Ted & Catherine Parrish play through the classic song “Oh, Susanna,” which is the book “Ukulele for the Complete Ignoramus” by Ted Parrish & Wayne Erbsen on p. 30.
Today I got into splitting some firewood for my log cabin’s wood stove and ran into some especially gnarly oak butts that were still waiting to be split and stacked on the woodpile. Since one particular round was putting up a pretty good fight, I brought out my favorite steel wedge and my heaviest maul, an 8-pounder. As I was slamming the maul into the wedge, I got to thinking that the maul was pretty dang heavy. As I was pounding away, I started singing that old bluegrass song, “Nine Pound Hammer.” The first verse suddenly became very real:
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“Jimmie Brown, the Newsboy” has long been a favorite of mine, as recorded by Flatt & Scruggs and Mac Wiseman. Recently, I got to pondering its origins. After some digging, I discovered that the song was composed in 1875 by William S. Hays. Over the years, Hays’ name has largely been forgotten and now people either refer to “Jimmie Brown, the Newsboy” as a Carter Family song, a Flatt & Scruggs song or even a Mac Wiseman song. Let’s go back to an earlier time and look at where the song came from and discover some startling controversies