And We'll Kill The Old Red Rooster.

by Serge Bielanko

Me and Violet's new jam is SHE'LL BE COMING 'ROUND THE MOUNTAIN. It popped into my mind one day last week after about thirty years of not thinking about it at all. Violet was strapped to my chest as we headed down a steep hill into Dog Canyon and I just started singing it to her while I navigated the trail (i.e. prayed that we didn't fall). The song is a classic song in that it has a lot of things that a song needs to be stout enough to transcend generations, interpretations, and a trillion warbled butcherings. A woman, horses, a rooster, a crowd, killing, and a mountain. And chicken and dumplings. I mean, c'mon. The possibilities are endless.

My take (here he goes!) is that the narrator(s)/voice of the song are the dead in heaven. They await the arrival of someone new into the eternal kingdom, someone arriving on a team of six white horses. "She'll be drivin'six white horses when she comes!" White horses...or pale horses...have long been used as a symbol for death. And what could be a more beautiful term for passing on than "Coming 'round the mountain"? Its folksy and sublime and spiritual. I won't back down from this, people.

And don't get me going on the Grandma Moses-y image of a Heaven where all the long lost loved ones who now await your imminent arrival are planning a fucking hootnanney to celebrate your glorious dead ass by killing "the ol' red rooster" (SATAN) and having "chicken and dumplings" (ANGELS and CLOUDS). Ok maybe that last one is a stretch, but it's obvious the emphasis is on comfort food here. I'm not far off base and you are beginning to know it, huh?

Violet likes the song a lot. I move her legs around as we go up one hill and down another. She coos where she wants.The duet is hers to embrace whenever. At first we only sang two or three of the verses; I didn't know there were others. But we found them on the internet and memorized them. And now we strut around through the new woods of spring singing it over and over. Little Violet and The Young At Hearts singing songs of death and eternal salvation...tonight only!

Sometimes we turn brushy corners and there's another dog walker right there heading straight at us while we are gleefully mid-verse. I try to amp up the singing then, dazzle them with my wood nymphness. Some smile. Some try and be all street though and ignore us and try to pretend it isn't happening. But guess what? You can turn your eyes away...but sooner or later you'll be "coming 'round the mountain when you come". And if your lucky, if it isn't yet your time: it's just me and Violet doing our thing. If I was you though....I'd smile either way.