Curt Bouterse
NIXON'S FAREWELL
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Nixon's Farewell: Song Notes

1. San Diego. Self-made, black-painted, pine mountain banjer, tuned double C [gCGcd] (on G); voice. A banjer tune with jig words, celebrating my favorite city: a difficult rhyme.

2. Use It Up. voices (Curt and Lee), chorus, autoharp, guitars. This song is as true as I could have written and it came in a matter of minutes after mulling over the punch line for a couple of years. My mother, grandmother, and many others of the past generations, not only said this but lived it and I believe we ignore it at our peril. And I really Do buy my clothes - except for underwear - at thrift stores.

3. Frog Jump. Self-made cherry "Shaker" box banjer, gut strings, tuned dbl C (on A); voice. While visiting my dear sister in the California gold country we went to the Calaveras County Frog Jump; I actually competed and received a participation ribbon. (It was a loaner company frog and made all of 18 inches.) But I did get a tune out of it.

4. Carlisle. Self-made Wm. S. Mount banjo, tuned dbl C (on G); fiddle, GDGD. One of the many fiddle tunes I developed over the years, named after the small town in Kentucky where I was born - and from which I received my middle name. (My stage name when I become a country-western star will be C.B. Carlisle.) The tune itself has three sections, each one rising in range, the last repeated: ABCC.

5. I've Done It All. voice. An Irish-style boasting song which, when I originally composed it, was not as bawdy as it has been taken by many. I was thinking of singing, honest.

6. Banty Rooster/ Carrie's Dream. "Oregon," fretted homemade banjo, tuned dbl C (on A). Banty was one of the original ten tunes from my booklet and Carrie's Dream was dedicated to a dear friend who now lives in Mexico.

7. Obama. Wm. S. Mount banjo, tuned dbl C (on G); fiddle, GDAE; voice. This tune rose spontaneously on Inauguration Day, watching the throngs on television. It was a triumph of modern technology that, even though I was three thousand miles away, I could feel the energy and joy of that distant assembly. [I resisted including the verse, "There's Michelle, Sasha, and Malia, and also their gran'mama; so raise your voice and give a cheer, for Barack Hussein Obama."]

8. Lindy Lou. Amburgey dulcimer, tuned aaD; self-made, black-painted, pine mountain banjer, tuned dbl C (on D ); voice. Another almost-instant tune that came after thinking of play party songs and named after my sister, whose given name was Linda Lee.

9. Bonja Moan. African-style gourd bonja, tuned 8155 (cCGG). This instrument was one of the first gourd banjers I made, patterned after the very African depictions in the Sloane manuscript, and I call it a bonja to differentiate it from my other, later-style gourdies. The first day I sat down with this instrument, tuned only in fifths, this music was almost spontaneously released from it, combining both African and blues influences. I make no pretensions of authenticity, I only know it still moves me deeply.

10. Nixon's Farewell. Wm. S. Mount banjo, tuned dbl C (on G); fiddle tuned GDAE, hammered dulcimer, voice. Right after the resignation in 1974 I figured something that monumental ought to be noted in music. My initial reaction was the situation resembled "Somebody on the Gallows" or "What's-his-name's Farewell," and I played around with various Lonesome and Lone melodies without success. Then I imagined a song with the refrain, "And you won't have Old Dick Nixon to kick around anymore." [Those too young to get the reference will have to ask their elders.] It was played so much in the late 1970s some tired of it and I was afraid it might better be called Nixon's Revenge but it is popular with contra-dancers.

11. I've Always Been a Scholar. voice; Zimmerman 5-bar autoharp, Dolgeville, N.Y., ca. 1895 (original strings). Perhaps some may think this too personal but it is a contemplation of some of my great loves. I look back with an equal mixture of joy, sadness, and gratitude to all who have touched my life. I intersperse a few traditional cues for atmosphere and commentary.

12. Landee. 1880s Cubley banjo, tuned dbl C (on F#). Another of the original ten tunes, this was composed in a few minutes while waiting to meet the mother of a friend for the first time. The structure seemed to fall into three parts, one of which wanted to come after each of the main phrases: A x B x. It has a little of the drive and repetition of John Brown's Dream.

13. Cornbread and Beans. bonja, tuned 8158 (cCGG); voice. Over the years I have come up with two or three melodies utilizing these traditional words. The others I can't remember; this one I can.

14. General Kearny's March to California. "Oregon" fretted banjer, tuned dbl C (on A); fifes and drums. This tune arose after thinking of early American marches and I play it partly with a strumming motion of the index finger. Stephen W. Kearny is considered the father of the U.S. cavalry; he made an epic march from Santa Fe to San Diego in 1846 in an important time for California and the United States.

15. Without You Tonight. voice, twin fiddles, guitars. This song came to me, fully formed, in a dream over thirty years ago. It was an extremely emotional expression that I notated, sent a copy to myself, and filed away for many years. It never left my mind but I wasn't sure I could ever realize it. About eight years ago George Winston encouraged me to record it and I tried: it brought up such raw emotions I couldn't get through more than a line or so without dissolving into tears. I tried several more times but it wasn't until a few years ago that we finally laid down the tracks with my sister and friends and I was able to sing it without weeping. This is my most personal song of all and only my subconscious is responsible for its existence. It fulfills the Chopi proverb: "To make music you must first dream about it."

16. Tucson Tucstep. "Oregon" fretted banjo, tuned dbl C (on A); hand claps, spoons. This tune came to me while visiting friends in Tucson and didn't have a name for several months. For some reason I thought of it as a two-step and it didn't take long for the pun to surface.

17. In Your Pants. [Parental guidance recommended; NC-17.] voice. While the Tucson tune was rolling around in my head these verses manifested themselves. Another (subconscious) entry in my Political Songs album.

18. South Park. Wm. S. Mount banjo, tuned dbl C (on A); fiddle AEAE. Named after the area in San Diego where I live, not the cartoon show.

19. In My Father's House. voice, chorus, piano. I was raised on Black gospel music beginning with WWII V-discs of "Echoes of Eden" and through the 1960s on local radio. This song came to me while thinking about John 14: 2-3 and George graciously agreed to assist us. My late father introduced me to this music and I can think of no greater tribute to him than this piece - except, perhaps, if a Black gospel church were to adopt and sing it. Hallelujah!

Bonus. I'm Just a Ford, Not a Lincoln. voice, hammered dulcimer, guitar. This song was my second topical effort, written during the term of the modest Gerald Ford. His proclamation became the title and the rest wrote itself. I used to play it often at that time but I set it aside after a while. This cassette field recording was made by a young George Winston at the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium when my dear friend, the late Bob Webb, and I performed there in December, 1975. [For me, The Irish Washerwoman is a bear to play, mixing as it does left-hand lead with right-hand.]

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