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Tune History

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The Stories Behind Your Favorite Tunes


Mountaineer's Love Song

Goodbye Liza Jane

Mountaineer's Love Song was popularized in 1926 by Al Hopkins & His Buckle Busters. Al Hopkins was from Watauga County, North Carolina. His best known fiddler, Charlie Bowman, was from Gray Station (now known as Gray), near Johnson City, TN. He joined the band when he met Hopkins at the 1925 Mountain City, TN Fiddlers Convention. They made musical history when they entered a New York studio to record six sides for Ralph Peer and OKeh Records in 1925. Looking for a name for the band, Peer originally called them the Hill Billies after Hopkins said,  "We're nothing but a bunch of hillbillies from North Carolina and Virginia. Call us anything." The term stuck. Soon, any early country track being issued at the time was called (and marketed as) "hillbilly music."

Learn more about Charlie Bowman, Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters/Hill Billies, and Charlie's tune East Tennessee Blues HERE.

Popularized (again) as a 1942 hit western swing number from Bob Wills, this tune is also known as: "It’s Goodbye Liza Jane,” "Goodbye Liza Jane", “Liza Jane;” “Susan Jane,” "Saro Jane”; “Black Them Boots;” and "Little Saro Jane". Civil war variations include: "Shilo"; “Goin' Down to Cairo;” “Charleston Is Burning Down” and/or “Charlottestown Is Burning Down”.

There are reported roots in minstrelry from the late 1800's, but as is often the case, we will likely never know the origin of the original melody. From the Library of Congress: “In short, the tune is cut of a cloth so common in the Upper South, and in musical domains touched by the influence of the Upper South, that it could be described as a paradigmatic Southern tune, appearing in so many related versions, allied forms and modified guises that it almost defies genetic tracing." Ed. note: "musical domains", "allied forms", "modified guises", "paradigmatic"; "genetic tracing" - just a pretty fancy way of saying that there's a whole bunch of tunes like this.

Here is some more history of the tune from Bluegrass Messengers.

Editor's Note: Just an observation, but where are the Old Time love songs? Titles in the Old Time repertoire abound with people's names, places, geography, and animals, but there are very few with the word "love". A quick search of the Slippery Hill website shows only about 15 tunes with "love" in the title - and there are thousands of tunes in this library. Why is that? You may discuss this amongst yourselves quietly. HERE is one more to enjoy!

Mountaineer's Love Song

Al Hopkins and His Buckle Busters 1926

Liza Jane

Foghorn Stringband 2015

Goodbye Liza Jane

Bob Wills and His Texas Playboys

1946 Universal Pictures short

Goin' Down To Cairo (2016)Home Brew
00:00 / 02:36
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