"Willow Song"

© 1983 Lee Ruth

MP3
Bartholomew Bean
Bartholomew Bean - Vocal & Acoustic Guitar
Ron Morris - Bass
  MP3 Sample of Lee's Original

 

Song Lyrics:
Lee's Lyrics:
BY THE STREAM
THE RIVER WILLOWS DREAM
ARE THEY WHAT THEY SEEM
THEY SHIMMER IN THE SUN
FROM DAWN TIL DAY IS GONE
THEY DO THEIR DANCE OF GREEN

THE OLD MEN
SAY THEY REMEMBER WHEN
THE WILLOWS WERE NOT HERE
THEY CUT THE FOREST CLEAR
FROM RIDGE TO WATER'S EDGE
BUT NOW THOSE DAYS ARE DONE

IN THE YARD
A WEEPING WILLOW SMALL
IS HARDLY HERE AT ALL
WAS PLANTED IN THE SPRING
IN HOPES THAT TIME WOULD BRING
A WEEPING WILLOW GRAND

FOR WE KNOW
THAT WILLOWS DO GROW FAST
BEFORE THIS DREAM HAS PASSED
WILLOW BRANCHES HIGH
WILL CLIMB TOWARD THE SKY
AND SWEEP BACK TO THE LAND

IN THE HOUSE
A WILLOW OF A GIRL
HAS COME INTO THIS WORLD
HER MAMA AND HER DAD
HAVE NEVER BEEN SO GLAD
SINCE THEY BECAME AS ONE

AND WE KNOW
OUR WILLOW GIRL WILL GROW
AS THE STREAM DOES FLOW
WITH EVERY SPIRIT FREE
AND EACH LIFE THAT COMES TO BE
A NEW AGE HAS BEGUN

BY THE STREAM--THE RIVER WILLOWS--DREAM

By the stream the river willows dream
Are they what they seem
They shimmer in the sun
From dawn 'til day is gone
They do their dance of green
The old men say they remember when
The willows were not here
They cut the forest clear
From ridge to water's edge
But now those days are done

In the yard a weeping willow small
Is hardly here at all
Was planted in the spring
In hopes that time would bring
A weeping willow grand
For we know that willows do grow fast
Before this dream has passed
Willow branches high
Will climb toward the sky
And sweep back to the land

In the house a willow of a girl
Has come into this world
Her mama and her dad
Have never been so glad
Since they became as one

And we know our willow girl will grow
As the stream does flow
With every spirit free
And each life that comes to be
A new age has begun

By the stream the river willows dream

Artist on the Song:
Lee on the Song:
"Willow Song" has always had such a special touch for me. From the first years that Lee and I became acquainted, he's always invited me to his home. He helped me become connected with music happenings and people in the Columbia area. In fact, his playing of my "Reuben" banjo song got it connected with Paul and Win and also Mark Devorak from Chicago. In all my past travels to Columbia, I would most likely end up staying over with Lee and Rena and their children. One distant but memorable visit was during the full eclipse of the moon on an island in the Missouri River north of Lupus, July 6, I believe 1982. Bonfires, belly dancing, song sharing, mud bathing, and sweat lodge were all events of the evening into the early morning hours and daybreak. I cannot consider the experience as anything less than sacred. That trip to Lupus was my first visit to Lee and Rena's new home in Happy Hollow. I visited many times over the years and have had the privilege of knowing Lee's and Rena's older children, but knowing Willow and Andrew as they have come of age at Happy Hollow has had a special meaning. I am happy for their childhood, I would wish it for every kid on Earth. Mine too had elements of a rural connection. So, seeing the willow tree grow in the yard, and knowing it was planted with Willow's placenta, looking down on the creek where the river willows grow, and hearing the story told in Lee's beautiful song have helped make life a quality adventure. Thanks Lee, Rena, & Family. Bartholomew Bean July 9, 1983, was an auspicious day at our old farmhouse in Happy Hollow, what with a wedding in the morning and a birthing in the afternoon. We named the girl-child born that day Willow. A week or so later, I set out to make a song to capture the essence of that event--the setting, the joy, the look ahead--weaving three different willows--two different types of tree and a willow-child--into the four verses of the song. I do believe that I succeeded in doing so, and looking at Willow, now age twenty, the promise of that day is still being realized, and there hasn't been a moment since then that we've doubted that we named her right.
Artist on Lee Ruth:
Lee on the Artist:


As I recall I first met Lee in 1976. I had an old 62 Chevy stretched-out panel truck that a band I played bass in (DEACON JACK) had given me. I overhauled the engine that spring and helped move my neighbors to Melbourne, Florida, to break in the engine and explore the southern states. While on the adventure, I dedicated the old airport-style carrier to the bicentennial and christened it "THE BICENTENNIAL BUS." In Florida, I printed in black letters '"THE DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE." In Atlanta, Georgia, on the opposite side I posed many questions concerning America--for whom and by whom was it serving, the people or the corporations? Then I continued on my journey to Steven's Farm in Summertown, Tennessee. I visited and worked at the Farm for a couple weeks and then prepared to return to Missouri. On my return trip I acquired a total of fourteen passengers whom I delivered to St. Louis, Columbia, and points between. While in Columbia I was visiting "THE CHEZ'" one day, and when I walked out into the street there was a fellow in a wheelchair. I was impressed by his chair, because the sides of the seat were painted with roaring, racing, flames of fire! I complimented him on his snazzy transportation and he told me he did a radio program on KOPN. I ask him if KOPN ever had live music over the air. That's when he told me about this guy Lee Ruth. I went up to the station, got a number, gave a call, clarified that he really did say 3:00a.m.! and for the first of many times went up and hung out with Lee on "Radio Omega." It was a good year, the bicentennial, my connection with Lee, KOPN, the community of Columbia, was an uplifting and rewarding sharing. I am grateful!

Bartholomew Bean

It must have been late spring or early summer of 1976 and "Radio Omega," my late-night radio show on KOPN, was only a couple months old. From out of the blue I received a phone call from a man named Ron Morris, from northeast Missouri, who was interested in playing live music on my radio show. Giving a stranger an un-auditioned live airing could prove to be a mistake, and usually I would have wanted to hear him play before I agreed to turn him loose on the airwaves, but as we conversed, something about him seemed so right--perhaps the combination of sincerity, humor, insight, inflection--that I asked him to come up next week and play. He did so, and I was pleased to find that he had a passel of uniquely original songs, that he was a great singer and had a different way of playing guitar than I had ever heard before. Furthermore, his songs were fun to play along with, and we ended up playing through my entire three-hour show. Several years did pass, and one evening, while hanging out at the Chez coffeehouse, I spied a hand-lettered flier for a soon-to-be performance by Bartholomew Bean--"a bean, a bean, a human bean!" "Who's that?" I wondered. Looking more closely at the flier, I saw that there were many song titles lettered in a higgledy-piggledy but artistic way ("In the Land of the Giant Midgets," "Another American Trilogy," etc.) and I remembered having played some of the songs with him that one night on my radio show. To make this lengthening story shorter, I attended the gig, Bartholomew Bean was indeed one and the same person as Ron Morris, and following that performance he soon became a regular visitor to Columbia, performing many times and making many friends. He and I have been amigos, musical and otherwise, since that time, and I do believe he holds the record for the most guest performances on "Radio Omega."
Producer's Notes:
Recording Credits:

Bartholomew Bean was often a guest on my "Boone County Live" show on KOPN, and his songwriting and passionate delivery of his own songs always surprised me. Bean was on this project from the very beginning, volunteering to do a song that 2002 November evening at the Mary McCaslin concert.

Bean was about as familiar with Lee's songs as any musician involved. They have often played with each other over the years, so I was interested to see which tune Bean would select to record. "Willow Song" is about as personal of a tune as Lee had in his song bag. Bean took special care in working this song into his own style, and at the same time he was as true to Lee's original version as he could stay. This song has been around long enough for the baby girl it was written about to become a beautiful young woman. Bean had all that history of knowing the baby, the mother, and the father of this song. "Willow Song" is a great tune about the promise of birth and the future; Bean along with his close friend Ron Morris helped it grow.

Recorded at Pete Szkolka's Studio

Record Date: 4/9/03 and 6/25/03

Mixed: 11/11/03

Mixed by Pete Szkolka and Steve Donofrio

 

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