Wendy Knuth Author of Moore Zombies, blogging about the human experience.

Monthly Archives: January 2017

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American Folklore – Songs From the Past

For some reason tonight, I had a song running through my head – Charlie and the MTA. I have old memories of my parents and us kids singing the song together while my mother played the guitar. Said mother had a very old songbook of tunes. She played, we sang. I would very much love to have that old book of songs, but along with the rest of what is now known as folklore American song history, it is long gone. It only survives by word of mouth, and unfortunately (or not), in this day and age of me and mine and now, this type of thing did not get passed down to my children, and probably didn’t get passed down to yours.

This particular funny old folk song running through my head is about the Boston subway raising their rates so that poor, old Charlie didn’t have enough money to afford the increased price, and for some strange reason he couldn’t afford to get off the subway – he had to ride it forever. I youtubed the song and could only find The Kingston Trio.

Another oldie but goodie was Boil Them Cabbage Down Down. After googling this song, I could only find a very hickish, twangish, fast bango picking version with slightly different lyrics on the Andy Griffith show of all places. My family sang it much slower and with harmony, making it a much “prettier” song than what I can offer to you:

One song that should be well known by all and is truer to the way we sang it: Sixteen Tons. A song against “The Man.” An intensely wonderful song where you can sing high, or low, or in between, that has a common, bummer theme that we all can relate to. How can you go wrong?

I will leave you with two images. Image number one is two young children on a mattress in their mother’s room as she strums the guitar and we all sing. Image number two is a bunch of hippies with their children on a beach in front of a firepit, singing together. Take your pick, they both happened.

These are only a few of the songs we used to sing. Please enjoy the songs and pass them along to the next generation!

Wendy Knuth