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Origins: Sweep Chimney Sweep

DigiTrad:
SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Sweep Chimney Sweep (Copper Family)


Ian HP 09 Jul 99 - 01:14 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jul 99 - 01:22 PM
Wolfgang 09 Jul 99 - 01:33 PM
Matthew B. 09 Jul 99 - 01:58 PM
bigJ 09 Jul 99 - 02:26 PM
MMario 09 Jul 99 - 02:37 PM
Magpie 09 Jul 99 - 03:55 PM
Em 09 Jul 99 - 07:09 PM
Susan of DT 09 Jul 99 - 07:15 PM
Ian HP 09 Jul 99 - 07:29 PM
Ian HP 10 Jul 99 - 07:10 PM
Den 10 Jul 99 - 07:17 PM
Ted from Australia 10 Jul 99 - 08:15 PM
Legal Eagle 11 Jul 99 - 06:45 PM
Joe Offer 26 Nov 10 - 06:27 PM
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Subject: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Ian HP
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 01:14 PM

In the words of SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP, as sung by the Copper family, what do the lines "I can give as good a smack / And there's no one . . . shall call me on hire" signify? What is a smack in this context? And why would a chimney sweep not want to be hired?


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 01:22 PM

Sounds interesting, Ian. Can you post the whole song, please?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Wolfgang
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 01:33 PM

SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP

Sweep Chimney sweep is the common cry I keep,
If you can but rightly understand me. (repeat)
With my brush, broom and my rake, with my brush, broom and my rake,
See what cleanly work I make,
With my hoe, hoe, hoe and my hoe
And it's sweep, chimney sweep for me.

Girls came unto the door I look as black as any Moor,
I'm as constant and true as the day (repeat)
Although my face is black, although my face is black,
I can give as good a smack,
And there's no one, no one, no one there's no one
And there's no one shall call me on hire.

Girls came unto the door I look as black as any Moor,
Go and fetch me some beer that I might swallow (repeat)
I can climb up to the top, I can climb up to the top,
Without a ladder or a rope,
And it's there you, there you, there you and there you,
And it's there you will hear me halloa.

Now here I do stand with my hoe all in my hand
Like a soldier that's on the sentery (repeat)
I will work for a better sort, I will work for a better sort
And kindly thank them for it.
I will work, work, work and I'll work
And I'll work for none but gentery.

copied from http://hum2mac1.murdoch.edu.au/copper/sweep.html where there are many more songs from the Copper family.

Wolfgang
^^


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Matthew B.
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 01:58 PM

The way coolest version ever ever ever sung of this song was by Steeleye Span. I think it was on their Storm Force Ten album.


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: bigJ
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 02:26 PM

I really can't help, but if all else fails, drop Bob Copper a snail mail at 73 Telscombe Road, Peacehaven, East Sussex, BN10 7UB.UK


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: MMario
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 02:37 PM

Not sure about the "on hire" line, but in this case I think the "smack" is a kiss.

MMario


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Magpie
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 03:55 PM

I have a version of this one (don't ask me from where!) where it says: And there's no one can call me on high.


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Em
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 07:09 PM

Probably means he's got job's lined up, an' plenty of 'em, thank you very much... he don't have to search for work


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Susan of DT
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 07:15 PM

The Copper Family Song Book has that line as
And there's no one shall call me on hire.


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Ian HP
Date: 09 Jul 99 - 07:29 PM

I have been told tonight at a folk club that the line should be "on high" not "on hire". This certainly makes more sense, but in The Copper Family Song Book it has "on hire" in the text and in James "Brasser" Copper's own handwriting. Hmph. Thanks for the address, bigJ, I may follow it up if nothing comes of this thread.


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Ian HP
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 07:10 PM

Thanks to all contributors. Thanks to the lead above to the Copper family site, I have sent an email to Jon Dudley of the Copper family. His reply came swiftly, as follows:

Dear Ian, As I normally sing this song I guess I should know the answer...so here it it is... 'Smack' clearly refers to the illicit street drug that the so-called 'Sweep' deals in, ie. his deal is as good as any other street traders. This guy is tough, he needs to keep his wits about him and can't afford at the time of dealing to have his conscious mind blurred or distracted in any way, therefore the second lyric really is a corruption through the oral street tradition of 'call me on a high' as opposed to call me on hire. I hope this answers your question in a satisfactory way ;-)

What I really think is this. Smack means hit or punch, ie. you won't get one over on this man, he's a Chimney Sweep and proud of it, so he's as good and strong as the next man, although some may think his job lowly he can give as good a smack. 'No one shall call me on hire'..well we don't have a natural service industry ethic here in Britain, and the Sweep, who's his own boss likes to pick and choose his own jobs..he won't be at anyone's call. In other words his pride says 'I don't care who you are, even if it means I lose money, if I don't fancy you or your job I wont do it'. What do you think? Thanks for your interest, Ian. Sweep is one of my favourites. Best wishes, Jon.


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Den
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 07:17 PM

On hire may refer to the fact that he will not have to go to a hiring fair for example. I'm not sure if they had hiring fairs in England but it is at least another angle. Smack may be that he can still do his job as well if not better than the next, that he's still fit to give it a smack or smack the brush up the chimney.


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Ted from Australia
Date: 10 Jul 99 - 08:15 PM

Smack probably refer to a kiss for the bride , it was and still is common in some parts of England to have a chimmny sweep attend at weddings as they are thought to bring good luck.
As part of the luck giving the sweep would kiss the bride.
'Smack' is a "loud kiss" (OED).
This song predates the 50s when my wife (who is a "Pom" )tells me that sweeps were plentifull in the north of England where the prime source of household heating was the coal fire

Regards Ted


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Subject: RE: SWEEP CHIMNEY SWEEP
From: Legal Eagle
Date: 11 Jul 99 - 06:45 PM

Probably pre-dates the 1850s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sweep Chimney Sweep
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Nov 10 - 06:27 PM

This is the song for 27 November for Jon Boden's A Folk Song a Day project.

-Joe-


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