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Origins/Info: Tail Toddle

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TAIL TODDLE


GUEST,Gerry 17 Jan 09 - 05:37 AM
Little Robyn 17 Jan 09 - 05:51 AM
GUEST,Gerry 17 Jan 09 - 06:05 AM
Jim Carroll 17 Jan 09 - 08:49 AM
Jim McLean 17 Jan 09 - 12:47 PM
Cool Beans 17 Jan 09 - 01:01 PM
Little Robyn 17 Jan 09 - 02:00 PM
Jim Carroll 17 Jan 09 - 02:54 PM
Jack Campin 17 Jan 09 - 03:27 PM
GUEST,Gerry 17 Jan 09 - 05:27 PM
Joe_F 17 Jan 09 - 08:32 PM
Susanne (skw) 17 Jan 09 - 08:34 PM
raredance 18 Jan 09 - 12:45 AM
Jim McLean 18 Jan 09 - 05:56 AM
Jack Campin 18 Jan 09 - 08:12 AM
Jim McLean 18 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Jan 09 - 10:39 AM
Mo the caller 18 Jan 09 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Kingumikti 10 May 10 - 07:25 PM
Steve Gardham 11 May 10 - 11:34 AM
GUEST,GUEST, Dave in Michigan 11 May 10 - 03:54 PM
Matt Seattle 24 Mar 11 - 07:22 AM
GUEST 09 Jun 12 - 02:32 PM
GUEST 04 Dec 12 - 11:14 PM
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Subject: Tail Toddle
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 05:37 AM

I'm sure there's already a thread (or two, or ten) about this song, but I've had no luck finding it. That is, I found the lyrics in the DT easily enough, but couldn't find any discussion. Maybe someone can just direct me to some earlier discussion. What I'm looking for is a translation out of Scots dialect and into a form of English I can understand, so I can know what the song is saying. My thanks to anyone who gives assistance.


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Little Robyn
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 05:51 AM

I wouldn't care to write a translation here.
All I can tell you is - it's rude!
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 06:05 AM

Yes, Little Robyn, that's why I want the translation. To quote one of my favorite songwriters, I've never quibbled/If it was ribald/I would devour/Where others merely nibbled.


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:49 AM

Little Robyn,
Faint hearts never won fair ladies - here goes:
Tail Toddle was one of the singing exercises used by the Critics Group to practice and develop breath control and articulation in singing, the aim being to be able to sing a verse and two choruses in one breath – very few of the group managed it.
The best explanation I heard of it was a story told by MacColl of when he was performing at a concert in Scotland. He went backstage to find a be-kilted Hamish Henderson towering over a diminutive blue rinse American lady who had obviously asked for an explanation of 'Tail Toddle'.
He boomed, "Madam, a tail is the female pudenda and toddling is the motion backward and forward. So there you have it" (demonstrating with his hips), "in and out, in and out, backward and forward".
The lady disappeared, never to be seen again.
A rough translation from memory:

Tail toddle, tail toddle,
Tammy gars (1) my tail toddle,
But and ben (2) and diddle-doddle (3)
Tammy gars my tail toddle.

Jessie Lack she gi'ed a plack (4)
Helen Wallace gi'ed a bottle
Quoth (5) the bride, "It's ower-little (6)
For to mend a broken dottle (7)

Oor guid-wife (8) went o'wer to Fiffe,
Just to buy a coal-riddle.
Lang e'er she'd come back again,
Tammy'd gar'd my tail toddle

1 Makes
2 Up and down
3 To wag from side to side with great energy
4 A copper coin worth one third of a penny – possibly a plack-pie – a pie costing a plack.
5 Said
6 Very little
7 Plug, stopper - probably a euphemism for a hymen.
8 Mistress of the house

Enjoy,
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Jim McLean
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 12:47 PM

Tail Toddle
Melody - Tail Todle
Melody - "Lasses gar your tails toddle"
Melody - "Fiddle Faddle"
from the Merry Muses of Caledonia, 1799

Chorus:
Tail todle, tail todle;
Tammie gart my tail todle;
At my ae wi' diddle doddle,
Tammie gart my tail todle.

Our gudewife held o'er to Fife,
For tae buy a coal-riddle;
Lang or she came back again,
Tammie gart my tail todle.
Chorus

2. When I'm deid I'm out o' date;
When I'm seik I'm fu' o' trouble;
When I'm weel I step about,
An' Tammie gars my tail todle.
Chorus

3. Jenny Jack she gae a plack,
Helen Wallace gae a boddle;
Quo' the bride, its o'er little
For tae mend a broken doddle.
Chorus

Another version with an extra verse


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Cool Beans
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 01:01 PM

It's on the Chad Mitchell Trio's "On Campus" album, recorded at my alma mater, Brooklyn College. They intriduce it by saying "Speaking of dirty Scotch songs," but they never translate the lyrics. I've always wondered. Thanks, Jim Carroll.


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Little Robyn
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 02:00 PM

Thanks Jim.
Actually, I thought 'but and ben' was out and in.
My thought is, the song means when the cat's away......
Politely:
While the bosses wife has gone out shopping, the servants are playing around and one girl looses her maidenhead thanks to Tommy!
Cheers,
Robyn


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 02:54 PM

Robyn,
Chambers Scots Dictionary has but and ben as "backward and forward" - ie "From the back to the front of the house",
There's quite a nice version of the song on a fairly obscure CD called 'Celtic Mouth Music', by John Faulkner and Dolores Keane, along with some superb examples of the genre from other parts of the world.
Cheers
Jim


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Jack Campin
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 03:27 PM

A few more words from George Skene's fiddle and bagpipe MS of 1715:

Lasses gar your Tails Todle,
spread your houghs lat in the Dodle,
that will gar your Tails Todle

Incidentally there is a beautiful extended version of the tune in Margaret Sinkler's MS of 1710:

X:2
T:Tail Todle
S:Margaret Sinkler MS, Glasgow 1710
M:4/4
L:1/8
K:Gmix
G2G2 B2G2|c4   A2F2|G2G2 B2G2 | d4   B2G2| d4   B2G2|c4   A2F2|G2g2 d2 e2|d4 B2G2||
D2D2 B2G2|ABc2 A2F2|G2G2 B2G2 | Bcd2 B2G2| Bcd2 B2G2|ABc2 A2F2|Bcd2 ef g2|d4 B2G2||
B2d2 d2f2|c4   A2F2|B2d2 d2e^f| gfed g2d2|=f2ef gfed|c4   A2F2|GABc d2 g2|d4 B2G2||
D2D2 B2G2|ABcB A2G2|G2G2 B2G2 | Bcdc B2G2| Bcdc B2G2|ABcB A2F2|BcdB e^fge|d4 B2G2||
BAGc dBgd|cdcB AGAF|GABc dBec |^fdge afge|=fgag fgfd|cdcB ABAF|GABc de^fg|d4 B2G2|]


I've never heard anyone play that.


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 05:27 PM

Many thanks - I'm beginning to understand. I was taking "Tammy" at face value, as a woman's name, but now I gather that it gets translated to "Tommy." Lyrics make more sense to me, now that I've got the genders sorted out!

So, in case I've made any other faulty assumptions: Jessie Lack (or Jenny Jack) and Helen Wallace are female. Gi'ed and gae mean "gave," is that right? And what's a coal-riddle?


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Joe_F
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:32 PM

Of the five nouns spelled "riddle" in the OED, the one that means a coarse sieve seems the most likely. It doesn't mention a coal riddle specifically, tho.

Gi'ed means gave. Gae usually means go, but in the context it has to mean gave; the OED gives both meanings.


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 17 Jan 09 - 08:34 PM

Jim, Joan Littlewood remembers that story slightly differently in her autobiography:

[1995:] Luckily I was held up listening to Hamish Henderson performing an exegesis on an old Scots song [at the 1949 Edinburgh Festival]. 'She doesn't realise it's another language, with different roots,' he told me, towering above a little lady from California, magnificent in his Highland regalia. '"Johnny gars my tail toddle"- that is to say, "causes my pudendum to rotate",' and as he spoke he illustrated the point by gently undulating his backside, which made his sporran waggle a little. The little lady looked quite pleased, which was reassuring. (Joan Littlewood, Joan's Book 398)


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: raredance
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 12:45 AM

On the DVD of the Chad Mitchell Trio reunion concert from 2007, Chad brags about the song eluding the censors for 45 years. they sing it. then Chad provides a translation (similar to the one given above) and then they sing it again for good measure


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Jim McLean
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 05:56 AM

TAIL TODLE.

TUNE—"Charlie's muster roll."

An old song.

Tail todle, tail todle,
Tammie gart my tail todle
But an' ben wi' diddle doddle,
Tammie gart my tail todle.

Our gudewife held o'er to Fife,
For to buy a coal riddle;
Lang or she came back again,
Tammie gart my tail todle.

Tail todle, &c.

When I'm dead I'm out o' date;
When I'm sick I'm fu' o' trouble;
When I'm weel I stap about,
And Tammie gars my tail todle.

Tail todle, &c.

Jenny Jack she gae a plack,
Helen Wallace gae a boddle;
Quo' the bride, it's o'er little
For to mend a broken doddle.

Tail todle, &c.

This is from the 1927 pirated version. Has someone seen the original version (1799/1800) as there seems to be different versions of the chorus?


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Jack Campin
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 08:12 AM

You left out something subtly significant in the first version you posted: "a--e" not "ae".

This from John Mehlberg's OCR of a 1965 edition (Legman?)

I guess there might be other versions in "Secret Songs of Silence", anybody here got access to that?


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Jim McLean
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 08:22 AM

I just copied and posted from here http://www.glasgowguide.co.uk/wjmc/oguidwif.shtml
but I agree it should have been "a..e" hence the "backward and forward" definition!


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 10:39 AM

Roud lists no version in Secret Songs of Silence. There is a fragment in the Greig-Duncan Collection (VIII, 2002, p 249 no 716) from William Walker, described as having been among verses customarily sung 'at homely dances ... to the various Strathspeys and Reels played'.

My gude wife's awa to Fife
For to buy a coal riddle
Lang ere she comes back again
Lassie can ye tail toddle.

The editors' notes (page 402) also refer to, and quote, another fragment in the MSS (ref Argo 1.9), marked 'From MS': this was presumably copied from Skene, being identical (in wording but not in spelling) to the one Jack posted earlier.


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Subject: RE: Tail Toddle
From: Mo the caller
Date: 18 Jan 09 - 05:43 PM

Guest Gerry asked what a coal riddle was. I'd have thought it was obviously a riddle used for riddling coal.
I.e. when clearing the grate before lighting a fire a thrifty housewife would separate the useable clinker from the ashes.


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Subject: RE: Origins/Info: Tail Toddle
From: GUEST,Kingumikti
Date: 10 May 10 - 07:25 PM

I used to have a record of Robbie Burns raunchy songs, and on it was his version. All I can remember is -

Tommy makes my tail toddle, tail toddle, tail toddle,
In and oot wi' diddle doddle, Tommy makes my tail toddle


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Subject: RE: Origins/Info: Tail Toddle
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 11 May 10 - 11:34 AM

There seems to be some disagreement over the meaning of 'doddle/dottle'. An earlier post (17.1.09: 8.49)stated it was probably a hymen, but in a later one (17.1.09: 3.27)it seems to mean penis. Perhaps both.

The John Bell Collection from the early 19thc has some related pieces.

136 Tail Tottle

Had I but a Pint of Wine
Had I but a Brandy bottle
Had I but a bonny lass
I wad make her Tail tottle
Tail tottle, Tail tottle,
Had I but a Brandy bottle
With a bit of Tail tottle

A fragment from John Bell himself paper watermarked 1812

174 Gingle Up the lang Sattle, A

Gingle up the lang sattle (seat)

Our Auld Mans to Carlisle gane
For to buy a corn riddle
there'll be gam ere he gets hame
Jacky jinks up Jennys Fiddle (jinks=frisks)
hie now the lang Sattle
Do-- Do--
There'll be gam ere he get hame
jacky jink up Jenny's Fiddle.

our Auld Man hung on the Pot
and our goud Wife put in the ladle
and that was a the kale the gat (kale=broth)
for gingling up the lang sattle.

Hie how my back my back
and hie how my Wame hinny
sare sick and like to dee
every day sine sine hinny (since then)

B

Our gudemna's away to Fife
A to buy a Coal riddle
Ere he comes back there'll news be rife
For Jockie's dancd to jenny's fiddle
    Lasses gar your tails toddle.

A from Henry Robson, B from James Telfer
watermark
1817.


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Subject: RE: Origins/Info: Tail Toddle
From: GUEST,GUEST, Dave in Michigan
Date: 11 May 10 - 03:54 PM

From what I remember of coal fires :-) the relevant fact about a coal riddle would seem to be that it is operated by being pushed vigorously in and out (or back and forth); this action causing the ash to fall through the grid, and leaving the coals above the grid and thus exposed to the updraft, and able to burn hotter because no longer smothered by the ash. (Freudian, eh?)


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Subject: RE: Origins/Info: Tail Toddle
From: Matt Seattle
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 07:22 AM

The Sinkler tune is very interesting, thanks for posting it, Jack - the title shows it was used for a tail Toddle lyric, but it's more usually called Gillie Callum or The Sword Dance, and is structurally different from the 'usual' Tail Toddle tune, which has many variants.

Where does one thing begin and another end?


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Subject: RE: Origins/Info: Tail Toddle
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Jun 12 - 02:32 PM

I had an old 4-track tape that was broken when I got it that didn't have a label (it had been ripped) and I could never tell what the title of the song was, but I loved the melody of the lyrics, what I could figure out.

I always thought it was "tail tottle, tail tottle, Tommy toss my tail tottle"

I might still have it floating around in the garage somewhere and I cannot remember the singer. When my 4-track player broke, I was never able to find another...

Husky


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Subject: RE: Origins/Info: Tail Toddle
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Dec 12 - 11:14 PM

Theodore Bikel great album back in the 60's did this tune.


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