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Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan

Joe Offer 09 Jan 03 - 02:09 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jan 03 - 02:16 PM
Richie 09 Jan 03 - 10:54 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jan 03 - 02:16 AM
Joe Offer 23 Jan 03 - 05:31 AM
BanjoRay 23 Jan 03 - 08:29 AM
Richie 23 Jan 03 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,becca 23 May 09 - 08:43 PM
Janie 23 May 09 - 11:21 PM
Janie 23 May 09 - 11:39 PM
Janie 23 May 09 - 11:42 PM
GUEST,geri241 30 Sep 09 - 09:46 PM
GUEST 05 Sep 11 - 11:38 PM
GUEST 07 Jun 17 - 04:30 PM
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Subject: Origins: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 02:09 PM

Debby McClatchy is working on this song for her new CD. She said it's an old fiddle tune, and she thinks the lyrics are relatively recent. She said she'd send me lyrics, but I wonder what lyrics and background information we can come up with. Here are partial lyrics that were buried in another thread. Anyone?
-Joe Offer-

Thread #13646   Message #114121
Posted By: Jack (who is called Jack)
14-Sep-99 - 11:39 AM
Thread Name: Best 'Hostile to the opposite sex' song
Subject: Lyr Add: CRUEL WILLIE

Ah, you guys have done great.

There's an old mountain song called CRUEL WILLIE whose lyrics I don't fully recall. Anyone know it?

Long a go there was a man who courted all the women
And they tell me Willie Duncan was his name.
He was...
Cruel Willie what a devil what a shame

Cruel Willie, ain't you sad,
For makin all the women feel bad?
Cruel Willie, it's a shame,
For causing all the women all the pain.

Cruel Willie went a-ridin' in his buggy one morning
When he came upon the darling Betty Lou
He was so betaken by her special kind of beauty
he was barely heard to whisper howdy do.

Betty Lou said... Now I don't believe you know me
But you knew my little sister fairly well
She was just a sweet and loving special kind of woman
Till you took her and you broke her all to hell

Willie boy said, (something like 'you must have been mistaken)
For I never hurt a woman in my life.
Then he leaned a little bit closer for to kiss her
And she stabbed him in the belly with a knife.

Anybody able to fill in the blanks?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 02:16 PM

I couldn't find an entry at the Traditional Ballad Index or the UTK song Index.

The Folk Index at Johns Hopkins University lists a number of recordings of "Cruel Willie":
  • Collins, Earl. That's Earl, Briar BR-4204, LP (1975), cut# 12
  • Forrester, Howdy. Fancy Fiddlin' Country Style, MGM E-4035, LP (197?), cut#B.04
  • Fraley, J. P. and Annadeene. Traditional Music on Rounder, Rounder SS0145, LP (1981), cut# 17
  • Gorman, Skip. Trail to Mexico, Folk Legacy FSI-103C, Cas (1987), cut#B.03
  • Wheeler, Carol Ann. Joy of Fiddling, American Heritage 401-532, LP, cut# 4b
  • Williams Family. All in the Family, Arkansas Traditions 004, LP (1986), cut# 8
An instrumental version can be found on a 1995 Rounder CD called, Down the Road to Home, by Connie & Babe and the Backwoods Boys. I believe Debby said the Skip Gorman recording is an instrumental, too.


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: Richie
Date: 09 Jan 03 - 10:54 PM

-Joe

Here's what I remember of the first verse:

Long ago there was a man who courted all the women
And they tell me Willie Duncan was his name.
And he had a mighty long run of bad women
Cruel Willie what a devil, what a shame.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jan 03 - 02:16 AM

Debby was here for an hour this morning, and we had a delightful visit. I thought Mudcatters would have full information on this song posted before she left. Anybody have anything else to add? I thought maybe Sandy Paton could help us with information about the Skip Gorman recording, but Debby says it's an instrumental.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: ADD: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 05:31 AM

Debby McClatchy dropped off her version of the lyrics the other day. she says it's a traditional fiddle tune. She thinks the lyrics may have been written by Dudley and Deanie Murphy.

WILLIE DUNCAN (Cruel Willie)

Long ago there lived a man who courted all the women
And they tell me Willie Duncan was his name.
He left a mighty long line of saddened ladies,
Cruel Willie was a devil, what a shame.
CHORUS
Cruel Willie, ain't you sad,
For makin all the women feel bad?
Cruel Willie, ain't you 'shamed,
For causing all the women all the pain?

Katie Lou, she was a handsome lady in the valley
And they say her hair was likened to the sun.
And her eyes were blue as all the heavens put together,
She was just about as pretty as they come.

Willie Boy was ridin' in his wagon one morning
When he came along the darling Katie Lou.
He was so betaken by her special kind of beauty
He was barely heard to whisper howdy do.

Katie Lou, she smiled and said, "Now I don't believe you know me
But you knew my little sister very well.
She was just a special kind of sweet little lady
Till you took her and you broke her all to hell."

Willie Boy smiled and then he said, "I don't believe you know me,
For I never hurt a woman in my life."
Then he leaned a little bit closer for to kiss her
And she stuck him in the belly with a knife.

Now the wind that flutters ever gentle through the valley
By the place where Willie's sleeping in the ground.
And the words that read upon the stone of Willie Duncan
Say that one too many women got him down.

Anybody have corrections or background information, or know of recordings that aren't just instrumental versions of this song?
Anybody have a tune they can send me?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: BanjoRay
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 08:29 AM

Someone on one of the lists (god knows which!) said Cruel Willie words were written by someone called Bill Caswell to a tune by Howdy Forrester, who played fiddle for the Blue Grass Boys in the forties among many other things.

Debby seems to be using the same words the Bing Brothers sing.
Cheers - and give my greetings to Debby - she knows who I am!
Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: Richie
Date: 23 Jan 03 - 10:08 AM

Joe,

Here are some of my notes from different sources. Don't have time to sort through now.

CRUEL WILLIE. Old-Time, Breakdown. D Major. DDAD tuning. Learned from Arthur Smith (Tenn.) by Nashville session fiddler Howdy Forrester, to whom it is sometimes attributed. It was also recorded by the Bing Brothers, Howdy Forrester and Junior Daugherty. Briar 4204, Earl Collins - "That's Earl" (1975). Rounder SS-0145, J.P. Fraley (Rush, Ky.) - "Traditional Music on Rounder: A Sampler" (1981. The tune was learned by Fraley from Howdy Forrester).

An instrumental version can be found on a 1995 Rounder CD called, Down the Road to Home, by Connie & Babe and the Backwoods Boys.
The beginning march in this set of tunes, Archibald Campbell of Kilberry, is written by the famous John MacColl. John MacColl was a very prolific composer, and his tunes are very much in the forefront of competitive piping today. This is one of his "smaller" tunes, and can be found in Pipe Major William Ross's Book IV. The Pipe Major William Ross in question here is late of the Scots Guards, and produced five of his own collections. The Strathspey King was written by George S. MacLennan for J. S. Skinner, in whose collections it can be found.

The Wagtail was written by our own John Martin, and Old Willie Duncan is another of our many choices from Ross's Collection of 1886. Cuir Mi Anns an Ciste Mhor was acquired by Duncan from his friend Alan Henderson at a late night session. The title, which translates from the Gaelic as "Put Me in the Great Chest", refers to the story of a well know composer's choice, made on his deathbed, to be buried wherever some item that he threw landed, which unfortunately ended up being on top of the wardrobe. This anecdote was much repeated about the highlands and in fact there are several tunes and songs, all different but with the same title, referring to this tale. This is not at all uncommon, in keeping with the highland tradition of circulating themes and stories of particular interest, about which many tunes and songs with the same or similar titles were written.

CONNIE AND BABE AND THE BACKWOODS BOYS/Cruel Willie/Down the Road to Home/ROUNDER "Cruel Willie" is an instrumental by Connie and Babe featuring Red Roberts. It is somewhat melancholy. They utilize the fiddles in such a way that it almost reminds you of the Scottish bagpipe sound. You are almost transported to the Highlands of Scotland while listening to this.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Dunca
From: GUEST,becca
Date: 23 May 09 - 08:43 PM

Thanks all yall i been looking for this song everywhere.


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Dunca
From: Janie
Date: 23 May 09 - 11:21 PM

The Bing Brother lyrics are sightly different in a place or two.

First verse, third line

He had a mighty long string of sad women

Second verse, 1st line:

Katie Lou, she was a handsome beauty from the valley


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Dunca
From: Janie
Date: 23 May 09 - 11:39 PM

Not a great version, but here is a video of an unidentified group doing the song.

Cruel Willie, unknown band


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Dunca
From: Janie
Date: 23 May 09 - 11:42 PM

A fiddle version. Plaintiff. No lyrics.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CRUEL WILLIE (Kenny & Amanda Smith Band)
From: GUEST,geri241
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 09:46 PM

CRUEL WILLIE
As recorded by Kenny & Amanda Smith Band on "Live and Learn" (2008)

Long ago there lived a man who courted all the women and they tell me Willie Duncan was his name,
And he had a mighty long string of sad women; oh, Willie was a devil; what a shame!
Katie Lou she was a handsome beauty from the valley and they say her hair was like a Georgia sun,
And her eyes were blue as all the heavens put together; she was just about as pretty as they come.

CHORUS: Cruel Willie, ain't you sad
For makin' all the women feel bad?
Cruel Willie, ain't you 'shamed
For causin' all the women all the pain?

Willie-boy was ridin' in his buggy one mornin' when he came across a darlin' Katie Lou,
And he was so overtaken by her special kind of beauty, he was barely heard to whisper: "How are you?"
Katie Lou smiled and said: "I don't believe you know me, but you knew my little sister very well.
She was just a special kind of sweet little lady till you hurt her more than words could ever tell."

CHORUS

Willie-boy smiled and said: "I don't believe you know me, for I've never hurt a woman in my life."
Then he leaned a little bit closer to kiss her and she stuck him the belly with a knife.
Now the wind it flutters ever gentle though the valley at the place where Willie's sleepin' in the ground,
And the words that're wrote upon the stone of Willie Duncan say: "One too many women got him down."

CHORUS TWICE


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: GUEST
Date: 05 Sep 11 - 11:38 PM

My wife Deanie and I recorded Cruel Willie on our first album, "Dudley and Deanie Murphy At Home" in 1976. Our good friend Bill Caswell wrote the lyrics to the old Howdy Forrester fiddle tune and we learned it after hearing Bill sing it. Glenn Godsey played fiddle on the recording and Jack Pearman played bass ... recorded at Leapin' Lizards studio in Springfield, MO.

And, the words? I found this site while searching the web for the lyrics so I can sing it next Saturday at a festival. Guess I'll have to refresh my memory the way we used to: listening to the recording. Glad I have an MP3 since my turntable gave up the ghost. I'd attach an MP3 if I knew how ... Glenn's fiddle is perfect.
Take care,

Dudley


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Subject: RE: Origins & Lyr Req: Cruel Willie / Willie Duncan
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 17 - 04:30 PM

I play with what we call a Mini-Jam. There are five or six of us. We sing Cruel Willie in G for our voice ranges. I know it's traditionally in D. The cool thing about playing it in G is that the fiddle and mandolin (I'm mandolin) can play the high part on the A and E strings. I start with my second finger on the A string note D. The only time the tune in the high part uses the D string at all, is the 5th fret G.

I have made very small alterations in the lyrics so that they fit the actual tune of Cruel Willie. The sung version I heard had virtually no similarity to the regular tune -- but somehow I was able to figure out the lyric rhythms and tune from that version anyway. One really helpful word I changed to fit the beat is, changing "sad" to "saddened."

Does anyone have the chords for Cruel Willie?


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