10 “Willie Moore” by Burnett & Rutherford


January 21, 2009 by gadaya

Burnett & Rutherford’s World

“Dick Burnett and Leonard Rutherford travelled throughout the South from 1914 to 1950, spreading their good music, collecting good songs, and building a reputation for musical excitement that still holds today throughout the region. People from widely different geographic areas remember the singing of “Blind Burnett,” the “blind minstrel of Monticello,” and fiddling Leonard Rutherford, “one of the smoothest fiddlers ever to take a bow.”

Sure, the old-time music of Burnett & Rutherford makes us travel in time, and it’s tempting to imagine the duo singing and playing in the streets of the mountain towns, while people are buck-dancing in rhythm with the banjo and fiddle. Even after 80 years,even played on a modern computer lap-top, their music sounds so exciting and immediate, joyful and honest all at once. Their version of “Willie Moore” is perhaps one my favorite performance on the Anthology…

-On this page, you’ll read the full article that i started to quote in the beginning by the great country music historian Charles Wolfe.

-and here, you’ll read more about the life and music of the duet

-Dick Burnett claimed that he wrote the famous appallachian song “Man of constant sorrow” in 1913 but never recorded it. Let’s hear Emry Arthur’s version of the song:

“Man of constant sorrow” mP3

-I’ve compiled 18 tracks by Burnett & Rutherford, with Burnett always playing the banjo or guitar (he had a very “snappy” guitar style) and Rutherford the fiddle. They are joined on two tracks (Cumberland Gap and She’s a flower from the field of Alabama) by guitarist Byrd Moore. On two tracks (Going around the world and Going across the sea) Burnett is playing and singing alone.

1.Ladies On The Steamboatburnruth

2.All Night Long Blues

3.Cumberland Gap

4.Curley Headed Woman

5.Pearl Bryan

6.Billy In The Low Ground

7.Rambling Reckless Hobo

8.Willie Moore

9.Lost John

10.Little Stream Of Whiskey

11.I’ll Be With You When The Roses Bloom Again

12.She’s A Flower From The Fields Of Alabama

13.Weeping Willow Tree

14.A Short Life Of Trouble

15.Going Around The World

16.Going Across The Sea

17.Sleeping Lulu

18.Blackberry Blossoms

Download here


If you want to hear more old-time music from Kentucky, i strongly recommand the following discs:

-“Kentucky Mountain Music” a superb box-set with 7 cds and a booklet issued by Yazoo Records, it’s a compilation of 78rpm records and field recordings

-“Music of Kentucky” also from Yazoo Records, 2 cds with other 78s and field recordings from that region

-“Mountain music of Kentucky” is a 2 cd set of field recordings made by John Cohen for Folkways Records; a lot of banjo pickers, Sacred-Harp and religious singing, the great Roscoe Holcomb,etc… a must-have!

The Willie Moore Variations

“Willie Moore” is the first real vernacular american folk ballad of the Anthology. The theme and verses of the song are very alike british broadside balladry but versions of the song could only be found in America.

This tragic love tale has very mysterious verses: Why Willie Moore was called a “king”, did “sweet Annie” killed herself because she could not marry him, or Willie maybe killed her, why did Willie went away to Montreal and who is the mysterious J.R.D who “composed” the song?

-On this page, you’ll read an essay and the lyrics of the song

-Most of the versions that i found share the same melody, a melody that can also be found in other ballads, like “Sweet William and Lady Margret” sung here by Jean Ritchie. My selection is relatively short to avoid repetition as many versions of the song sounds quite similar.


1.Sweet William and Lady Margaret, Jean Ritchie, from “Ballads from her Appalachian Family Tradition”mtdulcimer

2.Ramblin’ Jack Elliott, from “Best of the Vanguard Years”

3.Hadden, Rothfield & Carr, from “When These Shoes Were New”

4. Happy Traum , from “Buckets Of Song”

5.Barry Hall, from “Virtuoso Five-String Banjo”

6.Silver Thread Trio, from “Silver Thread Trio”

7. Brian Keane, from “The Way West (Original Film Soundtrack)”

8.Foghorn Stringband, from “Rattlesnake Tidal Wave”

9.Doc Watson, from “Jean Ritchie and Doc Watson at Folk City”foghorn-stringband-photo

10. Fred Starr, from “The Max Hunter Folksong Collection”

11. Hank Schwartz, from “Notes Along The Way”

12. Jody Stecher & Kate Brislin, from “Stay Awhile”

13. The Kossoy Sisters With Erik Darling, from “Bowling Green”

14.Matt Bauer, from “Tribute To The Anthology Of American Folk Music By Harry Smith”




4 thoughts on “10 “Willie Moore” by Burnett & Rutherford

  1. Tim says:

    Just wanted to let you know that this blog is incredible, and I very much hope that you continue till the end. (Or at least until “Indian War Whoop”!)

  2. Andreyka says:

    )))))))) Thank you!!!

  3. Bisbonian says:

    “Curly Headed Woman” is still quite the popular song, better known as the Hesitation Blues.

  4. Thank you for making this content easy to read and comprehend. I appreciate all the work you did on this and I am very impressed.

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