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Mountain Air (Dan Berggren) -back cover

Mountain Air
Dan Berggren

  1. Old Green Sweater (4:21)
    This song, about the love that goes into things handmade, was a gift for my wife in return for a sweater she made for me before we were married. Thanks, Nancy, for your constant love and patience.
  2. My Old Brown Coat and Me (2:34)
    The lesson in this song, learned from Larry Older (who l learned it from his dad Ben), runs contrary to the saying “clothes make the man.” It’s more like, “you can’t tell a book by its cover.” [Traditional]
  3. Mountain Air (4:31)
    Nature’s spirit gives hope to our spirit. Tom, Judy and Dove Phillips helped me sense that again and made me feel right at home at Bartlett’s Carry.
  4. Geese Over St. Regis (1:44)
    One brilliant fall day I was playing the banjo in the library at Paul Smith’s College near Saranac Lake. While looking out the window at the Upper St. Regis River and St. Regis Mountain, along came a flock of geese to complete the picture.
  5. Praties (The Famine Song) (2:10)
    Like many Irish immigrants, my maternal ancestors, the Wilsons, came to the Adirondacks in the late 1840’s to escape the devastation of the potato famine. One of his memories that came with them was this song. (Traditional)
  6. House Call (2:43)
    Back home, the Minerva Historical Society asked if I’d write a song about their museum’s theme that year: old-time doctors. The home visit seemed to sum up what was unique about medical help in the past. The song is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Jacques Grunblatt, who once made a house call for me when I had pneumonia.
  7. Pole Trails (Wild Mustard River) (2:39)
    The rugged, dangerous, and sometimes tragic days of river driving have been a vivid picture in my mind ever since I heard Larry Older sing of the “wild Mustard River” one summer’s afternoon in Plattsburgh. Thanks to Dave Utter for helping me to remember the words. (Traditional)
  8. Road Monkey (2:17)
    With a job more curious than shanty boy or boatsman, the road monkey tended the skid ways making sure the teamsters’ load didn’t go too slow—or too fast.
  9. Air Mail Pollution (3:56)
    Taking care of our land, water and air makes sense to some, but others don’t seem to understand that we’re all responsible for each other on this earth.
  10. When Harry Carried the Mail (2:19)
    This is a song of days gone by and of my grandfather Harry Wilson, one of the first RFD mail carriers in the Adirondacks. The spirit is kept alive in stories told by folks like Cecil Butler, Jim HIggins, and Bill Barnes.
  11. The Farmer and the Shanty Boy (3:35)
    Yankee John Galusha used to sing this Adirondack version of a lumber camp ballad about two young women debating who they’ll marry. (Traditional)
  12. Mis’ Cole (2:30)
    One of Jeanne Robert Foster’s authentic and engaging portraits of mountain folk, this poem speaks of a decision not to be someone else’s “hands and feet” anymore.
  13. Blue Ribbon (J. R. Foster) (3:45)
    After reading the poem about Mis’ Cole, one wonders—what happened to her? Did her courage bring her sorrow or joy? My imagination answered as I listened at the top of Wilson Hill.
  14. Red Banana (2:41)
    Of all the uses that a big old soft, red handkerchief can have, turning someone’s tears to smiles tops the list. It’s like keeping a song in your back pocket.
  15. The Tune the Cow Died On (1:15)
    Cecil Butler told me my grandfather, Harry, liked this one about the farmer with an awful voice. Thanks to Jeff Warner and Jeff Davis, I finally learned this “lethal” tune. (Traditional)
  16. Lament of the Logger’s Wife (2:11)
    One day while hauling fire wood for my folks, the sound of a chain saw in the distance caught my ear. The idea that it could be a comforting sound to the wife of a logger seemed to fit this traditional tune.
  17. Juberju (3:23)
    This is one of the Adirondack logging songs that Yankee John Galusha used to sing. It tells of a boatsman who lost his jam-boat, but not his life, as the river drivers floated down the Hudson dancing their “juberju” on the logs. (Traditional)
  18. Logging Roads, Graveyards and Old Cellar Holes (3:14)
    The woods and the fields are so full of stories, and sometimes all it takes is to listen and look carefully enough and those stories can come to life. You can imagine an entire farm from a simple stone foundation.
  19. Cedar Swamp (1:48)
    Between the pleasure and pain of deer and mosquitoes, I find myself on sweaty summer days enjoying the mysterious and aromatic shade that a cedar swamp has to offer. But with a name like “swamp,” you’d never sell this tune as a perfume.

All songs by Dan Berggren, except as noted.


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