Ballad of America Volume 1: Over a Wide and Fruitful Land

by Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band

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about

This is the first CD in Matthew Sabatella’s Ballad of America series, which tells the story of the United States through traditional folk songs. The journey on this CD begins in the latter part of the eighteenth century when the United States of America became an independent nation. It follows the paths of the pioneers, sailors, lumberjacks, immigrants, '49ers, farmers, slaves, soldiers, cowboys, and railroaders who moved the country across the continent and into the twentieth century.

The all-acoustic Ballad of America Volume 1 features Sabatella on guitar with a host of musical guests who make contributions on banjo, fiddle, concertina, resonator guitar, bodhran, harmonica, mandolin, and upright bass. But the focal point of the album is the nineteenth century songs, many virtually forgotten, which Sabatella’s mesmerizing baritone voice infuses with an immediacy and intimacy that belies their age.

credits

released June 7, 2005

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about

Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band Florida

With vocals, guitar, banjo, fiddle, mandolin, and bass fiddle, Matthew Sabatella and the Rambling String Band bring to life music that is woven into the fabric of the United States: traditional folk songs, fiddle tunes, old-time country, bluegrass, Appalachian music, ragtime, blues, spirituals, railroad and cowboy songs, work songs, sea shanties, reels, breakdowns, ballads, and more. ... more

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Track Name: The Lovely Ohio
Come all ye brisk young fellows who have a mind to roam
All in some foreign counteree, a long way from home
All in some foreign counteree along with me to go
And we'll settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio
We'll settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio

Come all you pretty fair maids, spin us some yarn
To make us some nice clothing to keep ourselves warm
For you can knit and sew, my loves, while we do reap and mow
When we settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio
When we settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio

There are fishes in the river, just fitted for our use
There's tall and lofty sugar cane that will give to us its juice
There's every kind of game, my boys, also the buck and doe
When we settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio
When we settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio

When we settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio
When we settle on the banks of the lovely Ohio
Track Name: The Wisconsin Emigrant
Since times are so hard, I've thought, my true heart
Of leaving my oxen, my plough, and my cart
And away to Wisconsin, a journey we'd go
To double our fortune as other folks do
While here I must labor each day in the field
And the winter consumes all the summer doth yield

Oh husband, I've noticed with sorrowful heart
You've neglected your oxen, your plough, and your cart
Your sheep are disordered; at random they run
And your new Sunday suit is now every day on
Oh, stay on the farm and you'll suffer no loss
For the stone that keeps rolling will gather no moss

Oh wife, let's go; oh, don't let us wait
Oh, I long to be there; oh, I long to be great
While you some rich lady - and who knows but I
Some governor may be before that I die?
While here I must labor each day in the field
And the winter consumes all the summer doth yield

Oh husband, remember that land is to clear
Which will cost you the labor of many a year
Where horses, sheep, cattle, and hogs are to buy
And you'll scarcely get settled before you must die
Oh, stay on the farm and you'll suffer no loss
For the stone that keeps rolling will gather no moss

Oh wife, let's go; oh, don't let us stay
I will buy me a farm that is cleared by the way
Where horses, sheep, cattle, and hogs are not dear
And we'll feast on fat buffalo half of the year
While here I must labor each day in the field
And the winter consumes all the summer doth yield

Oh husband, remember that land of delight
Is surrounded by Indians who murder by night
Your house they will plunder and burn to the ground
While your wife and your children lie murdered around
Oh, stay on the farm, and you'll suffer no loss
For the stone that keeps rolling will gather no moss

Now wife, you've convinced me; I'll argue no more
I never had thought of your dying before
I love my dear children, although they are small
But you, my dear wife, are more precious than all
We'll stay on the farm, and suffer no loss
For the stone that keeps rolling will gather no moss
Track Name: Shenandoah
O Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away, you rolling river
O Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away, I'm bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri

Missouri, she's a mighty river
Away, you rolling river
The Indians camp along her borders
Away, I'm bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri

The white man loved an Indian maiden
Away, you rolling river
With notions his canoe was laden
Away, I'm bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri

O Shenandoah, I love your daughter
Away, you rolling river
For her I've crossed the rolling water
Away, I'm bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri

Seven long years I courted Sally
Away, you rolling river
Seven more I longed to have her
Away, I'm bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri

Farewell, my dear, I'm bound to leave you
Away, you rolling river
O Shenandoah, I'll not deceive you
Away, I'm bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri
Track Name: Once More a-Lumb'ring Go
chorus:

And once more a-lumb'ring go
And once more a-lumb'ring go
And we'll range the wild woods over
And once more a-lumbring go

verses:

Come all you sons of freedom
That run the Saginaw stream
Come all you roving lumberjacks
And listen to my theme
We'll cross the Tittabawassee
Where the mighty waters flow
And we'll range the wild woods over
And once more a-lumb'ring go

When the white frost takes the valley
And the snow conceals the woods
Each farmer has enough to do
To earn the family food
With the week no better pastime
Than to hunt the buck and doe
And we'll range the wild woods over
And once more a-lumb'ring go

You may talk about your farms
Your houses and fine ways
And pity us poor shanty boys
While dashing in our sleighs
Around a good campfire at night
We'll sing while the wild winds blow
And we'll range the wild woods over
And once more a-lumb'ring go

With our axes on our shoulders
We'll make the woods resound
And many a tall and stately tree
Will come tumbling to the ground
With our axes on our shoulders
To our boot tops deep in snow
We'll range the wild woods over
And once more a-lumb'ring go

When navigation opens
And the waters run so free
We'll drive our logs to Saginaw
Then haste our girls to see
They will welcome our return
And we'll in raptures flow
And we'll stay with them through summer
And once more a-lumb'ring go

When our youthful days are ended
And our jokes are getting long
We'll take us each a little wife
And settle on a farm
We'll have enough to eat and drink
Contented we will go
And we'll tell our wives of our hard times
And no more a-lumb'ring go
Track Name: Across the Western Ocean
Oh, the times are hard and the wages are low
Amelia, where you bound for?
The Rocky Mountains is my home
Across the Western Ocean

Beware these packet ships I say
Amelia, where you bound for?
They'll steal your stores and clothes away
Across the Western Ocean

There's Liverpool Pat with his tarpaulin hat
Amelia, where you bound for?
And Yankee John the packet rat
Across the Western Ocean

Father and Mother, say goodbye
Amelia, where you bound for?
Brother and sister, don't you cry
Across the Western Ocean
Track Name: Ho! For California!
chorus:

Then, ho! Boys ho!
To California go
There's plenty of gold in the world we're told
On the banks of the Sacramento
Heigh ho and away we go
Digging up the gold on the Francisco
Heigh ho and away we go
Digging up the gold on the Francisco

verses:

We've formed our band, and we're all well manned
To journey afar to the promised land
Where the golden ore is rich in store
On the banks of the Sacramento shore

As off we roam through the dark sea foam
We'll ne'er forget kind friends at home
But memory kind shall bring to mind
The love of those we left behind

Oh don't you cry, nor heave a sigh
For we'll all come back again by and by
Don't breathe a fear, nor shed a tear
But patiently wait for about two year

We expect our share of the coarsest fare
And sometimes sleep in the open air
On the cold damp ground we'll all sleep sound
Except when the wolves come howling 'round

As the gold is thar most any whar
And they dig it out with an iron bar
And where 'tis thick, with a spade or pick
They can take out lumps as big as a brick

As we explore the distant shore
We'll fill our pockets with the shining ore
And how 'twill sound as the wind goes 'round
Of our picking up gold by the dozen pound

Oh the land we'll save for the bold and brave
Have determined there never shall breathe a slave
Let foes recoil, for the sons of toil
Shall make California God's Free Soil
Track Name: Sweet Betsy from Pike
Did you ever hear tell of sweet Betsy from Pike
Who crossed the wide prairies with her lover Ike
With two yoke of cattle and a one-spotted hog
A tall Shanghai rooster and an old yellow dog

One evening quite early they camped on the Platte
Made down their blankets on a green shady flat
Where Betsy, sore-footed, lay down to repose
With wonder Ike gazed on his Pike County rose

Their wagons broke down with a terrible crash
And out on the prairie rolled all sorts of trash
A few little baby clothes, done up with care
'Twas rather suspicious, though all on the square

The Shanghai ran off and the cattle all died
That morning the last piece of bacon was fried
Poor Ike was discouraged, and Betsy got mad
The dog drooped his tail and looked wondrously sad

They soon reached the desert, where Betsy gave out
And down in the sand she lay rolling about
While Ike, half distracted, looked on with surprise
Saying "Betsy, get up, you'll get sand in your eyes"

Sweet Betsy got up in a great deal of pain
Declared she'd go back to Pike County again
But Ike heaved a sigh, and they fondly embraced
And they traveled along with his arm 'round her waist

They swam the wide rivers and climbed the tall peaks
And camped on the prairies for weeks upon weeks
Starvation and cholera, hard work and slaughter
They reached California spite of hell and high water

That morning they stood on a very high hill
And with wonder looked down into old Placerville
Ike shouted and said, as he cast his eyes down
"Sweet Betsy, my darling, we've got to Hangtown"

Long Ike and sweet Betsy attended a dance
Where Ike wore a pair of his Pike County pants
Sweet Betsy was covered with ribbons and rings
Said Ike "You're an angel, but where are your wings?"


This Pike County couple got married, of course
But Ike became jealous, obtained a divorce
And Betsy, well satisfied, said with a shout
"Goodbye, you big lummox, I'm glad you backed out"
Track Name: Old Settler's Song
I've traveled all over this country
Prospecting and digging for gold
I've tunneled, hydraulicked and cradled
And I have been frequently sold

For each man who got rich by mining
Perceiving that hundreds grew poor
I made up my mind to try farming
The only pursuit that was sure

So rolling my grub in my blanket
I left all my tools on the ground
I started one morning to shank it
For the country they call Puget Sound

Arriving flat broke in midwinter
I found it enveloped in fog
And covered all over with timber
Thick as hair on the back of a dog

When I looked on the prospects so gloomy
The tears trickled over my face
And I thought that my travels had brought me
To the end of the jumping off place

I staked me a claim in the forest
And sat myself down to hard toil
For two years I chopped and I loggered
But I never got down to the soil

I tried to get out of the country
But poverty forced my to stay
Until I became an old settler
Then nothing could drive me away

And now that I'm used to the climate
I think that if a man ever found
A place to live easy and happy
That Eden is on Puget Sound

No longer the slave of ambition
I laugh at the world and its shams
As I think of my pleasant condition
Surrounded by acres of clams
Track Name: Many Thousand Gone
No more auction block for me
No more, no more
No more auction block for me
Many thousand gone

No more peck of corn for me
No more, no more
No more peck of corn for me
Many thousand gone

No more driver’s lash for me
No more, no more
No more drivers’ lash for me
Many thousand gone

No more pint of salt for me
No more, no more
No more pint of salt for me
Many thousand gone

No more hundred lash for me
No more, no more
No more hundred lash for me
Many thousand gone

No more mistress call for me
No more, no more
No more mistress call for me
Many thousand gone

No more children stole from me
No more, no more
No more children stole from me
Many thousand gone

No more slavery chains for me
No more, no more
No more slavery chains for me
Many thousand gone
Track Name: Southern Soldier
I'll place my knapsack on my back
My rifle on my shoulder
I'll march away to the firing line
And kill that Yankee soldier
And kill that Yankee soldier
I'll march away to the firing line
And kill that Yankee soldier

I'll bid farewell to my wife and child
Farewell to my aged mother
And go and join in the bloody strife
Till this cruel war is over
Till this cruel war is over
I'll go and join in the bloody strife
Till this cruel war is over

If I am shot on the battlefield
And I should not recover
Oh, who will protect my wife and child
And care for my aged mother
And care for my aged mother
Oh, who will protect my wife and child
And care for my aged mother

And if our Southern cause is lost
And Southern rights denied us
We'll be ground beneath the tyrant's heel
For our demands of justice
For our demands of justice
We'll be ground beneath the tyrant's heel
For our demands of justice

Before the South shall bow her head
Before the tyrants harm us
I'll give my all to the Southern cause
And die in the Southern army
And die in the Southern army
I'll give my all to the Southern cause
And die in the Southern army

If I must die for my home and land
My spirit will not falter
Oh, here's my heart and here's my hand
Upon my country's altar
Upon my country's altar
Oh, here's my heart and here's my hand
Upon my country's altar

Then Heaven be with us in the strife
Be with the Southern soldier
We'll drive the mercenary horde
Beyond our Southern border
Beyond our Southern border
We'll drive the mercenary horde
Beyond our Southern border
Track Name: Oh Freedom!
Oh, freedom!
Oh, freedom!
Oh, freedom over me!
And before I'd be a slave
I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free

No more moanin'
No more moanin’
No more moanin’ over me
And before I’d be a slave
I’ll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free

There'll be singin'
There’ll be singin’
There’ll be singin’ over me
And before I’d be a slave
I’ll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free

There'll be shoutin'
There’ll be shoutin’
There’ll be shoutin’ over me
And before I’d be a slave
I’ll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free

Oh, freedom!
Oh, freedom!
Oh, freedom over me!
And before I'd be a slave
I'll be buried in my grave
And go home to my Lord and be free
Track Name: Rambling Gambler
I'm a rambler and a gambler
And a long ways from home
If the people don't like me
They can leave me alone

Oh, it's dark and it’s a-rainin'
And the moon gives no light
My pony won't travel
On this dark road at night

Go put up your pony
And give him some hay
Come take your seat by me
Just as long as you stay

My pony isn’t hungry
No, he won't eat your hay
We’re headed for Wyoming
We’re gonna graze on the way

I used to have me a pretty little sweetheart
Her age was nineteen
She was the flower of Belton
And the rose of Saline

But her parents were against me
And now she is the same
If I'm on your book, love
Won’t you blot out my name

I'm a rambler and a gambler
And a long ways from home
If the people don't like me
They can leave me alone

Oh, it's dark and it’s a-rainin'
And the moon gives no light
My pony won't travel
On this dark road at night
Track Name: Old Chisholm Trail
chorus:

Coma ti yi youpy, youpy yea, youpy yea
Coma ti yi youpy, youpy yea

verses:

Come along, boys, and listen to my tale
I'll tell you of my troubles on the old Chisholm Trail

I started up the trail October twenty-third
I started up the trail with the 2-U herd

O a ten dollar hoss and a forty-dollar saddle
And I'm goin' to punch in Texas cattle

I woke up one morning on the old Chisholm Trail
Rope in my hand and a cow by the tail

Stray in the herd and the boss said to kill it
So I shot him in the rump with the handle of the skillet

My hoss throwed me off at the creek called Mud
My hoss throwed me off round the 2-U herd

Last time I saw him he was going 'cross the level
A-kicking up his heels and a-running like the devil

It's cloudy in the west, a-looking like rain
And my darned old slicker's in the wagon again

The wind commenced to blow and the rain began to fall
Hit looked, by grab, like we was goin' to lose 'em all

I jumped in the saddle, grabbed holt of the horn
Best darned cowpuncher that ever was born

I popped my foot in the stirrup and gave a little yell
The tail cattle broke and the leaders went as well

Feet in the stirrups and seat in the saddle
I hung and rattled with them longhorn cattle

I don't give a darn if they never do stop
I'll ride as long as an eight-day clock

We rounded 'em up and put 'em on the cars
And that was the last of the old Two Bars

Goin' to the boss to git my money
Goin' back south to see my honey

With my hand on the horn and my seat in the sky
I'll quit herding cows in the sweet by-and-by
Track Name: Streets of Laredo
As I walked out in the streets of Laredo
As I walked out in Laredo one day
I spied a dear cowboy wrapped up in white linen
Wrapped up in white linen and cold as the clay

"I see by your outfit that you are a cowboy"
These words he did say as I boldly stepped by
"Come sit down beside me and hear my sad story
I am shot in the breast and I know I must die

"It was once in the saddle I used to go dashing
It was once in the saddle I used to go gay
But I first took to drinkin' and then to card playin'
Got shot in the breast and I am dying today

"Oh, beat the drum slowly and play the fife lowly
Play the dead march as you carry me along
Take me to the green valley, there lay the sod o'er me
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong

"Get six jolly cowboys to carry my coffin
Get six pretty maidens to bear up my pall
Put bunches of roses all over my coffin
Put roses to deaden the sods as they fall

"Then swing your rope slowly and rattle your spurs lowly
And give a wild whoop as you carry me along
And in the grave throw me and roll the sod o'er me
For I'm a young cowboy and I know I've done wrong

"Go bring me a cup, a cup of cold water
To cool my parched lips," the cowboy then said
Before I returned his soul had departed
And gone to the round-up, the cowboy was dead

We beat the drum slowly and played the fife lowly
And bitterly wept as we bore him along
For we all loved our comrade, so brave, young, and handsome
We all loved our comrade although he'd done wrong
Track Name: Old Paint
chorus:

Ride around, little dogies
Ride around them slow
For the fiery and snuffy are a-rarin' to go

verses:

I ride an old paint
I lead an old Dan
I'm goin' to Montan'
For to throw the hoolihan
They feed in the coulees
They water in the draw
Their tails are all matted
Their backs are all raw

Old Bill Jones
Had two daughters and a song
One went to Denver
And the other went wrong
His wife she died
In a poolroom fight
Still he sings
From morning till night

O when I die
Take my saddle from the wall
Put it on my pony
Lead him out of his stall
Tie my bones to his back
Turn our faces to the west
And we'll ride the prairies
That we love the best
Track Name: Paddy Works on the Railway
chorus:

Fil-i-me-oo-ree-eye-ri-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-ree-eye-ri-ay
Fil-i-me-oo-ree-eye-ri-ay
To work upon the railway

verses:

In eighteen hundred and forty-one
I put me cord'roy breeches on
I put me cord'roy breeches on
To work upon the railway

In eighteen hundred and forty-two
I left the Old World for the new
Bad cess to the luck that brought me through
To work upon the railroad

When we left Ireland to come here
And spend our latter days in cheer
Our bosses, they did drink strong beer
And Pat worked on the railway

Our boss's name, it was Tom King
He kept a store to rob the men
A Yankee clerk with ink and pen
To cheat Pat on the railroad

It's "Pat do this" and "Pat do that"
Without a stocking or cravat
And nothing but an old straw hat
While Pat works on the railroad

One Monday morning to our surprise
Just a half an hour before sunrise
The dirty divil went to the skies
And Pat worked on the railroad

And when Pat lays him down to sleep
The wirey bugs around him creep
And divil a bit can poor Pat sleep
While he works on the railroad

In eighteen hundred and forty-three
'Twas then I met Miss Biddy MacGhee
And an illygant wife she's been to me
While workin' on the railway

In eighteen hundred and forty seven
Sweet Biddy MacGhee, she went to heaven
If she left one child, she left seven
To work upon the railway

In eighteen hundred and forty eight
I learned to take my whiskey straight
'Tis an illygant wife and can't be bate
For working on the railway
Track Name: This Old Hammer
chorus:

This old hammer killed John Henry
But it won't kill me, Lord
No, it won't kill me

verses:

When John Henry was a baby on his mama's knee
He picked up a hammer and steel
He said "This hammer's gonna be the death of me, Lord, Lord
This hammer's gonna be the death of me"

Well, the captain told John Henry "Gonna bring a steam drill 'round.
Gonna put that steam drill on the job
Just watch that steam drill drive that steel down, Lord, Lord
Just watch that steam drill drive that steel down"

John Henry told his people "A man is just a man,
But I can beat any trap that has ever been made
Or I'll die with my hammer in my hand, Lord, Lord
I'll die with my hammer in my hand"

John Henry just getting started, steam drill halfway down
John Henry said "You're ahead right now,
But I'll beat you on the last go-around, Lord, Lord
I'll beat you on the last go-around"

Well, the men who built that steam drill, they thought they were mighty fine
John Henry, he drove his fourteen feet
That steam drill, it only made nine, Lord, Lord
That steam drill, it only made nine

John Henry told his woman "Polly fix my bed.
I want to lie down and get some rest.
For I've got an awful roaring in my head, Lord, Lord
I've got an awful roaring in my head"

Now every train that leaves the station and heads into Big Bend
Blows a whistle for poor old John
In the tunnel you can hear his hammer ringing in the dark, Lord, Lord
You can hear his hammer ringing in the dark
Track Name: Wanderin'
I've been wanderin' early and late
From New York City to the Golden Gate
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'

My daddy is an engineer, my brother drives a hack
My sister takes in washing and the baby balls the jack
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'

Been a-workin' in the city, been a-workin' on the farm
And all I've got to show for it is the muscle in my arm
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'

Snakes in the ocean, eels in the sea
A redheaded woman made a fool out of me
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'

I've been wanderin' far and wide
I come with the wind, and I drift with the tide
And it looks like I'm never gonna cease my wanderin'