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Origins: Blind Fiddler

DigiTrad:
BLIND FIDDLER
BLIND FIDDLER 2


Joe Offer 27 Jun 20 - 10:25 PM
GUEST,nickp (cookieless) 29 Jun 20 - 12:38 PM
Bonzo3legs 29 Jun 20 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Jun 20 - 06:36 PM
cnd 29 Jun 20 - 10:33 PM
GUEST,Brian Grayson 30 Jun 20 - 08:22 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 Jun 20 - 06:46 PM
cnd 30 Jun 20 - 09:52 PM
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Subject: Origins: Blind Fiddler
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Jun 20 - 10:25 PM

Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition. Anybody have background information?

BLIND FIDDLER

I lost my eyes in the blacksmith's shop in the year of 56
While dusting out a T planch which was out of fix
It bounded from my tongs and there concealed my doom
I am a blind fiddler and far from my home

I've been to San Francisco, I've been to Dr. Lane
He operated on one of my eyes but nothing could he gain
He told me that I'd never see and it's no cause to mourn
I am a blind fiddler and far from my home

I have a wife and three little ones depending now on me
To share all my troubles, whatever they may be
I hope that they'll be careful while I'm compelled to roam
I am a blind fiddler and far from my home

dates back to about 1850, according to Sing Out (source of these
words), through Mrs. Emma Dusenberry. American.
recorded by Joe Hickerson


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blind Fiddler
From: GUEST,nickp (cookieless)
Date: 29 Jun 20 - 12:38 PM

Popularised by Hoyt Axton - given as traditional


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blind Fiddler
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 29 Jun 20 - 12:52 PM

What is "fix"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blind Fiddler
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Jun 20 - 06:36 PM

I've been to San Francisco, I've been to Dr. Lane...

Levi Cooper Lane (1828-1902)

Dr. Lane didn't leave the U.S.Navy until 1859; then relocated to San Francisco in the early 1860s. His own clinic didn't really get up and running until the 70s. Note: The modern versions move him back east somewhere.

What is the earliest actual example in the document record or is the 1856 date just from the lyric?

"Out of fix" is out of square, not flat or true. But then there is no such thing as a 't-planch' (t-plank?) or 'dusting out' that I'm aware of either. Lot's of modern variation on that lyric too.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blind Fiddler
From: cnd
Date: 29 Jun 20 - 10:33 PM

I found a song titled "Now I Am A Blind Fiddler And Far Away From Home" (words by C. H. Foss, music by A. Leopold Richard) copywritten in 1921 (source), but the song is definitely older than that; there was an (unfulfilled) request for the lyrics to the song "I am a Blind Fiddler and Far From My Home" dating to December 1912 (source).

I did find a reference to a song in June 1854 as follows (source):
"'It is here again!' uttered the patient suddenly, 'from ever so far off with some one else--I cannot recollect how long--many hundred years--he must have stolen from me--he was a lead-miner, I think in Sweden--no!--he went about everywhere, playing! It is I--I am a blind fiddler.' "

It's not clear if it's the same song requested here, but it certainly seems close.

Other than that, I only found references also citing the Sing Out issue from the source, or identical lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blind Fiddler
From: GUEST,Brian Grayson
Date: 30 Jun 20 - 08:22 AM

Eric Andersen sang a longer version on his LP 'Bout Changes & Things [1966]. It's on Youtube:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xfs0czJ7Elo


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blind Fiddler
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 Jun 20 - 06:46 PM

cnd: Looks like we both got the same search results but -

I did find a reference to a song in June 1854 as follows...

...It's not clear if it's the same song requested here, but it certainly seems close.


How do you figure that's a song reference?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Blind Fiddler
From: cnd
Date: 30 Jun 20 - 09:52 PM

It's really just a supposition, to be honest, but I thought it was a song reference because of the word "playing" makes me think it is someone using an instrument to play the song; the lyrics are the same as the opening line, and finally, the recollection of a silver miner. Since the author is trying to imitate someone trying to gather their memory, and silver miner is fairly close to a black smith, it seems possible to me.


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