A New Name, A New Word
Ketch: a new name.
Chinkypin: a new word.
New songs that sound like they’re old, a children’s book, and a present for Ella.
Ketch Secor is the name. Born in Harrisonburg, Va., attended Exeter prep school on scholarship, went full-tilt into music, especially old folk songs. Met musicians in Ithaca NY, formed Old Crow Medicine Show, moved to Boone, NC, old-time music mecca, where Doc Watson heard them.
Made moonshine, stayed in cheap hotels, lived hard, chewed tobacco (well, his bandmates did.)
But kept at it, playing, traveling, writing songs, including “Wagon Wheel,” co-written with Bob Dylan (that’s another story) which became a standard on Lower Broad, and a hit for Darius Rucker.
With Old Crow, Secor played the Ryman, won Grammys, joined the Opry, and then, because he could, he wrote a children’s book.
All of this info is new to me. I had read about Old Crow, and heard the song “Wagon Wheel,” but never heard them. The book “Lorraine” got a lot of attention this year, and I bought a copy for my granddaughter’s birthday.
The book is about a girl who lives on a Tennessee farm with her granddaddy and they make music. Old time music. The book has the rhythm of an old folk song, even as it makes references to old songs. Not quite Dr. Seuss, but charming rhyming couplets, and colorful well-chosen words, along with nearly mythical characters, events and lessons learned.
One of the many beautiful words Secor uses is Chinkypin. I looked it up. It’s the colloquial version of Chinquapin, another name for a miniature chestnut tree.
I’d never heard that word, but I sure recognized its charm, its inherent snap and playful sound. Hey, I’m a southerner, and we love the sound of language. My Daddy wrote poems, and loved to recite them. So I can appreciate Secor using the word Chinkypin, enjoying the sound of it.
I’d read interviews where Secor talked about music, old music, how deep it goes underneath the culture of the American song. He’s got a great perspective, and a lot of talent.
I’m glad to know about Lorraine, and to give it to Ella, my first grandchild, born in Nashville in 2009.
If you read this before her birthday November 17, please don’t tell her. Let it be a surprise.
Blogging Bryan 6 November 2018