Saturday, August 24, 2013

My Name It Is Jack Hall, Chimney Sweep

Songs go places.

In America, the song became Sam Hall, another of those Scots-Irish modifications.  Though of course, there had already been many modifications of the song back in England, Ireland, and Scotland since it first appeared in the early 1700's.

The best recorded version is by Johnny Cash, but the video isn't much interesting, so I thought you'd like this cowboy version, complete with a thoroughly impossible quick-draw by Tex Ritter from behind his guitar.

Among the earlier versions is one by Steeleye Span of course. Hard to call it more authentic when played on a Telecaster, but that was Martin Carty's way.

Correction: Stratocaster. My bad.

If one goes to read up on the original tune and meter, it turns out that the song is the basis for a well-known hymn (revealed below).  That seemed improbable to me, and as I traced it through the songs Captain Kidd (or William Kidd) and Aiken Drum I saw only similarities of structure to the hymn.  Yet when I heard the Irish famine song The Praties They Grow Small, which I had heard of, but never heard, the bridge between the versions became more apparent. It does indeed become Wondrous Love, done nicely here by Chelsea Moon.

There are Sacred Harp and bluegrass versions, if you prefer.


David Foster said...

Sam Hall appears in an early-1950s science fiction story by Poul Anderson: Prefiguring the hacker...and the American surveillance state.

Sam L. said...

I am reminded of the only Roy Orbison movie, "The Fastest Guitar In The West" (he had a .30-30 in the neck of his guitar).

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