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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: TOTW, 4/2/10: Goodbye Girls I'm Going to Boston


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ramjo - Posted - 04/02/2010:  07:08:59


Here's a Kentucky fiddle tune I hope you like: "Goodbye Girls, I'm Going to Boston." This is much more likely to be heard at square or contra dances than at a string-band jam or performance. That's probably because it's best know via its 1) dance-based lyrics ("swing your partner," "promenade one, two, three") 2) association with Art Stamper's recording on his album of the same name. Art's 8-bar, driving version is good dance music. Listen to a clip here.

It's easy to see why Art made this tune his. According to its listing in Cecil Sharpe's English Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians, it was collected from a "Mr. Hillard Smith at Hindman, Knott County, KY, Sept 20, 1917." Hindman is Art Stamper's hometown. And according to "The Fiddler's Companion," (go here and scroll down), Art learned it from his father, Hiram, who "also had a version of the tune, albeit a 'crooked' one different from his son's." Jeff Todd Titon, on p. 82 of Old-Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes, also includes lyrics Jean Ritchie remembers singing as a girl, in Viper, KY (about 20 miles southwest of Hindman).

A few weeks ago, Twelvefret posted a discussion about Hiram Stamper with a link to the music page at Barea College. Unfortunately the page contains no recording of "Goodbye Girls," but I encourage you to visit it and listen to what's there. I'm sure you'll agree with Twelvefret's point in his post that Hiram's style (and by extension other regional fiddlers of his and prior generations) is so idiosyncratic and unpredictable that it doesn't lend itself to group playing with other instruments. Nor, it seems to me, to dancing. So it's interesting to speculate on just how people danced to a Hiram-style tune or whether he squared things up when playing for dancers.

My first introduction to the tune was via musicians local to me, Brian Sullivan and Lisa Johnson. (Lisa writes a great mountain dulcimer blog and is also a fine banjo player and teacher.) Their version is crooked, and based on a recording of Hiram playing "Goodbye Girls" on an out-of-print DVD from the Field Recorder's Collective. (I contacted the FRC, and they have no remaining copies or plans to reissue it.) You can hear Brian and Lisa here.

When I first saw the title of the tune, I thought "this must be one of those nineteenth century Irish tunes about Seamus leaving the old country and all his true loves." I was so full of this imagery that when I heard Brian and Lisa's wonderful drone-y modal-y sound, my own power-of-suggestion made me hear the tune as a lament. A subsequent listening and a little research soon showed me how wrong I was. It's quick, you could do a two step to it, and "Boston" is as likely to be Boston, KY (200 miles west of Hindman) as Boston, MA. (Or, probably, since the tune attracted Cecil Sharpe's attention, Egbert--not Seamus--was off for Boston, Lincolshire, England.) Still, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around how the cheerful lyrics and "won't we look pretty in the ballroom" chorus came out of this odd tune with its major A part and modal B part. Lisa reminded me that it's not all that uncommon to hear children's songs attempting to make light of a spooky atmosphere. Maybe we have a new genre here!

My online searches came up with the following examples out there (most are played in A and set both the A and B parts in 8 measures):

Hiram's other son, Charlie, trying out Dan Levenson's fiddle. To me, Charlie's version sounds more like how Hiram's is described than it does like his brother's.

Fiddle contestant, Charlie Hunter at the 2007 TN Valley OT Fiddler's Convention (at 3:08) (The text at this link attributes "Goodbye Girls" to Jim Cauthen. I've not seen this association elsewhere.)

A wonderful version by Chris Coole and Erynn Marshall on Chris's BHO page. (~1:20)

Will Keys in finger style. Here's a clip. Maybe Chip Arnold will have more to add about Will's connection to this tune.

The Dragon Slayers doing three American tunes at an after-gig party in Caernarfon, N.Wales. (2nd tune, ~1:10) Flatpick banjo!

And finally me, attempting an interpretation of Brian and Lisa (also crooked, in G modal). For the strong at stomach, you can also listen to what happened when I played it in 6/8 to try to capture my idea that this might be a lament, and the guy might actually be sorry to be saying "goodbye girls."

I tabbed this and can post it if anyone's interested.

ELWOOD - Posted - 04/02/2010:  07:28:44


Chris Poole and Robert Manes, hit the spot with thier takes on "Goin to Boston" to my humble ears, the bowing rythums of fiddlers some times makes tunes sound too similar. these two players in peticular gave a 5 stars performce......................Steve

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 04/02/2010:  10:35:41


We have the Jean Ritchie Recording from the mid 1950s and I have a banjo version based on her lap dulcimer playing in RSB:
rocketsciencebanjo.com

It was always one of the first fiddle tunes I taught to students as it is simple catchy and there are a lot of verses (as opposed to dance calls) that go with it. Mis Ritchie described it as a "play party" song. Th edifference between a dance and a play party was that you could hold a play party without getting trouble from the church -- which didn't allow dancing.

gailg64 - Posted - 04/02/2010:  11:59:35


Jean Ritchie (who played a beautiful & danceable dulcimer version of Goodbye Girls I'm Goin to Boston) has been very ill (stroke) & has been in a nursing home. Below, I will paste a progress report (from about 6 weeks ago) on Jean's progress from her son Jon PIckow:

Subject: KYTrad update
From: GUEST,Jon Pickow
Date: 04 Feb 10 - 01:20 AM

Hi everyone,

Mom is making slow but steady progress. She is beginning to be able to communicate more, and is being weaned from the ventilator. She has enjoyed the cards, flowers and good wishes from everyone. That has been very uplifting for her. We printed out excerpts from the previous thread about her, and brought them to the rehab.

I have been bringing her dulcimer and singing and playing with her. She mouths the words along with most things. Only two weeks ago, she didn't seem to know certain songs which she should have, but it seems that she remembers them now. She especially likes to "sing" Twilight 'A Stealing.

I sing anything that pops in to my head. I skipped a verse to The Shoemaker's Song the other day, and she started slapping the arm of her chair. It's great to see her laugh. We sing hymns too. She was able to strum the dulcimer a little the other day.

We don't know if she will recover fully, but we are pleased with her progress. Thank you all for your caring and concern.

All the best, Jon


quote:
Originally posted by oldwoodchuckb

We have the Jean Ritchie Recording from the mid 1950s and I have a banjo version based on her lap dulcimer playing in RSB:
rocketsciencebanjo.com

It was always one of the first fiddle tunes I taught to students as it is simple catchy and there are a lot of verses (as opposed to dance calls) that go with it. Mis Ritchie described it as a "play party" song. Th edifference between a dance and a play party was that you could hold a play party without getting trouble from the church -- which didn't allow dancing.

atleson - Posted - 04/02/2010:  12:39:20


this is a wonderful tune, one of many on Art Stamper's cd. There seems to be an odd chord--F? Anyone worked out a tab on this tune?
jim

ramjo - Posted - 04/02/2010:  13:10:26


OWC, as Jean Ritchie says, the tune is listed in Cecil Sharpe, with 18 others, in the section titled "Play-Party Games." Thanks for providing the meaning of the play-party device.

Gailg64. Thanks for sharing that touching correspondence regarding Jean's recovery. I'm sure we all send her heartfelt best wishes.

In her honor, here's a clip from that recording you two referenced.
BTW, the tune's title in Sharpe and as Jean uses it is "Going to Boston."



Goin' to Boston

   

oldwoodchuckb - Posted - 04/02/2010:  13:15:31


As I said above - it is one of the 35 or so tunes tabbed out in Rocket Science Banjo - which is a free download:
rocketsciencebanjo.com
There are many tunes of a similar nature, and yes prt of it is mixolydian which would put a VII chord in it were you to try to do conventional harmony (Like in the high part of June Apple). Mz Ritchie did it on the lap dulcimer and used no chord harmony.

I was sorry to hear about her illness, and hope her both a speedy and full recovery. Jean Ritchie was the inspiration to an entire generation (if you don't believe me, compare her recordings to those of younger stars like Peggy Seeger, Joan Baez young Bob Dylan and a zillion others.

RG - Posted - 04/02/2010:  18:37:00


Ramjo-nice choice and great tune, kinda forgot about this one, but will be messing around with it this weekend...nicely played as well!! Love those Kentucky fiddle tunes...


Edited by - RG on 04/02/2010 18:57:39

cbcarlisle - Posted - 04/02/2010:  20:23:12


I learned this tune from Jean Ritchie back about 1962 but haven't played it until recently. That's because around that same time (though I had been playing fiddle tunes on the hammered dulcimer since 1957) the first tune I ever heard played by a traditional hammered dulcimer player (from West Virginia by the Library of Congress) was called "Drunken Sailor" but was actually a morph of "Going to Boston." And That was the tune I played on the hammered dulcimer. Since I couldn't quite justify playing two versions of the same tune (at that young period in my performing career) I defaulted to "Sailor." That's also because it was rhythmically very crooked: 5, 5, 5+2, 4+2, 4, 4. I usually called my tune, not "Drunken Sailor," but "Early in the Morning," since the tune was both "Sailor" And "Boston" and they shared the refrain, "Early in the Morning." I imagined that was the cause of the amalgamation. I'm finally putting that old tune on my next CD, which should be out in a few months. (My sister and I do a version of "Going to Boston" which will be on a later release.)

Curt Bouterse
curt.bouterse.com

Bisbonian - Posted - 04/02/2010:  21:08:53


How appropriate. I have to leave tomorrow for Boston. I don't think I will learn it before then, though.

olpete - Posted - 04/03/2010:  05:49:52


I first heard this tune from Dave Landreth's great cd, Chairs. Here's a mp3 of it from his web page.

geocities.com/dave_landreth/GGIGtB.mp3

If you don't have this cd you should. I believe you can purchase some tabs from him also if you like.


Edited by - olpete on 04/03/2010 05:51:42

ramjo - Posted - 04/03/2010:  07:40:58


Nice band setting in Dave Landreth's version. Thanks olpete.

Curt, the drunken sailor connection is intriguing, and one that hadn't occurred to me. Surely there's a structural similarity in the B part of "Going to Boston" with the old chestnut sung at every sea shanty sing-along. Your version sounds more complex than that one.

I'll add another one, mainly for Red Sox fans. (Is there anyone besides me who's a fans of both clawhammer and the Red Sox?) If you use your imagination, you can hear the structural similarity in the Dropkick Murphys' setting of Woody Guthrie's notebook lyrics in "I'm Shipping Up to Boston."

I'm sailor peg
And I've lost my leg
A climbing up the topsails
I've lost my leg

I'm shipping up to Boston
Shipping off to Boston
Shipping out to Boston
To find my wooden leg



ScottK - Posted - 04/03/2010:  14:41:11


Hey ramjo! Nice pick, nice picking, and nice post! Really enjoyed it!

That Art Stamper CD is great. A fiddler I used to play regularly with learned a bunch of tunes off of it, so I ended up learning them from her to back her up on banjo. In addition to Goodbye Girls I'm Going to Boston we used to play Josie-O, Old Horse and Buggy, Swing Lady Home, Brushy Run, and The Rusty Gun. Much fun!

Scott

Randy Adams - Posted - 04/04/2010:  05:30:43


Brian Sullivan & Lisa Johnson version of this tune is outstanding. I've admired Lisa's dulcimer playing for a few years....she's got it all there...melody, harmony, rhythm...makes the fiddle sound great. Here is the link again from ramjo's original post so you don't hafta hunt for it.
harmonias.com/our-music/Goodby...oston.mp3

peanutjake - Posted - 05/21/2010:  10:27:59


In 1947 we danced the Play Party called "Goodbye Girls We're Going To
Boston." The leader of the group was the Square Dance Caller Dick Kraus.
It was held every week at the Ethical Culture Society in New York.
Every week over 200 teen-agers came to dance Square and International Folk Dances. At the intermission we sat down and sang Folk Songs.

gailg64 - Posted - 05/21/2010:  11:56:21


Wow, haven't heard a sound clip of Lisa & Brian in a while. This is fantastic. They have a wonderful sound--haunting without being corny & driving at the same time.

quote:
Originally posted by Randy Adams

Brian Sullivan & Lisa Johnson version of this tune is outstanding. I've admired Lisa's dulcimer playing for a few years....she's got it all there...melody, harmony, rhythm...makes the fiddle sound great. Here is the link again from ramjo's original post so you don't hafta hunt for it.
harmonias.com/our-music/Goodby...oston.mp3

ramjo - Posted - 05/21/2010:  14:08:19


quote:
Originally posted by gailg64

Wow, haven't heard a sound clip of Lisa & Brian in a while. This is fantastic. They have a wonderful sound--haunting without being corny & driving at the same time.

quote:
Originally posted by Randy Adams

Brian Sullivan & Lisa Johnson version of this tune is outstanding. I've admired Lisa's dulcimer playing for a few years....she's got it all there...melody, harmony, rhythm...makes the fiddle sound great. Here is the link again from ramjo's original post so you don't hafta hunt for it.
harmonias.com/our-music/Goodby...oston.mp3





Yes, their sound is really right there! They really know their stuff and live it too.



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