Wait Till The Clouds Roll By Uncle Dave Macon, 1939; original words by J T Wood, music by H J Fulmer, 1881.
sung by Pete Coe, recorded by Pharis & Jason Romero. On Ann Hills & Cindy Mangsen CD – “Never Grow Up”

Jenny, my own true loved one,
I'm going far away,
Out on the boundering billows,
Out on the dark blue sea!
How I will miss you, my darling,
There’s where the storm is raging high,
Cheer up and don’t be lonely,
Wait till the clouds roll by.

Wait till the clouds roll by, Jenny,
Wait till the clouds roll by
Jenny, my own true loved one,
Wait till the clouds roll by

Jenny, when far from thee, love,
I'm on the ocean deep,
Each thought of thee, forever,
Loving sweet vigil keep?
Then will I come to you, darling?
Take courage dear, and never sigh
Cheer up and don’t be lonely,
Wait till the clouds roll by.

Remembering the Old Songs: Wait Till the Clouds Roll By - by Bob Waltz. (Originally published: Inside Bluegrass, May 1998) I've heard people express doubt that Old Time music actually descends from British roots. If they noticed the number of sea-related songs in the old-time repertoire, they might change their minds. Of course, Wait Till the Clouds Roll By is not a true old-time song. It was, in fact, originally a parlor piece, with words by J. T. Wood and music by H. J. Fulmer, published in 1894.
Then something funny happened: Uncle Dave Macon got his hands on it. (He may have been intrigued by the banjo accompaniment, but I don't know.) He recorded it in 1939, doing the usual Uncle Dave job of messing up the words -- apart from oddities such as "bound'ring," he managed to combine the second and third verses [see note below]. In a way that's sad, because this song is pretty enough that I wish it would go on longer. But the result is probably better than the original (even if it doesn't have any deep meaning). For this reason, I've decided to use Uncle Dave's version rather than the sheet music form (well, that, plus the fact that I've never seen the original....)

I've always been a bit amused by the first line, where it says "loved one" rather than "lover." Those Victorians -- they couldn't even say "lover" if the two weren't married. (Fie! For shame!)

This is not one of Uncle Dave's best-known songs, and it doesn't seem to have turned up in tradition, so there really isn't much else to say about it. But in trying to figure out how to play it, I learned something I've had occasion to use since.

The trick is this: If you're trying to learn a song from a recording, and you just can't do it, try listening to someone else play the piece. I first heard this song about ten years ago on a recording by Cathy Barton and Dave Para. For years I tried to learn it, and failed. Then, recently, I heard Bob Bovee and Gail Heil sing it. Just once. But that was enough. Two days later I pulled out the banjo, and voilà! I could play it.
From the shape of the piece, this "ought' to be a guitar melody, and I've included a guitar part in the tab. But it's just boring on the guitar (you can add a little spice by sliding from the C to the D chords, but not much). So I've included a banjo part as well. It's only a sketch - Finale, my music program, won't do real banjo tab, so I could only show the notes on the four lower strings. But it's a start. It's also, I think, a good piece to practice up-the-neck playing, because it uses only three chords (G, C, D), but uses both the first-fret positions and the fifth-fret positions. I've marked these high chords with an upward arrow, i.e.: Clouds Roll By Banjo Chords, etc.
http://www.lizlyle.lofgrens.org/RmOlSngs/CloudsRoll.gif
* "Bound'ring" is one of those Uncle Dave non-words. It's a blatant error, but it sings better than the original's mundane reading"rolling."
[Note added by Lyle, 6/4/2007]: Todd Augsburger (www.rollerorgans.com) sent a note pointing out that Uncle Dave must have learned the song from a source that used "bounding" instead of "rolling," such as the broadside given at www.nls.uk/broadsides/broadside.cfm/id/16339/transcript/1.
Thanks, Todd.

 

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