Grandfather’s Clock

Grandfather's Clock

For this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot, I have a song about a Grandfather’s Clock to share with you.

The song tells the story of a man who received a clock on the day he was born. The clock stayed with him throughout his life seeming to mark the important events. In return for faithful service, the clock only asked to be wound once a week. After 90 years of keeping perfect time, the clock stopped short on the day the man died never to go again.

The song was written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work. He wrote the song about a clock at a hotel in England. The hotel was said to be owned by 2 brothers by the name of Jenkins. The clock kept perfect time-until one of the brothers died. Local clockmakers tried to fix the clock-but all attempts failed. When the second brother died-witnesses claimed the clock stopped working completely.

Hope you enjoyed the song. I especially like the “chiming” of the guitar.

I’ve never lived in a house with a Grandfather Clock. The Deer Hunter’s Aunt Wanda has one and when I visit her at Christmas I find myself listening to the ticks and the chimes. Aunt Wanda says she couldn’t imagine not hearing the clock, it just wouldn’t be right. Funny how we become accustomed to sounds never really noticing them until they’re gone.


This post was originally published here on the Blind Pig in September 2008.


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  • Reply
    Lola Howard
    October 24, 2013 at 10:02 am

    Loved the song as always.

  • Reply
    February 3, 2013 at 5:32 pm

    We never had a Grandfather’s Clock either, but our father did have an empire clock that ticked and chimed in his living room. When someone stayed over and slept on the daybed there, they’d have to stop the clock when they went to bed, or it would keep them awake all night, especially on the hour and half-hour. ;o)
    Our sister had a Bavarian-style cuckoo clock that was quite entertaining – until one of her boys, when young, shot the birdie with a rubber-tipped arrow. (sigh) The fact that that “particular” child sat patiently waiting for the birdie to stick out his head is what amazed me about the whole thing. I don’t believe the clock ever worked quite right after that. I think the bird was probably too afraid to stick his head out. LOL
    God bless.

  • Reply
    jose luis
    February 2, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Thanks Mr. Bradley, for your kind comments.
    When I meet seems to be closer to enjoy those places, with mountains, pine trees and clear streams that I have really wanted to know and if God permits for October this year which I think is a comfortable temperature’ll know, and witness some bluegrass festival.
    Best regards from Bs As José Luis.

  • Reply
    February 2, 2013 at 5:22 am

    Mr. Jose luis I did get to see and hear you and your granddaughter. Like the Blind Pig Gang’s music I enjoyed it so much. You must be so poud of your granddaughter.

  • Reply
    Ferne K
    February 2, 2013 at 1:32 am

    I loved the Grandfather’s Clock song. I learned it in a two-room school back in the 1940’s. Our teacher made sure we learned the good, old pieces. Thanks for sharing.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    February 1, 2013 at 4:20 pm

    Your post today got me thinking and I had to go back and read Ed Poe’s The Tell-Tale Heart. That’s what I think of when I hear the loud ticking of a clock.
    Even a watch by my bed keeps me awake. There is no way I can sleep if I can hear sounds at all. I have to have a sound machine to cover up ambient noise or I don’t sleep at all.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2013 at 3:02 pm

    I learned that song as a child 🙂 Thanks for bringing back a pleasant memory!

  • Reply
    Ron Banks
    February 1, 2013 at 1:52 pm

    Great song and great harmony! We did not have a grandfather clock or a mantle clock but we did have one of those crazy cat clocks that wagged it’s tail and blinked it’s eyes. I never liked that thing but dad thought it was funny so it wagged and blinked at us for years. It finally gave up the ghost and went out with the trash and was replaced with your standard garden variety wall clock which was admittingly, less entertaining.

  • Reply
    Ron Perry, Sr.
    February 1, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    When I was 5 or 6 years old (1941-42) my aunt would sing this song to me. I haven’t heard it in years and enjoyed their version.

  • Reply
    jose luis
    February 1, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Hello Tipper and friends of the Appalachians!
    Beautiful interpretation of Grandfathers Clock, Pap, Paul, and another guitarist who do not know his name.
    Well, with my granddaughter, while we were on vacation in the Province of San Luis, in the pre Andes, made ​​an interpretation of that song with banjo and mandolin, along with an old grandfather clock, which works very good and grandfather, (I), thank God enjoys good health, not as the grandfather of the song.
    If you want to see and laugh a little, look at youtube: “Argentina bluegrass JL and Mechi from San Luis, Arg The Grand”.
    My granddaughter and I would like to know if you liked them as do your music, promise to improve.
    With warm regards and God bless you, dear friends, Mercedes and José Luis, from Buenos Aires, Argentina.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2013 at 11:36 am

    I really enjoyed the song. I am a clock person. I have one tall clock as the large floor clock I have is called. I own many others that chime. I have had to turn off a few of them as they can be a bit overwhelming when they all chime at the same time. When no one is around, I will sometimes set them all to chime. Such a thrill to say the least. Thanks for the post.

  • Reply
    February 1, 2013 at 10:38 am

    It’s been 4 1/2 years already since this was posted. Time really does tick on by!
    We had another small dose of that
    White Stuff this morning up in
    our hollar. And boy is it cold!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2013 at 9:52 am

    What a coincidence,I heard that song for the first time just a few days ago on the radio. I was really intrigued by the lyrics….a very good song!

  • Reply
    February 1, 2013 at 9:49 am

    Those guys need to be in Nashville or somewhere making money while they pick and sing.
    I have never spent much time in a house with a grandfather’s clock. I bought a cheap one with non-working chimes at an auction several years ago. The five cookoo clocks in my house are seldom ever running. They can make a person ‘cookoo’ if just one is left running night and day.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    February 1, 2013 at 8:18 am

    Very nice, vintage guitar man!
    I don’t like grandfather clocks. They are way too much noise for me, especially during the night.
    My Aunt had one, I think her husband made it, he could make anything. He was handy, like the Deer Hunter. I did not like to spend the night n their house because of that clook. I heard it all night.

  • Reply
    Eva Nell Mull Wike, Ph.D.
    February 1, 2013 at 7:54 am

    Of my GOSH, Tipper: What an inspiration – which I truly need today. The clock and the old fellows fit perfectly with my challenge to put down sweet memories and past events in a dear old fellow’s life.
    I hope Ethelene reads my post – as she is my main inspiration – since the very first day I met her – oops since the first time I read her commentaries!
    Bless you,
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    February 1, 2013 at 7:32 am

    I always liked the song. Loved the harmony and “chimes”.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    February 1, 2013 at 7:30 am

    Enjoyed hearing “Grandfather’s Clock.” The harmony and the “pickin'” are especially good; and the words always make me sit up and take notice! Thanks! We didn’t have big grandfather clocks in our neighborhood. I didn’t know of a single farm family who did (somehow, I guess those were for wealthier folks!). But nearly everyone had a Seth Thomas mantel clock. And those chimed out the hours and half-hours reminding us that time passed rapidly and we’d better be about the business of life.

  • Reply
    Judy Mincey
    February 1, 2013 at 7:27 am

    My maternal grandfather’s large mantel clock, now over a hundred years old, ticks and chimes in a place of honor at the home of my eldest brother. It was restored after years of neglect and it is always a joy to see and hear it. It was always such a comfortable sound and formed a large part of my childhood soundscape.I was taught to “tell time” with that clock.

  • Reply
    Mary Shipman
    February 1, 2013 at 7:20 am

    Oh, so many, many times my grandmother and dad would sing this to us!
    With no TV, and ‘save the radio batteries’ until I was pretty much grown, games, puzzles, singing, reading were high on our list of entertainment sitting close to the old wood heater on winter evenings.

  • Reply
    Sheryl Ormond Paul
    February 1, 2013 at 7:00 am

    I remember my mother singing this, so poetic. There have always been stories about clocks and death. Fascinating.

  • Reply
    Tim Mc
    February 1, 2013 at 6:41 am

    Very nice on the song,, I got a kick out of the young man watching T.V. while playing the song.. ahh youth-anizim.. I remember when I could do two things at once, takes all I got to concentrate on one thing now days…

  • Reply
    February 1, 2013 at 6:13 am

    Great song Tipper – Momma and Daddy had an old mantel clock; My brother has it now. Momma said when they were first married there was this old man and woman in their lttle town and they had become unable to stay at home due to their age and so they broke up housekeeping. They had the old clock and Momma and Daddy bought it. I’ve heard that tic many years when I was growing up. Like you said, funny how you don’t notice a sound till it’s gone. I guess that song “Sound of Silence” has such a deep meaning for some of us.

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