"Songs Our Daddy Taught Us," 1958

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Don and Phil Everly grew up singing and performing in their family's live radio act. The brothers were taught country, folk, and gospel songs by their father, musician Ike Everly. These songs were deeply entrenched in American musical culture, and therefore well-known and loved by their radio audience. The songs ranged from centuries old, brought by European immigrants to the new land that would become The United States, to several decades old and out of the recording capitals of Nashville and LA. A true concept album before it became fashionable, "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us" was released in 1958 by The EBs on Cadence, and it was a precursor to the roots and folk music movement of the 1960s and '70s. "Songs" was an EBs album that was ahead of its time, and which would go on to become highly-regarded and well-respected.


"Songs Our Daddy Taught Us" - Released as CLP 3016 Nov. 17, 1958, this second Cadence album consists of tracks Don & Phil learned from their father Ike – as the title suggests! Just their voices, Don’s acoustic guitar and Floyd ‘Lightnin’ Chance on stand-up bass. The latter remarked during the sessions: “Damn! You would put me on an album where you can hear every note I play.”

Phil: “We did it with Lightnin’ Chance. Guitar and bass, that’s all that’s on there. Actually, it wound up being one of the pieces that people admire. They’re all the songs that we sang growing up. They were the songs our daddy taught us.”

Don: “It was a good idea; it was a natural. We put our hearts into it and it was as good a thing as we’d ever done. It was true and it was from the heart and that’s exactly where we were in those days. We were teenagers then; a few years later we could approach those songs with our feelings. I still love that whole thing, that whole album. I love "Silver Haired Daddy," all that stuff. That sentimental stuff. I’m still a sentimental kinda guy. You know, those songs bring a tear to my eye sometimes.” (Don & Phil quotes from liner notes to 2006’s Studio Outtakes.)

There was one other reason for doing an album consisting strictly of old folks songs, as Don explained. “I knew we would be leaving Cadence and I wanted the last album to be something musically that I loved but I didn’t want them to have any possible singles which they would’ve kept releasing and interfered with our career. I suggested "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us" and everyone went for it. It was easy to do. It touched what folk music ought to be – country folk music, songs people would sing sitting on the porch. It’s still one of my favourite albums. It’s got class and ages very well.” It is reputedly one of Paul Simon’s favourite albums.

When interviewed in 1977, Archie Bleyer said, “It’s interesting. I still get mail in regard to the old Cadence records, and one of the things about which people write fairly consistently is "Songs Our Daddy Taught Us." I would say that is the strongest mail puller to date.” Archie Bleyer re-released it during a folk revival in 1962 as "Folk Songs by The Everly Brothers."

Side 1:
Roving Gambler
Down In The Willow Garden
Long Time Gone
Lightning Express
That Silver Haired Daddy Of Mine
Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet

Side 2:
Barbara Allen
Oh So Many Years
I’m Here To Get My Baby Out Of Jail
Rockin’ Alone (In An Old Rocking Chair)
Put My Little Shoes Away"

Off the back cover of the album on the Cadence, Ace, and the London Records labels:

“This album is a collector’s item. Whether you collect Every Brothers or collect great songs, this one is for you.
To you who are already Everly followers, there’s no need to explain. To those who are just discovering Don and Phil Everly, a few words.

The boys are the sons of Ike and Margaret Everly, veteran folk and country singers. And the parents of Ike and Margaret were folk singers in Kentucky and Tennessee before them, and their parents before them.

Ike Everly is one of the few remaining “authentic” guitarists. His is not string-strumming accompaniment of chords. In his hands, the guitar stands by itself as a musical instrument, with both pure melody and background harmony.

When Ike was 25, and radio in its infancy, he left the coal mines around Central City, KY, and took his music to Chicago and throughout the Midwest. There’s hardly a town in Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, and Tennessee that hasn’t eaten its breakfast to Ike Everly’s early morning radio music.

Ike started teaching the boys as soon as they could carry a tune. But, like all boys, Don and Phil were not true dedicated musicians when it came to practicing . . . many a quarter bribe was paid for an hour’s practice.

Don Everly was a part of his parents’ singing act at the age of 7. Phil, then 5, and not too certain with a tune, told jokes, with his Daddy as straight man. But when Don was in the 6th grade and Phil in the 4th, they began their joint careers as a duet on a local radio station.

Their first “professional” money they saved together toward a bicycle. Now, at ages of 19 and 21, they can’t say exactly what happened to the bicycle but there’s no doubt what happened to the Everly Brothers. They became, as Margaret Everly predicted, great singing stars.

This album title, “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us,” is actually a half-truth: the whole truth is that many of these songs date back long before the time of Ike Everly. These are folk melodies that were sung over and over, and treasured and handed down from father to son for generations . . . in some cases, for centuries. Don and Phil Everly are just the newest crop of sons to get this treasured heritage.

These, then, are the “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us’ or, passed on in trust, as they were passed on to him, from a score of generations before.

“Roving Gambler” was first sung in the taverns and wayside inns of Henry the Eighth’s England . . . “Barbara Allen” was first written more than 300 years ago, and was a favorite of both Stuart loyalist and Cromwell round-head. Pepys mentions it in his diary, and the poet Goldsmith wrote of the popular ballad “Barbara Allen’s Cruelty.”

From the Highlands of Scotland came “Who’s Gonna Shoe Your Pretty Little Feet,” an ancient ballad first sung as a farewell to the Fair Anne of Lochyron.

Along with these are eight more “Songs Our Daddy Taught Us,” “Long Time Gone” is Tex Ritter’s version of the old song that came with the first settlers through the new-found Cumberland Gap into Kentucky and Tennessee. And “Down in the Willow Garden” was once sung by the gandy dancers and oil drillers of the westward push — only they called the song “Rose Connelly.” The first trace we’ve found of “Put My Little Shoes Away” was in a 1920 songbook and it was spoken of, at that time, as an “old song.”

Dating back to our grandfathers’ time are Frankie Bailes’ arrangement of the tender “Oh So Many Years.” Bob Miller’s nostalgic “Rocking Alone in an Old Rocking Chair,” and the celebrated Henry Prichard’s paen of praise to his, and the Everlys’, beloved state of “Kentucky.”

The most recent of the songs date from the 1930s, which was still before the time of the Everly Brothers. Here is Gene Autry’s famous old “Silver Haired Daddy of Mine,” Bradley Kincaid’s “Lightnin’ Express,” and the Mother’s sad lament, “I’m Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail.”

These are old, old songs but there’s the beat and rhythm of today in the wonderful way Don and Phil sing them. And that’s not surprising, for there always was a beat and rhythm to folk songs, but it takes a special talent like the Everly Brothers possess to bring these ageless songs of a family fireside to the jet-propelled age of today.”

The last link below is to the entire album, from Everly Brothers Albums in Forum.
Last update on October 7, 12:48 pm by Mary.

Don and Phil perform "Down in the Willow Garden" (also known as "Rose Connelly") from the 1991 BBC documentary "Bringing It All Back Home," on the music of the Scotch-Irish immigrants to the U.S. "Willow" was one the best examples of an American folk song handed down through generations and sung and taught to young Don and Phil by their musician father Ike Everly.


" "Down in the Willow Garden", also known as "Rose Connelly" is a traditional Appalachian murder ballad about a man facing the gallows for the murder of his lover: he gave her poisoned wine, stabbed her, and threw her in a river. It originated in the 19th century, probably in Ireland, before becoming established in the United States. The lyrics greatly vary among earlier versions, but professional recordings have stabilized the song in a cut-down form. First professionally recorded in 1927, it was made popular by Charlie Monroe's 1947 version, and it has been recorded dozens of times since then.

"The song may have derived from Irish sources from the early 19th century. Edward Bunting noted a song by the name "Rose Connolly" in 1811 in Coleraine. A version with slightly different lyrics is known from Galway in 1929. There are lyrical similarities to W. B. Yeats' 1899 poem "Down by the Salley Gardens", which itself probably derives from the Irish ballad, "The Rambling Boys of Pleasure." The first versions of "Rose Connoley" probably derive from the Irish ballads "The Wexford Girl" and "The Rambling Boys of Pleasure", or similar songs. "The Wexford Girl" gave rise to "The Knoxville Girl", a very similar murder ballad to "Down in the Willow Garden." Unlike other Irish ballads, "Down in the Willow Garden" was initially restricted to the Appalachian region of the United States, and D.K. Wilgus mused that "It is as if an Irish local song never popularized on broadsides was spread by a single Irish peddler on his travels through Appalachia."

"It is first noted in the United States in 1915, when it was referred to as popular in 1895 in Wetzel County, West Virginia. Cecil Sharp came across the song in 1918 in Virginia and North Carolina."


Last update on December 3, 9:05 pm by Mary.
Reviews and commentaries on "Songs:"


"Barbara Allen" is a traditional Scottish ballad; it later traveled to America both orally and in print, where it became a popular folk song. Ethnomusicologists Steve Roud and Julia Bishop described it as "far and away the most widely collected song in the English language — equally popular in England, Scotland and Ireland, and with hundreds of versions collected over the years in North America."

"The ballad generally follows a standard plot, although narrative details vary between versions. Barbara Allen visits the bedside of a heartbroken young man, who pleads for her love. She refuses, claiming that he had slighted her at a prior affair; he dies soon thereafter. Barbara Allen later hears his funeral bells tolling; stricken with grief, she dies as well."

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barbara_Allen_ (song)

Versions from fellow Kentuckians Merle Travis and Jean Ritchie, plus folk music bard Pete Seeger:
Last update on August 4, 2:50 pm by Mary.
Don and Phil singing, accompanied by daddy Ike, at the Newport Folk Festival in 1969.

Last update on August 4, 7:12 pm by Mary.
Written by Frank Hartford and Tex Ritter (though Ritter's authorship is in question), the song was recorded by The York Brothers in 1942, by which young Don and Phil probably heard it.

Last update on October 16, 1:26 pm by Mary.
A superb album. It's a good job I have this on cd otherwise my original vinyl copy would be worn out! Every track on this album is great but I have to say, even after all this time Oh So Many Years still stops me in my tracks.
Jamie, "Songs" is one of my favorite EBs albums because: 1) its historical importance of bridging traditional American folk music to American rock 'n' roll; 2) it is so pure and basic: just the two vocals of Don and Phil, Don's acoustic guitar, and Lightnin' Chance's bass; 3) it was a pretty darn gutsy album to do in 1958!

By way of their birthright, Don and Phil sing American-roots rock 'n' roll that was exported and became popular with world-wide cultures, but "Songs" was a very personal, deeply-historically American album. "Songs" exported old and semi-old American folk songs to the rest of the world, and in a few cases, giving them back to the cultures that had exported them to the U.S. in the first place.
Last update on October 6, 6:15 pm by Mary.
"Oh So Many Years" was written by Frankie Bailes and recorded by The Bailes Brothers in 1949. The Bailes were one of the most popular acts on the Grand Ole Opry and the Louisiana Hayride (another country music live show) in the mid-to-late 1940s. Roy Acuff spotted them in Charleston, WV and brought them to the Opry and to Columbia Records. There were four Bailes brothers, and they paired off to perform!

Last update on October 6, 8:58 pm by Mary.

From Allmusic.com:

"Karl & Harty are more important for their influence over other groups such as the Blue Sky Boys and the Everly Brothers (who recorded their "I'm Just Here to Get My Baby Out of Jail" and "Kentucky") than their own career. Though not related, Karl & Harty were a psuedo brother act, performing regularly on Chicago's WLS National Barn Dance in the 1930s. The performances led to a recording contract with the American Record Corporation, where Karl penned his best work including "I'm Just Here" and "Kentucky," a beautiful ode to his home state. The duo later recorded for Capitol in the late '40s but soon retired from music not long after."

Chicago's WLS National Barn Dance was second to Nashville's Grand Ole Opry in live country music radio significance. The proximity of Iowa to Chicago, both in the Midwest, assured that the Everlys heard the National Barn Dance regularly in the 1940s to early 1950s. The WLS stood for "World's Largest Store," after its owner, Sear Roebuck and Co, much in the same way KMA in Shenandoah, IA was owned by the Earl May Seed Co. and stood for "Keep Millions Advised."

Last update on August 4, 7:33 pm by Mary.
Great to read some of this background stuff about the album. I bought it as soon as it came out but there was not a lot of publicity concerning it at the time because it was right in the middle of the rock n roll era and singles were coming out every 5 minutes or so it seemed like, so an album of this type did not get a lot of coverage over here in Britain. I haven't got the extended vinyl but I know most of the completed versions are on the Outtakes CD which I have had for about 10 years now. At the time it was not something friends wanted to hear apart from those who followed them avidly. It is a masterpiece of course and as Chris has pointed out Oh So Many Years is my favourite track on it, always has been. It is now surprising how many remember the album and refer to it as I sometimes go to a music quiz with my daughter and her BF but I am no use at all, I might as well just have a drink!!
Believe it or not, I had never heard the versions of Barbara Allen sung by Merle Travis and Pete Seeger before. They were very different from each other but both very enjoyable to listen to.
Down in the Willow Garden is one of the most haunting songs I have ever heard. It's a beautiful song but very haunting. I just can't imagine what Rose Connelly could have done to die the way she died and then someone would have sung about it. I think that's why I find the song so haunting. But then again, it could have been just a story with a tune.

Check out the Foreverly album by Billie Joe Armstrong and Norah Jones. It is a very worthwhile album done by Billie Joe and Norah. It has the Daddy songs on it. It is a tribute to the Everly Brothers.
It's assumed she got pregnant by the narrator so he killed her to cover it up. A pretty tune but ugly story.
Thank you, Megancat. That did enter my mind. I guess a lot of us assumed the same thing. Smile It is a beautiful song but very haunting.
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