The Kitchen Chorus Songbook

by Spencer Jo & Joseph Barley

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about

The Kitchen Chorus Songbook

We first met at an acoustic show in the kitchen of a hundred-year-old house in Connaught, Calgary, AB. We got along from the start and it wasn't long before we got talking about folk music. The conversation quickly became one better sung so we picked up the guitar and the banjo and played into the night. We each knew a good number of old-time songs so we traded 'em back and forth, teaching as we went along. It was the start of a great friendship and we went on to play all over Western Canada together. This album is a collection of some of our favourites.

The foundation of folk music relies on the simple act of sharing. Whether it be a hand-me-down story of a mythical icon or the melodies and words of a harmonious chorus that unifies a group of people together, the process of preservation is essential. Keeping the tradition in mind, it was important for us to include the words, chords, and our personal connection with each song. May you grow to love or learn these songs as we have and pass them on.

credits

released November 9, 2011

Spencer Jo Burgess
Joseph "Barley" Vickers

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about

Joe Vickers Drumheller, Alberta

Deep down under the hoodoos of the Drumheller Valley lies dark mine shafts emptied of coal, but rich with history. Joe Vickers is digging deep to uncover these buried stories of the past with his collection of short stories disguised as songs on his album, Valley Home. ... more

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Track Name: Spencer Jo & Joseph Barley - John Henry
D
John Henry, when he was a baby
A
Sitting on his mammy's knee
D
Picked up a hammer in his little right hand
Bm A G D
Said hammer be the death of me, me, me
Bm A D
Hammer be the death of me

Some said he's born down in Texas
Some say he's born up in Maine
I just say he's a Louisiana man
And the leader of a steel driving gang, gang, gang
Leader of a steel driving gang

The captain said to John Henry
I'm gonna bring a steam drill around
Gonna bring that steam drill out on the job
I'll whup that steel on down, down, down
Whup that steel on down

John Henry said to the captain
You can bring that steam drill round
You can bring your steam drill out on the job
I'll whup that steam drill down, down, down
Whup that seam drill down

Now the captain said to John Henry
I believe that mountain's caving in
What Henry said back stopped the captain in his tracks
Ain't nothin' but my hammer suckin' wind, wind, wind
Nothin' but my hammer suckin' wind

John Henry drove into the mountain
His iron was striking fire
He beat that steam drill into the ground
And raised his hammer to the sky, sky, sky
Held his hammer in the sky

John Henry cried out to his woman
A man ain't nothin' but a man
He drove so hard that it broke his poor heart
And he died with his hammer in his hand, hand, hand
There lies a steel drivin' man
Track Name: Worried Man Blues
Capo 1

G
It takes a worried man to sing a worried song
C G
It takes a worried man to sing a worried song
D G
I’m worried now but I won’t be worried long

I went across the river and lay me down to sleep
I went across the river and lay me down to sleep
When I woke up there were shackle on my feet

Twenty-one links of chain wrapped around my leg
Twenty-one links of chain wrapped around my leg
Upon each link was the initials of my name

I asked the judge, “what’s going to be my fine?”
I asked that judge, “what’s going to be my fine?”
“Twenty-one years,” he said, “..on the Rocky Mountain line”

That train pulled out twenty-one boxcars long
That train pulled out twenty-one boxcars long
The girl I love is on that train and gone

If somebody asks who wrote this song tell ‘em it was I
If somebody asks who wrote this song tell ‘em it was I
And the worried man blues, I sing ‘em all the time
Track Name: The Preacher and the Slave
G C G
Long-haired preachers come out every night
D
Try to tell you what's wrong and what's right
G C G
But when asked how 'bout something to eat
D G C G
They will answer in voices so sweet

D
You will eat, bye and bye
C G
In that glorious land above the sky
G7 C
Work and pray, live on hay
G D C G
You'll get pie in the sky when you die

And the Salvation Army they play
And they sing and they clap and they pray
Till they get all your coin on the drum
Then they tell you when you're on the bum

If you fight hard for children and wife
Try to get something good in this life
You're a sinner and bad man, they tell
When you die you will sure go to hell

Workingmen of all countries, unite
Side by side we for freedom will fight
When this world and its wealth we have gained
To the grafters we'll sing this refrain
Track Name: Hobo's Lullaby
E A
Go to sleep you weary hobo
B7 E
Let the towns drift slowly by
Hear the steel rails hummin'
That's a hobo's lullaby

Do not think about tomorrow
Let tomorrow come and go
Tonight you've got a nice warm boxcar
Safe from all the wind and snow

I know the police cause you trouble
They cause trouble everywhere
But when you die and go to heaven
You'll find no police men there

I know your clothes are torn and ragged
And your hair is turning grey
Lift your face and smile at trouble
You'll find happiness someday
Track Name: Hell of High Water
A D A
My darling sweet up and ran away from me
A E
She fled for the sun down south
A D A
She left me here in the cold, in despair and alone
A E A
It forced me to flee myself

So, I packed up my bags and I hit the ol’ highway
Ain’t nothing going to be stopping me
My senorita soon I’m going to see ya
When I make it down that Mexico way

A D A
Because whatever lies ahead on my path
D A
Won’t have the strength to keep me sidetracked
D A E A
Come hell or high water, I’m moving on to you

The big ol’ engine rumble and roars
in tune to the rails rocking back and forth
On a midnight southbound passenger train
that feasts on the distance between

You and I and the vast terrain
Half of which I’ve traveled; and half still to gain
I’m saddling up this iron horse and riding down
its rock course until I’m in your arm again

Because every tie on this endless railway
Is a kiss from her lips awaiting my face
Come hell or high water, I’m moving on to you

I stepped from terminals to train stations
But soon I had to get away from public transportation
The sight of lovers kissing at every stop
Had me fearing our time wouldn’t come

So I tore to pieces my ticket stub
And opted for the freedom of my thumb
The road twisted and turned while my love kept a-burning
Waiting to kick the lovesick blues

Because every step on this lonesome highway
is a step of belief guiding toward our fate
Come hell or high water, I’m moving on to you

I hitched and I hopped and I gambled and lost
Sight of everything and almost everyone
But the photograph of you in my breast pocket
Reminded to keep moving on

You see those pretty eyes of your were my only roadmap
They kept me focus and always on track
Through the desert sand and foreign distant lands
It kept my spirit strong

Because every counted inch and every conquered mile
Is one of each closer to the promise of your smile
Come hell or high water, I’m moving on to you

A E A
I’m moving on to you
D E
I’ll do whatever it takes
A
I’ll swim a lake
F#m
I’ll jump a pit of snakes
A E D
I’ll do whatever I have to do
A E A
Just to keep moving on to you
Track Name: Red River Valley
C
From this valley they say you’re a-going
G
How I’ll miss your bright eyes and sweet smile
C F
For with you, you are taking the sunshine
C G C
That has brightened my path for awhile

Come and sit by my side, if you love me
Do not hasten to bid me adieu
Just remember the Red River Valley
And the cowboy who loved you so true

I have waited a long time, my darling
For those sweet words you never did say
But, alas, my fond hopes have vanish
For they say you are going away

Won’t you think of this valley you're leaving
Oh how sad and lonely it’ll be
Won’t you think of this dear heart you're breaking
And all the pain that you’re causing to me

They will bury me where you have wandered
Near the hills where the daffodils grow
When you're gone from the Red River Valley
I can't live without you, this I know
Track Name: The Holy Ground
Fine girl you are!

D A D
Adieu to you, my Dinah
A D
A thousand times adieu
A G A
We're going away from the Holy Ground
D A
And the girls that we hold true
D A D
We'll sail the salt sea over
A G A
And then return for shore
D A G D
To see, again, the girls we love
A D
And the Holy Ground once more

D A G D
You're the girl I do adore
A G D
And still I live in hopes to see
A D
The Holy Ground once more

I see the storm a-rising
I see it coming soon
And the sky, it is so clouded
You can scarcely see the moon
And the Good Ship, she was all tossed about
And the riggings, they were all tore
And still I live in hopes to see
The Holy Ground once more

Now the storm is over
And we are safe on shore
We'll make a toast to the Holy Ground
And the girls we do adore
We'll drink strong ale and porter
And make the rafters roar
And when our money is all spent
We'll go to sea for more
Track Name: Moonshiner
Bm G D A
I've been a moonshiner for seventeen long years
Bm G D A
I've spent all of my money on whiskey and beer
G A Bm G
In a wild lonesome hollow I'll build me own still
Bm G D A
If the whiskey don’t kill me, I don’t know what will

I go to some barroom and I drink with my friends
Where the women they can’t follow to see what I spend
God bless them pretty women, how I wish they was mine
Their breath is as sweet as the dew on the vine

Let me eat when I'm hungry, let me drink when I'm dry
Give me a dollar when I'm hard up and religion when I die
This world is but a bottle and life is but a dram
When the bottle is empty, it won’t be worth a damn
Track Name: Hobo Bill's Last Ride
C F C
Riding on an eastbound freight train
F C
Speeding through the night
F C
Hobo Bill, a railroad bum
D7 G7
Was fighting for his life
C F C
The sadness of his eyes revealed
F C
The torture of his soul
F C
He raised a weak and weary hand
G C
To brush away the cold

G C
Hobo Bill

No warm lights flickered around him
No blankets there to fold
Nothing but the howling wind
And the driving rain so cold
When he heard a whistle blowing
In a dreamy kind of way
The hobo seemed contented
For he smiled there where he lay

Outside, the rain was falling
On that lonesome boxcar door
But the little form of Hobo Bill
Lay still upon the floor
While the train sped through the darkness
And the raging storm outside
No one knew that Hobo Bill
Was taking his last ride

It was early in the morning
When they raised that hobo's head
The smile still lingered on his face
But Hobo Bill was dead
There was no mother's longing
To soothe his weary soul
For he was just a railroad bum
Who died out in the cold
Track Name: Don't Get Trouble In Your Mind
G
Trouble, trouble
C
Trouble in my mind

If trouble don’t kill me
G
I don’t think I’ll ever die

G
Don’t get trouble in your mind, don’t get trouble in your mind
D G
Don’t get trouble in your mind, don’t get trouble in your mind

I wish I had me a nickel
I wish I had me a dime
I wish I had me a pretty little girl
I’d kiss her all the time

If you see that gal of mine
Be sure that you tell her
If she don’t like my way of doing
To get some other feller

You were searching for righteousness
Trouble is what you found
Don’t let the weight of hardships
Bring you down
Track Name: Boomtown
G C Em
Load your things into a big black car
G C Em
And drive here all night long
G C Em
A couple cigarettes and a coffee go well
D D7
With the road and your favourite song
Your daddy was on the executive
Your mother was a beauty queen
They say you had everything a girl could need
But they don't know what that means
So play on

I never found truth in religion
Nor wisdom in politics
And every last moment of clarity
Money didn't buy me this
So I raise my glass to your band tonight
Wherever they may be
And all the rest in the crowd, all right
Tonight we're a family

G C G
I don't wanna work today
Em D G
But the bank insists I got bills to pay
They know that I won't get far
On three-chord punk and an old guitar

Now, a feeling is all that matters
And a few well-spoken words
So carry on with the song
And never let it feel like work
'Cause I never found truth in religion
Nor wisdom in politics
And every last moment of clarity
Came at a time like this
Track Name: Pavement
G C G
The moon upon the pavement is bright and blue
C G
The wind whispers up and down the avenue
C G
The bones beneath the pavement sing a song
D C G
The night picks it up and carries the rhythm along

Em D C G
I whistle a tune and my boots keep the beat
Em D G
From the ground to the soles of my feet
Em D C G
Like the river that rambles, I sing many songs
C D G
Tonight, I sing along

The city, sound asleep, lets out a sigh
I move, up and down her streets, in lullaby
The city, her warm embrace comes over me
I can't stay long but tonight I'm where I should be
Track Name: Gypsy Davy
C
It was late last night when the boss came home

Asking about his lady

The only answer he received
G C
She's gone with the Gypsy Davy
G C
Gone with the Gypsy Dave

Go saddle for me my buckskin horse
In a hundred dollar saddle
Point me out their wagon tracks
And after them I'll travel, after them l'll ride

Well I had not rode 'til the midnight moon
When I saw their campfire gleaming
I heard the notes of the big guitar
And the voice of the gypsy singing
That song of the Gypsy Dave

There in the light of the camping fire
I saw her fair face beaming
Her heart in tune with the big guitar
And the voice of the gypsy singing
The song of the Gypsy Dave

Have you forsaken your house and home?
Have you forsaken your baby?
Have you forsaken your husband dear
To go with the Gypsy Davy
And sing with the Gypsy Dave?

Yes I've forsaken my husband dear
To go with the Gypsy Davy
And I've forsaken my mansion high
But not my blue eyed baby
Not my blue eyed babe

Take off, take off those buckskin gloves
Made of Spanish leather
And give to me your lily-white hand
And we'll ride home together
We’ll ride home again

No I won't take off my buckskin gloves
Made of Spanish leather
I'll go my way from day to day
And sing with the Gypsy Davy
The songs of the Gypsy Dave
Track Name: Hallelujah, I'm a Bum
D
Oh, why don't I work like other men do?
A D
How the hell can I work when the skies are so blue?

D A
Hallelujah! I'm a bum, Hallelujah bum again,
D G A D
Hallelujah! give us a handout to revive us again.

I like Joe Hill he’s a good friend of mine
That’s why I’m out marching on the picket line

I went to a store and I asked for some bread,
The lady said, "Scram, bum, the baker is dead!"

I went to a bar and I asked for a drink,
The barkeeper got a glass and he showed me the sink

I might be a bum but I’m happy as sin
I’m got a smile on my face and a song here to sin

There’s good company wherever I go
In this union of ramblers and drifting hobos
Track Name: Going Down the Road Feeling Bad
G
I’m going down the road feeling bad
C G
I’m going down the road feeling bad
C G
I’m going down the road feeling bad
D D7 G
Oh lord, and I ain’t going to be treated this a-way

I’m going where the water taste like wine
Oh lord, and I ain’t going to be treated this a-way

Your two dollar shoe hurts my feet
Oh lord, and I ain’t going to be treated this a-way

Takes a ten dollar shoe to fit my feet
Oh lord, and I ain’t going to be treated this a-way

They fed me on cornbread and beans
Oh lord, and I ain’t going to be treated this a-way

I’m going down the road feeling
Oh lord, and I ain’t going to be treated this a-way