Leo Fitzpatrick and Leo Bernier – “Sweet Marie” (March 27, 1959)

As some of you know, this blog is a result of my PhD research with music and home recordings made around Gaspé. I’m now working on my written dissertation and as I do so, I would like to share with you some of the recordings that comes up as I write in the next few months.

Yesterday, I began a chapter describing my collaboration with Leo Fitzpatrick to donate his vast collection of home recordings to the Musée de la Gaspésie in November 2016. Today, I’d like to share with you Leo’s instrumental version of an old popular song called, “Sweet Marie” that he recorded in 1959 on one of his first reel-to-reel tapes. It features Leo picking lead guitar and his dear friend and frequent musical partner, Leo Bernier, on lap steel.

Hank Snow’s music and guitar style were enormously influential on both Leo Fitzpatrick and Leo Bernier. For his part, Leo Fitzpatrick modelled his single-string lead guitar playing largely on Hank Snow’s style. In fact, it is likely that they learned this tune from a 1954 Hank Snow recording.

The song, however, is much older. It was composed in 1893 with music by Raymond Moore and words by Cy Warman. Thanks to the wonders of the Internet, we can actually hear a commercial recording of this song made just after it was composed! Here is vaudeville singer Will F. Denny performing “Sweet Marie” in 1893. This song became hugely popular through its success on the vaudeville stage and quickly entered the repertoire of folk and amateur musicians.

I’ve a secret in my heart, Sweet Marie 
A tale I would impart, love to thee 
Every daisy in the dell 
Knows my secret, knows it well 
And yet I dare not tell Sweet Marie

When I hold your hand in mine, Sweet Marie 
A feeling most divine comes to me 
All the world is full of Spring 
All the warblers on the wing 
And I listen while they sing, Sweet Marie

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