:: Title :: Fair Ellen
:: Genre :: ballad
:: Performers & Instruments ::
Ritchie, Jean [vocal]
:: Setting :: Alan Lomax's apartment, 3rd Street
:: Location :: Greenwich Village, New York City (New York), New York (United States)
:: Language :: English
:: Culture :: Southern U.S., Anglo-American, Appalachian, Kentucky
:: Session :: Jean Ritchie I 5/49
:: Date :: 5/5/1949
:: Reference Information :: T1017.0, Track 1 (00:02:27)
:: Original Format :: Reel to Reel
:: Session Notes ::
1 - Notes on tape box (for session 1016) read: "Game songs" [Source: Tape Box]
2 - Session 1016 is comprised of game songs. Many of them are playparty games. Session 1017 is included as well as both sessions were recorded on May 5, 1949. 1017 returns primarily to ballads and love songs.
:: Recording Notes ::
0 - Notes on tape box read: "broken performance" [Source: Tape Box]
0 - Ritchie's memories about the context in which she remembers hearing "Fair Ellen." As long as one of the cows had a new calf, I knew they'd hurry on home by themselves. I'd turn them through the last bars and watch for a while to see if they really meant business about going home, and then I'd take the side road down to the Engles'. Usually what took me down that way was the sound of lonesome singing coming from their kitchen. Like our kitchen, this was a separate building from the rest of the house, a brown weatherboarded square room built on the tip of a boulder that overhung a cool pine glen where the branch water tinkled. You could stand on a chair and look out the high back window and see little gleams of it, like pure silver, like the sound of it, like buried treasure, down there in the dark place. The spring was down there, and the big black wash kettle, and hundreds of mossy rocks and pine needles, and secrets! Secrets! You could tell by looking that the dark place was full of secrets, all untold to mortal ears, and I could never find them out. Chapel and Viola, the youngest two girls, would be getting supper in the kitchen, and the smell of hot crusty corn pone and browning taters, sliced and fried golden brown in the bacon skillet, and thick pieces of home-cured ham sweetened the evening air as it swirled to me on the hill above the house. Blue smoke curled up, too, out of the stone chimney, and that told me they were burning oak in the wood stove, with maybe pine kindling. Mixed in with the sound of supper plates being rattled into place up and down the long eating table was the ka-pound, ka-pound of the wooden dasher in the churn. That meant for sure a big round bowl of fresh soft butter for the hot bread, and plenty of buttermilk. And there was the sound of the lonesome singing ["Fair Ellen"] (excerpt from Singing Family of the Cumberlands, Jean Ritchie) [Source: Singing Family of the Cumberlands]
:: Collection :: Jean Ritchie 1949 and 1950



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