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Laurie Lewis & the Right Hands

Burley Coulter's Song for Kate Helen Branch

HighTone 8194


(Wendell Berry-lyrics [from Given: New Poems, published by Shoemaker and Hoard, © 2005 by Wendell Berry], Laurie Lewis-music/Spruce and Maple Music, ASCAP)
Scott Huffman: vocal and guitar, Laurie Lewis: fiddle, Craig Smith: banjo, Tom Rozum: mandola, Todd hillips: string bass

Wendell Berry sent this poem to me and asked me to put it to music. It sat around for awhile, until I read his beautiful collection of stories, That Distant Land, and got to know some of the history of Burley and Kate Helen. Burley wasn’t the sort of person to do the conventional thing, if it wasn’t in his heart. He would disappear for days on end into the woods, knew how to work and knew how not to, and was always singing little snippets of songs. Kate Helen was the love of his life. I won’t tell you any more than that. You’ll have to read the book. Scott seems typecast to play the part of Burley.

The rugs were rolled back to the walls
The band in place, the lamps all lit
We talked and laughed a little bit
And then obeyed the caller’s call
- light-footed, happy, half-entranced-
To balance, swing and promenade
Do you remember how we danced,
And how the fiddler played

About midnight we left the crowd
And wandered out to take a stroll
We heard the tree frog and the owl-
Beside the creek was running loud
The good dark held us as we chanced
The joy we two together made
Remembering how we whirled and pranced
And how the fiddler played

That night is many years ago, and gone,
And still I see you clear-
Clear as the lamplight in your hair
The old time comes around me now
And I remember how you glanced at me
And how we stepped and swayed
I can’t forget the way we danced
The way the fiddler played
Oh, how the fiddler played


This song is available on Laurie's recording, "The Golden West" along with 12 other fine tunes.


Song Titles

Your Eyes * Burley Coulter's Song for Kate Helen Branch * Before the Sun Goes Down * Live Forever * Rank Stranger * Bury Me In Bluegrass * The Golden West * A Hand to Hold * River Under the Road * Hard Luck in Heaven * The Mourning Cloak * Goodbye Waltz

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