From the recording Mandalay

Cottonwood Darlin’ is a poetic description of my first kiss, which was on the banks of Chenoweth Creek, in the late spring, when I was about 12 years old. Chenoweth Creek is running strong with snowmelt at that time of year. By mid-summer it’s a putrid mess because after the salmon runs are finished, on the banks and in the shallows are lots of dead, smelly fish. Not likely to make you think of kissing someone or anything other than getting the hell out of there.

Timing my friends, is everything.

Also, pay no attention to the references to Midsummer’s Night, which is in early June. Because of the dead fish, you might not want to be there then. And sturgeon rolling in the shallows? Nope. Sorry, no sturgeon in Chenoweth Creek. And to further rend and stretch the time/space continuum, Flower Moon is usually in May, a few weeks before Midsummer’s Night. But sometimes you do get crickets fiddlin’ a’rillaby-rill in early summer.

I’m afraid I pulled my artistic license out and used it to get past all the checkpoints of reality. Sue me.

Many thanks to Ann Heyen for her help on the vocals. And Anna Tivel always brings her best on the fiddle. Such a joy for me to have them on the recording!


Like Corn Woman dancing in a faery dream
At a glance she seems like a wisp of steam
All the voices in a woodland stream;
Say, “Kiss your Cottonwood Darling”

Mid-summer's Night plays a noisy fill
Listen to the cadence of cricket's trill
He knows the tune, a-rillaby-rill;
Says, ”Kiss your Cottonwood Darling”

Lightning flash; sudden shadow
Sturgeon rolls, mayflies gather
Striders glide across the shallows;
So kiss your Cottonwood Darling

Dance in the light of the Flower Moon
Stars go spinning in the Mother's womb
Crickets fiddle faster, Owl calls the tune;
So kiss your Cottonwood Darling

Salt and iron in a dreamtime brew
She sings like a flock starlings
Night wind stirring up a lovely stew
She sings to the Star of Morning
Night chips away at the full moon's edge
Kingfisher dips for silver
One sweet kiss at the river's edge
A kiss from my Cottonwood Darling

All the innocence I left behind
Moon comes up as the stars align
Breath on breath, her hand in mine;
I kiss my Cottonwood Darling

I go floating, up through the night
Head over heels, to a starry light
Heart in my throat, keeping time;
I kiss my Cottonwood Darling