Appalachia Music

Summer Wages

summer wages

Lately the Blind Pig Gang has been practicing up on an old Ian Tyson song-Summer Wages. If you’re a bluegrass fan you may be familiar with Tony Rice’s version of the song.

The song compares love, money, and time to the speed at which summer wages can be lost to beer taverns and the hustlers that sometimes inhabit them.

I’m in love with our version of Summer Wages. Pap says we do way to many songs. Most performers pick out a good handful of tunes and practice them till they know them inside and out, up and down, and cross ways. Not us-we’re constantly learning a new one-often instead of sticking with a song we move on to the next one before we’ve really mastered the one we just learned. I think we do this cause there’s just so many good songs our there that we (mostly me and Paul) want to do them all. Every once in a while Pap reminds us “now we can’t sing them all boys lets do something we know.”

As I’ve listened to the song over the last few weeks-I’ve felt its symbolism totally relates to the tough times working folks go through. Not the lost love part so much-but the hope of summer wages (think new job or unexpected income) turning out to be a lost hope.

We’ve all been there: you finally feel like you’ve gotten your head above water-finally got things on the upswing-then the bottom falls out. You loose your job-the washer decides to flood the house-the truck’s frame decides its went as far as it can go. In other words-your hopeful summer wages get flushed down the toilet of life.

The Deer Hunter and I have been having our own loss of summer wages over the past few weeks-but we’ll be fine-we always are. More worrisome to me-are the tales the girls bring home from school. Families in Cherokee Co. are hurting-I’m sure many of them feel they’ve lost more than a few Summer’s wages.

Summer Wages is a great song-give it a listen. Paul does some fine picking with amazing vocals-and as always Pap and Paul’s harmony is outstanding. Its a difficult song to play (at least for me)-you can see Pap glancing in my direction to make sure I’m staying on track.

I hope you enjoyed the song!



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  • Reply
    June 26, 2012 at 9:55 am

    Very familiar with the song – never heard it done better!

  • Reply
    November 6, 2011 at 8:31 am

    Charline-no you don’t need to re-subscribe : )

  • Reply
    Glenda Beall
    November 6, 2011 at 12:32 am

    A pretty song beautifully done.
    A hard lesson is learned when times are difficult as they are now. Many of us know of the depression from our folks and older siblings, but are learning first hand what it is to do without.
    Great post, Tipper. I am a subscriber and would love to win a DVD.

  • Reply
    Suzi Phillips
    November 5, 2011 at 11:23 pm

    I would love to have the DVD-but I’ve already won Miss Vera’s Cookbook(& have had fun with it!), so I’m thinking it’s someone else’s turn. Times are tough here in these old mountains & for a variety of reasons. Depending on tourists & second homeowners(and I do) was probably not the brightest thing our region ever did. We’re making it, but it seems like we’re working a lot harder for a lot less. I’m not complaining(much!)-we are a whole lot better off than many other folks around here. But as The Preacher said, “To everything there is a season…” & this one will pass, too.

  • Reply
    lynn legge
    November 5, 2011 at 7:46 pm

    tipper i think that life seems to always throw us a curve.. just to teach us to respect life and not take advantage of the good times… as always i love hearing the boys sing.. .their harmony warms my heart. i am so thankful to have found your site.. and feel so blessed to have you part of my days. 🙂
    have a wonderful weekend
    big ladybug hugs

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    You guys did a great job! I sure did enjoy listening to it. This song is so true to life.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    November 5, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    Tipper–Miss Cindy hit the nail squarely on the head when she noted that tenacity is one of the cardinal features of mountain folks. I now realize that Mom and Dad, while better off than many in Swain County during my childhood, really knew tough times first-hand. In fact, both of them were young adults during the Depression and that engendered a frugality which never left them. They knew hard times–maybe not lost wages but wages which were quite small in terms of “cash money.”
    To their great credit though, I never realized that we weren’t comfortable and living in “high cotton” for mountain folks, until I was grown. No one we knew, with one or two notable exceptions, had a lot. We just made do. I suspect Don’s perspective was somewhat similar. Work came as something you naturally did, which is a far cry from all too many in today’s world. They think they are owed something.
    As for the song, it’s haunting, and I hadn’t heard it in a coon’s age.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    mike echols
    November 5, 2011 at 5:34 pm

    Tell Pap to “hush-up” and keep on picking and grinning !! I like his way’s-He’s good.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    The computer finally cooperated so now I am a email subscriber. The “Wilson Boys” video is excellent. PBS had a special last night about NC artists that was great. One artist basically said to just go with your heart when making art, don’t overthink it or worry about what others’ opinions will be. Just create. So true!!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Its nice to have a new song and
    you all did a great job on Summer
    I think everyone is having a hard
    time these days, especially in this economic downturn. Just hang
    in there, things will get better
    cause this is America…Ken

  • Reply
    Janice MacDaniels
    November 5, 2011 at 9:25 am

    Wonderful! My dad likes to sing this song and I am partial to those two Taylor Guitars! Just great 🙂

  • Reply
    Wanda Devers
    November 5, 2011 at 12:33 pm

    Would love the DVD. My computer often isn’t up to the task of my seeing them on your blog.

  • Reply
    Don Casada
    November 5, 2011 at 12:17 pm

    Great job, CCC.
    These are difficult times – including for some in our family. But then again, we are in many ways a spoiled lot compared with previous generations. If anyone doubts that, come along with me some time and we’ll go exploring places where folks lived here in the Smoky Mountains.
    Conversely, we are much, much poorer than our forebears in many ways. I, for one, don’t think I own a tenth of the gumption or native intelligence in how to make do that was needed just to get by 80 years ago.

  • Reply
    Eva M. Wike, Ph.D.
    November 5, 2011 at 12:15 pm

    Beautiful performance of “Summer Wages” and such a meaningful summary of tough times in Cherokee County. This morning I just got news of a dreadful murder in Cherokee County. Now my heart is so heavy for the dear mother and her family whose son/brother was taken so tragically! Sorry to be so DOWN but I wish we could somehow bring an end to such violence!
    Eva Nell

  • Reply
    Pam Moore
    November 5, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    My family raised draft horses in Kentucky, so my dad was taught to drive a team when he was little. His parents moved to Illinois in the 1920s, started a business and lost everything when the Depression started. In the summer my dad would work for the Amish farmers driving the water wagons in the fields. In return they would feed him two huge meals a day and sometimes they would give him a couple of pennies. He was very thankful for the meals and happy to have a full belly during the summer months.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 11:55 am

    Awesome job on this song!Love listening to ANYTHING by the Blind Pig Gang, such a talented family! Would love to win a DVD!!

  • Reply
    Paul Certo
    November 5, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I don’t have a story, but this song has been in my repertoire for a long time. I learned it probably about 1968-‘9, from the old Ian & Silvia version. I’m a long time Ian Tyson junkie. Yours is a fine version, too.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 11:09 am

    Tipper—that song is definitely a tear jerker—but so true of the times we are presently in. On a brighter not I’s love to see a dvd of the Blind Pig gang—I do so enjoy the style of music your gang plays,especially the harmony between the guys. I come from a musical family and we do that style of music at an olde fashion camp meeting every summer..Dad goes every week and plays at nursing homes and of course we strum away at all family gatherings….Keep pickin’and grinin’ LInda Kerlin

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 10:59 am

    My question was answered when I “subscribed”: if you are already subscribed to the Blind Pig, you don’t have to “re-subscribe”. I sure would love to have that DVD!

  • Reply
    Karen Larsen
    November 5, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Love the song… thanks for sharing it and for your topic today. It always goes that when I finally get the bills paid something breaks down and needs fixed! I do believe in being thankful for what I do have and I do say thanks every day!

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 10:28 am

    You know, that’s so true! Loved hear the fellas sing their version of the song.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 10:27 am

    Loved it. As always they do a great job singing and harmonizing.

  • Reply
    Darlene LaRoche
    November 5, 2011 at 10:25 am

    Love listening to the music, so glad I found this site!!! My Mom and Dad were born in Ky, my oldest brother was born in KY, the rest of us kids,eight more, were born in OH…but to me KY is “Home”…times are hard for everyone, but we were raised to help one another and make due with what one has, and to always be thankful for what we have..and not to live beyond our means and to have faith in God above….

  • Reply
    Uncle Al
    November 5, 2011 at 10:09 am

    A real good job on that song. Sometimes good music tells of sad things. It is important to try and keep one’s perspective on the most important things when troubled times come. Try as difficult as it may be to look for the brighter times. Though I agree we are in difficult times and it seems like it may be a while before that changes. Thanks for sharing a song which helps put a feeling on what many are experiencing.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    November 5, 2011 at 9:59 am

    I’d love to have the DVD. If I don’t win it I guess I’ll have to buy it. I’ve got my fingers crossed!

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    November 5, 2011 at 9:54 am

    Tipper, I didn’t see Pap looking at you to see if your with them….I didn’t see you at all, where were you?
    It’s a nice song but all your songs are nice. You guys always do a good job.
    Don’t know what to say times are hard. Like you, I try to keep an optimistic outlook and count all the things I have to be grateful for.
    One of the characteristics of the Appalachian people that we are is our ability to survive the storm. We are a tough resilient people and that will hold true for these times just as it has held true in the past!

  • Reply
    B. Ruth
    November 5, 2011 at 9:51 am

    I love the way Pap and Paul sing this song…You did a great job too…
    Lost Wages are of course occuring Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter for so many folks…
    I am seeing so many websites where people are going back to the land and making do as much as they can. So many are learning for the first time in their lives how to raise a garden, can and store. From raising meat from hogs and chickens and eggs to milking their own cows, goats…It’s not a “hippy thing” anymore or Great Granma and Granpas old life….I think with my Appalachian background if we absolutely had to we could do it..
    I’m not sure I could dye, spin and weave a coverlet though..LOL
    Thanks Tipper, things always work out for the good….

  • Reply
    Kim @ Stuff could....
    November 5, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Well written how we miss those summer wages….it is not easy to adjust

  • Reply
    Sheryl Paul
    November 5, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Beautiful sounds! The song unfortunately is depressing, but so indicative of the times we live in.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 9:18 am

    Love Blind Pig and the Acorn. One of my first reads every morning. Playlist goes in the background all morning.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 8:52 am

    this song is so true, my son and his wife are about to lose their home, i am paying their electric bill this month, her mother paid it last month. so it is much more than summer wages. our economy is bad and getting worse. sorry to hear your summer wages are not good right now.

  • Reply
    November 5, 2011 at 8:50 am

    I LOVE listening to Pap and Paul sing!

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