then, sadly enough.

Most of the canal's route. once filled in and paved over, became the "Pontchartrain Expressway" from the suburban areas near the lakefront to the Mississippi River Bridge. Most of the expressway eventually became part of the I-10 when the interstate highway system was developed through the late 50s and 1960s.

http://www.mapquest.com/mq/10-irxmiq4n0k7MSytuKd7Z

Note: The actual lakefront in the 1830s was somewhat further "inland" (south) than the current shoreline. The starting point for my Marpquest request for directions, near the corner of Pontchartrain Blvd. and Robert E Lee, may have been offshore in 1830. The downtown end of the canal was a turning basin abutting the curved section of Basin St, but the actual route of the old canal from the current I-10/US-90 right-of-way across the Central Business District to the Treme/Storyville area just north of the French Quarter is no longer clearly visible ~ probably along Loyola Ave., more or less...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,ollaimh
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:17 PM

i knew several folk collectors in nova scotia who were convinced that the lakes of p was a later development from little mohee. helen creighton collected a full set of lyrics in nova scotia back in the thirties--exactly like the christie moore version.which tells me it was old in new england and nova scotia in 1900 at least; she got it from a very old guy.

the cajuns were adadiens. they settled in nova scotia and southern new brunswick from 1605 untill the british came and ethniclly cleansed them in 1755. remember evangiline and gabriel. in logfellows poem.they were treated very cruelly. lost all their possessions, their farms, families were separated and they were dispersed over the thirteen colonies. many went to louisianna as there was a french presence there. the french there were landed and rich and did not welcome their co linguists so they settled in the unwanted land of the bayou ans up on the western prarie or loiusianna. they are still there.

i live now in new brunswick where most modern acadiens live.many returned and about half(including my faily) hjid in the woods and "went native" for several decades to avaoid the british deportations. this event is still the shapping event in acadien culture.its called the grande derangement. its like the famine to the gaels. a tragedy which eveyyone knows of but little is said untill recently.

now new brunswick is almost half acadien,prince edward island maybe twenty per cent and nova scotia ten per cent. many don'[tspeak french in nova scotia and pei but french culture is alive and well in nouveau brunswick where many speak a local dialect called shiac(a contraction of shediac--the unofficial capitalof acadie and best lobster in the world)

i often fantasize about going down to the bayou--if any one survived katrina--with my mandolin harpand bouzouki and ask "ou est la musique acadienne?" and see if i have any tunes in common--even though i'm mostly scotts gael--only one acadien grandfather.

anyway   i think little mohee was the origion of the tune. as i recall it also has a line about sleeping out in the woods but for the bears.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 02:18 PM

Thanks for the map, Poppagator. It makes things much clearer. I'm pleased to see one of my favorite streets, Tchoupitoulas.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 03:58 PM

I realize now that my map was erroneous.

The curve of Basin Street, just outside the French Quarter, marks the old basin that once lay at the end of Bayou St. John, a natural geographical feature which used to run all the way into town and come to an end where they dug a man-made turning basin. Now the bayou comes to an end quite a bit further back toward to Lake, at Jeff Davis corner of Conti.

The New Basic Canal was dug a bit west of the bayou and terminated at a newly built basin, about where today's Union Passenger Terminal (bus & Amtrak station) stands, and at the point where the route marked on the map I posted yesterday takes a sharp turn. Just ignore the last leg of the route marked on yesterday's map to see the path of the old New Basic Canal.

Don't have time to make a new map right now; maybe later.

leeneia: Nice job spelling Tchoupitoulas, which is an even more difficult task than spelling Pontchartrain.

Alice: apologies for getting mixed up over who originally misspelled Pontchartrain...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Susan A-R
Date: 10 Feb 10 - 08:49 PM

That'd be me. I am spelling challenged, which only marginally has to do with visual impairment. Thanks for the great history everyone. I can see a wonderful, if not definitive intro to this song developing.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 11 Feb 10 - 05:18 PM

I am guilty of my own share of typos, too.

In my defense, I would like to point out that it's almost always my clumsy arthritic fingers that are to blame, not my actual knowledge of how a given word is correctly spelled. ;^)

If it weren't for the "Preview" feature, you'd be seeing a LOT more misspelled words from me.

(PS ~ Caught THREE typos previewing the above three short paragraphs!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 12 Feb 10 - 01:40 AM

===If it weren't for the "Preview" feature, you'd be seeing a LOT more misspelled words from me.===

I take it we are to sing this line to tune of 2nd line of the verse - "If it weren't for the alligators"? Can just about be done with a few added notes...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 03:25 PM

Heh heh; hadn't thought of that, but that may have been part of my unscious thought process.

I think that the "alligators" line is everyone's favorite, and may indeed be resposnsible for the song's enduring popularity....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,pattyClink
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 09:50 PM

I can't track down information I vaguely remember on 'curse all foreign money'--it had something to do with a financial bubble or panic, I believe, where certain money wasn't accepted for some reason.

And Poppa, I think you're right about circa 1830s. Natchez was flush and people were streaming in from everywhere to make a buck, and our brick streets in Jackson were being laid by masons up from New Orleans, and there was good money in various sorts of construction for the new capital city/town at that time, a Capitol (built 1833-1839), big hotels, etc. so it would be a good place your 'fortune to renew'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,TEC4
Date: 12 Jul 10 - 01:28 PM

This is a very interesting thread, and helped me because I wanted to use the song in a story set in 1937 and I guess I can.

By the way, I vote for D.L. Menard's version ...

TEC4


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,GentillyJoe
Date: 12 May 12 - 02:48 PM

One piece of info that might provide some insight: There are actually three interconnected lakes, with Pontchartrain in the middle - Lake Maurepas to the west, Lake Pontchartrain, and Lake Borgne, which is actually open to the Gulf of Mexico.

Madisonville, formerly known as Cokie ("coquille", or seashell) and located just off the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain on the banks of the Tchefuncte River, is historically a Creole (in the mixed-race sense) town. I like to imagine that our anonymous Irishman fetched up there and met his Creole girl.

I like the Tanyas' version too. That gal sings like she might even be from south Louisiana...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Footerin' About
Date: 13 May 12 - 11:43 AM

It's funny but I've never heard the Paul Brady version. This may make me inferior in the eyes of certain other posters (:)) however the versions I HAVE heard have been excellent, in their own inferior and unmusical ways. now that that's steeled.... I always believed it came from around 1812 myself.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: GUEST,Don Wise
Date: 13 May 12 - 01:14 PM

Ther is, of course, the verse which starts:

"O'er railroad ties and crossings I made my weary way....."

which, like the reference to "Riding the rods" prompts the question of when the first railway reached New Orleans.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: Les from Hull
Date: 13 May 12 - 01:33 PM

It seems that this railway was built from 1851 onwards. Of course the song may have had a version that didn't mention the rails or rods.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Ponchartrain
From: PoppaGator
Date: 25 May 12 - 05:18 PM

GUEST GentillyJoe: If you really live in Gentilly, we're neighbors. I don't give out my address, etc., on the internet, but I will let on that I can be seen at the Neutral Ground coffeehouse uptown on the third Tuesday of every month at 9pm ;^)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: MartinRyan
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 12:47 PM

Interesting version from Frank Harte now available at The Goilin Song Project:

Click here

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,DTM
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 01:26 PM

The tune to version I'm familiar with (& seems to be the most popular one) always sounds like a parallel of "The Wild Colonial Boy".
(Apologies if this has been mentioned before)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,ollaimh
Date: 14 Oct 14 - 09:40 PM

Helen creighten's recording notes are available now, that should tell when and where she recorded it, I say recorded, she used to write down the lyrics and tune back then.

phill Thomas, the british Columbia collector used to say it was based on the earlier song little mohee, from new England.

Creighton used to say it was about a wayward nova scotia sailor, trapped in louisianna with no local money, probably during the civil war.

the peter emberly I have heard has a different melody. although they scan closely so you could switch them. lily of the west is often switched with lakes of ponchatrain. and vice versa.

(pontchartrain was a senior bureaucrat in the French ministry of the marine--responsible for colonies. he had a son who started a farming settlement in acadia and did some trading in louisianna,btw)

ian mackay's book:"quest of the folk" debunks a lot of Helen creightons bigotry and tendency to make it up when she wasn't getting what she wanted. she was middle class Halifax and the people she was collecting from were beneath her.   she treated them and her music quite badly. often she censored the rebellious and lewd. luckily she had no French nor gaelic so her collections from those sources were not tainted by her middle class bigotry.

but then most mudcatters are more like her than like folk collectors with ethics and respect for traditional cultures. so she's a fav here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: The Sandman
Date: 15 Oct 14 - 03:56 AM

It shares the same tune as The Blarney Roses


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 02:35 AM

Could have sworn I sent this in years ago. It's from the Phil Thomas collection and in his Songs of the Pacific Northwest. The places are along the US/Canada border in the Okanagan/Okanogan country.

The Banks of the Similkameen

It was one Sunday morning I bid Grand Forks adieu
To beat my way to Oroville, a place that once I knew
Over ties and railway crossings I beat my weary way
Until I met a maiden at the close of one hot day.

Well, good eve, good eve, fair maiden, my money does me no good
If it hadn't a been for the coyotes, I'd a stayed out in the woods.
You're welcome, welcome stranger, although our home is plain
We never have turned a stranger out on the banks of the Similkameen.

She took me to her mother's house and treated me quite well
Her hair in dark brown ringlets about her shoulders fell
I tried to paint her beauty but true it was in vain
For perfect was the Orovoille girl on the banks of the Similkameen.

I asked her to marry me, she said it ne'er could be
She said she had a lover and he lived in BC
She said she had a lover and true she would remain
Until her came to claim her on the banks of the Similkameen.

So adieu, adieu, fair maiden, I never shall see no more
I'll never forget your kindness nor the cottage by the shore
Adieu, adieu, fair maiden, we'll drink to the flowing stream
We'll drink a health to the Oroville girl on the banks of the Similkameen.

Since posting this I've come across three more versions, some close, some not so close, to this one. In one "Similkameen" (the river outside my door) become "the Kettle Stream", the Kettle River a couple of hundred clicks to the east. All these versions share the same tune, which is definitively NOT the usual (not nearly so good, in fact).

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 10:51 AM

I have nothing to add to the history etc. And this may not be apt. But I felt I just had to say that I am sick to death of hearing this song at just about every Folk Club I go to. Good song though it is it becomes a long miserable drone after the 100th time of hearing! It ranks alongside Hotel California as the most over sang Folk club songs. And no one ever seems to try do either the slightest bit different, or try anything new with it. Could you kindly peep this in mind next time for the sake of sufferers like me, or stay away from the Black Country area
P.S Dylan singrs, do you alwys have to sing his LONGEST songs Grrrr


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: MartinRyan
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 12:00 PM

Have to agree that the standard version gets done to death all too regularly - but some of the variants, when snuck up on an audience unawares, still have power to grasp. "Arthur McBride" tends to meet a similar fate.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: meself
Date: 16 Oct 14 - 12:41 PM

Just in case anyone comes along here who is unfamiliar with the work of Helen Creighton, and for that reason only, I respond to a previous post concerning her: she was a, yes, middle-class (horrors!) woman who devoted her life to collecting folksongs and folklore by travelling to remote and neglected places in Nova Scotia, 1930s to 1960s. Who these superior "folk collectors with ethics and respect for traditional cultures" lauded by the previous poster were, and where they were, I don't know - Helen Creighton was certainly not stumbling over them in the fishing villages and farming communities of the Maritimes.   Perhaps the previous poster can point us to some of their material, as corrective to that published by Helen Creighton. She was certainly not standing in their way, anymore than she was stopping anyone from collecting labour anthems and strike songs - is it really her fault if no one could be bothered?

As for Ian MacKay - he is an academic, with a university professorship, which is far more than Helen Creighton ever had - and, btw, which would make him at least middle-class, would it not? - who is known for nothing other than his weak pot-shots at a distant giant.

As for the previous poster in question - take a look at his posting history to get a sense of what he's about.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 01:39 AM

The only tune I know for "Lakes of Ponchartrain is this one, which is also the tune I know for Peter Emberly. And I see above the same tune is used for Blarney Roses, and it has also been used for Lily of the West. Know of any other songs that use this melody?


Now, I might not be aware of alternate melodies for "Lakes of Ponchartrain, but the Digital Tradition has

Any more? Can anyone point me to recordings of "Ponchartrain" with various melodies?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: Jon Bartlett
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 02:14 AM

Thanks, Joe. All the BC versions are slight variants on your first tune above (#2).

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lakes of Pontchartrain
From: MartinRyan
Date: 17 Oct 14 - 03:41 AM

Re "The Blarney Roses" connection, I think GSS, above, may have been referring to the air Frank Harte uses in my post of Oct. 14 above. Not sure I agree, though there is a resemblance. To me, it better resembles the "Irish Molly"/"Sash my father wore" tune.

I'm having problems connecting to the DT tunes and will check out your links later.

Regards


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Subject: ADD: The Creole Girl (from Pound)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Nov 15 - 05:08 AM

The earliest version indexed by the Traditional Ballad Index (1922) is in Louise Pound, American Ballads and Songs, # 55, pp. 127-128, titled "The Creole Girl" (1 text).

THE CREOLE GIRL

Over swamps and alligators I'm on my weary way
Over railroad ties and crossings, my weary feet did stray.
Until the shades of evening some higher ground I gained.
'Twas there I met a Creole girl on the lakes of Ponchartrain.

"Good eve to you, fair maiden, my money does me no good;
If it were not for the alligators I would stay out in the wood."
"O welcome, welcome, stranger, although our house is plain;
We never turn a stranger out'on the lakes of Ponchartrain."

She took me to her mother's house and treated me quite well.
Her hair in flowing ringlets around her shoulders fell.
I tried to paint her beauty, but I found it was in vain,
So beautiful was the creole girl on the lakes of Ponchartrain.

I asked her if she would marry me, she said that never could be.
She said she had a lover, and he was far at sea.
She said she had a lover and true she would remain,
Till he came back to her again on the lakes of Ponchartrain.

"Adieu, adieu, fair maiden, I never will see you more,
I'll never forget your kindness in the cottage by the shore.
At home in social circles, our flaming bowls we'll drain.
We'll drink to the health of the creole girl on the lakes of Ponchartrain."


https://archive.org/details/americanballads00poungoog

-Joe-


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