Tombigbee Waltz

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X:1 T:Tombigbee Waltz L:1/8 M:3/4 K:C {Bc}BA|G2 B2 B2|{B}d4 BA|G2 B2 B2|{B}d4 B2|cB A2 A2| A2 B2 d2|e4 d2|B4 {Bc}BA|G2 B2 B2|{B}d4 BA|G2 B2 B2| {B}d4 B2|cB A2 A2|A2 B2 d2|e2 d2 B2|G4:| |:d2|g4 d2|g4 d2|e3 d e2|d4 B2|cB A2 A2| A2 B2 d2|e4 d2|B4 d2|g4 d2|g4 d2|e3 d e2| d4 B2|cB A2 A2|A2 B2 d2|e2 d2 B2|G4 :|



TOMBIGBEE WALTZ. AKA and see "Gum Tree Canoe," "Tom Big Bee River." American, Waltz (3/4 time). G Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Mathiesen): AA'BB' (Phillips). The melody is named for the Tombigbee River which flows from northeastern Mississippi into the Alabama River. Tombigbee is rumored to mean ‘coffinmaker’ in one of the Native American languages. A song version, “Tom Big Bee River,” attributed to S.S. Steele, was printed in Heart Songs – Melodies of Days Gone By, published in 1909 by World Syndicate Publishing Company (Cleveland; New York), although it is much older. From the dialect employed in the lyrics, minstrel origins are indicated. S.S. Steele and A.F. Winnemore (1847) are credited with words and music in Garson’s Laura Ingles Wilder Songbook[1].

On Tom-big-be River so bright I was born,
In a hut made of husks ob de tall yaller corn,
And dar I fust meet mid my Jula so true,
An I row'd her about In my gum-tree canoe.

Chorus:
Singing row away, row, O'er the waters so blue,
Like feathers we'll float in my gum-tree canoe.

All de day in de flied de soft cotton I hoe,
I tink ob my Jula an sing as I go;
Oh, I catch her a bird, wid a wing ob true blue,
An at night sail her 'round in my gum-tree canoe.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Tom Jackson via James Bryan [Matthiesen, Phillips].

Printed sources : - Matthiesen (Waltz Book I), 1992; p. 50. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Music, vol. 2), 1995; p. 314.

Recorded sources : - Copper Creek 0164, Tom Sauber, Brad Leftwich, Alice Gerard – “Been There Still” (appears as “Gum Tree Canoe”). Rounder 0175, James Bryan ‑ "Lookout Blues" (1983. Learned from Tom Jackson). Davis Unlimited, Indian Creek Delta Boys (1976. Learned from Benny Woods: "Benny says that an old girlfriend of his used to sing this 'old-fashioned waltz'.). Marimac CD, Dan Gellert.




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  1. <meta charset="UTF-8">There are even Australian versions of the song, printed in the early 20th century.