Sorry for the dreadful, dreadful, dreadul joke in the title.
This song fascinates me. I saw the video highlighted on Last.FM, and being honest, it’s dreadful. Cheap and cheerful? Cheap, anyway….
However, the song itself….haunting, with a fascinating history. Sung by Sam Amidon (originally called samamidon), he’s taken a traditional Appalachion tune (the exact song and lyrics differ – it seems to be a combination of “Pretty Saro”, from 1911, and elements of another song, “In Eighteen-Forty-Nine”, from 1928, modified by Amidon.
“In Eighteen-Forty-Nine” itself contains fragments of a number of songs, including most of “Pretty Saro” itself).
“Pretty Saro” is a traditional Appalachian song dating back who knows how long. Variations of the tune were collected by song catchers in the early 20th century, with different settings (1749 and 1849), different names (Sarah and Molly), and different melodies, but the song’s story has remained constant: An immigrant, alone and anonymous in a new country, misses his true love back home.
Whenever and wherever it’s come from, Amidon has taken this, and really made it his own – gently plucked guitars and a light horn section over his trembling voice makes it utterly timeless.