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Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight

DigiTrad:
I WISH I HAD SOMEONE TO LOVE ME
IF I HAD THE WINGS
PILOT'S LAMENT
THE PRISONER'S SONG


Related threads:
Lyr Req: The Prisoner's Song (Dalhart , et al.) (32)
If I had the wings of an angel - parodies (22)
Lyr Add: Here's Adieu to All Judges and Juries (14)
Lyr Req: New Prisoner's Song (Boggs, et al.) (14)
Review: Over these prison walls I will fly (2) (closed)
Lyr Req: If I had the wings of an angel... (7) (closed)
wings of an angel/sitting alone in an (3) (closed)


Joe Offer 21 Jul 01 - 12:49 AM
Q 03 Aug 04 - 11:56 PM
Q 04 Aug 04 - 12:15 AM
Q 04 Aug 04 - 12:52 AM
Joe Offer 04 Aug 04 - 03:38 AM
Joe Offer 04 Aug 04 - 03:54 AM
Q 12 Nov 08 - 04:19 PM
Geoff the Duck 13 Nov 08 - 07:56 AM
Geoff the Duck 18 Nov 08 - 05:59 AM
SINSULL 18 Nov 08 - 07:56 AM
kytrad 18 Nov 08 - 06:42 PM
SINSULL 19 Nov 08 - 07:53 AM
Shantymam 19 Nov 08 - 04:55 PM
Q 20 Nov 08 - 03:00 PM
kytrad 20 Nov 08 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,Nahrum (guest) 27 Apr 10 - 05:56 AM
Geoff the Duck 27 Apr 10 - 04:29 PM
Geoff the Duck 05 May 10 - 09:11 AM
Q 16 Oct 13 - 01:14 PM
Q 19 Oct 13 - 01:43 PM
Mark Clark 19 Oct 13 - 03:45 PM
Q 20 Oct 13 - 02:59 PM
GUEST,Curtis 29 Dec 13 - 08:41 AM
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Subject: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Joe Offer
Date: 21 Jul 01 - 12:49 AM

Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight

DESCRIPTION: The singer calls on his sweetheart to "Meet me tonight in the moonlight." He bids her come alone and hear his sad story. He is being sent to sea, and they must part. He expresses his hope to return in metaphors of a fine ship, angels' wings, etc.
AUTHOR: Joseph Augustus Wade
EARLIEST DATE: 1924
KEYWORDS: separation love
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Randolph 746, "Meet Me Tonight" (3 texts plus a gragment, 1 tune, although the "C" text is probably "The Prisoner's Song (I)")
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 489-491, "Meet Me Tonight" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 746A)
BrownIII 350, "The Prisoner's Song" (7 texts plus 1 fragment, 2 excerpts, and mention of 1 more; "A"-"C," plus probably the "D" excerpt, are "The Prisoner's Song (I)"; "E" and "G," plus perhaps the "H" fragment, are "Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight"; "J" and "K" are "Sweet Lulur")
Sandburg, pp. 216-217, "Moonlight" (1 text plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
Belden, p. 494, "Beautiful Light o'er the Sea" (1 text, possibly mixed with something else)

Roud #767
RECORDINGS:
Burnett & Rutherford, "Meet Me in the Moonlight" (Supertone 9443, 1929)
Carter Family, "Meet Me by Moonlight Alone" (Victor 23731, 1928) (Perfect 7-01-54/7-05-55, both 1937)
Bradley Kincaid, "I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me" (Vocalion 02686, 1934)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Prisoner's Song (I)"
cf. "I'm Dying for Someone to Love Me" (lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
I Wish I Had Someone to Love Me
Notes: This song later became merged with a version of "Botany Bay/Here's Adieu to All Judges and Juries" to produce "The Prisoner's Song." See notes on that piece also, as they often cannot be distinguished. It doesn't help that that song was built out of traditional materials by Vernon Dalhart (or someone), and the Carter Family patched up a version also.
Belden's "Beautiful Light o'er the Sea" is a curiosity; it doesn't really look like this song -- but two of its three verses go with this song, and the whole theme is very similar. Since I haven't met the "other half" that gave it its title (indeed, it sounds more like a hymn than anything else), it seemed proper to file it here so people will realize that the "half and half" song exists. - RBW
File: R746

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: Lyr Add: MEET ME BY MOONLIGHT (Wade)
From: Q
Date: 03 Aug 04 - 11:56 PM

The verse that is a part of the 'prisoner' songs belongs to an English song that became popular in America near the beginning of the 19th c, printed in sheet music and arranged in America for duet in 1812.
"Meet Me By Moonlight" a song for lovers meeting by moonlight, has persisted as a floater in other songs. The original song, by J. Augustine Wade, London, undated in Levy, was arranged for duet in an 1812 copy printed in Philadelphia and composed by Mrs. Seguin and Mr. Shrival.

MEET ME BY MOONLIGHT
(Mr. J.Augustine Wade)

Meet me by moonlight alone
And then I will tell you a tale.
Must be told by the moonlight alone
In the grove at the end of the vale.
You must promise to come, for I said
I would show the night flowers their Queen
Nay turn not away that sweet head-
'Tis the loveliest ever was seen.

Oh! meet me by moonlight alone
Meet me by moonlight alone.

Daylight may do for the gay-
The thoughtless, the heartless, the free-
But there's something about the moon's ray
That is sweeter to you and to me-
Oh! remember, be sure to be there,
For tho' dearly a moonlight I prize,
I care not for all in the air,
If I want the sweet light of your eyes.

So meet me by moonlight alone,
Met me by moonlight alone.

Not in the original song, but added to the duet-
Yes, I'll meet thee, I'll meet thee by moonlight alone.

The Wade original, printed by F. T. Latour, London, is here: http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/cgi-bin/display.pl?record=115.006.000&pages=6


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Q
Date: 04 Aug 04 - 12:15 AM

Odd that the author, J. A. Wade, is mentioned in the Ballad Index, but the date given is that of the version collected by Randolph in 1924. Wade's middle name is Augustine, not Augustus. The music was also published by Chappell in London (1810?). Wade was one of the arrangers for "National English Airs," issued by Chappell in 1838-9, a book with 245 tunes. Wade also did a translation of the German, "The Fisherman's Daughter," which I believe entered 'folk' in England. Some material in Folktrax.
    The Ballad Index dating system seems a bit odd until you realize that by "Earliest Date," they mean the date of the earliest source that has been covered by the index. It is NOT the publishing date of the song - it's the publication date of the earliest source of the song that is included in the Index.
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: ADD: Meet Me Tonight (Randolph #746A)
From: Q
Date: 04 Aug 04 - 12:52 AM

MEET ME TONIGHT

You must meet me tonight in the moonlight,
You must meet me tonight all alone,
For I have a sad story to tell you,
Must be told by the moonlight alone.

You'll be taken to the new jail tomorrow,
A-leavin' your darlin' all alone,
With them cold prison bars all around you,
An' a board for your pillow ever' night.

You know that my parents was cruel,
To drive me away from their door,
If ever I live to grow older,
I'll never go back any more.

Oh blow ye the winds o'er the ocean
Blow ye winds over the sea,
Oh blow ye the winds o'er the ocean,
An' bring back my darlin' to me.

I have a large ship on the ocean,
All mounted in silver an' gold,
An' before that my girl shall suffer,
That ship shall be anchored an' sold.

If I had the wings of an angel,
If I had the wings of a dove,
I'd fly to the arms of my darlin',
An' there I would lay down an' die.

Sung by Mrs. Carrie Baber, Pineville, MO, Dec. 1924. "Mrs. Baber first heard the song about 1889. Vance Randolph, "Ozark Folksongs, vol. 4, 746A, with music.
This seems to be a composite of three or even four songs.


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Subject: ADD: Meet Me By the Moonlight (Brown 350E)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Aug 04 - 03:38 AM

Meet Me by the Moonlight

I am going to leave you tomorrow,
To sail on the ocean so blue,
To leave all my friends and relations;
I have come now to bid you adieu.

Then meet me by the moonlight, love, meet me;
I want to see you alone,
To tell of the heart that is breaking
To leave my love and my home.

I hate to leave you, my darling;
But my parents to me are unkind.
To prove false words that are spoken
Has never once entered my mind.

I have a fine ship on the ocean
All lined with silver and gold,
And before my lover shall perish
I'll have that ship anchored and sold.

I have come by the moonlight to see you,
To tell of my future time.
I am going to seek for a fortune,
Will return and claim you for mine.

Your return to me is uncertain,
But to you I will ever be true.
God grant you may have a safe voyage
And our days apart may be few!

I know that heaven will bless us
And the angels will guide you aright,
To help you return to your loved one,
Though her heart is breaking tonight.

Years passed and she proved to him faithful,
To another she never was wed.
And her life it seemed blighted forever
When she heard that her true love was dead.


source: Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Volume III, #350E

From the manuscripts of Obadiah Johnson of Crossnore, Avery county, NC. In this there is no mention or thought of a prison (as in "Prisoner's Song"), yet it is clearly a form of the same song as the four texts preceding.


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Subject: Lyr Add: I HAVE A SHIP ON THE OCEAN (Brown #350G)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Aug 04 - 03:54 AM

I HAVE A SHIP ON THE OCEAN

I have a secret to tell you, sweet love,
About the ship on the sea
And if you think you can hear it, sweet love,
I'll tell it to you in a dream.

Chorus:
Darling, the ship is on tile ocean,
As ever near to me;
Darling, this world would lose its motion
If I proved false to thee.

I have a ship on the ocean, sweet love,
All lined with silver and gold.
Before I'd see you suffer, sweet love,
I'd anchor my ship to be sold.

Some say love is pleasure, sweet love;
What pleasure do I see
When the one I love so clearly, sweet love,
Has turned her back on me?

source: Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Volume III, #350G

Obtained from Miss Jewell Robbins (later Mrs. C. P. Perdue) of Pekin, Montgomery County, North Carolina, in 1921. The jail and the moonlight have vanished from this version, yet it is clearly a form of the same song as Dalhart's "Prisoner's Song."


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Subject: Lyr. Add: Meet Me By the Moonlight (Carter vers.)
From: Q
Date: 12 Nov 08 - 04:19 PM

Lyr. Add: MEET ME BY THE MOONLIGHT
Carter Family Songs; aka The Prisoner's Song

1
I'm going to the new jail tomorrow
To leave the one that I love
To leave my friends and relations
And, oh, how lonely, my love.

Chorus:
Meet me by the moonlight, love, meet me
Meet me by the moonlight alone
For I have a sad story to tell you
To be told by the moonlight alone.

2
My parents, how cruel they treat me
They drive me away from their door
If I live 100 years longer
I'll never go back any more.

Chorus

3
If I had a ship on the ocean
All laden and lined with pure gold
Before my darling should suffer
I'd have that ship anchored and sold.

Chorus

4
If I had the wings of an angel
O'er land and sea I'd fly
I'd fly to the arms of my darling
Then I'd be willing to die

Chorus

AKA "The Prisoner's Song." Couldn't find it posted.

Carter Family Songs

Most Carter Family songs at this site.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 13 Nov 08 - 07:56 AM

Just a slight sidetrack...
A few years back I was half-watching the television. They were showing and old silent Buster Keaton film (he hasn't made any new ones for ages...). In one of the scenes, he was in a gaol cell and on the cell wall was a sheet of paper with the Prisoner's Song printed on it. It was visible for long enough to recognise the song.
At the time, I registered the scene, but have in the intervening period forgotten what the film title was.
I just wonder if there is a Keaton buff out there who can identify which film the scene appeared in?
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 05:59 AM

Another variant on the song appears on the Sally Rogers album "Circle of the Sun" (1982). Sally says she learned "I wish I had someone to love me" from Lisa Null. The sleeve insert notes say :-

I WISH I HAD SOMEONE TO LOVE ME

Apparently before this song went through the folk process, it was one of Vernon Dahlhart's country hits of the late thirties. It went under the title "The Prisoner's Song" and a snatch of it is used at the end of the Humphrey Bogart movie, Deadend. I learned this version of it from Lisa Null who heard the great Irish singer, Joe Heaney, perform it. Amazing what a few thousand miles of ocean will do to a song.

CHORUS:
I wish I had someone to love me,
Someone to call me his own,
Someone to sleep with me nightly,
I'm weary of sleeping alone.
   
Meet me tonight in the moonlight,
Meet me tonight all alone,
I have a sad story to tell you
I'm telling it under the moon.
   
Tonight is our last night together,
Nearest and dearest must part,
The love that has bound us together
Is shredded and torn apart.
   
I wish I had ships on the ocean
Bid them with silver and gold
Follow the ship that he sails in
A lad of nineteen years old.
   
I wish I had wings of a swallow,
Fly out over the sea
Fly to the arms of my true love
And bring him home safely to me.

                     *********************

Reading the sleeve notes, I am not sure whether Sally is saying that Lisa Null learned the version from the singing of Joe Heaney, or that she had also heard the Irish singer performing a song she knew by other means.



Joe - You list words for "I HAVE A SHIP ON THE OCEAN (Brown #350G)"

The chorus is related to "The storms are on the ocean" (sung by the Carter Family) which is appears to consist of a number of common floating verses tied to the following chorus:-

cho: The storms are on the ocean
The heavens may cease to be.
The world may lose its motion, love
If I prove false to thee.

See full lyrics in the DIGITRAD.

And just a reminder - Can any Buster Keaton fans or Silent Movie buffs identify the film where I saw The Prisoner's Song on a jail wall?
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: SINSULL
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 07:56 AM

From a C&W recording in my childhood.

If I had the wings of an angel
Over these prison walls I would fly
I'd fly straight to the arms of my darlin'
And there I'd be willing to die.

Oh please meet me tonight in the moonlight
Please meet me tonight all alone
For I have a sad story to tell you
A story that's never been told(????)

And something about:
My head on a pillow of stone.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: kytrad
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 06:42 PM

I knew this from our earliest old breakable recordings played on a wind-up Victrola. It began:

O I'm thinking tonight of my Blue--eyes
Who is sailing far over the sea,
O I'm thinking tonight of you only
And I wonder if you ever think of me

O I wish I had someone to love me,
Some one that would call me their own.
O I wish I had someone to live for,
For I'm tired of living alone.

O meet me tonight in the moonlight
Just out in the moonlight alone
For I have a sad story to tell you,
Must be told in the moonlight alone.

I'll be carried to the new jail tomorrow,
Leaving my poor darling alone
With those cold prison bars all around me
And my head on a pillar of stone. (referrs to a pillow, I think)

O if I had the wings of an angel
Over these prison walls I would fly,
I would fly to the arms of my darling
And there I'd be willing to die.

The first verse was thrown in every two verses or so, as a kind of chorus. I remember wondering, as a little girl, how "Blue Eyes could meet him in the moonlight when she was sailing far over the sea, and then deciding that, since he'd lost that first sweetheart, he was in the next verses trying to get another!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: SINSULL
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 07:53 AM

That's it, kytrad, now who was the singer?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Shantymam
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 04:55 PM

The notes at the bottom of the Mudcat lyrics say that the song is based on "The Prisoner's Song". This is a VERY old Irish ballad, dating back at least two centuries, while Vernon Dalhart's version is only from the 1930's, and was the flip side of the first million-selling single record, "Old Number 97".


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Q
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 03:00 PM

"The Prisoner's Song" is often said to be a descendant of "Here's Adieu to All Judges and Juries," found on broadsides dating back to c. 1780 at the Bodleian (printed in England). A copy from c. 1828, called "Justices and Old Bailey," is the same, but easier to read.
Last two verses:

How hard is the place of confinement,
That keeps me from my heart's delight,
Cold chains and cold irons surround me,
And a plank is my pillow at night.

How often I wish that the eagle
Would lend me her wings I would fly,
Then I'd fly to the arms of my Polly,
And in her soft bosom I'd lie.

Harding B17(153a), T. Birt printer, London, c. 1828-1829.
The song is included in "Sam Henry's Songs of the People," from an Irish source, as "The Gaol Song," but it is obviously very late.


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: kytrad
Date: 20 Nov 08 - 07:14 PM

There was another verse, just came to me:

O you told me once, dear that you loved me
That nothing could cause us to part,
But a link in the chain has been broken
Leaving me with a sad, broken heart.

Sinsull- it must have been Vernon Delhart. If not, someone who learned it from him or his recording. The 1930s wwould be about the right time, for that old talkin-machine we had....and the fact that I still sing, "The Wreck of the Old Number Nine," sort of pins down the singer on the record to be Dalhart. I just never thought about who wrote it!


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: GUEST,Nahrum (guest)
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 05:56 AM

For Geoff the Duck-

The Buster Keaton film is Steam Boat Jr., a 1928 release. He's brought his father who's in jail a loaf of bread that he's hidden tools in and as he's miming to him what's in the loaf he sees the lyrics pinned to the wall and mimes a few lines too. It's about 45 minutes into the film. Love Keaton :)


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 27 Apr 10 - 04:29 PM

Nice to have a loose end finally tied up.
From a list of Keaton titles and my vague recollection of it being set around a river, I suspected that must have been the film, but could not find any info online that gave me enough clues to specifically place the scene in that film.
I think it is one of those "folk related" snippets of info worth being on record via Mudcat.
Thanks.
Quack!
Geoff.


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 05 May 10 - 09:11 AM

I've tracked the film down!

There is a watchable and downloadable copy at The Internet Archive - Steamboat Bill Jr..
Guest Nahrum is gives us the position for the prison scene - about 45 minutes into the film. The words of the Prisoner's Song are on the wall and you can actually see Keaton singing lines from the song.

Are there any other songs where you could claim "I learned it from a silent movie"?

Quack!
Geoff the Duck.


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Q
Date: 16 Oct 13 - 01:14 PM

Meet Me By Moonlight, the song by J. Augustine Wade, was reproduced with sheet music in "Fireside Gems," published in 1863.
A copy is in American Memory, Lib. Congress. Thirty-odd songs are listed in this compilation, called "Favorite Songs from the Best Authors."


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Q
Date: 19 Oct 13 - 01:43 PM

Another "ship on the ocean" version from Arkansas.

Lyr. Add; MEET ME BY MOONLIGHT

There is a fine ship on the ocean
All lined with a silvery hoard,
Its name is Abraham Lincoln
And I'm sure that mu Willie's on board.

Chorus-
Oh meet me, oh meet me by moonlight,
Oh meet me by moonlight alone,
I have a sad story to tell you,
Must be by the moonlight alone.

Oh, where has my Willie now gone to?
He's out on the wild raging sea,
He's out on the ocean a-sailing,
And he'll never come back to me.

I wish I knew of an angel
To lend me his wings for to fly,
I'd fly to the arms of my Willie,
And there I would lay down and die.

P. 226-228, With music. Randolph compares with "The Prisoner's Song."
Vance Randolph, edit., Ozark Folksongs vol. 4.


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Mark Clark
Date: 19 Oct 13 - 03:45 PM

Another great Mudcat thread. Thanks.

The first version I remember hearing of this song was recorded by The Stanley Brothers. They sang it as:


     Meet me by the moonlight oh meet me
     Meet me by the moonlight alone
     I have a sad story to tell you
     All down by the moonlight alone

I have a ship on the ocean
All covered with silver and gold
And before my darling suffered
I'd have the ship anchored and sold

I've always loved you my darling
You say I've never been true
I'd do anything just to please you
I'd die any day just for you

If I had the wings like an angel
Over these prison walls I would fly
I'd fly to the arms of my darling
And there I'd be willing to die


      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: Q
Date: 20 Oct 13 - 02:59 PM

Another variant, a fragment.

Lyr. Add: MEET ME TONIGHT

For if I had of listened to mamma,
An' listened to what mamma said,
I would not have been in this here prison,
But slept in my own little bed.

I once had a sister an' brother,
I once had a gal to go see,
I once had a father an' mother
In that little cottage by the sea.

If I had the wings of a sparrow,
Far away from this prison I'd fly,
I'd fly to the arms of my true love,
An' there I would lay down and die.

Mrs. Dale Stouts, Missouri, 1931.

Vance Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, vol. 4, C, p. 227.


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Meet Me Tonight in the Moonlight
From: GUEST,Curtis
Date: 29 Dec 13 - 08:41 AM

I first heard it on a live Bill Monroe album.


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