Midnight on the Water
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MIDNIGHT ON THE WATER. Old-Time, Waltz. USA, Texas. D Major. DDad tuning (fiddle). AABB (Spadaro): AA'BB' (Brody, Matthiesen, Reiner & Anick).
This popular composition is usually credited to Texas fiddler Luke Thomasson, although it has been published that Luke's son Benny (a famous Texas-style fiddler who popularized the melody) long remembered the night he heard both his father and uncle composing the tune on the family porch (c. 1900?). Several sources have noted this tune's resemblance to an Oklahoma-collected tune called "Old Paint," and there is an ongoing debate about whether "Midnight" is derivative of "Paint" (or vice versa). The Library of Congress recording "Cowboy Songs, Ballads, and Cattle Calls from Texas" (LOC lp L28), collected by John A. Lomax and edited by Duncan Emrich, has a version of the "Paint" song by Jess Morris which has quite similar melodic material with "Midnight on the Water." The liner notes to the album point out that Morris was born in 1878 and would perhaps have been contemporary with the Thomassons, who, like Morris, lived in the Texas panhandle.
Source for notated version:
Printed sources: Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 187. Matthiesen (The Waltz Book), 1992; p. 35. Reiner & Anick (Old Time Fiddling Across America), 1989; p. 137. Spadaro (10 Cents a Dance), 1980; p. 21. Welling (Hartford Tune Book), 1974; p. 4.
Recorded sources: CCF2, Cape Cod Fiddlers - "Concert Collection II" (1999). Columbia C 33397, Dave Bromberg - "Midnight on the Water" (1975). County 724, Benny Thomasson (Texas) - "Country Fiddling from the Big State." County CD2712, Art Stamper (Ky.) - "The Lost Fiddler" (c. 1982). Front Hall 01, Fennigs All Stars (New York) - "The Hammered Dulcimer." Green Linnet GLCD 3105, Aly Bain - "Lonely Bird" (1996. Learned from Jay Ungar). Philo 1023, Jay Ungar and Lyn Hardy (New York) - "Songs, Ballads and Fiddle Tunes" (1975. Learned from the playing of Fennig's All Stars). Revonah RS-932, The West Orrtanna Stringband (Pa.) - "An Orrtanna Home Companion" (1978). Rounder 0068, Mark O'Conner- "Pickin' in the Wind." Wildwood WILD CD 19804, New Deal String Band.
See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources