Author: Daniel, Bert

Tune of the Week

Be nobody’s darling but mine love,
Be honest, be faithful and kind,
And promise me that you will ever,
Be nobody’s darling but mine.

Yes folks, today is a day for love songs. Play and sing a few of your own favorites today for that special someone who plays the strings of your heart. We are indeed fortunate to be fans of a music which boasts such a rich trove of tunes on every topic imaginable, including that greatest musical theme of all , love.

For quite a while now, I’ve received digests sent to my e mail from a site called CoMando. (No, it’s not a site for mercenary soldiers of fortune, just a site for those like me interested in mandolin topics). In years past, the site has promoted something called the tune of the week. Interested musicians learn new tunes and share thoughts about their favorite interpretations. A couple of years ago it was fiddle tunes. Last year it was Bill Monroe tunes and this year it’s tunes from the “heirs of Bill Monroe”.

When I first started following the tune of the week list, one of the things that struck me was how certain tunes seemed to fit certain seasons. For example, the first fiddle tune on the list was Cold Frosty Morning because it was then the first week in January. Inspired by the list, I have since used the seasons to help guide me with new and old tunes to work into my musical jukebox for variety‘s sake.

After this week I’ll start working on Irish tunes in preparation for St. Patrick’s Day. Tunes like Red Haired Boy, Temperance Reel and Swallowtail Jig are must-know tunes whether you play Bluegrass, Celtic or Old Time. But, depending on which jam you go to, you might have to learn a very different way to play it or maybe an alternate title.

April is the month for Rabbit tunes, because Easter is fast approaching. Have a Feast Here Tonight (Rabbit in a Log), Little Rabbit and, one of my personal favorites Hop-along Peter:

I Gotta Gal in this here town, if she weighs an ounce she weighs seven hundred pounds,
Every time my pretty girl turns around, her heel make a great big hole in the ground.
Oh Hop-along Peter where you goin’? Hop-along Peter where you goin’?
Hop-along Peter won’t you bear in mind, I ain’t comin’ back till the gooseberry time.

But, lest we forget the reason for the season, tunes like Were You There When They Crucified My Lord? and Carpenter of Wood are especially appropriate.

May is a time for flower songs and songs about mother. Pick your favorite from among many in both categories. At the end of May, we remember our soldiers for their service to our country. Soldiers Joy. (They may have played that one out of season in a commercial during this year’s Super Bowl, but who cares? That fiddle playing critter was my favorite Super Bowl commercial ever!)

In June, we’ve got June Apple, songs about Dad and all the great tunes we’ve been hearing at Grass Valley!

July is a month for patriotism. Let’s play Liberty, The Green Fields of America and Under the Double Eagle. August doesn’t have any official holidays, but it is known for heat. Green Light on the Southern takes place on a “dry, hot ,dusty August day”. And of course there’s “fire on the mountain; run boys run“. August is a good time for blackberry tunes too, but I play Blackberry Blossom more in the spring when our backyard bush actually blooms.

Labor Day brings us the Working Man’s Blues, Ain’t Gonna Work Tomorrow and Muleskinner’s Blues. Soon after Labor Day, the season start to change again and the fall color reminds me of one of my all time favorite Gospel tunes:

Fallen leaves, that lie scattered on the ground,
The birds and flowers that were here cannot be found.

…When I’m laid beneath that little grassy mound
There’ll be more friends left than leaves upon the ground

For some reason, in October I like to play a modern tune in the Old Time style called Spootiskerry. The strange name reminds me of the scary spooks we see at Halloween! Later, when the snow starts falling in the mountains, I like to play You Are My Flower. Perhaps you were playing it back in May with your very own flower set, but the song actually takes place “when summertime is gone and snow begins to fall”. I like my way better. We could all use a reminder of the flowers when snow starts falling. Oh, what the heck it’s a great song. I’ll enjoy it both times of year. Check that, I’ll enjoy it all year and merely emphasize it a couple of times each year. Lets not get too fixed in our habits. I’m merely suggesting the tune of a week concept as a way of digging out tunes periodically. We have such a great store of tunes that deserve to be played and never forgotten. Enough of that. It’s time to go find Nellie’s Footprints in the Snow.

That brings us to the holiday season. Turkeys are running scared near Thanksgiving and I get a lot of mileage out of Turkey in the Straw. I play all of the standard Christmas carols at Yuletide, but I especially like the ones connected to Bluegrass, like Beautiful Star of Bethlehem and Christmas Time’s a Comin’. The latter tune from Tex Logan was adapted from an Old Time tune called Breaking Up Christmas, which I like to play when we finally take down our Christmas tree.

With the new year I like another Old Time tune called Old Grimes, which is a relative of the more familiar Auld Lang Syne. You know: “there was a man named Mr. Lang and he had a neon sign; and Mr. Lang was very old, so they called it old Lang’s sign”. January is giving us some Cold Frosty Morning(s) by now and we can play Eighth of January and the lesser known 28th of January on the appropriate days.

That brings us back to February when it’s time to start brushing up on those love songs again for that special someone. Have a great Valentines Day and don’t eat to much chocolate (save it for me).

Posted:  2/14/2010

Copyright © 2002 California Bluegrass Association. All rights reserved.
Comments? Questions? Please email