The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #35897   Message #493354
Posted By: Liam's Brother
27-Jun-01 - 05:05 PM
Thread Name: Origin: (I'm) A Man You Don't Meet Every Day
I am fairly sure that just about every version that just about everyone has heard of this song can ultimately be traced back to the singing of Jeannie Robertson. Jeannie made a few commercial recordings of it starting in the late 1950s, I believe, that were available both in Britain and the USA and, of course, she sang it live in various places too. Jeannie's version referred to Jock Stewart.

In the notes to one or more of those JR recordings, mention is made of an Irish music hall (vaudeville) origin for the song.

It was with great interest that I came across a song entitled 'The Hard Working Miner' in a collection by George Korson of songs from Pennsylvania (Minstels of the Mine Patch). The words were composed by P.J. 'Giant' O'Neill. It was a song obviously inspired by 'I'm A Man You Don't Meet Every Day. [I recorded it on the Folk-Legacy 'Irish in America CD with a number of other fine singers and players.] O'Neill was a miner and also a former vaudevillian who had toured with an outfit called Howorth's Hibernica.

Some months afterwards, I was able to aquire a copy of the songster that was sold at Hiberica performances (no date but roughly 1880). I was very pleasantly rewarded on opening the booket to see that the 2nd song inside it was 'The Man You Don't Meet Every Day.'

Here then, is that quite old version of this song. Is it the original? I don't know but I think it is pretty safe to say that it is older than the Pogue's version.

I've a nice little cabin that's built with mud in the beautiful county Kildare;
I've acres of land and men at command and I've always a shilling to spare.
Och! I didn't come here boys to look for a job but just a short visit to pay;
And as I walk through the streets people say that I meet, "There's a man you don't meet every day."

Then call for you glasses, have just what you want and whatever the damage I'll pay;
Bhoys, be airy and free when you're drinking wid me, For I'm a man you don't meet every day.

When I landed in Glasgow, what a sight met my eyes as I first put my foot on the shore;
There was Felix O' Donough, Blind Barney McGurk and around two or three dozen more.
Och! murther! you ought to have seen them all stare and then they did all run away;
Said I, my spalpeens, do you think I'm a ghost because I'm a man you don't meet every day.

I'm in love with a nice little girl in the town and we're going to be married today;
And if you come over a twelvemonth from now, a right welcome to you I will pay;
And I think I can show you a little spalpeen who will then be able to say
To my friends and companions, while pointing me out, "There's a man you don't meet every day."

The song has been in Australia, by the way, but I'll leave it to Australian Mudcatters to tell you about that.

All the best,
Dan Milner