Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Dad and Dylan

It is no small wonder I am given to music. I grew up listening to my Dad sing a lot. He is not a trained or professional singer but he could have been. He loved then, and loves still, a good song. I mentioned Dad's penchant for song in this, the first post of this blog, May 22nd, 2008. Here's the relevant excerpt:

I remember my dad holding his hymnal out and lowering it a bit so I could see and sing along; my dad's deep baritone voice fully engaging the melody. Every so often, dad would start singing the harmony, and off I'd go, on the same trail, sometimes making the note, sometimes not, but seldom, if ever, staying on the melody. He'd gaze over his glasses, quizzical that I'd not harmonized. I wanted to sing with him, to go with him on that wild adventure of hymn singing!

Even though my dad's devotion to hymn singing is a big part of his repertoire, he is fond of popular tunes too. Cole Porter, Gershwin, Rodgers and Hart, all the greats. Vocalists like Frank Sinatra and Perry Como are two of his favorites. Being a rowdy "Deke"in college, he is prone to start wailing what I call bar tunes or drinking songs every now and again. Songs like Columbus Stockade Blues, for instance.

Originating in the 1920's the song immortalizes a Columbus Georgia jail that housed petty criminals of every stripe-drunks, thieves, and other 'ne'er do wells'.

If you listen close you can hear the plaintive lament of the narrator reverberating off brick walls of the jail :

Way way down, in Columbus Georgia,
Lord done turned his back on me,
Way way down in Columbus Stockade,
wanna be back in Tennessee..

Go and and leave me if you wish to,
never let me change your mind,
if in your heart, you love another,
leave me little darlin' I don't mind
leave me little darlin' I don't mind.

Imagine what delight I had to find that Bob Dylan has affinity for this particular tune too! In reading the first installment of Dylan's memoir, Chronicles, Columbus Stockade Blues is mentioned as a song he favored and sang early in his folk career.

But to really hear this song, you ought to hear my daddy sing it.

His a capella rendition is so blue it'll make you want to weep. Dylan is a poet and a king of story, but he could learn a thing or two from Dad.


Danny Bryant said...

great post.

having fairly recently discovered columbus, ga, i find it fitting for such a song.

isabelle said...

. . . what I wouldn't give to see that duo take the stage for a sing-along! xo