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Origins: Sourwood Mountain (E. V. Stoneman)


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GUEST,Bob Coltman 23 Jan 06 - 08:27 AM
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Subject: Origins: E.V.Stoneman's Sourwood Mt.
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 23 Jan 06 - 08:27 AM

Ernest V. Stoneman's Dixie Mountaineers recorded a deviant "Sourwood Mountain" in November 1926 that had a different set of verses from the more-or-less standard version. The second verse is partly familiar (first two lines). The first and third verses, and the last two lines of the second verse, are unique as far as I know.

Anyone know any sources for these?



As sung by Ernest V. Stoneman

Trample the green grass under your feet,
It'll rise and grow again,
I loved you once with all of my heart,
But I'll never love you again.

CHO   Chickens is a-crowin' on Sourwood Mountain,
Run girls run and you better get away..

I've got a house in Baltimore,
It's sixteen stories high,
My old gal she lives up top
An' I hope she'll never die.

The river is up and the channel is deep
And the wind blows chilly and strong,
All I want's a little green pole
To shove my boat along.

The verses are done to a very pretty melody that's different from, but goes nicely with, the ordinary "Sourwood Mountain" tune. It almost has a playparty sound.

"Sourwood Mountain" was recorded in the 1920s by numerous artists -- Fiddlin' Powers of Dungannon, VA was the first to record a vocal; the second was Georgia's Land Norris, who called it "Dogwood Mountain." Earl Johnson, Al Hopkins' Buckle Busters, the Fruit Jar Guzzlers and the man who was especially interested in comprehensive lyrics, Bradley Kincaid, had all recorded it by 1928. Black musicians did too: Stovepipe No. 1, Joe Evans and Arthur McClain (the Two Poor Boys). But not with these words.

The song is reported in print fairly early -- Journal of American Folklore 1909, for instance. But as far as I know, only with the common floating verses we usually hear, never with the above words.

Where did EVS get this?

One possibility is his friend Kelly Harrell. Harrell, a fellow Virginian, was a prolific recording artist (mostly for Victor) who also was a talented songwriter. He wrote "Away Out on the Mountain" for Jimmie Rodgers and notably, "The Story of the Mighty Mississippi" for Stoneman.

1. Now, could Harrell have provided these verses? Or are they older?
I'd like responses from anyone who's got some idea where / how Stoneman's lyric could have originated.

2. I'd also be curious to learn of any other Kelly Harrell compositions that made it onto record or into print. I'm aware of the Old Time Music Magazine article on him, but that says little about his songwriting, and this is an area remaining to be explored.



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