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Down in the Valley: About the Song

"Down in the Valley" is an American folk song in 3/4 waltz time. Folklorists John and Alan Lomax consider it a "jailhouse song" because they found it common in prisons, and many versions refer to a specific jail and a loved one on the outside. It is part of the English, Irish, and Scottish courting song traditions that persisted in the Appalachian and Ozark Mountains throughout the nineteenth century.

Includes lead sheet and Sing it Yourself recording.

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America's Music

The music in America today is part of a continuum that reaches back to Colonial America and stretches across the Atlantic Ocean to the Old World. Music, instruments, and songs tell the story of the ordinary and extraordinary people who have populated the United States and propelled it into the 21st century. Not only do the lyrics directly reflect the hopes, fears, struggles, sorrows, triumphs, and humanity of the real people who lived history, but to follow the path taken by the music itself is to understand the great cultural stew that is the United States of America.

Through this music, you can engage with the strength and beauty that have emerged from the often troubled history of the United States. The genres of music explored through Ballad of America include traditional folk songs, fiddle tunes, ballads (both Old and New World), sea shanties, railroad and cowboy songs, Appalachian, ragtime, spirituals, work songs, minstrel, blues, jazz, jug band, rhythm and blues, old-time, country and western, bluegrass, and rock & roll.