Sung by: Mrs. W.B. Apple
Recorded on 7/20/62
Click here to listen to the original recording
A Spanish cavalier stood in his retreat,
And on his guitar played a tune, dear.
The music so sweet would offtimes repeat
The blessings of my country and you, dear.
Chorus: Say, darling, say, when I'm far away,
Sometimes you may think of me, dear.
Bright sunny days will soon fade away.
Remember what I say and be true, dear.
I'm off to war; to the war I must go
To fight for my country and you, dear,
But if I should fall, in vain I would call
The blessings of my country and you, dear.
(Chorus, with 'Remember what I say and be true, dear' substituted for second line.)
When the war is o'er, to you I'll return,
Again to my country and you, dear,
But if I be slain, you must seek me in vain;
Upon the battlefield you will find me.
(Chorus, as in second stanza)
Dr. Wolf: "Tell me something about your father. What was his business?"
Mrs. Apple: "My father was a minister, but there was a large family of us, and he believed in having entertainment at home. He taught us a lot of sacred music, and he taught us all the old folksongs, and he was a great believer in entertainment. He was not the kind of a person that just believed that you had to be a Christian and have a long face. He believed that we should have fun, and we had fun at home. I also had a grandfather that believed in music, and he was a doctor, and that's where I learned so many tunes."
Dr. Wolf: "Where did your father grow up?"
Mrs. Apple: "In Illinois. My father grew up in the state of Illinois."
Dr. Wolf: "What church did he . . ."
Mrs. Apple: "He was a Baptist, Southern Baptist minister. And my grandfather lived in Illinois, Arkansas, and Oklahoma, and he practiced medicine in all these places, and he used to travel in a buggy. He would go from here to Oklahoma, and the return trip in a buggy, maybe with one horse. And he was Irish, and that's where I learned so many Irish and Scotch songs."
Dr. Wolf: "Your father played the fiddle, huh?"
Mrs. Apple: "He played the fiddle."
Dr. Wolf: "Did he ever play in church?"
Mrs. Apple: "Never played at church, and if he caught any of us girls or boys patting our feet, that's when he quit. Now I pat my foot. To me, that's part of it, but when I was a kid, I was not allowed to pat my foot. He said music was to be loved, but he didn't want to make dancers out of us. He was against dancing, but still he played all these old tunes, but he called them folk tunes."
Dr. Wolf: "He let you do these ring games. Did he play for the games?"
Mrs. Apple: "No, we didn't even go to play parties. We did these at home, just for innocent fun. And I never could be still. I always wanted to pat both feet and both hands, but we had to get behind someone if we did, because the minute he saw that . . ."
Dr. Wolf: "Do you think these play party songs were started by people who didn't believe in dancing, or wouldn't dance or something, or . . ."
Mrs. Apple: "I think that was partly it, and partly they didn't have anyone to play music at some of these places, so they'd just make up the words and put it to these tunes. I know in this section, musicians were very scarce. Now my father was a musician, but he certainly never went to a dance and to play parties. Well, you see, they didn't have someone to play at those places, so they just sing."
Dr. Wolf: "There's another question I want to ask you. Some people say that a folk singer who really knows a lot of tunes and has been around music all his life will often change up the music or the words to the song to suit himself. I know this old man down here that lives near Heber, that won't sing a song like anybody else sings it. He sings, and he's sung a lot, and he just wants to sing the song until the song sounds right to him, until it suits him. Now, what's your idea about that?"
Mrs. Apple: "Well, I'm afraid there's a lot of truth in that. I think most of these folksingers are great individualists; I suppose that would be the correct word. I know I am. I am . . . I go overboard being an individual, and sometimes when I'm singing a song, the song means a lot to me. Each song means a lot to me. Sometimes if I sing a sad song, I cry. I mean, it means something to me. And I . . . I'm . . . I want to change it, because of the feeling. I may change a word, some other word might accidentally mean more to me, and I'll change it, really without meaning to. So I think all folksingers, all I've ever met, are great individualists. I know I am. I try not to change the song . . . I want to keep them in the same old Elizabethan style that I think we're doing here in the Ozarks. And I try. For instance, a while ago I said, 'The old yaller cat.' Well, we all know it's 'yellow,' but it wouldn't be Arkansas, it wouldn't be Ozark if I said 'yellow cat,' so I said 'the old yaller cat,' and to me, that's the thing."
Dr. Wolf: "How about the music? Do you ever change what seems to you to be an awkward part of the music, change the old tune . . ."
Mrs. Apple: "Not, I don't ever change one because it's hard. The harder the sound, the better I like it, and the more I work on it. I'm very, very stubborn about putting in a beautiful sound. For instance, the 'Jenny Lind Polka' a while ago had all those little . . . there was a triplet there with . . . a grace note triplet. And I have tried and tried to perfect that. I never change one because it's difficult. If it has beauty, to me that's it."
Dr. Wolf: "Yeah. But you . . . you think you might sometimes change a note or two that sounds better to you?"
Mrs. Apple: "Yes, I do. I do sometimes. I can't . . . I try not to, but I . . . Well, we live in 1962, and a lot of these songs have been brought up, and I think those will creep in, and you don't really mean for them to creep in. I believe that. I think I try as hard as anyone in the Ozark section to hold what I have heard back to that old style, but I'll admit, I hear it myself, and I'm sure you hear it once in a while. I'll let some of that modern creep in."
Dr. Wolf: "Uh huh. Well, life changes and everything changes. It's not unusual."