The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152341   Message #3844567
Posted By: Joe Offer
13-Mar-17 - 12:09 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill (1888)
Subject: RE: Origins: Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill (1888)
Here's the version from the Digital Tradition. Seems to me there ought to be more verses.


Every morning about seven o'clock
There were twenty tarriers drilling at the rock
The boss comes along and he says, "Keep still
And bear down heavy on the cast iron drill"

And drill, ye tarriers, drill
Drill, ye tarriers, drill
For it's work all day for the sugar in you tay
Down beyond the railway
And drill, ye tarriers, drill
And blast, and fire

The boss was a fine man down to the ground
And he married a lady six feet 'round
She baked good bread and she baked it well
But she baked it harder than the hobs of Hell

The foreman's name was John McCann
By God, he was a blamed mean man
Last week a premature blast went off
And a mile in the air went big Jim Goff

And when next payday came around
Jim Goff a dollar short was found
When he asked, "What for?" came this reply
"You were docked for the time you were up in the sky"

recorded here by Richard Dyer-Bennet, but remembered from "Sing
Along with Mitch"
filename[ DRILLTAR

Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill

DESCRIPTION: Describing, in extravagant terms, the hard life of the (Irish) railroad workers -- subjected to long hours, blast, short pay (and that docked for any or no reason). And always the order comes again, "Drill, ye tarriers, drill!"
AUTHOR: words: Thomas Casey/music: Charles Connolly
EARLIEST DATE: 1888 (play, "A Brass Monkey"; sheet music published by Frank Harding of New York, seemingly without attribution)
KEYWORDS: work railroading hardtimes talltale
REFERENCES (12 citations):
Morris, #101, "Drill, Ye Terriers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cohen-LSRail, pp. 553-559, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Geller-Famous, pp. 14-18, "Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 217, "Drill, Ye Tarriers" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, pp. 112-113, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-RailFolklr, p. 442, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text, 1 tune)
Greenway-AFP, pp. 43-44, "The Tarriers' Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 329, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text)
Fireside, p. 138, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 130, "Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 30, #3 (1984), pp, 50-51, "Drill Ye Tarriers, Drill" (1 text, 1 tune, a Canadian version reportedly collected by Tim Rogers though no informant is listed)

Roud #4401 and 4436
George J. Gaskin, "Drill Ye Tarriers Drill" (Berliner 064-1/Berliner [Canada] 4, 1899)
Chubby Parker, "Drill Ye Tarriers Drill" (Conqueror 7893, 1931)
Dan W. Quinn, "Drill, Ye Tarriers, Drill" (Victor 3155, c. 1901)

cf. "Drill Ye Heroes, Drill!" (tune)
NOTES: This is believed to have originated with an Irish comedy team, (Thomas F.) Casey and (Charles) Connelly, in the 1880s. It has gone almost verbatim into oral tradition; variations in the text are very few.
Very nearly the only exception to this uniformity is the Chubby Parker recording, which is longer than the popular version, and a genuine song about railroad life rather than a humorous item. Cohen, based on this and a few hints in nineteenth century writings, wonders if there may not have been some ancestral text in existence before 1888. If so, that version has been almost completely displaced by the Casey version.
I seem to recall, in my youth, a bunch of us understanding "tarriers" as "terriers," with resulting very odd notions of what the song was about. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.0
File: LoF217

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.