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Lyr Add: The Mountain Whippoorwill (S V Benet)

Barry Finn 04 Jul 99 - 02:04 AM
Gary T 05 Sep 00 - 09:25 AM
Gary T 05 Sep 00 - 09:41 AM
GUEST,Skinfull 05 Sep 00 - 10:39 AM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Sep 00 - 10:58 AM
GUEST,leeneia 05 Sep 00 - 10:59 AM
GUEST,Barry Finn 05 Sep 00 - 12:46 PM
Frankham 05 Sep 00 - 03:19 PM
Stewie 05 Sep 00 - 07:16 PM
Uncle_DaveO 05 Sep 00 - 08:20 PM
DonMeixner 06 Sep 00 - 08:48 AM
Art Thieme 07 Sep 00 - 11:16 PM
Arkie 07 Jan 10 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,Randy in Nebraska 05 Feb 10 - 03:09 PM
Joe Offer 04 Jan 12 - 02:40 AM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Jan 12 - 09:31 AM
Arkie 04 Jan 12 - 10:18 AM
Joe Offer 05 Jan 12 - 01:32 AM
Joe Offer 15 Feb 12 - 03:23 AM
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Subject: Words to the Whippoorwill
From: Barry Finn
Date: 04 Jul 99 - 02:04 AM

Tim asked for a source for the words to the "Mountain Whippoorwill" or "How Hill-Billy Jim Won The Great Fiddler's Prize, A Georgia Romance". By Stephen Vincent Benet.

Up in the mountains it's lonsome all the time
Sof' win' slewin' thu' the sweet-potato vine

Up in the mountains it's lonesome for a child
Whippoorwills a-callin' when the sap runs wild

Up in the mountain, mountains in the fog
Everythin's as lazy as an ol hound dog

Born in the mountains never raised a pet
Don't want nuthin' an' never got it yet

Born in the mountain, lonesome born
Raised runnin' ragged thu' the cockleburrs & corn

Never knew my pappy, maybe never should
Think he was a fiddle made of mountain laurel-wood

Never had a mammy to teach me pretty please
Think she was a whippoorwill a-skitin' thu' the trees

Never had a brother ner a whole pair of pants
But when I start to fiddle why you got to start to dance

Listen to my fiddle-Kingdom Come-Kingdom Come
Herar the frogs a-chunkin "Jug o' rum, Jug O rum"
Hear that mountain whippoorwill be lonesome in the air
An' I'll tell yuh how I travelled to the Essex County Fair

Essex County has a mighty pretty fair
All the smarty fiddlers from the South come there

Elbows flyin' as they rosin up the bow
For the First Prize Contest in the Georgia Fiddler's Show

Old Dan Wheeling with his whiskers in his ears
King-pin fiddler for nearly 20 years

BigTom Sargent with his blue wall-eye
An' Little Jimmy Weezer that can make a fiddle cry

All sittin' roun', spittin' high an' struttin' proud
(Listen little whippoorwill, yuh better bug yore eyes!)
Tun-a-tun-a-tunin' while the judges told the crowd
Them that got the mostest claps 'd win the bestest prize

Everybody waitin' for the first tweedle-dee
When in comes a-stumblin' hill-billy me

Bowed right pretty to the judges an' the rest
Took a silver dollar from the hole inside my vest

Plunked it on the table an said "There's my callin' card"
"An' anyone that licks me, well, he's got to fiddle hard"

Old Dan Wheeling he was laughin' fit to holler
Little Jimmy Weezer said "There's one dead dollar"

Big Tom Sargent had a yaller-toothy grin
But I tucked my little spang underneath my chin
An' petted it an' tuned it till the judges said "Begin"

Big Tom Sargent was the first in line
He could fiddle all the bugs off a sweet-potato vine

He could fiddle down a possum from a mile-high tree
He could fiddle up a whale from the bottom of the sea

Yuh could hear hands spankin' till they spanked each other raw
When he finished variations on "Turkey in the Straw"

Little Jimmy Weezer was the next to play
He could fiddle all night, he could fiddle all day

He could fiddle chills, he could fiddle fever
He could make a fiddle rustle like a lowland river

He could make a fiddle croon like a lovin' woman
An' they clapped like thunder when he'd finished strumin'

Then came the ruck of the bob-tailed fiddlers
The let's-go-easies, the fair-to-middlers

They got their claps an' they lost their bicker
An' they all settled back for some more corn-licker

An' the crowd was tired of their no-count squealing
When out in the center steps Old Dan Wheeling

He fiddled high, he fiddled low
(Listen little whippoorwill, yuh got to spread yore wings)
He fiddled & fiddled with a cheerywood bow
(Old Dan Wheeling's got honey in his strings)

He fiddled the wind by the lonesome moon
He fiddled a most almighty tune

He started fiddling like a ghost
He ended fiddling like a host

He fiddled north & he fiddled south
He fiddled the heart right out of yore mouth

He fiddled here an' he fiddle there
He fiddled salvation everywhere

When he was finished the crowd cut loose
(Whippoorwill, they's rain on yore breast)
An' I sat there wondering "WHat's the use"
(Whippooerwill, fly home to yore nest)

But I stood up pert an' I took my bow
An' my fiddle went to my shoulder, so

An' they wasn't no crowd to get me fazed
But I was alone where I was raised

Up in the mountains, so still it makes yuh skeered
Where God lies sleepin' in his big white beard

An' I heard the sound of the squirrel in the pine
An' I heard the earth a-breathin' thu' the long night-time

They've fiddle the rose & they've fiddle the thorn
But they haven't fiddled the mountain-corn

They fiddled the sinful an' fiddled the moral
But they haven't fiddled the breshwood-laurel

They've fiddled loud & they've fiddled still
But they haven't fiddled the whippooerwill

I started off with a dump-diddle-dump
(Oh, hell's broke loose in Georgia!)
Skunk-cabbage growin' by teh bee-gum stump
(Whippooerwill, yore singing now!)

My mother was a whippooerwill pert
My father he was lazy
But I'm hell broke in a new store shirt
To fiddle all Georgia crazy
Swing yore partners uo & down the middle
Sashay now, oh listen to that fiddle
Flapjacks flippin' on a red hot griddle
An' all hell's broke loose
Hell's broke loose
Fire on the mountain, snakes in the grass
Satan's here a-bilin', oh Lordy, let him pass
Go down Moses, set my people free
Pop goes the weasel thu' the old Red Sea
Jonah sittin' on a hickory-bough
Up jumps a whale an' where's yore profet now
Rabbit in the pea-patch, possum in the the pot
try an' stop my fiddle now my fiddle's gettin' hot
Whippooerwill, singin' thu' the mountain hush
Whippooerwill, shoutin' from the burnin' bush
Whippooerwill, cryin' in the stable-door
Sing tonight as yuh never sang before
Hell's broke loose like a stompin' mountain-shoat
Sing till yuh bust the gold in yore throat
Bound to stop yore music for 40 miles aroun'
Bound to stop yore music if yuh don't sing it down
Sing on the mountains, little whippooerwill
Sing to the valleys, an' slap 'em with a hill
For I'm struttin' high as an eagle's guill
An' hell's broke loose
Hell's broke loose
Hell's broke loose in Georgia

They wasn't a sound when I stopped bowin'
(Whippooerwill, yuh can sing no more)
But, somewhere or other the dawn was growin'
(Oh, mountain whippooerwill)

An' I thought "I've fiddled all night an' lost
Yo're a good hill-billy but yoh've been bossed"

So I went to congratulate old man Dan
-But he put his fiddle into my han'
An' then the noise of the crowd began

It's been years since I've last heard a friend do this & he did it like music, thumping his hands & feet to a beat he'd created in the telling, you'd've thought that he was the one fiddling up the sun & he wasn't a perfomer just hill-Billy Vanderbeck, banjo player from Mt. View. God it was nice to recall him doing this. Thanks, Barry


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Subject: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: Gary T
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 09:25 AM

This is a poem by Stephen Vincent Benet. Here's what I was about to post on it:

"I would love to identify and hear a song stuck in my memory. I heard it (once) on the radio about 30 years ago. It told the story of a fiddler, a young man(?), who won a contest and/or absolutely enchanted listeners, and the one line I recall was '...but no one had fiddled the mountain laurel...' [until this guy came along] or something close to that."

But I first decided to try google.com (an AWESOME search engine) and got 47 hits on "fiddled the mountain laurel". Three of the first ten had this poem, which I'm sure is what I heard back then. The actual phrase from the poem is "But they haven't fiddled the breshwood-laurel."

Now my question is, has this been done as a song? I still think I heard it sung way back when, although it may have just been a good recitation. Still would like to hear it again. Thanks for any help.


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Subject: ADD: The Mountain Whippoorwill (S.V.Benet)
From: Gary T
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 09:41 AM

THE MOUNTAIN WHIPPOORWILL,
(Or, How Hill-Billy Jim Won the Great Fiddlers' Prize)

(Stephen Vincent Benet)

Up in the mountains, it's lonesome all the time,
(Sof' win' slewin' thu' the sweet-potato vine.)

Up in the mountains, it's lonesome for a child,
(Whippoorwills a-callin' when the sap runs wild.)

Up in the mountains, mountains in the fog,
Everythin's as lazy as an old houn' dog.

Born in the mountains, never raised a pet,
Don't want nuthin' an' never got it yet.

Born in the mountains, lonesome-born,
Raised runnin' ragged thu' the cockleburrs and corn.

Never knew my pappy, mebbe never should.
Think he was a fiddle made of mountain laurel-wood.

Never had a mammy to teach me pretty-please.
Think she was a whippoorwill, a-skittin' thu' the trees.

Never had a brother ner a whole pair of pants,
But when I start to fiddle, why, yuh got to start to dance!

Listen to my fiddle -- Kingdom Come -- Kingdom Come!
Hear the frogs a-chunkin' "Jug o' rum, Jug o' rum!"
Hear that mountain whippoorwill be lonesome in the air,
An' I'll tell yuh how I travelled to the Essex County Fair.

Essex County has a mighty pretty fair,
All the smarty fiddlers from the South come there.

Elbows flyin' as they rosin up the bow
For the First Prize Contest in the Georgia Fiddlers' Show.

Old Dan Wheeling, with his whiskers in his ears,
King-pin fiddler for nearly twenty years.

Big Tom Sargent, with his blue wall-eye,
An' Little Jimmy Weezer that can make a fiddle cry.

All sittin' roun', spittin' high an' struttin' proud,
(Listen, little whippoorwill, yuh better bug yore eyes!)
Tun-a-tun-a-tunin' while the jedges told the crowd
Them that got the mostest claps'd win the bestest prize.

Everybody waitin' for the first tweedle-dee,
When in comes a-stumblin' -- hill-billy me!

Bowed right pretty to the jedges an' the rest,
Took a silver dollar from a hole inside my vest,

Plunked it on the table an' said, "There's my callin' card!
An' anyone that licks me -- well, he's got to fiddle hard!"

Old Dan Wheeling, he was laughin' fit to holler,
Little Jimmy Weezer said, "There's one dead dollar!"

Big Tom Sargent had a yaller-toothy grin,
But I tucked my little whippoorwill spang underneath my chin,
An' petted it an' tuned it till the jedges said, "Begin!"

Big Tom Sargent was the first in line;
He could fiddle all the bugs off a sweet-potato vine.

He could fiddle down a possum from a mile-high tree,
He could fiddle up a whale from the bottom of the sea.

Yuh could hear hands spankin' till they spanked each other raw,
When he finished variations on "Turkey in the Straw."

Little Jimmy Weezer was the next to play;
He could fiddle all night, he could fiddle all day.

He could fiddle chills, he could fiddle fever,
He could make a fiddle rustle like a lowland river.

He could make a fiddle croon like a lovin' woman.
An' they clapped like thunder when he'd finished strummin'.

Then came the ruck of the bob-tailed fiddlers,
The let's-go-easies, the fair-to-middlers.

They got their claps an' they lost their bicker,
An' they all settled back for some more corn-licker.

An' the crowd was tired of their no-count squealing,
When out in the center steps Old Dan Wheeling.

He fiddled high and he fiddled low,
(Listen, little whippoorwill, yuh got to spread yore wings!)
He fiddled and fiddled with a cherrywood bow,
(Old Dan Wheeling's got bee-honey in his strings).

He fiddled a wind by the lonesome moon,
He fiddled a most almighty tune.

He started fiddling like a ghost.
He ended fiddling like a host.

He fiddled north an' he fiddled south,
He fiddled the heart right out of yore mouth.

He fiddled here an' he fiddled there.
He fiddled salvation everywhere.

When he was finished, the crowd cut loose,
(Whippoorwill, they's rain on yore breast.)
An' I sat there wonderin' "What's the use?"
(Whippoorwill, fly home to yore nest.)

But I stood up pert an' I took my bow,
An' my fiddle went to my shoulder, so.

An' -- they wasn't no crowd to get me fazed --
But I was alone where I was raised.

Up in the mountains, so still it makes yuh skeered.
Where God lies sleepin' in his big white beard.

An' I heard the sound of the squirrel in the pine,
An' I heard the earth a-breathin' thu' the long night-time.

They've fiddled the rose, and they've fiddled the thorn,
But they haven't fiddled the mountain-corn.

They've fiddled sinful an' fiddled moral,
But they haven't fiddled the breshwood-laurel.

They've fiddled loud, and they've fiddled still,
But they haven't fiddled the whippoorwill.

I started off with a dump-diddle-dump,
(Oh, hell's broke loose in Georgia!)
Skunk-cabbage growin' by the bee-gum stump.
(Whippoorwill, yo're singin' now!)

My mother was a whippoorwill pert,
My father, he was lazy,
But I'm hell broke loose in a new store shirt
To fiddle all Georgia crazy.

Swing yore partners -- up an' down the middle!
Sashay now -- oh, listen to that fiddle!
Flapjacks flippin' on a red-hot griddle,
An' hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose,
Fire on the mountains -- snakes in the grass.
Satan's here a-bilin' -- oh, Lordy, let him pass!
Go down Moses, set my people free;
Pop goes the weasel thu' the old Red Sea!
Jonah sittin' on a hickory-bough,
Up jumps a whale -- an' where's yore prophet now?
Rabbit in the pea-patch, possum in the pot,
Try an' stop my fiddle, now my fiddle's gettin' hot!
Whippoorwill, singin' thu' the mountain hush,
Whippoorwill, shoutin' from the burnin' bush,
Whippoorwill, cryin' in the stable-door,
Sing tonight as yuh never sang before!
Hell's broke loose like a stompin' mountain-shoat,
Sing till yuh bust the gold in yore throat!
Hell's broke loose for forty miles aroun'
Bound to stop yore music if yuh don't sing it down.
Sing on the mountains, little whippoorwill,
Sing to the valleys, an' slap 'em with a hill,
For I'm struttin' high as an eagle's quill,
An' hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose in Georgia!

They wasn't a sound when I stopped bowin',
(Whippoorwill, yuh can sing no more.)
But, somewhere or other, the dawn was growin',
(Oh, mountain whippoorwill!)

An' I thought, "I've fiddled all night an' lost,
Yo're a good hill-billy, but yuh've been bossed."

So I went to congratulate old man Dan,
-- But he put his fiddle into my han' --
An' then the noise of the crowd began!


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: GUEST,Skinfull
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 10:39 AM

Gary T.
You'll find this song on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's "Stars and Stripes" album. I have it on vinyl, don't know if it's available on CD, but .
Skinfull


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 10:58 AM

Well, well, well! I loved this poem when I first encountered it back in 1962, and I love it know. By the time the Mountain Whippoorwill really gets going, it's so exciting!

Thanks for posting it.


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 10:59 AM

Well, well, well! I loved this poem when I first encountered it back in 1962, and I love it now. By the time the Mountain Whippoorwill really gets going, it's so exciting!

Thanks for posting it.


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: GUEST,Barry Finn
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 12:46 PM

It was posted in a thread quite a while back there may be more info about it there but I can't remember. Barry


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: Frankham
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 03:19 PM

The poem is by Stephen Vincent Benet and was written after the Atlanta Fiddler's Convention in the 2920's. There are references to a composite of Fiddlin' John Carson, Gid Tanner of the Skillet Lickers and other luminaries from the Convention. It was a big event and well publicized.

Atlanta was the first country music capitol and was the place where many old time country acts were recorded by Ralph Peer. The first country music musician to play on the radio was Fiddlin' John Carson. (1922 or so). Eck Robertson appeared on a Texax radio station about that time as well. The first most successful country music recording was Fiddlin' John's "Little Log Cabin in the Lane". WSB was the most significant country music station but because of the station management's attitude about country music, it was not encouraged as it was in Nashville when The Solemn Old Judge (George Hayes) popularized it on WSM's Grand Old Opry.

Don't know which character Hillbilly Jim is supposed to be. It's a mood poem and not specific.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: Stewie
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 07:16 PM

According to Wayne W. Daniel, it is likely that Benet's poem was inspired by success of a young Lowe Stokes, best known as a fiddler in the Skillet Lickers, at the George Old-Time Fiddlers Convention in Atlanta in 1924. Daniel wrote:

Perhaps the most interesting result of the publicity received by the fiddlers' conventions followed the one held in 1924. That year a young man by the name of Marcus Lowe Stokes of Cartersville won first prize in the contest that was held on Saturday night, November 8. The next mornings 'Hearst's Sunday American' carried on page one a brief article announcing the fact and emphasizing the youth of Stokes and the advanced years of his opponents. The headline gave his age as fourteen, while in the body of the article he was referred to as a '22-year-old'. Later evidence suggests that he may have been twenty-four. Allegedly an account of Stokes' victory also appeared in the 'New York Times'. In December 1924, the 'Literary Digest', apparently inspired by the 'New York Times' piece, carried a short article on the event. Referring to Stokes as a mere novice, the article reported that he 'came down from the Blue Ridge foothills primed with all the Southern tunes that he had learned from his grandad, and full of the spirit of victory'. In March 1925, a poem entitled 'The Mountain Whippoorwill or How Hillbilly Jim Won the Great Fiddlers Prize' was published by the noted poet Stephen Vincent Benet … It is believed Benet's poem was inspired by news stories of Stokes' performance in Atlanta. [Wayne W. Daniel 'Pickin' on Peachtree: A History of Country Music in Atlanta, Georgia' University of Illinois Press 1990, p34].

Daniel also gave the following note:

The 'Literary Digest' article, which appeared at pages 70 and 71 of the issue for December 6, 1924, was reprinted in 'Tennessee Old Time Fiddlers' Association Newsletter 9 (July 4, 1969), 3-5. Professor Gene Wiggins has analysed Benet's poem 'in the context of fiddling and fiddlers' contests, with special reference to that contest which Benet probably read about in the 'Literary Digest' before he wrote the poem'. See Eugene Wiggins , 'Benet's 'Mountain Whippoorwill: Folklore Atop Folklore', Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin 41 (September 1975, no 3), 99-114. [Daniel p242].

Clayton McMichen formed his first band, variously called the Lick the Skillet Band and the Old Hometown Band, in 1918 and its earliest members were McMichen and Stokes on fiddles. The band made its first appearance on radio [WSM, Atlanta] on 18 September, only 9 days after Carson's initial appearance mentioned above by Frank. Puckett and Tanner had already been recording for 2 years, and McMichen for a year, when they made their first records together as the Skillet Lickers in 1926. Although only Tanner, Puckett and McMichen were identified on Skillet Licker record labels, it now appears likely that, after the earliest sessions, the lead fiddling was by McMichen and Stokes. [Information from Norm Cohen's booklet notes to 'The Skillet Lickers' County CD-3509]. The first volume of what is to be the reissue of all Stokes' recordings, apart from the Skillet Lickers, has been issued on Document: 'Lowe Stokes Vol I 1927-1930' DOCD-8045'. The complete recordings of the Skillet Lickers are to be reissued by Document in 6 volumes, 4 of which are out already.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 05 Sep 00 - 08:20 PM

My, this poem is great! I read it on HearMe this afternoon, and it's exciting when read right! We all enjoyed it no end!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 06 Sep 00 - 08:48 AM

Wil;l Millar of The Irish Rovers did a nice re-write of this poem and set it in Antrim...."Hells broke loose, hells broke loose in Antrim"... He would recite it at Rovers concerts and it was very effective. I was always of two minds on this.

I liked the skill it took to adapt this poem so well to the Irish experience. And say what you want about Will, he is a skilled speaker and he recites and delivers extremely well. And probably 93% of the crowd thought he wrote it or it was of Irish origin.

But.... What was wrong with the original? I'd bet 93% of the audience in the States never heard it. We are so bad about teaching poetry in our schools.

Don


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 07 Sep 00 - 11:16 PM

There was a one-man-show called "Half Horse and Half Alligator" that featured this poem. I can't recall the name of the guy who did it. Most of the pieces in the show were done quite over the top. The poem didn't need that.

Stephen Wade did an adaptation of it in his first show, "Banjo Dancing" I'm pretty sure.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: Arkie
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 02:57 PM

I have not thought of this poem in several years and today it began to gnaw at me again. In 1971, '72, or '73 I was demonstrating dulcimer building at the Florida Folk Festival in White Springs. On one of the evening concerts one young fellow did a most mesmerizing performance of "The Mountain Whippoorwill". After all these years I still cannot get it out of my head. When Charlie Daniels did his Devil went down to Georgia this was the first thing to pop into my head. The purpose of reviving this thread is twofold. First to ask if anyone recalls the Florida Folk Festivals of that era and might remember the name of the performer and second to call attention to this youtube performance.

Mountain Whippoorwill


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Subject: RE: The Mountain Whippoorwill--a song?
From: GUEST,Randy in Nebraska
Date: 05 Feb 10 - 03:09 PM

I first heard this poem in college back in the 60's and when I read it again today, I could almost hear my professor's voice. Then I heard it again in the early 70's when Charles Kauralt of CBS did one of his reports on the CBS Evening News... his crew put video to this poem as Charles read it...a masterpiece. Wish I had a video of it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mountain Whippoorwill (S V Benet)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 02:40 AM

My friend Louise Oehler recited this at San Francisco's Camp New Harmony on New Year's Eve. It was the most stunning recitation of a poem that I have ever heard, and I thought it was a good excuse to refresh this thread and let a few more people find this wonderful poem.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mountain Whippoorwill (S V Benet)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 09:31 AM

Arkie, I tried your link, but the reciter was too actorly for me.

Thanks, anyhow.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mountain Whippoorwill (S V Benet)
From: Arkie
Date: 04 Jan 12 - 10:18 AM

Leeneia, my feeling is that something is better than nothing, but I agree the poem does not need that much dramatization. I prefer John McEuen's version on the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band's Stars & Stripes CD.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mountain Whippoorwill (S V Benet)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 01:32 AM

I found the John McEuen recording on Spotify, and it was really good (but my friend Louise was even better). Thanks for the tip, Arkie.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mountain Whippoorwill (S V Benet)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Feb 12 - 03:23 AM

Click here so see this poem performed by my friend Louise.
I'm proud of her.

-Joe-


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