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Origin: Gentle Annie (Australian version)


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Gentle Annie (Stephen Foster) (33)
Tune Req: Gentle Annie (Stephen Foster) (32)
Lyr/Chords Req: Still another 'Gentle Annie' (13)
Lyr Add: Gentle Annie (9)
Tune Add: Gentle Annie (Stephen Foster) (1)

Ferrara 15 Apr 99 - 01:29 AM
Elizabeth (inactive) 15 Apr 99 - 02:11 AM
Joe Offer 15 Apr 99 - 02:43 AM
Bob Bolton 15 Apr 99 - 03:30 AM
Alan of Australia 15 Apr 99 - 10:10 AM
Ferrara 16 Apr 99 - 07:45 AM
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Subject: Australian 'Gentle Annie' - history?
From: Ferrara
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 01:29 AM

This song is based on Stephen Foster's "Gentle Annie." Foster took the tune from somewhere else, an Irish tune I believe. His song was a lament and I've been told it was inspired by the death of a friend's daughter in an accident.

Lyrics for the Australian version are in the DT. It's a matter-of-fact sounding song full of homely details, quite cheery, but somehow it feels like a metaphor song, you know the kind, where a fiddle isn't really a fiddle, etc. - "Your mutton's very sweet, Gentle Annie" just brings other things than farming to mind. Also the first verse refers to wild oats, a symbol of promiscuity. When he says "You'll be anxious to know, G.A., how your little crop of oats is going to yield," it brings up tongue-in-cheek pictures of Annie, nine months later, bouncing a daughter or son on her knee.

Does anyone know where the song came from and when, etc? And is it perfectly innocent after all?

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Subject: RE: Australian 'Gentle Annie' - history?
From: Elizabeth (inactive)
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 02:11 AM

Can't add anything to the innuendo but near where I live there is a very long and windy section of uphill road between Forth and Wilmot, known to all and sundry as Gentle Annie! No idea why!

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Subject: RE: Australian 'Gentle Annie' - history?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 02:43 AM

A thread on the American version is here and here are both versions. We still haven't found much solid information about the Australian version. Alan of Australia had promised a MIDI of the Australian versinon, but hadn't submitted it because he hadn't invented MIDITXT yet (hint, hint).
John of Brisbane seems to think the Australian tune is better and describes the original Stephen Foster tune as "martial," but that may be mere Australian jingoism on his part....
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: Australian 'Gentle Annie' - history?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 03:30 AM

G'day Ferrara and all,

I remebebr this song mainly sung by Poms (English who have not yet had the sense - or compulsion - to move to Australia). When Vin Garbutt was out some years back he sang this and I think he told one of his inimitable introductory tales about the way this song got shuffled from one country to the next ... and ended up in Australia until Martin Wyndham-Read took it back to England ... and now he (Vin) was bringing it back!

I'm sure the song is full of inuendo of which we miss the meaning. I know some references are from the days before federation ... a secondary meaning to the mutton "not being packed in New South Wales" can be seen to be a reference to state taxes and smuggling (OK ... and possibly other things!).

I'm off for a few days, but will look at the recorded origins and see how dates and references all fit together. The Australian use and treatment of songs from the American popular culture in the 19th century is an area that has been seriously neglected for far too long. The best known folksong outside folkie circles (Click go the shears) is a parody of an American song written to celebrate the end of the Civil War. Lots more in the same vein (or, at least, drift). It's time someone mined the mother-lode.


Bob Bolton

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Subject: Tune Add: GENTLE ANNIE
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 15 Apr 99 - 10:10 AM

OK, here's the tune, I'd forgotten about this one, it's been sitting around on my hard disc for ages.

Click to play

ABC format:



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Subject: RE: Australian 'Gentle Annie' - history?
From: Ferrara
Date: 16 Apr 99 - 07:45 AM

This is the first time I've used TXT2MIDI and haven't figured it all out yet (don't worry, I'll get there.) Thanks so much, Alan, for the tune.

But I want to make a comment on the Stephen Foster tune. It shouldn't sound martial. It is a lyrical ballad in the 18th century sense of the word ballad, and it should sound lyrical and sweet. I've heard some midi versions that sounded martial because they had a somewhat choppy accompaniment, but I think midi files tend that way anyway. At the time the song was written, it would have been performed onstage in the bel canto style with lots of ornaments and overdone dramatic effects from today's point of view. But people playing it in their home would probably have done what I did when I learned it from a book of Foster's music: Play and sing it with an expression that was appropriate to its sweet, sentimental tone. I'm very fond of this kind of parlor song. They were often played by middle- and upper-class women (a real lady was supposed to number musical training among her accomplishments) and they tended to be very, very sad and sentimental, especially in the U.S.

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