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Origins: Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky

DigiTrad:
ROUGH AND ROCKY


Richie 16 Feb 03 - 01:34 PM
GUEST 16 Feb 03 - 05:52 PM
masato sakurai 16 Feb 03 - 06:59 PM
Ebbie 16 Feb 03 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,Q 16 Feb 03 - 08:05 PM
rich-joy 16 Feb 03 - 09:46 PM
Richie 16 Feb 03 - 09:48 PM
GUEST,Q 16 Feb 03 - 10:34 PM
Jerry Rasmussen 16 Feb 03 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,Q 16 Feb 03 - 10:50 PM
masato sakurai 16 Feb 03 - 10:55 PM
michaelr 17 Feb 03 - 03:58 PM
Stewie 17 Feb 03 - 05:01 PM
Richie 17 Feb 03 - 05:44 PM
Stewie 17 Feb 03 - 08:42 PM
Richie 17 Feb 03 - 09:04 PM
GUEST,Q 17 Feb 03 - 09:17 PM
Kaleea 18 Feb 03 - 01:22 AM
GUEST,Q 18 Feb 03 - 01:31 PM
Frankham 18 Feb 03 - 01:57 PM
Stewie 18 Feb 03 - 06:12 PM
Joe Offer 04 Jul 09 - 05:26 PM
Gervase 04 Jul 09 - 05:50 PM
Fortunato 19 Apr 10 - 12:06 PM
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Subject: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Richie
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 01:34 PM

I know the bluegrass song, "Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky" has been recorded by many of the top bluegrass groups.

What is the origin of the song?

Thanks,

-Richie


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: GUEST
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 05:52 PM

Emmy Lou Harris used the title "Rough and Rocky Road" in Blue Kentucky Girl, Warner, 1979. There is also a gospel tune of this title, popular in 1949-1951, and this seems to be the only one in references that old. Can't find anything to help here.


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: masato sakurai
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 06:59 PM

"Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky" is Flatt & Scruggs' 1954 song (Click here for lyrics in the DT). According to notes to Flatt & Scruggs 1948-1959 (Bear Family BDC 15472), it is credited to Flatt & Scruggs, and is "an old song which the Blue Sky Boys had recorded in 1936 as Can't You Hear That Night Bird Singing." There were black gospel songs with "rough and rocky road" in their titles before World War II (for example, Heavenly Gospel Singers version recorded in 1936), but they don't seem to have been related.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Ebbie
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 07:49 PM

"Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky" is an old country song, kept alive by the likes of bluegrass masters such as Flatt and Scruggs.

Source: The Bluegrass Songbook, By Peter Wernick. Oak Publications.
Recordings on file by: J. D. Crowe & Friends, Emmy Lou Harris, Earl Scruggs & Tom T. Hall.

http://www.oldtownschool.org/resourcecenter/songnotes_D.html

I would have thought, Masato, that more is known about the song itself- it's a bit more deft than a lot of country/bluegrass songs, imo.

    Don't This Road Look Rough & Rocky

    In the early 1930s, a new form of country music began to emerge from the older Southern mountain traditions. It was called Bluegrass music. Many agree the term was coined by the great Bill Monroe, a Kentuckian who called his band, “The Bluegrass Boys.”
         Bluegrass musicians pride themselves on their tight harmony singing and instrumental virtuosity. Where old-time string band instrumentalists will all play the melody simultaneously, each musician in a bluegrass ensemble will often “take a break” while the others vamp in the background.
         The characteristic sound of bluegrass was complete when banjo player Earl Scruggs, who developed a three-finger picking style, now known as “Scruggs Style Picking,” joined Monroe’s Bluegrass Boys in the late 1930s. Soon after, Scruggs and guitarist Lester Flatt formed their own band, and helped bring the sounds of bluegrass music to an ever-widening audience. If you remember the music from the television show, “The Beverly Hillbillys,” you've heard Earl Scruggs pick his banjo.
         “Don’t This Road Look Rough and Rocky” is an old country song, kept alive by the likes of bluegrass masters such as Flatt and Scruggs.


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 08:05 PM

Adding to Masato- Blue Sky Boys (Bolick Brothers). A compilation of 21 sides from Bluebird 78's includes "Can't You Hear...." The Album title is "There'll come a time/Can't you hear that nightbird singing?" Orig. Issue date 1936. A track by track commentary by Bill Bolick is included. Blue Sky Boys
www.allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=Bf83gtq7ztu43

The same? song appears on RDR0052, issued by them in the 1940s, as "Don't this road look rough and rocky?" available from Camsco.


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: rich-joy
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 09:46 PM

"Rough and Rocky", (as in Blue Sky Boys), I have seen credited a number of times to Charles Justice and Shoji Tabuchi. I don't know about Charles J., but there is a website existing about Shoji and his Country Music theatre (can't recall which town) in the US (he's been there for years ...)

Cheers!
R-J


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Richie
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 09:48 PM

Thanks to all,

Masato, I thought the Blue Sky Boys song was "Can't You Hear That Night Bird Crying."

Isn't his part of an older group of songs, "Little Bunch of Roses" by Frank Blevins and others?

Is it related to "Budded Roses" also?

-Richie


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 10:34 PM

Error in my post- Crying, not Singing.
Justice and Shoji made the arrangement used by Emmy Lou Harris. I could not find their names attached to any of the older arrangements.


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 10:36 PM

I suspect the phrase has been used in a lot of gospel songs. I wrote a song, When I Get To Glory, with the opening verse:

   "It's a long and a lonesome journey
    On a rough and a rocky road
    It's not made for the weak or the faint of heart
    You've got to carry such a heavy load."

Jerry


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 10:50 PM

"The Road is Rocky" is a road gang song. A fragment is mentioned in Brown, North Carolina Folklore (no date). Probably no relation to the song Richie is looking for.

Tabuchi's place is in Branson, MO. He is a Japanese-born violinist who moved into country and pop music and has made his fortune. The Wall Street Journal gave him a recommendation.


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: masato sakurai
Date: 16 Feb 03 - 10:55 PM

Should have been "Can't You Hear That Night Bird Crying." The notes' error.
~Masato


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: michaelr
Date: 17 Feb 03 - 03:58 PM

A nice, slowed-down version was recorded by the late Gene Clark (original Byrds lead singer) on his "Roadmaster" album. There, the song is credited to Flatt/Scruggs.

Cheers,
Michael


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Stewie
Date: 17 Feb 03 - 05:01 PM

Richie

Meade et alia group the Blue Sky Boys' 'Can't You Hear ...' with #4 'Little Bunch of Roses' in their section on 'Lovers Parted'. 'Budded Roses' is grouped in subcategory #4(a) under the title 'Down Among the Budded Roses'. The other subcategories are 4(b)'Are You Angry With Me Darling' and 4(c) 'I'm Not Angry With You Darling'. The lyrics to Charlie Poole's version of 'Budded Rose' may be found HERE.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Richie
Date: 17 Feb 03 - 05:44 PM

Thanks Stewie,

I could see there was some connection. "Don't This Road Look Rough" seems like a 19th Century parlor song or a Tin-Pan Alley song.

Kinney Rorrer finds no source for "Budded Rose" by Poole in his book, even though I know he tried.

Do you have a version of "Little Bunch of Roses"?

-Richie


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Subject: ADD: Little Bunch of Roses & Last Gold Dollar
From: Stewie
Date: 17 Feb 03 - 08:42 PM

Richie

The Blevins recording you mentioned was made at the 8 November 1927 session for Columbia. Unfortunately, 'Little Bunch of Roses' was unissued. The other sides from the session are available on 'Music From the Lost Provinces' Old Hat CD-1001. I don't know whether 'Roses' has since surfaced anywhere.

However, below is my transcription of the version by Murphy Brothers Harp Band. I am not certain of the first part of the first line of the penultimate stanza, but in brackets is what it sounds like.


LITTLE BUNCH OF ROSES

Instrumental intro

Darling, I have come to tell you
Though the message breaks my heart
On the dawning of tomorrow
You and I, my love, must part

Chorus:
Then take this little bunch of roses
That you gave me years ago
Hold them, kiss them and caress them
But I'll never kiss you more

Instrumental break

[There though] sad the hour of parting
My poor heart it breaks with pain
In some future years to come, love,
We may some time meet again

Chorus

Instrumental break

When the whippoorwill is singing
On some dark and lonesome sea
Won't you some time, little darling,
Cast one single thought for me

Chorus

Instrumental break

Chorus

Source: transcription of Murphy Brothers Harp Band 'Little Bunch of Roses' recorded on 4 December 1930 in Atlanta, Georgia, and issued as Columbia 15646-D in April 1931. Reissued on Various Artists 'The Rose Grew Round the Briar Vol II' Yazoo CD 2031.

Another in the family is 'Last Gold Dollar'. Below is my transcription of a version by Ephraim Woodie & The Henpecked Husbands. I am unable to decipher completely the first line of the penultimate stanza.

LAST GOLD DOLLAR

Lord, I'd give my last gold dollar
Yes, I'd give my gold watch and chain
I would pawn this heart in my body
Just to see my darlin' again

Don't this road look long and lonely
Don't the sea look wide and deep
Would you ever think of me darlin'
If you could not hear me speak

Take me back to North Carolina
Bring me back to Tennessee
Bring me back my blue-eyed darlin'
She is all this world to me

I remember last time I saw her
How my heart was torn with pain
When she said, 'Goodbye, God bless you
We may never meet again'

You may be with pride [?]
Some may tell you I'm not true
But, remember dearest, darlin'
No one loves you as I do

Every night in this creation
Bending on my tremblin' knee
Then I pray to God and ask him
'Oh, what does my sweetheart mean?'

Don't this road look long and lonely
Winding down this rocky stream
But, remember dearest, darlin'
You are always in my dreams

Source: transcription of Ephraim Woodie & The Henpecked Husbands 'Last Gold Dollar' recorded on 29 October 1929 in Johnson City, Tennessee, and issued in August 1930 as Columbia 15564-D. Reissued on Various Artists 'Music From the Lost Provinces: Old-time Stringbands from Ashe County Nth Carolina & Vicinity 1927-1931' Old Hat CD-1001.

The lyrics to another in the family - the Carter Family's 'Farewell Nellie - may be found on this page: Click. The details are: recorded on 18 June 1937 and issued as Decca 5677.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Richie
Date: 17 Feb 03 - 09:04 PM

Thanks Stewie,

You can really see the connection in the 2nd verse of the Last Gold
Dollar.

Here's some info on Last Gold Dollar which is sometimes called "Last Ol' Dollar."

Last Gold Dollar, My
DESCRIPTION: "My last (gold/ole) dollar is gone (x2), My whiskey bill is due an' my board bill too...." "Oh darling, I'm crazy about you... and another girl too..." "Oh darling, won't you go my bail?..." "Oh darling, six months ain't too long...."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927
KEYWORDS: poverty hardtimes prison courting drink
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE,So)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Randolph 671, "My Last Gold Dollar" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 149, "My Last Ole Dollar" (1 text, 1 tune)
Spaeth-WeepMore, pp. 130-131, "My Last Old Dollar" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, OLDOLLAR*
RECORDINGS:
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, "The Last Gold Dollar" (on BLLunsford01)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "I Wish I Was a Mole in the Ground" (floating lyrics)
cf. "New River Train" (floating lyrics)

Last Gold Dollar
Rt - Don't Let Your Deal Go Down
1.Kidwell, Fiddlin' Van. Fiddlin' Van Kidwell with Hotmud Family, Vetco LP 502, LP (1974), cut# 7
2.Martin, Edsel. Close to Home, Smithsonian/Folkways SF 40097, CD (1997), cut#20
3.Moonshine Kate (Carson, Rosa Lee). Banjo Pickin' Girl, Rounder 1029, LP (1978), cut# 10

-Richie


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 17 Feb 03 - 09:17 PM

There are 1001 songs of separation and sadness. They all begin to sound alike if you look at enough of them.
One that is found from the Appalachians to the Ozarks is "Little Darling," or "Don't Forget Me, Little Darling." A version with audio is in Max Hunter. First verse:

Don't forget me, little darling
When from you I'm far away
Just remember little darling
We will meet again someday.
Also:
Who will teach you little darling
Who will hold you to their breast
Who will talk the future over
While I roam the desert west.

At my window proud and lonely,
Ofen do I think of thee
E'r I wondered little darling
If you ever think of me.

Several ballads have "night birds singing," including "Love Me at Twilight." It is easy to mix and match these songs.

The main difference in "Rough and Rocky Road" is the reference to "Don't my baby look the sweetest when she's in my arms asleep." This refers to the lover, but has a reference to a child been lost?


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Kaleea
Date: 18 Feb 03 - 01:22 AM

Looks to me as if "Don't This Road Look Rough & Rocky" may be a song comprised of pieces of various traditional songs such as Little Bunch of Roses, Fond Affection, Don't Forget Me Little Darling, & probably some others. I have also heard an old recording of it done by Curley Seckler & the Shenandoah Cutups.


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Subject: Lyr Add: LITTLE DARLING
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 18 Feb 03 - 01:31 PM

Versions of the songs mentioned by Kaleea were posted to thread 35233, "Age of East Virginia." East Virginia .
A version with "greenback dollar" also is posted in that thread. Budded Rose is very close to "(Don't Forget Me) Little Darling" in content. Here is the full text of "Little Darling" from Max Hunter.

Lyr. Add: LITTLE DARLING

Don't forget me little darling
When from you I'm far away.
Just remember little darling
We will meet again someday.

Don't forget me little darling
Don't forget that happy past
Just remember little darling
We will surely meet at last.

Don't forget the night we parted
We were setting side by side
When you whispered that you loved me
You had gained my heart with pride.

You may meet with many a change, dear
Some may tell you I'm not true
But remember little darling
No one loves you as I do.

You may meet with brighter faces
Heading down the river's stream
But remember little darling
You are always in my dreams.

Who will teach you little darling
Who will hold you to their breast
Who will talk the future over
While I roam the desert west.

At my window proud and lonely
Ofen do I think of thee
E'r I wondered little darling
If you ever think of me.

Do you ever think, my darling
-------
------ dream of sorrow
Could this poor boy ever dream.

Sung by Mrs Claudie and Glenda Sue Richardson, Mountain View, Arkansas, 1971. Max Hunter Folk Song Collection, Cat. 1221(MFH# 152): Little Darling Audio provided.

Another version, also from Max Hunter, Don't Forget Also with audio.


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Subject: RE: ORIGIN: Don't This Road Look Rough
From: Frankham
Date: 18 Feb 03 - 01:57 PM

At My Window Sad and Lonely....this is the song I was looking for on the other threads. Thanks. Finally found a source. Variant of these others. This is probably where Woody got it.

Frank


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Subject: Lyr Add: DON'T FORGET ME, LITTLE DARLING
From: Stewie
Date: 18 Feb 03 - 06:12 PM

Dicho posted some 'Little Darling' texts from Randolph: HERE.

Meade et alia 'Country Music Sources' references 17 pre-1943 commercial recordings of 'Don't Forget Me Little Darling' at #10 in its section on 'Parted Lovers' p 159. It refers to 'C.W. Vance, wds, R.S. Crandall, m, 1874; see also Thos. P. Westendorf, wds, Geo.W.Persley, m, 1879 ...'. The earliest recording was by Gid Tanner for Columbia in November 1926, but this was unissued. The first issued recording was by David Miller [The Blind Soldier] for Gennett in May 1927.

Below is the version from the Carter Family:

DON'T FORGET ME, LITTLE DARLING

Don't forget me, little darling
When from me you're far away
But remember, little darling
We will meet again some day

Darling, I have come to tell you
Though this message breaks my heart
At the dawning of the morning
We'll be many miles apart

Instrumental break

Take this little bunch of roses
That you gave me long ago
Many a time I've kissed them, darling
These I'll never kiss no more

Who is going to love you, darling
Who will fold you to their breast
Who will talk the future over
While I roam the desert west

Instrumental break

You may meet with many changes
Driving down life's river stream
But remember, little darling
You are always in my dream

You may meet with brighter faces
Some may say that I'm not true
But remember, little darling
None can love you as I do

Instrumental break

At my window sad and lonely
Often do I think of you
And I wonder, oh I wonder
If you ever think of me

Source: Carter Family 'Don't Forget Me Little Darling' recorded 7 May 1935 in NYC and issued as ARC 6-01-59 in January 1936. Transcription from: http://www.silcom.com/~peterf/ideas/carter2.htm


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Subject: ADD Version: Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 05:26 PM

Here's a version by the Blue Sky Boys:

ROUGH AND ROCKY

Darling I have come to tell you
'Though it almost breaks my heart
But before the morning darling
We'll be many miles apart.

CHORUS
Don't this road look rough and rocky
Don't this sea look wide and deep
Don't my darling look the sweetest
When she's in my arms asleep?

Don't you hear the night birds crying
Far across the deep blue sea
While of others you are thinking
Won't you sometimes think of me?

One more kiss and all is over
One more kiss before we part
You have caused me lots of trouble
You have almost broke my heart.


I found this MP3 on my computer, and I can't recall where I got it from. It's just a little different from the version in the Digital Tradition.

Here's what Wayne Erbsen has to say about "Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky":
    Searching for clues to ther origin of "Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky" is like trying to untangle a knot in a fisherman's net. Some of the strands that make up this song come from diverse songs such as "My Dear Companion," "Fond Affection," and "Don't Forget Me Little Darling." In 1927 Sigmund Spaeth published a fragment of the song in his book Weep Some More My Lady under the title "Go And Leave Me If You Wish To." In his book, Ozark Folksongs, Vance Randolph found some ten additional songs that share pieces of "Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky." The Blue Sky Boys recorded it as "Can't You Hear Those Night Birds Singing." For fans of bluegrass, it was Flatt & Scruggs' May 19, 1954, recording that helped solidify this version of the song.
    Source: Rural Roots of Bluegrass, Wayne Erbsen, page 70.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky
From: Gervase
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 05:50 PM

Peta Webb and Ken Hall do a lovely harmonised performance of "Rough and Rocky" on their CD "as close as can be", together with the other schmaltzy tearjerker "Rose of My Heart".
Their rendition is the same as the Scruggs/DT version though.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Don't This Road Look Rough and Rocky
From: Fortunato
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 12:06 PM

thanks for the notes on this song, Susette and I are just adding it to our repetoire.

thanks Joe for the Wayne Erbsen quote, I'll ask him about it when I see him at Fiddler's Grove next month.

cheers,

chance


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