A Family Get Together: Folk Songs, Pop Songs and Riding the Cow (Exploring My Reel-to-Reel Catacombs, Volume 35) (MP3)
In honor of this holiday weekend, one in which perhaps more families get together in the US than any other four day period of the year, to enjoy food, family and fellowship, here is a brief tape of one such American family, reflecting two very different times, one being the point it was recorded, just over 50 years ago, and one being the time reflected in a story told on the tape, perhaps another 50 or 60 years before that.
The Matriarch here (and I'm assuming facts about her not in evidence by calling her that) was once a young girl on a farm. She was most likely born at the end of the 1800's, and after some number of years, began to experience the wise words that Lee Hays would one day capture in the lyrics to "Kisses Sweeter Than Wine" - a few kisses started the process that eventually managed to lead to children and grandchildren. That's where we pick up, many decades later, with Grandma, one of her children, and grandchildren Robert and Linda.
As the tape begins, we're being introduced to Robert, who is nine years old, and who then sings along (rather horridly) with Jack Scott's big hit single "What In the World's Come Over You", which would seem to fairly accurately date this tape to some time in 1960. A family member suggests that Robert sing "She'll Be Comin' 'Round the Mountain", but he'd rather not, offering up a moment of "Witch Doctor" before committing to an equally painful version of "Around the World" before finally acceding to the request for "Comin' 'Round the Mountain". What Robert lacks in style and finesse, he makes up for in enthusiasm, wouldn't you say?
Then things turn more interesting and quite sweet, as Grandma is requested to talk about Daisy, the Cow she had had as a girl, and what happened the time she rode on Daisy. It's a simple story, but being one from (today's viewpoint) perhaps just over 100 years ago, it is about as far outside of most people's experience these days as a buggy ride or an old west shootout.
Robert is invited to sing again, and in this case demonstrating how different the world was 50 years or so years ago, this nine year old offers up brief renditions not of current hits, or even kiddie favorites, but "Hallelujah, I'm a Bum" and The Marines' Hymn, as well as two others.
Then it's Linda's turn. She's five years old, and she sings every five year old's favorite songs, "You're In the Army Now" (sung in the first person, here) and "The Band Played On", just before the tape runs out.