Appalachia Music

Stopped Short Never to go Again

Grandfather clock

For this week’s Pickin’ & Grinnin’ In The Kitchen Spot, I have a song about a grandfather 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 two 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.

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.

We filmed the video back in 2008 so I’ve watched it a lot since then. I still love Paul’s picking, Ben’s chiming guitar, the lovely harmony, and Pap’s tapping foot.

*Ken Roper update: Ken is still in rehab. He developed pneumonia after by-pass surgery and has had fluid in his lungs. I spoke to him last night and he said he was feeling better and had been up walking. He said he was so touched by all the phone calls, cards, and even a prayer blanket from Blind Pig readers. You all really made him feel better and I thank you. He can still use your good thoughts and prayers.

If you’d like to purchase some of Pap and Paul’s music check out the cds below: “Lamp Lighting Time,” and “Shepherd of my Soul.”


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  • Reply
    Ray Pardue
    November 2, 2020 at 1:27 pm

    That was one of the first songs I learned in grammar school in Sullivan County, TN, many years ago. As a youngster there, I heard the story of a grandfather clock so old that the pendulum’s shadow wore a hole in the back of the case. That story, I believe, placed well at a liars’ contest a number of years ago.

  • Reply
    Ethelene Dyer Jones
    November 1, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    I loved hearing the video, and watching it, of “It Stopped Short, Never to Go Again.” I had not heard it in years. As others have mentioned, it used to be popular years ago. We didn’t have a “Grandfather Clock, but we did have a striking, chiming mantel clock, and so did several neighbors and aunts/uncles in their homes in Choestoe, Union County, Blairsville, GA. Thanks for posting the song!

  • Reply
    November 1, 2020 at 9:02 pm

    It’s been a long time since I’ve been in elementary school, but hearing this song takes me right back there . We had a songbook with this song in it ,and a music teacher named Mrs. Stackhouse, who started us off with an autoharp, or zither as I called them . Those songbooks had many songs that I still like to sing when I remember them…I sang right along with them on the first verse up there 🙂 ,but didn’t remember the others …. I remember another song in that book… ”Get Along Home Cindy Cindy ” anybody remember that one ?

  • Reply
    Don Byers
    November 1, 2020 at 4:42 pm

    My cousin, Junior Mauney taught me to play that song Chet style about ’59…and a little story here…way before that when I was about 5 or 6 mother walked next door to see Mrs. Dessie Burnette.(Dessie and her husband Monroe sang gospel, son Billy played guitar and married Frankie Chastain). We had one alarm clock in that old 3 room shack and I thought it needed maintenance…so I get a screwdriver and take it apart and made some adjustments and wow!!! Never to go again….and there were serious consequences…

  • Reply
    November 1, 2020 at 12:11 pm

    I learned this song in elementary school. They are technically called tall case clocks, but after this song, people called them grandfather clocks. We have one that my husband bought for his mother when his father was in the Air Force and stationed in Germany. It has an open case, which means that the pendulum and weights are not behind glass or wooden doors. His mom gave it to his sister. A few years ago, she wanted to know if we wanted it, otherwise she was getting rid of it. We said yes, and paid to have it shipped from California to Virginia, and then the local clock shop fixed it. They had to come to the house to take the mechanism out and take back to their shop to repair it, and then bring it back to our house and put it back together. It chimes on the hour and half hour, and there is something so soothing about it. If the house is quiet, I can hear it upstairs. We have a mantel clock that chimes and it is really cool when both clocks chime together.

  • Reply
    Mary Anne Johnson
    November 1, 2020 at 10:37 am

    I remember all the words to that great old song. Having learned it as a child, we used to sing it at 4-H meetings, church and just around the neighborhood when we all gather together. I have a grandfather clock today which I take very good care of and it’s been in my house for 20 years and I pray that it stays another 20 years.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    November 1, 2020 at 9:52 am

    That was better than the cd I used to have.
    I recently received a chiming clock from my mother’s estate and gave it to my son. The chiming wakes me up.

  • Reply
    Melissa P. (Misplaced Southerner)
    November 1, 2020 at 9:45 am

    We learned this song as small children. My brother now has his great-grandfather’s clock which used to be in my Mummo’s house and she used to let me wind. It’s not a traditional “grandfather clock” that stands on the floor, but more a shelf clock. He hasn’t tried to make it work for years, but when it was in Mummo’s house, I used to love hearing it’s deep tick-tock. I always was worried it would “stop short, never to go again…”

  • Reply
    Gene Smith
    November 1, 2020 at 9:45 am

    Our old mantel clock was a member of the family, but when guests came our parents had to silence it so they could get some sleep. It struck on the quarter hours, and at noon and midnight it did the whole show.

  • Reply
    Margie Goldstein
    November 1, 2020 at 8:23 am

    A very catchy tune indeed! Grandfather clocks are awesome! You would be surprised at the value of some of them. Nearer to you, there were priceless, over the top clocks at Biltmore. Blessings and prayers for Ken always! Let’s get him home! As always, it’s been a wonderful TIME here….

  • Reply
    gayle larson
    November 1, 2020 at 8:06 am

    I remember hearing and singing this song in grade school and found myself singing along. . I can’t believe I remembered the words. Thanks for another great memory.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 1, 2020 at 7:25 am

    I think this Grandfather Clock is just one of the sweetest songs I’ve ever heard and the guys do a great job.
    My grandmother didn’t have a grandfather clock but she did have a Baby Ben alarm clock that you could hear all over the house. It drove me crazy at night trying to go to sleep when I spent the night.

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