The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #34695   Message #470697
Posted By: Abby Sale
25-May-01 - 09:31 PM
Thread Name: Are folk lyrics ever 'wrong?'
Subject: Lyr Add: THE CAT CAME BACK (Harry S. Miller, 1893)
I'd be interested in commets on this one. The song was written & copyright in 1893 but went into tradition very rapidly and widely. Marais reports a Dutch South African, significantly varried version by about 1910. It is very popular and still evolving today. Still, if we prefer to sing the original...

A Comic Negro Absurdity.
Copyright 1893 by Will Rossiter, Chicago
(Words and Music by HARRY S. Miller)

  Dar was ole Mister Johnsonm he had troubles ob his own:
He had an ole yaller cat that wouldn't leave its home.
He tried eb'ry thing he jnew to keep de cat away:
Eben sent it to de preacher, an' he tole it for to stay.

But de cat came back, couldn't stay no longer,
Yes de cat came back de very next day;
De cat came back—thought she were a goner,
           But de cat came back for it wouldn't stay away

De cat did hab some company one night out in de yard,
Some one frowed a boot-jack, an' dey frowed it mighty hard,
Caught de cat behind de ear, she thought it rather slight,
When along dar comes a brick-bat an' it knocked it out ob sight—

Away across de ocean dey did send de cat at last.
Vessel only out a day and making water fast:
People all begin to pray, de boat begin to toss,
When a nodder vessel came along and took de people off.

On a telegraph wire sparrows sitting in a bunch;
Cat a feeling hungry, thought she'd like 'em for a lunch,
Climbing softly up de pole, an' when she reached de top
Put her foot upon de 'lectric wire, which tied her in a knot.

One time did gib de cat away to man in a balloon
An' tole him for to gib it to de man in de moon;'
But de b'loon it busted, sho an' eb'rybody sed
It wer seben miles away or more 'dey picked de man up dead.

De cat was a possessor ob a family ob its own
Wid seben little kittens till dar comes a cyclone.
Blowed de houses all apart and tossed de cat around;
While de air was full ob kittens not a one was eber found.

De cat it were a terror and dey said it wer be best
To gib it to a nigger who was going out West.
De train going 'round de curve struck a broken rail,
Not a blessed soul aboard de train wer left to tell de tale.

A man down on de corner swore to kill de cat at sight.
Loaded up a musket full ob nails and dynamite,
Waited in de garden for de cat to come around:
Half a-dozen little pieces ob de man was all dey found.

Little boy took de cat away, he got a dollar note.
Took it down de ribber in a little open boat,
Tied a brick around its neck an' stone about a pound;
Now dey're grappling in de ribber for a little boy that's drowned—
While de cat lay a sleeping an' a resting one day,

'Round came an organ grinder an' he began to play:
De cat look'd around awhile an' kinder raised her head,
When he played Ta-rah-dah-boom-da-rah, an' de cat dropped dead.

         CHORUS But its ghost came back to tell you all about it;
       Yes, its ghost came back, between you and I,
Its ghost came back, may be you will doubt it.
       But its ghost came back just to bid 'em all good-bye.