The Darby Ram
The other night I stayed with him and Joyce, and photographed pages and pages of these astonishing blue notebooks that Bobby has spent years carefully filling up with ballads, and verses, and hymns. I copied 3 books, but there's something like eleven of them. They really offer a portrait of not just Bobby's incredible ballad and folk-song memory collection, but also his original songs, and popular pieces that caught his eye (or ears I guess).
I also noticed that he had a pretty good collection of JRR Tolkien books. And when I asked him how long he had been a fan of Tolkien, he said along about 1965. Then he broke out into one of Tolkien's songs, using a melody a 13-year-old Bobby had invented to suit it. I didn't actually have the recorder on for that one, but I've sure got plans to document that. I've been a Tolkien fan my whole life--just ask my mother. I was a baby sleeping by when she read the Hobbit and the Lord of The Rings to my brother and sister (She later read them to me when I was in elementary school.)
All this to say that in working with Bobby, I am constantly reminded how much it matters to "Learn from warm hands" (I think that's a Richard Bowman quote). I always loved Bobby's music, though I didn't really know him, but now that I've spent time with him, it just makes all of his material that much more special, somehow adding even more depth to already rich songs and stories.
I also get to learn all of the good "unprintable" verses, like:
It took all the boys of Darby to haul away the bones,
and All the girls of Darby to haul away the stones.
Tom a-fall, tom a-fall, Diddle Day.