Monday, October 17, 2011

Copland's Old Paint

The tips of my left index and middle fingers are throbbing quite nicely. We played a bunch of bluegrass/old timey/folk tunes last night and my mandolin fretting fingers are feeling the usual effects. Perhaps it's exacerbated slightly because we haven't played for a good month or so and my calluses have become somewhat uncallused in that time.

Our little band plays primarily out of the Parking Lot Picker's Songbook, which is just a great book with a couple hundred tunes that generally require only 3 or 4 chords (which is about as many as I can handle). We have a bunch of standard dog-eared tunes we go to all the time, and then we usually explore a few new ones at every session. So last night we stumbled across a nice one, "Old Paint," with some nice old cowboy lyrics. Here's the first verse and the chorus:

I ride and old paint,
I lead an old Dan,
I'm going to Montana
To throw a Hoolihan.
They feed 'em in the coulees,
They water in the draw,
Their tails are all matted,
Their backs are all raw.

Ride around little dogies,
Ride around real slow,
For the fiery and the snuffy
Are raring to go.
Makes me want to run out to Montana and ride a horse, even though, I have to admit, I'm kind of terrified of horses.

That notwithstanding, we're running through the song last night and I get this sudden "Hey, I know that tune" feeling. It only takes me a few seconds before I realize that Aaron Copland used this tune in the third movement ("Saturday Night Waltz") of "Rodeo."

Here's Johnny Cash singing "I Ride an Old Paint"....


And here's the Copland--the oboe comes in with the tune at about the 0:29 mark...


As an added bonus, here's Woody Guthrie with a somewhat different (though quite awesome) take...


I went many years not particularly liking Copland. Then, maybe 5 or 6 years ago, I suddenly got it. It was all of a sudden too. Now Appalachian Spring or Rodeo are like drugs for me. Certain of his pieces will start playing and I'm instantly paralyzed and I'll get a lump in my throat.

Needless to say, "Old Paint" is now dog-eared in my Parking Lot Picker's Songbook.