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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:
Banks of the Old Pontchartrain (Williams/Vincent) (21)
Question about Lakes of Pontchartrain song (55)
Chords Req: The Lakes of Ponchartrain (68)
Lakes of Ponchartrain on banjo (11)
Lyr Req: The Man That Shot the Dog (Mick Quinn) (22)
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)
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
GUEST,Peter T. 05 May 00 - 02:43 PM
Jon W. 05 May 00 - 05:50 PM
Joe Offer 05 May 00 - 09:26 PM
Mbo 05 May 00 - 09:31 PM
Jon Freeman 05 May 00 - 09:38 PM
raredance 06 May 00 - 02:38 PM
Brendy 07 May 00 - 01:40 AM
Brendy 07 May 00 - 01:44 AM
GUEST,PJ Curtis. 07 May 00 - 05:00 AM
GUEST,Frankie 07 May 00 - 08:44 AM
DADGBE 07 May 00 - 07:26 PM
IanC 08 May 00 - 05:23 AM
Kim C 08 May 00 - 04:38 PM
Art Thieme 08 May 00 - 06:16 PM
Brendy 08 May 00 - 10:43 PM
GUEST,Arkie 09 May 00 - 12:18 AM
IanC 09 May 00 - 07:55 AM
Brendy 09 May 00 - 06:25 PM
MartinRyan 01 Jun 00 - 04:52 PM
MartinRyan 01 Jun 00 - 05:00 PM
Brendy 01 Jun 00 - 05:00 PM
Brendy 01 Jun 00 - 05:22 PM
raredance 01 Jun 00 - 10:06 PM
GUEST,John of the Hill 01 Jun 00 - 10:19 PM
Axeman 01 Jun 00 - 11:29 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 Jun 00 - 01:56 PM
Ship'scat 03 Jun 00 - 11:43 AM
Murray MacLeod 03 Jun 00 - 03:32 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 Jun 00 - 04:15 PM
JedMarum 31 May 01 - 11:48 AM
Peter T. 31 May 01 - 01:49 PM
JedMarum 31 May 01 - 04:02 PM
Mr Red 31 May 01 - 04:13 PM
JedMarum 31 May 01 - 09:32 PM
Art Thieme 03 Jun 01 - 12:07 PM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 03 Jun 01 - 05:16 PM
Malcolm Douglas 04 Jun 01 - 11:32 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: Origins: 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 (14 citations):
Laws H9, "The Lake of Ponchartrain"
Flanders/Ballard/Brown/Barry-NewGreenMountainSongster, pp. 147-148, "The Lake of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Huntington-FolksongsFromMarthasVineyard, pp. 48-49, "The Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 882, "The Ponsaw Train" (1 text, 1 tune)
Larkin-SingingCowboy, pp. 46-48, "On the Lake of the Poncho Plains" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peters-FolkSongsOutOfWisconsin, p. 134, "On the Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Pound-AmericanBalladsAndSongs, 55, pp. 127-128, "The Creole Girl" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering-BalladsAndSongsOfSouthernMichigan 45, "The Lake of Ponchartrain" (1 text plus mention of 1 more)
Stout-FolkloreFromIowa 67, pp. 90-91, "The Creole GIrl" (1 text)
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 137, "On the Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manny/Wilson-SongsOfMiramichi 78, "The Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henry/Huntingdon/Herrmann-SamHenrysSongsOfThePeople H619, pp. 373-374, "The Lakes of Ponchartrain" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-AmericanFolkSongsARegionalEncyclopedia1, 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 2021 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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