The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #108622   Message #2269384
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Coltman
22-Feb-08 - 07:06 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Away, Away with Rum, by Gum
Subject: RE: Origin - Away away with rum
"Away With Rum" was in wide circulation among college outing clubs in the early (I think) and certainly mid-1950s.

I first heard it from "Brigger" -- Bill Briggs, then itinerant around the Dartmouth campus. He never told me where he got it, but Brigger had many strange sources, including a wide acquaintance of singers the country over, plus chapbooks and 1940s phonograph records.

He and I included "Away With Rum" as part of our 1957 edition of "Crud 'N Corruption," a mimeographed collection of folk and novelty songs handed out among college singers in and around New England, so the full version was informally in print at least by then.

Brigger's source could not have been Rose O'Neill's 1941 version as sung in Randolph, Vol II, p 414. She sang only the first verse, and her tune was different from Brigger's.

What's notable about Ms O'Neill's version, which she called "Temperance Song," is that she says she learned it about 40 years ago. That would put the song's time of origin around 1900. Which means that the earliest occurrence as given in the Trad Ballad Index is 40 years after the fact -- and only covers the first verse of some half dozen or more.

(Funny thing, I could have sworn it was printed in Dick and Beth Best's IOCA Song Fest. But I checked my copy and it isn't there (so much for memory cells). The Brigger version in "Crud 'N Corruption" may thus have been the first printing -- but of course that wasn't published, just informally circulated as a songbook to "chubbers.")*
                                  *Hikers, campers, skiers, climbers, road bums.

The original must have been either a serious temperance song or a satirical one, probably professionally composed and published, between, say, 1890 and 1905. That would put it in the heyday of the Temperance Movement that achieved Prohibition in 1919 with the Volstead Act.

Fascinating ... I had no clue this song had such a mysterious background till I started looking into it.