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Origins: 'Go Rock the Cradle Alone'?

GUEST,Nathan Salsburg 01 Jun 08 - 02:56 PM
Susan of DT 01 Jun 08 - 06:12 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Jun 08 - 08:19 PM
Jim Dixon 28 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Mar 09 - 07:43 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Oct 10 - 05:19 PM
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Subject: Origins: 'Go Rock the Cradle Alone'?
From: GUEST,Nathan Salsburg
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 02:56 PM

Hi - I'm wondering if anyone can offer insight into the origins of (or is familiar with other songs containing) the passage:

Go rock the cradle, go rock the cradle,
Go rock the cradle alone
How many men've rocked another man's babe
When he thought he was rocking his own?

I heard it sung in a song bearing lyric bits of In the Pines and Short Life of Trouble, to the tune of In the Pines, but can find nothing on this stanza.

Many thanks.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Go Rock the Cradle Alone'?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 06:12 PM

Two versions of a similar song in the Digital Tradition:
   
Rocking the cradle
   Rockin' the Cradle


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Go Rock the Cradle Alone'?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Jun 08 - 08:19 PM

There are a number of songs, with similar choruses; may or not be related.

The theme of 'another man's baby' is popular in writing, but I can't find songs related to your fragment except a couple of current ones of little use.

Not related in theme, but interesting:

Lyr. Add: CRADLE SONG

O Lulie, O Lulie, if you please,
Let me fall upon my knees;
Rock de cradle,
Rock de cradle,
Rock de cradle, Joe.

Joe cut off his big toe
And hung it up to dry.
All de gals began to laugh
An' Joe began to cry,
Rock de cradle,
Rock de cradle,
Rock de cradle, Joe.

Texas and Arkansas. Lyrics only, pp. 153-154, Dorothy Scarborough, 1925, "On the Trail of Negro Folk-Songs."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Go Rock the Cradle Alone'?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 04:15 PM

From Irish Folk Music by Francis O'Neill (Chicago: The Regan Printing House, 1910):

[There are] few born in Ireland who have not heard of the song named "Rocking the Cradle," or, as it is sometimes called, "Rocking a Baby that's None of My Own." Both song and air are now almost entirely forgotten, and it was a matter of no little difficulty to get a setting of the music. In preference to an unsatisfactory version of my own, we selected a setting found in an American publication of over fifty years ago. A fair version was also printed in Smith's Irish Minstrel, published in 1825 at Edinburgh.

It was quite a trick to play this piece to suit the old Irish standard of excellence, in which the baby's crying had to be imitated on the fiddle. To bring out the tones approaching human expression, the fiddle was lowered much below concert pitch. The performer held firmly between the teeth one end of a long old-fashioned door key with which at appropriate passages the fiddle bridge was touched. This contact of the key produced tones closely imitating a baby's wailing. Miss Ellen Kennedy, who learned the art from her father, a famous fiddler of Ballinamore, County Leitrim, was very expert in the execution of this difficult performance.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Go Rock the Cradle Alone'?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Mar 09 - 07:43 PM

If Jim's song is indeed the one you are after (Roud 357), it appears to have been rewritten several times and appears on stall copies in England, Scotland and Ireland. This 19thc version usually starts 'As I roved out on a fine summer's morning'. and has 7-8 stanzas + chorus. I recently came across a Garland version printed c1800 which is obviously Scottish.
'Rocking the Cradle; or Hushy-Ba' it has 6 stanzas + chorus and starts 'I am an old man of three score and ten'.

A later unrelated broadside piece was printed by Such of London 'Rocking the Cradle Boys; or Pull Away Cheerily' fl 'Pull away cheerily, not slow or wearily' 3 stanzas with chorus.

There are earlier related pieces dating back to the 17thc in Pepys and in Pills.

Oral versions have been collected all over the English-speaking world, but as Jim says, it's not a very common song.

Well-known versions on the folk scene in the 60s, Tom Gilfellon recorded an Irish version and Mick Waterson recorded an English version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Go Rock the Cradle Alone'?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Oct 10 - 05:19 PM

Jim,
First of all apologies. I mentioned 2 songs in the previous posting which are in fact very separate songs. 'Rocking the Cradle' Roud 357 is not the same song as 'Rocking the Baby to Sleep' Roud 4378.

Secondly I'm trying to source Healy's 7 stanza version of 'Rocking the Cradle' he published in Mercier Book of Old Irish Street Ballads Vol 4 p120. I'm wondering if he got it from Smith's Irish Minstrel. Do you have access to Smith? If so how many stanzas are there? The English broadside has the same number of stanzas but some of them are different.

I'm trying to put an article together on the evolution of the theme, which will be added to the Dungheap articles on Mustrad.


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