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Origins: Willie Moore

13 May 02 - 10:10 AM (#710199)
Subject: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: GUEST,Arby

I have found the Mudcat to be an invaluable resource for lyrics and would appreciate it very much if you folks could help me with lyrics on Willie Moore as it was done by Doc Watson. I recently heard a recording of him and Gaither Carlton playing it years ago. There's a list for it in the database but its much different than Watson's. Thanks.


13 May 02 - 10:33 AM (#710210)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: Mrrzy

I remember most of it...

Willie Moore was a young man, his age 21
And he courted a damsel fair
O her eyes were as bright as a diamond after night
And wavy (raven?) black was her hair

He courted her by night and day
Till on marriage they did agree
But when he came to get her parents' consent
They said that it never could be

SHe threw herself in Willie Moore's arms
as often she'd done before
And little did he think when he left her that night
sweet Annie he would see no more

Sweet Annie was loved both far and near,
she had friends 'most all around
Then in the little brook before the cottage door
the body of sweet Annie was found

She was taken by her weeping friends
and carried to her parents' room
And there she was dressed in a shroud of snowy white
and laid in a lonely tomb

Willie Moore scarcely spoke to her friends, they say
Till at last (from them all he did part??)
And his last day was spent near his true lover's grave
where he died of a broken heart

I may also be missing a verse between her disappearance and the finding of her body, I have a feeling they looked for her for more than one verse...


13 May 02 - 04:55 PM (#710467)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)

Doc sings this song on the 1963 Folkways album, "Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson at Folk City." The label is now known as Smithsonion/Folkways, distributed by the Smithsonian Institution.


13 May 02 - 05:08 PM (#710475)
Subject: Lyr Add: WILLIE MOORE (from Doc Watson)
From: GUEST,MCP, Lyric Add

Here is Doc Watson's version from Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson at Folk City. The notes say "Doc's debt to old records again shows. This is derived from a 1927 Columbia recording by Burnett and Rutherford and is one of the most memorable recordings from the golden age of early hillbilly bands...It is much more a folk song revival approach than Doc would be taking a few years later".

Mick


WILLIE MOORE

Willie Moore was a king, his age twenty-one
And he courted a damsel fair.
Oh her eyes were as bright as the diamonds after night
And wavy black was her hair.

He courted her both night and day
Till on marry they did agree.
But when he came to get her parents' consent
They said that could never be.

Oh it was about the tenth of May,
The time I remember well,
That very same night her body disappeared
In a way no tongue could tell.

Sweet Annie was loved both far and near
Had friends most all around
And in a little brook before the cottage door
The body of sweet Annie was found.

She was taken by her weeping friends
And carried to her parents' room.
And there she was dressed in a shroud of snowy white
And laid in a lonely tomb.

Her parents now are left alone,
One mourns while the other weeps.
Beneath a grassy mound before the cottage door
The body of sweet Annie sleeps.

Willie Moore scarcely spoke to his friends they say
And at last from them all he did part.
And the last heard from him he was in Montreal
Where he died of a broken heart.



13 May 02 - 10:16 PM (#710634)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: GUEST,Arby

Thanks to all of you very much. It's a haunting song. RB


13 May 02 - 11:06 PM (#710656)
Subject: Lyr Add: WILLIE MOORE (from New Lost City Ramblers
From: masato sakurai

Burnett and Rutherford's version is on Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music (Click here for "additional notes"). Their text is as follows, copied from The New Lost City Ramblers Song Book (Oak, 1964, p. 156).

WILLIE MOORE

Willie Moore was a king, his age twenty-one
He courted a damsel fair;
Oh, her eyes were as bright as the diamonds in the night,
And wavy black was her hair.

He courted her both night and day
'Til marrierd they did agree,
But when he came to bid her parents' consent,
They said it could never be.

She threw herself in Willie Moore's arms
As oftimes had done before,
But little did he think when they parted that night,
Sweet Ellen he would see no more.

Oh it was about the tenth of May,
The time I remember well,
That very same night her body disappeared
In a way no tongue could tell.

Sweet Ellen was loved both far and near,
Had friends most all around,
And in a little brook before the cottage door,
The body of sweet Ellen was found.

She was taken by her weeping friends
And carried to her parents' room.
And there she was dressed in a shroud of snowy-white
And laid in a lonely tomb.

Her parents now are left alone,
One mourns while the other one weeps,
And in a fresh-made mound before the cottage door,
The body of sweet Ellen to sleep.

This song was composed in the cloudy West
By a man you may never have seen,
I'll tell you his name but it is not in full,
His initials are J.R.G.

~Masato


15 May 02 - 08:09 PM (#711240)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)

I always thought Doc was singing, "...And raven black was her hair..."

Also it was interesting to me that this tune is the "high part" of our family's ballad, "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender." An 8-line tune, and the last line to each verse repeated (so the company can join in).


16 May 02 - 01:16 AM (#711351)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: kytrad (Jean Ritchie)

No- a Senior Moment there- got the title wrong for our ballad. Instead of "Lord Thomas and Fair Ellender, read, "Sweet William and Lady Margaret" (which I learned from Justice Begley, neighbor and kinsman, banjo-picker, ballad-singer, and High Sheriff of Perry County. We had known a fragment of the song, but he knew the whole story. Begins: Sweet William arose one May morning and he
dressed himself in blue.
We want you to tell us something about that
long love between Lady Margaret and you...
Well I know nothin about Miss Lady Margaret's
love and I know that she don't love me-
:But tomorrow morning at eight o'clock, Lady
Margaret my bride shall see:

Maybe not an eight-line tune; more like four LONG lines, but then I don't read/write music. The "Willie Moore" similarity begins with the line, "Well I know nothin about Miss Lady M's love..." which is probably more than any of you folks want to know about it either. Sorry if I'm boring you, but this was on my mind.


16 May 02 - 04:46 AM (#711425)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: GUEST,MCP

kytrad - while I've usually heard the line sung as raven black was her hair (the DT version has that, and that's what I was expecting when I took it down), Doc Watson certainly sings wavy on the Folk City recording (I've just rechecked my transcription). That also seems to be in agreement with the version from his stated source, Burnett and Rutherford, quoted above by Masato.

Of course that was released in 1963 and he may well have changed the version later.

Mick


16 May 02 - 06:46 AM (#711460)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: masato sakurai

The first line of the Baez version of "Wildwood Flower" is: "I will twine with my mingles of raven black hair", while the Carters sang "... and waving black hair."

~Masato


16 May 02 - 10:47 AM (#711599)
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Willie Moore:Doc Watson Version
From: Pete Jennings

Just dug out the "Folk City" CD and GUEST,MCP is right, Doc definitely sings "wavy black". Funny, I never noticed before...

Pete


23 Oct 03 - 01:29 PM (#1040509)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: Joe Offer

Ray Frank called me this week. He had a tune running through his head, and couldn't identify it. I couldn't, either, although I certainly was familiar with the tune. He called Robert Rodriguez. Rober is blind and has to store all his information in his head, so he's a remarkable resource. Robert knew right off that it was "Willie Moore."

Does anybody know if other songs have used this tune?

-Joe Offer-
Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Willie Moore

DESCRIPTION: Handsome young Willie Moore has courted and won the heart of fair Annie. Her parents do not approve of him. When Annie realizes her parents will not relent, she runs away and dies (kills herself?). Willie takes to wandering (and dies of a broken heart?)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (recording, Burnett & Rutherford)
KEYWORDS: courting love death separation hardheartedness father mother suicide burial
FOUND IN: US(So)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Randolph 795, "Willie Moore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 90-92, "Willie Moore" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 795)
Asch/Dunson/Raim, p. 36, "Willie Moore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen/Seeger/Wood, p. 140, "Willie Moore" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, WILLMOOR*

Roud #4816
RECORDINGS:
Burnett & Rutherford, "Willie Moore" (Columbia 15314-D, 1927; on AAFM1, BurnRuth01)
Notes: Randolph's informant, Paul Wilson, reported meeting a Rev. William Moore in 1936 who claimed this song was about him. This is one of those instances where one would prefer documentation. - RBW
File: R796

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

The Ballad Index Copyright 2003 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


23 Oct 03 - 02:10 PM (#1040528)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Arnie

Want another source? - I recorded it with Chris Coole singing and playing banjo "5 Strings Attached ~ Vol. 2" Merriweather Records Ltd.
Cheers, Arnie Naiman


23 Oct 03 - 02:41 PM (#1040541)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: Joe Offer

Know anything more about it, Arnie? Does it go back before Burnett & Rutherford?
-Joe Offer-


23 Oct 03 - 02:58 PM (#1040555)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Arnie


23 Oct 03 - 03:02 PM (#1040557)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Arnie

Whoops - these darn computers don't cooperate if you hit the wrong button.
I can't add any history because that we got from B&R too. I'd like to know though if someone comes up with something.

Arnie


23 Oct 03 - 05:30 PM (#1040629)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson

The only other relatively old recording I know is Peggy Seeger's version; she does it on the Vanguard "Newport 1960" vinyl and also on her VERY long out of print Folk-Lyric recording; to make it work she tuned her banjo in what she called "dulcimer" tuning, gDGDD (yes, you can get the second string up that high) .
I think I've heard some old time bands cover it more recently but can't say who. sorry


23 Oct 03 - 07:15 PM (#1040688)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Arnie

Chris Coole tunes his banjo Key F, tuning fCFCD. Sounds nice - try it out.


24 Oct 03 - 09:04 AM (#1040979)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson

thanks, Arnie! That tuning is, of course the "modal" tuning, same as gDGCD, one full tone lower. Chris sounds like a SINGER because who would tune one tone low except if the singing sounded better in that key-- no fiddle player I know plays in G Dorian mode!


24 Oct 03 - 09:14 AM (#1040989)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Arnie

Pete,
Chris is a singer, and a great banjo player. The tuning is not modal. A tone up would from his would be be gDGDE which is a good tuning for playing g fiddle tunes in, especially if there are E or Em phrases in them like Big Scioty or Stoney Point for example.


08 Jan 06 - 05:01 PM (#1644392)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,maybeline@earthlink.net

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the very fine version by Ed Trickett on the folk-Legacy Label out of Shaoron Conn.


09 Jan 06 - 03:45 PM (#1645090)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST

I did a recording of this sometime, somewhere. Can't remember where or when though...

Art Thieme


09 Jan 06 - 03:55 PM (#1645094)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Tunesmith

In the UK, Alex Campbell recorded "Willie Moore" back in the mid-60s. I believe he credited Derrol Adams as his source.


09 Jan 06 - 04:19 PM (#1645112)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: Uncle_DaveO

Art, didn't you do this one on the Mudcat series?

Dave Oesterreich


10 Jan 06 - 03:25 PM (#1645741)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman

I think it's a fairly sound assumption that "Willie Moore" may have been written by Dick Burnett, of Burnett and Rutherford. Gus Meade's invaluable Country Music Sources traces it no farther back than Randolph, whose Ozark Folk Songs Vol 4 has a version collected in 1941. Its tune is different, words slightly varied, one verse only.

To expand on what the Index says, Randolph notes: "Mr. Paul Wilson, Farmington, Ark, met a Reverend William Moore in Dallas, Exas, in 1936, who claimed that this song was written about him. 'I sure did have some misadventures when I was young,' Moore was quoted as saying. 'I didn't go to Montreal and die, though, like the song says. I just went to East Texas, an' took up preachin' the Word.'"

This would tend to make you think, if Moore can be believed, that there is a longer version of the ballad somewhere, perhaps now lost, that traces Willie to Canada and his own death. I know of no such version, but that might mean one of two things: a) somebody other than Burnett wrote it, or b) he wrote a longer version and cut it short for the record ("keep your tunes down to three minutes, boys, or you'll run off the wax").

Burnett had a great knack of writing songs that sounded like they came from generations back. For example, "I Am A Man of Constant Sorrow" is generally credited to him, and so is "Goin' Round the World" (Banjo Picking Girl) -- both recorded by his friend Emry Arthur in the 1920s. He may even have written Rambling Reckless Hobo, at least in that form, since it appears in his 1913 songbook, though the various other versions may be independent of his.

A biography of Richard Burnett would be of great interest; he was one of the prime movers of music around Kentucky, both with and without fiddler Leonard Rutherford. Somebody want to tackle one?

Bob


10 Jan 06 - 03:58 PM (#1645760)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Art Thieme

Bob,

Pretty fascinating! THE TREASURE HUNT is what our trad side of this scene is truly all about. It simply felt just great to FIND a great old song that had escaped notice, put a good arrangement behind the tale within it, and SHOW IT to folks in our performances. Doing so-called "covers" (I really dislike the term) is seen as anathema to some these days. But mostly ALL TRAD SONGS ARE COVERS of what went before.

UncleDaveO,

You are correct. I'd forgotten that I put it on one of the Mudcat CDs. Thanks.

Art


11 Jan 06 - 12:19 PM (#1646332)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Barrie Roberts

The last verse of the version I have says:

Willie wept many tears and took to the road,
Saying, 'I must part',
When I last heard of him he had gone to Montreal
Where he died of a broken heart.

I THINK I got that from Alex Campbell.


12 Jan 06 - 05:53 AM (#1646891)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: Joybell

This is really interesting. Thank you Bob. True-Love and I have both been singing this song for a long time and we've always wondered about its origins. It's a lovely song but it does seem fairly modern. Cheers, Joy


12 Jan 06 - 06:35 AM (#1646906)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: Joybell

So what of the initials given at the end of the song as recorded by Burnett and Rutherford? We just listened to that recording. The last verse is as given above by Masato.

"This song was composed in the cloudy West
By a man you may never have seen,
I'll tell you his name but it is not in full,
His initials are J.R.G."

Actually we thought it sounded more like "J.R.D." but either way it's a bit odd. Cheers, Joy


12 Jan 06 - 06:30 PM (#1647259)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson

I always (since I heard the Anthology, and more recently the Document Burnett and Rutherford recording, that Dick Burnett was actually J Richard Burnett and it was autobiographical:

. . . his initials are J R B

I've listened to it many times (almost as many times as I've listend to Charlie Poole singing Monkey on a String) and have convinced myself that it COULD be a B, but I'm not sure.


13 Jan 06 - 04:52 PM (#1648117)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: Joybell

That's interesting, Pete. We'll take another listen. It would make sense wouldn't it?   Cheers, Joy


21 Nov 07 - 12:18 AM (#2198958)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: rich-joy

I am currently learning this song from a 1985 recording by Hadden, Rothfield & Carr and I was wondering : have there been any advances on the song's origin??? (i.e. was it derived from a ballad - and if so, which one/group ...)

Thanks in advance,

Cheers, R-J


21 Nov 07 - 02:00 AM (#2198982)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Gerry

You mean - I'm not the only person in the world who owns that Hadden, Rothfield & Carr record? I just played it a few weeks back to refresh my memory on The Bad Girl. Sorry I can't help with anything about Willie Moore.


21 Nov 07 - 04:56 AM (#2199035)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Terry McDonald

I also learned this song in the 1960s from the Alex Campbell LP and always liked the way it referred to Montreal in its final verse. It seemed unusualfor a Canadian town to be mentioned. Many years later, I became an emigration historian specialising in English emigration to Upper Canada between 1815 and 1840 with an emphasis on people who left Somerset and Wiltshire c1830,. Many of their letters home were published in order to show how successful schemes whereby the parish paid for (or helped) people to emigrate had been. This practise was often referred to as'Shovelling out Paupers.' Among these letters were some from two groups of emigrants from Frome and I analysed their content and found out what had happened to the emigrants once they'd arrived in Canada. One of the emigrants was a young man named William Moore who left frome in 1832.

He wrote to his parents and siblings in February 1833 telling them that he was living in Delaware, a few miles west of London, Ontario. Before that he had been in Prescott with another emigrant named William Jeanes (Moore is twice mentioned in Jeanes' letters to his wife.)Moore gave deteauled instructions of how to find his 100 acre lot. He even appended a poem at the end of his letter which read:

O the boy William Moore left his friends and his home
And his dear native land, o'er the oceans to roam
Like a sapling he sprung, he was fair to the view
He was British Oak boys the older he grew
The Vet'rans all cried he'll one day lead the van
The' rated a boy, he'd the soul of a man
And the heart of a true British son.
Liberty and Freedom here.

(The last line seems to be an added comment by Moore)

In the Autumn of 1833 William Moore had left Delaware and went to Cobourg, on the shores of Lake Ontario. He wrote twice from Cobourg - 6 October 1833 and 13 October 1833. No reason is given for his move eastwards from Delaware where he was as 'happy as a king on his throne' to Cobourg but obviously something had happened. After these letters, nothing more is known and he vanishes from the archival record (and I did try to find him in Montreal!)

Now, my heart wants him to be the inspiration for the song but my head, of course, knows he wasn't. But there was a real young man called William Moore in Canada in the 1830s who suddenly left his 100 acre plot to move a fair distance eastwards. I wish I'd found the reason!


21 Jul 08 - 10:13 AM (#2394156)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,drybonesband

In the version on the Anthology you have the line:

That very same night her body disappeared
in a way no tongue can tell

I have always heard, and sung, this song as if the young woman was murdered. And why not give the man's full name at the end? And who is the narrator who remembers the date?
It an amazing song, I think, and quite enigmatic.

drybonesband


04 May 11 - 06:56 PM (#3148077)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST

Joan Baez does it.


13 Aug 11 - 06:32 AM (#3207127)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: MGM·Lion

I recall the last verse as sung by Alex Campbell [but I stress this is from memory] as

Willie never smiled again that anybody saw
But he said "I have to part".
The last heard of him he was in Montreal
Where he died of a broken heart.

I sing it thus on my YouTube channel.

The 'never smiled again' motif is familiar in English tradition from a story of King Henry I, who mourned the death by drowning of his much-loved son ~~ "King Henry had only one other legitimate child, his heir, Prince William, a boisterous young man whom the monarch completely idolized. Tragically, in 1120, the prince was needlessly drowned - along with many of his generation at court - while making a return trip from Normandy in the 'White Ship' which ran aground and sank. It is said that Henry never smiled again." [David Nash Ford's Royal Berkshire History]

I learned that at school in the early-1940s.


~Michael~


13 Aug 11 - 06:44 AM (#3207133)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: Jon Bartlett

I too learnt it from Alex, and he did indeed credit Derroll Adams. Adams' source (the Montreal version) is the Randolph set and thus the earliest, yes?

Jon Bartlett


13 Aug 11 - 09:14 AM (#3207210)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Don Wise

I,too,learnt the song from Alex's recording. The last verse as I transcribed it runs:

'Willy wept many tears and he took to the road,
He said,"I have to part"
The last we heard of him he was in Montreal
Where he died of a broken heart
Willy died of a broken heart'

Don


25 Jun 13 - 07:33 AM (#3530129)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Tony Morris

As 'Moore' is a common name among the Romany people, I have often thought that William Moore was a 'Gipsy' King and that, somewhere, there must be an earlier English or Irish version that has crossed to America.


25 Jun 13 - 12:23 PM (#3530229)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: MGM·Lion

I've never trusted the hyperbolical 'king' at end of first line.   Surely he 'was young', or 'a young man'. And unlike certain quite distinctive Romany names like Fa, Moore is a very common name thruout the population: one of those names like Collins or Goodwin or Roberts or Richards or Wilson, less common than Smith or Brown but still very widespread. So I shouldn't have thought that any specific community origins would be indicated by it.

~M~


13 Apr 16 - 02:47 PM (#3785146)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Hadden Rothfield and Carr

We did record that on vinyl in 1985 on an album called When These Shoes Were New with Jane Rothfield, Martin Hadden and Allan Carr. heard the song from Burnett and Rutherford and arranged it with a slower more poignant tempo and instrumentation.


13 Apr 16 - 07:23 PM (#3785166)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Jaze

The Joan Baez version is from the early 60's. It is on the lp "Very Early Joan"


14 Apr 16 - 11:18 AM (#3785288)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: Richie

A version of Willie Moore was recorded by Lomax in Kentucky in the 1930's. It's available on internet archive. I can put a link when I get more time,

Richie


14 Apr 16 - 12:06 PM (#3785302)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Jack Dixon

Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Hadden Rothfield and Carr
Date: 13 Apr 16 - 02:47 PM

We did record that on vinyl in 1985 on an album called When These Shoes Were New with Jane Rothfield, Martin Hadden and Allan Carr. heard the song from Burnett and Rutherford and arranged it with a slower more poignant tempo and instrumentation.

Best version I've heard.


22 Apr 16 - 08:56 AM (#3786630)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: rich-joy

re "Best version I've heard" comment :

I agree!

..... and would love to have heard Martin Hadden sing LOTS more!!

Cheers, R-J
(ex-Darwin)


10 Jun 20 - 10:42 PM (#4058704)
Subject: RE: Origins: Willie Moore
From: GUEST,Lotusland

Shirley Collins sang "Lady Margaret and Sweet William/The Power of a True-Love Knot" to this tune.