Waterbound

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X:1 T:Waterbound L:1/8 M:2/4 B:Kuntz – Ragged but Right K:A c/c/B AA/B/|c/d/c/B/ AA|BB/B/ Bc/B/|A/B/A/F/ E>(E|E)F/F/ AA/B/|c/B/c/d/ e2| fe/e/ cc/B/|A2A2|c/c/B AA/B/|c/d/c/B/ AA|BB/B/ Bc/B/|A/B/A/F/ E>(E| E)F/F/ AA/B/|c/B/c/d/ e2|fe/e/ cc/B/|A2A2||:aa/a/ aa/a/|f/e/c e(B| c)c/B/ c/B/A|f/e/c/d/ ee|aa/a/ aa/a/|f/e/c ee|fe cB/c/|A2A2:|]



WATERBOUND. AKA and see “Stay All Night,” "Way Down in North Carolina." American, Song/ piece. USA, Virginia. A Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Silberberg): AABB (Kuntz). "Waterbound" was originally recorded in March, 1929, by the Grayson/Carroll County, southwestern Virginia, group Fields Ward's (1911-1987) Buck Mountain Band consisting of Fields Ward (gtr., vocals), Ernest V. Stoneman (harmonica, vocals, using his Justin Winfield pseudonym), Eck Dunford (fiddle), and Fields' brother Samson Ward (banjo). The group took its name from Wade's birthplace in Buck Mountain, however, the group also went by the name Grayson County Railsplitters. A later iteration of the group called the Ballard Branch Bogtrotters (Wade and Crockett Ward, nephew Fields Ward, autoharpist Doc Davis and fiddler Eck Dunford) was recorded playing "Waterbound" in 1937 for the Library of Congress by folklorist John A. Lomax (later released in 1962 on Folkways FA 2363, "Roscoe Holcomb and Wade Ward").

The Ballard Branch Bogtrotters, Galax, Va.. 1937. Dr. W.P. "Doc" Davis, Eck Dunford, Crockett Ward, Fields Ward, Wade Ward (banjo).

Chickens crowin' in the old plowed field, (x3)
Down in North Carolina.

Refrain (Verses 1, 3)
Waterbound and I can't go home, (x3)
I have to stay till morning.

Bill and Charlie lets go home, (x3)
Before the water rises.

The water's up and I can't get across, (x3)
I'll ride the old white horse.

The old man's mad but I don't care, (x3)
Just so I get his daughter.
If he don't give her up I'm a gonna run away, (x3)
Down in North Carolina.

Waterbound and I can't go home, (x3)
Down in North Carolina.

The song is sometime erroneously attributed to singer and banjo player Roscoe Holcomb (1912-1981), of Daisy, Kentucky, from confusion based on the dual artist 1962 Folkways album (one on each side). However, Holcomb recorded a song called "Boat's up the River" that is occasionally referred to as "Waterbound" from the prominent line:

The boat's up the river and it won't come down
Then I believe to my soul Lord that I'm waterbound.

These lines, if not the song itself, were in oral tradition in the early 20th century. A 1915 version[1] sung on Tennessee River boats also contained the same line:

The boat's up the river and she won't come down, I believe to my soul she must be water bound.

but it is musically different from the Bogtrotters "Waterbound". Dirk Powell's "Waterbound" is a yet a different song.


Additional notes
Source for notated version : - Art Rosenbaum [Kuntz].

Printed sources : - Kuntz (Ragged but Right), 1987; pp. 315 316. Silberberg (Tunes I Learned at Tractor Tavern), 2002; p. 165.

Recorded sources : - Carryon Records 005, "The Renegades" (1993). County 534, Fields Ward "Round the Heart of Old Galax, Vol. II" (various artists). Folkways FA 2363, "Roscoe Holcomb and Wade Ward" (1962). Historical HLP 8001, Fields Ward and His Buck Mountain Band - "Early Country Music vol. 1" (197?). Kicking Mule 203, Art Rosenbaum "The Art of the Mountain Banjo." Rounder CD 0383, Mike Seegar and Paul Brown - “Down in North Carolina” (appears as “Way Down in North Carolina”).

See also listing at :
Hear The Buck Mountain Band's 1929 recording on youtube.com [1]



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  1. Printed in Newman I. White, American Negro Folk Songs.