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Lyr/Chords/Origin: Train on the Island

DigiTrad:
JUNE APPLE
TRAIN ON THE ISLAND


Related threads:
(origins) lyr/Origin: June Apple (19)
Lyr Req: Train on the Island: can't hold the wheel (4)


GUEST,amy 13 Sep 04 - 06:03 AM
masato sakurai 13 Sep 04 - 07:08 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 13 Sep 04 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Richie 22 Nov 06 - 09:51 AM
Mark Ross 22 Nov 06 - 10:26 AM
GUEST,Jim 22 Nov 06 - 10:44 AM
GUEST,Richie 22 Nov 06 - 10:51 AM
Flash Company 23 Nov 06 - 10:17 AM
GUEST 23 Nov 06 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Richie 23 Nov 06 - 11:20 AM
Jim Dixon 25 Nov 06 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Richie 25 Nov 06 - 06:36 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 25 Nov 06 - 08:16 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 25 Nov 06 - 08:21 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 07 Dec 06 - 03:51 PM
Richie 07 Dec 06 - 09:11 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 08 Dec 06 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,Brian 08 Dec 06 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 08 Dec 06 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,Sawbones 06 Mar 09 - 03:42 AM
12-stringer 06 Mar 09 - 03:13 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 06 Mar 09 - 07:06 PM
Richie 26 May 09 - 08:03 PM
Richie 09 Feb 10 - 12:48 AM
Charley Noble 09 Feb 10 - 10:51 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 09 Feb 10 - 11:17 AM
Richie 09 Feb 10 - 02:33 PM
GUEST,mg 14 Oct 10 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,Timc 20 Feb 11 - 05:11 AM
GUEST 23 Jul 11 - 01:20 PM
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Subject: Origins: train on the island
From: GUEST,amy
Date: 13 Sep 04 - 06:03 AM

i am new to all this, so hi to all. :)
when i was a little girl my folks used to have a record that had songs on it that were called 'Train on the Island', 'Roving Wolves' and many more, can anyone tell me who sang them. all i konw is that it was two ladies. mainly accompanied by guitars, sometimes banjo. Help? if anyone could tell me the name of the album and or the artists, then that would be really great. as i have been looking for a copy (preferably on CD) for a while now. thanks alot.
Amy xxx


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Subject: RE: Origins: train on the island
From: masato sakurai
Date: 13 Sep 04 - 07:08 AM

Hazel and Alice?


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Subject: RE: Origins: train on the island
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 13 Sep 04 - 07:13 AM

The most well known version of the tune among string band fans is by Uncle Norman Edmonds of Galax, Virginia recorded in 1927. It has recently been re-issued (yet again) but this time at the correct playing speed.
There are other versions but which years are you speaking of ?

Can't be of help re Roving Wolves I'm afraid, nearest I can get is "Wolves a Howling" but this is mainly a fiddle tune. It has been recently released however with words by Bruce Molsky on the Rounder label I believe and the CD title is "Wolves a Howling".

Good hunting, good listening


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Subject: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 09:51 AM

Hi,

There were two version recorded in 1927. Crockett Ward's version uses the "June Apple" melody.

All I can remember is the first verse:

Train on the island don't you hear it blow,
Go tell my darlin' I'm homesick and can't go. (Ward Version)

Does anyone have the lyrics?

I have JP Nestor's version which is the classic version. It is also found on-line in the Roots Music Litening Room.

Since two different versions emerged in the same year does it mean they were based on an earlier song?

Any ideas about the origin?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: Mark Ross
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 10:26 AM

Train on the island, coming from the west,
Go and tell my true love, must be for the best.

Train on the island, thought I heard it squeal,
Go and tell my true love, I can hold the wheel.


Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Jim
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 10:44 AM

Train on the island,hear that whistle blow,
Go and tell my true love I'm sick and I can't go.

Train on the island, headed for the west,
Me and my gal, we fell out, prob'ly for the best.

I recall Duck Donald singing this while Cathy Fink played June Apple on the banjo. I think it was on the Kissing Is A Crime album. There were a few more verses which I can't recall right now, but I'll try to look them up.


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Nov 06 - 10:51 AM

Thanks Mark,

I assume these verses are from Ward's recording. Aslo the last line should be: Go and tell my true love, I (can't) hold the wheel.

This song and June Apple were kicking around since late 1800's in the Galax area. Tommy Jarrell learned June Apple From his father Ben.

"Edden Hammons, who recorded "Train on the Island" was born about 1874. Louis Watson Chappell recorded him in mid-August 1947, making him about 73. Note that the birth year is an approximation." Kerry Blech

This seem to be an old song. June Apple doesn't appear in Meade. Why?

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: Flash Company
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 10:17 AM

Peggy Seeger recorded this on the album she made with Guy Carawan, 'Songs of Courting & Complaint'

FC


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Subject: ADD Version: Train on the Island
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 10:55 AM

Bruce Molsky on his Big Hoedown cd sings the following version with Bev Smith and Rafe Stefanini - a very slow and sweet tune quite different from the typical faster versions that I have heard.   He doesnt say where he got it, sometimes he mixes versions. Bruce says the words dont really tell a story so much as paint a picture of love and helplessness:

TRAIN ON THE ISLAND

Train on the island thought I heard it blow
Run and tell my true love, I'm sick and I cant go
      I cant hold the wheel

Train on the island headin for the west
My and my gal we fell out, it might be for the best
      I cant hold the wheel

Train on the island headin for the west
Run and tell my true love , the one I love the best
      I cant hold the wheel

Train on the island thought I heard it squeel
Run and tell my true love I can't hold the wheel
      I cant hold the wheel


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 23 Nov 06 - 11:20 AM

Thanks for the versions. Anyone have Crockett or Wade Ward's lyrics?
I think Mark Ross posted commonly associated lyrics for "Train" but not the Ward's lyrics.

There's a listing in Ceolas for an Irish tune: "Lady on the Island."

In his book When We Were Good, Robert Cantwell suggests the name of the tune was adapted (by Nestor?) from the Irish reel "Lady on the Island."

Other than the name association, I can't see the connection. Anyone have any info on Cantwell's assertion?

The melody and form seem to share the Matty Groves/Shady Groves/Fly Around songs. There floating lyrics (Charlie..) from Wheevily Wheet/Western Country.

I like the symbolism of a train on the island.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 11:08 AM

You can hear (or download) TRAIN ON THE ISLAND recorded by J. P. Nestor in 1927 at Honking Duck. I've listened to it, and it seems to have several words and phrases that don't quite match what is posted above, but they are very difficult to understand.


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Subject: Lyr Add: TRAIN ON THE ISLAND (from J. P. Nestor)
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 06:36 PM

Jim,

This is what I transcribed a while back- corrections are welcome:

TRAIN ON THE ISLAND
(J.P. Nestor)

Train on the island, since I heard it squeal
Go tell my true love, I can't hold the wheel
I can't roll the wheel, love, it's I can't hold the wheel.

Thought he heard it blow love, He thought he heard it blow

Train on the island, since I heard it blow
Go tell my true love, sick and I can't go………sick, and I can't go,
(instrumental) and I can't roll the wheel

Train on the island, since I've heard it squeal
Go tell my true love, how happy I do feel
Thought he heard it blow, love, Thought he heard it blow

Train on the island, since I've heard it blow
Go tell my true love, long as I can go
Long as I can go

Lord, he thought he heard it blow

Train on the island, since I've heard it blow
Go tell my true love, sick and I can't go
Sick, and I can't go, love, sick and I can't go

Thought he heard it blow, love, Thought he heard it blow


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 08:16 PM

In her old age country music pioneer Aunt Samantha Bumgarner sang a version of this called "Way Down on the Island" on a Riverside compilation called "Banjo Songs" (I think). Unless somebody beats me to it (busy schedule over the next week or two) I'll try and dig it out.

PS I always understood Nestor to be singing "I can't roll the wheel," but could be wrong.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 25 Nov 06 - 08:21 PM

Hi again, Richie,

The reason Meade doesn't have "June Apple" is that, to my knowledge, the first commercial recording wasn't until the 1950s.

This is partly because "June Apple" is a rare Galax area revision of a line that ordinarily doesn't have June in it. It appears (as in "Cindy: and many other songs) something on the order of:

Wish I was an apple
Hanging on a tree,
And every time my [Cindy, Janie, Rosie, whoever] pass,
She'd take a little bite of me.

However, the "June Apple" verses are floaters and widely circulated in many songs that Meade does cover, to which this song is loosely related.

Bob


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Subject: ADD Version: Way Down on the Island
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 03:51 PM

As promised a while ago, here it is:

WAY DOWN ON THE ISLAND

Version of "Train On the Island" (tune closely similar) sung by "Aunt" Samantha Bumgarner, as one of two songs she contributed (the other, despite the "finger ring" verses in this, was "Finger Ring") to the compilation Banjo Songs of the Southern Appalachians, Riverside RLP 12-610, c. 1957.

Way down on the island, ain't got long to stay,
Thought I heard chickens say, 'twouldn't be long till day.

Cho:   It's fare you well my honey, fare you well I say,
          Fare you well my honey, it's a-goin' away and stay.

Finger ring, it's finger ring, it shine like any gold,
Go to see my darlin' 'fore she gets too old.

It's Daddy was a gambler, he learned me how to play,
Learned me how to stand on the ace, deuce and the trey.

Gambled through the wildwoods, gambled (through Spain?)
Gambled through the wildwoods, and never lost a game.

Cho:


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: Richie
Date: 07 Dec 06 - 09:11 PM

Thanks Bob,

Some of the lyrics are similar to a version of "Black Dog Blues" that I sing. I wonder if there's any similarity between the songs.

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 11:40 AM

Hi Richie,

Similar yes, since the verses are similar. As to whether they're related, it depends on whether you grant similar floating verses as an indication of relationship. I tend to think not, since you can find Samantha Bumgarner's verses in several other related songs. Conversely, Nestor's "Train On the Island" verses are pretty much unique to that song.

Assembling verses into a spur-of-the-moment song is something us banjo pickers have always done. I think Samantha caught the "Fare you well my honey" refrain -- which itself is a floater (another version goes

Fare you well my honey, fare you well my dear,
Fare you well my honey, I'm goin' away from here)

-- and put a hodgepodge of verses to it. Probably her own concoction, but not clearly distinct from several other song clusters, like "Blue Eyes Run Me Crazy" and ""I've Been All Around This World."   

BTW, I want to correct what I said earlier: the "Way Down on the Island" tune IS different from Nestor's for "Train On the Island." Sorry about that. Guess my ear was out at the laundry at the time. The Bumgarner tune is instead similar to one of the several "Finger Ring" tunes.


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Brian
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 11:48 AM

This is on the Harry Smith folk anthology(the collection of LPs that Bob Dylan supposedly stole from his friend that became the basis of the beginnings of his folk performing).

http://www.folkways.si.edu/learn_discover/anthology/anthology.html


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Subject: RE: Lyr origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 08 Dec 06 - 11:50 AM

It occurs to me I may sound like a broken record (78 rpm of course) in saying over and over, "floating verses, floating verses."

But really, they do get around, it's one of the commonest characteristics of southern lyric songs. Take:

Liza [Cindy, et al] in the summertime, Liza in the fall,
If I can't have Liza all the time, don't want Liza at all.

Occurs in Liza Jane, Cindy, and a dozen other songs. Another:

She threw her arms around me, said she loved me some,
Threw her arms around me, I thought my time had come [OR: like a grapevine round a gum]

Then there's the verse

Yonder comes my [your girlfriend's name here], how do you think I know?
Know her by her apron strings hangin' down so low,

in many, many songs, both African-American and white. As are the "raccoon and possum" verses, and so on and on.

Such a huge assortment of verses appropriate to throw into whatever song you happen to be singing has made it difficult to clearly separate some songs from others. Banjo pickers tend to center such verses around a refrain with a strong image, like Old Joe Clark, and sing indefinitely. In fact before 78 rpm records made the standard length of a song approximately three minutes, it was common enough to string songs out by means of floating verses to lengths of five to ten minutes or until everybody'd plainly had enough.


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Subject: Chord Req: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Sawbones
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 03:42 AM

I've been wondering what the chords are for Train on the Island? It's such a beautiful song, I've only heard J.P Nestor and Alice Gerrard & Hazel Dickens play it.
Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Train on the Island
From: 12-stringer
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 03:13 PM

The Nestor version doesn't really use chords, though there is the hint of a G to D to G again in the "Sick and I can't go, my love, sick and I can't go" part of the verse. A banjo player can simulate all of that with some slides and pull-offs on the middle string but without playing an actual chord. If your guitar is tuned DGDGBD you can do the same thing there, with the same fingering, but in EADGBE you can still play the song similarly out of a 3-X-X-4-3-3 position. The song wants you to frail, rather than pick, it on the guitar, or so it seems to me.

Lately I've heard a "new" to me version, somewhat more conventionally melodic, played by Sutphin, Hooven, et al during the intro to the Mike Seeger "Old Time Banjo Styles" DVD. It sounds like the Nestor tune squared away to accomodate a guitar accompaniment, and I don't like it at all. Even with that one, though, the only chords you would use are G and D, or the I/V equivalents in your key of choice.


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Subject: RE: Chord Req: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 06 Mar 09 - 07:06 PM

There is a somewhat different treatment given to this song by The Hellbenders which I find interesting but for some reason it irritates me when I hear the words of Train on the Island sung to the tune of June Apple. Does anybody have any idea who was the first to be guilty of this?
I should also point out to those who don't already know that most re-issues of the Norman Edmonds/J P Nestor recording were at the wrong speed. Yazoo have re-issued it at he correct speed which you won't be surprised to know is slower than the others and much better for it.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Lyr/chords & origin: Train on the Island
From: Richie
Date: 26 May 09 - 08:03 PM

Hi,

I just finished my painting of Train on the Island. I thought I'd share it with you:

http://www.mattesonart.com/train-on-the-island.aspx

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr/chords & origin: Train on the Island
From: Richie
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 12:48 AM

Hi,

I just put my version of Train on the Island on youtube. Thought I'd share it with you:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z7pgUlKspE8

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr/chords & origin: Train on the Island
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 10:51 AM

Richie-

Nicely done!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr/chords & origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 11:17 AM

Recently saw Bruce Molsky do that one, with Mozaik. Did nicely for me.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/chords & origin: Train on the Island
From: Richie
Date: 09 Feb 10 - 02:33 PM

Hi,

TY. I'm also do an educational series on youtube teaching people tradtional and public domain songs and tunes.

In this I explain how I play the song:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=asHbkJzbXmE

I've done about 20 educational vids. Search Richiematt1 on youtube to find them.

This is a gr8 way to preserve and promote traditional music,

Richie


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Subject: RE: Lyr/chords & origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 14 Oct 10 - 12:14 PM

Iheard a young girl playing banjo tune (NOT June Apple) and singing verses that made sense at Clifftop this summer. Verses included the lines "Run and tell my true love", "I can't hold the wheel", "Sick and I can't go". And they seemed to infer some kind of imminent train wreck. I wished at the time that i had a recorder and am wishing harder now as i search for those lyrics.

The image of a train on an island has facinated me since i heard another version years ago. i have often wondered have wondered if the lyrics were even supposed to make sense.
It's reminiscent of the "train that runns from England to Spain" but that lyric makes sense of the nonsense...

mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr/chords & origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST,Timc
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 05:11 AM

Just love this version:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vjTC5BHErgw&feature=youtube_gdata_player


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Subject: RE: Lyr/chords & origin: Train on the Island
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 01:20 PM

MG, I believe the young girl you speak of was Gailanne Amundson of the group Jubal's Kin. I just saw them at Grey Fox last week and they are amazing. Her emotion in this song will bring you to tears. I highly recommend anyone who loves bluegrass to check out Jubal's Kin - amazing!


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