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Clinch Mountain Echo

The Stanley Brothers - Little Glass Of Wine / Little Birdie

(Rich-R-Tone RRT-1056) c 1952


Little Glass Of Wine
Little Birdie

This 78 was recorded at a session for Rich-R-Tone mid 1952, sometime after the Stanley's had been dropped by Columbia, and before they signed to Mercury.

Little Glass Of Wine is a re-recording of a song they'd first cut for Rich-R-Tone in late 1947/early 1948 (Rich-R-Tone RRT-423) and then for Columbia (Columbia 20590) in 1949. Ralph later recorded another three versions on his John Henry Jap LP, the Memory Of Your Smile LP and the Sings His Favorites Now and Then CD.

Little Birdie would become another of the Stanley's perennial favourites, acting as a showcase for Ralph's vocal and clawhammer banjo skills. A couple of interviews identify the song as one which Ralph learnt from his mother Lucy,[1] and Ralph did include a version of it on his (Claw Hammer) The Way My Mama Taught Me cassette (later reissued on the Songs My Mother Taught Me & More CD). The Stanley Brothers also re-recorded the song for their fake 'live' Folk Concert LP on King, and Ralph also cut further versions on his John Henry Jap LP and A Man And His Music albums.

Little Birdie seems to be an old song of uncertain origin. It was first collected in 1909; Vernon Dalhart recorded it in 1925;[2] John Hammond in 1927;[3] Wade Mainer in 1937;[4] and The Coon Creek Girls in 1938.[5]

In other interviews Ralph said:- I think I heard 'Little Birdie' and 'Little Maggie' both from Wade Mainer and Steve Ledford.[6] and It probably come from Steve Ledford, Wade Mainer, somehere in there, I guess. I could have heard the Coon Creek Girls, Cousin Emmy, or somebody. I don't remember on that exactly... I think they all sung it.[7]

Both sides of the 78 can now be found on the Rounder Earliest Recordings: The Complete Rich-R-Tone 78s CD.

NB: I've cheated a bit with the image of Little Glass Of Wine as the only image I could find had a sticker obliterating the BMI # and Time... so I've Photoshop'd it... If anyone can provide better pictures of the labels, please get in touch via the Contact page - thanks!

 

For a detailed breakdown and background to the Stanley's session, check Gary B. Reid's The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book, pages 33-35 and 39.

Track:
Title:
Time:
Date:
Original Release:
Guitar:
Banjo:
Fiddle:
Mandolin:
A-1
The Little Glass Of Wine
02:57
Mid 1952
Rich-R-Tone RRT-1056 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Art Stamper
Jim Williams

C. Stanley
B-1
Little Birdie
02:00
Mid 1952
Rich-R-Tone RRT-1056 Carter Stanley
Ralph Stanley
Art Stamper
Jim Williams

P.D.

Go To Top Of Page [1] Interview with Benny Steele, a childhood friend of Carter and Ralph in John Wright's book "Traveling The High Way Home" (p. 40) and an interview with Ralph by John Cohen from 'Sing Out!' magazine 1975 ("Ralph Stanley's Old Time Bluegrass") quoted in David W. Johnson's book "Lonesome Melodies - The Lives And Music Of The Stanley Brothers" (p. 22)
[2] Vernon Dalhart recorded it under the pseudonym of Al Craver Sinking Of The Submarine S-51 / Little Birdie (Columbia 15044-D) - see https://www.discogs.com/Al-Craver-Sinking-Of-The-Submarine-S-51-Little-Birdie/release/6248452 and https://youtu.be/LXcugso1SPg
[3] John Hammond - Little Birdie / Purty Polly (Silvertone 5070) recorded 17th Sept 1927 in Richmond, In. - see https://www.discogs.com/John-Hammond-Little-Birdie-Purty-Polly/release/3980980 and Gennett 6256-A - see https://youtu.be/Say254HTyLE
[4] Little Birdie / I'm Starting Life A New With You (Bluebird 6840) recorded 16th Feb 1937. See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wade_Mainer#Wade_Mainer.2FZeke_Morris
[5] With Lily May Ledford on banjo/lead vocal - see https://youtu.be/4JpKK4i2Rn4
[6] Ralph interviewed in 2005 and quoted in David W. Johnson's book "Lonesome Melodies - The Lives And Music Of The Stanley Brothers" (p. 69)
[7] Ralph interviewed in 1981 by Gary B. Reid and quoted in his The Music Of The Stanley Brothers book (p.35)