Campfire Songs

My name is Bobby Angel and I’m a singer/songwriter of the Nature Folk Movement (NFM), some say folk star. The truth is, I only know three chords. A guitar at a campfire at night – It’s a beautiful thing.

Old Jim Dill
Thank you to all who served

This Bobby Angel song remembers the life …

Of the swamp’s most famous (and orneriest) WWI veteran.

Stay on after the song to hear the interview

Lyrics:

Old Jim Dill was a friend of mine, a hermit who live at the end of the line. A man who didn’t have a lot to say.  A man who died but never went away.

He kept his medals and he kept his gun, when returned at the end of World War I.  But somehow things weren’t the same, so he left it all behind and he went away. Into the swamp to the end of the road, where he build him a cabin and called it home.  ‘Coon and a gator he kept as a pet.  Orneriest man you’ve ever met. Old Jim Dill was a friend of mine, a hermit who lived at the end of the line. Didn’t say much didn’t have a phone.  Wonder if he ever felt alone.

Didn’t change at all and then it changed real fast, the new guard breaking away from the past. They chopped the trees and dug the earth, with not a care for what it was worth. Troubled by what he saw, but so goes the swamp under frontier law.  Only thing them the didn’t want, was run-in with the hermit of the swamp. Old Jim Dill was a friend of mine, the hermit who lived at the end of the line.

Guarded his home with a gun and a horse, ‘til the day he was killed by a snake on his porch. Venom punctured through his hide, finally killed the pain inside.  Comforted by a nurse at his bed who held his hand to the very end.

Old Jim Dill is a friend of mine,  think about him when I pass the sign.  Dead end then and a dead end to most, haunted by Jim Dill’s ghost.

Song: Three Jacks
Ode to the godfather of fire safety

You can’t control everything …

During a wildfire.

Stay on after the song to hear an interview with Bobby Angel

But you can hedge your bets on making it home safely, and making sure others make it home the same way. The trick? There is no trick. It’s called experience and good training, and people with experience giving good advice and relaying lessons learned to the new guard moving up the ranks. There’s a saying that an thorn of experience is worth a wilderness of warning. Multiply that by a thousand on the fire line. And just when things are looking up, conditions can worsen quickly, requiring a fire fighter to recalibrate. That doesn’t mean you give up, but it does mean you don’t bet all your chips. Or to quote the song: “With Three Jacks you stay, when you’re playing cards … with your life.”

About this song: I wrote it as a farewell song to wildland firefighter extraordinaire Jack Finley when he left Big Cypress National Preserve way back in 1999, or maybe it was 2000. Jack may have left, but his tradition of safety lives on.

bobby angel

There Goes Bob 3
At the crossroads between destroying and restoring nature

Nature is all around us …

And in our dreams.

Bobby Angel’s song about restoring nature


In this original song, singer/songwriter Bobby Angel explores the cross roads between the idealism of youth and the harsh realities of life, and in particular our relationship with nature. About those dreams: Sometimes those dreams inspire, other times they haunt. And each sunset is a promise to make it right the next day.

Stay on after the song to hear an interview with the artist.

Pre-Drainage Song
As sung around the campfire

Bobby Angel brings down the house …

With his sprawling masterpiece on the destruction of the Everglades and the power of dreams to both haunt us and inspire a new way.

Keep listening after the song to hear an interview with the artist

If you’re a history buff …

You’ll rejoice in the many references to the pre-drained Everglades, how it changed over time, and the quest with hydrologic restoration to get it right. As an alternative to listening to the song, you may also be interested in River of Interest (2012) by Matthew C. Godfrey and Theodore Catton, or David McCally’s The Everglades an Environmental History (1999) or Michael Grunwald’s The Swamp: The Everglades, Florida and the Politics of Paradise (2006). However, if you are in a pinch for time, I recommend this song which was only written after extensive study of the books listed above. All of Bobby Angel’s song are similarly deeply researched as you’ll discover in the post-song interview.

Bobby Angel may not have all the answers …

But boy can he sing a Nature Folk ballad!

Stuck Inside of Oasis
A belated farewell song to a Swamp Scholar

The plight of being a park ranger …

And being stuck in a visitor center.

The song as sung by Bobby Angel

Nobody knew that better than Ranger Rudi.

And nobody knew its history better either.

His secret?

A photographic memory and reading a lot didn’t hurt. But mostly it was his penchant for delving into deep conversations about with anyone he met.

The original lyric sheet (as sung at the Brass Tap)

History was never a closed book with Ranger Rudi.

You rarely saw the man without a book in hand, dog eared at various spots. His pursuit of history has been a life-long never ending quest.

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