My friend Jonathan Barnes has been reading The Secret of the Swamp King with his kids. Jonathan is a musician, so he did what musicians do: he composed a tune for “Sweet Eileen”–the timber rafters’ song in Chapter 8 of that book–and recorded it. I’ve always sung “Sweet Eileen” as a bluegrass song–to the tune of “Fly Around My Pretty Little Lass,” actually. Jonathan Barnes pulled out his slide guitar and made it into a swampy blues song. Which makes a whole lot of sense. I think it’s great. Here’s a link to Jonathan Barnes playing and singing his swampy version of “Sweet Eileen.” I think you’ll have to have Quicktime installed on your computer to be able to hear it.
Here are the lyrics to “Sweet Eileen”:

My sweet Eileen is the prettiest thing,
The ferry-keeper’s daughter.
My heart’s own queen is sweet Eileen,
She lives beside the water.

I gave Eileen a ruby ring
To be my wife forever,
But she just sung, “Boy, I’m too young!”
And threw it in the river.

So I departed broken-hearted,
Lonesome ever after.
I left the farm and my mother’s arms
To be a timber rafter.

Now every spring I see Eileen
Beside the ferry landing.
I wave and sigh as I float by,
And there I leave her standing.

Bonus Anecdote: Jonathan Barnes, like me, is a native of Middle Georgia. In his honor, here is my favorite anecdote relating to his hometown of Juliette, Georgia. There was a church softball team in Juliette that, for some reason, found it impossible to get along with another church softball team from Macon. Every time they played, a fistfight broke out. It got so bad that the pastors of the two churches agreed that it would be best if the two teams dropped one another from their schedules.

It wasn’t long, however, before the two teams got to missing one another, so somebody came up with the idea that maybe they could have a picnic together and then play softball. The thought was that if the players from the two teams could get to know each other, each would see that the others weren’t such bad guys after all and they wouldn’t be so inclined to fight when they played their game. But the game never happened; a fistfight broke out at the picnic.

  • April 2
    11:55 AM, 13 July 2011

    I like the new tune.  I love the softball story!  Sounds like 2 softball teams full of feechies!  Jonathan B. needs to put “My Darlin’ wears Curlers to the the K-Mart” to music. 

    • Jonathan Rogers
      3:45 PM, 13 July 2011

      I thought the same thing, April–First Feechie Baptist of Juliette. Maybe I should forward the lyrics  of “My Darling Wears Curlers” to Jonathan B and see what he can do with them.

      • Jonathan Barnes
        4:09 AM, 14 July 2011

        sounds like a bluegrass tune . . . which is a good thing.

  • Fellow Traveler
    1:06 PM, 13 July 2011

    Hey, it’s like a Feechie version of Bruce Hornsby’s “The Road Not Taken!” 😀

  • Jonathan Barnes
    2:22 PM, 13 July 2011

    I am honored.  For the Juliette story as well as the song – glad you liked it.

    • Fellow Traveler
      3:36 PM, 13 July 2011

      You play a very sweet swampy guitar Jonathan.

      • Jonathan Barnes
        4:10 AM, 14 July 2011

        thank you very much!

      • Jonathan Barnes
        4:19 AM, 14 July 2011

        here’s a video of my live rendition of Crossroads Blues by Robert Johnson –

    • Jonathan Rogers
      3:43 PM, 13 July 2011

      I’m curious, Jonathan B, do you happen to know the softball team I speak of? I like to imagine that one of the teams was Methodist and the other Baptist, and that their fights were over minor theological differences. A Baptist hits a single. Between pitches he starts ragging the Methodist first baseman about sprinkling babies. It all goes downhill from there.

      • Jonathan Barnes
        4:10 AM, 14 July 2011

        I don’t know exactly, but I would imagine your assessment is accurate.  

  • Dan Kulp
    2:35 PM, 13 July 2011

    Ah church league softball.  Spilling the blood of fellowship for years now.

  • Anonymous
    3:34 PM, 13 July 2011

    I’ve played softball in industrial leagues and church leagues.  Hands down, the sportsmanship in the industrial leagues was better. 

  • Julie Silander
    7:22 PM, 13 July 2011

    Outstanding. This made my day.  And it had been a pretty good one already.  Jonathan (Barnes), any interest in providing a short soundtrack for a feechie Lego video?  I feel the seeds of a grassroots epic being planted…

    • Jonathan Barnes
      4:06 AM, 14 July 2011

      Sure!  but how short?  🙂

      • Julie Silander
        1:37 PM, 14 July 2011

        I spoke with the producer. Probably needs between 1 and 3 minutes. He thought that perhaps he should put together the video, then send it to you for soundtrack.  Does that work?  He’s relatively new to this.  He’s 11, by the way.

      • Julie Silander
        3:01 PM, 14 October 2011

        OK… three months later, and we have a 1.5 minute video.  Is there an email address where I can send you the link?  We’ll put it on as a private file on Youtube  to serve as your muse.  

  • Drew
    9:34 PM, 13 July 2011

    Now do this one!:

  • Loren Warnemuende
    2:00 AM, 14 July 2011

    What a great tune!
    By the way, I finally read The Charlatan’s Boy over vacation the other week and thoroughly enjoyed it. I read the scene about the chalkboard bully to my in-laws and had them in stitches 🙂 . I noticed at the end of the book it mentioned there’d be more to Grady’s story; is that still in the works? I know Flannery has been taking up most of your time these days.

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