The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #108622   Message #2391947
Posted By: GUEST,Bob Coltman
18-Jul-08 - 06:42 AM
Thread Name: Origin: Away, Away with Rum, by Gum
Subject: RE: Origin - Away away with rum
Les and Uke,

I haven't done a detailed song-by-song comparison, but it looks at a glance as if the Blue Ox Song Book may have been a partial borrowing from the earliest versions of the IOCA [International Outing Club Association] Song Fest, which was circulating perhaps in the late 1930s, certainly by the early 40s, and endured in later editions under the editorship of Dick and Beth Best into the early 1960s.

We were all doing songbooks in those years. College students in dorms and out on the trail were singing scads of ski bum, hiking, and general party songs, traditional folk, oldtime pop, and lots of parodies thereof. (No radio & TV for college students in those days -- they had to make their own entertainment, and anything was better than studying.) This was a very active movement in Europe as well - source of such gems as "I Love to Go a-Wandering" and its parody "I Hate to Go a-Wandering."

That in turn was part of the larger ferment that was breaking loose from the work of folklorists and educators, which resulted in many folk and folk-like songs becoming part of school songbooks, plus numbers of early folksingers like J J Niles, Burl Ives, Pete Seeger, Woody Guthrie et al and publication of books by Sandburg, the Lomaxes, etc., so the songs were around and being actively sung, especially by those in their teens and twenties.

Young singers felt the need for songbooks to learn and sing from and circulate songs. So on campuses here and there they put together ad hoc collections, passed them out at sings. The IOCA Song Fest had become a classic by then, and was available in stacks for purchase through outing clubs, but we all knew hundreds more songs not included there, and issued them in mimeograph songbooks like the 1950s "Crud 'n Corruption" which circulated among New England hikers -- barely readable, but chock full of good songs (not bawdy songs, by the way, despite its title, just shoals of folksongs, ski songs, novelties and so on).

That's a capsule history of the milieu that produced the Blue Ox Song Book and many another like it. A good find, and a relatively early example of its kind.