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Jeff Mellin - Ain't That A Rockin' All Night

from Seven Swans by Various wiaiwya Artists

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Ain’t That A Rocking All Night Long” is a traditional spiritual from St. Helena Island, South Carolina, where long-time isolation helped preserve a repertoire of distinctive plantation-era folksongs, some of which were collected and recorded in the 1950s by musicologist Ruth Crawford Seeger and her family as American Folksongs for Christmas (Folkways Records). Do yourself a holiday favor and track down a copy if you can. Her daughter’s austere piano and vocal version of this song stops me cold. The melody is haunting, the single verse simple but poignant. You want to listen to it close ‘cause you can hear it go all the way-back-when, y’know?

I’ll never match that, but I’ve done my best to bring the song to where I’m at now; South Philadelphia, where street corner doo-wop singers once warmed their faces by the same oil-drum bonfires that still line the open-air market all winter. I’ve also added a second verse; a Christmas gift for my newborn baby boy.

lyrics

Mary had a little baby
Down in Bethlehem
Every night the baby cry
She rock in weary land

Ain't that rockin' all night
Ain't that rockin' all night
Ain't that rockin' all night
All night long

Moonlight falling on the city
Soft as snow upon a tree
I hold you in my arms all night
and rock you back to sleep

Ain't that rockin' all night
Ain't that rockin' all night
Ain't that rockin' all night
All night long

credits

from Seven Swans, track released December 7, 2011
(Traditional/Additional lyrics & arrangement by Jeff Mellin, Sweet Red Onion Publishing, BMI)

Produced, recorded & performed by Jeff Mellin

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Jeff Mellin Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

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