The Bromberg sessions part 2

By Tony Attwood with data provided by Jochen Markhorst and Aaron Galbraith

Jochen reported finding three bootleg recordings of the Bromberg Sessions that we discussed a few days ago.   Kaatskill Serenade was covered in the last article plus “Polly Vaughan” and “Sloppy Drunk”.

We’ll now look at those two songs

Now come all ye hunters who follow the gun
Beware of your shooting at the setting of the sun
For Polly's own true love he shot in the dark
But oh and alas Polly Vaughn was his mark.

For she'd her apron wrapped about her and he took her for a swan
Oh and alas it was she Polly Vaughn

He ran up beside her and saw that it was she
Cried "Polly oh Polly have I killed thee"
He lifted up her head and saw that she was dead
And a fountain of tears for his true love he shed.

In the middle of the night Polly Vaughn did appear
Cried "Jimmy oh Jimmy you must have no fear;
Just tell them you were hunting when your trial day has come
And you won't be convicted for what you have done."

In the middle of the trial Polly Vaughn did appear
Crying "Uncle oh Uncle Jimmy Randall must go clear"
The lawyers and the judges stood around in a row
In the middle Polly Vaughn like some fountian of snow

For she'd her apron wrapped about her and they took her for a swan
Oh and alas it was she Polly Vaughn
Oh and alas it was she Polly Vaughn

The song appeared in Popular Ballads and Songs from tradition, manuscripts and scarce editions’, 1806 collected and published by Robert Jamieson who noted, “This is indeed a silly ditty, one of the very lowest description of vulgar English ballads which are sung about the streets in country towns and sold four or five for a halfpenny”.  It was not however included in what many find to be the definitive collection of over 300 ballads of the era by Francis Child in the “English and Scottish Popular Ballads” collection.

The recording above leads into Kaatskill Serenade noted above, and hearing the two together show us that Dylan was after a particular sound and style with this collection.

This sound doesn’t carry forward into the other recording we have from the sessions:

The lyrics appear here.

This is is another Bromberg song, although treated in a different style.  To my ear, where as the previous two recordings really do hit the nail, this approach is halfway there and needs cleaning up – there is just too much happening with the mix of brass, percussion and guitars.

We’re in discussion as to how best to present the remainder of the songs recorded in the sessions, given that we don’t actually have access to those recordings.   But I’m sure we’ll think of something!

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3 Responses to The Bromberg sessions part 2

  1. Tim says:

    Sloppy Drunk reminds me of Sleepy John Estes Milk Cow Blues which has a jug band feel to it and some similar lyrics. Sleepy John Estes also has Sloppy Drunk Blues but it’s not online.

  2. Tim says:

    Sloppy Drunk is also a Jimmy Rogers (not the original Jimmie Rodgers) song. The Dylan version sounds like a rewrite of this song.

  3. We are actively promoting a link to this interesting topic on The Bob Dylan Project at:
    https://thebobdylanproject.com/Song/id/3541/Polly-Vaughn-VonVaughan
    https://thebobdylanproject.com/Song/id/3543/Sloppy-Drunk

    If you are interested, we are a portal to all the great information related to this topic.

    Join us inside Bob Dylan Music Box.

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