Skip to main content

Velma - Jonathan Byrd

Wind in the cypress, sand on the ground
Fallin' down Velma, fallin' down
The daughter of a farmer, she ran away to town
Fallin' down Velma, fallin' down

You poisoned your mama, then you watched her fall
Your medicine is calling, can't you hear your medicine call?

You married my granddaddy. Him I never knew.
About the time he met me was about the time he met you.

The you killed Stuart Taylor. Someone had to know.
Every man you been with, one by one they go.

Once you take to killing, your life ain't never the same.
Now they have your number. Now they know your name.

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Wildflowers is the 2001 debut album by Jonathan Byrd. The songs are mostly original songs with a few traditional tunes. Here he mixes contemporary singer-songwriter storytelling with Appalachian folk roots. There is even a murder ballad; "Velma" is a song about serial killer Velma Barfield whose victims included Byrd's own grandfather. Sing Out! says, "[Jonathan Byrd's] songwriting melds the lyricism of Celtic music with the stark storytelling of the finest traditional balladeers."

Arthur Wood of Folkwax says that Byrd's "Ashe County Fair" is certain, in time, to become a "folk classic." Byrd explained to Wood: "When I started writing it, I didn't know the girl was going to die."

Byrd says that he learned to play in the alternate guitar tuning DADGAD during two visits to Ireland: "For a personal challenge, I wrote and recorded my entire first album [this album] in that tuning, bringing it into the Old-Time, Bluegrass, and Country idioms." The album includes a couple of instrumentals that allow Byrd to show off his flatpicking skills. Sing Out! described the sound of the album as, "a wonderfully spare collection, allowing the warm expressive vocals of Jonathan and his strong guitar to carry most of the weight of the arrangements." Byrd plays a number of vintage Martin Guitars on the album including a 1936 Martin D-28, a 1937 sunburst D-18, and a 1934 D-18.


from Wildflowers, words and music by Jonathan Byrd

Buy Wildflowers here!