Pretty Little Girl (1)

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PRETTY LITTLE GIRL [1]. AKA – “Pretty Little Gal.” AKA and see "Pretty Little Miss (1)," "John Brown's Dream." Old-Time, Breakdown. USA, western North Carolina, southwest Virginia. A Major. Standard or AEae tunings (fiddle). AABBBBBB. The tune family is a common a popular one in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where it probably originated, but has since been disseminated. Mike Yates (2002) says “it seems to be especially popular along the ‘Great Divide’—that part of the mountains that separate North Carolina and Tennessee—but, in truth, turns up in one form or another all over Appalachia.” The reel is known as a Surry County, North Carolina, regional tune and was, for example, in the repertoire of the area group The Sweet Brothers. Mt. Airy, N.C., fiddler Tommy Jarrell played a tune by this name in DDad tuning. "Pretty Little Girl (1)" is one of a family of tunes that includes “Brownstream,” “Brownlow's Dream,” “Herve Brown's Dream,” “Jimmy Johnson Pass that Jug Around the Hill,” “John Brown's Dream,” “Little Rabbit” “Red Steer,” “Stillhouse Branch” “Table Mountain Road” and others, and it is similar to another tune also played by Norman Edmonds (Hillsville, Virginia, near Galax) called "Old Time Cotton Eyed Joe." The reel was recorded by the duet of William Marshall on fiddle and Howard Hall on banjo, from Hillsville, Carroll County, Virginia (near Galax).

Fiddler Brad Leftwich (2011) explains that mid-20th century Galax area musicians Ben Jarrell and Charlie Lowe's "John Brown's Dream" is actually a development of "Pretty Little Girl/Gal," with some substantial differences. However, Fred Cockerham (another influential area musician) and others believe the tunes to be the same, and in general practice the name "John Brown's Dream" is often used as an alternate for "Pretty Little Girl."

The following simple floating couplets are sometimes sung to the tune:

Who's been here since I've been gone?
Pretty little girl with a red dress on.

I'm gonna marry that pretty little girl,
I'm gonna marry that pretty little girl.

I'm gonna get that pretty little girl,
I'm gonna get that pretty little girl.

The first couplet was used in Huddie Ledbetter's (Leadbelly) song "Poor Howard," recorded in 1936, for example.

A tune called "Pretty Little Miss" (which may or may not be related) was recorded (in the key of 'A') for the Library of Congress in 1939 by Herbert Halpert from the playing of Tishomingo County, Mississippi, fiddler W.E. Claunch.

Source for notated version: Benton Flippen (N.C.) [Phillips].

Printed sources: Leftwich (Old-Time Fiddle Round Peak Style), 2011; No. 27, p. 50. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 189.

Recorded sources: County CD 2719, The Camp Creek Boys. Musical Traditions MTCD321-2, William Marshall & Howard Hall (et al) – “Far on the Mountains, vols. 1 & 2” (2002). Rounder 0213, The Tompkins County Horseflies - "Chokers and Flies" (1985. Learned from the fiddling of Norman Edmonds, Hillsville, Virginia). Rounder CD 0439, Taylor & Stella Kimble (appears as “Cotton Eyed Joe,” a mistitle?).

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear various versions on youtube.com [2][3][4]
Hear Norman Edmonds version (recorded from a radio show) at Slippery Hill [5]




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