The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46744   Message #2598258
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
26-Mar-09 - 10:29 PM
Thread Name: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
I'm starting to feel more and more like the "obscene" version of this may have been just a parody version.

Although of course there were no "correct" lyrics, we can hopefully agree that there were "customary" ones. That being said, the narrative that I have received is that the customary lyrics were obscene, and that they were often disguised for one reason or another.

The more I think about the available information, however, I am starting to lean towards thinking a "clean" version was in fact the original and the default. This would not be contradicted by great popularity of a bawdy version, but I think that version, however popular by Hugill's era (1920s-1940s), may have simply been parody.

The hoecake/oatcake line is just too pervasive to be a bowdlerization, I think; in the days of purely oral transmission, I doubt that a "phony" line would have become so standardized.

The existence of the minstrel song(s) with a "hoecake" line makes it a reasonable line.

Harlow gives "oatcake," but says in his youth he also knew it as "hoecake." He never says anything about obscenity, which is significant since he often notes which chanteys were "filthy."

Sharp, in his three versions ("oatcake") never says anything about obscenity -- but to be fair, he never really does in any case.

The recordings that Lighter just cited have hoecake/oatcake.


Now it's down to Whall and Hugill who mention obscene versions. I wonder if Hugill didn't play up the "obscenity" of it a bit much. There was indeed such a version (Whall is corroborating proof), but the narrative that presuming the "real" "authentic" version was the obscene one probably gets most of its steam from Hugill. Thoughts?