About Me

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Lake Mathews (Perris), CA, United States
Born in Illinois, I grew up in Wilmette, a northern suburb of Chicago. I have one sibling, an older brother. I am married, for the 2nd time now, to Butch & got 4 children in the deal. They have gone on to make me grandmother 25 times over & great-grandmother to over 20!. After many years working in industry, I got my bachelors and masters degrees in speech communication, & was a professor in that field for 13 years. I retired in 2001 & returned to school & got my doctorate in folklore. Now I meld my two interests - folklore & genealogy - & add my teaching background, resulting in my current profession: speaker/author/entertainer of genealogically-related topics. I play many folk instruments, but my preference is guitar, which I have been playing since 1963. I write the "Aunty Jeff" column for the Informer, newsletter of the Jefferson County NY Gen. Soc. I work in partnership with Gena Philibert-Ortega & Sara Cochran as Genealogy Journeys® where we focus on educating folks about Social History. More about that: genaandjean.blogspot.com. More on our podcasts: genjourneys.podbean.com. More about my own projects: Circlemending.org.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending - Friends

Yesterday was a unique experience and a really enjoyable time, in spite of 100+ degree temps. Butch & I, along with a select group of musicians & singers, shared the stage in a variety show for the United Methodist Church in Yucca Valley, Calif. entitled "Charlene & Friends" (the organizer was Charlene Ryan-Moore, organist for the church and amazing talent on piano, organ, accordion, and voice). What a talented group! I was honored to be in their presence. We sang & played instruments from about 2 to 4 pm, with a range of genres that is not likely to be found in one location very often. From Bach to Country music, from polkas on the accordion to old ballads on the saw, from originals to traditional pieces . . . this was truly an event that had something for everyone!

I thought it would be fun to keep the idea of a musical variety show going by pulling a common theme from the program: Friends. Charlene impressed upon the audience that, though some of the performers she had known for less than a couple of hours, they were friends on the basis of being friends of friends (of friends . . .).

Friends were a large part of my family's life, not only in recent years, but back in earlier times. When I sorted through family photos, many included the neighbors, fellow parishioners, coworkers, classmates, etc. And sometimes they got together, as friends, to share songs and good times. So, using Charlene's theme, how about songs about friends or songs sung with friends (by you or your relatives)? (If you choose the latter, be sure to explain how the song connects to the theme.) As a reminder, Sunday Singalong can be a full list of the lyrics, the posting of a verse and/or chorus, or just the title of the song. Or provide a link to the lyrics on line, an MP3, or a YouTube video.

One of my mother's favorite songs was "Ramblin' Boy," about two friends who stuck through everything together, even if it meant that one person's potential for a good job was jeopardized. My friend, Tom Paxton, wrote the song back in the early 1960s. My mother died in 1994, but up until just before her death, virtually every time we gathered as a family to share music, Mom would ask for "Ramblin' Boy." Maybe she was reminded of her own childhood best friends, or maybe she enjoyed the theme of being so close that the two were willing to sacrifice everything for the companion. Whatever it was, Mom's love of that song will always be part of my memories of family gatherings.

To hear & see Tom sing this song in fairly recent times, click on the YouTube concert at the 2008 Philadelphia Folk Festival; but to go back in time to 1965, click on the YouTube interview of Tom with Pete Seeger on Pete's Rainbow Quest television program where the two of them sang it together. (Note the difference: The second to last verse originally was "late one night in a railroad camp"; in more recent years, Tom changed that to ". . . a hobo camp." Whichever way, I don't think I can ever hear - or sing - that song without thinking about how much my mother loved it.) Thanks, Tom, for giving us a great song about friendship . . . and thanks for being a great friend!

So invite your friends and let's singalong about friends!


  1. Jean,

    My favorite friend song:

    "Your Heart Will Lead You Home" written by Kenny Loggins

    All my best,


    Jennifer R. Bernard
    Mont Vernon, NH

  2. Well, Friend!

    My favorite song about friends is Michael W. Smith's "Friends". You can youtube it but here are the lyrics:

    Packing up the dreams God planted
    In the fertile soil of you
    Can't believe the hopes he's granted
    Means a chapter in your life is through
    But we'll keep you close as always
    It won't even seem you've gone
    'cause our hearts in big and small ways
    Will keep the love that keeps us strong

    And friends are friends forever
    If the Lord's the lord of them
    And a friend will not say "never"
    'cause the welcome will not end
    Though it's hard to let you go
    In the father's hands we know
    That a lifetime's not too long to live as friends.

    With the faith and love God's given
    Springing from the hope we know
    We will pray the joy you'll live in
    Is the strength that now you show

    But we'll keep you close as always
    It won't even seem you've gone
    'cause our hearts in big and small ways
    Will keep the love that keeps us strong


    Gets me every time.

    Thanks for your contribution yesterday!


    Susan B.
    Yucca Vally, CA

  3. Jean, this song is a great Argentinean artist named Victor Heredia, is a beautiful song about two friends who have known little I hope the translation is well... I hope you like. Greetings.


    Tenderly friends

    We were like friends who said tenderly
    Two little vagabonds on the backs of river
    In our little wooden boat
    We were light of spring calving
    At thirteen a child is not lying baby,
    And I can assure you that a friend had never beaten.
    We swore to be faithful friends for life,
    Among brides and poems, laughter and brothels.
    Never apart, imprisonment or death.
    Always defend, teenage dream.
    At seventeen life is utopia
    And I can assure you that I did not like a friend anymore
    We retraced the road traveled so often,
    He lost his faith and sometimes we phoned.
    Since our verbiage is not funny
    I'm riding on the same river
    He sold his dreams and shorter paths.
    But I can assure you that I did not like a friend anymore
    He lost his own and I also lost mine
    Something we changed the sweet scent of summer
    Backstage I play to be alive
    The brush your dog every Sunday
    I no longer remember our river
    More I can assure you that I did not anymore,
    As a friend I remember your smile and feel that fate
    It's like sleeping a few bottles of wine
    Some are preserved and others are vinegary,
    And though time kills some beautiful souls
    I always keep what was yours and mine,
    And I can assure you that I did not like a friend anymore