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Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?

DigiTrad:
E-RI-E CANAL
ERIE CANAL (MULE NAMED SAL)
FROM BUFFALO TO TROY
OH, THAT LOW BRIDGE
THE ERIE CANAL


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Erie Canal (5)
Lyr Req: From Buffalo to Troy (canal song) (24)
(origins) Origins: The Erie Canal (E-Ri-E) (12)
Irish-American Railroad or Erie Canal Song? (4)


Barry Finn 21 Jul 08 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Jul 08 - 12:05 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Jul 08 - 12:57 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Jul 08 - 01:04 AM
GUEST,Marymac90 22 Jul 08 - 01:18 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Jul 08 - 01:29 AM
Joe Offer 22 Jul 08 - 02:50 AM
Azizi 22 Jul 08 - 02:54 AM
Dave Illingworth 22 Jul 08 - 03:42 AM
Susan of DT 22 Jul 08 - 06:29 AM
GUEST,Dave P 22 Jul 08 - 08:08 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Jul 08 - 01:23 PM
Dave Illingworth 22 Jul 08 - 06:35 PM
GUEST,Dave P 23 Jul 08 - 03:54 AM
Barry Finn 23 Jul 08 - 02:09 PM
Joe Offer 23 Jul 08 - 03:03 PM
Mrrzy 23 Jul 08 - 07:50 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Jul 08 - 09:48 PM
GUEST,Marymac90 24 Jul 08 - 01:45 AM
mg 24 Jul 08 - 01:55 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jul 08 - 02:23 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jul 08 - 03:07 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jul 08 - 03:15 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jul 08 - 03:56 AM
Barry Finn 24 Jul 08 - 07:14 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 24 Jul 08 - 03:59 PM
Art Thieme 24 Jul 08 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Marymac90 25 Jul 08 - 03:18 AM
GUEST,mg 25 Jul 08 - 03:31 AM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jul 08 - 08:00 AM
Dave Ruch 25 Jul 08 - 09:52 AM
GUEST,mg 25 Jul 08 - 01:47 PM
Barry Finn 26 Jul 08 - 01:50 AM
Dave Ruch 13 Jan 09 - 09:11 PM
GUEST,Dulsuemer 15 Feb 11 - 03:03 PM
Dave Ruch 16 Feb 11 - 07:58 AM
Lighter 16 Feb 11 - 08:23 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Feb 11 - 11:47 PM
Bev and Jerry 17 Feb 11 - 12:30 AM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Feb 11 - 09:34 AM
Dave Ruch 17 Feb 11 - 03:15 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Feb 11 - 04:15 PM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Feb 11 - 04:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Feb 11 - 04:30 PM
Bev and Jerry 17 Feb 11 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,leeneia 18 Feb 11 - 10:03 AM
Joe Offer 07 Oct 13 - 09:32 PM
Dave Ruch 20 Jun 16 - 09:17 AM
cnd 20 Jun 16 - 10:03 AM
Dave Ruch 20 Jun 16 - 10:32 AM
Dave Ruch 06 Jul 16 - 09:26 PM
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Subject: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 21 Jul 08 - 08:00 PM

Here's what Ive got, it's close to what's in the DT but then some & I am looking espically for a verse that has the drinking lines in it that go something like:

I drink____ & she drinks gin
____________________________
____________she died ____sin

Also the DT has the Author as Thomas S. Allen, in J & A Lomax's "American Ballads & Folk Songs" they have it as William S Allen. Somewhere in past related threads I've seen it also said it's authored by Harrigan & Hart.

I've got an old mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She's a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
We've hauled some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
And we know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge for we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on
The Erie Canal

We'd better look around for a job, old gal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
You bet your life I wouldn't part with Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
Giddap there gal, we've passed that lock
We'll make Rome 'bout six o'clock
One more trip and then we'll go
Right back home to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, I've the finest mule in town.
Once a man named Mike McGinty
Tried to put it over Sal
Now he's way down on the bottom of
The Erie Canal

Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal?
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
Oh, I'd like to see a mule as good as Sal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
A friend of mine once made her sore
Now, he's got a broken jaw
'Cause she let fly with her iron toe
And kicked him into Buffalo.

Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge, I've the finest mule in town.
If yo're looking for trouble
Better stay away from Sal
She's the only fightin' donkey on the Erie Canal

I don't want to call when I want my Sal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
She trots from her stall like a good old gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
I eat my meals with Sal each day,
I eat beef and she eats hay
She ain't so slow if you want to know
She put the "Buff" in Buffalo.

Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge, I've the finest mule in town
Eats a bale of hay for dinner
And on top of that, my Sal
Tries to drink up all the water in the Erie Canal.

You'll soon hear them sing all about my gal Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
It's a darn fine ditty bout my darn mule Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
Oh, any band will play it soon
Darn fool words & darn'd fine tune
You'll hear it sung before you go
From Mexico to Buffalo


Low bridge everybody down
Low bridge I've the finest mule in town
She's a perfect, perfect lady and she blushes like a gal
If she hears you sing about her and the Erie Canal

I like the choruses & their alternating lines except that singing it that way ends up meaning you sing the chorus alone cause every one remembers the 1st chorus but niobody recalls the other choruses.

SO has anyone anything to add that hasn't been covered in related threads & espically the missing verse with it original choruse, if it ever had one? And aobut the author???

Thanks to all
Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 12:05 AM

Thanks for posting, Barry. I had no idea there were so many verses to this song. Sorry, I don't have anything to add!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 12:57 AM

The Traditional Ballads Index gave Thomas S. Allen(?), but no supporting data. Sandburg has a few verses, no author cited.

In the play, "The Grip," by Harrigan (Harrigan & Hart) is a song by David Braham called "Oh! Dat Low Bridge!", but it is not the same song (See sheet music, 1885, at American Memory).

I cannot find any information on William S. Allen, according to Lomax and Lomax, the author of "Low Bridge, Everybody Down or Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal," F. B. Haviland Publishing Co., New York City, "reprinted by special permission of the copyright owners." - Lomax and Lomax, ABFS, p. 467ff.

Can anyone find reference other than Lomax to W. S. Allen and the song "Low bridge ...."?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 01:04 AM

Wikipedia has reference to Thomas S. Allen, as a well-known "vaudeville composer," and "Low Bridge, Everybody Down," 1905.
An illus. of sheet music with that title by Thos. S. Allen is dated 1923.
I have not checked further. My bedtime.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,Marymac90
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 01:18 AM

Well, Barry, I grew up in Syracuse, NY, and they did try
to teach us our local history, about the canal and all.
They did actually teach geography back in that era, too.

This Erie Canal song was in the school's song book, and
we learned it in our once-a-week music lessons. There
were two verses and one chorus, as best I can remember,
and I never thought twice about who wrote any song way
back then. None of the verses alluded to deceit,
aggression, drinking or sin, neither human nor mule.
No words even close to cusses, like "Darn", either.

Is it any wonder we couldn't wait to grow up? Not only
couldn't we read about the real world in Dick and Jane,
we couldn't sing about it, even in the "folk" songs we
were given to learn! Everything was whitewashed,
pureed to a pablum-like consistency, suitable for spoon-
feeding.

Sorry to turn your lyric request into my rant. It just
hit me where I live, or where I used to live, at least.

All the best,

Marymac


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 01:29 AM

What, no jug gittin' low?

OK, that's a different song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 02:50 AM

Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

    Erie Canal, The

    DESCRIPTION: "I've got a mule, her name is Sal, Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal." "Low bridge, everybody down, Low bridge, for we're going through a town...." About the long, slow trip along the Erie Canal -- and the mule the singer works with
    AUTHOR: Thomas S. Allen?
    EARLIEST DATE: 1905
    KEYWORDS: canal animal nonballad work
    HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
    1825 - Erie Canal opens (construction began in 1817)
    FOUND IN: US(MA,MW)
    REFERENCES (7 citations):
    ThompsonNewYork, pp. 249-250, "Low Bridge, Everybody Down/I've Got a Mule, Her Name Is Sal" (2 short texts)
    Sandburg, pp. 171-173, "The Erie Canal" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Lomax-ABFS, pp. 457-458, "The Erie Canal" (1 text plus a separate verse which may or may not be part of the same song); p. 464, "Erie Canal" (2 texts, the first going here while the second is "The Raging Canal (I)"); p. 466, "(A Trip on the Erie)" (the second song files under the title "A Trip on the Erie," but is actually this piece); pp. 467-469, "Low Bridge, Everybody Down or Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 102-103, "The Erie Canal" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Fireside, p. 37, "The Erie Canal" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 126, "The Erie Canal" (1 text)
    DT, ERIECANL*

    Roud #6598
    RECORDINGS:
    Vernon Dalhart, "Low Bridge Everybody Down" (Columbia 15378-D, 1929)
    Edward Meeker, "Low Bridge! Everybody Down" (CYL: Edison [BA] 1761, 1913)
    Pete Seeger, "Erie Canal, " (PeteSeeger31) (on PeteSeeger46)

    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "A Trip on the Erie (Haul in Your Bowline)"
    cf. "The E-ri-e" (plot)
    cf. "The Raging Canal (I)"
    cf. "Bullhead Boat" (subject)
    NOTES: The Erie Canal, as originally constructed, was a small, shallow channel which could only take barges. These vessels -- if such they could be called -- were normally hauled along by mules.
    The Lomaxes, in American Ballad and Folk Songs, thoroughly mingled many texts of the Erie Canal songs (in fairness, some of this may have been the work of their informants -- but in any case the Lomaxes did not help the problem). One should check all the Erie Canal songs for related stanzas. - RBW
    Last updated in version 4.0
    File: San171

    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.


Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition:

ERIE CANAL (MULE NAMED SAL)
(THomas S. Allen)

I've got an old mule and her name is Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
She's a good old worker and a good old pal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
We've hauled some barges in our day
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay
And we know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge for we're coming to a town
And you'll always know your neighbor
And you'll always know your pal
If you've ever navigated on
The Erie Canal

We'd better look around for a job, old gal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
You bet your life I wouldn't part with Sal
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal
Giddap there gal, we've passed that lock
We'll make Rome 'bout six o'clock
One more trip and then we'll go
Right back home to Buffalo

Low bridge, everybody down
Low bridge, I've the finest mule in town.
Once a man named Mike McGinty
Tried to put it over Sal
Now he's way down on the bottom of
The Erie Canal

Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal?
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
Oh, I'd like to see a mule as good as Sal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
A friend of mine once made her sore
Now, he's got a broken jaw
'Cause she let fly with her iron toe
And kicked him into Buffalo.

Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge, I've the finest mule in town.
If yo're looking for trouble
Better stay away from Sal
She's the only fightin' donkey on the Erie Canal

I don't want to call when I want my Sal
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
She trots from her stall like a good old gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal
I eat my meals with Sal each day,
I eat beef and she eats hay
She ain't so slow if you want to know
She put the "Buff" in Buddalo.

Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge, I've the finest mule in town
Eats a bale of hay for dinner
And on top of that, my Sal
Tries to drink up all the water in the Erie Canal.

note: A Tin-Pan Alley song, written in 1905, that is now part of
the folk (and college glee-club) tradition. RG

@canal @work @animal @water @NY
filename[ ERIECANL
TUNE FILE: ERIECANL
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Azizi
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 02:54 AM

Somewhat Off-Topic

GUEST,Marymac90, 22 Jul 08 - 01:18 AM

Thank you for your well written rant. I'm particularly impressed with this part of your assessment of why children in past generations and now could be "dissatisfied", to put it mildly, with the education that they received/receive:

"Is it any wonder we couldn't wait to grow up? Not only
couldn't we read about the real world in Dick and Jane,
we couldn't sing about it, even in the "folk" songs we
were given to learn! Everything was whitewashed,
pureed to a pablum-like consistency, suitable for spoon-
feeding."

-snip-

When I read that, it struck me that perhaps this could another reason why some children/teens chanted/chant risque, violent taunts that target teachers and principals.

I still believe that among some* Americans [USA residents, and perhaps also some Canadians and UK children/youth] saying teacher taunts such as those posted on my website www,cocojams.com
was {and perhaps to a much lesser degree} an expected childhood/teenage custom. At least before the Columbine and other school massacres of the late 20th and early 21st century USA, and Canada, it appears from the comments that I've received from adults who remember saying these taunts, that adults mostly adopted a kids will be kids attitude toward these chants. Generally speaking, before Columbine, a child or teen could say these rhymes-at the end of the school year, or at other informal times among themselves-without being subject to any consequences. Generally speaking, it seems that a child or teen prior to Columbine wouldn't receive any real consequences from adults for saying such taunts as "Glory Glory Hallelujah/teacher hit me with a ruler/I hit her in the beam/with a rotten tangerine/and she fell right down on the floor" because adults may have remembered saying those kinds of taunts when they were young, and they knew that the words of those taunts were not to be taken literally.

However, Marymac90, your rant makes me think that another reason for those taunts could be that children and teens who said them were rebelling against the "whitewashed, pureed to a pablum-like consistency, suitable for spoon-feeding" "education" they were experienced in school. That this sanitized Dick & Jane image of the world was presented to them in a highly regimented educational system by teachers and principals who were perceived to be and often were arbitrarily unfair could be motivation for some kids to sound off against school personnel in general or those authority figures who they perceived as being the most objectionable. It seems from the recollection of "informants" {those persons who shared their examples with me and those who included comments when they submitted examples of taunts to my website} that kids knew that they could get away with saying these taunts, particularly on the last day of school when rules were loosened.

* I say some children/teens in the USA because my admittedly limited research suggests that far fewer Black American adults than White American adults remember saying or hearing these taunts, and far fewer Black Americans teens are familiar with the words to certain teacher taunts that seem to be much more well known among White American teens.

I know that there have been discussions on other Mudcat threads about anti-school songs/taunts such as this one: thread.cfm?threadid=89297 . My defense for going off-topic and posting such a comment on this thread is because Guest Marymac's rant "made me do it."

:o)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Dave Illingworth
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 03:42 AM

My good friend Dusty Miller (writer of many canal songs for our band
DPN+1) has written a British version of ERIE CANAL, entitled
GRAND TRUNK CANAL.
I can supply lyrics if anyone is interested.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Can
From: Susan of DT
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 06:29 AM

George Ward would be the person to ask about this. He posts as georgeward.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,Dave P
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 08:08 AM

re: Dave Illingworth's offer:
"I can supply lyrics if anyone is interested"
Yes, please. I was toying with a 'Union Canal' version but never really made the time. It's town names I had trouble with and also a mule didn't seem that English (but I could be wrong!) so tried to get pony in there. It's the chorus that is the real show stopper so I'm not too worried about like-for-like verses. This thread has inspired me to have another go


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Subject: ADD Version: Low Bridge, Everybody Down
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 01:23 PM

Sheet music for "Low Bridge Everybody Down," Thomas S. Allen, was also reprinted in 1913, F. B. Haviland Pub. Co. Inc.. A copy is in the NY State Library.

The online history of New York (NY History web page) mentions the song, and gives the lyrics from the 1905 printing. Only two verses and chorus are shown. I have not found actual sheet music, so I don't know if the additional verses posted above by Barry Finn were there from the start or added later.
Some slight differences to the NY website words, which are linked in the article.

"Low Bridge, Everybody Down (The Erie Canal)" by Thomas S. Allen, 1905.
1st verse: ol' pal, not old pal.
2nd verse: ol' gal, not old gal.
....
Git up there, mule, here comes a lock,
We'll make Rome ....

Song link: Low bridge Houghton Mifflin Company

"Low Bridge, Everybody Down (The Erie Canal)"
by Thomas S. Allen, 1905

I've got a mule, and her name is Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
She's a good ol' worker an' a good ol' pal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
We've hauled some barges in our day,
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay,
And we know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo.

(chorus)
Low bridge, everybody down!
Low bridge, for we're comin' through a town!
And you'll always know your neighbor,
You'll always know your pal,
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

We'd better look around for a job, ol' gal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal!
'Cause you bet your life I'd never part with Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal!
Git up there, mule, here comes a lock,
We'll make Rome 'bout six o'clock,
One more trip and back we'll go
Right back home to Buffalo.

(chorus)

    I copy-pasted the lyrics from the link that Q supplied - note that we have not found sheet music.
    -Joe Offer-

State History website:
New York State History

The Lomaxes erred, the first name is Thomas, not 'William.'


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Subject: ADD: Grand Trunk Canal (Dusty Miller)
From: Dave Illingworth
Date: 22 Jul 08 - 06:35 PM

Dear Dave P,

Thanks for your interest. Here is my good friend Dusty Miller's English version of ERIE CANAL:-

Grand Trunk Canal
(Dusty Miller)

I've got a mule and her name is Sal
15 miles on the Grand Trunk Canal
She's a good worker and a good old pal (15 miles etc)
We've hauled some barges on our day
Filled with pottery, coal and clay
And we know every inch of the way
From Preston Brook to Shardlow

Low bridge, get your head down
Low bridge we're going through a town
You'll always know a boatman, he'll always be your pal
If you've ever navigated on the Grand Trunk Canal

We'd better look around for a job old pal (15 miles etc)
You bet your life I'd never part with Sal (15 miles etc)
Get up there mule, here comes a lock
We'll make Stoke about six O'clock
One more trip and back we'll go
Right back home to Shardlow

Where would I be if I lost my pal (15 miles etc)
I'd like to see a mule as good as Sal (15 miles etc)
A friend of mine once got her sore
Now he's got a broken jaw
Cause she let fly with her iron toe
And kicked him back to Shardlow

You'll soon hear them sing about my pal (15 miles etc)
It'a a darn fine ditty 'bout my old friend Sal (15 miles etc)
DPN+1 will play it soon
Damn good words and a damn good tune
You'll hear it sung before you go
From Preston Brook to Shardlow

(modified words Dusty Miller, c2006)



Not many changes, as you can see. Dusty kept it simple, so our band
(DPN+1, as mentioned in last verse) could learn it quickly for a canal festival we were playing at).
It scans OK (vocally), once you've sung it once. Dusty was quite happy with the word "mule" (he is a canal artist, historian, and activist, as well as having been on the cut, on and off, for over 40 years)

We would love to hear any of your ideas, Dave. If we nick them, we will give them due credit.

                   Cheers, Dave Illingworth (DPN+1)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,Dave P
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 03:54 AM

Re: Dusty Miller's English version of ERIE CANAL

Thanks - that's brill.
Will let you know how I get on


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 02:09 PM

Thanks all for everything so far.

I can't remember where I heard the missing verse that I'm looking for but it fit so nicely that it's a must as far as I'm concerned.

I did go to George's U-Tube of this, I figure when George & Dave spot it they'll chime in , with plenty of interesting stuff no doubt. Sorry about that pressure George & Dave.

Both my wife & I remeber this from our young schoolhood yrs but we both remember the tune slightly different. My memory of the tune is a bit off in that at the end of the chorus I don't end up where I should be, notewise when I start the next verse. I checked out a bunch of folks recording on U-Tube, including Bruce Springstine & truthfully I don't care that much for the way they all sing it even though I'm not far off from most, I'm still off. Has anyone got a link to what they'd consider a real good arrangment of this. I'm thinking I'm gonna end up rearranging the tune to where it's not quite what's standard but I don't won't to be off out in left field either. It's funny that so many people remember the song but it's not been recorded by that many, it's a great song with the potential to be a powerhouse, I'll back up on that statement, it is a powerfull song.

Barry

Barry


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Subject: ADD Version: Oh, Dat Low Bridge!-Harrigan & Braham
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 03:03 PM

After I transcribed the sheet music, I found that this song was in the Digital Tradition, although the "negro dialect" was cleaned up. Anyhow, since I did the work, here's my transcription:

Oh! Dat Low Bridge!
(Edward Harrigan & David Braham)

It's many miles to Buffalo - Oh, dat low bridge!
Balky mule he travel slow - Oh, dat low bridge!
Dar's gravel on de tow path, Dar's hornets in de sand,
Oh, pity poor canallers, Dat's far away from land.

CHORUS
Den look out dat low bridge, Look out dat low bridge,
De captain, cook, and all de crew, Oh, duck your head way down,
The fastest boat in all de fleet,
Two sisters come to town.
(dance)


Dar's many locks to shut you in - Oh, dat low bridge!
Every worm must learn to swim - Oh, dat low bridge!
We're loaded down with barley, and lumber from de west,
Oh, every poor canaller, Now do your level best.

CHORUS

We're froze up in the winter time - Oh, dat low bridge!
Summer how de sun do shine - Oh, dat low bridge!
In rain or stormy weather, De captain's on de poop,
All huddle up together, Like chickens in de coop.

CHORUS

Dar's groceries in de cabin dar - Oh, dat low bridge!
Never leaks, she's full of tar - Oh, dat low bridge!
Dar's freckles on de children, Dar's glanders on de mule,
Mosquitoes by de million, Who keep de golden rule.

CHORUS


(Words by Edward Harrigan, Music by David Braham)
As sung in Edward Harrigan's new comedy, The Grip
copyright 1885, by Wm. A. Pond & Co.

Source: American Memory Collection, Library of Congress


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Mrrzy
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 07:50 PM

What about the one about running out of gin? The Er-i-e was a-rising and the gin was a-getting low, I scarcely think we'll get a drink till we get to Buffalo-ho-ho, till we get to Buffalo?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Jul 08 - 09:48 PM

Covers for sheet music of "Low Bridge, Everybody Down," illustrated at two websites (Wikipedia is one), but can anyone find the sheet music?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,Marymac90
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 01:45 AM

Thanks for starting this thread, Barry, and giving Azizi and
myself a chance to rant a bit. Also thanks for not lambasting
us for blatant thread creep! Azizi's excuse is that my rant
made her do it! No if I could just come up with an excuse!

Azizi, you make an interesting comment about African-American
kids possibly not doing anti-teacher or anti-school rhymes.
I am a social worker, and the majority of my clients are
African-American. My offhand guess is that this is not a real
difference between the cultures. If I can remember to do so,
I'll ask some of my clients whether they remember singing or reciting such rhymes.
Remember, the African-American culture invented "The Dozens", an amusement based on insulting your
friends' mothers. I highly doubt they would have held
teachers more sacred than mothers!

Marymac


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: mg
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 01:55 AM

Does anyone know any source for the living conditions of the canal workers on the Erie and other canals. I believe ..well know for a fact now..that my ggf and his brothers worked on some of the canals..New York, West Virginia and Ohio I think and they ended up farming in Iowa...I believe they were not very prosperous..I can understand single men doing this, living in tents and shanties..but they obviously had their wives and children with them. They had Irish as a first language it seems but probably spoke some English. How did the families live? Does Chiliothe?? Ohio mean anything to anyone? They seemed to pass through there and have children.

There also seemed to be a traveling group of them from Dingle, County Kerry...Garveys, Fitzgeralds (we are probably related to Patrick Fitzgerald, attorney), Murphy, Cahalan (has anyone heard of this name..I never did before this but there were a lot of them..)

Are there pay records or census records or anything? I know it was terribly brutal work, especially in the south.   mg


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 02:23 AM

Click here for a 1912 Victor recording of "Low Bridge, Everybody Down," by tenor Billy Murray, Victor-1720

This page (click) gives a full description of the recording.

But heck, we still haven't found sheet music. Best I've been able to do is this page, which has the cover of a 1913 copy of the sheet music.

There's a 1929 Vernon Dalhart recording of the song on this page (click) and this page (click)

-Joe-


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Subject: ADD Version: Low Bridge, Everybody Down (Lomax)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 03:07 AM

Here's the second version from John A. and Alan Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934), pages 467-469 (first version is below). Note the comment on the Lomax version in the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index, above.

Low Bridge, Everybody Down
or Fifteen Years on the Erie Canal

(William S. Allen, Haviland Publishing Co.)

I've got an old mule and her name is Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal,
She's a good old worker and a good old pal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
We've hauled some barges in our day,
Filled with lumber, coal and hay—
And every inch of the way I know
From Albany to Buffalo-

Chorus:
Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge! We're coming to a town!
You can always tell your neighbor, you can always tell your pal,
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

We'd better look around for a job, Old Gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal,
You bet your life I wouldn't part with Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
Giddap there, Gal, we've passed that lock,
We'll make Rome 'fore six o'clock—
So one more trip and then we'll go
Right straight back to Buffalo.

Chorus:
Low bridge, everybody down;
Low bridge, I've got the finest mule in town.
Once a man named Mike McGintey tried to put over Sal,
Now he's way down at the bottom of the Erie Canal.

Oh! where would I be if I lost my pal?
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal,
Oh, I'd like to see a mule as good as Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
A friend of mine once got her sore,
Now he's got a broken jaw,
'Cause she let fly with her iron toe
And kicked him in to Buffalo.

Chorus:
Low bridge, everybody down;
Low bridge, I've got the finest mule in town.
If you're looking for trouble, better stay away,
She's the only fighting donkey on the Erie Canal.

I don't have to call when I want my Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal,
She trots from the stall like a good old gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
I eat my meals with Sal each day,
I eat beef and she eats hay,
She ain't so slow if you want to know,
She put the "Buff" in Buffalo.

Chorus:
Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge, I've got the finest mule in town.
Eats a bale of hay for dinner, and on top of that my Sal
Tries to drink up all the water in the Erie Canal.

You'll soon hear them sing all about my gal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal,
It's a darned fine ditty 'bout my darn fool Sal,
Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
Oh, any band will play it soon,
Darned fool words and darned fool tune;
You'll hear it sung everywhere you go,
From Mexico to Buffalo.

Chorus:
Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge, I've got the finest mule in town.
She's a perfect, perfect lady, and she blushes like a gal
If she hears you sing about her and the Erie Canal.


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Subject: ADD Version: The Erie Canal (Sandburg)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 03:15 AM

Here's the version from Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag (1927), pp 171-173. It's almost the same as the version from Q's post above [Song link: Low bridge Houghton Mifflin Company], which may or may not be the original text. Perhaps the Houghton Mifflin text actually came from Sandburg. I have put the one line which is different, in italics. The Houghton Mifflin version has it We'd better look around for a job, ol' gal. So, we still aren't sure we have the original version.

The Erie Canal
(no attribution shown)

I've got a mule, her name is Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
She's a good old worker and a good old pal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
We've hauled some barges in our day,
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay,
And we know every inch of the way
From Albany to Buffalo.

(chorus)
Low bridge, everybody down!
Low bridge, for we're going through a town,
And you'll always know your neighbor,
You'll always know your pal,
If you ever navigated on the Erie Canal.

We'd better get along on our way, old gal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal,
'Cause you bet your life I'd never part with Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
Git up there, mule, here comes a lock,
We'll make Rome 'bout six o'clock,
One more trip and back we'll go
Right back home to Buffalo.

(chorus)


This is also the first version from John A. and Alan Lomax, American Ballads and Folk Songs (1934), pages 457-458 ("from Rev. Charles A. Richmond, Washington, DC").
Sigmund Spaeth's Read 'Em and Weep (1927), page 116, has the same first verse and chorus as the Sandburg version, but it has this for the second verse:
    Get up there, Sal, we passed that lock.
    We'll make Rome 'fore six o'clock,
    One more trip and back we'll go
    From Albany to Buffalo.

Look at this, Barry!!

And on page 466 of the Lomax & Lomax book there's this (note that Sal has become a cook):
    From Rome Haul by Walter D. Edmonds (Little, Brown & Co.):
      Schenectady, Schenectady
      Is halfway up to Uticy.
      *   *   *
      Drop a tear for big-foot Sal,
      The best damn cook on the Erie Canal,
      She aimed for Heaven but she went to Hell,
      Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.
      The missioner said she died in sin,
      Hennery said it was too much gin,
      There weren't no bar where she hadn't been
      From Albany to Buffalo.

      Low bridge! Everybody down!
      Low bridge! We're coming to a town!
      You'll always know your neighbor, you'll always know your pal,
      If you ever navigated the Erie Canal.

So, we found an approximation of the verse Barry was looking for....but we still didn't find that blankety-blank original sheet music.
-Joe-


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Subject: ADD Version: The Erie Canal (Silber & Silber)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 03:56 AM

The version Barry posted in the first post, is almost the same as what's in Fred & Irwin Silber's Folksinger's Wordbook (1973), page 126. Here's the Silber & Silber version:

The Erie Canal
(no attribution shown)

I've got a mule and her name is Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
She's a good old worker and a good old pal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
We've hauled some barges in our day,
Filled with lumber, coal, and hay,
And we know every inch of the way,
From Albany to Buffalo.

CHORUS
Low bridge, everybody down,
Low bridge, for we're going through a town,
And you'll always know your neighbor,
And you'll always know your pal,
If you've ever navigated on the Erie Canal

We'd better look around for a job, old gal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
'Cause you bet your life I'd never part with Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
Get up there mule, here comes a lock,
We'll make Rome 'bout six o'clock.
One more trip and back we'll go,
Right back home to Buffalo.

CHORUS

Oh, where would I be if I lost my pal?
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
Oh, I'd like to see a mule as good as Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
A friend of mine once got her sore,
Now, he's got a broken jaw,
'Cause she let fly with her iron toe
And kicked him in to Buffalo.

CHORUS

You'll soon hear them sing all about my gal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
It's a darn fine ditty 'bout my darn mule Sal,
Fifteen miles on the Erie Canal.
Oh, any band will play it soon,
Darn fool words & darn'd fool tune,
You'll hear it sung before you go
From Mexico to Buffalo.

CHORUS


When I'm choosing a version of a song to sing, I almost always find I like the version in the Folksinger's Wordbook best.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 07:14 AM

Thanks Joe. Looking at that verse you just supplied I recognize it as the one I was looking for, GREAT! And thanks for those links, they'll help me a lot in trying to make out how I'd like to sing it, just the shot in the arm that I needed.

Hi MaryMac, it's been awhile, you & Azizi can drift around my threads in any way you like, once a thread is up it no longer belongs to the author, it belongs to anyone who'd like to add something to it, it's "gone public", 'highjacked' is a completely different thing. There's no need to make excuses, only a thank you for your adding some of your spice to the mix.

Thank you all

Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 03:59 PM

mg, Chillicothe, Ohio, is a famous old town. The Adena mansion dates from c. 1806, and there are other historic sites. Information may be available at the Ross County Courthouse, and at Ohio University (in Chillicothe). Pike County is adjacent (1815).

The Ohio and Erie Canal went through Chillicothe; a photo of a canal boat, taken in 1907, among the historical data at http://ohweb.ohiohistory.org. The easiest way to find the photo is by entering "Chillicothe" canal in Google.

They surely have a genealogical group in Chillicothe that could help.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Art Thieme
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 06:59 PM

LaSalle, Illinois (twin city to our town, Peru, IL) recently built a canal boat. It is pulled by mules and regularly gives excursion rides. The canal here is the ILLINOIS-MICHIGAN CANAL, the building of which made it possible to connect the city of Chicago with the ILLINOIS RIVER here at Peru---nd then on to the Mississippi River by way of the Hennepin Canal. It is hoped that tourists now have a reason to come to our two towns. Time will tell.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,Marymac90
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 03:18 AM

Thanks, Barry. Glad you appreciate the spice I/we
added. Some people seem to prefer things a little
blander.

All the best,

Marymac


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 03:31 AM

I just did a google on Chill. Ohio and found this
http://www.elms.k12.oh.us/eslibrary/SocialStudies/Ohio-Erie%20Canal.htm

It has neat pictures and if you go to the bottom, thre is a Captain Nye singing all sorts of songs, some about canals, for Alan Lomax. mg


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 08:00 AM

Another great song they made us sing (and God bless 'em!)in the NYC public school system so long ago it's like something I heard about rather than did myself.

The melody is wonderful all by itself. Has anyone ever arranged it for orchestra?

The source was the much-loved-by-elder-Catters "The Fireside Book of Folk Songs," by Margaret Bradford Boni, a book readily available from online merchants. Not for purists - just for anybody who likes good songs from all over. The Russian "Meadowlands," with lyrics featuring the "mighty Red Army," however, still seems very weird and creepy to some of us. Another great tune, though!

Somebody who can sidestep cliches could make a hell of a CD just from the songs in this book.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 09:52 AM

Barry,

I've just recorded an Erie Canal "chantey" of sorts, pieced together from two traditional sources, for a solo CD I'll be putting out this fall. It might be a great one for Finn and Haddie to sing.

Also just recorded a version of "Oh Dat Low Bridge", the 1885 canal song mentioned above. PM me if you'd like me to email you an mp3 of either one.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 25 Jul 08 - 01:47 PM

There was a fragment..a thousand Micks will swing their picks..anyone know it? mg


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Barry Finn
Date: 26 Jul 08 - 01:50 AM

Hi Dave, I thought I'd be getting to see you here at some point & was hoping you'd chime in.

I'd love to get the mp3's, can I be greedy & ask for them both??

I'm sending you a PM after I finish with this post.
I can't wait to hear the new CD, let me know when you are ready to put them up for sale.

I'm having trouble with the melody lines. I like the way I sing it as I remember it bit I'm hoping that hearing your mp3's will lend a hand to what I thinkis gonna end up being a little rearranging on my part. I just can't sing it the way I'm hearing most people sing it & I'm to stubbon to give up the way I hear myself doing it.

Anyway thanks for drooping in, I'm off to PM you

Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 13 Jan 09 - 09:11 PM

I just put up a live version of "Oh, Dat Low Bridge!" on YouTube, which can be seen here


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,Dulsuemer
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 03:03 PM

Every time I sing this with a group, there is a "discussion" of whether it's 15 MILES or 15 YEARS on the Erie Canal. I have looked into all my songbooks & sourcebooks, and can find no agreement (as there is none here). Most versions say MILES. However, I have seen a very old copy of the sheet music on display in one of the history kiosks along the New York Thruway, I think at Chittenango, and it says YEARS. In his book BODY, BOOTS AND BRITCHES Harold Thompson, eminent folklorist of eras past, says: "...when Mr. Thomas S. Allen published it in 1913, we were already in sight of the day when the Barge [canal] was to replace the Erie--the Barge which has no towpath for Sal...here is part of Mr. Allen's ballad as originally published: '...Fifteen years on the Erie Canal.'" With those two sources close to the source, I always insist on YEARS, because Sal is his good ol' pal for such a long time, and it's her love-song. MILES probably means the usual shift of one mule before giving him/her a rest and possibly changing to the other mule on board. (Though who could rival Sal??)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 07:58 AM

15 Years is correct, as originally written and published.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 08:23 AM

One of the standard "folk songs" they taught us in NYC public elementary school in the '50s, from the celebrated _Fireside Book of Folk Songs_. Only the first stanza, though, if I recall correctly.

That version had "years."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 11:47 PM

Dave Ruch, it was fifteen miles in 1905.

I'll bet five and raise you ten.
(Haven't found the sheet music yet, Joe?)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 17 Feb 11 - 12:30 AM

Well, here's some totally inconclusive evidence for fifteen miles:

We actually went on a barge on the New York State Barge Canal (formerly the Erie Canal) and were told that mules were changed every six hours. At fifteen miles per shift, that works out to 60 miles a day or six days to make the 360 mile trip from Albany to Buffalo - exactly how long it actually took.

That's why we've always sung fifteen miles in our school programs which allowed us to get the kids to do the math described above. We would tell them it was 15 miles in each 6 hour shift and ask them how many dayds it would take to do the 360 miles. In the average fifth grade class there would be at least one kid who could get the answer in his/her head.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Feb 11 - 09:34 AM

Thanks for the link, Dave. I enjoyed your song.

If you go to YouTube and search for 'Erie Canal,' you can see scenes from the canal today. I had no idea it had so much ttaffic on it. In fact, I figured it had silted up long ago.

I've been singing the song around the house, and it occurs to me that we've been singing it wrong. Yes, it's got a limited tune suitable to the ravaged voice of a drinkin, smokin, workin man, but the words are happy. He's fond of his mule, who's probably his only real friend. When you sing "She's a good old worker and a grand old pal," smile and make it sound like you're proud of her. It's not a dirge.

And when he sings "We've hauled some barges in our day," that's a little joke. They've probably hauled hundreds of barges. Americans use 'some' to de-exaggerate.

I was riding on the bus when day when people complimented a woman who was knitting a beautiful afghan with many elaborate cables, popcorns and zigzags in it. Her response (proud but restrained) was "I guess it's got some stiches in it."   Yes, it did, thousands of them.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 17 Feb 11 - 03:15 PM

Here's a page with the original sheet music

It goes on to say: "Like most folk songs, the lyrics (and title!) of The Erie Canal Song has changed over time. The most obvious changes from Thomas Allen's orignal version has been changing the word years to miles. Allen's original version commerates 15 years of working along the canal with Sal. The new version using the word miles refers to the average distance a mule would tow a barge before resting or being relieved by another mule."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Feb 11 - 04:15 PM

The "original sheet music" in the Erie Canal website that you linked is dated 1913. It could be different from the text by Allen, 1905.
Allen was a tin pan alley composer; he seems to have had no working experience with the canal.

A transcription purporting to be from 1905 has 15 miles.

I'll hedge my bet, but I still want to see the 1905 printing before I throw in my hand.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Feb 11 - 04:20 PM

What difference does it make? None!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Feb 11 - 04:30 PM

Leeneia, when a gentleman makes a bet, he must honor it. It makes a great deal of difference.

Oh, you mean the song? Well, if you put it that way-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Bev and Jerry
Date: 17 Feb 11 - 06:59 PM

The picture on the cover of that sheet music is nearly historically correct but no one rode on the mule. They employed boys to walk behind the mule (carefully) with a switch to keep the mule from being distracted.

Bev and Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 18 Feb 11 - 10:03 AM

Hi, Q. Well, naturally, if there was an actual WAGER involved, that's different.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 07 Oct 13 - 09:32 PM

Every time I've heard this song, it was sung with the verses the Weavers sang. Last night, Rose Sheehan sang the song with lots of verses I hadn't heard. She said she got them from Barry Finn. Barry used to sing all the verses he got in a Mudcat thread he started, and Rose teased him about taking forever to sing the song. Well, when Barry died, she decided she'd better learn all those verses in Barry's honor. So, now she sings them, and she sings them very well.

But gee, I should have known those verses. It looks like I'm the one who found them for Barry and posted them above.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 20 Jun 16 - 09:17 AM

I'm wondering if anyone has access to either of the following two early recorded versions of this song:

1913 The Peerless Quartet(te) - Columbia A-1296

1929 Vernon Dalhart - Columbia 15378-D


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: cnd
Date: 20 Jun 16 - 10:03 AM

There's a page here (http://www.meloware.com/articles/vernon_dalhart.htm) offering to let you download the song, but it says "internal server error" if you try to because you have to pay a membership fee. On the bright side, if you do do that, you'll have access to download tons of songs from there.

Unfortunately not much I can find on the Peerless Quartet, and I don't have a copy of either of them.

If you happen to be near UCSB, they have a copy of both of the songs on file.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 20 Jun 16 - 10:32 AM

Thanks cnd. I saw the meloware site and tried to download the song, as you did, but didn't realize I could get access for a few bucks. I may try that, if another copy doesn't materialize.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal?
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 06 Jul 16 - 09:26 PM

I've just published what I hope will be the definitive resource on the song. Further contributions welcome!

Erie Canal Song - original lyrics, history and more


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