What a Time on the Way

from by The Lost Forty

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about

This was one of only two songs recorded from Reuben Phillips’ son Israel Lawrence Phillips (1883-1967). Israel was the first of his farming family to come to Minnesota from Iowa around 1910. He settled south of Akeley near Chamberlain. The Red River Lumber Company, whose sawmill was in Akeley, was active at the time so it is likely that Israel would have worked for them in some capacity and may have picked up this song while working in the woods himself. The song depicts the common practice of balancing seasonal harvest work in the Dakotas (“old Dakoty”) with winter work in the Minnesota pineries. Lumberjack Ed Springstead of Bemidji told Franz Rickaby that “Harvesting in Dakota was about as common a practice for the lumber jacks… …as lumbering in the winter for the farmer boys.”

This song does not appear in the Phillips manuscript so I fleshed out the two verse fragment recorded by Gordon with additional verses based on similar songs collected in Ontario by Edith Fowke.

lyrics

Now that the harvest is all through,
To old Dakoty we will bid you adieu,
Back to the jack pine we will go,
To haul these saw logs in the snow.

Fol-the-deedle-doe, fol-the-deedle-day,
Hi-fol-the-doe, what a time on the way.

Well you might say we felt big,
We were in a silver-mounted rig,
For Akeley town we set our sails,
They all thought we were the Prince of Wales.

Well Neddy he’s a splendid cook,
And he always stops beside some brook,
Scrambled eggs three times a day,
Lots of bread and a big cuppa tay.

Well we jogged along ’til we came through,
It’s there we met with the rest of the crew,
Handsome boys both young and stout,
The pick of the town there is no doubt.

Into the buggy we jerked our boots,
You can bet our teamster fed long oats,
To the camp we drove along,
We joined up in a sing song.

Well we stayed all winter ‘til we were through,
Then started home with the same old crew,
Now we’re home, we’ve got our pay,
We think of the time that we had on the way.

credits

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

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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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