Songs of the Session

In an effort to recreate and honor a tradition that was begun back in 1957, when Frank Hamilton would teach the same song to different levels of players, we proudly present The Songs of The Session.

Each session two songs are chosen, one from the songbook and one from the general repertoire. All classes are encouraged to learn these tunes and apply the skills they are working on at their individual levels.

As we are in the middle of the second decade of the century, our songs of this session exhibit the diversity that is so much a part of the Old Town School experience. These songs are rich in tradition and there is simply no reason why they can't be approached by any of the instruments we teach here at The Old Town School.

January - February 2016

From our sacred songbook the classic "Shenandoah" on page 105. And from the real world "Mississippi, It's Time" a contemporary protest song by Steve Earle. Both songs involve a miss: Missouri and Mississippi, one a gorgeous river and the other sometimes backwards state.


This song was the choice of the new guy in the education department Ian Wilson. Ian has joined us to work with the Teen program along with voice, percussion, and instruments other than guitar. No one is quite sure of the origin of this beautiful melody. Folks seem to think it came from fur traders in Canada and North America dating back to the early 19th century. Like most tunes in our songbook there are a variety of lyrics out there. The tune took on status as a sea shanty. It showed up in the 1962 film How The West Was Won. It's been covered by all sorts including Paul Robeson, Pete Seeger, Bing Crosby, Bruce Springsteen, The Chieftains, Judy Garland, and countless others. We are somewhat partial to this version by Tom Waits and Keith Richards.

Chart for "Shenandoah"

"Mississippi, It's Time"

This is a recent recording by the always relevant Steve Earle. The song says it all, as it appeals to the state of Mississippi to leave behind the image of the confederate flag. All proceeds from this song are being donated to the Southern Poverty Law Center ( They are a national group founded in the early '70s that works for justice, fights hate, and teaches tolerance. We hope you are inspired by the song, learn it, and take time to check out this powerful organization.

Chart for "Mississippi, It's Time"

The Old Town School of Folk Music, Inc.
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