From the recording Six Strings and Coffee Beans

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© Huddie Ledbetter / © Jay Ungar

Mark Clavey – lead vocals, guitar
Mary Hanover – vocals, hammered dulcimer
Rachel Gaither – vocals, fiddle

The "Ashokan Farewell" and "Goodnight, Irene" comprise the band’s traditional closer, and they’ve been wrapping up concerts and winding down pubs with this set for over a decade. The "Farewell" is a waltz in D-major written in the style of a Scottish lament. It was composed by Jay Ungar in 1982 - a catharsis for the great sense of loss and longing for the music, dancing and communion he experienced as he transitioned from an idyllic month at Ashokan back to the impersonal, life-as-usual, daily grind. The tune has served as the farewell waltz at the annual Ashokan Fiddle & Dance Camps in New Paltz, NY, and gained its notoriety in being used as the title theme of Ken Burns’ 1990 PBS television miniseries, "The Civil War". "Goodnight, Irene" is a 20th century American folk standard first recorded in 1932 by Huddie 'Lead Belly' Ledbetter, and made widely popular by The Weavers. Lead Belly learned Irene from his Uncle Terrell, just before he was sent to the penitentiary in Texas for murder in 1918. The song wanders, with the singer, through his luckless life, touching on his failures in love, his drug-use, his discontent and despair, and his relationship with Irene – a bittersweet one that is clearly a thing of the past, yet one that he is ever pleasantly present to.


Last Saturday night I got married, me and my wife settled down. Now me and my wife we are parted… I think I'll take a little stroll downtown.

Irene goodnight, Irene goodnight. Goodnight Irene, goodnight Irene, I'll see you in my dreams.

I asked your mother for you, she said you was way too young. I wished to God I'd never seen your face, I wish that you never was born.

Irene goodnight, &c

Sometimes I live in the country, sometimes I live in town, sometimes I take a great notion to jump in the river and drown.

Irene goodnight, &c

Stop ramblin', stop gamblin', don't stay out so late at night. Go home to your wife and your family, and sit down by that firelight.

Irene goodnight, &c

You cause me to weep, you cause me to mourn, you cause me to leave my home. But the very last words I ever heard you say was, "Sing me one more song".

Irene goodnight, &c