"Ruby Anthracite"

© 1972 Lee Ruth

MP3
Tracey Wickland

Tracey Wickland - Vocals & Rhythm Guitar
Bruce Hayes -
Mandolin & Guitar

  MP3 Sample of Lee's Original

 

Song Lyrics:
Lee's Lyrics:
She was born by the sea, and she grew up in the country,
But she moved to the mountains long ago
And she took her name from their name, so her good friends explain,
And the wild, wild river far below

Her hair is as red as the gold in the sunset's fire
Her eyes burn blacker than the coal
And her features are as fine as any wild mountain flower
Her breast has worn the falling snow

Ruby Anthracite, the Rocky Mountains hold you
As they hold the hummingbird and bear
Ruby Anthracite, I know the wind has told you
Whispered to you, who do love you, who do care

If you see her in the city she will just be passing by
She is following the seasons where they lead
What a wild bird is she, and before you catch her eye
She will fly, fly at her own speed

Ruby Anthracite, the Rocky Mountains claim you
As you wander where the deer and eagle dare
Ruby Anthracite, no man will ever tame you
But I will see you now and then, and here and there

I meet her in the meadows, in the sunshine and showers
I see her in the flowers, streams, and trees
And on snowy mountain tops, stony towers, golden hours
Beside the Ruby River, by the breeze

Ruby Anthracite, you may not live forever
But in these mountains marble halls will sound
The echo of your laughter, fading never
And ever may your beauty here be found
And ever may your beauty here be found

She was born by the sea, and she grew up in the country
But she moved to the mountains long ago
And she took her name from their name, so her good friends explain
And the wild, wild river far below

Her hair is as red as the silver in the sunset's fire
Her eyes burn blacker than the coal
her features are as fine as any wild mountain flower
Her breast has warmed the falling snow

Ruby Anthracite, the Rocky Mountains hold you
As they hold the hummingbird and bear
Ruby Anthracite, I guess the wind has told you
Whispered to you, who do love you, who do care

If you see her in the city she will just be passing by
She is following the seasons where they lead
What a wild bird is she, and before you catch her eye
She will fly, fly at her own speed

Ruby Anthracite, the Rocky Mountains claim you
As you wander where the deer and eagle dare
Ruby Anthracite, no man will ever tame you
But I will see you now and then, and here and there

I meet her in the meadows, in the sunshine and showers
I see her in the shadows, streams and trees
On stony mountain tops, and snowy towers, golden hours
Beside the Ruby River, by the breeze

Ruby Anthracite, you may not live forever
But in your mountains marble halls will sound
The echo of your laughter, fading ever
And ever may your beauty here be found
And ever may your beauty here be found

Artist on the Song:
Lee on the Song:
Ruby Anthracite is an area near Crested Butte, Colorado (in the Ragged
Mountain Wilderness, coincidentally) that is loved for its pristine beauty, ruggedness, and wildness. Leave it to Lee Ruth to envision a woman who embodies the spirit of this place. Thank you Lee, for writing this song and for the privilege of singing it.
In 1972, after seven years of staying close to home, I took off on a summer trip (trying to make up for lost time I suppose). When I returned to Columbia two months later, I had driven 12,000 miles in a 1956 Plymouth with the driver's side door bungee-corded shut. (Could be the best $125 anybody ever spent on a car.) I traveled as far south as Corpus Christi, Texas, as far north as southern British Columbia, as far west as highway 1 from Point Reyes Station all the way down to L.A. Somehow, along that long way, I wound up making three separate trips to Crested Butte, Colorado. Friends Phil and Linda Hall had invited me to visit them there, and I found them living west of CB, in a tipi near Kebler Pass, with a new baby boy--recently born in the tipi. They were living on a beautiful aspen-wooded mountainside, overlooking a deep gorge far below, wherein roared a veritable torrent of a stream. "What's the name of that river?" I asked. "That's the Ruby Anthracite," Linda replied. Struck by the beauty of the setting and the name, I had an immediate flash: "That sounds like it could be a woman's name too," I thought. I learned more about the name--that it referred to the whole area they were living in, two mountain ranges: The Ruby Range, which had been silver mining country (Ruby silver), and the Anthracite Range, which had been coal-mining country (Anthracite coal), and no sharply defined boundaries as to exactly where Ruby Anthracite began or ended. It is wild country--perhaps wilder in some ways today than it was back in the mining days when humans build roads and railroads in places where roads and railroads maybe never should have been built. The song took shape later in the summer, on my second or third time through CB, as I envisioned Ruby as an untamable woman, living by choice in that untamable land whose name she'd taken as her own, and whose life and being personified that place called Ruby Anthracite. Where does the land leave off and the woman begin? Where does the woman…..?
Artist on Lee Ruth:
Lee on the Artist:
I first met Lee in the summer of 1973 in Crested Butte, Colorado. A mutual
friend (Phil Hall) said, "You've gotta meet Lee Ruth, he knows more songs
than anyone you've ever met". He was right. We became friends and played
many, many songs together; around campfires and kitchens, in living rooms
and bar rooms. Some of the best memories of my life. By the way, Lee, are you still driving that orange van?

In the summer of '73, having been invited back to Crested Butte to play at the Summer Festival of the Arts, I made a short trip out, riding there with friends and hitch-hiking home a week and a half later. (The '56 Plymouth had lasted 7 months and 19,000 miles, and the orange van was not yet roadworthy.) The festival was great, and I played lots of music, heard lots of music, met up with old friends, and made lots of new friends, musical and otherwise, including Tracey Wickland. She was fresh out of college, was in love with Crested Butte and its surroundings, and had seemingly chosen to make her life-stand there. Already she was a fine guitarist and singer, was beginning to write her own songs, and though I left only a few days after meeting her, I didn't hesitate to look her up in the summer of 1974, when I settled into Crested Butte life for the better part of the summer, and many summers thereafter. I had the opportunity to watch her grow as a musician and performer over the years--from playing in a band, to tentatively stepping out as a solo act, to becoming a strong and confident performer--a veritable voice of the mountains as it seemed to me, with her own songs of the mountains. We found many opportunities to play music together over the years, off-stage and on, sometimes as a duo, and sometimes she had her own solo gigs lined up and I was honored to play the role of sideman. I think it was in 1989 when she came through Columbia and played live on "Radio Omega," my late-night radio show on KOPN. I can't think of anyone who would be a better choice to do "Ruby Anthracite."
Producer's Notes:
Recording Credits:
"Ruby Anthracite" came to us as a completed track from Tracey Wickland, who stills calls Crested Butte, Colorado, home. Lee was very adamant about Tracey being the one to record this specific song since it is spawned of that mountain area. Tracey made a winter trek across the mountains to record the song at a local studio in the winter of 2004. Lee was right. Tracey's voice made "Ruby Anthracite" come absolutely from the majestic and beautiful mountains.

Recorded at Ragged Mountain Studio, Salida, Colorado

Record Date: 1/28/04

Engineering/Mixing: Bruce Hayes

   

 

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