The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #354 Message #3543211
Posted By: Larry The Radio Guy
29-Jul-13 - 01:37 PM
Thread Name: Origins: One Meatball - blues song
Subject: RE: BS: Reinforcing respectful 'boundaries'
JOe, this is from Bonn's English Music Site. (aka 3Song Bonn). I don't know if this is true or if he's just making it up....couldn't find any other references to this.
"One Meatball" was another favorite of Dave Van Ronk. He thought it was an old blues song learned from Josh White, and in his own words, "damned near played it to death" before returning it to the shelf 20 years ago. It is an unusual Blues with mixed emotions. Sadness for the poor man with only 15 Cents in his pocket for a meatball who gets yelled at in the restaurant for audaciously requesting bread to accompany it – but happiness in that it makes for a perfect singalong with its three word refrain and black humor! The true origins of this song are actually not in the black African-American blues, but in one evening in the middle of the 19th century in Cambridge, Massachusetts. A sophisticated dinner party where a group of literary luminaries from Harvard, etc. James Russell Lowell and Francis James Child and perhaps Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, sang a song under the influence of alcohol, about a lonely fish ball with the title "Il Pescabello" parodying part of an Italian operetta.