Killin’ Songs/Meet Me at the Waterfall

        I’m gonna let y’all in on a bluegrass secret.  Like Tim Stafford says, you ’bout gotta do a killin’ song in every show.

        Now when we sing of those awful things, it ain’t that we want to kill someone, it’s that by singing the tune it keeps us from wanting to kill someone who about half deserves it.

        Charlie Waller used to do one years ago about some boy who found his girl friend and a married man behind the waterfall.  True to bluegrass he didn’t say exactly what they was a doing, but it wound up being a killin’ song.

        At the old Harnett County fair there was a meeting place at the front gate; an old fake waterfall.  When you were a kid, if you got separated from your folks, they’d go to to Mr. Gold and he’d announce your name on the loudspeaker.  “Tommy Bibey, come to the waterfall,” he’d say.  “Your folks are looking for you.”  Everyone in the county knew if you needed to find someone at the Fairgrounds, that was the way to go about it.  

        One day I was walking around the Fairgrounds with my Miss Marie when an announcement came across the loudspeaker.  “Dr. Bibey, come to the waterfall.”  Well, by then I was a grown-up, so I knew it wasn’t ‘a case of being lost and my folks looking for me, so I figured it must have something to do with doctoring.  We took a rain check on the Tilt-A-Whirl and walked to the front gate.

       When we got there, two young women were waiting.  One spoke up.  “Tommy, what are you going to do about daddy’s cough?”

        GG. (bluegrass for good grief)  Dang, you reckon it’s got anything to do with those Camels he has his shirt pocket?  Man, he’d only been coughing for a couple years for heaven’s sake.  I gathered my composure to remain professional.  “Any new symptoms?  You know, coughing up blood, fever, short of breath?”  It seemed probably not.  “Well, y’all, it’s hard to say.  If you think he’s different, I’d take him over to the Emergency Room tonight.  If not, call the office in the morning and we’ll get him in.”

        They seemed satisfied.  As we walked down the midway, I whistled a few bars of “Down by the Waterfall.”  Oh well, it might have been a bit rude and not too smart, but at least what they did warn’t as bad as what that married man was doing with that girl in Charlie Waller’s song.  I reckon they weren’t due for a killin.’  But, thinking of that melody sure made the situation more bearable. 

        And most important, it didn’t ruin my little girls’ night at the Fair with her Dad.  We went on and rode the Tilt-A-Whirl, and I don’t think she thought anything of it.  For us it was a way of life.  I reckon some folks would think it was as crazy a life as the carnies breaking down the rides, especially when you throw in the music and the killin’ songs, but is was just what we do.  We didn’t know any other way to live.

        My next post on chronic illness is about ready, and due up first thing in the morning.  See you then.

Dr. B

Explore posts in the same categories: bluegrass characters

2 Comments on “Killin’ Songs/Meet Me at the Waterfall”

  1. mrschili Says:

    Heh. Well, at least these folks knew how to find you!

    I really think, though, that “off duty” should mean something. It throws one off to be called to professional duty in time set aside for personal pursuits…

  2. drtombibey Says:


    As we say in bluegrass, in a little town like this there is no hiding place.

    All this goes back a long way. I remember as a boy if the phone would get off the hook, the operator would send the police out to wake up my Dad. A few times over the years I’ve gone out to get the paper nursing my morning coffee and nearly been run over by someone coming down my driveway to tell me of a problem.

    We have much more call coverage than we used to so it is no longer that bad, but when you are out and around in town you about have to figure you are the property of the public and that is the way it is.

    It all does become a way of life, but every so often I load up my Marfar and a guitar and mandolin and we get out of town. No one knows me there, and we go out to eat and not a soul asks about mama’s blood pressure. You do have to have some time away to clear your head, and we are better to take it than we used to be. I’m glad I am no celebrity, and it does make me feel a bit sorry for those folks who have nowhere to hide.

    At the same time, I have to admit I am still flattered when my patients want my opinion. At my age, I figure there is someone younger, smarter, and better looking who wants my job every day. All I’ve got on ’em is wisdom, knowing my patients over time, and caring. If I ever give up those things, I’m done for.

    What you said at the end is 100% true. Once my mental computer goes down and I go into music mode, I almost can’t think like a doc. My boys have learned not to bother to ask medical questions while we are playing music- it always tangles up my playing for the next few tunes.

    Dr. B

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