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, May 3, 2020

Sunday Singalong with Circlemending

It’s been awhile since I’ve engaged others in my blog and song selections. I have been thinking of some great songs that go along with the current state of affairs. Now, most people I know have been quarantined with other family members and so have at least one other person with whom to play games, have meals, take a walk, sing songs, etc. Lots of my friends are making masks for various organizations, others are volunteering in a number of ways that allow for social distancing. Of course, in this home you would expect us to be playing music, writing songs (been enjoying a lot of parodies I’ve heard on Facebook), learning a new instrument . . . you know, those types of activities. Since my husband has been ill, he is really not up to playing the saw or singing and, instead, we have both been watching a lot of TV (not necessarily together).

But last night I enjoyed a gathering of a few of us from the Riverside Folk Song Society where we attempted to do some group singing on Zoom. We weren’t terribly effective, but we still had fun and are going to give it another go later this month. Usually our meetings have a theme, but such was not the case this time around. It was especially nice because a couple of our members, who no longer live in the area, were able to join us for the first time in years! The host of the group, Bob Palmer, was able to put up some lyrics and chords so we could try for a group sing . . . that system needs a few tweaks before it will work for us, but I see it as a fun way to learn new songs, among other things. There are a lot of groups like ours – people who enjoy certain types of music or instruments and are connecting with others, thus making sequestering a learning experience (and part of the learning includes the operation of the required technology).

My German Hollanders and Trapschuhs gather around the piano for a singalong Sunday
Milwaukee, Wisconsin

In the past, I put up a weekly blog called “Sunday Singalong.” Now, I’m not promising a weekly theme, but I hope to get back into this and, at least for the next few weeks – maybe longer – there is plenty of time to seek out a song you remember from childhood, one that you enjoy singing with friends or by yourself, or a favorite piece by a favored artist whose YouTube® performance can be shared here with others. So put on your thinking caps and for this Singalong Sunday (add the song any day this week), our theme is (aptly), SOLITUDE. The song need not contain that word, but should convey that feeling, though it may be a personal connotation – and do share the song meaning or history in your life, if you’ve a mind to. Ideally, include lyrics or a video or audio recording so others can enjoy it too.

SOLITUDE: The first to come to my mind is “I Love to Go A-Wandering” or "The Happy Wanderer" – I remember singing it at camp (don’t ask what year or which one, but I think we sang it in Brownies, too). Now, I, personally, am not prone to go a-wandering (where I live, snakes give me pause and my wandering, these days, tends to be around my own yard, and close to the house, but with eyes still on the ground and never with ear buds to listen to music – can’t hear that distinctive rattle that way). 

Maybe one reason it sticks with me is that it has a German origin, as do I (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Happy_Wanderer). The picture (and I’ve found this song in various music books, with exactly the picture I first conjured up when the piece was taught to me) of a lone person walking with a walking stick (no doubt to help keep the snakes away) heading uphill, wearing a backpack (of course), with mountains and trees in the background. I’m not a big fan of backpacks, unless they have wheels, the required equipment for almost every container I transport  . . . but “. . . along the mountain track, . . . my wheely cart by my side . . . “ not only doesn’t rhyme, but removes that picture from the song. But, I confess, in my mind’s eye I don’t picture that hiker as an almost 69-year-old woman! Now, that is an image!
(public domain; stock photo)

Here are some YouTube videos of the song (which, while speaking of solitude, seems to be sung by groups! Go figure).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SVcJIMhmGys (some of the people in this one are wandering on bicycles - not following the song concept at all!)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j_QJi7wVENE (in German, as my ancestors would have sung it?)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BuT3MvLJtLI (some great instrumental accompaniment)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0qJRlUy2Axw (Finally! Primarily a solo - with a full band and echo chorus keeping him company)

What’s your song of SOLITUDE?