The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #97665   Message #1924166
Posted By: Malcolm Douglas
01-Jan-07 - 02:33 PM
Thread Name: Origins: The Country I'm Leaving Behind
Subject: RE: Origins: The Country I'm Leaving Behind
It is frequently difficult or impossible to identify the writers of 19th century broadsides, unless sheet music was also published and survives; the majority, too, were basically generic "pop" songs written by professionals; comparatively few (and those tended to say so specifically) referred to real events. This one is as generic as they come, and it will have been up to the audience or singer to invest it with whatever meaning suited their own experience or temperament.

However, there are sometimes small clues that might lead to something. The following appeared in catalogue 11 (April 2005) at http://www.austinsj.co.uk/, in the Music-Hall Songs category:

McCONNELL, Marie: The Country I'm leaving behind, Written by S. Henry (Glasgow, J.S.Kerr) 5pp., ad. Sl. grubby. Inscribed (in shaky pencil): R. Weighell, Esq., With Composer's Compt., 11/5/88 £3

1888, we must assume. I can't identify the writers, though it's possible that S Henry may have been Spencer Henry, a popular song lyricist of the period. The song isn't in the British Library Integrated Catalogue or in COPAC, nor is it mentioned in Kilgarriff, so this is just speculation. It may not even be the same song; but it is contemporary with it at least, and the style of the broadside text does suggest an origin in the Halls or similar, where there was a big market for sentimental songs of emigration in those days.

The song has turned up just occasionally in oral currency, in Scotland, Ireland and Newfoundland, and is number 6335 in the Roud Folk Song Index. The Newfoundland variant is in the DT at The Green Shores of Fogo, minus its tune and source information (it came from Mrs John Fogerty of Joe Batt's Arm, Newfoundland, July 1952: Kenneth Peacock recorded it from her, and printed it in his Songs of the Newfoundland Outports, 1965, vol II, p 522).