A few weeks ago, between Hubby’s March Madness television sports events I managed to DVR the documentary on Pete Seeger, The Power of Song, in which Pete says near the end:
“We don’t sing enough any more and it’s a huge loss. People used to sing when they walked and when they built roads and bridges and when they cleaned their houses; and subtly they lifted up the world around them with their song”
It’s true that singing was something we did a lot more of when I was a child working alongside my family in the tobacco field. Daddy would sing snatches of the words he could remember from songs like Eddy Arnold‘s “I’ll Hold You In My Heart,” or Ernest Tubb‘s I’m Walking The Floor Over You.” But most of the time he sang out lyrics like “didn’t he ramble, oh didn’t he ramble? He rambled ’til the butcher put him down,” or at least something like that. My oldest brother used to sing to me in the barn while we shucked dry corn to feed the mule. I loved the story his song Barbry Allen told about her relentlessly rejecting the love of that lad sweet William until he up and died one day; she was sorry then, so she upped and died straightaway as well. They were buried side by side in the old church yard, and from his heart grew that red red rose, and from her heart, a briar. Oh it was sweet to my ears. Made me forget about all the work we had to get done.
Even I got into singing eventually. I was about fifteen, and working on the topside of a huge tobacco harvester while an older girl, around seventeen, worked on the other side. (I tried to find a picture of one of these things; the closest I could come was this picture here, not quite but similar.) Carol was getting married and we were trying to think of the best songs to be sung at her wedding while we toiled in the sun. I started singing to her all the love songs I knew to see if she thought they’d be good, “I Love You Truly,” “I’ll Be Loving You Always,” and “Oh Promise Me.” Later on she asked me to sing at her wedding, and I did. That led to another gig at another wedding. All I can say is wedding singers must have been awfully hard to come by back then for someone to be desperate enough to ask me to sing at their wedding. Or maybe it was because I did it for free.
People around me don’t seem to sing any more, and neither do I, but if singing out loud used to lift us up, then let’s see if we can’t find a good song, for old Pete’s sake, and sing. I will if you will: