Songs of The Original Carter Family

In 1998, I transcribed all of the lyrics of the Original Carter Family from the Rounder Records CDs, Lps, and tapes. In 2000, Bear Family Records released In the Shadow of Clinch Mountain, a 12 volume CD compilation of all of the Original Carter Family's commercial recordings. The CDs are accompanied by an extensive hardcover book by Charles Wolfe, which includes all of the song lyrics as transcribed by Phil Wells. I compared our work and found many places where I continue to differ with the Wells transcriptions even after repeated listenings. Many of the differences are minor, and may be illusory where a final -s or -ed is concerned. I've enclosed differences in square brackets where I don't have the full courage of my convictions! Because there was no index to the Bear Family CDs or song lyrics, I compiled one of my own.

While neither the Wells transcriptions nor mine are currently available on the WWW, the differences are listed here for the convenience of those with the Bear Family collection. When a song was recorded more than once, I looked only at the first version in the collection. Each difference is presented according to the way I hear it. For example, "and Jesus NOT in Jesus" means I hear "and Jesus" while the Wells transcriptions contain "in Jesus". In all fairness, I made at least as many corrections to my own transcriptions after reviewing the recordings with the Wells transcriptions in hand. I'm eager to hear from anyone who wants to weigh in on either side or present a completely different take if we've both missed the mark.

Most differences are prefixed by a code of the form v# to indicate the number of the verse in which the difference appears. Verses are numbered according to the way the lyrics are printed in the Wolfe volume. Some differences are prefixed by a ch to indicate the difference appears in the chorus. On rare occasions, a difference is labeled v#/l# or l#, where the number following the l is a line number.

There are two collections of lyrics of the Original Carter Family on the World Wide Web.

I have not compared them to the Wells transcriptions or mine or to each other. If anyone does and posts the results, I'd be happy to link to them.

Jerry Dallal