The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #91417   Message #2227068
Posted By: 12-stringer
02-Jan-08 - 06:52 PM
Thread Name: Origins: King Orfeo versions
Subject: RE: Origins: King Orfeo versions
The Virginia "King Orfeo" was reported as such in the 1930s, but the ID is retracted in "More Traditional Ballads," citing a 1957 article by Arthur Kyle Davis and Paul Clayton Worthington (same as 50s folksinger Paul Clayton?). Although the name "King Orpheo" appears in the first verse of the text, the song is identified as "The Whummil Bore" in the article and the book. Among its descendants in spirit are "The Keyhole in the Door" (I've heard two excellent versions of this by singers who refused to be recorded singing such material!) and the Allen Brothers' "Window Shade Blues."

For eight long years I have served the great King Orpheo
La fol da lil lilum
O fa da la lil lilio

And I have seen his daughter Estelle only once
(chorus as before)

She was fairer than the sun that shines

And she wore gold and diamonds rare

From the bottom of her feet to the top of her head

I saw her through the key hole of the door

Five was combing her hear [sic] golden hair

And four was buckling on her shoes

And three was putting on her clothes

Contributed 15 Nov 1934 by R E Lee Smith of Palmyra and Bumpass, VA, as sung by himself and brother Thomas P Smith; learned in Zionville, NC, 1912, from his grandmother and others. Smith calls the song "Orpheo" or "King Orpheo" in different communications and adds that two stanzas have been lost since he learned it. No melody seems to have been preserved.