Songs From the Bend in the River

by Joe Flood

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1.
Overture 02:53
2.
Nicodemus, the slave, was of African birth And was bought for a bagful of gold He was reckoned as part of the salt of the earth But he died years ago, very old 'Twas his last sad request so we laid him away In the trunk of an old hollow tree Wake me up, was his charge At the first break of day Wake me up for the great jubilee CHORUS The good time coming is almost here It was long long long on the way So run tell Elijah Run tell Pomp Meet me at the gum tree Down in the swamp We're gonna wake Nicodemus Wake Nicodemus Wake Nicodemus today He was known as a prophet at least was as wise For he told of the battles to come And we trembled with dread when he rolled up his eyes And we heeded the shake of his thumb Though he clothed us with fear Yet the garments he wore Were in patches at elbow and knee And he still wears the suit that he used to of yore As he sleeps in the old hollow tree CHORUS 'Twas a long weary night we were almost in fear That the future was more than he knew 'Twas a long weary night but the morning is near And the words of our prophet are true There are signs in the sky that the darkness is gone There are tokens in endless array While the storm which had seemingly banished the dawn Only hastens the advent of day CHORUS
3.
By the river when night is dark What's that music you hear there? Hark! Can't you hear it on the breeze Just like the buzzing of the bees? That's the serenade I sing That gal of mine And to her I sing Chloe, I'm waiting here in the moonlight Waiting alone for you Come, on the banjo I'll play a tune light Telling you that my love is true Chloe, the moonbeams shine on the river Come in my light canoe Under the stars we will sail, my Chloe Just for to bill and coo By her cabin I linger late Cold I'm catching here while I wait What if I should catch a chill? Who's to pay the doctor's bill? That's the way I talk to her That gal of mine Then to her I sing Chloe, I'm waiting here in the moonlight Waiting alone for you Come, on the banjo I'll play a tune light Telling you that my love is true Chloe, the moonbeams shine on the river Come in my light canoe Under the stars we will sail, my Chloe Just for to bill and coo
4.
I often think of days gone by Before I sailed from home To toil beneath a foreign sky And in strange lands to roam To Portland, Conn I steered b'gorr' And there went on a spree But after that I started for The quarry company The pick, the hammer, sledge, and drill I tackled hard all day And often tried the time to kill But could not find a way The boss watched me, bad luck to him Wherever he may be So that I should work hard for them The quarry company On hand I was at seven a.m. Six mornings of the week And worked along till six p.m. Afraid one word to speak For if I dared lift up my head The bloke was there to see So that of them I'd be in dread The quarry company An honest man will not deceive Whoever him will hire And when his pay he does receive No more will he require Than what he did agree to get Both should alike be free They are as decent as I've met The quarry company But Paddy Whack and Johnny Bull Are pretty well played out The Swedes are coming forces full Good men they are no doubt Each year their numbers are increased From tyranny they flee So their new masters they can feast The quarry company
5.
My grandfather's clock was too tall for the shelf,
 So it stood ninety years on the floor;
 It was taller by half than the old man himself, 
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
 It was bought upon the morn of the day that he was born,
 And was always his treasure and pride;
 But it stopped short — never to go again —
 When the old man died. In watching its pendulum swing to and fro,
 Many hours had he spent as a boy;
 And in childhood and manhood the clock seemed to know
 And to share in his grief and his joy.
 And it struck twenty-four when he entered at the door,
 With a blushing and beautiful bride;
 But it stopped short — never to go again —
 When the old man died. Ninety years without slumbering (tick, tock, tick, tock), His life's seconds numbering, (tick, tock, tick, tock), It stopped short — never to go again — When the old man died. My grandfather said that of those he could hire, 
Not a servant more faithful he found;
 For it wasted no time, and had but one desire — 
At the end of each week to be wound.
 And it always kept its place — with no frown upon its face,
 And its hands never hung by its side.
 But it stopped short — never to go again —
 When the old man died. It rang an alarm in the dead of the night — 
An alarm that for years had been dumb;
 And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight —
 That the hour of departure had come.
 But the clock kept the time, with a soft and muffled chime,
 As we silently stood by his side;
 But it stopped short — never to go again —
 When the old man died. Ninety years without slumbering (tick, tick, tick, tick), His life's seconds numbering, (tick, tick, tick, tick), It stopped short — never to go again — When the old man died It stopped short — never to go again — When the old man died
6.
Nita Gitana 02:53
Nita Gitana! Awake from thy sleeping! Look down and love me, Thy Toreador am I. The white stars above thee Know how I love thee: All that I live for, For thee to fight and die. Nita Gitana! Awake from thy sleeping! Look down and love me, Thy Toreador am I. When in the fight, Love, Eyes beam so bright, Love, Favors falling, voices calling Under the golden skies, I hear alone, Love, Thy voice, mine own Love, I see again The splendor of thine eyes. Nita Gitana! Thy tears are now falling, Maybe tomorrow Thy Toreador may die; But if I fall, Love, Dearest of all, Love, First unto thee My heart, my heart shall fly. Nita Gitana! The trumpets are calling! Kiss me farewell, Thy Toreador am I. Nita Gitana! Wake from thy sleeping! Kiss me farewell, Thy Toreador am I. Thy Toreador am I.
7.
I seem a fine lawn, and my master is wealthy He hired a smart gardener to mind me all day Who keeps me quite bobby, good-looking and healthy; For it the same fellow is getting good pay. Methinks that without him I'd feel by far better, With Dame Nature's garments, the tall grass and leaves; When winter approaches they would be my shelter: But now as I'm fixed, sir, the cold to me cleaves. Appearances often are very deceiving: The best side to London, they say over there. We're outwardly smiling while inwardly grieving, Some millions now stand on the verge of despair. 'Tis so with the lawns that like me are denuded, Though seemingly happy we're buried in woe; The rich in grand mansions have rudely intruded Their machines and their menials our fleece have cut low. O, hasten that day when we bare lawns are clothed With our thick yield of grass and with Fall's fallen leaves; It matters not then if rude winter is loaded With frosts, tempests, snowdrifts, and peep-o'day thieves; Unseen by those smashers we will be sound sleeping, All safe and well cover'd 'til spring doth appear; Not like as we now are in nakedness weeping, And wishing that death came our days to end here.
8.
Say brothers have you seen the master With the mustache on his face Go along the road sometime this morning Like he’s going to leave this place He’d seen the smoke way up the river Where the Lincoln gunboats lay He grabbed his coat and he left very sudden And I expect he’s run away Chorus Oh, the master’s run, ha, ha And we will stay, ho, ho It must be now there’s a kingdom coming In the year of Jubilo He’s six feet one way, three feet the other And he weighs three hundred pounds His coat’s so big he couldn’t pay the tailor And it won’t go halfway ‘round He drills so much they call him captain And he gets so dreadful tanned I expect he’ll try to fool them Yankees For to think he’s contraband Chorus Now the folks all got so lonesome living In the log house on the lawn They moved their things into master’s parlor For to keep them while he’s gone There’s wine and cider in the kitchen And you and me’ll have some I expect it’ll all be confiscated When the Lincoln soldiers come Chorus Now the overseer he gave us trouble So we chased him ‘round a spell Then we locked him down in the old fruit cellar With the key throwed down the well The whip is lost the chain is broken And the master’ll have his day He’s old enough, big enough, and should’ve known better Than to try to run away Chorus
9.
Oh, promise me that some day you and I Will take our love together to some sky Where we can be alone and faith renew And find the hollows where those flowers grew Those first sweet violets of early spring That come in whispers, thrill us both, and sing Of love unspeakable that is to be Oh, promise me, oh, promise me Oh, promise me that you will take my hand The most unworthy in this lonely land And let me sit beside you in your eyes Seeing the vision of our paradise Hearing God's message while the organ rolls Its mighty music to our very souls No love less perfect than our life to be Oh, promise me, oh, promise me
10.
However far I may have roamed From ties and friends endearing Upon the swelling billows foamed To some bright climate steering Yet to that shore my thoughts would fly Where warm hearts beat that bind me To muse upon their fond good-bye Long since I left behind me. Arriving at the port of rest Where mirth and love are blended Where nature with her gifts has blest and liberty attended I looked upon that landscape grand But none I saw to mind me Ah, then I missed my native land And friends I left behind me With all that fortune could bestow Fame, honor, rank, and pleasure, Unknown to sorrow, care, or woe Possessing mines of treasure In robust health and in life's prime, Unchangeable these find me In thinking still from time to time Of friends I left behind me Now that my race is nearly ran My mortal frame is sinking Into earth's gloom exhausted , wan, What is my mind a thinking? Of home, sweet home, to me still dear Oh would that fate assigned me My days to end there and sleep near The friends I left behind me Oh home, sweet home, to me still dear Oh would that fate assigned me My days to end there and sleep near The friends I left behind me

about

All songs Public Domain, music and lyrics arranged and adapted by Joe Flood
Produced by Joe Flood and Andres Villamil
Henry Clay Work (1832-1884) Reginald DeKoven (1859-1920) Edward Barrett (1817-1914)
"The Wreck of the Old 97?" "Charley on the MTA?" Both based on "The Ship That Never Returned" by Henry Clay Work who in 1875 wrote "the most popular song in America," "Grandfather's Clock," as well as "Marching Through Georgia," "Come Home, Father," and a couple hundred more. Reginald DeKoven? The composer of "Robin Hood," the first successful American comic opera, as well as 19 other operas and hundreds of published songs and shorter pieces. And Edward Barrett? The Penny Press, a local paper that sold for the title sum, published about 250 of his poems, sometimes with suggested "airs," generally traditional Irish songs.  These three men--two born in Middletown, Connecticut who went on to be as famous and successful as any tunesmith could be, one an Irish immigrant blacksmith  who was something of a local character--have today all earned the same great distinction: anonymity.  For isn't that the greatest success of a songwriter, to have a song or two still being sung long after your name has been forgotten??
I have to thank Ed McKeon for telling me that "Grandfather's Clock" was written by Henry Clay Work and that that was his bust on the South Green where as a teenager I would play the blues with Nate Simmons and Michael Foley. And I have to thank Tom Callinan for recording Edward Barrett's "The Quarry Company." And Tom said to call Joyce Kirkpatrick who told me that the Reginald DeKoven in Hoagy Carmichael's "The Old Music Master" was from the same family as the DeKoven House down on DeKoven Drive.  
That's how all this digging started: the Middlesex County Historical Society, the Russell Library, the Library of Congress, old sheet music, old recordings. This project is a little bit of musical quarrying, going beyond the freestone you can pick up from the fifes and drums in the Memorial Day parades--Work's melodies, Barrett's "airs"--and closer to the bedrock that the polka bands and garage bands and Dixieland bands I heard as a kid were all standing on, everything that the succeeding generations have added to this place at the bend in the river, just as time left us the river, the stone, and the timber that built it, literally and figuratively.
Before we speed off again into the ever more uncertain future, is it too much to ask to take the time to sing these songs and remember the men who wrote them before they're forgotten altogether? Maybe to hope that in 100 years someone might care enough to sing one of ours, too?

credits

released April 12, 2015

Joe Flood, lead vocals, guitar, banjo, mandolin, fiddle, 5-string and slide guitar, marimba, tenor banjo, percussion, electric bass; Joe Fonda, double bass; Scott Kessel, drums and percussion; Mark Herschler, electric and nylon string guitars; Gene Clarke, trumpet, trombone, piano; Andres Villamil, marxophone, background vocals. Background vocals on "Kingdom Coming" by the Li'l Shack Choir: Mark Herschler, Tommy Rodgers, J. Scott Brandon, Gene Clarke. Shaun Hennessey, castanets on "Nita Gitana." Extra Special Guest, Chikara Tsuzuki, harmonica on "Grandfather's Clock," recorded through the wonders of modern technology in Tokyo, Japan by Mike Marrington with the assistance of Richard H. Jones on logistics and background vocals.
All tracks recorded at Li'l Shack Studio, Northampton, Massachusetts by Mark Herschler and J. Scott Brandon. Mixed and mastered by Andres Villamil, except tracks 1 and 2: "Overture" recorded, edited, and mixed by Mike Arafeh at The Coffeehouse Studio, Middletown, Connecticut with Jim Clark, field drum; Scott Kessel, drum set, hand drums, percussion; Ox Gara, bodhran; John Kalinowski, fife and bones; Gene Clarke, trumpet, piano, and organ; Joe Flood, bass drum, percussion, everything else. Concept by Joe Flood, field drum parts written by Jim Clark. "Wake Nicodemus" recorded and mixed in Portland, Connecticut by Michael Cleary with Joe Flood, acoustic guitar, mandolin, and vocal; Scott Kessel, percussion and background vocal; and featuring the Michael Cleary Band: Michael, electric guitar, background vocal; Vince DeLaria, piano; Jedd Cheblowski, bass; Edmund Peart, drums.
Cover design: Liz Grace
Photo of Main Street, Middletown, 1900, courtesy of Erik Hesselberg
A thousand thanks to Liz, Liam, and Nora for their support and their patience with my oddball enthusiasms, of which this project is only one.

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Joe Flood New Haven, Connecticut

Joe Flood is a songwriter, singer, and multi-instrumentalist who has performed, written, and recorded with many of the great names in American roots music, among them The Band, Blues Traveler, Dr. John, Bottle Rockets, Laura Cantrell, Eric Andersen, Happy and Artie Traum, Jim Weider, Eric "Roscoe" Ambel, Jono Manson, and the list goes on! Please visit www.joefloodmusic.com for more information. ... more

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