Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

This is the title of my first full-length studio album, officially released on 10 December 2022. I would like to take this opportunity to provide information about it, especially to those who might download a digital version of it, and not have the benefit of the package that surrounds it. Much of the text below appears in the CD package.

The album is available from CD Baby on Amazon (both as physical CD and as digital download, as well as in digital files on other music sites, such as Amazon Music, You Tube, Spotify, and others. It will also be available directly from me at any performance I might do. You might also request a copy from me at the email address on this site.

The album features:

WS Monroe (voice and guitar), Rebecca Leuchak (harmony voice), and Chris Turner (harmonicas).

Produced by WS Monroe and Steve Rizzo. Recorded, mixed, and mastered by Steve Rizzo at Stable Sound Studio, Portsmouth, RI.

Artwork and package design by Amy Webb, mockingbirddesign.biz

Cover photo by Denise Bass Photography.

Thanks to all those people named above, along with Rachel Maloney, Steve Jobe, Matteo Casini, Billy Walsh, Al Koren, Sharon Davidheiser, The Quahog Quire, The Providence Wholebellies, The Quahog Qafé, The Parlour, Stone Soup Coffeehouse, The Coffee Depot, Winnie Lambrecht, the Vox Hunters (Ben and Armand), David Brown, John Fuzek, Chris Monti, Flannery Brown, Lynz Morahn, Phil Edmonds, Gary Fish, Joanne Lurgio, Patty and Buster,  and all the others who have played music with me, and for me, and given me a place to play. 

The songs:

  1. Providence (WS Monroe, ©2006). A song I wrote for the city in which I live, and for the good fortune I’ve had elsewhere.

  2. When Fortune Turns the Wheel (Traditional). Louisa Jo Killen collected this song from a singer who lived near the English/Scottish border. When I first heard it, I was in college and happened to be writing a paper on the goddess Fortuna in the Middle Ages, so it stuck with me.

  3. Shady Grove (Traditional). A classic old-timey song that I’ve only begun playing in recent years.

  4. Hickory Wind (Gram Parsons, Bob Buchanan). My favorite song from the Byrds’ important Sweetheart of the Rodeo album, and one of my all-time favorite songs.

  5. The Outlandish Knight (Traditional). I first heard this great ballad (Child no. 4) sung by Michael Cooney at the Philadelphia Folk Festival (PFF) in the early ’70s. The twist on the stock murder ballad goes back a long way. It first appears in a Middle Dutch poem from the Middle Ages (Heer Halewijn).

  6. Dark-Eyed Sailor (Traditional). Another great song that I learned from Louisa Jo Killen. The motif of “the broken token” is common in many of these songs.

  7. By the Water’s Edge (WS Monroe, ©2011). This is my anthem for Rhode Island. Many of the details refer to Pawtuxet Village, at the mouth of the river of the same name.

  8. Tam Lin (Traditional). A very old ballad (Child no. 39) that I learned from the singing of the great Frankie Armstrong, whom I heard at the PFF in the early ’70s. The version I sing is very much hers, except that I have modified some of the lyrics as I describe in a blog post “Tam Lin and #MeToo: On the Modification of Traditional Songs.”

9. River of Song (WS Monroe, ©2011). I wrote this song in honor of all the people who have written and/or passed down songs through the ages, and especially those who have influenced me greatly: Pete Seeger, Utah Phillips, Jerry Jeff Walker, Joni Mitchell, Phil Ochs, Tom Paxton, Frankie Armstrong, Louisa Jo Killen, and my namesake, Bill Monroe. “There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God.” (Psalm 46)

10. Going to the West (Traditional). A song collected in Alabama in the 1940s, but was probably written in the 1880s when many people left Alabama for Texas. I first heard it played by the great band Uncle Earl, who have since gone their separate ways.

11. Little Bird (WS Monroe, ©2017). For Kristina Belyakova (1997-2017), and others who have left us all too soon. 

12. Wabash Cannonball (Traditional). A song about the last train the hobo rides, which takes him to the other side. I have modified the final verse to honor the late great Utah Phillips, the “Golden Voice of the Great Southwest,” who told stories and wrote songs about those left behind by our society.

13. If I Could Be the Rain (Utah Phillips). Probably my favorite song, and the best country song ever written.

Providence, By the Water’s Edge, River of Song, and Little Bird are written and copyright by William S. Monroe. All rights reserved. Hickory Wind and If I Could be the Rain are used by permission (http://www.idblm.org/347655).

All other songs are in the public domain.  (P) 2021

I would like to note that there is a mistake in the original jacket copy, where I identified Louisa Jo Killen as Louise Killen, due to my faulty memory. I should have checked. Thanks to Patrick Hutchinson for catching that mistake.

I would also like to thank Disc Makers and CD Baby for making the production and distribution of the album very easy.

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One of my favorite songs on the classic album from the Byrds, Sweetheart of the Rodeo, has always been “Blue Canadian Rockies,” credited there to C. Walker.  Unlike my other favorite, Gram Parsons’ Hickory Wind, I never learned it for performance, partly because there were some oddities with the words that seemed not quite right.  Until today, it had not occurred to me to look them up online.  (I should note that this does not always help; many sites that have lyrics and chords often get the lyrics (and chords) wrong, and also neglect to credit the writer of the song, and only credit some performer, as though they wrote the song themselves.)  So I was pleased this time with the results.  There were lyrics and chords, as well as links to some performances, by the Byrds of course, but also by a Canadian, Wilf Carter (known as Montana Slim in the US), Jim Reeves, Gene Autry, who sang it as the title song to a film he starred in (1952), and finally, Cindy Walker, who wrote the song in 1950. 

So you might guess that Cindy Walker was Canadian, but that is not so. She was born in Mart, Texas, in 1918 (and died in 2006). She was elected to the Country Music Hall of Fame in 1997. She wrote many songs that were hit records by well known artists, besides those already linked above: Bing Crosby, Bob Wills, Willie Nelson, George Jones, Merle Haggard, Roy Orbison, Dean Martin, Pat Boone, Eddy Arnold, K.D. Lang, Ray Charles, and others.  There is a fun story in Wikipedia about how Bing Crosby came to record her song. Willie Nelson recorded a tribute album to her: “You Don’t Know Me:” The Songs of Cindy Walker, which was released just nine days before she died.  

If you know the rendition by the Byrds (or listen to the versions above), you will see that I was correct about the words — the Byrds got them wrong, and so did others. I don’t know where the Byrds got the lyrics, but I read that it was Chris Hillman who brought the song to them. He had heard it in his teen years when playing a tour in Alberta, and always remembered it. (Before playing bass with the Byrds, he had played mandolin with his brothers as the Hillmen.) He thought it would fit well into Sweetheart of the Rodeo.  

I’m glad I got the chance to learn about Cindy Walker, a good singer as well as a songwriter, and the first woman to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame as a songwriter. I’ll be singing her song, with the correct lyrics.  

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The connection between the three subjects in the title will become apparent. The post was originally meant to be about the last item, but they are all connected in my memory.

I am a librarian, and a member of the American Library Association (ALA). As such, I have attended many of the regular conferences of that organization. ALA has two major conferences each year, the Annual Conference (in the summer), and the Midwinter Conference. The first of these is quite large, drawing about 17,000 people, including academic, public, school, and other librarians as well as vendors of all kinds of products we depend on. This conference can be held in only about a half-dozen cities in the US and Canada because of the need for spaces: not only hotel rooms and large exhibit spaces, but also meeting rooms. It needs to be scheduled about ten years in advance to be sure the accommodations can be met. One of the cities in which we have met often is New Orleans, and we were scheduled to meet there in June of 2006. So you might imagine what happened at the end of August in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans.

Emails were flying around among the leaders and the committees of ALA. How could New Orleans possibly be ready to host a conference of 17,000 people less than a year after being completely swamped by a major hurricane, which killed almost 2,000 people?[1]  But, how could we possibly move such a huge conference to another city with less than a year’s preparation? After much debate, it was decided that we should bank on New Orleans, not only because it would be difficult to relocate, but because New Orleans would need this conference. As planning continued, there was also a decision to mount teams of volunteers to help with cleanup and restoration. Some of these teams would arrive before the conference and some stay after. They would do demolition in damaged homes, and help to rebuild, putting up new walls and floors, etc. I had recently had major surgery, and so volunteered for less physical activities. In the end, I staffed a book sale at a public library branch that had been damaged, to raise money to fix broken windows and other problems.

It was a moving experience to be there. The city still had huge problems – only half of the convention center was open, while the major hotels were in pretty good shape. But the spirit of the city was amazing! Everywhere were flags and pennants sporting the fleur-de-lis, the symbol of New Orleans, and now the symbol of its rebirth. The people were especially warm and welcoming. If I stopped in a store to buy something, they would ask, “Are you with the librarians? Thank you so much for coming!” We were the first major conference hosted there since Katrina, and, if I remember correctly, we had far higher attendance at the conference than usual – about 19,000! I had been to New Orleans twice before, for this same conference, and this was by far the best experience ever.

And now to the down side of the entry. As I sat in the hotel lobby, waiting for my shuttle to the airport, I was reading the Times-Picayune, and came across this story: Christopher, 25. (from Texas), working as a security guard in a hotel here in New Orleans, got into an argument with Erik, 30, a former Marine, who was visiting someone in the hotel. The subject of the argument was whether the Army (Christopher’s group) or the Marines (Erik’s group) was tougher. They ended up fighting and then Christopher shot Erik with a shotgun.

I wrote in my journal at the time: “There are probably numerous people who have been important influences in the lives of these two men who should be taken to task for this – including the leadership of these two service groups.” Why would these two men, both veterans of our armed forces, end up fighting, and finally harming, each other over such a stupid issue!? At the time, I was reminded of a song by Chris Smither, entitled “Every Mother’s Son”, which addresses this very issue – toxic masculinity – and calls out those who instill it or abet it in their children. I decided at that point to learn the song, and perform it from time to time, because I think others should hear it. I also remembered that Chris Smither grew up in New Orleans, though he now lives elsewhere. Years later, I did sound for a concert by him at Stone Soup, a folk music venue in Rhode Island, and took that opportunity to ask him if that song had been inspired by a particular incident or experience. He said that it was not – just something that came to him.

Given the many incidents of gun violence, and especially mass shootings in this country (and elsewhere), I feel inspired to share that song with others, and I intend to sing it at some future performances. I hope that Chris Smither does not mind if I share it here. So I have made a recording of it, and put it on my Bandcamp site, to which I link below. Anyone can listen to it once or twice there, but beyond that, they must pay for a download. In the unlikely event that someone does download it, I will gladly offer the proceeds to Chris or to a charity of his choosing.

Every Mother’s Son (by Chris Smither), played and sung by WS Monroe

And it’s only fair that I direct you to a version done by the writer himself:

Every Mother’s Son (by Chris Smither), played and sung by Chris Smither.

And here is an article from Sing Out! (the folksong magazine) about the song, and the theme.  Ken Bigger, “Every Mother’s Son,” Sing Out! (January 21, 2013).

[1] “Hurricane Katrina,” in Wikipedia, September 9, 2019.

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The other night, I participated in the Providence Pub Sing, hosted by Armand Aromin and Benedict Gagliardi (The Vox Hunters) in Providence, RI. As Halloween was approaching, there was especial demand for songs of ghosts and other spooky matters, and since I always look for an opportunity to sing, at this time of the year, one of my favorite ballads, “Tam Lin,” I offered that (with the indulgence of the participants, since it does not offer much participation).  I learned this song from the singing of Frankie Armstrong, an extraordinary English singer of traditional songs whom I had the great fortune to hear several times at the Philadelphia Folk Festival in the early 1970’s. The version I sing is hers, as is the way I sing it, as she was a great influence on my own singing. At the same time, I’ve been singing this song for decades now, and have not listened to her recording of it for at least 20 years, so I may have introduced some minor changes. With that caveat, here is the version that I’ve been singing, and which I sang the other night:

Tam Lin
(Traditional; Child no. 39)

Lady Margaret, Lady Margaret, a-sewing of her seam,
And she’s all dressed in black,
When a thought come to her head, she’d run into the wood,
And pick flowers to flower her hat, me boys,
And pick flowers to flower her hat.

So she’s hoisted up her petticoats a bit above her knee,
And so nimbly she’s run o’er the plain.
And when she’s come to the merry green wood,
She’s pulled the branches down, me boys,
She’s pulled the branches down.

Then suddenly she spied a fine young man,
Stood underneath a tree,
Saying, “How dare you pull these branches down,
Without the leave of me, Lady,
Without the leave of me?”

She said, “This little wood, it is me very own.
My father gave it me.
And I can pull these branches down,
Without the leave of thee young man,
Without the leave of thee!”

He’s taken her by the lily-white hand,
And by the grass-green sleeve.
And he’s laid her down at the foot of a bush,
And he’s never once asked her leave, no,
And he’s never once asked her leave.

And when it was done, she’s turned herself about,
To ask her true love’s name.
But she’s nothing heard, and nothing saw,
And all the wood grew dim me boys,
And all the wood grew dim.

Now there’s four and twenty maidens, all in the court,
Grown red as any rose.
Excepting fair young Margaret.
As green as glass she goes, she goes,
As green as glass she goes.

Then outen spoke the first serving girl.
She’s lifted her head and smiled.
Saying, “I think me lady’s loved too long,
And now she goes with child, she goes,
And now she goes with child.”

Then outen spoke the second serving girl.
“Oh, and alas,” said she.
“I think I know a herb in the merry green wood,
That’ll twine the babe from thee, Lady,
That’ll twine the babe from thee.

Then Margaret’s taken up her silver comb,
Made haste to comb her hair.
And away she’s run to the merry green wood,
As fast as she could tear, me boys,
As fast as she could tear.

But she hadn’t plucked a herb in that merry green wood,
A herb as any one,
When by her stood young Tam Lin
Saying, “Margaret, leave it alone, alone,
Oh, Margaret, leave it alone.”

“Oh how can you pluck that bitter little herb,
That herb that grows so gray,
To take away that sweet babe’s life,
That we got in our play, me love,
That we got in our play?”

“Oh, tell me the truth, young Tam Lin,” she said
“If an earthly man you be?”
“I’ll tell you no lies, Lady Margaret,” he said.
“I was christened the same as thee, Lady,
I was christened the same as thee.”

“But as I rode out one cold and bitter morn,
From off my horse I fell,
And the Queen of Elfland, she took me
In yon green hill to dwell, to dwell,
In yon green hill to dwell.”

“But tonight it is the Halloween,
When the elfen court must ride.
So if you would your true love win,
By the old mill bridge you must bide, me love,
By the old mill bridge you must bide.”

“And first will come the black horse, and then come by the brown,
And then come by the white.
And you’ll hold it fast, and fear it not,
And it will not you affright, me love,
And it will not you affright.

“And first they will change me, all in your arms,
Into many a beast so wild.
But you’ll hold me fast, and fear me not.
I’m the father of your child, you know,
I’m the father of your child.”

Then Margaret’s taken up her silver comb,
Made haste to comb her hair.
And away she’s run to the old mill bridge,
As fast as she could tear, me boys,
As fast as she could tear!

Then in the dead hour of the night,
She’s heard the harness ring,
And, oh, me boys, it chilled her heart
More than any mortal thing it did,
More than any mortal thing!

And first come by the black horse, and then come by the brown,
And then raced by the white,
And she’s held it fast and feared it not,
And it did not her affright me boys,
It did not her affright!

The thunder roared across the sky,
And the stars they blazed like day!
And the Queen of Elfland gave a thrilling cry,
“Oh young Tam Lin’s away, away,
Oh young Tam Lin’s away!”

And then they have changed him all in her arms,
To a lion that roared so wild!
But she’s held it fast and feared it not,
‘Twas the father of her child, she knew,
‘Twas the father of her child.

And then they have changed him all in her arms,
Into a loathsome snake.
But she’s held it fast, and feared it not.
It was one of God’s own make, she knew,
It was one of God’s own make.

And then they have changed him all in her arms,
To a red hot bar of iron!
But she’s held it fast, and feared it not,
And it did to her no harm, me boys,
And it did to her no harm.

And the last they have changed him, all in her arms,
Was to a naked man,
And she’s flung her mantle over him,
And cried, “Me love, I’ve won, I’ve won!”
And cried, “Me love, I’ve won!”

Then outen spoke the Queen of Elfenland,
From the bush wherein she stood,
Saying, “I should have torn out your eyes, Tam Lin,
And put in two eyes of wood, of wood,
And put in two eyes of wood!”

            After I had finished, Molly Bledsoe Ellis came over to the table where I was sitting, and asked why I sing that song — or, more specifically why do I sing it that way, as it includes an instance of rape (verse 5), followed by the implication that the victim takes the perpetrator to be her “true love” (verse 6).  I could only respond that I sing it that way because that is the way I learned it. I recognize that the depiction is problematic, but many of the old songs we sing have such problems. I do not condone all of the acts that take place in the songs that I sing. She suggested that lines could be changed to rid the song of the offending acts, and I responded that it is sometimes difficult to do that while still preserving the substance of the song, but I would take a close look at it. The issue provoked a long discussion, and we sang very few songs after that.  But it was a good discussion, with most people feeling that it is a very important issue, but also with some feeling that songs need to be preserved as they’ve come to us, warts and all.

I might also add that while I sing mostly traditional songs, I am not a traditional purist. I do sometimes make small changes to songs, to “improve” them (at least in my mind). I have also made changes that respond to just the issue raised. For example, I sometimes sing the song “Hang Me, Oh Hang Me,” a song about an outlaw who complains that he would rather die than rot in some prison cell. Some versions of the song tell what some of his crimes were, but the one I sing does not. The version I learned, however does have a verse that goes: “Lulu, oh Lulu, open up that door, before I have to open it with my old 44.”  I take these lines to be very typically referring to domestic violence. She fears him, and does not want to let him in, while he threatens to break in, with a gun. I do not sing that verse, and I think the song is just fine without it. I might also note that the late Utah Phillips, a great songwriter, never performed one of his more famous songs, “Rock Salt & Nails”, because it was written in anger in his younger days, and implies violence against women.

So I promised that I would take a serious look at the song to see how some words might be changed to remove the problematic issues while still preserving the substance of the story. At first, I did not think it would be easy. The substance of the song, as I take it, is that Margaret meets Tam Lin while picking flowers in the wood. Tam Lin tells her that she needs his permission to pick the flowers, and she responds that the wood was given to her by her father, so she does not need his permission. With that, Tam Lin responds by raping her, but then promptly disappears when she turns “to ask her true love’s name.”  She then becomes pregnant, and one of her serving maids advises her of an herb that would cause an abortion, and she rushes to the wood again to find it. There, Tam Lin appears again, and tells her not to pick the herb, presenting another problematic line: how can she “take away that sweet babe’s life, that we got in our play?” She then asks who he is, and he tells her that he was a human, but was kidnapped by the elf queen, and made a changeling. But he also tells her that it is Halloween, and the elf court will make an appearance, presenting the opportunity for her to rescue him, if she can seize him when he passes (as a horse), and hold on to him through many trials. This she does, as he is changed from a horse to a lion, a snake, a red hot bar of iron, and finally to a naked man.

Now I have long seen this tale to be a metaphor for giving birth. She has been impregnated by a person she does not know, considers aborting the child, but eventually goes through with the birth — the trials she faces representing her difficult labor, finalized by her holding in her arms a naked man (the child), whom she covers with her mantle and cries “I’ve won!” Tam Lin is both the father and the child. That is simply my interpretation, but I do see some essentials here: she meets Tam Lin, has an argument with him, and then is impregnated by him. It is standard belief these days that rape is not so much a sexual act, as an expression of power and violence, and that follows from the argument, which is why I thought it might be difficult to turn the sex act into one of consent. Nor did I see how one could simply leave out the sex act altogether, as my own interpretation of the song depends on her being pregnant.

So I began by looking at the various versions of the song in Francis James Child’s The English and Scottish Popular Ballads (Boston: Houghton & Mifflin, 1882-1889; reprinted by Dover Publications, 1965). “Tam Lin” is Child no. 39, and he presents 10 versions in volume 1, p. 335-358, with the 10th in the “Additions and Corrections,” p. 507-508. It was interesting to see that versions A and B both lack the offending verses, although their place is taken by a line of asterisks, which as far as I can see are unexplained. My assumption is that these verses were left out in the original publications that Child drew from because of their scandalous nature. Both versions have her become pregnant, but there is no explanation of how. Version C has no pregnancy at all. Version D has the song much as my version goes, with the verses:

He took her by the milk-white hand, And by the grass green sleeve,
And laid her low down on the flowers, At her he asked no leave.

The lady blushed, and sourly frowned, And she did think great shame;
Says, “If you were a gentleman, You will tell me your name.”

He tells her his former name as well as the present name he carries in the “fairy court”, and the verse about the herb follows immediately:

“So do not pluck that flower, lady, That has these pimples gray;
They would destroy the bonny babe That we got in our play.”

Version E has no sex act and no pregnancy. Version F has a thinly implied sex act and a resulting pregnancy.  Version G has the rape, much as in my version and Version D, along with the later verse that mentions the “bonny bairn That we got in our play.” Version H does not have the sex act, but like A and B, has a row of asterisks where the verses might be. Version I has an interesting take:

He’s taen her by the milk-white hand,
Among the leaves sae green,
And what they did I cannot tell,
The green leaves were between.

He’s taen her by the milk-white hand,
Among the roses red,
And what they did I cannot say,
She neer returnd a maid.

So, here there is no implication that the sex act was non-consensual, even though it follows the earlier argument between the two characters. Version J is a mere fragment, and has no relevance.

I did some looking about online to see what I might find, and came upon this fine website, all about the ballad. The site contains analysis of many different versions, and prints those versions, including all of the Child versions, as well as those sung by Frankie Armstrong, Fairport Convention, Steeleye Span, Ewan MacColl, Ann Briggs, Anais Mitchell, and many others. So I will do no further analysis here.

What I will do is to suggest a change that would rid my own version (or Frankie Armstrong’s version) of the offending parts without harming the substance of the story. One might simply substitute the verses from version I, so we have:

She said, “This little wood, it is me very own.
My father gave it me.
And I can pull these branches down,
Without the leave of thee young man,Without the leave of thee!”

He’s taen her by the milk-white hand,
Among the leaves sae green,
And what they did I cannot tell,
The green leaves were between.

He’s taen her by the milk-white hand,
Among the roses red,
And what they did I cannot say,
She neer returnd a maid.

And when it was done,
she’s turned herself about,
To ask her true love’s name.
But she’s nothing heard, and nothing saw,
And all the wood grew dim me boys,
And all the wood grew dim.

But this makes one wonder how they got from the argument over who has power over the wood to having a consensual sexual act.  I would like to have some sort of transition there, and perhaps it can come from the fact that she explains that she owns the wood. That might make him realize who she is, when he had not recognized her until then.

Then you must be Lady Margaret,
If this your forest be,
And I have long been in your thrall.
Would you come and lie with me lady,
Would you come and lie with me?

He’s taken her by the lily-white hand,
And by the grass greensleeve,
And they’ve lain among the flowers bright,
Upon a bed of leaves, me boys,
Upon a bed of leaves.

I am currently in the process of recording some of my favorite songs, and have already recorded Tam Lin, but I will go back into the studio and redo this one, with the new verses. They may change slightly before that happens. Meanwhile, if you do not mind hearing the original version, there is an older recording on this very website, under the Music tab.

I find this an acceptable change to make to the version that I sing, especially given the variation in the other versions I’ve found. It does not solve the problem as it exists in many other songs. The problem is a historical one, and in fact it persists today. In some places, it is still common to force a rapist to marry his victim. It is a problem that stems from seeing women as property, and applying the rule that if you break it you own it. Another song that I have sung, “The Knight and the Shepherd’s Daughter,” is about just that. It tells the tale of a young woman out walking who is raped by a passing knight. She follows him to the king’s castle and tells the king what happened. The king responds that, if she can identify the culprit he will mete out the appropriate punishment. If he is married, he will be hanged, if he is single, he must marry her. She does identify him, and “wins” her case by forcing her rapist to marry her. I have not sung this song for a long time, and I don’t see how I could “fix” it. She is already the “victor” in the story, but it is a Pyrrhic victory. These songs come down to us from times that had very different ideas of morality, equality, and many other things. We preserve them for the sake of some of the qualities they have, and in spite of some of the others. On the other hand, I will continue to sing one of my favorites, “The Outlandish Knight,” which is a standard murder ballad turned inside out when the young woman tricks her would-be murderer and kills him instead. I do not condone killing but can approve of it in self-defense. Moreover, the irony is seductive, especially when he asks her to save him from drowning, and she responds:

Lie there, lie there, you false young man!
Lie there instead of me!
It’s six foolish maids have you drowned in here.
Go keep them good company!


Painting: Zazněná (Bemused), by Wilhelm Bernatzik, 1898. (Brno, Moravskie Galerie Brno)

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Tam Lin

I don’t often get to sing this song, partly because it’s long.

But since Halloween just passed, I’ve had the occasion to sing it a couple of times, most recently as part of the “Hoot” at Stone Soup Coffeehouse.   It’s one of my favorites, and my version is learned from the singing of the great Frankie Armstrong.



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Upcoming concerts!

I’ve recorded some new songs, which I’ll add to the music page as soon as I can remind myself how.

Meanwhile I can link to them here:

“Roving Gambler” is a traditional song I recently heard from Drybranch Firesquad at the Philadelphia Folk Festival.

“By the Water’s Edge” is my latest original, written for the 375th birthday of Providence, RI.

Which leads me to the upcoming concerts:

Friday, Nov. 11, at the College Hill Cafe in the Brown University Bookstore — “Folk Music Night”, the regular monthly series that I host, will feature Charlie Cover and Kate Katzberg.  It’s free, and should be a really nice show — I think these two complement each other quite well.


The next night, Saturday, Nov. 12, I’ll be playing with Matteo Casini at the Church Street Coffeehouse in Warren, RI.


This will be a full-length show, and will be the only such show this year, as Matteo will be spending the spring semester in Italy.    The show is 8-10:15.

And then, Tuesday, November 22, I’ll be part of the gala Providence 375 Birthday Party at the Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC).  


6-10 in the evening.  Should be fun!   And we’ll be releasing a CD of songs about Providence recorded for the birthday.  I perform three songs on the CD, including two of my own.

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Music added

Thanks to the Forum, I was able to upload some music, with an audio player.  Please have a listen under the “Music” tab.

I’ll be adding new songs as I record them.  I’m planning to put out a solo CD within a few months as I get enough songs recorded.

Matteo Casini and I will be playing this Friday (Sept. 16) at the monthly “Folk Music Night” that I host in the College Hill Cafe in the Brown University Bookstore.   We will be joined by a very entertaining young songwriter, Pete Avitable.

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More coming

I’ve been very busy since creating this site, and found little time to add anything. One thing I’ve been doing is recording some songs that I want to upload, if I can figure out how to get them to play here. Meanwhile, I do have some songs at: http://www.myspace.com/wsmonroe and I’ll be adding some more soon.
I’ll also be playing with Matteo Casini at the College Hill Cafe (in the Brown University Bookstore, on Friday, September 16. Also on the bill is Pete Avitable.

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As Armageddon has failed to appear, it may be safe to launch a new project, this webpage and blog for music, musings, and medieval history.  This is mainly meant as a place to showcase my music — music that I write as well as perform, and to provide a means to contact me should you want to arrange a performance.  But I also want to be able to share some of my thoughts on other topics, from current events to medieval history.   It’s a work in progress, and I hope some people find it useful.  As Chanticleer told Pertelote in Chaucer’s Nun’s Priest’s Tale, “For Seint Paul saith, ‘Al that written is to oure doctrine it is yrit ywis.  Taketh the fruit and let the chaf be stille.’”

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