Jump to content
Sign in to follow this  
Jim Besser

Tune Of The Month, October 2015: Redwing

Recommended Posts

The October TOTM should be fun!



Redwing, by Tin Pan Alley composer Kerry Mills (who also wrote Meet Me in St. Louis, Louis honoring the 1904 St. Louis World's Fair), is an incredibly versatile tune. I learned it years ago as a contra and square dance tune, but it started life as the kind of novelty song that was popular in the late 1800s/early 1900s, with lyrics by Thurland Chattaway.



As I said in the poll, it has been incorporated into popular, Western swing, bluegrass, polka and country music, among other genres. As Daria noted in the poll thread, the tune seems based on The Merry Peasant, by Robert Schumann



You'll find a clean, easy to follow version to guide you

.

Want something a little more high energy? Try this rousing Chemnitzer-laden polka band.


A Bluegrassy version

with some mighty nice flatpicked guitar, key and speed changes and maybe just a little too much cuteness..

By guitar legend

.

A ragtime piano

from the Lawrence Welk show.


is what the song sounded like originally, complete with lyrics, a now-rarely-heard bridge section and, for good measure, a chorus of tweeting birds.


Here are some dots for you to chew on.



From a contra dance tunes site here. (ABCs here if you prefer).


ABCs from The Session here.


A real simple, chunky version.


You can buy the notation with the lyrics here.



There are many ways to play this tune; hope we get to hear a lot of them!


Edited by Jim Besser

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here on Soundcloud is my initial rendition, played on Lachenal English Concertina 57544. I'm still trying to get the bellows flexing well after a few decades in someone's attic, so it's a bit breathy and tends to run out of air slightly, which flavours the tune a little.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here is my version, with the harmony done first as an intro. I am not sure if I am bouncing the song too much or not.

 

https://youtu.be/NdQrHsGjbgY

 

For me - a Morris, ceilidh and contra player - it's hard to 'bounce' too much! Nicely done, and the kiddo seems to be enjoying it, too.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Here's a version I recorded about 15 years ago - the Glen Echo Open Band doing Redwing for a contra dance. The concertina is in there somewhere, but I must have been off mic that night and was overwhelmed by all those fiddles and the sound of dancers having a good time.

 

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/68325595/C.net%20Tune%20of%20the%20Month/Redwing_GEOB.mp3

Edited by Jim Besser

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After playing around with the dance tune all week I finally realized that what I really wanted to do was have a go at the song:

 

http://youtu.be/9T5-C0A5lbc

 

Learning the original lyrics (which involved temporarily scouring my brain clean of "Union Maid") put me in mind of a gig I played maybe five years ago near Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where I was asked to perform a song of local significance, "The Blue Juniata" (1844) by Marion Dix Sullivan. It has some historical resonance as the first American hit written by a woman, and as the marching song of William T. Sherman's troops in Georgia during the Civil War.

 

The lyrics to "Red Wing" aren't anything to write home about, but compared to "The Blue Juniata" ("Loose were her jetty locks/ In many tresses flowing," etc., etc.) they sound like Shakespeare. It's roughly the same scenario, though, with the same sentimentalized Indian maiden from Central Casting who reliably showed up in American song five minutes after the actual native population of any particular region was subdued and uprooted.

 

"Juniata" has a pretty boring tune, though, whereas "Red Wing" is catchy as hell. Plus there's that whole redeeming Woody Guthrie association.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

Edited by Bob Michel

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After playing around with the dance tune all week I finally realized that what I really wanted to do was have a go at the song:http://youtu.be/9T5-C0A5lbc

Learning the original lyrics (which involved temporarily scouring my brain clean of "Union Maid") put me in mind of a gig I played maybe five years ago near Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where I was asked to perform a song of local significance, "The Blue Juniata" (1844) by Marion Dix Sullivan. It has some historical resonance as the first American hit written by a woman, and as the marching song of William T. Sherman's troops in Georgia during the Civil War.

The lyrics to "Red Wing" aren't anything to write home about, but compared to "The Blue Juniata" ("Loose were her jetty locks/ In many tresses flowing," etc., etc.) they sound like Shakespeare. It's roughly the same scenario, though, with the same sentimentalized Indian maiden from Central Casting who reliably showed up in American song five minutes after the actual native population of any particular region was subdued and uprooted.

"Juniata" has a pretty boring tune, though, whereas "Red Wing" is catchy as hell. Plus there's that whole redeeming Woody Guthrie association.

Bob Michel

Near Philly

Bravo Bob,

 

Spot on about the tune and the lyrics. Though I must admit they are better than the singing square dance which includes "Now the first couple out to the right and circle four hand half. And the inside out and the outside under, dip and dive and go by thunder. Dip and dive and dip and dive it's over then below...."

 

Kerry Mills wrote good stuff though...

Edited by cboody

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After playing around with the dance tune all week I finally realized that what I really wanted to do was have a go at the song:

 

http://youtu.be/9T5-C0A5lbc

 

Learning the original lyrics (which involved temporarily scouring my brain clean of "Union Maid") put me in mind of a gig I played maybe five years ago near Lewistown, Pennsylvania, where I was asked to perform a song of local significance, "The Blue Juniata" (1844) by Marion Dix Sullivan. It has some historical resonance as the first American hit written by a woman, and as the marching song of William T. Sherman's troops in Georgia during the Civil War.

 

The lyrics to "Red Wing" aren't anything to write home about, but compared to "The Blue Juniata" ("Loose were her jetty locks/ In many tresses flowing," etc., etc.) they sound like Shakespeare. It's roughly the same scenario, though, with the same sentimentalized Indian maiden from Central Casting who reliably showed up in American song five minutes after the actual native population of any particular region was subdued and uprooted.

 

"Juniata" has a pretty boring tune, though, whereas "Red Wing" is catchy as hell. Plus there's that whole redeeming Woody Guthrie association.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

 

 

Really nice! Makes me wish I could sing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You can download a copy of the original score for free from the Lester Levy sheet music collection

 

http://levysheetmusic.mse.jhu.edu/catalog?utf8=%E2%9C%93&q=Red+Wing

 

The original is in Eb - not the most Anglo friendly of keys - unless you have an Eb/something that is. OK for other systems, I imagine though my friends who play English system tell me flat keys are not their preferred choices.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The original is in Eb - not the most Anglo friendly of keys - unless you have an Eb/something that is.

I actually worked it out directly from the sheet music in Eb first (on a C/G Anglo); I liked singing it in that range. It's not such a forbidding key, especially if you're mainly vamping chords for vocal accompaniment (though I appreciate my 40 buttons, including the C drone, when it comes time to play an Ab or Cm chord). But with the key of D just a half step away, playing it in Eb seemed a pointless exercise.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

The original is in Eb - not the most Anglo friendly of keys - unless you have an Eb/something that is.

I actually worked it out directly from the sheet music in Eb first (on a C/G Anglo); I liked singing it in that range. It's not such a forbidding key, especially if you're mainly vamping chords for vocal accompaniment (though I appreciate my 40 buttons, including the C drone, when it comes time to play an Ab or Cm chord). But with the key of D just a half step away, playing it in Eb seemed a pointless exercise.

 

Bob Michel

Near Philly

 

My thought was to take it down to D.

 

It's good to have access to the original sheet music, though as you can see what the composer original wrote. These tunes tend to get "folk processed". Nothing wrong with that but it's still good to see the original. I quite often find myself changing harmonies as what works on a piano doesn't always work as well on other instruments.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Guest
This topic is now closed to further replies.
Sign in to follow this  

×