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Old 04-13-2024, 04:49 PM
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Default Another grandchild, another song - Lily of the West

We just had our first grandson in late November and I put up a cover of Ooh La La, a song from a granddad to a grandson, in his honor. Well, it's peak grandparent season in our lives it seems - our other daughter just had her first child a week ago yesterday, our second granddaughter. Her name is Flora and we're madly in love with her as you'd expect. Here she is with her head full of jet black hair...

IMG_0651 by Ray, on Flickr

A few days after she was born, our son-in-law sent me a Spotify link of Bob Dylan's version of the song Lily of the West, a song I'd never heard or at least didn't remember. It's an old English folk ballad that many have done. Evidently the name of the woman who's the subject of the song is somewhat interchangeable in various versions, but in Dylan's version and Joan Baez's before his, her name was Flora. He asked if I could work up a recording of it. I listened to it a few times and it's a murder ballad like so many others (El Paso and Mexicali Blues came immediately to mind, being a Deadhead and all), with Flora being the woman the male protagonist kills his rival over. I'm overwhelmingly hoping that our little Flora will not be the subject of such romantic attention for a good 20-30 years, and hopefully no murders will be committed for her attentions, and felt a little funny recording this song in her Pop Pop's voice. But her parents really wanted me to, so I did. It's not my favorite song or my favorite performance, but evidently it brought my daughter to (happy) tears, so I figured I'd share it here too. So here's to Flora, now and many many years before this song should even think about being about her! I guess it was the only song her Dad could find with Flora as a subject...



-Ray
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Old 04-13-2024, 06:37 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is online now
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Nice job and a great story, Ray.

I coincidentally was thinking (somewhat sadly) of Lily Of The West because the band I was in several years back recorded an acoustic version of it at Pogo Studios in Champaign, Illinois. Mark Rubel was the owner of Pogo Studio and did the recording. Mark moved to Nashville several years ago to become the head of the Technology education at Blackbird Academy and passed away recently. Mark was a kind and gentle soul, missed by all.

I'm a big fan of doing something musical to commemorate the birth of each of my grand kids, so it looks like I'm done at four.
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Old 04-13-2024, 06:45 PM
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Great story and big congratulations on the birth of Flora. Great cover.
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Old 04-13-2024, 08:06 PM
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Always loved that song and the song's melody, but I've never been able to get an even halfway decent version recorded myself. Nice to hear you tackle it.
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Old 04-13-2024, 08:42 PM
zeeway zeeway is offline
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This is a song of my youth - that is, college days…when I first learned guitar and had the Joan Baez version of this on an L.P. Still one of my favorites I will play every now and then. Congratulations on the song, but more importantly, congrats on your grandchildren, especially lovely Flora, the Lilly of the West.
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Old 04-14-2024, 07:08 AM
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Thanks for checking it out folks. I guess this song is much more known to many than it was to me. I enjoy playing it - the chord progression is simple but I like the feel of it. It’s another one of those just verses, no bridge, no chorus songs that Dylan did so many of. Although I guess the last two lines of each verse are so similar, they’re kind of like a chorus.

But, yeah, this grandparent thing is fun. Nerve wracking leading up to it, particularly with my grandson born in November who was five weeks premature after my daughter spent a chunk of time in the hospital. But once they’re born and everyone is healthy, they’re so sweet, and then as they grow into toddlers and talkers, they’re so much fun…

-Ray
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Last edited by raysachs; 04-14-2024 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 04-15-2024, 12:53 AM
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Ray, congratulations on your new grand-daughter, and that is a great tune for sure. It had been a while since I had heard anybody do it, but your version was cool--Tim.
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Old 04-15-2024, 02:06 AM
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Congratulations Ray - such a happy event. Best wishes to you all.

I enjoyed the tune greatly.
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Old 04-15-2024, 09:25 AM
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What a perfect little girl! Congratulations! I'll hopefully be getting my first in about a month. Good song too, channelling a bit of Knopfler there on the electric?
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Old 04-15-2024, 01:46 PM
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Thanks folks! And Honkycat, that’s about the highest compliment I can imagine. I remember when Dire Straits first album came out, I remember thinking, and maybe even saying to a friend or two, ‘he sounds like I’d sound like if I was any good’. If my electric playing makes you think of Knopfler even a tiny little bit, I’ll take that all day long!

And enjoy that impending grandchild. We thought it was looking like we were only gonna end up with one (which would have been fine, btw!), and now suddenly we have three with one of our daughters open to possibly trying for another. I can’t say it’s better than having our own kids, but in a way it is because it’s much easier, and because you get to see your own kids be parents, which is such an overwhelming full circle experience…

-Ray
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Old 04-15-2024, 08:08 PM
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You are sounding great here, Ray. The electric is so tasty! Did you record this on your Spire Studio? The sound quality is great.

More importantly, best wishes to you and your family at this very happy time!
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Old 04-15-2024, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by reeve21 View Post
You are sounding great here, Ray. The electric is so tasty! Did you record this on your Spire Studio? The sound quality is great.

More importantly, best wishes to you and your family at this very happy time!
Thanks for the kind words and wishes Bob. Yeah, this was recorded on the Spire. I use the built in mic for the acoustic guitar, I have a separate vocal mic so I can record the rhythm and vocal together but on separate tracks. There’s a lot of bleed between them, but I can sing at a comfortable volume and adjust the volume of the two tracks in the mix if I need to. And for the electric I plug the amp directly into the Spire. I love recording with that thing - it’s sooo user friendly. I’m bummed it wasn’t popular enough to survive in the market. At some point it’s likely to be obsolete to the point that I won’t be able to use it anymore, but hopefully that’s a few or even several years away. But at some point I may have to learn how to use something that requires a bit more skill…

-Ray
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Old 04-16-2024, 08:39 AM
Glennwillow Glennwillow is offline
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Very nice, Ray! My hat is off to Flora!

I remember this song from Peter, Paul and Mary way back in town. I have actually thought of covering this song myself, so I can see why this song appealed to you, Ray.

Congratulations on your new grandchild! Life is good!

- Glenn
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Old 04-16-2024, 11:02 AM
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Congrats Ray!

We have 6 grandchildren. Just waiting now for our oldest one to get married and have kids. 4-5 years is the estimated timeline, lol.
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Old 04-16-2024, 12:51 PM
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Thanks Glenn and Barry. Interesting to me how many folks are really familiar with this song - I hadn't been at all, but learning it (pretty easy song) was a labor of love for sure, despite my misgivings about applying the particular story to a tiny little infant girl. An interesting sidetone - Flora has REMARKABLY long and graceful fingers and toes for an infant. Her hands are really unusual, something to behold. So, of course, my younger daughter (her aunt) figures she might be a pianist like she was, but I, of course, am hoping she shows any interest in guitar as she gets older. We'll see... I could show her the basics...

-Ray
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