Sarah Newcomb is a fun person who grew up in Virginia. Shari Ajemian Craig is a fun person who grew up in New Hampshire. They both moved to the Boston area at one point or another, for one reason or another. They met through the Folk Song Society, and began writing songs together at Pinewoods music camp. One of their first songs was “The Moonlighter,” an Appalachian attempted murder ballad with many phrases that floated in from various sources.*
Soon, they had enough songs for a book. That book looked like this (see right), though it was bigger and not quite as fuzzy. It contains such side-splitting songs as:
- The Captain’s Shanty: yo ho ho and a ruddy bum bum (this one was written by Sarah Newcomb and Susie Deane)
- I Am a Peasant Woman: and she still finds time to sing
- Left in the Lurch: a cliché-burdened C&W song
- The Many Rivers of Robert Fulton: a biographical riverboat song
They then turned to musical comedy, beginning in the court of Henry VIII and plowing through the Transcendentalists, the Scarlet Letter, the 1950s suburbs, 1899 Boston, and more. Their latest offering, Songs off the Wall, looks sideways at a variety of well-known paintings. Got a painting you’d like to hear a song about? Let us know!
*Here are two verses from the song, which should be sung in a high plaintive wail, accompanied by a one-stringed banjo:
I was born on a mountain, or maybe a hill
I owe my low living to my Daddy still
I courted a fair maid, and May was her name.
I called her, “How’s your mother?”
And she answered, “Just the same.”
One night we went fishing, and out we did row.
I cried, “Pretty Polly, it’s time now to go.”
She said, “Darling Stanley! You are such a tool.”
What do you take me for, some kind of a fool?”
©2011 Ajemian and Newcomb