The Lonesome Hours of Winter

from by The Lost Forty

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about

Heart-wrenching ballads of unrequited love, such as this, may have resonated with Michael Dean as an aging bachelor. Dean never married but lived for almost 30 years with his (widowed) Swedish immigrant housekeeper Rebecca Sandberg and her daughter Annie in Pine County. He sometimes took Annie fishing or brought her along on his visits to St. Paul. Annie moved out in 1906 and in 1913 a tragic house fire killed Rebecca and destroyed Dean’s house. A 1914 issue of the Hinckley Enterprise reported that

“Mike Dean, an old time resident of Hinckley and who has many friends here, has left Pine City and gone to live in St. Paul. Mike has been unable to get a good grip on himself since his house burned and Becky died and he has done no work. He is hoping a change will give him more ambition.”

With prohibition laws on the rise, Dean was never returned to bartending in Pine County and eventually took a night watchman job at the lumber mill in Virginia, MN where he lived in a boarding house until his death.

Though its text appears in The Flying Cloud, “The Lonesome Hours of Winter” is the only song on this album that was not recorded in 1924. I based my melody on versions sung by singer Angelo Dornan of Elgin, New Brunswick and “Yankee” John Galusha of Minerva, New York.

lyrics

Well the lonesome hours of winter provide both frost and snow,
Clouds around us gather and stormy winds do blow,
You’re the girl that I have chosen to be my only dear,
But your scornful heart is frozen and fast locked up I fear.

I went one night to see my love, she proved most scornfully,
I asked her would she marry, to which she paid no heed,
The night is nearly passed and gone and near the break of day,
I’m waiting for your answer, my dear, what do you say?

“Since you must have an answer, I choose a single life,
It never was my intention to ever become your wife,
Now take that for an answer, for myself I will provide,
I’ve chosen another sweetheart and you do cast aside.”

Since you are for changing the old love for the new,
I will go a-ranging and roam this country through,
In hopes to find some pretty fair maid more pleasing to my will,
Well the world is wide and lonesome, dear, if you don’t another will.

I know you have great riches and more you’d like to gain,
You won my young affection which now you do disdain,
Those riches will not last you long, they melt away like snow,
When poverty does press you, dear, you’ll think on me I know.

Well some folks do seek for pleasure, but I no pleasure find,
The little birds sing sweetly along on every vine,
The little birds sing sweetly, pleasing and divine,
So would my joys be flowing tonight if Nancy were only mine.

credits

from The Lonesome Hours of Winter, released November 23, 2018
Brian: vocals, guitar
Randy: mandola

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The Lost Forty Saint Paul, Minnesota

Brian Miller and Randy Gosa craft intricate arrangements of rare old songs entwined with the history of the Great Lakes region. Their sources and their approach celebrate two centuries of Irish musical influence on the under-explored folk song traditions of the north woods. ... more

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