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CD30 -

Sandy and Caroline Paton - Sandy and Caroline

Loving Hannah
Lamoile River Song, The
I Woke Up In a Dry Bed
Now My Friends, the Meeting Is Over
Across the Blue Mountain
Chillly Winds
Coulter's Candy
Foggy Dew, The
Good Old Days of Adam and Eve
I Woke Up In a Dry Bed
I'm A Rambler and a Gambler
I've Traveled This Country
Johnny, Oh, Johnny
Lamoile River Song, The
Loving Hannah
Meekins and Morkins
Now My Friends, the Meeting Is Over
Rivers of Texas, The
Unquiet Grave, The

It's kind of hard for me to write about this one. About all I can say is that it does present some excellent songs, mostly from the Anglo-American tradition (including a couple we collected while living in Vermont), with several new songs mixed in to reassure us that the songmaking tradition is continuing quite vigorously. Pleasantly sung, too.

The liner notes on the back of this record's jacket are not altogether facetious. The sequence of events actually did occur; John Greenway (who is now editor of the Journal of American Folklore) did make that extravagant statement, the rather lusty song-swap took place backstage at a concert I gave at the University of Colorado, and I did postpone making this record for a long time. As a matter of fact, Lee did get a new shotgun this year, but not necessarily for the purpose implied. My resistance to this undertaking would have tried the patience of any man; the shotgun, however, is for porcupines, not Patons.

Lee and his sister, Mary Haggerty, spent four years urging me to make this record, but, much as I love them, the idea of producing a record on my own label disturbed me greatly. When they first began agitating for its release, I found all sorts of excuses to put it off. I was determined that Folk-Legacy would first establish its identity as a label dedicated to genuine traditional artists and their music. Even our "Interpreters Series" was too selective to permit my turning it into a "vanity press" endeavor.

At one time, I seriously considered accepting an offer to record for another company. I finally decided not to do it, primarily because I was too busy producing records of the genuine traditional music that I loved, and this seemed much more important to me. Besides, if someone else thought that an album of Caroline and me would be a profitable venture, it seemed only logical to assume that it might also be worthwhile for Folk-Legacy.

Caroline and I have sung for a lot of people during the nine years we have been singing together, many of whom have asked where they could obtain an album of the two of us singing some of the songs they especially liked. Since the only record we had made together was an extended-play 45 rpm done in 1958 for Topic, an English label, all we could do was tell them that we planned to make such a record and carefully add their names and addresses to our card file. Each card was marked "met at such-and-such a program interested in record of S & C." Frequently, they were quite specific in their requests; there are an awful lot of cards, for example, marked "wants recording of DRY BED." It was the astonishing size of that card file that finally served the function of Lee's shotgun, and convinced me that this recording might help us pay for some of the records we want to produce which, while more important, will appeal to only a very limited audience, This, at least, was the somewhat circuitous rationalization that eventually gave me the kind of courage it takes to face a microphone, rather than aim one at someone else. We now refer to that cussed card file as Lee's great invention the 12 gauge mailing list.

The recording sessions were held at night, out of absolute necessity. Ours is a ten-party telephone line, but our neighbors are mostly farmers, which means that no one uses it after ten P.M. Our two boys are naturally noisy, and my Malemutes are inclined to join in on choruses at unpredictable times, so we had to wait until all were asleep before we could record without danger of interruption. These sessions proved to be both grueling and hilarious. For instance, Caroline and I once decided that we had taken a particular song too fast and very carefully recorded it again. Timing the two takes later, we discovered that the difference between them was exactly one second out of a total of two hundred and seventy. I'm not even sure, now, which one we ended up using, but I do know that the second run-through sure seemed a lot slower than the first. Often we would get takes that I considered acceptable, at least, and Caroline would find something wrong with them, and vice versa. At last, we both realized that we were agonizing over the "infinity complex" that frequently plagues artists of all kinds. Under its influence, a man can go on working an the same painting for years and never consider it finished; there is always one little detail that needs reworking. This is the compulsion to perfection that can keep paintings hanging indefinitely in an artist's studio, novels in manuscript form, or whittle huge blocks of well-seasoned walnut into elaborately carved toothpicks. It's a damnable disease.

I'm not suggesting that we think of ourselves as great artists; it's just that we went through the same symptoms, suffered the same torments, before we diagnosed the problem and were able to get down to work. I suppose that it would have been quite another story if we had been recording for another company, with someone else to decide when the results were adequate. It's terribly difficult indeed, it may be impossible to judge one's own work objectively. Toward the end, I found myself saying to Caroline, "Look, maybe we have sung it better a few times, but this is probably the way we sing it most of the time. Let's accept it." Then we would argue for awhile before I'd give in and "try it just once more." I will never understand why it is that wives always get two votes, to their husband's one, but that's the way it seems to be and I'm learning to live with it.

During all of these sessions, which sometimes lasted until dawn, poor Lee sat quietly at the tape recorder, watching the levels, listening to constant absurdities and occasional obscenities, and being extremely careful not to clink the ice in his glass of Glenfiddich and water. If you ever meet him, congratulate him on his Promethean endurance. He certainly deserves it.
For those of you who don't know us who buy this album "cold", so to speak I guess we ought to write something about who we are and how we got this way. Now, I'm usually the one who gets paid for writing notes around here, but, in the past nine years, I've gradually begun to get it through my head that it's an unwise husband who presumes to speak for his wife. I have, therefore, asked Caroline to tell you about herself:

"I grew up in Whiting, Indiana, an industrial suburb of Chicago. Two poets who grew up there, David Wagoner and Jim Hazard, have sometimes turned their critical gaze upon their old home town, and the resulting poems describe Whiting better than I can. I understand that David's poem, "A Valedictory to Standard Oil of Indiana," published in the New Yorker (January 1, 1966), caused quite a sensation back home. He now lives in Washington State, and Jim is living in Wisconsin, so it seems that Whiting is the kind of place one might prefer to contemplate from a distance.

"I am the eldest of four children in a closely-knit family. Although my mother has been ill for many years, we had a wonderful family life. This was largely due to the hard work and remarkable temperament of my father, Reuben A. Swenson. He has been a research chemist at American Oil (the new name for Standard Oil) ever since he finished college, and for years he came home from work to start dinner and put clothes in the washer. Dad had to be both parents to the four of us; he is of hearty Swedish-American stock, and had energy and patience equal to the task. He felt that household responsibilities should not keep us from our schoolwork or extra-curricular activities, and he gave us the freedom to develop many interests.

"I first became interested in folk music at summer camps where I was a counselor, and by the time I started college this interest was well-established. After two years at Oberlin I transferred to the University of Chicago, where I got a B.A. I also took off six months from school to go to a work camp in Europe under the auspices of the American Friends Service Committee.

"I had traveled to Europe, but had never been across the Mississippi, so after college I headed west. I had spent a good many years being a bookworm and I needed to sit in the sun and figure out a few things one doesn't learn from books. Also, I needed to think about where my life was heading. My main interests were literature, music and anthropology, but somehow I couldn't settle down to concentrate on one of them. So for two years I worked at the University of California library in Berkeley, and, aside from my job, I was a complete dilettante. Then I met Sandy, and I found the direction and purpose that my life had lacked. It is very gratifying to me that the study of folklore encompasses the three fields in which I am primarily interested."

As for me, I come from governmental gypsy stock. My father was in the Coast and Geodetic Survey and we were always on the move. I was conceived in New Hampshire, but then Dad was transferred and I was born in Florida. After a childhood of wandering with my family, I left home and wandered alone, working at all sorts of unrelated and meaningless jobs. I studied art in Washington, D. C, very briefly, but my ingrained aversion to classroom work soon put me on the road again and I found myself in Seattle, a few stops later, where I settled down to paint pictures and learn something about acting at the Seattle Repertory Playhouse. That's where I was introduced to folk music. First it was Burl Ives, then Sandburg, then Richard Dyer-Bennett, then Leadbelly the story is about the same as that of many others who drifted into folk music during the late 1940's by way of approximately the same route. I left Seattle for New York City in 1953, left New York City for nowhere in particular in 1954, bummed around with my guitar in the approved fashion for roughly fifty-thousand unearned miles, and finally hitchhiked into Berkeley in 1957 to meet Caroline. Well, that may not be exactly what I had in mind when I landed there, but it sounds better than admitting that I didn't have anything in mind at all, aside from getting a taste of another town.

It was our mutual enthusiasm for folk music that brought us together. She sat in the second row at a program I gave for a student group, and was so interested in a New England version of "The Riddle Song" that she came up to me afterwards and asked for the words of the song. I had already spotted her in the audience and, to tell the truth, the second half of the concert was probably pretty ragged, because half of my mind was on what I was singing and the other half was busy trying to invent some excuse to talk with her after I got off-stage. Her interest in the song kept me from having to use some clever ploy like "Haven't I met you somewhere before?" for which I shall always be indebted to Linscott's Folk Songs of Old New England. I agreed to give her the words, of course, and asked her if she would like to come over to my place for coffee along with a number of others, please understand; it was all very proper. Unsuspecting soul that she was, she came. While the others sat in the living room strumming guitars, she and I sat in the kitchen getting acquainted. Two days later I asked her to marry me; three days later she accepted the idea, and we've been singing together ever since. I've included this highly personal information for the benefit of those scholars who are exploring the "function of folk music" and may have overlooked this particular one.

That summer, loaded down with rucksacks, sleeping-bags, books, and guitars, we hitch-hiked across the country together (a Nebraska farmer took one look and asked, "Whatcha doing, hitch-hiking, or moving?"), sailed for England, and spent the following year listening to British traditional singers and having a free baby, courtesy of the National Health Service. I supported my family by singing in London's coffee bars and pubs, collecting my nightly pittance under the table because I had no work permit. We made one record together and I made several alone, but the only legitimate paycheck I received was from the BBC for recording a group of New England songs and ballads for their Recorded Programmes Library. We both spent a lot of time at the Cecil Sharp House, listening to field recordings and reading as many books as we could from their fine collection. It was a grand year.

In September of 1958, we traveled around Sutherlandshire, in the far northwest of Scotland, with Hamish Henderson of the School of Scottish Studies, camping out with the tinker folk and recording some of their tales and songs. More important, we spent about a week at the home of Jeannie Robertson, the magnificent ballad singer, in Aberdeen. We learned more in that one week than we had in all our years of studying the literature of folklore and the collections of songs and ballads.

By this time, we were more than enthusiasts we were fanatics. If I had not been a high-school drop-out, I might have tried to go into serious folklore scholarship. As it was, we just kept on singing and, through a combination of field collecting and independent research, doing our best to learn more about what we were singing. Caroline was unable to perform with me very often after we returned to the States; she was busy taking care of David, and later Robin, the second of our two boys. I spent a couple of years doing solo performances at various schools, colleges, nightclubs and what-have-you, but soon found that the life of the itinerant singer of folksongs was no longer an adventure; it was just one week of loneliness piled on top of another. When Robin was born, in the summer of 1960, I canceled a tour of the western states that had been arranged for the coming school year and found an honest job of work in Chicago. I wanted to be with my family.

I stuck with the job for almost a year, and might be there yet, but we were living in Whiting and I suddenly realized that we were on the verge of being trapped there for the rest of our lives. I've nothing against Whiting, mind you; it's really quite an idyllic little community, nestled comfortably in the shadows of the American Oil refinery/ protected from the sun by a constant canopy of smoke from the nearby steel mills, its air enriched by the scents of a Lever Brothers soap factory and a Mazola Corn Oil plant. If you've ever driven through that industrial complex that stretches along the south shore of Lake Michigan from Chicago to Gary, Indiana, you'll know what I mean. I got up one morning, took a deep breath, and knew that we just had to escape. I had no desire to raise my family in the acrid armpit of America.

Our interest in the folksongs of the Northeast had long made us consider settling down in New England. I had bummed through the Green Mountains several years before meeting Caroline, but it was a vacation with friends in Burlington in the summer of 1961 that tipped the scales of indecision for us. We packed up and moved out, with little prospect of security, but a great deal of determination to breathe clean air and drink clear water. We found both in Huntington, happily combined with an antiquated concept of real estate values which enabled us to buy a house.

It was right at this time that I went on a collecting trip to the Appalachians, primarily to make recordings of Frank Proffitt and Horton Barker. Lee Haggerty, whom we had met in Chicago, came to visit us and was sufficiently impressed with these tapes and with other material I had recorded on Beech Mountain, North Carolina, that he suggested we form our own company and produce the kind of traditional music we both admired. He called his sister and she readily agreed to help capitalize the venture. To be completely honest, we pooled their resources and incorporated Folk-Legacy Records.

Before long, the house in Huntington's "lower village" proved to be too small for the expanding business, my family, and Lee. Caroline and I bought and remodeled the farm which is now "home" for the Patons and Folk-Legacy. Lee persuaded his sister and one of his brothers to go in with him on the purchase of another farm about nine miles down the valley. In the two years we have lived here on the farm, the company has grown so much that we have just bought the one-room school building across the road for additional storage and shipping space. If things continue as they have been recently, we may have to remodel one of my old barns to house our stock of future releases, because as long as people keep wanting to buy Folk-Legacy records/ we'll keep adding to our catalog. As a matter of fact, I've always had a yen to see what I could do with an old barn. I suppose I should be more subtle, but hand-hewn beams and weathered wood could make an awfully attractive warehouse.

Vermont has been very good to us. We've sung for many groups all over the state/ ranging from guests at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe to meetings of the Artificial Breeders Association. Last year we sang for the State Legislature's annual Sugar-on-Snow party in Montpelier shortly before we drove across the country to participate in the U.C.L.A. Folk Music Festival in Los Angeles. I mention these last two groups in one sentence because they have one thing in common: each is possessed of a passionate devotion to tradition.

Now that David and Robin are old enough to go with us, touring has become a family affair. We've recently solved the travel problem with a camper rig for the pick-up truck. The boys love it. They lie on the bunk over the cab, watching the scenery or sleeping; Caroline sits at the table and plays the dulcimer or practices on her newly acquired autoharp; I sit in the cab, feeling somewhat like the truck driver I've always wanted to be when I grow up. I wish we had thought of it years ago, for now we are able to accept concert engagements farther from home, and that which used to mean separation and anxiety is now an experience all four of us can enjoy.

While Caroline and I are certainly tradition-oriented, we are far from typical, dyed-in-the-wool purists. We never try to imitate anyone, nor do we pretend to be something we are not. We are keenly aware of the difference between traditional singers and singers of traditional songs, and we make no attempt to deny that we are members of the latter group. When we sing a traditional song, we try to treat it with respect, hoping that our genuine affection for the material will be conveyed to the audience, and that it may even be contagious. We also sing a number of contemporary songs because we happen to like them, for one reason or another. This album probably reflects fairly accurately the variety of material we are apt to use as the occasion demands. We sang the song about the Lamoille River for the state legislators, hoping that they would pay attention to the words, and we sang "Johnny, Oh, Johnny" and "Now, My Friends, the Meeting is Over" at U.C.L.A. The kids in Hunting-ton seem to like "Meekins and Morkins," while their parents all seem to enjoy "Dry Bed." In other words, this is a brief cross-section of our rather eclectic repertoire a few of the many songs we like to sing.
S. P.

(Caroline and I collaborated on the following notes, but I have an incorrigible tendency to write in the first person, singular, which explains the occasional shift from "we" to "I" and back again. I (we) hope this won't be too disconcerting.)

We first heard "Loving Hannah" sung by Jeannie Robertson in Aberdeen, Scotland, in 1958. She sang it slowly and majestically, in the Scottish "big ballad" style. We asked her where she had learned the song, fully expecting it to be one of the many taught her by her mother. "Well, you see," said Jeannie, "lwhen the American folksinger Jean Ritchie was visiting here, she gave me a wee record of some of her own songs. I learned it off of that record." So, here we have a sad love song from the Ritchie family of Kentucky, by way of Jeannie Robertson of Aberdeen.

"Loving Hannah" is a variant of the more familiar "Handsome Molly" which has been recorded a number of times. Frank Proffitt sings one version on his Folk-Legacy record (FSA-1) and the booklet accompanying that record contains a more extensive discussion of the song. In 1961, we learned a lovely version from Joseph Able Trivett of Butler, Tennessee, which we hope to record someday. It has a tune resembling "Handsome Molly" combined with the refrain pattern found here. Recently we sang "Loving Hannah" for Jean Ritchie, and she pointed out that the change of one note had altered the melody significantly. We don't know if Jeannie Robertson inadvertently changed the note, or if we did, but this is the way we remember her singing it for us.

I went to church last Sunday;
My true love passed me by.
I could see her mind was a-changing
By the roving of her eye.
By the roving of her eye,
By the roving of her eye;
I could see her mind was a-changing
By the roving of her eye.

My love she's fair and proper;
Her hands are neat and small.
And she is quite good-looking,
And that's the best of all.
And that's the best of all,
And that's the best of all;
And she is quite good-looking,
And that's the best of all.

Oh, Hannah, loving Hannah,
Come give to me your hand.
You said if you ever married
That I would be the man.
That I would be the man,
That I would be the man;
You said if you ever married
That I would be the man.

I'll go down by the water
When everyone's asleep,
And think on loving Hannah,
And then sit down and weep.
And then sit down and weep,
And then sit down and weep;
I'll think on loving Hannah,
And then sit down and weep.


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