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Soul Hollow Minstrels | Chestnut Tree

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Chestnut Tree

by Soul Hollow Minstrels

A modern day, old-timey Catskill Mountain tear-jerker inspired by a story by Helen Titch Nichols about a family’s connection to the American Chestnut Tree. Proceeds benefit the New York Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation.
Genre: Folk: Minstrel
Release Date: 

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  Song Share Time Download
1. Chestnut Tree
5:56 $1.00
Downloads are available as MP3-320 files.


Album Notes
Great American stories of hardship, struggle, family, and life in the mountains are woven into folk songs passed through generations. Some songwriters with strong Appalachian roots are still gathering the stories of their elders and crafting them into songs that tell about life in a different time. Catskill Mountain folk-rock singer-songwriter, Theodore Leland Finkle collaborated with his cousin Jody Nebesnik and her family friend, Dr. Heidi Moore, on the lyrics of this song. His wife, Pamela West, wrote the haunting, old-timey melody. The story is one of many their great-aunt Helen told of growing up on Beach Hill in Andes, New York, during the time of the depression. The chestnut tree in this song is an iconic symbol of a way of life that, much like the chestnut tree, has widely died out in American culture, yet the roots remain in the words of Helen’s story.

Proceeds from this song support the American Chestnut Foundation. For more information on how to support the efforts of the New York Chapter of the American Chestnut Foundation to bring back the chestnut tree across the country, visit www.acf.org or contact Allen Nichols, New York Chapter President, 607-263-5105 or fajknichols.75@gmail.com. For more information on the Soul Hollow Minstrels or to learn about historically and culturally relevant folk music in the Catskill Mountains, contact Pamela West at the Community Music and Arts Network, www.communitymusicnetwork.com, 607-441-8448 or FunMusic4Kids@aol.com. Instrumental and Background Tracks of this song are available for licensing.

"Chestnut Tree" (Helen's Song) was inspired by the stories told by Helen Titch Nichols, born in 1924:

“My name is Helen Nichols and I am 90 years old. Most folks don’t remember what it was like when our forests were full of giant American chestnut trees, but I do. One of my first memories was walking up through the grass to a slanting rock near a large American chestnut tree. My grandmother took me there that day to tell me about God. It was then I learned that I had a twin sister, Ellen, who had died at birth and was buried there. At times throughout my childhood, I would go up by the rock and sit by the small depression where my sister was buried, when I had no one to play with. Other times, chestnuts bring back happy memories. Before the blight struck, my mother and father would collect chestnuts from the forest and sell them for Christmas money. The winter I was 9, we ran out of firewood. Daddy was ill, so I went I went with my sister Maude, who was 11, and cut down the chestnut tree with a cross-cut saw, as it was dead by then and was the closest tree to the house. The dry, dead branches broke into pieces when the tree fell and we carried them in for firewood. It was a final gift from the once majestic tree.”

Chestnut Tree is dedicated to Helen Titch Nichols
This project was made possible by Jody Nebesnik and
Theodore Leland Finkle, granddaughter and nephew of
Helen Titch Nichols

Lyrics: Theodore Leland Finkle, Jody Nebesnik & Dr. Heidi Moore
Music : Pamela West–Finkle & Theodore Leland Finkle
Producer/Arranger: Theodore Leland Finkle

Performed by Soul Hollow Minstrels:
Vocals/Harmonies, Piano & Acoustic Guitar – Pamela West
Banjo & Harmonica – Theodore Leland Finkle
Slide Guitar – Miles Gentry
Drums – John Michelotti

Engineered by T. L. Finkle at Spiral Motion Sound Studios -
South Kortright, New York. Mixed and Mastered by Fred Harris & T.L. Finkle at Aleph & Co. Studios – Delhi, New York
Cover Art: Jody Nebesnik

Chestnut Tree (Helen's Song)

I was small – grandma led me by the hand
Through wet grass – almost taller than me
She said, “Your twin sister – waits with angels there”
Just a slanted rock - by the chestnut tree

Who do you know – who really knows your soul
Half of one makes the other one whole
I’ve been sitting all day – by the chestnut tree
Wondering if you ever – think of me

Miss the face I never met – lips that never got to breath
Two hearts inside – the womb – beat in time
I came into this life – leaving you behind
Just a slanted rock – by the chestnut tree – Chorus:

When I was lost – I found my way back
To the sacred place I held so dear
My tears fell down – love soaked into the ground
Just a slanted rock – by the chestnut tree – Solo:

That tree gave to the family – year after year
They drove bags of chestnuts off for sale
The money they made – bought the gifts that they gave
Just a slanted rock – by the chestnut tree – Chorus

Daddy fell ill – winters were cold up on the hill
Big sister and I – did the only thing we knew to do
The crosscut saw – fell the dying tree
Dry branches shattered on the ground – Solo:

Plant chestnut trees - & the future will see
Majestic towers rise into the sky
Helen’s heart delights – to see the saplings bathe in light
Just a slanted rock – by the chestnut tree - Chorus

Copyright 2014, Angelfly Records, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Superconscious Psychobabble Publishing, ASCAP



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