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Chief Redbird's Violin

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from the album, Always Yes

Lyrics

I learned to play the Fiddle on Chief Red Bird’s violin
A gift to me when I was 21
He had long since left this world and it sat for many years
And gathered dust and longed to play again---
I could feel those Northern Nights—long laced gowns and smoke filled rooms
I could see those young brides and young grooms and hear those old tunes
I learned to play the fiddle on Chief Red Bird’s violin
Only wish that I could play like him

Never even met the man but I could feel his soul
Every time I held his violin
When I touched that ancient wood the past would seem to sing
When I touched that horse hair bow to string
Maybe he was Chippewa—Ottawa or Wyandot
From the Huron—the Iroquois—Pottawatomie
I learned to play the fiddle on Chief Red Bird’s violin
Only wish that I could play like him

Something seemed so mystical when I held his violin
And smelled the inside of his beat up case
I could just imagine as I watched my clumsy fingers
Dancing gracefully across those strings
He was touched when he was born with the amber blood of the burgundy maple tree
Anointed by the autumn dance when the trees turned gold in 1933
Learned to play the fiddle on Chief Red Bird’s violin
Only wish that I could play like him