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Mountain Whippoorwill (Or, How Hillbilly Jim Won the Great Fiddler's Prize)

This song is by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band and appears on the album Stars & Stripes Forever (1974).

Up in the mountains, it's lonesome all the time
(Sof' win' slewin' thu' the sweet-potato vine.)
Up in the mountains, it's lonesome for a child
(Whippoorwills a-callin' when the sap runs wild.)

Up in the mountains, mountains in the fog
Everythin's as lazy as an old houn' dog
Born in the mountains, never raised a pet
Don't want nothin' an' never got it yet

Born in the mountains, lonesome-born
Raised runnin' ragged thu' the cockleburrs and corn
Never knew my pappy, mebbe never should
Think he was a fiddle made of mountain laurel-wood

Never had a mammy to teach me pretty-please
Think she was a whippoorwill, a-skittin' thu' the trees
Never had a brother ner a whole pair of pants
But when I start to fiddle, why, yuh got to start to dance

Listen to my fiddle -- Kingdom Come -- Kingdom Come
Hear the frogs a-chunkin' "Jug o' rum, Jug o' rum"
Hear that mountain whippoorwill be lonesome in the air
An' I'll tell yuh how I travelled to the Essex County Fair

Essex County has a mighty pretty fair
All the smarty fiddlers from the South come there
Elbows flyin' as they rosin up the bow
For the First Prize Contest in the Georgia Fiddlers' Show

Old Dan Wheeling, with his whiskers in his ears
King-pin fiddler for nearly twenty years
Big Tom Sergeant, with his blue wall-eye
An' Little Jimmy Weezer that can make a fiddle cry

All sittin' roun', spittin' high an' struttin' proud
(Listen, little whippoorwill, yuh better bug yore eyes!)
Tun-a-tun-a-tunin' while the jedges told the crowd
Them that got the mostest claps'd win the bestest prize

Everybody waitin' for the first tweedle-dee
When in comes a-stumblin' -- hill-billy me
Bowed right pretty to the jedges an' the rest
Took a silver dollar from a hole inside my vest

Plunked it on the table an' said, "There's my callin' card
An' anyone that licks me -- well, he's got to fiddle hard"
Old Dan Wheeling, he was laughin' fit to holler
Little Jimmy Weezer said, "There's one dead dollar"

Big Tom Sergeant had a yaller-toothy grin
But I tucked my little whippoorwill spang underneath my chin
An' petted it an' tuned it till the jedges said, "Begin!"
Big Tom Sargent was the first in line
He could fiddle all the bugs off a sweet-potato vine
He could fiddle down a possum from a mile-high tree
He could fiddle up a whale from the bottom of the sea

Yuh could hear hands spankin' till they spanked each other raw
When he finished variations on "Turkey in the Straw."
Little Jimmy Weezer was the next to play
He could fiddle all night, he could fiddle all day
He could fiddle chills, he could fiddle fever
He could make a fiddle rustle like a lowland river
He could make a fiddle croon like a lovin' woman
An' they clapped like thunder when he'd finished strummin'

Then came the ruck of the bob-tailed fiddlers
The let's-go-easies, the fair-to-middlers
They got their claps an' they lost their bicker
An' they all settled back for some more corn-licker

An' the crowd was tired of their no-count squealing
When out in the center steps Old Dan Wheeling
He fiddled high and he fiddled low
(Listen, little whippoorwill, yuh got to spread yore wings!

He fiddled and fiddled with a cherrywood bow
(Old Dan Wheeling's got bee-honey in his strings)
He fiddled a wind by the lonesome moon
He fiddled a most almighty tune
He started fiddling like a ghost
He ended fiddling like a host.
He fiddled north an' he fiddled south,
He fiddled the heart right out of yore mouth.
He fiddled here an' he fiddled there
He fiddled salvation everywhere

When he was finished, the crowd cut loose
(Whippoorwill, they's rain on yore breast.)
An' I sat there wonderin' "What's the use?"
(Whippoorwill, fly home to yore nest.)

But I stood up pert an' I took my bow
An' my fiddle went to my shoulder, so
An' -- they wasn't no crowd to get me fazed --
But I was alone where I was raised

Up in the mountains, so still it makes yuh skeered.
Where God lies sleepin' in his big white beard.
An' I heard the sound of the squirrel in the pine,
An' I heard the earth a-breathin' thu' the long night-time

They've fiddled the rose, and they've fiddled the thorn
But they haven't fiddled the mountain-corn
They've fiddled sinful an' fiddled moral
But they haven't fiddled the breshwood-laurel

They've fiddled loud, and they've fiddled still
But they haven't fiddled the whippoorwill
I started off with a dump-diddle-dump
(Oh, hell's broke loose in Georgia)

Skunk-cabbage growin' by the bee-gum stump.
(Whippoorwill, yo're singin' now)
My mother was a whippoorwill pert,
My father, he was lazy,
But I'm hell broke loose in a new store shirt
To fiddle all Georgia crazy.
Swing yore partners -- up an' down the middle!
Sashay now -- oh, listen to that fiddle!
Flapjacks flippin' on a red-hot griddle

An' hell's broke loose,
Hell's broke loose,
Fire on the mountains -- snakes in the grass.
Satan's here a-bilin' -- oh, Lordy, let him pass

Go down Moses, set my people free;
Pop goes the weasel thu' the old Red Sea
Jonah sittin' on a hickory-bough
Up jumps a whale -- an' where's yore prophet now?

Rabbit in the pea-patch, possum in the pot
Try an' stop my fiddle, now my fiddle's gettin' hot
Whippoorwill, singin' thu' the mountain hush
Whippoorwill, shoutin' from the burnin' bush

Whippoorwill, cryin' in the stable-door
Sing tonight as yuh never sang before
Hell's broke loose like a stompin' mountain-shoat
Sing till yuh bust the gold in yore throat

Hell's broke loose for forty miles aroun'
Bound to stop yore music if yuh don['t sing it down
Sing on the mountains, little whippoorwill
Sing to the valleys, an' slap 'em with a hill
For I'm struttin' high as an eagle's quill

An' hell's broke loose
Hell's broke loose
Hell's broke loose in Georgia
They wasn't a sound when I stopped bowin'
(Whippoorwill, yuh can sing no more.)
But, somewhere or other, the dawn was growin'
(Oh, mountain whippoorwill)
An' I thought, "I've fiddled all night an' lost
Yo're a good hill-billy, but yuh've been bossed"
So I went to congratulate old man Dan
-- But he put his fiddle into my han' --
An' then the noise of the crowd began

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