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Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph

GUEST,Hanrod1@aol.com 28 Jun 05 - 05:32 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 28 Jun 05 - 06:09 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Jun 05 - 09:44 PM
GUEST,Hanrod 28 Jun 05 - 11:16 PM
katlaughing 28 Jun 05 - 11:30 PM
Le Scaramouche 29 Jun 05 - 09:33 AM
GUEST,Hanrod 29 Jun 05 - 05:49 PM
Le Scaramouche 29 Jun 05 - 06:01 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 29 Jun 05 - 06:23 PM
GUEST,Hanrod 03 Jul 05 - 01:29 PM
katlaughing 03 Jul 05 - 03:32 PM
GUEST,Hanrod 06 Jul 05 - 02:38 PM
katlaughing 06 Jul 05 - 02:41 PM
GUEST,Hanrod 05 Jun 21 - 06:38 PM
Helen 05 Jun 21 - 08:06 PM
cnd 06 Jun 21 - 09:55 AM
Helen 06 Jun 21 - 02:19 PM
Helen 06 Jun 21 - 02:27 PM
GUEST,# 06 Jun 21 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,# 06 Jun 21 - 05:10 PM
Helen 06 Jun 21 - 05:19 PM
Helen 06 Jun 21 - 06:09 PM
GUEST,# 06 Jun 21 - 06:28 PM
Helen 06 Jun 21 - 06:34 PM
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Subject: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,Hanrod1@aol.com
Date: 28 Jun 05 - 05:32 PM

I am trying to solve a "mystery" from the depths of my 67 year old memory. This has to do with a folk or country or ? song I heard only once I think on some radio station maybe 30 or more years ago, and then heard (or read) some comment on it, but which since seems to have disappeared absolutely without a trace.

I am sure that "Uncle Eph" was in the title BUT I have done much web research on it, and "asked around", without success -- and IT IS NOT the 1878 "Old Uncle Eph" by "Bob Allen" from American Memory files, NOR is it the Grandpa Jones favorite renditon of the old "Uncle Eph's Got the coon" number. THIS WAS DIFFERENT, and I remember both the theme, and a few of the words.

This was about a black man, apparently about to be hung, and it included a "soughing" or "sighing" sort of sound in the lyrics, and I think I remember that someone then termed that sound "ephin'", from the song title. There were words that went something like:

"Uncle Eph loves -----, Uncle Eph loves ----; Uncle Eph loves beans that's cooked wif' bacon..." etc.

The theme was the man's simple life and his hating to leave it behind. I want to find the source and the lyrics. Can you help???

"Hanrod" Please respond to Hanrod1@aol.com with Uncle Eph in title line...THANKS, EXTREMELY!


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 28 Jun 05 - 06:09 PM

I think you may be referring to a song by Memphis Slim, heard him do it live a couple of times. Slim made so many recordings that I'm sure it must be available somewhere.
The lyrics you quote also sound like the sometimes(?) bawdy song about Uncle Bud the Texas prison man.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Jun 05 - 09:44 PM

Probably not the same, but perhaps shares lines or ideas.
The emancipated hungry black is faced with scarcity of cabbage peas and beans.
"Young Eph's Lament," 1862, J. B. Murphy. At American Memory and Levy Sheet Music Collection.
Young Eph's Lament


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,Hanrod
Date: 28 Jun 05 - 11:16 PM

To Hoot and Q (the missing gospel?):

Nope, that's not the one;
Knew about these I'm a'fraid;
The mystery deepens,
and old Eph is keepin'
me 'wake nights 'til this debt is paid.

HANROD


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: katlaughing
Date: 28 Jun 05 - 11:30 PM

Not the one you are looking for, but an interesting one and an interesting site, too: Uncle Eph's Banjer Song at www.gutenberg.org. Scoll down or use your Find function for the lyrics.

Alos found the following, may be clues, at this site:

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Uncle Reuben" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Mourner, You Shall Be Free (Moanish Lady)" (floating lyrics)
Notes: Presumably the same as Bob Allen's 1878 song "Old Uncle Eph," but I haven't seen the latter to prove it.
It is interesting to note that at least two versions of this song -- Brown's #511 and the Hedy West text recorded in the Digital Tradition -- combine this with the chorus, "Where you going, Moses? None of your business.Come here, Moses. I ain't gonna do it." - RBW
File: RcUncEph


Good luck!


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 09:33 AM

This sounds like an English sort of song about facing the gallows.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,Hanrod
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 05:49 PM

No, no no...This is sung by a black man (or someone sounding like one)and the significance is the sighing or weeping sound, apparently called "ephin" or "ephing", for the "Uncle Eph" character's sounds dramatizing the song lyrics. Don't know, beginning to think maybe was from a radio dramatization of some folk play or other, but have remained convinced that it was a folk, country or blues song...HANROD


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Le Scaramouche
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 06:01 PM

I ment I seem to recall similar English songs.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 29 Jun 05 - 06:23 PM

Grabbing at straws trying to help, could it have been a Grand Old Opry radio broadcast by Roy Acuff. If my memory serves me right his one time harmonica player Jimmy Riddle (stop giggling all you Limeys) was a specialst at "Heephing".

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,Hanrod
Date: 03 Jul 05 - 01:29 PM

Thanks to all of you for your help in trying to solve this " musical mystery", but am about to give up on it.

I wonder if anyone at Folk Legacy records would know of this?

The impression I had at the time was that it was not an old recording, and I know I had heard or read something about the "ephing" sound in the lyrics. Can't help but wonder too, if maybe there was some problem with "political incorrectness" (although there seemed nothing offensive in it that I remember), or maybe some copyright problem, or something...oh well, maybe an old man's faulty memory...

Thanks again, HANROD


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: katlaughing
Date: 03 Jul 05 - 03:32 PM

Hanrod, if you join the Mudcat(no cost), you can send Sandy Paton a Personal Message. You can also contact Sandy or Caroline at Folk Legacy Online. I just talked to Caroline the other day and they both sounded great. I'll bet they'd have some good ideas about this, at the least.

(P.S. At Mudcat we never give up!**bg** I've seen lyrics requests answered years later. Mudcatters are tenacious and love to help out finding lost treasures.:-)

Good luck,

kat


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,Hanrod
Date: 06 Jul 05 - 02:38 PM

Thanks, kat, I will do both. I am new and have never seen a site with such wonderful people. You folks are great! Professionals, academics, and amateurs (in the sense of "amo", to love), all together! I plan to spread the word among some of my "old folkie" friends too.

[By the way I have written lyrics about we (disappointed)old folkies, the chorus goes like this...

"'Cause we thought times were changin' our nation to be
Much kinder and gentler, we thought we'd be free;
So all we old folkies were dreamers, you see,
Ol' Woody and Bobby and Joanie ...and me."         ]

Best to you...HANROD


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 Jul 05 - 02:41 PM

I LOVE it! Well-done, Hanrod! If you'd care to share the rest of the song, we'd love to see it. It would be best to put it in a thread of its own, with the title in the name of the thread. And, WELCOME to the Mudcat!

All the best,

kat


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,Hanrod
Date: 05 Jun 21 - 06:38 PM

Well, 16 years later now, and I am now 83. Much has passed in this time, and I still haven't found this song, apparently called "Uncle Eph". From a kind of radio "folk opera" maybe, from 30+ years ago.

I can't be crazy to think I heard it. Like maybe when I was a teenager in Southern Illinois listening to the radio with enough "skip" in the air that I sometimes picked up what seemed like surreal and haunting mountain music from some stations in the South (few of us had tv then), which was so new and exciting to me, as opposed to "Rock Around The Clock", etc.

One day I was listening to another sort of "folk opera" (like the kind of thing I might have heard on Prairie Home Companion which I did not even know of, and may not have existed then?). Turned out to be the wonderful play, of which I now have a copy, called "Dark Of the Moon", very occasionally still performed by college troupes, etc., and with a dark story and full of mountain music.

Even when young I was an armchair philosopher, in love with song and story that talked of an appreciation of our short life, and the sadness of having to leave it behind.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Helen
Date: 05 Jun 21 - 08:06 PM

Hi Hanrod,


I just did a bit of Google searching and found a page about hunting raccoons

Uncle Eph

which had a reference to a different song:

Old Uncle Eph

That page shows the sheet music and you can click on the pages to see a larger version and zoom in to see the lyrics.

It starts:

"Oh I'm getting old and sore and I cannot work no more,
And I'll tell of the days that have gone by,
And when you hear me through then you find it is no go
For to beat this [N-word] playing possum in the rye..."

I can't see any reference to bacon and beans, but it might be worth having a look at it.

The first page states that the music is by Bob Allen, but it is a different song to the raccoon one.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: cnd
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 09:55 AM

Unfortunately Helen that's the Bob Allen version which Hanrod said wasn't it at some earlier point.

Pretty much every country/bluegrass rendition I've found is a derivative of the Dave Macon version.

Do you remember *any* more lyrics? What you've given isn't getting me very far. The closest I've come was a play from 1972 called "Moonchildren" (by Michael Weller) which had a character named Effing, but I'm inclined to think that's not right because he wasn't called an uncle, it seems later than the date you mentioned, and as far as I've found it didn't have music.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Helen
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 02:19 PM

cnd, there was a note on the first page I linked to:

"NOTES [92 words]: In 1878, Bob Allen's published a song, "Old Uncle Eph," which I had guessed was the same song, but Gary Reid sent me a link to the sheet music (https://www.loc.gov/resource/sm1878.10392.0?st=gallery) which says that only the music is by Allen. And I would not consider it the same song."


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Helen
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 02:27 PM

Also, just to make the search even more difficult, the first page I linked to mentions songs with name variations, e.g. Broder Eton, Brother Ephrum, Bro' Ephram, Ephraim, Ephraim, Uncle Eef, Uncle Ethan, and Uncle Eph.

By the way, that page also mentions our very own Mudcat legend, Art Thieme.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,#
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 04:21 PM

We need to consolidate what info we do have about the song.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,#
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 05:10 PM

It looks like traditional lyric searches won't yield much. The title itself just gives up songs with UE in the title, but just UE as the title is a hiding to nowhere by the looks of it. I've Googled various of the phrases and got zip. There may be some percentage in trying to get a start date and then looking for radio broadcasts from south of Illinois.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Helen
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 05:19 PM

Thanks GUEST,#. I kind of reached the same conclusion by doing similar searches.

Being in Australia, I'm not familiar with radio broadcasts in the USA or around Illinois.

Also I wasn't repeating myself when I typed "Ephraim, Ephraim". I should have typed "Ephraim, Ephraem".


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Helen
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 06:09 PM

Also, I'll have to play the music from the sheet music shown on the second link I posted but just looking at it and hearing it in my head, it sounds very much like an Australian bush song called Another Fall of Rain and that page states that it uses the same tune from the North American song "Little Old Log Cabin In The Dell" which is this tune: The Little Old Log Cabin In The Lane

I haven't actually tried playing the tune on that page of music so I might have it completely wrong. It just sounds that way in my head when I look at the music notes.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: GUEST,#
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 06:28 PM

https://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Little_Old_Log_Cabin

Some info about LOLCITD which may be of help to you at some point, Helen.


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Subject: RE: Help! Mystery: A Different Uncle Eph
From: Helen
Date: 06 Jun 21 - 06:34 PM

Ok, I just entered the music notation from the Library of Congress sheet music into my notation software. It is pretty much the same tune as Little Old Log Cabin... and also Another Fall of Rain.

(Note: there were a lot of gold diggers who came over to Oz from the U.S. and brought their songs with them. That meant there was some crossover of tunes into Australian bush music at the time.)


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