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Origins: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....

08 Jan 97 - 11:06 AM (#1202)
Subject: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Bill Day

Here is a verse I got several years ago to 'The Baltimore Fire', from Gene Anderson (lives in N. Carolina, I think) he said he had seen it in a ragged little songbook owned by some well known country music singer (I cant remember!!!!)It seems to me it has an authentic ring to it...and lord knows that song needs some more verses!!! "Baltimore Fire" is in the database....

"The awful news did spread across the wire

"Of another sad catastrophe so dire,

"That Baltimore City is afire,

"And sinking 'neath the foe's relentless hand."

If anyone has any further info, or more verses, speak up!!


05 Jun 02 - 12:14 PM (#723619)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Genie

refresh

Anyone got the chords to Baltimore Fire handy?

I know there's a MIDI in the DT, but a friend wants to print out the lyrics and chords, and it'd be quicker if someone already has 'em formatted.

BTW is the version in the DT the original?


05 Jun 02 - 12:58 PM (#723652)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: masato sakurai

The DT (New Lost City Ramblers Song Book) version, which is from Charlie Poole):

BALTIMORE FIRE

[E]It was on a silver falls by a [A]narrow
That I [E]heard the cry I ever will re-[B7]member,
The [E]fire sent and cast its burning [A]embers
On a-[E]nother faded [B7]city of our [E]land.

cho: [E]Fire, Fire, I heard the cry
From [A]every breeze that [E]passes by,
[A]All the world was [E]one sad cry of [B7]pity
[E]Strong men in anguish prayed,
[A]Calling loud to Heaven for aid,
[A]While the fire in [E]ruin was laying
Fair [B7]Baltimore, the beautiful [E]city.

"Little is known about the source of this song. Charlie Poole recorded it in May, 1929 when he was a young man. Twenty-five years earlier, on February 7 and 8, 1904, a major fire wiped out practically the entire downtown section of Baltimore. The song is not to be encountered in folklore collections nor on any other phonograph records...." (NLCR Song Book, p. 113)

~Masato


05 Jun 02 - 03:06 PM (#723747)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Mrrzy

This is the song, hee hee, that got me "marked" as not being Southern enough... I heard the chorus as "far, far" instead of "fire, fire" - still made sense (far, far, I heard the cry...) Of course I had it by Charlie Poole!


05 Jun 02 - 09:14 PM (#723963)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Bill D

amazing....I just learned something. I posted 15-20 times in 1996, before I set my name as Bill D...it 'seems' my first post was in thread 375..in Nov.'96...I had thought it was in early 97...


05 Jun 02 - 10:49 PM (#724010)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Genie

Arigato, Masato!


14 Apr 03 - 12:25 AM (#932821)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: GUEST,John Hopkins

Does anyone know what fire Charlie Poole was writing about? something contemporary to him,or something from history? One note in this thread suggests to me it might have referred to an event from the War of 1812... did the Brits burn Baltimore? (Yeah, I ought to know.)


14 Apr 03 - 02:19 AM (#932858)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Stewie

John

Poole didn't write it. According to Kinney Rorrer ['The Life and Songs of Charlie Poole' Old Time Music Booklet #3, 1982, p87], the song first appeared in a songbook called 'Mowry's Songster' printed around 1905. He noted also: '... the great Baltimore fire occurred the year before, wiping out over a hundred blocks of the city. No author for the song is given, but he must have gotten his inspiration from Joe Gulick's 1873 song "The Boston Fire". Poole must have taken his version from the 1905 edition. However, there are a few distinct differences between the two. For example, the 1905 text has "It was only through a fault and by an error", while Poole sings the line "It was going to a falls by a narrow". The chorus in both versions is almost identical to that of Gulick's "Boston Fire"'.

The line in NLCR songbook and DT, which claim Poole as their source, is something else again. Personally, I hear Poole singing something closer to the original than either the NLCR or the Rorrer transciption. Poole's recording may be found on the second of County's Poole CDs: 'Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers Vol II' County CD-3508.

--Stewie.


14 Apr 03 - 12:25 PM (#933201)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: clueless don

Speaking of this song ... In my long ago days as a graduate student, participating in events of the Cornell Folk Song Club, I got the distinct impression into my head that this song was called "The Great Baltimore Treasury Fire". I don't see any mention of "treasury" in the lyrics, and I don't even know if there is/was a treasury of some type in Baltimore. Did I just mishear someone and run with the misinformation? Or has anyone else ever heard this "Treasury" title?


14 Apr 03 - 12:44 PM (#933224)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Desert Dancer

Typo alert: although the NLCR song book (now titled Old-time String Band Songbook (Oak, 1976)) shows the "faded" in the last line of the first verse in the text at the bottom of the page, the word is "fated" in the musical transcription above it. "Faded" is used in the DT, but it looks like "fated" is correct (although "faded" is charming); I've seen "fated" in other transcriptions.

The additional verse at the top of this thread is included in the DT version, without any additional attribution noted.

~ Becky in Tucson


14 Apr 03 - 06:46 PM (#933482)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Nancy King

Interesting -- I always used to sing it as "faded," which made perfect sense to me, as Baltimore was really run-down back when I was a kid. MUCH nicer place nowadays. Anyhow, I later learned it should have been "fated," and figured I'd been committing a mondegreen. Now, thanks to Becky, I realize the source of the error was NLCR, from whom I first heard the song! Another of life's little mysteries solved!   But I'll have to admit to still having a fondness for "faded"...

Cheers, Nancy


14 Apr 03 - 06:59 PM (#933489)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Nancy King

Oh yeah -- I meant to add that recently I (and several others) heard Becky Kimmons of the Missing Person Soup Kitchen Gospel Quartet -- hear them if you can -- sing "Baltimore Fire," and she started out with the verse Bill cited at the beginning of this thread, but had never heard the one that starts with "Amid an awful struggle of commotion..." which also contains the line "The wind blew a gale from the ocean." She said that some of her elderly relatives told stories of being able to see and smell the smoke from that fire all the way down in central West Virginia, which seemed really remarkable until someone in the group pointed out that if the wind were indeed blowing hard from the ocean -- particularly if it was a real nor'easter -- it's likely the smoke did indeed get to W.Va.   How 'bout that?!

Cheers again, Nancy


14 Apr 03 - 09:18 PM (#933579)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: RangerSteve

History trivia: according to the Smithsonian Magazine years ago, when other cities sent their fire departments to the above mentioned fire in Baltimore, they found that their hoses wouldn't fit the Baltimore fire hydrants, and because of that, we now have standardized screw threads in the U.S.

Anyway, the NLCR sing "brave farmers struggled with devotion". I believe it should be "firemen". I've heard Pooles recording, and he sings (with a N.Carolina accent) "farmen". I think the NLCR misheard it. "Farmers" also shows up in the NLCR songbook. As a former volunteer fireman, this is a matter of principle to me.


15 Apr 03 - 10:22 AM (#933942)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Nancy King

Well, that's one NLCR mistake I didn't pick up when I learned the song from their recording. I always knew it had to be "brave firemen" or "farmen" -- and the chorus starts out, "Far, far, I heard the cry..." Just goes to show you can't always trust NLCR, much as you might love 'em.

Cheers, Nancy


15 Apr 03 - 08:04 PM (#934343)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Bill D

Here are the images of the fire(s)...it is the 1904 fire that is being sung about. http://www.mdhs.org/library/Z24BaltFires.html

And yes, I was in the group that heard Becky Kimmons sing, and her version was really wonderful. She is only the 2nd one I have heard do that 'missing' verse...it was great to add to out collective knowlege.


15 Apr 03 - 09:50 PM (#934396)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson

As another Charlie Poole fan. . . been singing the song since learning it from the NLCR in 1962 or so, always sang "brave firemen struggled with devotion" since that made sense. Learned the 3rd verse posted (which started this thread) from Judy Cook a few years ago.

I have seen somewhere (in Rorrer?) that the original first verse about Boston started out "It was only by a fault and by an error", but Poole's "silver falls by a narrow" makes sense too, especially if you've seen Jones Falls.

A friend of mine wrote a third verse covering RangerSteve's point, it went:
When pipe threads wouldn't fit, what consternation!

Which caused a cry for pipe thread standardization

Which spread like a fire throughout the nation

So this tragedy would not have been in vain


better stop here before I start babbling about the Holy Modal Rounders and "Nova". Slime, slime is on my tide. . .


08 Feb 09 - 10:54 PM (#2561383)
Subject: RE: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: GUEST,Rico

"I use my time slide all the time."
nice catch!


23 Feb 09 - 11:26 AM (#2573811)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Jim Dixon

When the Holy Modal Rounders sang it, they began "While riding in my new Pierce Arrow." I don't know whether to call that a mondegreen, a joke, or an improvement on the original!


23 Feb 09 - 02:05 PM (#2573975)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Nancy King

LOL, Jim! The Pierce Arrow is great! I'd like to use it, but I doubt my poor ol' brain will let me change -- I think the "silver falls by a narrow" is hard-wired in after the 45 years or so I've been singing this song!

Nancy


08 May 14 - 11:20 PM (#3625077)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Bill D

refresh: to update this old discussion.

In a 2002 Mudcat thread 'Gary' quotes that 3rd verse, but gives The New Lost City Ramblers Vol III as the source- or at least it read as if he does.

The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #51992   Message #794189
Posted By: GUEST,Gary
30-Sep-02 - 03:34 PM

then: in http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/song-midis/Baltimore_Fire.htm the same verse seems again to be credited to that NLCR album, as does http://sniff.numachi.com/pages/tiBALTFIRE.html Numachi.

I heartily approve of the 3rd verse being available, as it sounds pretty 'authentic', but I just double checked, and it is NOT on that NLCR album.
I suspect that all POSTED versions were gleaned from my 1997 post here at Mudcat. It still seems to be the case that Gene Anderson (and wherever he got it) and Becky Kimmons source (her family?) are the only traceable places it first appeared.

I'm still looking for a copy of Mowry's Songster to see how it first appeared.


09 May 14 - 12:23 AM (#3625090)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: GUEST,#

Baltimore Fire by C Poole.


25 Oct 17 - 11:44 AM (#3884557)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: GUEST

Amid an awful struggle and commotion,?

The wind blew a gale from the Ocean

Brave fire men struggled with devotion

But their efforts all proved in vain.?


26 Oct 17 - 06:49 PM (#3884905)
Subject: Origins: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Joe Offer

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Baltimore Fire, The

DESCRIPTION: "It was on a silver falls by a narrow That I heard a cry I ever will remember... Fire, fire, I heard the cry From every breeze that passes by... While in ruin the fire was laying Fair Baltimore, the beautiful city." About the terrible fire in Baltimore
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1929 (recording, Charlie Poole & the North Carolina Ramblers; first printed in Maury's Songster of about 1905)
KEYWORDS: disaster fire
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
Feb. 7-8, 1904 - Fire wipes out practically the entire downtown section of Baltimore.
FOUND IN: US(SE)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 97, "Baltimore Fire" (1 text, 1 tune)
Rorrer, p. 87, "Baltimore Fire" (1 text)
Cohen-AFS1, pp. 176-177, "Baltimore Fire" (1 text plus an excerpt from "Boston Fire," the inspiration for the piece)
DT, BALTFIRE*

Roud #12392
RECORDINGS:
New Lost City Ramblers, "Baltimore Fire" (on NLCR03)
Charlie Poole and the North Carolina Ramblers, "Baltimore Fire" (Columbia 15509-D, 1930; rec. 1929; on CPoole02)

File: CSW097

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


And here are the Digital Tradition lyrics:

BALTIMORE FIRE

It was on a silver falls by a narrow
That I heard the cry I ever will remember,
The fire sent and cast its burning embers
On another faded city of our land.

cho: Fire, Fire, I heard the cry
From every breeze that passes by,
All the world was one sad cry of pity
Strong men in anguish prayed,
Calling loud to Heaven for aid,
While the fire in ruin was laying
Fair Baltimore, the beautiful city

Amid an awful struggle of commotion,
The wind blew a gale from the ocean,
Brave firemen struggled with devotion,
But their efforts all proved in vain.
cho:

The awful news did spread across the wire
Of another sad catastrophe so dire,
That Baltimore City is afire,
And sinking 'neath the foe's relentless hand.


From New Lost City Ramblers; originally recorded by Charlie
Poole.
@fire
filename[ BALTFIRE
TUNE FILE: BALTFIRE
CLICK TO PLAY
RG





New Lost City Ramblers recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXMmLokot6s (probably not playable in UK)



The first two verses of the DT lyrics are exactly as printed in the Old-Time String Band Songbook by John Cohen and Mike Seeger, with musical notation by Hally Wood. ©1964, 1976 by Oak Publications.
The songbook does not include the third verse - I imagine it was added to the DT from Bill D's 1997 post above.

Notes from the songbook:
    Little is known about the source of this song. Charlie Poole recorded it in May 1929 when he was a young man. Twenty-five years earlier, on February 7 and 8, 1904, a major fire wiped out practically the entire downtown section of Baltimore.
    The song is not to be encountered in folklore collections nor on any other phonograph records. The details are accurate in their reference to the "silver falls" (Jones Falls, which was one boundary of the blaze where the firefighters stopped the forward advance of the flames after two days), and to "a gale from the ocean, which refers to a shift in the wind that changed the direction of the fire.


26 Oct 17 - 07:24 PM (#3884908)
Subject: ADD Version: Baltimore Fire (Charlie Poole)
From: Joe Offer

BALTIMORE FIRE (Charlie Poole Version)

It was going to a falls by a narrow
That I heard a cry I ever shall remember,
The fire sent and cast its burning embers
On another faded city of our land.

Fire, Fire, I heard the cry
From every breeze that passes by,
All the world was one sad cry of pity
Strong men in anguish prayed,
Calling loud to heaven for aid,
While the fire in ruins was laying
Fair Baltimore, the beautiful city


Amid an awful struggle of commotion,
The wind blew a gale from the ocean,
Brave firemen struggled with devotion,
But their efforts all proved in vain.


Source: Rambling Blues: The Life and Songs of Charlie Poole, by Kinney Rorrer©1982, by Kinney Rorrer of Danville, Virginia

Notes from the book:
    The text of this song appears in a songbook called Mowry's Songster, printed around 1905. The great Baltimore fire had occurred the year before, wiping out over a hundred blocks of the city. No author for the song is given, but he must have gotten his inspiration from Joe Gulick's 1873 song "The Boston Fire." Poole must have taken his version from the 1905 edition. However, there are a few distinct differences between the two. For example, the 1905 text has "It was only through a fault and by an error," while Poole sings this line "It was going to a falls by a narrow." The chorus in both versions is almost identical to that of Gulick's "Boston Fire."


So, can somebody find Gulick's "Boston Fire"?

Charlie Poole recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y7x5AWhT2ec


26 Oct 17 - 07:28 PM (#3884910)
Subject: RE: Origins: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Joe Offer

Here's an article by Lyle Lofgren about the song: http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/RTOS-BaltimoreFire.html

Remembering The Old Songs:

THE BALTIMORE FIRE

by Lyle Lofgren
(Originally published: Inside Bluegrass, July 2005)

Some scholars have written that ballads functioned as tabloid newspapers of their day, bringing news of sensational happenings to an illiterate populace. But news is ephemeral: it whets our appetite for different news tomorrow. A song commemorating a specific event, such as a burning city, is not much remembered after the city has been rebuilt. A song about a specific murder, though, can last long beyond the event, because the theme recurs over generations. Yesterday's False William is today's serial killer.

We most certainly wouldn't know this song about the Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 were it not for repertoire desperation by Charlie Poole (1892-1931) and The North Carolina Ramblers. Charlie's life is worth an entire book (Rambling Blues -- The Life & Songs of Charlie Poole, by Kinney Rorrer, 913 Vicar Rd., Danville, VA 24540), so I won't repeat any of it here. In 1929, the band was due in New York for their ninth recording session in four years. They had recorded over 90 songs, which would deplete the songbag of even prolific traditional musicians. Charlie or someone in the band found a 1905 songbook called Mowry's Songster, which had this Baltimore fire song, a re-write of an 1873 published song, The Boston Fire. The North Carolina Ramblers recorded it (now reissued on County CD-3508, Charlie Poole & North Carolina Ramblers, Vol. 2).

Massive urban fires are so rare nowadays that we don't think much about them. The London fire of 1666 burned more than 13,000 buildings, killing an unknown number of people, while the 1871 Chicago fire ruined 18,000 buildings and killed about 300. Very few people died in the Baltimore fire of February 7-9, 1904, but most of the commercial district and the harbor piers were destroyed. It started when one building caught fire and then exploded, spreading the fire to other buildings. While the firemen were trying to put those out, a 25 mph wind came in off the ocean, which spread the fire rapidly in a new direction. Fire engines from Washington DC, Philadelphia, and Wilmington arrived to help, but the non-standardized hose couplings didn't fit the hydrants. They tried to make a firebreak by blowing up buildings ahead of the fire, but that generated small wooden pieces that burned even more fiercely and accelerated the spreading. Finally, the firemen made a last stand at Jones Falls, a small river that runs into the harbor. They lined up 37 steam fire engines drawing water from the river and created a wall of water that stopped the fire. Baltimore rebuilt, using more fireproof materials.

The first line is a puzzler. Charlie did not follow the sheet music, which read, "It was only through a fault and by an error." The New Lost City Ramblers heard Charlie sing, "It was on a silver falls by a narrow." I'm printing Kinney Rorrer's version of the line. When I listen to Charlie, I can hear either the Kinney or the NLCR version, depending on which one I'm thinking of at the time. Kinney's great uncle, Posey Rorrer, fiddled for Charlie, so I'll give the benefit of the doubt to someone who lives in the area and is familiar with the dialect. Buy the CD, listen to it, decide for yourself.

Baltimore Fire

Complete lyrics:
1. It was going to a falls by a narrow
That I heard a cry I ever shall remember.
The fire sent and cast its burning embers
On another fated city of our land.

Chorus:
"Fire, fire," I heard the cry, from every breeze that passes by;
All the world was one sad cry of pity.
Strong men in anguish prayed, and calling loud to heaven for aid,
While the fire in ruin was layin' fair Baltimore, the beautiful city.

2. Amid an awful struggle of commotion,
The wind blew a gale from the ocean.
Brave firemen struggled with devotion,
But their efforts all proved in vain.
CHO.


26 Oct 17 - 07:48 PM (#3884913)
Subject: RE: Origins: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Joe Offer

Norm Cohen's American Folk Songs: A Regional Encyclopedia (pp 176-177) has a transcription of the Charlie Poole recording, plus notes.

Here's Norm Cohen's transcription:

THE BALTIMORE FIRE

It was only through a fault by an error
That I heard a cry I ever will remember.
The fire sent and cast its burning embries
On another fated city of our land.

CHORUS
Fire, fire, I heard the cry,
From every breeze that passes by,
All the world was one sad cry of pity,
Strong men in angry praise [anguish prayed?]
Calling loud to heaven for aid
While the fire in ruins was laying
Fair Baltimore, the beautiful city.

Amid an awful struggle of commotion
The wind blew a gale from the ocean,
Brave fireman struggled with devotion
But the efforts all proved in vain.

Notes: The Great Baltimore Fire of 1904 raged from 10:48 A.M. Sunday, February 7, to 5:00 P.M. the following Monday. More than 1,200 firefighters were required to bring the blaze under control.
The fire was reported first at the John Hurst and Company building at 10:48 A.M. and quickly spread. By 1:30 P.M., units from Washington, D.C., were arriving. Efforts to halt the fire's spread by dynamiting buildings around the existing fire proved unsuccessful. Contributing to the duration of the fire was the lack of national standards in firefighting equipment. Although fire engines from nearby cities (such as Philadelphia and Washington, as well as units from New York City, Wilmington, and Atlantic City) responded, many were useless because their hose couplings failed to fit Baltimore hydrants. As a result, the fire burned over 30 hours, destroying 1,526 buildings spanning 70 city blocks.

Charlie Poole (1892?1931), the North Carolina hillbilly musician who sang the text of 'Baltimore Fire' for the Columbia Phonograph Corporation in 1930, was a hard-drinking rambling musician who traveled throughout North Carolina and adjacent states, making a living by his music. When he started making phonograph recordings in 1925, he and his band proved to be one of the most popular groups in the Appalachian region, and he enjoyed a successful musical career until his excessive drinking led to an early heart attack at age 39. Poole's recording is the only one of 'Baltimore Fire' until the 1950s. Then, other folk revival groups, entranced with the style of the North Carolina Ramblers, recorded many of their best hits, and 'Baltimore Fire' gained a new career on recordings and in concerts. Unfortunately, Poole had a tendency to garble his words (alcohol is an effective solvent for syllables), and most transcriptions of his text give the first line as 'It was by a silver falls by a narrow,' but with the written text as a guideline, his words can be deciphered.


26 Oct 17 - 07:56 PM (#3884915)
Subject: ADD: Boston Fire (Excerpt?)
From: Joe Offer

The Norm Cohen book also has what appears to be an excerpt of "Boston Fire," note the entire song:

BOSTON FIRE (excerpt?)

It was only on the Tenth of last November
That we heard the news we ever shall remember,
That the fire-king had cast its burning embers
O'er another fated city in our land.
As the woeful tidings flashed along the wire,
Of this other sad catastrophe so dire,
That Boston, beauteous city was on fire,
And sinking 'neath the fiend's relentless hand.

Chorus:
Fire! fire! was heard the cry,
In every breeze that passed us by,
All the world did heave a sigh of pity;
Strong men in anguish pray'd.
Fervent prayers to Heaven to aid,
Before the fire in ruins laid,
Fair Boston, beauteous city.

And all through the terrible commotion,
The wind blew a gale from off the ocean,
The brave firemen worked with all devotion,
To laugh at their efforts yet it seem'd;
And soared with fiery prayer still higher
O'er chimney top, steeple and church spire,
Till all was one vast flame of fire,
And the light around the horizon gleamed. Chorus.

Source: Norm Cohen, American Folk Songs: A Regional Encyclopedia (pp 176-178) [Greenwood Press, 2008]


Norm Cohen found these lyrics in Cradle's Empty, Baby's Gone Songster and Wehman's Universal Songster no 2.


26 Oct 17 - 10:05 PM (#3884931)
Subject: RE: Origins: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Bill D

Boston? Someone had played with the original, I'll bet, and tossed in Boston because he lived there...and that last verse doesn't scan very well. It feels as if written after the fact. I'll keep doing it like Gene Anderson said until better answers appear.


26 Oct 17 - 10:15 PM (#3884933)
Subject: RE: Origins: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Joe Offer

Hi, Bill -

I'm still looking for Norm Cohen's two sources. Note that the estimable Kinney Rorrer agrees that the Poole song was derived from Joe Gulick's 1873 "Boston Fire." Norm Cohen's transcription of the 1873 Boston song includes the verse you furnished in your first post.

Now, can we find Gulick's Boston song, so we know if Norm Cohen gave us the complete lyrics?

-Joe-


26 Oct 17 - 10:30 PM (#3884937)
Subject: ADD: The Boston Fire (Joe A. Gulick)
From: Joe Offer

I found an additional verse and final chorus at http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/songster/02-the-boston-fire.htm, and I also found sheet music at https://archive.org/details/CSM_00780. The following is my transcription of the sheet music.

THE BOSTON FIRE
(Written by Joe A. Gulick, Arranged by T. Van Berg)

It was only in the month of last November,
That we heard the news we ever shall remember,
That the Fire King had cast his burning ember
O'er another fated city in our land.
As the woeful tiding flash'd along the wire,
At the terrible catastrophe so dire,
That Boston, beauteous city, was on fire,
And was sinking 'neath the fiend's relentless hand.

CHORUS (after 1 & 2):
Fire! fire! was heard the cry,
In every breeze that pass'd us by,
And all the world heav'd one great sigh of pity;
Strong men in anguish pray'd
Fervent pray'r to heav'n for aid,
Before the fire in ruins laid
Fair Boston's fated city.

And all thro' the terrible commotion
The winds blew a gale from off the ocean,
Tho' the brave firemen toil'd with all devotion,
To laugh at the efforts yet it seem'd;
And soared with its fiery tongue still higher,
O'er chimney top, steeple and spire,
Till all was one vast wave of fire,
As the light 'round the horizon gleam'd.

But who saves a city in her panic
From the rule of the Fireking so tyrannic;
But the brave-hearted fireman and mechanic,
The best and the noblest in the land,
Far brighter than the soldier's record gory
Are the names of those who live in song and story,
Who restore a city to her former glory,
And build her up, if possible, more grand.

CHORUS (after 3)
For soon will no trace remain
Of all this sea of flame,
For Boston will rise again, remember!
Like Chicago from the ground,
And brave men will be found,
Who will rebuild a fairer town
Before the next November.



Since we lost our wonderful camp location in Santa Rosa just this month, this song brings tears to my eyes. -Joe-


20 Jun 18 - 11:47 AM (#3932174)
Subject: RE: Origins: Baltimore Fire..a 'new' old verse....
From: Charlie Baum

Regarding the Mowry's Songster, which is said to be the source of Charlie Poole's version:

A copy of Mowry's Songster is listed in the Guthrie T. Meade Collection #20246, Southern Folklife Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (Folder 679:        
Mowry's Songster). If anyone is in the Chapel Hill/Triangle area, perhaps they can investigate it.

--Charlie Baum, who heard Larry Hanks and Deborah Robins sing the Baltimore Fire song last night, and sparked my interest in the subject