End of an Old Song, Transcription

Edited by Daniel W. Patterson



DILLARD CHANDLER (singing over photos of him in his cabin):
            Got up this morning, put my shoes on wrong.
            Short time here, honey, but a long time gone.

            Got up this morning, couldn’t hardly keep from crying.
            Ain’t no bread on the table, smell no meat a-frying.

Well, the reason why that I like this here old hymns and such as that is, it brings back my remembrance to my childhood days and boyhood when I was a-growing up, right on up until this day. Well, I recall that back, instead of going on in through this other—these fast way of living and days like they are now. I recall back instead of going forwards. I just do like do—like I been a-doing.
 
(Dillard working with shrubbery in some town person’s yard)
I just do such work as taking up shrubbery and resetting, and transplanting shrubbery, and yard work, and such as that. I’ve worked most of my days right up around Asheville. There's well-to-do people that lives in them houses around there.

(scene shifts to Dillard in a café)
The way that I am and all, I don't worry about that for because they've got education, and they can get good jobs, which I can't. And they can get jobs that they can make money on, and I can't.

I never was a man that ever had so much crave for money in my life. I never did worry about just only just enough to live off of or maybe to eat or something or another when I was out or something or another. They's several around here in the same shape that I'm in, you know. There's a good many of 'em in the same shape that I am around here.

(Titles with commentary):
                        Dillard Chandler is one of the
                        marginal men of the mountains.
                        He drifts in and out of the
                        mountain community and
                        sometimes does odd jobs in
                        Asheville. He happens to be an
                        extraordinary singer of the
                        ancient ballads.
                        In 1916 the Englishman
                        Cecil Sharp searched the
                        southern Appalachians
                        looking for English folk
                        songs which had survived
                        in America.  He encountered
                         “a community in which
                        singing was as common
                        and almost as universal a
                        practice as speaking.”
                        Today that society is gone
                        and few are left who sing the
                        old songs. Dillard Chandler
                        is a descendant of that
                        community.  Perhaps he
                        is the last one who can
                        sing the old ballads with
                        full intensity.)

(DILLARD, [V/O the above, singing in a booth in the café:)
            It's a sailor being tired, well, he hung down his head.
            It's a sailor being tired, well, he hung down his head.
            Well, he asked a little maid to show him the bed.

            Well, she showed him the bed, like a maid ought to do,
            And she showed him the bed, like a maid ought to do.
            Well, he said, "My little honey, won't you come to bed too."

            It's what I done there, well, I wouldn't tell here.
            It's what I done there, well, I wouldn't tell here.
            But I wish 'at night could-a been a long year.

            If it is a boy child, please name it after me.
            Put a pistol in its pocket, Lord, send it to the sea.
            Put a pistol in its pocket, Lord, dress it in blue.  
            Tell hit to hug the women like I used to do.  

(Up-tempo country music plays on the juke box--Merle Haggard, singing "The Longer You Wait"--with shots of Dillard and the café)

            We both know that you never loved me.
            I lied to myself from the start.
            We both know that someday you'll leave me,
            And the knowing just tears me apart.

            How long will you prolong my misery?
            Wish I could leave on my own. . . .

(The music and the scene fade and are replaced by sounds and views of Dillard in his rural world.)

DILLARD CHANDLER (V/O): My name is Dillard Chandler, and I was borned in Madison County in Number 10 Township in an old log building. My mail address would be Route Three, and I ain't even got a box here nor nothing. But I'm always here and yonder until I don't never fool with any mail. And when I get mail, I can't never read nohow, and I just don't never, ain't never put up no box. I'm in always in the Asheville area or somewhere's another. Around, if I ain't there, I'm on my way to get there.

(over scenes of Dillard helping others with farm tasks)
I ain't gardened none for myself none, in a right smart bit, nothing more than to just help other people. Been about seven years since I farmed any. I've worked right smart in 'bacco and such as that for people around and (to the mule: Gee.) I ain't done no farming in a right smart bit. Well, the only living that anyone can make is a farming living. They's not much to that here. In these hills, the way that it is, and all the way the land lays and all, you can clean up this land here. Well, when you go ahead and farm it, the land is gone. It washes away, just in a year or two. The place where you clean up, you see. Well, it's gone on down the country to some other country.

(V/O shots of Dillard in his cabin)
This is my home, here. I just took a notion to come back and stay around a while. I been studying about coming back in home. Staying. This job business, I just about decided that I ain't a-gonna fool with it anymore.

Well, I ain't been in love to say in love for ten or fifteen years. I just decided there weren't much to that. When I take a notion for a woman, I get 'er. I just go to town and I order some up. I generally go up there and fetch me one about once or twice a month, and take me a woman out, keep her maybe a night or two or something like that.

When I get out and maybe take a drink or something or 'nother and get to worrying about something or get something on my mind I just take a notion to sing. They's a lot of them around here that does sing the old way.

(Title: “Delli Norton sings ‘Love Has Brought Me to Despair,’” as she walks in a field pulling flowers)
            When my apron it hung low,
            He followed me through frost and snow.
            But now my apron's to my knee,
            He'll pass me by, and he won't come in.

            It's some folks says there's a flower you can find
            Will cure false love and ease your mind.
            And outten these flowers I made my bed.
            And outten these leaves a pillow for my head.

            Yes, I gathered red and I gathered blue
            Until I got my apron full.
            But little did I think what love would do.

(Dillard, Dellie, her sister Berzilla Chandler Wallin, her husband Lee Wallin, and their son Doug on a porch talking and singing:)

DELLIE CHANDLER NORTON: Just wander all over the mountains, just up in here by myself. Nobody to love me, nobody to care for me.

DILLARD CHANDLER: Aww.

DELLIE CHANDLER NORTON: Yeah, it's sad to be by yourself.
Nobody love you. Nobody care for you. (laughter)

(Singing:)
            Down the road and up the creek,
            Little jug a' liquor makes a poor man a load.

(Title: “At Lee Wallin’s house, Dillard Chandler sings ‘Soldier Travelling from the North’”)
DILLARD CHANDLER: Well I just sing like I always sung. It's just an “old timey love song,” is what everybody called it a way back. (Singing:)
            A soldier traveling from the North
            As the moon shine bright and clearly.
            The lady knew the gentleman's heart,
            Because she loved him dearly.

            She took his horse by the bridle rein
            And led him to the stable.
            “I've hay and oats for your horse, my love
            Go feed him, you are able.”

            She took him by the lily-white hand
            And led him to the table.
            “The cake and wine’s for you, my love.
            Go eat and drink your welcome.”

            She pulled off her blue silk gown,
            And laid it on the table.
            He pulled off his uniform suit,
            And he hopped in the bed with the lady.

            "I heard some trumpets sound th'alarm.
            Must go and meet it."
            "O soldier dear, don't leave me here,
            For I am ruined forever."

            "When silver bells and conchs shall stand
            's when you and I shall marry."
            "O, soldier dear, don't leave me here,
            For I am ruined forever."

LLOYD CHANDLER: Well, Dillard's father was my uncle. And he were a great singer. And he had a great voice. He could sing, and you could hear him a mile--I'd say a mile when the air was right and carrying the voice right, that you could hear him a mile. Seems strange to think that a voice like that is silent now.

(Title: “Berzil Wallin sings ‘Conversation with Death’”:)
            "Oh, what is this, I cannot see,
            With icy hands take hold on me?"
            "Oh, I am Death--none can excel.
            I open the door of heaven and hell.

            Yes, I come for to get your soul.
            Leave your [body] and leave it cold,
            To drop the flesh from off of your frame.
            The earth and worms both have their claim."

            "Now Death, O Death, please give me time
            To fix my heart and change my mind."
            "Your heart is fixed, your doom is bound.
            I have these shackles to drag you down.”

            "Too late, too late, to all farewell.
            My heart is fixed. I'm summonsed to hell.
            As long as God in heaven shall dwell
            My soul, my soul shall scream in hell."

(Title: “Ernest Franklin plays his home made Fiddle,” over scenes of a woman hanging clothes on a line and a man feeding chickens.)

(Title: “George Landers sings ‘Scotland Man’” and playing his banjo):
            "Come in, come in, my own true love,
            And stay all night with me.
            I have a big and a very fine bed.
            I will give it up to thee,
            Oh, give it up to thee."

            "I can't come there. No, I ain't a-coming there
            To perch right on your thumb.
            I'm afraid you'd rob me of my tender little heart
            Just like a Scotland Man,
            Just like a Scotland Man."

            If I had my bow and arrow,
            My arrow and my string,
            I'd shoot you right through the tender little heart,
            Just like a Scotland Man,
            Just like a Scotland Man."

            "If you had your bow and arrow.
            Your arrow and your string,
            I'd fly away to heaven so high.
            I’d never be seen anymore, more,
            I'd never be seen anymore."

(Scenes from a lively house party with up-tempo string-band music, solo buck dancing, and couple dancing, with fiddler Byard Ray and his band, and a man comically cross-dressed. Dillard Chandler is an observer in the scenes.)

DILLARD CHANDLER: I don't stay here all the time, I just come in here sometimes and stay maybe a week or two, go on back out, and go somewhere, go to work. And maybe go to somebody's. Boarders. Get me a room up there in town. I stay in town a right smart if I just rent me a room, you see, and I work right there, fool around. I'd as soon work at a thing same as I am at another.

(various shots of Dillard at the café with a friend and two women)

            Down and wretched, Baby....
            You're talking, Doll....

I feel like sometimes that I'm sort of like that song--All my good times done past and gone. All my good times are over. All the good times done passed and gone."

(Shots of Dillard and others and then the Credits as the Jukebox plays George Hamilton IV singing John Hartford’s song “Tobacco”):
            Tobacco is an Indian weed….,

            Comes in tin or box or pack or you can buy it by the sack
            Filtered strained or mentholated Burley twist or aeriated
            T-O-B-A-C-C-O will kill me dead someday

            Smoke tobacco Indian weed as from your lungs the smoke proceeds
            People smoke from Maine to Greenville hack and sack from Bakersfield
            People smoke from Nome to Dorsette TV doctors do endorse it
            But beware the bear named Smokey doused that bud for real and stoggie
            T-O-B-A-C-C-O. Yeah, that's the stuff for me

            Tobacco is an Indian weed, if from its chains you are not free
            The surgeon general says you're doomed, sitting in his smoke-filled room
            Those who smoke and think it's sporty may drop dead before they're forty
            As I sit back and puff on mine his wicked national pass time
            T-O-B-A-C-C-O yeah that's the stuff for me

            Tobacco is an Indian weed and from the ground it do proceed
            Roll it chew it sniff it smoke in your corncob pipe you stoke it
            Comes in tin or box or pack or you can buy it by the sack
            Filtered, strained or mentholated burley twist or airated
            T-O-B-A-C-C-O yeah that's the stuff for me

[Credits]

Filmed in Asheville, Big Laurel, & Sodom, North Carolina

Photography and Sound by John Cohen

Edited by Helen Levitt
additional editing, Toni Mendell

acknowledgements:
Ed & Kate Pearl
Israel E. Cohen
The Friends of Old Time Music
&
special thanks to Peter Gott

Square dance fiddlers
Troy McDevitt and Byard Ray

Juke Box:
Merle Haggard, George Hamilton IV

a film by John Cohen