Sweet Susan

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X:1 T:Sweet Susan N:from the playing of left-hand fiddler Bill Day/Jilson Setters (1861-1942), recorded in N:Ashland, Ky., June, 1937, in the field by John A. Lomax for the Library of Congress. N:Jilson Setters was the pseudonym for Blind Bill Day, heavily marketed by folklorist N:Jean Thomas, who created his persona. M:C| L:1/8 Q:"Fast" R:Reel D:Library of Congress AFS 01019 A02, Jilson Setters (1937) D:https://archive.org/details/afc1937007_1017B2 D:https://www.slippery-hill.com/recording/sweet-susan-0 Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:G [M:2/4]S[G,2D2]e-f|[M:C|]ggg2 aaa2|a-bag edef|ggg2a2a2|{a}bage d2ef| ggg2 aaa2|abag edef|ggg2aaa2|b-age d4|| e6 e2-|e2gg e2d2|BGAB dBAB|G2A2 Bded|BGAG EGAE| G2 Ad Bded|BGAB d2e2|G2A2 Bded |BGAG (3EFE D2| G2A2 Bded|BGAB dBAB|G2D2 Bded|BGAG E2D2S||



SWEET SUSAN. AKA – “Susan's Gone.” American, Reel (cut time). USA, Kentucky. G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB. "Sweet Susan" was in the repertory of east Kentucky fiddler James W. Day (AKA Blind Bill Day, AKA Jilson Setters) who was recorded in June, 1937, by John A. Lomax for the Library of Congress. Day (1861-1942), of Rowan County and Ashland, was "discovered" by Jean Thomas, an amateur folklorist who became his agent and created for him the persona of Jilson Setters, a supposed backwoods musician who played and sang old ballads and "primitive tunes." In reality, Day was an itinerant musician and sometimes beggar who played a mix of topical songs of his own composition, along with older Appalachian tunes.

The tune, however, with variants under the "Sweet Susan" or "Susan's Gone" and other titles, was in the repertory of several east Kentucky fiddlers and appears to have been once widely known (although it was not recored by string bands in the 78 RPM era). Mark Wilson and John Harrod[1] note that versions were recorded in the field from the playing of Morris Allen, Perry Riley, Alva Greene, John Lozier, Thomas Keeton and many others, and it was recorded by contemporary Kentucky fiddler Roger Cooper.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - J. W. Day (AKA Jilson Setters) {Ashland, Kentucky, 1937} [Titon]; Emma Lee Dickerson [Beisswenger & Andrade]].

Printed sources : - Beisswenger & Andrade (Appalachian Fiddle Tunes), 2021, p. 56. Clare Milliner & Walt Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011; p. 646. Titon (Old Time Kentucky Fiddle Tunes), 2001; No. 158, p. 183.

Recorded sources : - Field Recorders Collective FRC731, Emma Lee Dickerson - "Along the Ohio's Shores" (2003, as "Susan's Gone"). Library of Congress 1019A2, Jilson Setters/J.W. Day (Ky.), recorded for L of C by John Lomax in Ashland, Ky., 1937. Rounder 0380, Roger Cooper – “Going Back to Old Kentucky” (1997).




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  1. Liner notes to FRC 731.