Pennington's Farewell

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X:1 T:Pennington's Farewell T:Love Somebody N:From the playing of Street Butler (1904-1977, Elkton, Todd County, N:southwest Kentucky), recorded in the field by Bruce Greene, 1976. N:Butler told the story that an outlaw named Pennington from Sharon N:Grove, western Kentucky, was granted a last wish and "sat down on N:his coffin with his fiddle and played that tune" before he was hung. Butler N:claimed his banjo-playing acquaintance knew which farm Pennington was from. N:Butler was well aware the tune is usually called "Love Somebody." M:2/4 L:1/16 R: Q:"Quick" D:https://soundarchives.berea.edu/items/show/917 Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:D a2f2g2e2|fe d2 d4|a2f2g2a2|b2e2 e4| a2f2g2e2|(fe d2)A4|d2c2B2A2|dBA2D4:| |:d2A2F2A2|(BAF2) D4|d2A2F2A2|[E2c2][E2c2] [A,4E4]| d2A2F2A2|d2[d2e2][d4f4]|(gfe2) B2c2|(dBA2) D4:|]



PENNINGTON'S FAREWELL. AKA and see "Love Somebody (2)." American, Reel (2/4 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. Information about the piece with a story similar to the "MacPherson's Lament" or "Last of Callahan" type of gallows tunes, comes from UCLA's D. K. Wilgus, in his paper "The Hanged Fiddler Legend in Anglo-American Tradition." Edward Alonzo Pennington (1810-1846) was a Kentucky businessman known for his sharp deals, a passer of counterfeit money, a horse thief and murderer--and a fiddler--whose career came to an untimely end in 1845. It seems that Pennington, feeling that he was to imminently be brought to justice for his misdeeds, fled to Texas just ahead of the authorities. Given the state of communications and the obscure state of the law in Texas at the time (Texas was still a territory and nominally part of Mexico until 1846), Pennington might have remained at large in the fringes of the west, as did so many others with shady pasts. However, Pennington, perhaps unwisely, continued to publicly exercise his talent on the fiddle and was recognized one night by a Kentucky visitor as he played for a camp dance in Lamar County. He was executed for his crimes, but, similar to MacPherson or Callahan, when brought to the gallows he asked for his fiddle and played a tune he composed called "Pennington's Farewell," then recited the following rhyme:



Oh, dreadful, dark and dismal day,
How have my joys all passed away!
My sun's gone down, my days are done,
My race on earth has now been run.

This couplet will be recognised as a standard "goodnight" form typical of 17th century ballads, but also as the opening stanza of the ballad "Frankie Silvers" about a North Carolina murderess hanged in 1833. Wilgus states he could find no published record of the tune, but an elderly distant relative of Pennington's who fiddled in her earlier years, remembered "Pennington's Farewell" as the piece better known as "Blackberry Blossoms," a variant of "Last of Callahan." When Wilgus, in 1965, was able to record live performances of the tune entitled "Pennington's Farewell" he found the association to be correct, though none of the fiddlers knew the hanged-fiddler story attached to the melody. Billy Cornette says his Kentucky ancestors called the tune known as “Too Young to Marry (1)” (AKA "Love Somebody (2)" and a myriad of other titles) by the name of “Pennington’s Farewell" (c.f. Street Butler's 1976 field recording).


Additional notes







See also listing at :
Hear Bruce Greene's 1976 field recording of Todd County, Ky., fiddler Street Butler playing the tune at Berea Sound Archives [1] (a version of "Too Young to Marry"),
Read an account of Alonzo Pennington [2]



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