"Public Domain"

© 1976 Lee Ruth, with song
fragments borrowed from a number of sources

MP3
Rank Sinatras
Forrest Rose - Vocal & Upright Bass
Michael Dulak - Fiddle & Harmony Vocal
Joe Hinkebein - Mandolin & Harmony Vocal
Claud Crum - Acoustic Guitar
  MP3 Sample of Lee's Original

 

Song Lyrics:
Lee's Lyrics:
I love to sing the old songs of the places I ain't been,
of the folks I didn't know, friends and lovers come and go,
and the hard times I ain't had, here at home and on the road.
And all these songs are your songs and my songs, yes it's so.
Ain't it wild the way that the wildwood flower grows?

Public domain, public domain
"Listen to the Mockingbird" is public domain

So much singing inspiration comes from those who've gone before
and they had a song to share--wise or foolish, false or fair--
and it seems like every day, that there's more and more and more--
more songs than record companies can take down to the store
Ain't it wild the way that the rippling water flows?

Public domain, public domain
Even the Beatles are public domain.

How many old songs will you sing before you know it's true?
You take an old song, from an old song comes a new.
You have a window with a shutter and a view singularly seen by you
Go ahead and write your own song and bring it back on through

Public domain, public domain
only a secret isn't public domain.

Public domain, public domain
If it's blowing in the wind, it must be public domain.
Public domain, public domain
This song is Lee's song
Public Domain.


I love to sing the old songs of the places I ain't been
Of the folks I didn't know
Friends and lovers, come and go
High and hard times I ain't had
Here at home and on the road
And all these songs are your songs
And my songs, ain't it so
So wild the way that the wildwood flowers grow

Public domain, public domain
The cricket, bird, and bee songs are public domain

So much singing inspiration comes from those who've gone before
And had a song to share
Be it wise or foolish, false or fair
And it seems like every day
There's more songs hanging out here, more
Than all the song peddlers can take down to the store

Public domain, public domain
Even the Beatles are public domain

How many old songs will you sing before you know it's true
You make your own songs
From an old song comes a new
You have a window with a shutter and a view
Singularly seen by you
Go out and sing your own songs
And bring it back on through

Public domain, public domain
Only a secret isn't public domain

Public domain, public domain
This land is our land, public domain

Public domain, public domain
If it's blowin' in the wind it's public domain

Public domain, public domain
Yodelaydeehoo, public domain

Artists on the Song:
Lee on the Song:
The Rank Sinatras selected "Public Domain" because we misread the title as "Pubic Domain," which perfectly fit our motto: If it ain't Rank, it ain't right. When we realized our mistake, the number seemed even better. After all, the Rank Sinatras is strictly a cover band, although most of the material we cover dates back to the era of 78-rpm recordings. "Public Domain" was therefore an ideal selection for us, celebrating as it does the musical legacies of all those who have gone before, and acknowledging that everything new must have evolved from something that is not so new at all.

This song arose as the result of a conflagration in my brain, fueled by a number of diverse sources. A collection of Woody Guthrie's writings called "Born to Win" (in particular, a chapter called "How to Make Up a Ballad Song and Get Away With It") may have sparked the flame, finding fuel in my independently-arrived-at notion that copyright seemed to be more about money than it was about giving credit where credit is due; in another notion that "public domain" is a de facto condition in the world that both precedes and supersedes "public domain" as a legal concept; in my reaction to several loopy and vaguely disturbing conversations with several long-ago song-writing acquaintances, who were so concerned about the likelihood that one of their original songs might be stolen by someone who would copyright it as his or her own and proceed to make a fortune off the song's success, that they were reluctant to perform, record, or write down the song(s), as a defense against thieving ears and eyes.

So, this collage of original verses--juxtaposed with melodic and verbal fragments from both copyrighted and public domain sources--flames into being. The Rank Sinatras used a different set of fragments in their version of the song than I used in mine, though at times I've varied my fragment choices too. (For instance, occasionally substituting "Not Fade Away" as a "Cricket" song in place of "Wildwood Flower" as a "bird and bee" song.)

Artist on Lee Ruth:
Lee on the Artists:

Lee has been an iconic figure among musicians in this town at least since I started playing here 30 years ago. With his famous flowing beard (at that time still a brilliant red), he commanded the respect, in his quiet way, of all the local players. Over time, I came to realize that he was held in such high regard because of his virtuosity on stringed instruments, his gift for lyrical expression, and his ability to deliver a song with manifest sincerity. Also, he appeared to be able to survive on about $100 a month, possibly the foremost qualification for a Mid-Missouri musician. I am proud to be his friend and be associated with his music.

Forrest Rose

I can't claim to know Claud Crum, Joe Hinkebein, or Mike Dulak very well, but I do know that they all play their instruments very well, and Mike is a good singer. On top of that, Mike built my sweet little Mid-Missouri mandolin some eight or so years ago.

Forrest, on the other hand, I've known for close to 30 years. I remember thinking, the first time I ever heard his first and last name, "Forrest Rose! That's too perfect a name to be his real name, must be a stage name." Shows how little I knew. He has been the preeminent stand-up bass player in mid-Missouri since his arrival back in the mid-70s and has played in more bands with interesting names than you can shake a tambourine at or with. I had the pleasure of playing with him, along with Jerome Wheeler and Annie Ruh, in a one-gig band called "Bad Annie and the Better Brothers"--a group put together for the express purpose of opening for "Riders In The Sky" at the old Blue Note, which we did--and had a great time doing so. The Rank Sinatras look to be having a great time playing together, and their songs, arrangements, and performances are interesting and varied.

Producer's Notes:
Recording Credits:
The Ranks play pretty close together, so we decided to put up one KSM-44 microphone in an Omni pattern and record them in mono. Stand back and say "Have at it boys." I think we got it all!


Recorded at Pete Szkolka's Studio

Record Date: 3/22/03

Recorded live to two-track

 

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