The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #120470   Message #3067253
Posted By: Bob the Postman
04-Jan-11 - 04:47 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Old Brown's Daughter (from Peter Bellamy)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Old Brown's Daughter (from Peter Bellamy)
So we have a Newfoundland version, a British music hall version, and an American sheet music version, which differ in several minor ways. The British and the Newfoundland versions are very similar. One difference is in the details of the narrator's political ambitions: to stand for Trinity, to put up as M. P., or to put up for M. C.

Johnny Burke rewrote songs such as "Blue Hen" (Nell Flaherty's Drake) and "Trinity Cake" (Miss Fogarty's Cake), often making them funnier; so he might have rewritten Old Brown's Daughter, but if he did, he didn't add any jokes or alter it much in any way.

Burke's song "Kelligrew's Soiree" was adapted to the New York musical stage by the addition of some topical references to a preesidential election circa 1910.

The publisher of the sheet music had offices in Boston, where Newfoundlanders conducted much of their business in them days.

Johnny Burke was aged in his twenties when the music was published. There doesn't seem to be any record of the song pre-dating the period of Burke's bardic ascendency

M.C. presumably stands for Member of Congress. I have never heard this phrase used to describe an American elected official—"Representative" is the usual designation, isn't it? This is makes me suspect that the American version is derived from the British version with M. P.

Also, the GW Hunt sheet music includes some spoken patter, indicating to me that the sheet music represents a transcription of a stage act—the picture of the artiste on the cover looks like a portrait. It seems possible that the sheet music was published to cash in on someone's celebrity (Hunt's, presumably) and that the attribution of authorship to him is spurious. I understand that it was common practice in the nineteenth century for entertainers or publishers to insist on claiming authorship as a condition of performing or publishing the work. For example, Henry von Tilzer is falsley credited as a creator of "Wait Till The Sun Shines, Nellie", when his only contribution was to publish it and to annex some of Andrew Sterling's royalties.

So I postulate that Burke either originated the song or adapted it from a so far unknown British source and that Burke's version was picked up by an American vaudeville performer who then published it as his own.