Springfield Mountain

TITLE: Springfield Mountain
AUTHOR: Unknown
CATEGORY: Public Domain, Traditional
KEYWORDS: death, animal, lover, injury, 19th Century, US History, Massachusetts
EARLIEST DATE: 1836
HISTORICAL REFERENCES: Aug 7, 1761 – Death by snakebite of Timothy Myrick, often considered the inspiration for this song.

There are many versions of this songs ranging from serious to comic.

2012-11-21 14.48.46I first learned this version from Roger McGuinn‘s excellent blog FOLK DEN. There are many versions of this song but I’ve chosen to use McGuinn’s version with the nonsense phrase “Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do” at the end of each verse.

McGuinn reports Springfield Mountain “is the true story of twenty-two year old Lieutenant Timothy Merrick, a young man who was about to be married. He was bitten by a rattlesnake in Springfield Mountain Massachusetts, on August 7, 1761 and died within three hours of the attack. His grave can still be seen fourteen miles north of that city.” the song is often considered America’s first ballad.

His gravestone reads:

Here lies ye Body of Mr. Timothy Mirick,
Son of Lieut. Thomas and Mrs. Mirick
who died August 7th 1761
in ye 23rd Year of his Age.

“He cometh forth like a flower and is cut down
He fleeeth also as a Shadow and continueth not.” (Job XIV:2)

For more information about this song go to boudillion.com and also Daniel V. Boudillion’s field investigation notes from April 2005 locating Rattlesnake Hill. [Editor’s Note: Boudillion’s website is full of the reporting of adventures and excursions and is great reading for any history buff (or Massachusetts resident).]

OTHER TITLES AND VARIATIONS:

  • The Death of Timothy Merrick
  • Fod
  • Old Joe—Went Out in the Meadow for to Mow
  • On Springfield Mountain
  • The Pesky Sarpent
  • The Rattle Snake
  • Rattle-Sna-wa-wake
  • Timothy Merrick, The Death of
  • Smithfield Mountain
  • Stuttering Johnny

RECORDINGS OF SPRINGFIELD MOUNTAIN:

RECORDINGS OF FOD:

YOUTUBE VIDEO: 

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PPT LYRICS FOR THE CLASSROOM: 
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Tara Maclean

Springfield Mountain

On Springfield Mountain there did dwell,
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.
On Springfield Mountain there did dwell tum–a–row.
On Springfield Mountain there did dwell
A handsome youth I knew full well.
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.

One Monday morning he did go,
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.
One Monday morning he did go tum–a–row.
One Monday morning he did go
Down in the meadow for to mow.
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.

He mowed once round that lengthy field,
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.
He mowed once round that lengthy field tum–a–row.
He mowed once round that lengthy field
A poison serpent bit his heel.
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.

They brought him to his Molly dear,
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.
They brought him to his Molly dear tum–a–row.
They brought him to his Molly dear
Which made her feel so mighty queer.
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.

Oh Johnny dear why did you go?
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.
Oh Johnny dear why did you go? tum–a–row.
Oh Johnny dear why did you go
Down in the meadow for to mow?
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.

Oh Molly Dear now don’t you know,
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.
Oh Molly Dear now don’t you know tum–a–row.
Oh Molly Dear now don’t you know
It’s father’s field and must be mowed.
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.

On Springfield Mountain there did dwell,
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.
Springfield Mountain there did dwell tum–a–row.
On Springfield Mountain there did dwell
A handsome youth I knew him well.
Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.

Right–tum–a–new–rife–a–lime–a–diddle–do.

SOURCES:

  • Folk Song Index: A Comprehensive Guide to the Florence E. Brunnings Collection, Florence E. Brunnings, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London 1981—Amazon Books
  • [Digital TraditionThe Digital Tradition (edited by Dick Greenhaus & Susan Friedman). 314, SPRNMNTN* SPRNMTN2* SPRNMTN4*
  • [Roud Folk Song IndexRoud #431 Steve Roud’s Folksong Index, a database pointing to over 170,000 song citations plus broadsides, etc. Citations by Roud Number.
  •  Traditional Ballad Index

SOURCES KEYED TO THE TRADITIONAL BALLAD INDEX:

  • [Abrahams/Foss] Roger D. Abrahams & George Foss, Anglo-American Folksong Style (1968). pp. 146-147, “Springfield Mountain” (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  • [Arnett] Hazel Arnett, I Hear America Singing! Great Folk Songs from the Revolution to Rock (1975). p. 16, “Smithfield Mountain” (1 text, 1 tune)
  • [Beck-Maine] Horace P. Beck, The Folklore of Maine (1957). pp. 106-108, “Springfield Mountain” (1 text)
  • [Belden] H. M. Belden, Ballads and Songs Collected by the Missouri Folk-Lore Society (1955). pp. 299-300, “Springfield Mountain” (1 text plus a reference to 1 more)
  • [Boswell/Wolfe] Charles K. Wolfe, Folk Songs of Middle Tennessee: The George Boswell Collection (1977). pp. 51-53, “Stuttering Johnny (Springfield Mountain)” (1 text, 1 tune)
  • [Botkin-AmFolklr] B. A. Botkin, A Treasury of American Folklore (1944). pp. 828-829, “On Springfield Mountain” (1 text, 1 tune)
  • [Botkin-NEFolklr] B. A. Botkin, A Treasury of New England Folklore (1965).
  • [Brewster] Paul G. Brewster, Ballads and Songs of Indiana (1940).
  • [BrownII] Henry M. Belden and Arthur Palmer Hudson, Eds, The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Volume Two: Folk Ballads from North Carolina (1952).
  • [BrownSchinhanIV] Jan Philip Schinhan, Editor, The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, Volume Four: The Music of the Ballads (1957).
  • [Cohen-AFS1] Norm Cohen, American Folk Songs: A Regional Encyclopedia, in two volumes (2008).
  • [Coleman/Bregman] Satis N. Coleman and Adolph Bregman, Songs of American Folks, illustrated by Alanson Hewes (c. 1942?).
  • [Darling-NAS] Charles W. Darling, The New American Songster: Traditional Ballads and Songs of North America (Revised edition, 1992).
  • [Eddy] Mary O. Eddy, Ballads and Song from Ohio (1939).
  • [Flanders-NewGreen] Helen Hartness Flanders, Elizabeth Flanders Ballard, George Brown, and Phillips Barry, The New Green Mountain Songster (1939).
  • [Flanders/Brown] Helen Hartness Flanders and George Brown, Vermont Folk-Songs & Ballads (1931).
  • [FriedmanThe Penguin Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World, edited by Albert B. Friedman (1956). Previously published as The Viking Book of Folk Ballads of the English-Speaking World.
  • [Gardner/Chickering] Emelyn Elizabeth Gardner and Geraldine Jencks Chickering, Ballads and Songs of Southern Michigan (1939).
  • [High] Fred High, Old, Old Folk Songs (1952?).
  • [Hudson] Arthur Palmer Hudson, Folksongs of Mississippi and their Background (1936).
  • [Huntington-Whalemen] Gale Huntington, Songs the Whalemen Sang (1964/1970).
  • [JHCox] John Harrington Cox, Folk Songs of the South (1925).
  • [JHCoxII] John Harrington Cox, Traditional Ballads and Folk-Songs Mainly from West Virginia, edited by George Herzog and Herbert Halpert, 1939, and George W. Boswell, 1964.
  • [LawsNAB] G. Malcolm Laws, Jr., Native American Balladry: A descriptive study and bibliographical syllabus (1964). American Ballads from British Broadsides: A guide for students and collectors of traditional song (1957).
  • [Leach-Heritage] MacEdward Leach, The Heritage Book of Ballads (1967).
  • [Leach] MacEdward Leach, The Ballad Book (1955).
  • [Linscott] Eloise Hubbard Linscott, Folk Songs of Old New England (1939).
  • [Lomax-ABFS] John A. Lomax and Alan Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934).
  • [Lomax-FSNA] Alan Lomax, The Folk Songs of North America (1960).
  • [Lomax-FSUSA] John A. and Alan Lomax with music arrangements by Charles and Ruth Seeger, Folk Song U.S.A. (1947).
  • [LPound-ABS] Louise Pound, American Ballads and Songs (1922).
  • [McNeil-SFB2] W. K. McNeil, Southern Folk Ballads, Volume II (1988).
  • [MHenry-Appalachians] Mellinger Edward Henry, Songs Sung in the Southern Appalachians (1934).
  • [Moore-Southwest] Ethel Moore and Chauncey O. Moore, Ballads and Folk Songs of the Southwest (1964).
  • [Musick-Larkin] Ruth Ann Musick, “The Old Album of William A Larkin” in The Journal of American Folklore, Vol. LX, No. 237 (Jul-Sep 1947)
  • [Owens-1ed] William A. Owens, Texas Folk Songs, first edition (Dallas: SMU Press, 1950)
  • [Owens-2ed ] William A. Owens, Texas Folk Songs, second edition (Dallas: SMU Press, 1976).
  • [Peters] Harry B. Peters, Folk Songs out of Wisconsin (1977).
  • [RandolphIII] Vance Randolph, Ozark Folksongs Volume III (1946-1950).
  • [Scott-BoA] John Anthony Scott, The Ballad of America (1966).
  • [SharpAp] Cecil J. Sharp, etc. English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, Collected by Cecil J. Sharp, edited by Maud Karpelles, including additional tunes from Olive Dame Campbell (1932, expanded from the first edition of 1917)
  •  [Warner] Anne Warner, Traditional American Folk Songs from the Anne & Frank Warner Collection (1984)

OTHER SONGBOOKS:

NOTICE: I’m not the best guitar player or vocalist, but no one loves these songs more than I do. The tune and lyrics are in the public domain unless otherwise noted. The recording © copyright 2013 by Stephen Griffith and may be used by permission of the copyright holder. The variation of the song I’m posting is the version I perform and is not exactly replicating the sources cited, but is always in the same song family. If anyone has more details about this song, or believes I’ve stated something in error, please let me know. I’m also open to suggestions to improve the site. Thanks. sgg

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