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Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)

DigiTrad:
THE BAGGAGE COACH AHEAD


Jim Dixon 23 Jan 04 - 09:31 PM
Louie Roy 24 Jan 04 - 01:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Jan 04 - 02:45 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Jan 04 - 04:02 PM
Joe Offer 24 Jan 04 - 05:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Jan 04 - 06:17 PM
kendall 24 Jan 04 - 06:58 PM
kendall 24 Jan 04 - 07:01 PM
SINSULL 25 Jan 04 - 11:52 AM
GUEST,Stella Wilson 24 Jan 09 - 03:28 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: IN THE BAGGAGE-COACH AHEAD (G L Davis)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 23 Jan 04 - 09:31 PM

This song is already in the DT, but the copy there has some shortcomings. The title isn't quite right. It is missing an attribution and date. The chorus is run-on with the verses and not identified. The way the lines are divided obscures the rhyme scheme. There are minor differences in wording.

The version posted by Kendall here above has some of those same problems, plus it is missing 4 lines, and it is posted in a thread that is mostly about a different song.

I hope this is an improvement.

Transcribed from the sheet-music images at Duke University's 'Historic American Sheet Music' collection:

IN THE BAGGAGE-COACH AHEAD
Gussie L. Davis, 1896

1. On a dark stormy night as the train rattled on, all the passengers had gone to bed
Except one young man with a babe in his arms who sat with a bowed-down head.
The innocent one began crying just then, as though its poor heart would break.
One angry man said, "Make that child stop its noise, for it's keeping all of us awake."
"Put it out," said another. "Don't keep it in here. We've paid for our berths and want rest."
But never a word said the man with the child, as he fondled it close to his breast.
"Where is its mother? Go take it to her," this a lady then softly said.
"I wish that I could," was the man's sad reply, "but she's dead in the coach ahead."

CHORUS: While the train rolled onward, a husband sat in tears,
Thinking of the happiness of just a few short years.
For baby's face brings pictures of a cherished hope that's dead,
But baby's cries can't waken her in the baggage coach ahead.

2. Ev'ry eye filled with tears when his story he told of a wife who was faithful and true.
He told how he'd saved all his earnings for years, just to build up a home for two.
How, when Heaven had sent them this sweet little babe, their young happy lives were blessed.
His heart seemed to break when he mentioned her name, and in tears tried to tell them the rest.
Every woman arose to assist with the child. There were mothers and wives on that train.
And soon was the little one sleeping in peace with no thought of sorrow or pain.
Next morn at a station, he bade all goodbye. "God bless you," he softly said.
They each had a story to tell in their home of the baggage coach ahead. CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: Louie Roy
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 01:53 PM

Jim this is the way I learned it in the 1930s and we had it on an Edison record but I haven't the foggist who sang it Louie Roy


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 02:45 PM

An article in the "Literary Digest," reproduced in the "African Methodist Episcopal Church Review, vol. 15 #3, 1899, mentions several black composers of the 19th c. A few quotes:
"The Negro is the coming musician of the United States. So thinks John Edward Bruce.... in the Boston Evening Transcript in which he tells of some of the songs written by negroes.
The first one he mentions is "Listen to the Mocking-Bird, by George Milburn, a street minstrel, who, being too poor to publish it, sold it to Winner, who has generally received credit for it."

On The Baggage-Coach Ahead," by Gussie L. Davis-
"He is the young negro song-writer who won the second prize recently given by the New York World for the best song written by an American song-writer. He was really entitled to first prize, but the judges took into account the fact that he is a negro and gave him second prize.... More than 500,000 of his best songs have been sold within the past dozen years, and there is not a city in the United States where they are not sung or played by the bands."

American Memory. Enter The baggage-Coach Ahead into the Search blank.
Baggage-Car
A copy of the sheet music also at this website.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 04:02 PM

More background.
The song was a favorite, and soon entered the folk realm. Randolph (Oxark Folksongs, vol. 4, says that in Kansas, it was often printed that Davis based his song on a true event. Dr. Watson, a physician, was taking his dead wife back to Pennsylvania. His little daughter cried, and the doctor told complaining passengers that the child's mother was dead and in the baggage coach. Randolph printed a version sung in Missouri in 1927.

Listen to Mary Frances Caldwell singing her version, in the Wolf Collection: Baggage Coach Ahead


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 05:00 PM

I checked the version in Ozark Folksongs and it's almost the same as what Jim Dixon posted from the sheet music. One verse in Ozark Folksongs is in a different place, where it doesn't quite seem to fit; and the chorus is sung after every two lines. The Digital Tradition version is from Pound's American Ballads and Folk Songs. I looked for the song there, but I found that twenty pages are missing from the library-reject copy I bought for $1.50 (at that price, I can't complain). Can anybody check Pound and see if we have an accurate transcription?
-Joe Offer-


Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Baggage Coach Ahead, The

DESCRIPTION: The passengers on the train are awakened by a child's cries. They complain to the child's father. He tells them that the child's mother is dead "in the baggage coach ahead." Upon learning this, the passengers turn helpful
AUTHOR: Gussie L. Davis?
EARLIEST DATE: 1898
KEYWORDS: family children mother death train
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Randolph 704, "The Baggage Coach Ahead" (1 text)
LPound-ABS, 58, pp. 131-132, "The Baggage Coach Ahead" (1 text)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 155-156, "In the Baggage Coach Ahead" (fragmentary text, partial tune)
Geller-Famous, pp. 173-178, "In the Baggage Coach Ahead" (1 text, 1 tune)

Roud #3529
RECORDINGS:
Fiddlin' John Carson, "The Baggage Coach Ahead" (Okeh 7006)
Vernon Dalhart, "In the Baggage Coach Ahead" (Columbia 15028-D, c. 1925) (Edison 51557 [as Vernon Dalhart & Co.], 1925) (Supertone 9248, 1928) (Perfect 12644, 1930) (CYL: Edison [BA] 5011 [as Vernon Dalhart & Co.], n.d.)
George Gaskin, "In the Baggage Coach Ahead" (CYL: Collumbia 4080, c. 1898)
George Reneau, "The Baggage Coach Ahead" (Vocalion 14918, 1924)
Ernest Thompson, "In The Baggage Coach Ahead" (Columbia 216-D, 1924)
Notes: Said to be based on the real-life story of Dr. James B. Watson and family. Watson's daughter Nellie was born in 1867, and the girl's mother died in 1869. Watson was taking his wife's body back to her home in Pennsylvania when the events described took place.
On the other hand, Spaeth notes that Charles K. Harris wrote a song "Is Life Worth Living," with almost the same plot some years before Davis produced "Baggage Coach." Whether based on an actual incident or not, the idea amply met the nineteenth century demand for tearjerkers. - RBW
File: R704

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2003 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 06:17 PM

The Record Lady has Vernon Dalhart's "In the Baggage Coach Ahead."
Record Lady
Requests page 1.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: kendall
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 06:58 PM

The only difference I see between the way I sing it and the way it's posted here is the chorus. I only sing the chorus as the last verse because it makes more sense to me. When the young man says "she's dead in the coach etc. there is no story to tell in their homes yet.
Matter of opinion I guess.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: kendall
Date: 24 Jan 04 - 07:01 PM

I don't know who posted it originally, but thats not my version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: SINSULL
Date: 25 Jan 04 - 11:52 AM

But Kendall,this is the CHORUS:
CHORUS: While the train rolled onward, a husband sat in tears,
Thinking of the happiness of just a few short years.
For baby's face brings pictures of a cherished hope that's dead,
But baby's cries can't waken her in the baggage coach ahead.

"Story to tell" comes at the end of the second verse.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: In the Baggage-Coach Ahead (G. L. Davis)
From: GUEST,Stella Wilson
Date: 24 Jan 09 - 03:28 PM

Do you know where I can get the lyrics to The Baggage Coach Ahead?
Thanks for any info.
Stella Wilson


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