Lily May Ledford’s recording of Red Rocking Chair from 1968 is powerful and haunting. I don’t usually post pre-recorded videos. I came across this one while browsing. I love the way Lily May Ledford delivers a song. So real and true. You can see her shunning that old red rocking chair.

Lily was the banjo player for the Coon Creek Girls.

Lily May Redford was born in 1917 and died in 1985

Buy Lily May Ledford Banjo Pickin’ Girl from Amazon

Red Rocking Chair Lyrics and Notes

Buy Lily May Ledford Banjo Pickin’ Girl at Amazon

Red Rocking Chair

I ain’t got no use
I ain’t got no use
For your red rocking chair
I ain’t got no sugar baby now
I ain’t got no honey baby now

And it’s who’ll rock the cradle
Who’ll sing this song
And who will be your honey when I’m gone
And who will be your honey when I’m gone

Oh I’ll rock this cradle
I’ll sing this song
And I will rock the cradle when you’re gone
Yes I will rock the cradle when you’re gone

I laid her in the shade
I gave her every dime I made
What more could a poor boy do?
What more could a poor boy do?

Lily May Ledford

I’ve done all I can do
I’ve said all I can say
I’ll sing it you to your momma next payday
I’ll sing it you to your momma next payday

Some old rounder came along
He took my sugar baby and he’s gone
No I don’t got no honey baby now
I ain’t got no sugar baby now

I ain’t got no use
I ain’t got no use
For your red rocking chair
I ain’t got no sugar baby now
I ain’t got no honey baby now

Red Rocking Chair ~ variation

1. I ain’t got no use for the little red rockin’ chair
Got no sugar honey baby here
Who’ll rock the cradle, who’ll sing that song?
Who’ll rock that cradle when you’re gone?

2. I ain’t got no use for the little red rockin’ chair
Got no sugar honey baby here
I’ll rock the cradle; I’ll sing that song.
I’ll rock that cradle when you’re gone.

3. I’ve done all I can do, said all I can say
Take you to your mammy next payday.
I’ll rock the cradle; I’ll sing that song.
I’ll rock that cradle when you’re gone.

When Jo Ann Kelly sang recorded this her final verse as she sings it goes:

Well I ain’t got no time for your red rocking chair,
I ain’t got no sugar baby now,
I’m goin’ to Montana [?my mama]to get away from here,
I can’t get along here with you,
Can’t get along here with you.

Doc Boggs recorded a variant of the song in 1966 called “Country Blues”.

Similar to Boggs’ “Country Blues” is “Sugar Babe,” which Wayne Erbsen, in Backpocket Old Time Song Book, identifies as a variant of Red Apple Juice and Red Rocking Chair (I think Maria Muldaur recorded another variant as “Honey Babe.”)

1. Some old rounder comes along
Took my sugar babe and gone
And I ain’t got no sugar baby now
No, I ain’t got no sugar baby now

2. I gave her every cent I made,
And I laid her in the shade
And I ain’t got no sugar baby now
No, I ain’t got no sugar baby now

3.It’s who’ll call you honey
And it’s who’ll sing this song?
And it’s who’ll rock the cradle when I’m gone?
Who’ll rock the cradle when I’m gone?

4. I ain’t got no use for
Your red rocking chair.
And I ain’t got no sugar baby now
No, I ain’t got no sugar baby now

 

Lily May Ledford grew up on a tenant farm in Powell County, Kentucky, fifty miles east of Lexington.

Lily May Ledford

Her family made its own music, and by the time she was a teenager she had joined her sister Rosie and brother Cayen in a string band they called the Red River Ramblers.

They played for square dances up and down the Red River Gorge area.

Lily May played both banjo and fiddle and picked up many old songs from her father and other relatives.

In 1936, when the Ramblers played for talent scouts, she was selected to come to Chicago and appear on the WLS Barn Dance radio show. ~ http://www.mastersoftraditionalarts.org/artists/185

Buy Lily May Ledford Banjo Pickin’ Girl from Amazon


Other Sources for Information About Lily May:

Lyr Req: Red Rocking Chair / Sugar Babe https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=37353

Red Rocking Chair from All the Roads that Lead Us Home https://gaelynnlea.bandcamp.com/track/red-rocking-chair

Lily May Ledford From Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lily_May_Ledford

Lily May Ledford (1917–1985) Traditional and early country banjo and fddle player and singer. http://encyclopediaofappalachia.com/entry.php?rec=135

Gems (Rare Concert-Studio Recordings 1968-83) by Lily May Ledford


Lily May Ledford Documentary DVD from Appalshop:

“This documentary is a tribute to her life and career in music….[It] portrays a strong-willed woman who took advantage of the opportunity to earn a living from her musical talent….A good documentary [that] should be purchased by those interested in the history of popular music, women’s studies, Appalachia, and the like.” –Jeff Titon, Brown University, Journal of American Folklore

https://www.appalshop.org/store/appalshop-films/lily-may-ledford/

 

Lily May Ledford on Appalachian Highways

The life and music of Lily May Ledford. Lily May—the original banjo-pickin girl—led the Coon Creek Girls, the first all-woman string band on the radio.

Here is another video from Lily May Ledford:

Lily May Ledford – East Virginia Blues

More Interesting Renditions of Red Rocking Chair

Luke Abbott Red Rocking Chair

Luke Abbott leads a great version of the old-time song Red Rocking Chair, with Annie Staninec Todd Grebe and Dan Booth. From the Cordova 4H Bluegrass Camp instructor concert in July ’09.

Red Rocking Chair J.D. Crowe & The New South, 1977

The Coon Creek Girls

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