While my sister Doti was in the Hospice House, we talked about having a small ceremony for her after she passed away.  In her mind she carefully arranged everything, in typical Doti fashion, and she asked me to play three songs during the ceremony:

  • Tis the Gift to be Simple
  • Dona, Dona, Dona
  • Take a Little Love and Pass It On

I'd never heard of any of these songs, but I told her that I'd look into them and would perhaps post them on my website, as well. She mentioned these songs a few more times during the next few weeks, so they must have been important to her.  I recently found them on the Internet, two of them on iTunes.  So to honor her request I'm posting them below.

Tis the Gift to be Simple 

Also known as "Simple Gifts," this is a traditional Shaker song written in 1848.  This version is by Judy Collins, one of Doti's favorite singers.

This song was played for a simple Shaker dance and the "turning" refers to dance instructions.  When the traditional dance is performed properly, each dancer ends up where he or she began, "come 'round right."  I think Doti liked this song because she believed in simplicity.  I think she would've been a great Shaker!

 

'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we are in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we will not be ashamed,
To turn, to turn 'twill be our delight,
Till by turning, turning we come 'round right.

 

Dona, Dona, Dona

Written for a Yiddish play in 1940, this song was popularized in the 1960s by Joan Baez, one of Doti's favorite singers.  Joan doubled the "n" and called her version "Donna, Donna."  It's about a calf being led to slaughter and was a popular anti-war song during the 1960s, which is, I'm sure, why it was one of Doti's favorites.  In fact, I'm sure she sang this song many times in her youth.

 

On a wagon bound for market
There's a calf with a mournful eye
High above him there's a swallow
Winging swiftly through the sky

How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer's night

Donna Donna Donna Donna
Donna Donna Donna Don
Donna Donna Donna Donna
Donna Donna Donna Don

"Stop complaining", said the farmer
Who told you a calf to be
Why don't you have wings to fly with
Like the swallow so proud and free

How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer's night

Donna Donna Donna Donna
Donna Donna Donna Don
Donna Donna Donna Donna
Donna Donna Donna Don

Calves are easily bound and slaughtered
Never knowing the reason why
But whoever treasures freedom
Like the swallow has learned to fly

How the winds are laughing
They laugh with all their their might
Laugh and laugh the whole day through
And half the summer's night

Donna Donna Donna Donna
Donna Donna Donna Don
Donna Donna Donna Donna
Donna Donna Donna Don

 

Take a Little Love and Pass It On

I'd never heard of this song and had a hard time finding it.  My searches on iTunes and all the streaming services turned up nothing.  Was this actually a song, I started to wonder?  But after a lot of searching on the Internet, I finally found a recording of it -- though it was pretty poor quality.  As I discovered, it's an inspirational / gospel tune, which isn't surprising considering that Doti loved gospel music.  

The song was written by a songwriter named Fran Powers, perhaps in the early 1970s.  As far as I know, this version of the song, which was sung by Roy Rogers in 1972, was the only version ever recorded.  Roy even named his whole album after this song, calling his LP, "Pass It On."  As I mentioned above, the version I found on the Internet was really poor, so I decided to order the vinyl album and, using my turntable, I converted it to MP3 format, and I've posted that MP3 version here.  The vinyl album was in mint condition so the recording here is pretty good quality -- probably as good as you'll find.

After hearing this song for the first time, I absolutely loved it because the words and melody were very uplifting and made me think of Doti.  If you read the lyrics, I think you'll agree that it's how Doti lived her life, so I can understand why she enjoyed this song so much.  

 

Take a little love and pass it on
Take a little trust and pass it on
You can't sell it, you can't buy it
But it's free if you want to try it
Come on and take a little love and pass it on.

When someone does you a kindness
Don't stop to ask him why
Just say thanks my friend and then pass it on
Things you do to help your brother
He might do unto another
So take a little love and pass it on.

Pass it on, start a season of rebirth
Don't let prejudice and hatred
Interfere with peace on Earth
Show your fellow man you care
Kneel and join him in a prayer
Love was meant for us to share so pass it on.

Take a little love and pass it on
Yes, take a little trust and pass it on
We may have different colored skins
But you could color us as friends
If we just take a little love and pass it on.

When someone gives you the credit
For all the good things you have done
Chances are you had some help from one or two
Rare new things are accomplished if you have to work alone
Take your credit where it's due and pass it on.

Pass it on, pass it on and help my story
I don't care who gets the credit
if the good Lord gets the glory
There's so much good we could do
If it didn't matter who got that credit
So take yours and pass it on.

Take a little love and pass it on
Take a little trust and pass it on