Media: Songs




One cannot be surprised that someone who devoted much of his life to listening and trying to understand the songs of insects would love human music as well.  RDA had a particular soft spot for traditional forms of American song: country and western, bluegrass, traditional American folk…  and he was always ready to play and sing with friends and family who came by the farm. He was a music preservationist, meticulously gathering sheet music or lyric sheets for songs he had learned throughout his life, keeping track of alternative lyrics, writing out melody lines from memory for songs for which he could not find sheets, and often recalling or inventing appropriate musical accompaniment. RDA was also a songwriter and folk composer in his own right, often peppering his written folk writings with the occasional song, and writing two books almost entirely of new songs. In all, RDA composed over 100 original songs, and modified, filled out, or preserved over 1000 more.

1997. Playin’ Cowboy: 71 Verses, Songs, Stories, and Sketches, 160 pp. Typescript, distributed privately. Republished in 2006 as Playin’ Cowboy: The Coontail Blue and Other Horse Tales. 321 pp. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

1998. Dick Alexander’s Song Book I. 500+ Songs I Have Known and Sung: 1948-1998. 556 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately.]

1998. Dick Alexander’s Song Book. II. 200+ Songs from Old and Out-of-Print Books. 426 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately.]

1998. Dick Alexander’s Song Book III. 88 Songs and Verses I Have Written, Modified, or Discovered, and Saved. 1951-1998. 258 pp. [Unpublished, distributed privately.]

The Mockingbird’s River Song. Poems, songs, essays, and stories. ~300 pp. Manchester, MI: Woodlane Farm Books.

Most of RDA’s musical works are not yet available in digital form. Following are a few examples.  All of these works are associated with musical notation of some sort. Many other poetic works that could be songs, and even works that RDA explicitly called songs but are not accompanied by at least melody lines, can be found with his poetry among his writings.

Songs from Australia: The White Man’s Fire soundtrack

RDA wrote eight original songs during his research expedition to Australia with Dan Otte in 1968-1969, which appear in White Man’s Fire (2016) along with a background story for each. On the 30th anniversary of this trip the two returned to Australia, and RDA composed a sequel to one of those early songs, which also appears in that book. Here are pdf extractions of each of these songs, complete with the narrative background, lyrics, and melody line.

      • [PDF] “The Old Bloke” (1968)
      • [PDF] “The Lion’s Den” (1968)
      • [PDF] “The Butcher Bird and His Wife” (1968)
      • [PDF] “The New Chum and the Desert Water Bag” (1969)
      • [PDF] “The Coober Pedy Pub” (1969)
      • [PDF] “Bluey Morgan’s Mate” (1969)
      • [PDF] “The Kumarina Pub” (1969)
      • [PDF] “Janba’s Deed” (1969)
      • [PDF] “The Old Bloke (reprise: 1998)” (1998)
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