Appalachia Music

The Unclouded Day

mountains surrounded by grass and cloudy skies

I’m still listening to my usb drive full of jumbled up music. This week I was surprised to hear Pap and Paul do “Uncloudy Day.” I had completely forgotten about us filming the song.

As I thought about it I began to wonder if I’d ever shared it on the Blind Pig and The Acorn. A quick look at our Youtube channel told me I probably hadn’t because the video wasn’t uploaded.

I grew up singing the song in church so I’ve always been familiar with its cheery lines. A quick google turned up this story from Wikipedia about it’s origin.

“Uncloudy Day, also known as Unclouded Day, is a gospel song written by Josiah Kelley Alwood in 1879. Originally popular in church hymnals, it has come to be recorded many times over the years since, including being an early attention-getter for future star act The Staple Singers in 1956, their version serving as an inspiration to a young Bob Dylan, who called it “the most mysterious thing I’d ever heard”.

Alwood related a story about the event that inspired the song:

It was a balmy night in August 1879, when returning from a debate in Spring Hill, Ohio, to my home in Morenci, Michigan, about 1:00 a.m. I saw a beautiful rainbow north by northwest against a dense black nimbus cloud. The sky was all perfectly clear except this dark cloud which covered about forty degrees of the horizon and extended about halfway to the zenith. The phenomenon was entirely new to me and my nerves refreshed by the balmy air and the lovely sight. Old Morpheus was playing his sweetest lullaby. Another mile of travel, a few moments of time, a fellow of my size was ensconced in sweet home and wrapped in sweet sleep. A first class know-nothing till rosy-sweet morning was wide over the fields.

To awake and look abroad and remember the night was to be filled with sweet melody. A while at the organ brought forth a piece of music now known as “The Unclouded Day.” A Day and a half was bestowed on the four stanzas.

— A Rainbow at Midnight and A Song With Morning (1896)”

—-

I have no idea why we didn’t upload the video of the song to Youtube and all these years later I have no clue where the video even is. We recorded the song shortly after I started the blog back in 2008.

Click on the link below to hear the song. (You’ll need to click on the triangle shape to start the song-then click your back button to come back to this page.)

The Unclouded Day

Since I don’t have a video of the song, my best bet is the music is made by Paul, Pap, and my nephew Ben. I believe some of the fancy guitar picking is Ben instead of Paul. Maybe one of them will remember and enlighten us.

Tipper

canning jars full of food

Come cook with me!

MOUNTAIN FLAVORS – TRADITIONAL APPALACHIAN COOKING
Location: John C. Campbell Folk School – Brasstown, NC
Date: Sunday, August 23 – Saturday, August 29, 2020
Instructors: Carolyn Anderson, Tipper Pressley

Experience the traditional Appalachian method of cooking, putting up, and preserving the bounty from nature’s garden. Receive hands-on training to make and process a variety of jellies, jams, and pickles for winter eating. You’ll also learn the importance of dessert in Appalachian culture and discover how to easily make the fanciest of traditional cakes. Completing this week of cultural foods, a day of bread making will produce biscuits and cornbread. All levels welcome.

Along with all that goodness Carolyn and I have planned a couple of field trips to allow students to see how local folks produce food for their families. The Folk School offers scholarships you can go here to find out more about them. For the rest of the class details go here.

Subscribe for FREE and get a daily dose of Appalachia in your inbox

You Might Also Like

15 Comments

  • Reply
    patty
    March 5, 2020 at 5:46 pm

    i’m with ya, tmc. i don’t attend church regularly. out west, church “music” is dreadful. attempts to be modern, “relevant”—and no one gets ANYthing from ‘it. when i was a girl growin up in NC, our church had old hymns. and our campmeeting had an open- air arbor, built pre-civil war. that place rang with beauiful harmonies some from my great aunts and uncles my dear granny. i get a heap more from “Uncloudy Day” or “We’re Marching to Zion” etc. than this corporate techno-JUNK in churches of today.

  • Reply
    Charline
    March 1, 2020 at 10:28 pm

    I really love this old song and enjoyed the backstory. I will look forward to hearing Pap’s version.

  • Reply
    SusieQ
    March 1, 2020 at 10:03 pm

    Sure enjoyed listening and singing right along…..and especially the story behind the song… also hopped on over to Youtube to have a listen to the Staple Singers a bit… warmed up to the 60’s+ here today, and I think I hear thunder in the distance…a lovely sound even though we’ve had a lot of rain….. been a while since we’ve heard a big rolling thunder boomer. It’s March ,yayyyyyy. I really like that line above -” A Rainbow at Midnight and A Song With Morning ”

  • Reply
    Hank Skewis
    March 1, 2020 at 3:22 pm

    Wonderful, moving song…

  • Reply
    Sherry
    March 1, 2020 at 2:10 pm

    P.S. Thank you for that song! Strikes chords of love & memories1

  • Reply
    Sherry
    March 1, 2020 at 2:07 pm

    I love & agree with TMC’s post. The old hymns & songs have such meaning & solid theology. Once upon a time we were young pastors of a small church in Tennessee , when in the ’70’s & 80’s we had many wonderful choruses that were entirely scriptures. We learned lots of scripture that way. There was an older couple who came to me one day & expressed how n they missed the hymns & could we please sing more hymns that the Biblle says we should comfort the feeble. Now that I am 74 & sorta in that category…I feel the same. Lol

  • Reply
    Cynthia
    March 1, 2020 at 12:09 pm

    This is the best version I have ever heard!

  • Reply
    Quinn
    March 1, 2020 at 11:54 am

    I’m trying to imagine seeing a rainbow against a dense black cloud in the middle of the night. I’m sure the songwriter saw what he saw, but I can’t quite feature it.

  • Reply
    Ed Ammons
    March 1, 2020 at 10:34 am

    That has always been one of my favorites. Paul and Pap take it to another level!

    The words the writer used to describe his inspiration to pen the verses are themselves are as lyrical as the song itself.

  • Reply
    Dee
    March 1, 2020 at 9:35 am

    I love, love this song and still sing it in church. You can’t help noticing Pap’s ability to reach high with that sweet voice. I am so glad you posted it as even though it isn’t your usual video, those of us who have seen Pap and Paul sing sure can pick out those voices we know whether we can see them or not.

  • Reply
    aw griff
    March 1, 2020 at 8:57 am

    Enjoyed! One of my favorites that we still sing.

  • Reply
    Miss Cindy
    March 1, 2020 at 8:10 am

    That’s beautiful. I’d recognize Pap’s sweet voice any time whether there is a picture or not!

  • Reply
    Ron Stephens
    March 1, 2020 at 8:03 am

    Thanks for the background story and the audio. I to grew up singing this song in church and we sing it still. I especially like knowing that a rainbow was involved. Everytime I think the conditions are right, I look for rainbows. Seems there is no day in this old troubled world without at least one cloud of heart or mind. Those kinds of clouds I look forward to not havibg anymore.

  • Reply
    Jim Casada
    March 1, 2020 at 7:49 am

    Tipper–I’ve always been mighty partial to that song, and this is a wonderful rendition. Every time Jerry comes in on the chorus with that high, lonesome “oh” my senses just jump. What a joyful find and start to what promises to be an unclouded day here.
    Jim Casada

  • Reply
    tmc
    March 1, 2020 at 6:55 am

    These Old songs are getting farther and farther away from today’s Churchs, seems anything with much meaning or Sprituallity don’t have a place anymore, mostly just repetitive verse singing, nowadays, so call modern, call me old fashion but the Old songs, along with God called Preachers that fear God more the Man, is what kept this ole boy in trouble with the Lord until I surrendered my heart and soul to him

  • Leave a Reply