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Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye

Joybell 25 Sep 09 - 08:15 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Sep 09 - 08:30 PM
Sandra in Sydney 25 Sep 09 - 08:54 PM
Azizi 25 Sep 09 - 09:27 PM
Azizi 25 Sep 09 - 09:32 PM
Joybell 25 Sep 09 - 09:39 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Sep 09 - 09:45 PM
Azizi 25 Sep 09 - 09:54 PM
Stewie 25 Sep 09 - 10:02 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Sep 09 - 10:04 PM
Azizi 25 Sep 09 - 10:21 PM
Azizi 25 Sep 09 - 10:37 PM
GUEST,booklyn rose 25 Sep 09 - 10:41 PM
Azizi 25 Sep 09 - 10:59 PM
Joybell 25 Sep 09 - 11:35 PM
Azizi 25 Sep 09 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,Russ 25 Sep 09 - 11:54 PM
Azizi 25 Sep 09 - 11:59 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 12:42 AM
Joybell 26 Sep 09 - 01:23 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 01:27 AM
Joybell 26 Sep 09 - 01:32 AM
Azizi 26 Sep 09 - 01:47 AM
SharonA 26 Sep 09 - 04:29 AM
John J 26 Sep 09 - 04:40 AM
GUEST,Hootenany 26 Sep 09 - 04:52 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 05:23 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 05:46 AM
John MacKenzie 26 Sep 09 - 06:55 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM
Azizi 26 Sep 09 - 08:37 AM
Azizi 26 Sep 09 - 09:04 AM
Azizi 26 Sep 09 - 09:41 AM
Azizi 26 Sep 09 - 09:59 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 10:02 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,Edthefolkie 26 Sep 09 - 10:18 AM
Azizi 26 Sep 09 - 10:21 AM
The Sandman 26 Sep 09 - 10:27 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 10:35 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 10:42 AM
GUEST 26 Sep 09 - 10:42 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 10:47 AM
Brian Peters 26 Sep 09 - 01:43 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 01:57 PM
The Sandman 26 Sep 09 - 02:02 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 02:06 PM
GUEST,Hootenanny 26 Sep 09 - 02:14 PM
MGM·Lion 26 Sep 09 - 06:59 PM
Joybell 26 Sep 09 - 10:41 PM
Bob the Postman 27 Sep 09 - 07:05 PM
GUEST,Welsh Dragon 28 Sep 09 - 06:56 PM
Tootler 28 Sep 09 - 07:34 PM
Joybell 28 Sep 09 - 07:48 PM
Bob the Postman 28 Sep 09 - 10:18 PM
wysiwyg 28 Sep 09 - 10:36 PM
Bryn Pugh 29 Sep 09 - 05:59 AM
breezy 29 Sep 09 - 07:01 AM
MGM·Lion 29 Sep 09 - 09:07 AM
The Sandman 29 Sep 09 - 09:24 AM
John MacKenzie 29 Sep 09 - 09:24 AM
MGM·Lion 29 Sep 09 - 10:49 AM
The Sandman 29 Sep 09 - 11:14 AM
MGM·Lion 29 Sep 09 - 11:41 AM
The Sandman 29 Sep 09 - 01:32 PM
GUEST 30 Sep 09 - 09:16 AM
Joybell 06 Oct 09 - 08:12 PM
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GUEST,Ken...ex east london... 30 Mar 11 - 06:25 AM
Dead Horse 30 Mar 11 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,Ken..ex East London 04 Apr 11 - 02:58 PM
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Bert 05 Apr 11 - 01:03 AM
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ChrisJBrady 21 Apr 12 - 05:40 AM
Joybell 10 May 12 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,warren fahey 10 May 12 - 09:06 PM
MGM·Lion 10 May 12 - 11:37 PM
MGM·Lion 10 May 12 - 11:39 PM
Azizi 03 Jun 13 - 08:08 PM
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Subject: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 08:15 PM

For no particular reason I'm curious about the title of this tune. Also words if they exist.
A tune by this name was collected by Rob Willis from the Cape Barren Islands. That's well documented and its connections with other English tunes is also known.

From 2 sources, one of them Rob Willis, I note that this line was/is used as a paradiddle (drum phrase).

On an old thread here Sandy Paton noted a fragment to the tune of "The Girl I left Behind Me"
Here's what he said:
    "Mike Myers, in London, was known to sing (to the same tune)
    Oh the black cat piddled in the White cat's eye
    And the White cat said "Cor Blimey!"
    And the black cat said, "You silly sod,
    You shouldn't stand behind me!"."

So I'm thinking maybe a military origin.

Also I'm wondering where it fits with another title I heard, in the 1960s, for a tune called:
"Black Man Piddled in the White Man's Shoe".
Title may belong here too -- "In a White Man's Shoe".
It's the words I'm curious about rather than the tune connections.
Any ideas?
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 08:30 PM

Altho my named is actually Myer [not Myers], I am the man ref'd to by Sandy Paton, who was a friend while in London 51 years ago. Fancy his remembering my little fragment all those years later. It was indeed to the tune of 'The Girl I Left Behind Me', aka 'Brighton Camp'. I learned it from a friend called Leslie Greybourne in London c 1956; originally from East London, I think; he said it was a street song among his friends in his late·childhood/adolescence, I think. He had absolutely no military connection — hadn't even done any National Service like most of us poor fellows at the time. While in the British Army I naturally learned many songs of what Bert Lloyd used to call a 'disobliging' nature, but oddly this wasn't one of them. But then I am not sure 'Girl I Left' is particularly military in origin — used as march tune by the US army, I think; but perhaps more commonly used as a country dance over here. Michael Grosvenor Myer


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 08:54 PM

Notes on Collector's CD 'Pumpkin & Bear' tune was collected from "the fiddle playing of the late Les Brown and the wonderful tradition of aboriginal dance music on Cape Barren Island off the coast of Tasmania"

3 results from the National Library catalogue - interviews by John Meredith (Jack Lynch) & Rob Willis (Fred Pribac & Ronnie Sommers)

maybe this Les Brown?
Folkloric recording: Les Brown, Norman Brown, Daryl Maynard and Mike Horn play folk songs [sound recording] / recorded by Anne Girard, Recorded at Launceston, Tas. on Nov. 11-12, 1974. Blb ID 504056

I'll ask Jason & Chloe of Collector if they know anything more.

sandra


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 09:27 PM

There are several YouTube clips of this tune (they're all instrumentals). Here are two links with the poster's summary statements:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2PI2ps9hpD8
Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye


CharltonSound
May 07, 2008

"Fiddlers' Tour jam session at Muddy Cup Cafe, Schenectady NY. This is a Tazmanian tune, brought to the states by one of the session's fiddlers who took up residence "down under." She takes the prize for the person who has traveled the farthest just to get to a jam."


**

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PzDHaM56NPM&feature=related

Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye, Frances Folk Gathering 2009

Dmentias
February 22, 2009

"Black Cat is an Australian collected tune from the Cape Barren islands in Bass Straight. Catchy and fast and popular at sessions or wherever folk musicians meet. This version is played in G the most popular key for the area"

-snip-

Are these YouTube summaries correct in their statements that this song is from Australia? (Joybell, you wrote that "A tune by this name was collected by Rob Willis from the Cape Barren Islands. That's well documented and its connections with other English tunes is also known." But I don't know where the Cape Barren Islands are. Also, one of the YouTube summaries indicated that this is a Tasmanian song. Is Tasmania in Australia? (I apologize for my lack of knowlege about the country/continent of Austtralia).

**

This is directed to Michael, are those words in the first post to this thread the only words you sang to that song? If not, what are the additional words to the songs? And, Michael, what does songs of a 'disobliging' nature" mean in you sentence "While in the British Army I naturally learned many songs of what Bert Lloyd used to call a 'disobliging' nature, but oddly this wasn't one of them"

Thank you.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 09:32 PM

I see that the summary statement indicated that Cape Barrens is in Australla. So I didn't need to show my ignorance. And as penance, I'll google Tasmania and post an excerpt in case other people don't know that information:

"Tasmania is an Australian island and state of the same name. It is located 240 kilometres (150 mi) south of the eastern side of the continent, being separated from it by Bass Strait. The state of Tasmania includes the island of Tasmania, which is the 26th largest island in the world, and other surrounding islands. The state has an estimated population of 500,000 (as of December 2008[update]) with almost half located in the greater Hobart area..."

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tasmania

**

Again, my apologies for not knowing much about Australia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 09:39 PM

Thanks for adding this, Sandra that's where I started. Or rather here and using an old memory of the "Black Man etc". I've talked to Rob and several others. Nobody here, so far, has anything more to add about the origins of the words.

Hello Michael. So good to hear from you. So sad that Sandy is no longer able to share this.
Thank you so much for your input.

Rob Willis told me that he was taught the paradiddle while marching as a school cadet here in Australia.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 09:45 PM

Hi Azizi:

"Disobliging" was Bert's word for songs of an overtly sexual, or what would once have been called 'improper', content: his euphemism for what one source singer is on record as having refused to sing to the early lady collector Priscilla Wyatt-Edgell because it was, he said, 'outway rude'.

I recall his using the word repeatedly in a folk club session [the first of his I ever heard] at the Nancy Whiskey Skiffle-&-Folk Club at the Princess Louise pub in High Holborn, London, in 1956. He started off by saying he was going to sing some English love songs: then sang a series of songs like 'My husband's got no courage in him', saying several times, "So you see there is a tradition in English love songs for them to be a little 'disobliging'."

The words for 'black cat' quoted by Sandy Paton as having heard me sing in London all those years ago were the whole of the song as I knew it. Howver, it did come to me as a children's song [my friend Leslie remembered singing it in childhood, as I said, among his friends in the East End], so should fit in among your interests.

All best - Michael


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 09:54 PM

That's interesting, Michael. Thanks for that information.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Stewie
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 10:02 PM

Joybell,

In respect of the refrains relating to cats of various colours doing things to other cats's eyes - kicking, spitting etc - see 19th century African American folksongs and minstrelsy song 'Black cat and white cat' by Dan Emmett (1850s). Uncle Dave Macon's 'Gray Cat on a Tennessee Farm' has the 'gray cat' spitting in 'the little kitten's eye'.

Black cat and white cat

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 10:04 PM

I have just checked the Wikipedia entry on 'The Girl I Left Behind Me'. Very full, & well worth reading in context of this thread. There appears to be more of a military history to the song/tune in Britain as well as US than I thought.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 10:21 PM

See this repost from this Mudcat thread "Lyr/Chords Req: Songs about cats" thread.cfm?threadid=38596&messages=90&page=1&desc=yes

Subject: Lyr Add: WHITE CAT AND BLACK CAT
From: GUEST,Genie
Date: 08 Oct 01 - 09:33 PM

I stumbled upon this (the song, not the cat) while perusing a Civl War Song site.
America Singing: Nineteenth-Century Song Sheets


WHITE CAT AND BLACK CAT (George S. Harris' card and job printing office. S. E. corner of 4th and vine Sts, Philad. [n. d.])

White cat, black cat, any cat at all,
When you catch de pussy cat don't you let her squall.

CHORUS.

When you catch de white cat, sabe him, oh, sabe him,
When you catch de black cat shabe him by de tail.
Tom cat's a gemmen an' he rambles in de park,
Bull dog de bow-wow, skeer him wid his bark.


Ole cat and kittens was playing on de bay,
Big cat get out ob de little cat's way.

When you catch, etc.


Tom cat, he bellows at de bristles on his back,
'Kase he see de pussy cat a peepin' thro' de crack.

When you catch, etc.


Green peach puddin, and a punkin pie,
De black cat kicked out de white cat's eye.

When you catch, etc.

Big cat, little cat, any sort o' cat,
Skit at te at, te skat, te it, at de skat.
When you catch, etc.


PRINTED AND SOLD WHOLESALE AT GEORGE S HARRIS' CARD & JOB PRINTING OFFICE, S. E. Cor. 4th & Vine Sts. Philad.

Stamped: 1490


COLLECTION: American Song Sheets

REPOSITORY: Rare Book and Special Collections Division, Library of Congress

DIGITAL ID: as114900


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 10:37 PM

Here's the song/poem from Talley's collection that is mentioned in the link that Stewie gave:

STILL WATER CREEK

'Way down yon'er on Still Water Creek,
I got stalded an' stayed a week.
I see'd Injun Puddin and Punkin pie,
But de black cat stick 'em in de yaller cat's eye.

'Way down yon'er on Still Water Creek,
De N****rs grows up some ten or twelve feet.
Dey goes to bed but dere hain't no use,
'Cause deir feet sticks out fer de chickens t' rouse.

I got hongry on Still Water Creek,
Se mud to de hub an' de hoss britchin weak.
I stewed bullfrog chitlins, baked polecat pie;
If I goes back dar, I sho's gwine die.

[Thomas W, Talley, Negro Folk Songs, Wise And Otherwise (Kennikat Press edition, 1968, p. 2; originally published The Macmillan Company ,1922)


* I used asterisks instead of spelling the "n word" out, as it appears in that book.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,booklyn rose
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 10:41 PM

Highwoods String Band has recorded an instrumental that has someone sing a refrain with the phrase, "Big cat spit in the little cat's eye. Little cat, little cat, don't you cry." The tune is not related to the one played in the Schenectedy clip on you tube referenced above.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 10:59 PM

I found this brief verse in Dorothy Scaborough's On The Trail Of Negro Folksongs (Folklore Edition,1963, p. 190; originally published in 1925 by Harvard University Press)

"Mrs Ratcliffe of Natchez has two felines in a fragment of a folksong she gave me:

Mary, she did dream a dream,
As she was floating down the stream.
When she woke, she gave a sigh,
The grey cat kicked out the black cat's eye!

-snip-

That exact same verse is given on page 248 in the book American Negro Folksongs by Newman Ivey White that Stewie provided earlier in this thread. But it's given on that page as the first verse of a longer song that has the line "Sallie get your hoe-cat done, my love" as the first line of its chorus.

Incidently, I'm not sure if this is the same passage that White referred to that is supposed to be found in Sarborough's book. White cited page 106 and said that the song was from Virginia. However, that page in the book that I have provides an example of "Jim Along Josie" and contains no mention of cats.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 11:35 PM

More lives than a cat hasn't it.
Thank you all. I've long thought this line was connected with America in the mid-19th century.
Fife and drum bands in America, possibly, as well as the African-Americans and the minstrels
So I wonder where the men and shoes fit. Easy to put them here as a floating line.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 11:52 PM

I'm unsure about the meaning of these references to one cat (usually of a different color than the other cat) kicking out or doing some other act of violence toward the other cat. But my guesses are that those references did mean something, and their meanings were commonly known to Black folks. It's my guess that lines from these songs were codes.* For instance, I think that "Still Water Creek" where Black men were said to be ten or twelve feet tall was some mythical place where Black people who somehow got there could decide to stay for whatever length of time that they wanted to, and could eat all the food they wanted when they got hungrey. Most importantly, in "Still Water Creek" (or in that dream that the Mary, had as she floated down the stream (to freedom?), one cat (who represented Black people-regardless of the color given) being aggressive toward White people. In my opinion, the fact that the cat in the song who kicked or struck the other cat wasn't always the color black helped camouflage the real meaning of that line (as did other strung together lines and verses.

And it certainly seems to me that a cat "piddling" (which I'm guessing means "peeding"/"pissing") in another cat's eye would be a clear sign of disrespect, if not intense dislike. I think it's fair to say that many enslaved Black didn't think fondly of those persons who enslaved them.


**

For those who may be interested, here's a link to a comment I made in which I expressed doubt that codes were used as often in spirituals as some people think that they were:

thread.cfm?threadid=113584&messages=150&page=1&desc=yes#2726883

That comment did not mean that I thought that enslaved Black people didn't use codes at all. I think that non-religious songs may have contained far more coded meanings than spirituals.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 11:54 PM

Burl Hammons (Pocahontas County WV, 1908-1993) fiddled a tune he called "Black cat kicked out the gray cats eye."
It was not the Tasmanian tune nor Highwoods' "Gray cat on a tennesse farm" tune.
As usual, his sister Maggie Hammons Parker knew some words.
As far as I can tell they are:

Hie diddle diddle and the dancing pie
the black cat kicked out the gray cat's eye
in the spring of the year the coons eat frog
give me the one that 'cha call bill boggs

Maggie was the queen of mondegreens.

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Sep 09 - 11:59 PM

I think that there is also some connection between these linesand the belief in the power of "black cats" and other black living beings/objects in hoodoo/voodoo. "One of the most powerful animals to use in Voodoo was the cat, particularly, a black cat".http://www.neworleansghosts.com/voodoo.htm

**

Here's a link to an interesting page that debunks the commonly held (American) superstitions about black cats being bad luck:

http://www.kinrossfolds.com/cattery/superstition.html

Here are some excerpts from that page:

"All cats, including black ones, were held in high esteem among the ancient Egyptians and protected by law from injury and death. So strong was cat idolatry that a pet's death was mourned by the entire family; and both rich and poor embalmed the bodies of their cats in exquisite fashion, wrapping them in fine linen and placing them in mummy cases made of precious materials such as bronze and even wood - a scarcity in timber-poor Egypt. ...

Dread of cats, especially black cats, first arose in Europe in the Middle Ages, particularly in England. The cat's characteristic independence, willfulness, and stealth, coupled with its sudden overpopulation in major cities, contributed to its fall from grace. Alley cats were often fed by poor, lonely old ladies, and when witch hysteria struck Europe, and many of these homeless women were accused of practicing black magic, their cat companions (especially black ones) were deemed guilty of witchery by association...

Many people believe that a black cat brings good fortune and also, that anyone who finds the one perfect, pure white hair in an all-black cat and plucks it out without being scratched, will find great wealth and good luck in love...

Whenever the cat of the house is black,
The lasses of lovers will have no lack." ~ English Proverb

Black cats aren't bad luck everywhere. In the English Midlands, a black cat as a wedding present is thought to bring good luck to the bride"...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 12:42 AM

A black cat crossing one's path to bring good luck is indeed an old English superstition; but we have the same ambivalence here, as black cats, along with frogs, were the animals most commonly held to be witches' "familiars" [ie creatures who attended them in the casting of their spells], and hence to be unlucky. It may be relevant here to draw attention to Edgar Allen Poe's famous story [which so terrified me in childhood!] 'The Black Cat'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 01:23 AM

Still scares me that Poe story.
The term "piddle" is more usually found in English songs, I think, although it was known in America in the 19th century. It sings well and rhymes well. Better than "peeing", "pissing".
The song from Leslie Greybourne via Michael gives a reason for the antisocial behaviour of the black cat. An accidental piddle-in-the-eye. I rather like that. More like a doggy act though.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 01:27 AM

Ah, but I was never sure whether it was truly an accident, or an act of aggression which, in typical fashion, the aggressor tried then to pass off as the fault of the aggressee.

["These are deep waters. Watson!"]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 01:32 AM

Ah! Yes. That does sound like a cat thing to do as well as a common human one. Deep waters indeed.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 01:47 AM

It occurs to me that in all these lines from those 19th century songs (about one cat kicking or sticking or piddling on a second cat), the eye is the target that the first cat attacked.

I think this is significant since "the eyes are the window to the soul."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: SharonA
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 04:29 AM

Male cats spray urine to mark their territory. The urine contains pheromones which leave scents as messages for other cats.

A black cat spraying onto a white cat may be code, as Azizi says, for aggression by black people against white people (as in "your ass is mine")... or perhaps it was a way of saying that, though white slaveholders owned blacks, the blacks' work accounted for the whites' wealth so, in a sense, the blacks controlled the whites. Either way, the "piddle" marked the white as being the territory of the black.

...or it could have been a code for a sexual reference: a black man claiming a white woman as his own.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: John J
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 04:40 AM

Gosh, this all sounds very deep!

My experience of it (over rather too many years than I care to admit too) is they are the slang words sung to the tune of 'The Girl I left Behind Me'.

The only time I've heard the words sung 'in action' is when the tune is used for Morris Dancing - it's a common tune used for North West Morris.

I hope this helps.

JJ


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Hootenany
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 04:52 AM

I grew up in London's east end and learned the words from other kids. My cousin who was ten years older also sang a few extra words of which I only got a few;

Oh the black cat pissed in the white cat's eye
The white cat sad gor blimey
I'm sorry old chap said the black cat
You shouldn't stand there behind me

And as he spoke his arsehole broke and fell into the water

.....and regrettably that is all I can add.

The Highwoods String Band instrumental reffered to above is actually called "Grey Cat on the Tennessee Farm" musically no relation to the tune under discussion.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 05:23 AM

Many thanks, Hoot; may I ask ages of you and your cousin? My friend Leslie from whom I learnt this song died alas quite young soon after; he was fair bit older than me & I am 77. So he would now have been in mid-late 80s. I imagine you & your cousin are probably nowhere near that age; which seems to me to confirm this as a longstanding song in oral tradition of East End children. I am a N Londoner myself - born Hampstead, at school in Hendon - & I don't recall it as current round my bit of Town.

Regards - Michael


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 05:46 AM

BTW — we recently had a long thread on what was the Folk Process, or whether it even existed. Well, isn't this an example of the way it can work?

Consider - I learned a children's song in 1956 from a friend who remembered it from his early E London days. Two years later it took the fancy of Sandy Paton who became a friend while he was visiting London. Exactly 40 years later he posted it, most courteously attributed to me, as part of a thread about its tune. This thread got refreshed 10 years later, & the words caught the eye of Joy in Australia, who started this thread about it, ref-ing Sandy's 11-yr-old post. I saw this & revealed myself as Sandy's acknowledged source, & named my source;, which brought a response from Hootenanny, who comes from the same part of London, with a recognisable variant of the same song.

I mean, the Folk Process might not work quite as it did when Kidson & Gavin Greig, Sharp & the Hammonds, Moeran & RVW, were all at work. But doesn't this show that modern means of communication, like The Web e.g., have their part to play also?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 06:55 AM

Well Alex Campbell used to sing that wee fragment, I learned it from him, and I still sing it occasionally.

JM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 07:11 AM

Thanks, John. I wouldn't swear to it, but I think Alex might have got it from me — I mean, obviously Sandy wasn't going to be the only person I sang it to, & Alex was just about emerging on the scene late 50s, wasn't he? When, can you recall, did you get it from him? & it does, on evidence so far, seem to be a London rather than a Glasgow song — tho of course one can never make such a claim with any certainty, I seem to remember Robin Hall being taken by it and not having known it before, & he knew as many Glasgow street songs as anyone I ever met.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 08:37 AM

On page 248 of his book American Negro Folk-Songs, Newman Ivey White mentions that Dorothy Scarborough included a reference to the cat verse on page 106 of her 1925 book.

As I noted in my 25 Sep 09 - 10:59 PM post to this thread, I didn't find any "cat verse" on page 106 of Dorothy Scarborough's On The Trail Of Negro Folksongs (Folklore Edition,1963, p. 190; originally published in 1925 by Harvard University Press)

"Mrs Ratcliffe of Natchez has two felines in a fragment of a folksong she gave me:

Mary, she did dream a dream,
As she was floating down the stream.
When she woke, she gave a sigh,
The grey cat kicked out the black cat's eye!

-snip-

It turns out that there is indeed a version of "the cat verse" on page 105 of the Folklore Associates edition of Scarborough's book. I think that it's important to note that this verse is given as part of a 'complete' "Jim A-long, Josie" song. For the purpose of comparison, I'm going to refer to the following version of the cat verse as "Scarborough cat verse, version #1", or simply version #1 (because it was the earliest version given in her manuscript). I 'll refer to the verse that was given later in Scarborough's manuscript (quoted above) as Scarborough cat verse, version #2, or simply version #2.

Here's the comments Scarborough gives about that song (found on page 104 of the Folklore Associates edition), followed by the portion of the "Jim A-long, Josie" song up to and including Scarborough's cat verse, version #1:

"A well known dance-song of the old times was Josieof Jim A-long, Josey, which I have often heard my mother sing. My cousin, Mrs. E. H. Ratchliffe, of Natchez, Mississippi, also gave me a part of the version given below:

JIM A-LONG, JOSEY

O, I'se from Louisiana, as you all know,
Dat whar Jim A-long, Josie's all de go.
De n****rs* all rise when de bell do ring,
And dis is de song dat dey do sing!

Chorus

Hey, get a-long, get a-long, Josey,
Hey, get a-long, Jim a-long, Jo!
Hey, get a-long, get a-long, Josey,
Hey, get a-long, Jim a-long, Jo!

My sister Rose de udder night did dream
Dat she was floating down de stream,
When she woke up she 'gin to cry,
And de white cat picked pit de black cat's eye.

Chorus

[Two additional verses are given]
* The full spelling of the "n word" is given in that book. I substituted asterisks for some letters of that word e "n word" because I intensely dislike reading or hearing that word.

Note the similarities and differences between version #1 and version #2, including the different female name, and the different colors of the cats. It's also significant that version #1 is given in dialect (for instance, the use of "de" instead of "the"), while version #2 is not.
The locations of the two informants are probably the same (Natchez, Mississippi-version #1, and Natchez-version #2. And the surnames of the informants for both versions are very similar (Mrs. E. H. Ratchliffe, of Natchez, Mississippi-version #1, and Mrs. Ratcliffe, for version #2). However, Dorothy Scarborough describes Mrs. E. H. Ratchliffe as her cousin, but gives no information about who Mrs Ratcliffe is (other than a woman from Natchez who sent her a fragment of a folksong whose title was also not provided). It appears to me that Dorothy Scarborough was a meticulous collector and presenter of the songs, and information about the songs that she remembered and that she received from others. Given the high quality of her folkloric research, I believe that Dorothy Scarborough would have noted if version #2 was part of the "Jim A-long Josie" song and if the same informant of version #1 (her cousin) gave a variant version of that verse (version #2). All of this to say, I believe that version #1 and version #2 are from two different informants, albeit from the same city, and with very similar last names.
It's possible that these two variants could have been from the same time period. However, given Dorothy Scarborough's comment that she often heard her mother sing that "well know dance-song of the old times, Josey or Jim A-long, Josey", it seems reasonable to conclude that version #1 is an earlier version of the song than the version #2 fragment.
Furthermore, the version #2 fragment could have been from an entirely different African American song since Black people then (and now) often combined (combine) verses from one song into another.   For instance on page 248 of Newman Ivey White's book (whose link Stewie thankfully gave above but I'll give it again http://books.google.com.au/books?id=WCuuV-kRe70C&pg=PA248&lpg=PA248&dq=Dan+Emmett+%2B+black+cat+and+white+cat&source=bl&ots=aT2T), White mentions the cat verse being included in the song "Jinny Git Your Hoe-Cake Done"

I'll share more comments about this cat verse in my next post to this thread.


Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 09:04 AM

Correction:
The verse for version #1 is

My sister Rose de udder night did dream
Dat she was floating down de stream,
When she woke up she 'gin to cry,
And de white cat picked out de black cat's eye.

-snip-

Although we may never know, I'm inclined to believe that these cat verses as sung by 19th century Black folks were a coded expression of those African Americans feeling of anger & hostility toward and a desire for aggressive action toward White people who held them in bondage, and often treated them so horrendously.

Given that theory, an important part of the code could have been the somewhat arbitrary changing of the aggressor cat's fur color (since doing so helped hide the real meaning of that verse). The aggressor cat could therefore be a white cat kicking or stricking a black cat in the eye, or the aggressor cat could be a black cat kicking or stricking a yellow cat in the eye. The color didn't matter, because (according to my theory) the "Colored folks" knew what those word really meant.

Alternatively, it's possible that the white cat in version #1 (and other versions of this cat verse) could have represented the master, mistress, overseerer, and those other White people who were oppressing Black people. The black cat in that verse could have represented Black people who were being oppressed (having their essence of their life taken from them [the eye being the window to the soul]. And Rose could have cried when she woke up because that dream was so terribly true.

The same could be said for version #2. Mary could have sighed when she woke from her dream in which the grey cat symbolized White people and the black cat symbolized Black people.

But if the color of the cats didn't matter because no matter what color was given, the aggressor cat symbolized the aggression towards White people that enslaved Black were unable to express, or if the versions included a black cat kicking a white cat's eye, then the cries and sighs that the women gave when they awakened could mean that they were sorry that their dream was just a dream.



Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 09:41 AM

Somewhat off-topic, I want to return briefly to the song "Jim A-Long, Josey". As it happens, I found out about this forum because a member of Mudcat visited my website, cocojams.com to comment about that song. When I eventually visited Mudcat, my first comment on this forum as a guest-on July 24, 2004-was about "Jim Along, Josey". Fwiw, here's a link to that comment.

Also, for what it's worth, I want to repeat one point that I made in that post-every time Dorothy Scarborough wrote the words "Jim a-long, Josey" she put a comma after the word "a-long" and before the word "Josey". I think that is significant, particularly since another phrase that was used in place of "jim a-long" was "get a-long". Indeed, I believe that "jim a-long" meant the exact same thing as "get a-long", that is "get going", to move rapidly.

In other versions of that song, that verb is given as "Jam a-long" (to dance along?). It's interesting that one definition of "jam" in contemporary African American slang is "to party" (to have a good time). But people often dance when they "party". Of course, in African American slang "a jam" also means a song/musical piece. And being in a jam could mean that you're in trouble...but that may be a whole different etymology for that word.

My point is that "jim a-long", "get a-long" and "jam a-long" are instructional dance calls or phrases. And since they're part of a dance song, the rapid movement that was supposed to be done when those calls were heard was to be accomplished rhythmically (probably by couples dancing) in time with the beat of the song.

**

In the context of that song as given above, "Josey" (also written "Josie" and also given as "Jo" was either a man's name or a woman's name. In other versions of "Jim A-Long, Josey", "the josey" is the name of the dance (or the dance step) that is done.

Hold my mule while I dance Josey
Hold my mule while I dance Josey
Oh, Miss Susan Brown.

-snip-

And in other parts of some versions of "Jim Along, Josey, the word "josey" meant a woman's overcoat.

See John Russell Bartlett, The Dictionary of Americanisms (New York, Crescent Books, originally published 1849). "Joseph, a very old riding coat for women, scarcely now to be seen or heard of-Forby's Vocabulary. A garment made of Scotch plaid, for an outside coat or habit, was wornin New England about the year 1830, called a Joseph by some a Josey.

Olivia was drawn as an Amazon, sitting upon a bank of flowers, dressed in a green Joseph.
-Godsmith, Vicar of Wakefield.

-snip-

While this doesn't directly refer to the subject of this thread, I wanted to note these points-again-for the record (no pun intended).



Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 09:59 AM

Michael, your 26 Sep 09 - 05:46 AM post about the folk process is quite interesting, and reaffirms for me my belief that synchronicity is in play more often in people's lifes than they realize.

But it seems to me that your listing of the folk process as it relates to the "Black Cat Piddled In The White Cat's Eye" doesn't go back far enough.

Couldn't the East London version of that children's rhyme have come from someone's memory of Dan Emmett's (or some other minstrel troupe's) performance in London in the 19th century? (I'm inclinded to believe that Emmett got the words to that song from African American folksongs and not the other way around, but the origin of that verse can never really be known. And in the larger scheme of things it really doesn't matter all that much, since using the folk process Black people could have heard an Anglo folk song or Anglo songs and changed up the words to suit our (Black people's) purposes).

Furthermore, couldn't the Australian versions of this song or children's rhyme (if indeed there are words to the Australian tune) have come from people carrying the English song (that they got from American minstrels that minstrels got from African American people-enslaved or freed or freeborn?).

And the fact that people from Australia, Great Britain, and the United States (and perhaps elsewhere) and also Anglo people and at least one African American person (me) are having a folkloric discussion in almost real time over the Internet about this 10th century song, is truly remarkable.

Now if someone would just create one of those transportation devices found on the television show & movie "Star Trek" where we could instantly be transported to the same location so that we could continue this discussion together, that would really be wonderful.

:o)

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:02 AM

To complicate matters: the Australian tune to this title, played on a couple of youtube clips, & which seems to be the one Joybell was referring to initially in her OP, is not related to the tune "Girl Left Behind/Brighton Camp", to which my cockney children's version of the same name is set, as Sandy Paton related 11 years ago in his posting on a thread re the origins of 'Girl·I·Left', which Joybell found by searching the title.

*How*, one can only wonder, did the Australian dance come to acquire so bizarre a title, which, with no words to go with it, doesn't seem to make a lot of sense? Was it written originally by a cockney immigrant who remembered the title from a song he had sung in Whitechapel Road or Mile End as a child, and arbitrarily gave it to his new tune? Or how?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:08 AM

Azizi - Would it really be so wonderful if we were all together in one room to discuss this? I suspect we might find ourselves trying too hard to put own ideas unless there were a really good Chairperson elected: at least emailing & PMing over the WWW, we can't interrupt one another! But I do agree with you about the amazingness of the realtime
element in the discussion. As I have said before, the Web, email, PMs - all like polythene — i.e. whatever did we do without them?

All bestest - Michael


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Edthefolkie
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:18 AM

The rhyme is quoted by Iona and Peter Opie in one of their books about childrens' games, songs etc. Only problem - can't find the book!

Their books are treasure houses of subversion e.g. the immortal lines parodying Harry Lauder's "I Love A Lassie":

I love an apple, a Co-operative apple
A nice big apple for my tea
You can cut it intae quarters
And gie it tae the squatters
Mary, my Scots bluebell


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:21 AM

Another correction: I meant to write 19th century, not 10th century (though who knows, there might have been a similar 10th century song. And since I believe in reincarnation, I might have been one of the people singing it).

:o)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:27 AM

I remember singing the good ship venus to that tune,and someone else sang me a song about O DUFFYS BLUESHIRTS to the same tune.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:35 AM

Guest Ed.t.F: It is on p 93 of the Opies' "The Lore & Language of Schoolchildren" 1959 — so actually published later than my learning it from my East End friend [1956-7] & 1 or 2 yrs later teaching it to Sandy Paton; tho probably collected by Iona Opie at about the same time, which confirms its East London origins — the Opies give it as from Hackney, a small girls' skipping song to 'encourage the skipper in the long rope with [its] lively words and tune'. The tune is not specified but I would venture that it would probably have been 'Girl·I·Left'.

Peter Opie is dead now, and Iona, if still alive [not sure], will be pretty old — I haven't had a Xmas card from her for several years & have rather lost touch, so all-in-all I don't think I can ask her...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:42 AM

... and Azizi, I agree fully with your suggestion that the cockney version might well have derived from a visit by Dan Emmett or another such troupe in mid-C19: they were very popular with all walks of life, and the cockney kids' variant might well have developed from the gray-cat/white-cat of slavery-resentment-minstrelised days. But how, alas, as you say, can we KNOW? It is all bound to be a bit speculative — which, come to think of it, is all part of the fun...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:42 AM

To MtheGM:
My cousin was born 1928, I am a few years his junior, Bethnal Green and Bow. Seems like you and I haunted the Princess Louise around the same time, on my first visit it was a skiffle club after that the Ballads & Blues Association. Sandy & Caroline Paton were there then.
There does seem to be some confusion here about which tune is being discussed.
Another verse to the same tune The Girl I Left Behind Me of course is:

She went out behind the barn
I went round behind her
She bent down to tie her shoe
And I saw her sausage grinder

Oh that girl that pretty little Girl
The girl I left behind me
etc etc

That certainly isn't a London verse.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:47 AM

...and Dick, I always knew Good·Ship·Venus to the standard limerick tune derived (like 'Mary lived in a mountain glen') from chorus of "So early in the morning" — "Venus's" verses are, after all, in limerick form with metrically slightly shortened lines.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 01:43 PM

My scan of this thread has been a bit quick and cursory, but has no-one yet spotted that the Tasmanian tune as posted by Azizi (which I learned from a CD by the Aussie band Growling Dogs ) has a B part almost identical to that of the English session standard 'Winster Gallop'?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 01:57 PM

Right, Brian: but that still won't explain the mystery of an Oz dance tune arbitrarily, it appears, named after a cockney children's song with which it doesn't seem to have any connection either thematic of melodic.

*How did this happen?*


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: The Sandman
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 02:02 PM

oh it was the good ship venus ,by christ you should have seen us ,our figurehead a whore in bed, our flag a rampant penis,
fits perfectly to GILBme.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 02:06 PM

Oh, indeed Dick; I wasn't disputing that — but it also goes perfectly to "So Early In The Morning" — try it. Incidentally, it was surely the *mast* that was an upright, or rampant, or whatever, penis. 'Flag' doesn't make sense there, does it?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 02:14 PM

Re. Good Ship Venus, we never sang it only recited it and our version was
The figurehead ws a whore in bed and THE MAST was the captain's penis.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 06:59 PM

Also, Dick - use of the 'so early in morning' tune enables occasional [not after every verse] chorus of, e.g. "Frigging in the rigging (3x), There's fuck-all else to do" — alternative activities: "Wanking on the planking", "Shagging in the cabin" ... Don't think such varaiations would fit so well with 'Girl·L·Behind'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 26 Sep 09 - 10:41 PM

Although I said it was the words that caught my interest, it may be that the tunes just may be a help.
First off "Black Cat Piddled.." (Aus tune), "The Girl I left Behind Me" and "Jim Along Josie" are all polkas (although you can switch a polka and a reel fairly easily.) The Australian tune begins rather like "Old Dan Tucker". It is nothing like "The Girl I left Behind Me" or "Jim Along Josie".
You can easily sing the black cat verse to any of these songs.

I'd be for a minstrel connection for all of them as they occur in Australia.

Many tunes changed titles here, either with other well-known tunes or else they were re-named completely. Musicians got bored with words when they played for dances and used floating verses -- as they did also in America.

Further to Azzizi's comment about London -- Note that London was a "hot spot" for 19th century performers.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 27 Sep 09 - 07:05 PM

Isn't the tune for the Tasmanian versions the well-known "Crooked Stovepipe"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Welsh Dragon
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 06:56 PM

two replies:

I have a song on tape by Shep Woolley which includes the line about the Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye. My grand-daughter thinks it hilarious.

With regard to the Harry Lauder parody of "I Love A Lassie", when I was a small girl in the early 50s I used to be looked after by a lovely Cockney lady who often played her piano for me and taught me a lot of Cockney songs of the pub sing-song type, including this parody

I love a sausage,
A bonnie, bonnie sausage
And I put it in the oven for my tea
I went down the cellar
To fetch my old umbrella
And the sausage ran after me!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Tootler
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 07:34 PM

It sounds to me like the tune is more likely related to Winster Gallop than Brighton Camp. In fact the B music is almost exactly Winster Gallop.

In the Australian clip at the end, they seem to be going into Jamie Allen, which is what is quite likely to happen here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 07:48 PM

Winster Gallop is the tune usually said, by collectors here in Aus., to be the inspiration for this one.

Thing is -- the line "Black cat etc." fits neatly into so many reels and polkas that it would be surprising if it hadn't moved around. It's a catchy, cheeky, naughty phrase too.
Try it with "Old Dan Tucker" for example. There's a song with lots of naughty and silly lines.

Welsh Dragon, thanks. What an image!
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 10:18 PM

Crooked Stovepipe dots, etc.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: wysiwyg
Date: 28 Sep 09 - 10:36 PM

I agree about the likelihood of the coded communication, and its likely meaning, if this song does indeed trace onto our shores. Tho I only had time to skim Azizi's posts on this song-- even the gray cat took a shot, apparently. :~)

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 05:59 AM

I have always known the tune to "The Girl I left behind me" as "Brighton Camp", a Morris dance in several traditions, not least Eynsham and Adderbury. I think the Adderbury men sang :

O let the night be ever so cold
Or ever so wet and windy
It's I must down to the Brighton Camp
And the girl I left behind me.

I remember children singing the following rudies in Manchester in the mid-1950s :

The captain swore his bollocks were sore,
The first mate cried cor blimey !
And the man at the wheel
Said come and have a feel
Of the girl I left behind me.

I'll be up your flue in a minute or two
Said the lighthouse keeper to his daughter.
I ant been up for a week or two
And I think it's time I oughter.

There's hair on this and there's hair on that
And there's hair on my dog Fido-
But I'll tell you where there ain't no hair
On the girl I left behind me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: breezy
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 07:01 AM

at last, from this thread, we have a song that scans.

thanks Bryn

I too heard the inimitable Alex Campbell, many times

last Sunday whilst performing, at a very low down joint, I surprised my fellow musician with The B Cat verse, and he was highly amused having never heard it and he having been a former regular player at The Troubadour, O Brompton Rd., with Sullivan and Winsor , and add to which he has written   a most fine song of the place and those days, entitlted 'The Troubadour Cafe'

check out Chris Flegg, his songs and his writings, ignore the fact that he can plays like Diz


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 09:07 AM

I now dredge from childhood memory another 'up your flue' to that tune:

I'll be up your flue in a minute or two
Said the nanny-goat to the spider
[Teetum teetum teetum teetum
Teetum teetum] inside her

Any one know it and can remind of the missing words. I am sure I have it right, even tho 'nanny-goat- obviously makes no sense; but I am sure that was what it was, not 'billy-goat'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 09:24 AM

flag does make sense,a flag includes its flagstaff.
to flag something also means to show it off,so it has two meanings. ,clever see.
so as the flag was fluttering in the breeze it was showing off a rampant penis.
Pirates flags are the ;
The Jolly Roger is the name given to any of various flags flown to identify a ship's crew as pirates.[1] The flag most usually identified as the Jolly Roger today is the skull and crossbones, being a flag consisting of a skull above two long bones set in an x-mark arrangement on a black field. This design was used by four pirates, captains Edward England, John Taylor, Sam Bellamy and John Martel.[citation needed] Despite its prominence in popular culture, plain black flags were often employed by most pirates in the 17th-18th century.[2] Historically, the flag was flown to frighten pirates' victims into surrendering without a fight, since it conveyed the message that the attackers were outlaws who would not consider themselves bound by the usual rules of engagement—and might, therefore, slaughter those they defeated. (Since captured pirates were usually hanged, they didn't have much to gain by asking quarter if defeated.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: John MacKenzie
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 09:24 AM

WD, that sounds like a version of Co-opertive Cookies.


I love a sausage
A co-operative sausage
Though ye cannae get near it fur the smell
If ye fry it wi an ingin
Ye'll hear the ingin singin'
Mary ma Scot's Bluebell.

JM


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 10:49 AM

Sorry Dick — a flag doesn't include its flagstaff - esp on board a ship where there isn't a flagstaff anyway & flags fly from mastheads or bowsprits. I still think it was the mast! If a flag is a penis then I can only say it must be a very floppy one...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 11:14 AM

no ,the rampant penis is the design on the flag,,just as someone might say our flag is the jolly roger,they are referring to the design, any way that was the way it was taught to me.,and with folk song and the folk process there is no one correct version.
the flag would be quite stiff in a stiff breeze.
and the rampant penis would be shown in all its splendour.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 11:41 AM

OK, well take point about 'no correct version'. I agree that 'flag' could well subsume concept of 'design on the flag', as one might say 'the flag was the Red Crescent' or whatever; but the idea that 'flag' includes 'flagpole' I still see as an effort at evasion!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: The Sandman
Date: 29 Sep 09 - 01:32 PM

but MGM,Nobody on board ship is going to view a flag when its rolled up and stowed away,they only view a flag when it is attached to its mast.
our flag a rampant penis refers to the design on the flag,so instead of it being the jolly Roger,its the stiff Roger[it might be jolly pleased and in effect be a Stiff Roger]who knows.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST
Date: 30 Sep 09 - 09:16 AM

No flags. I learned it (ca 1960) as:

The figurehead was a whore in bed sucking on the captain's penis.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 06 Oct 09 - 08:12 PM

Well we've come a long and interesting way.
Thanking everyone here, especially Azizi, for heading me in the right direction. That is on to several of my old books, the Bodleian Ballad Collection, and the Lester Levy Collection.
Here are my conclusions about my original question.

"Jim Along Josey", Published in 1840, and sung by minstrel troupes of the day, has the verse:

My sister Rose de oder night did dream,
Dat she was floating up and down the stream,
And when she woke she 'gan to cry,
And de white cat picked out de blackcat's eye.

This song has a chorus that is similar in phrasing to the tune -- "The Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye".

My considered opinion is that "Jim Along Josey" was probably used by fife and drum bands in America. Before, during, and after, the Civil War.
Also that it would have been known in Australia. Brought by the minstrels.
The colour of the cats could have been changed to suit circumstances.

There are several variants of the phrase -- "And de white cat picked out de blackcat's eye":
"Black cat piddled on the white cat's tail".
"Black cat kicked out the white cat's eye".

The tune "Black Man Piddled in the White Man's Shoe" was collected from New South Wales. Alan Musgrove diddled it to me over the phone. It sounds nothing like the others we're discussing. Nor does it sound anything like "Old Dan Tucker" although it is also called by this name.

The great Sam Cowell may have written "Jim Along Josey" but the hard evidence is lacking.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Mar 11 - 12:02 AM

It was my mother Anne Girard who recorded the Cape Barren Islanders music in the 1970s. All her collection of music/words etc from the islands were given to Heather Sculthorpe from the Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre in the late 1990s.

The Cape Barren Island people are descendants from Tasmanian aboriginals and whalers who visited the islands. The whalers had both European and American backgrounds - which doesn't help your cause I know.

cheers
Kirsty Harris


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Ken...ex east london...
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 06:25 AM

All I know is that my father used to sing these lines when I was a boy in East London (i'm now almost 70...)
"The black cat piddled in the white cat's eye...the white cat said 'cor-blimey'..the black said 'you silly old sod,you shouldn't have stood behind me"...so when it started and where from I don't know....but it's certainly in excess of 70 years old..
             He usually followed it up with another 'song'.."please don't pull our lavatory down....etc"...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Dead Horse
Date: 30 Mar 11 - 08:07 AM

My father-in-law used to sing the 'Black cat' verse + one other with it

I wish I had ten thousand bricks
To build my chimney higher
That would stop that old tom cat
From tiddling in my fire.

I add those two verses at the end of Waxies Dargle, to the tune of Brighton Camp.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Ken..ex East London
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 02:58 PM

So hasn't anyone heard of the song my dad always followed up with after singing 'oh the black cat piddled in the white cats eye' ..perhaps the only link was in his own mind:-
    "please don't pull our lavatory down,
    wouldn't it be a shame,
    dad's away on the ocean blue,
    and the cat's in the family way
    so please don't pull our lavatory down,
    wouldn't it be a shame,
    'cos if you pull our lavatory down,
    we'll have to crap out in the rain!

Like I said maybe there is no link except in my memory...where it would be tenuouse at best .....regards ....Ken


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 04 Apr 11 - 08:19 PM

Uncle Dave Macon, in his recording "Grey Cat On the Tennessee Farm," has the lines:

The grey cat spit in the black cat's eye,
Little cat, little cat, don't you cry.

To the best of my memory (I'm not near my sources just now), in "Gonna Have 'Lasses in the Mornin' the Golden Melody Boys sing "the ?grey?black cat spit in the white cat's eye."

Both these recordings are old time country music 78s from the 1920s.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Songster Bob
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 12:37 AM

It's obvious there are two songs (at least) referred to in this thread, but I want to point out something about the Minstrel "Black Cat, White Cat" listed above.

The last verse has what may be the earliest reference to scat singing I can recall. Most people credit Louis Armstrong with "inventing" scat singing on a recording of "Heebie jeebies," although Wikipedia cites many other, slightly earlier sources (dating from 1900 or so). If the line above,

"Skit at te at, te skat, te it, at the skat."

is really scatting, and it surely looks a lot like Armstrong's syllables to me, then the origin is even earlier than credited in Wikipedia.

Just a footnote in passing.

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Bert
Date: 05 Apr 11 - 01:03 AM

My Mum used to sing

White cat sitting on a black cat's tail
and the black cat said Gor Blimey
If you stick your nose right up my arse
you won't be far behind me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 04:22 AM

This version was common in the Aberdeen area in the 1950s (to the tune of Turkey In the Straw or The Old Bog Hole).

The cattie widna kittle and the doggy widna pup
and the auld man couldna get his rhubarb up
The tatties widna bile and the herrin widna fry
and the black cat piddled in the white cat's eye
Piddle up a lamp post, piddle up a tree
an if the bobby sees ye, piddle in his ee


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Dead Horse
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 09:59 PM

Please dont pull our shit house down
Mother's offered to pay
Father's on the ocean blue
Sister's in the family way
Brother dear - has gonorhea
Times is effin hard
So please dont pull our shit house down
or we'll have to shit in the yard.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 10:25 PM

Dead Horse, the tearjerking 1894 original is in the DT under "Don't Burn the Cabin Down."

Do you sing the parody to an identifiable tune?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Jan 12 - 10:27 PM

And here's the 1894 sheet music, with the original vaudeville tune:

http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/ihas/loc.natlib.ihas.100007503/100007503.pdf


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Dead Horse
Date: 24 Jan 12 - 06:54 PM

Lighter, I didnt know it was a parody.
We used to sing it in the army, or rather speak it. Not much tune to it at all, but then most of us had sunk a few by the time we got to singing anything :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 04:41 AM

the black cat song was taught to me as a child in 1960 and to my mother when she was a child in the 1940 s by her mother ! They were from the east end of London .


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: ChrisJBrady
Date: 21 Apr 12 - 05:40 AM

To: "ausfolk"
From: Warren Fahey

Subject: [Ausfolk] Australian Bush Dance Music Video Clips

Two video clips from the AUSTRALIAN BUSH ORCHESTRA

JENNY LIND POLKA / THE BLACK CAT PIDDLED IN THE WHITE CAT'S EYE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pZl9_w8mZ_w

OLD DAN TUCKER

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WHOOQgcm260

The above clip includes footage from the Nariel Creek Festival which I filmed with the ABC way back in 1971 or 72 - terrific stuff and you'll also see Shirley Andrews and myslef twirling around the dance floor.

Information (including complete track listing for The Australian Bush Orchestra CD is at ttp://www.abcmusic.com.au/news/warren-fahey-presents-australian-bush-orchestra

The album is available at ABC Shops, through the above ABC mail order site and also as downloads on iTunes (where you can also sample each track)

Take your partners!

Warren Fahey


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Joybell
Date: 10 May 12 - 07:46 PM

Hello Warren. So we have met. Sort of. I was at those dances at Nariel. Ah so young. So agile.
My Barlow project is going nicely. Huge job. Back to you soon.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,warren fahey
Date: 10 May 12 - 09:06 PM

Well Joy - what do you know! Fancy that! After all these years of corresponding about Billy Barlow we find out we met on a dance floor in 1971. Wonders never cease. I am looking forward to your update of the Barlow story on my website - it is a masterful work.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 May 12 - 11:37 PM

Fascinated to find Black Cat Piddled here to another polka tune, rather than the Girl I Left/Brighton Camp one to which I learnt the words all those years ago, and with which it has been associated thruout this thread from OP onwards. An interesting title to have attributed to a dance tune; with presumably some reference to the other tune, to which I imagine the words would originally have been sung [by cockney immigrants?], so that the title was "in the air" when the new tune was composed as a "well-known Australian bush song"???

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 10 May 12 - 11:39 PM

...or, rather, looking again, "well-known Australian bush dance-tune".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Jun 13 - 08:08 PM

I'm not sure why I became interested in "Black Cat Piddled In The White Cat's Eye" almost four years after this discussion thread was started. I think that it was because I came across the YouTube videos of Australian & American performances of this song, and there didn't appear to be any awareness of any possible-or probable- African American sources for this "Black Cat..." song.

I decided to publish a page about "Black Cat..." on my Cocojams website. That page presents selected comments from this thread in an easier to read format [with subject headings]

I also created that page because the latter portion of this Mudcat discussion contains comments that include profanity & sexual references. This Cocojams page doesn't contain those comments and, as such, can be considered suitable for use for children & youth.

Disclaimer- That Cocojams page is not meant to be a compilation of internet material on "Black Cat Piddled In A White Cat's Eye". Also, this page only includes selected comments from that Mudcat thread. Cocojams visitors may want to read (and participate in)- the entire discussion, as it also includes comments about other subjects of folkloric interest, such as the meanings of "josie" in the song "Jim Along Josie".

Also, full disclosure, I shared my reasons for only very sporadically posting on Mudcat along my opinion about what one type of reseach & discussion that I think Mudcat excels in [this type of discussion thread] in an Addendum to that post.

I also published a companion post of videos about "Black Cat Piddled In The White Cat's Eye" on my cultural blog. Those two hyperlinks are:

http://cocojams.com/content/discussion-song-black-cat-piddled-white-cats-eye

and

http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/06/videos-of-black-cat-piddled-in-white.html

Thanks to all whose comments I quoted in that Cocojams post.

Azizi Powell


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: and e
Date: 02 Sep 13 - 06:37 PM

Hello everyone,

It seems that there is an older Scottish "Cat Piddle" song c1780.

Below are both pro-Hanoverian and Jacobite versions:

xm THE FLOWERS OF EDINBURGH

Burns is not quite correct in his assertion that the Scotish Muses were all Jacobites. A song beginning "The cats hae kittled [piddled] in Charlies's wig" is certainly the wretched effusion of a Scotish Hanoverian CKS NB

Our ancient Border rhyme runs thus

Tillielute tillielute tillielute of Bowelaw
Our cat's kittled [piddled] in Archie's wig
Tillielute tillielute tillielute of Bowelaw
Four of them naked and four of them clad

I am afraid the Scots Hanoverian had been but a plagiary after all
MS Note by Sir Walter Scott in 1821


Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?id=XiJMAAAAcAAJ&dq=%22cat%20kittled%22%20%20song&pg=PA109#v=onepage&q=%22cat%20kittled%22%20%20song&f=false

Title: Illustrations of the lyric poetry and music of Scotland(1853)
Editor: William Stenhouse


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: and e
Date: 02 Sep 13 - 06:58 PM

I was mistaken "kittled" means "have a litter of Kittens" in Scottish... at least at Burns time.

The song seems to have been popular.   Here are a few recorded references:

CAT THAT KITTLED IN JAMIE'S WIG, THE. AKA and see "Miss Lyall." Irish, Highland. Ireland, County Donegal. A Dorian. Standard. AA'B. A popular highland in County Donegal, recorded by fiddler John Doherty. In Scotland the tune is known as a strathspey called "Miss Lyall." Source for notated version: John Doherty (1895-1970, County Donegal) [Feldman & O'Doherty]. Feldman & O'Doherty (The Northern Fiddler), 1979; pg. 80. Green Linnet SIF 3077, John Doherty - "Bundle and Go" (originally recorded for Topic Records). Green Linnet SIF 188, Patrick Street - "No. 2 Patrick Street" (appears under the eroneous title "Hard by Seifin").


Is Australian & Irish/Scottish tunes the same?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: and e
Date: 02 Sep 13 - 07:06 PM

From the Ballad Index:

Grey Cat Kittled in Charlie's Wig, The
DESCRIPTION: "The grey cat's kittled in Charlie's wig (x2), There's one of them living and two of them dead, The grey cat's kittled in Charlie's wig"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1826 (Chambers)
KEYWORDS: animal childbirth
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Montgomerie-ScottishNR 40, "(The grey cat's kittled in Charlie's wig)" (1 short text)
GreigDuncan8 1675, "The Grey Cat's Kittled in Charlie's Wig" (4 texts, 2 tunes)
ADDITIONAL: Robert Chambers, The Popular Rhymes of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1826 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 143, ("The cats hae kittled in Charlie's Wig")
Robert Chambers, The Popular Rhymes of Scotland (Edinburgh, 1870 ("Digitized by Google")), p. 385, ("The cat has kittled in Charlie's Wig")
Robert Chambers (Edited by Norah and William Montgomerie), Traditional Scottish Nursery Rhymes (1990 selected from Popular Rhymes) #43, p. 33, "The Grey Cat"
Roud #13024
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Jock Robb" (tune, per GreigDuncan8)
NOTES: Chambers (1826) includes this and a Lillibulero verse as "Whig rhymes after 1745." - BS
Last updated in version 2.5
File: MSNR040

The Ballad Index Copyright 2013 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Nov 15 - 01:33 PM

So I was googling this one for no particular reason ---

my mother was from the East End - Stepney (born 1913) and she used to sing it all the time...

Her version was a little different:

Oh the black cat spat in the white cat's eye
The white cat said gor blimey
Oh the black cat said may I drop dead
I never knew you were behind me


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Desi C
Date: 02 Nov 15 - 05:48 AM

I dn't know if it's anything to do with this song, but I do know the origin of the black cat superstition. In the days when Oliver cronwell was terrorising Ireland, he mad his headquartrs in my home city of Kilkenny. Cronwell had a pathological hatred of cats and decided to order his men to roundup all the cats in Kilkenny, take them to some caves outside the city and stone them to death. This they did but at the nd one cat was seen to still be alive and escaped the bloody scene. A black cat, and ever since a Black cat has been regarded as a sign of good luck (though some countries seem to regard it as bad luck. And ever since Kilkenny has been known as The Black Cat City and native inhabitants known as Kilkenny cats


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: GUEST,Guest TF
Date: 02 Nov 15 - 12:35 PM

There is an Aberdeenshire "Black Cat's Eye" verse which goes;

"Oh the cattie wouldna kittle
And the doggie wouldna pup
And the auld man couldna get his rhubarb up,
Oh the firie wouldna burn
And the pannie wouldna fry
And the black cat skittered in the white cat's eye".

(White pronounced "Fite").


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Subject: RE: Origins: Black Cat Piddled in the White Cat's Eye
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Nov 15 - 12:41 PM

Is the Aberdeenshire tune "Turkey in the Straw"?

I've encountered something similar in the U.S., but so long ago I recall nothing more about it.


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