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Origin:Charlie Bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer?

DigiTrad:
JUMPIN' JUDY
NINE POUND HAMMER (Roll on Buddy)
SWANNANOA TUNNEL
SWANNANOA TUNNEL 2


Related threads:
Nine Pound Hammer (8)
Hoyt Axton and Swananoah Tunnel (4)
Lyr Req: Spike Driver Blues (Mississippi John Hurt (9)
Lyr Req: Sugar in My Coffee (16)
'Swannanoa Tunnel': Murder Ballad Monday (1)
Tune Req: Nine pound hammer, townes van zandt (8)
Lyr Req: Roll On Buddy... (8)
Lyr Add: Swannanoa Tunnel 2 (5)
john henry (Dick Miles mp3) (4)
(origins) Origins: Nine Pound Hammer (50)
mp3: Nine Pound Hammer - Ralph Stanley (4)
Lyr Req: Roll On Buddy (10)
Help: Roll on Buddy (9)
Lyr Req: Swannanoa Tunnel (3)


GUEST,scott b 09 Nov 04 - 01:27 AM
BanjoRay 09 Nov 04 - 08:56 AM
GUEST 09 Nov 04 - 05:56 PM
Tannywheeler 09 Nov 04 - 07:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Nov 04 - 08:06 PM
GUEST,scott b 09 Nov 04 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,scott b 16 Nov 04 - 08:53 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 17 Nov 04 - 03:50 PM
GUEST,Jim Bowman 04 Jul 09 - 09:47 PM
GUEST,Jim Bowman 04 Jul 09 - 09:53 PM
Melissa 05 Jul 09 - 02:45 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 05 Jul 09 - 03:25 AM
Lizzie Cornish 1 05 Jul 09 - 03:30 AM
Murray MacLeod 06 Jul 09 - 03:24 AM
Nerd 06 Jul 09 - 11:10 AM
Jayto 06 Jul 09 - 11:22 AM
Jayto 06 Jul 09 - 11:24 AM
Nerd 06 Jul 09 - 11:43 AM
Jayto 06 Jul 09 - 03:35 PM
Nerd 06 Jul 09 - 05:17 PM
Jayto 06 Jul 09 - 06:10 PM
Jayto 08 Jul 09 - 02:30 AM
Nerd 08 Jul 09 - 05:47 PM
Nerd 08 Jul 09 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,KyBoy 25 Feb 10 - 07:23 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 25 Feb 10 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,Dan C 20 Sep 11 - 06:54 AM
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Subject: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: GUEST,scott b
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 01:27 AM

charlie bowman recorded "Nine Pound Hammer" and also wrote "Roll On Buddy". it goes ....roll on buddy roll on...you wouldnt move so slow if you knew what i know, roll on buddy roll on...havent been able to find roll on buddy lyrics and chords on the net. But i have a vinyl copy of the song "Roll On Buddy' that my grandfather gave me. Charlie Bowman was my grandfathers dad. He was my great grandfather although i never met him...he died in 1962
http://www.1001tunes.com/fiddlers/bowman.html


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: BanjoRay
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 08:56 AM

Charlie was a superb fiddle player - I have several CDs of the Hillbillies and/or the Bucklebusters. You don't know if he was any relation to Richard Bowman who plays fiddle and lives near Mount Airy, do you, Scott?
Ray


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 05:56 PM

I dont think we are related to Richard Bowman, at least not our side of the family. Im trying to get a band together to record these songs. I would be the 1st family member to record them. I have a cousin near Johnson City...his name is Ronnie Bowman he plays guitar etc...not sure if he has a band right now. Havent seen him in 20 years. I need to get some of the Hillbies/bucklebusters cds...all i have is vinyl right now...everyone seems to think meryl travis or bill monroe wrote roll on buddy/ nine pound hammer...not true--thanks for your response- Scott B


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 07:25 PM

The words I remember to "Roll On Buddy" (just a few):
"Roll on, Buddy
Heave a load of coal.
How kin I roll
When the wheels won't go?"
The 2nd line is sometimes sung "Don't ya roll so slow."

These 2 songs are interrelated in my head -- perhaps because of who I heard do them? They seem to be the same song sometimes.   Tw


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 08:06 PM

See dates and comments added to thread 55453: Nine Pound Hammer


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: GUEST,scott b
Date: 09 Nov 04 - 09:06 PM

The Hillbillies recorded it in 1927...1st documented recording of the song Nine Pound Hammer. My great grandfather was the fiddler in that band. He picked up some of the lyrics from negro railroad workers in tennessee. He added to it cahanged someof the lyrics etc.. His version is what was copied throughout the late 20s. Many dispute where the song orgiginated...Heres a link that might help shed some light on our discussion...www.oldtimemusic.com/FHOFBowman.html


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Subject: charlie bowman wrote nine pound hammer i
From: GUEST,scott b
Date: 16 Nov 04 - 08:53 PM

Meryl Travis didnt write Nine Pound Hammer, Charlie Bowman did. As a descendant of Charlie Bowmans, i find it frustrating how many artists have covered this tune and called it "traditional" or ..."by meryl travis". has history forgotten my great grandpa?


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote nine pound hammer i
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 17 Nov 04 - 03:50 PM

I don't think your great grandpa has been forgotten, didn't they unveil a marker in his honour down at Gray, Tennessee in August ?

Still I can understand your feelings, just like when "Hot Corn, Cold Corn" was credited to Flatt & Scruggs. There are many others too I'm sure and it is often done through ignorance rather than being deliberate.

I've noticed your postings previously so you are obviously not going to let Charlie be forgotten.

Incidentally are any of the family descendants playing music currently.


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: GUEST,Jim Bowman
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 09:47 PM

I am.


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: GUEST,Jim Bowman
Date: 04 Jul 09 - 09:53 PM

Charlie was my great-uncle. His brother, Elbert, was my grandfather. Several of Elbert's sons carried on the music tradition. One son was Billy who played steel guitar for Bob Wills in the 50s and is in the Steel Guitar Hall of Fame. Other sons of Elbert have been involved in music all their lives.

My dad, Weldon, is the oldest of the Bowman clan and plays guitar. I have been in several bands: country, gospel, bluegrass, etc. and continue to play today.


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Melissa
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 02:45 AM

Were you related to the Bowman (fiddler) that lived in North-Central MO?
I didn't know him but we have a local "Bowman's Tune" that nobody knows the name of.


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 03:25 AM

You may know about this already, Scott..

Your Great Grandpa:
Charlie Bowman - Youtube - Radio Interview


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Lizzie Cornish 1
Date: 05 Jul 09 - 03:30 AM

Hey, Scott...is this you? :0)

'Nine Pound Hammer' - being played by Charlie's great-grandson


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:24 AM

I am interested in this "Meryl Travis" who is mistakenly assumed to have written Nine Pound Hammer.

She wouldn't be any relation of Meryl Streep by any chance ?


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 11:10 AM

Once you begin with "he picked up some of the lyrics from Negro railroad workers in Tennessee," it becomes hard to argue that he wrote the song. Unless you can show which parts were traditional and which were original, it sounds more or less like he recorded a traditional song, and then other people recorded the same traditional song. The extent to which the other people's recordings were influenced by Charlie's version can only be known if we know exactly what Charlie did to the song.

Did he ever tell anyone, or write down, what he remebered from the tradition? It would be interesting to know....


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Jayto
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 11:22 AM

This is all new to me. Merle Travis and I are from the same area. I am going to have to check into this more. If Travis didn't write it I bet people say his name because he adapted it into his style of guitar playing and had a pop hit with it during the 1940's.

cya
JT

Merle Travis


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Jayto
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 11:24 AM

1950's I mean and plus Travis did alot of mining songs. It sounds like something he would write especially when combined with his guitar picking. I always heard he wrote it so this is new to me.
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 11:43 AM

Looking at Robert W. Gordon's card catalog, I find that Gordon recorded a man named Austin Butler singing "Nine Pound Hammer" in the Darien, GA. area, in 1926. I have Gordon's notes in front of me, but he didn't note the exact date. (I know that cylinder A279 was recorded on March 19, and "Nine Pound Hammer" is number A252; given the clip at which he recorded, it would be within a week or so of March 19.) The date is often spoken on the cylinder itself, but I don't have time to pull the tape dub and listen to it.

In any case, this means that the Hillbillies' 1927 recording is only the first COMMERCIAL recording of the song, not the first documented recording. More than likely, we can find manuscript versions as well dating back to before 1927.

Again, we would need to know just what Charlie did to the song to know how good a claim he has to "writing" his version.


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Jayto
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 03:35 PM

Here's Merle's version of it.

Merle Travis playing Nine Pound Hammer


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Nerd
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 05:17 PM

On this thread, several catters, including me, contributed evidence suggesting that Scott B's great-granddad did not "write" either of these songs, but may have popularized his own versions of them. They are traditional American folk songs, and versions have been collected going back to Cecil Sharp in the teens.

Both Archie Green (in "Only a Miner") and Norm Cohen (in "Long Steel Rail") have chapters on this song, neither of which supports the idea that Scott B's great-grandfather wrote it. Green does suggest that the Bucklebusters may have innovated in combining traditional verses of "Nine Pound Hammer" with traditional verses of "Roll on Buddy."

Incidentally, Gordon published a fragment of "Roll On Buddy" in 1924.


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Jayto
Date: 06 Jul 09 - 06:10 PM

I wonder if Travis added the verse "It's a long way to Harlan mighty long way to Hazard"? If not does anyone know who may have added it? The reason I ask is the fact Travis was from Kentucky and both of the towns mentioned in that verse are in Kentucky. Matter of fact I was in both places just last Friday.That may have lead alot of people to think he wrote it. If anyone knows let me know please.
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Jayto
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 02:30 AM

Noone on here knows the answer whoa lol
cya
JT


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Nerd
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:47 PM

Norm Cohen thinks that Travis added the Harlan and Hazard references. Archie Green suggests the same.

The reason is a little obscure, especially as Travis was not from anywhere near Harlan or Hazard--he was from Ebenezer, 200 miles away, which was a long distance in his youth. Archie Green speculates that he added the Harlan/Hazard reference because Harlan was a famous coal-mining town due to the violent disturbances there in the 1930s. So, even though he was from another coal-mining town, saying "it's a long way to Ebenezer," or even "it's a long way to Beech Creek" (where his dad worked) wouldn't have meant much to the public. But "it's a long way to Harlan" would immediately mean miners in most people's minds. Notably, it seems to be Travis who changed the song from a railroad song to a mining song.


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Subject: RE: charlie bowman wrote Nine Pound Hammer
From: Nerd
Date: 08 Jul 09 - 05:48 PM

Archie Green's book "Only a Miner" also has a good summary of Charlie Bowman's role, based on interviews he conducted with Bowman in 1961.

Bowman told Green that when he was a teenager, the black railroad crews came through his town, and he spent a lot of time hanging around them to listen to their music. He learned the song at that time, then remembered it twenty-two years later in the New York studio where Brunswick 177 was recorded. In Green's words, "Nine-Pound Hammer stemmed directly from locutions and a melody used by black railroad-construction laborers early in the century."

This is confirmed by the 1926 Gordon recording, which features the line about the hammer killing John Henry, which is also one of the verses of Bowman's song.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Nine Pound Hammer (Charlie Bowman)
From: GUEST,KyBoy
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 07:23 AM

So for the song to have been recorded back in 1927 means that it is Public Domain.Correct? What does it matter who wrote it? I myself have heard many different versions of it as well a number of verses mixed in from other tunes. To find out the orgional form of the tune is just impossible.
I live in Eastern Kentucky and the reference to Harlan and Hazard has always been clear to me. It was either due to prohibition or the fact that we have dry counties in the state that don't allow the sale of alcohol. Perhaps Harlan and Hazard were the two places (that the author knew of)to get some whiskey or home brew. It does make reference to "get a little brew".
I play music , and jam at festivals all over the place and have heard many different verses to this song. Heres what I can remember:

I'm going on the mountain
Just to see my baby
And I ain't coming back, Lord, Lord
No I aint coming back

This Nine pound hammer
Is a little too heavy
Buddy for my size
Buddy for my size

Roll on Buddy
Don't you roll so slow
How can I roll, Lord , Lord
When the wheels won't roll

Their ain't one hammer
down in this tunnel
that will ring like mine
tha will ring like mine

Rings like silver
Shines Like Gold
Rings like silver
and shines like gold

This ole hammer
well it killed (my buddy/John Henry)
ain't gonna kill me
ain't gonne kill me

You can take this hammer
Give it to the captain
tell him I'm gone
tell him I'm gone

If He asks you
where I've gone to
tell him you don't know
tell him you don't know

It's a long way to Harlan
and a long way to Hazard
Just to get a little brew
just to get a little brew

When I'm long gone
You can make my tombstone
Out of number nine coal
out of number nine coal

I have heard it many ways. These are some of the verses that I remember right now. The subject matter in the verses vary, it certainly appears to be the classic case of many songs mashed together. It happened back then because they didn't have records to learn from. They heard someone sing it and they tried their best to remember it and then they mixed in other verses to fill it up. It was all passed on by playing and singing.
I have researched many songs and am still looking for many songs. It's always the same tale the verses vary from the recordings and what common musicians or balladeers sang. Which makes it all the more interesting, the mystery, the many interpretations.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Nine Pound Hammer (Charlie Bowman)
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 25 Feb 10 - 09:36 AM

Merle Travis' "Nine Pound Hammer" and Charlie Bowman's "Roll on Buddy" are not the same song, as some people above seem to assume. The tunes are quite different, and the texts have very little in common. Compare the lyrics below to the Travis lyrics above:

ROLL ON BUDDY

As sung by Charlie Bowman and His Brothers, Columbia 15357, April 1929

I'm going to the east, Caro,
I'm going to the east, Caro,
I'm going to the east, I'm going to the west,
I'm a-going to the land I love best.

CHO:
Roll on, buddy, roll on,
Roll on, buddy, roll on,
You wouldn't roll so slow if you knew what I know,
Roll on, buddy, roll on.

You'd better quit your rowdy ways (2)
You'll get killed some day, you'll be laid in your grave,
You'd better quit your rowdy ways.

My home's down in Tennessee (2)
In Tennessee is where I always want to be,
Way down in sunny Tennessee.

I've got a good woman just the same (2)
Woman just the same, [Carrie?] Bowman is her name,
I've got a good woman just the same.

It's likely that Charlie Bowman did compose at least the final two verses. The first two, however, are variants of traditional stanzas.

There were other "Roll On Buddy"-type songs. They stem from mule skinning and teamster driving for the most part, and produced a number of early traditional songs in both the white and African American traditions. The first commercial "Roll On Buddy" song was "Baby Your Time Ain't Long" wby Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters (1927). The Carolina Tar Heels recorded "Roll On Boys" (1928), then came Bowman's recording, and the Monroe Brothers recorded their "Roll On Buddy" in 1937. (Buell Kazee's "Roll On John," though similar in theme, is not related.)

Finally, Nine Pound Hammer is a very old theme, going well back into the 19th century, when hammer songs were common as steel drivers laid rail. Songs called "Nine Pound Hammer" were first commercially recorded by Frank Blevins and His Tar Heel Rattlers (1928), G.B. Grayson & Henry Whitter (1928), Clarence Greene (1931) and Ernest and Eddie Stoneman (1934) before being cast into modern form by, once more, the Monroe Brothers (1936). This group of songs were fairly similar, though not identical.

So Travis' "Nine Pound Hammer" song had many precursors, and was within a traditional song cluster. However, "It's a long way to Harlan / Hazard" and other lines are pure Merle, and his recording of the song with the trademark guitar lick was original enough in style and substance to earn a copyright and a songwriter credit.

To repeat: Charlie Bowman's "Roll On, Buddy, Roll On" is distinct from the other Roll On songs, with a distinct melody, and can be credited as largely his composition. It has no substantial relation to "Nine Pound Hammer."

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origin: Nine Pound Hammer (Charlie Bowman)
From: GUEST,Dan C
Date: 20 Sep 11 - 06:54 AM

Merle mentions on an interview called 'Yesteryear in Nashville' that there was a song he was credited for writing which he didn't write and that was Nine Pound Hammer. He said he only added two verses which were (as bob said) "It's a long way to Harlan It's a long way to Hazard". It's on youtube if anyone's interested in seeing it.


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