Have been away too long from my blogging due to the massive amount of farm work that always takes place in the spring, and some travel away. When I returned, I was dumbfounded to find a Youtube video in my feed for the song, "Morning Has Broken." I didn't search for it specifically; maybe AI is now reading my thoughts or listening in somehow, because it's one of the songs I play regularly on the dulcimer. But seeing the song in the feed isn't what surprised me. It was who plays the song below .... a lady named Jean Simmons. If you've read Pluck you know that she had a profound impact on David's playing, and they became life-long friends.
I had learned about Jean and her daughter Pam, and spoke with Pam during the the research for Pluck. Pam very kindly shared her memories of her mother and their meeting David the first time he visited McSpadden's Dulcimer Shoppe. After Jean helped him pick out his first McSpadden, Pam explained that he would go over to eat supper with them on that visit and then every visit afterwards. They would always play dulcimers together on the front porch, and Jean would teach David tunes from her childhood along with all the history behind the tunes. David often said Jean was one of the finest players he had ever met. During my research, I often wished I could hear Jean play (she has passed away in 2005); it never occurred to me to search for Jean on YouTube. And there she has been, all along.
One song David played frequently and taught his students was "Morning Has Broken". He liked it, he said, because it was easy to remember--there were no A and B parts; just one part all together. In his usual unique arranging style, he added exquisite embellishments to a simple melody to create something both soothing and sublime for the ear along with an easy flow for the fingers.
Well, guess what? I finally got to hear Jean play, and here she is for you. I suspect Jean may have taught David "Morning Has Broken", but, if not, I bet you they played it together. I hope you enjoy their performance as much as I have.
If you'd like to read more about Jean and her daughter Pam, visit the David Bennett's wonderful blog for the North Alabama Old-Time Heritage Dulcimer Association. (David's article is the source for the photo of Jean and Pam at the top of this article.)