Well, sort of. After I played Tex Logan fiddling his composition, ‘Christmas Time’s a-Comin’’ with The Lane Brothers, followed by Bill Monroe’s classic first recording of the song, listener Paul Murphy emailed me with this news (reprinted with his permission):
Hello Cousin Lynn. . .
I certainly hate to discredit the great Tex Logan in any way, but it is fairly apparent that he was inspired by this tune that Joe Bussard plays on his radio show every now and then by Fiddlin’ John Carson and His Virginia Reelers called ‘Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over’. Tex certainly did add a very catchy chorus to go along with his new lyrics.
Joe Bussard’s Link:
Your faithful listener,
You be the judge. Here’s Bill Monroe:
Undeniably, Fiddlin’ John’s song, which I had never heard, has the same melody, and it’s even about Christmas. But, as Paul says, it’s not the same song. Tex has written all new lyrics with new meaning, and added a second part (“Don’t you hear them bells. . .”) as a chorus. In other words, Tex has taken a simple fiddle tune with rudimentary lyrics and made it into a real song.
It’s the old ‘folk process’, of course. Like all ‘roots’ music, country has re-used countless simple melodies for hundreds of songs. Just remember ‘I’m Thinking Tonight of My Blue Eyes’, ‘The Great Speckled Bird’, ’The Wild Side of Life’ and its answer, ‘It Wasn’t God Who Made Honky-Tonk Angels’; there are doubtless others that I can’t think of.
I quoted Richard Thompson’s Bluegrass Today account of the first recording of ‘Christmas Time’s A-Comin’’ HERE. As far as I know, Tex never mentioned the Fiddlin’ John Carson recording, though listening to it, it’s inconceivable that he hadn’t heard someone play ‘Christmas Time Will Soon Be Over’. Perhaps some afficiandos of old-time fiddling will let us know how current it was back when Tex was growing up.
When I heard the link that Paul sent, though, it was a revelation. It was as if we’d discovered a letter from a long-gone ancestor, recounting an early version of a tale we thought was new.
But it’s Tex’s song that everyone sings today. /CL