Whisky Rye

Lyrics by John Keys, music by Beltaine

Whisky Rye for Jenny’s daughters got to fight the cold.
Whisky Rye for Jenny’s daughters got to fight the cold.
Pickin’ cotton ain’t no way to keep eight children fed each day,
Whisky Rye for Jenny’s daughters got to fight the cold.

At three and twenty years in birthin’, Jenny lost her life.
James Oliver, her red-haired husband, lost his native wife.
Eight younins’ livin’ in a tent, by the river side,
A jug-o-rye not gin-a-cotton helped turn the tide.

To save his clan, there was no choice, for a desperate Irish lad,
Sellin’ rye by horse, then Ford, the only hope he had.
Takin liquor cross state lines, a risk he’d have to take,
Keeping vittles on the plate, his family was at stake.

A secret still, in a corn field, hidden in the maze,
A well-dressed man happened by, looking for game to raze.
With a plan to bag some fowl down the cornfield byway,
Gun in hand, James shouted out, “that’s a one-way highway!”

James gave up stillin’, moved to Portland, makin’ ships for war,
His past was just a mystery now, his family hid the lore.
His grandson took his pappy’s love of stillin’ just the same,
Selling rye and old corn whisky in his grandpa’s name.