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Lyr Req: The Oyster Girl

DigiTrad:
THE OYSTER GIRL


In Mudcat MIDIs:
The Oyster Girl (from Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland, by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger)


SqueezeMe 19 Dec 09 - 01:53 AM
Joe Offer 19 Dec 09 - 02:46 AM
Joe Offer 19 Dec 09 - 03:10 AM
Joe Offer 19 Dec 09 - 04:04 AM
Joe Offer 19 Dec 09 - 04:10 AM
Joe Offer 19 Dec 09 - 04:26 AM
bubblyrat 19 Dec 09 - 08:02 AM
SqueezeMe 19 Dec 09 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Lighter 19 Dec 09 - 11:41 AM
Dave the Gnome 19 Dec 09 - 02:11 PM
Joe Offer 19 Dec 09 - 02:31 PM
SqueezeMe 19 Dec 09 - 05:43 PM
doc.tom 20 Dec 09 - 07:10 AM
Brian Peters 20 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM
GUEST,Nick N 21 Dec 09 - 07:31 AM
Mr Happy 16 Mar 10 - 12:12 PM
Jim Dixon 17 Mar 10 - 08:41 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Mar 10 - 10:38 AM
Steve Gardham 18 Mar 10 - 10:52 AM
SqueezeMe 02 Nov 10 - 10:25 AM
Jim Dixon 03 Nov 10 - 03:46 PM
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Subject: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: SqueezeMe
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 01:53 AM

Recently on another forum, the question arose regarding words to the tune "The Oyster Girl".

The version sought is not that noted in Digitrad, versions of which are recorded and sung by many revivalist English singers.

Rather it is a set of words to the well known dance tune (English? Irish?), to which the words in Digitrad do not fit nor scan.

I can recall hearing this sung some 40 years ago, with the last line of the chorus "I gave my heart to an Oyster Girl; my beautiful Oyster Girl" as the last 2 lines of the song's chorus, to the second part of the tune.

I thought it had been in Cornwall that I had heard it, but local researchers on said forum have delved and come up with nothing from the local experts.

Any one have any clues on this one?

Thanks for your anticipated flood of responses. :-)


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Subject: ADD Version: The Oyster Girl
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 02:46 AM

Well, I don't know if I'm being helpful by doing this, but this is another version of the song in the Digital Tradition, not the requested song.
^^
THE OYSTER GIRL

Oh oysters, oh oysters, oh oysters, said she,
I've got somne of the finest oysters that ever you did see,
Oh tis three a penny I do sell, but four I'll give to thee,
For to bargain for the basket of oysters.
Oh tis three a penny I do sell, but four I'll give to thee,
For to bargain for the basket of oysters.


Oh landlord, oh landlord, oh landlord, said he,
Hath thee got little private room for the oyster girl and me,
Where we both may sit and so merry, merry be,
While we bargain for the basket of oysters.
Where we both may sit and so merry, merry be,
While we bargain for the basket of oysters.


Oh yes, sir, oh yes, sir, oh yes, sir, said he,
I've got a little private for the oyster girl and thee,
Where you both can sit down and so merry, merry be,
Till you bargain for your basket of oysters.
Where you both can sit down and so merry, merry be,
Till you bargain for your basket of oysters.


Oh landlord, oh landlord, oh landlord, said he,
Hast thee seen that little oyster girl that came along with me,
She hath picked my pocket of all my money,
And hath left me with my basket of oysters.
She hath picked my pocket of all my money,
And hath left me with my basket of oysters.


Oh yes, sir, oh yes, sir, oh yes, sir, said he,
I've seen that little oyster girl that came along with thee,
She hath paid all the reckoning so now thee canst go free,
For to travel with thy basket of oysters.
She hath paid all the reckoning so now thee canst go free,
For to travel with thy basket of oysters.


I've travelled through England, through Ireland, through Scotland and France,
But never was I in all my life served up with such a dance,
By a bold English girl, oh her voice it was so clear,
She has taught me the way to sell oysters.
By a bold English girl, oh her voice it was so clear,
She hath taught me the way to sell oysters.



    Notes: A favorite broadside story in the in which a poor girl or boy proved cleverer than some scheming antagonist, and ended up the richer for it. The theme has many variations, of which the story of "The Oyster Girl" is but one. It was circulated by nearly all of the London broadside printers and sold many thousands of copies during the period, but has been reported rarely from tradition.

    The version sung here was learned from a BBC recording of Phil Tanner, the son of a weaver, and, until his death in 1949, one of England's finest traditional singers.


Source: liner notes from the 1957 Paul Clayton Folkways recording, British Broadside Ballads in Popular Tradition


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Oyster Girl, The [Laws Q13]

    DESCRIPTION: The singer meets an oyster girl and proposes that they take a room at the inn to discuss the sale. When they arrive, she picks his pocket and jumps out the window. He is left with a kettle of oysters and a bill to pay
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1904
    KEYWORDS: courting robbery trick seduction
    FOUND IN: US(SE) Britain(England(South,North),Scotland(Aber),Wales) Ireland
    REFERENCES (8 citations):
    Laws Q13, "The Oyster Girl"
    Greig #96, pp. 2-3, "The Girl and the Oysters" (1 text)
    GreigDuncan2 304, "Oysters" (12 texts, 10 tunes)
    SHenry H725, p. 278, "The Basket of Oysters" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Kennedy 234, "The Oyster Girl" (1 text, 1 tune)
    MacSeegTrav 48, "The Oyster Girl" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Chappell-FSRA 48, "The Oyster Girl" (1 text)
    DT 524, OYSTRGAL*

    Roud #875
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "Quare Bungo Rye" (mysterious--read female--"box" motif)
    ALTERNATE TITLES:
    The Creel and the Oysters
    File: LQ13

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibiography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Roud (click) has 53 entries. All but one are Roud #875. The one is Roud #1745, also titled "Oyster Girl," found in Hugill, Bosun's Locker (2006) p.173. The first line is "Twas the fifteenth of December, so well I do remember." Anybody have Hugill's Bosun's Locker?


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Subject: ADD Version: Oyster Girl
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 03:10 AM

THE OYSTER GIRL

As I was a-walking through London Town as well,
Love, being quite a stranger I wandered up and down;
Man, when I did finish the toury then quickly you shall hear
That was where do you think I found myself, in the corner of a square.

'O landlord, O landlord, O landlord,' said (me),         (he)
Said, 'Have you got a private room for the oyster girl and me?
So as we can sit down and so merrily's we'll be,
If you'll bargain with a basket of oysters.'

'O oysters, O oysters, O oysters!' said (he),         (she)
I've got the finest little oyster gel that ever you did see;
We sell 'em two-a-penny and three I'll give to you,
If you'll bargain with a basket of oysters.

'O landlord, O landlord, O landlord,' said (me),         (he)
Said, 'Have you seen that oyster gel came in the room with me?
She have picked me of my pockets of all my money,
And she's left me with a basket of oysters.'


Source: Travellers' Songs from England and Scotland, by Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger, 1977 (#48, pp. 177-178)

Click to play


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Subject: ADD Version: The Oyster Girl
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 04:04 AM

THE OYSTER GIRL

As I was walking in London Street,
A pretty little Oyster Girl I chanced to meet,
And into her basket so nimbly did peep,
To see if she had got any Oysters.

Oysters, Oysters, Oysters, said she,
If you want any Oysters come buy them of me?
They are the finest Oysters that ever you did see,
Will you please to buy any Oysters?

O landlord, landlord, landlord, says he,
Have you got any room for a friend and me,
That we may sit clown and merry, merry be,
Till we bargain for a basket of Oysters?

We had not been above an hour in the room,
Before she picked my pocket of full fifty pounds,
And gave me the slip and out of the room crept,
And left me with her basket of Oysters.

O landlord, landlord, landlord, says he,
Did you see the little Oyster Girl that came in with me?
She has picked my pocket of all my money,
And left me with her basket of Oysters.

Its I have travelled England, Scotland, and France,
And never in my life did I meet with such a dance,
The English girl has tricked the Frenchman at last,
And left him with her basket of Oysters.


Bodleian Ballads Catalogue: Firth c.18(291)


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Subject: ADD Version: The Oyster Girl
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 04:10 AM

And from the same broadside, which has two versions of the song:

THE OYSTER GIRL

As I was going down Bishopgate-street,
An oyster girl I chanced to meet,
Into her basket I chanced to peep,
To see if she had any oysters.

Oysters, oysters, oysters, sir, said she,
They are the best you e'er did see,
And if you please to buy them of me,
I'll warrant 'em all fat oysters.

And if to a tavern you'll go with me,
With a bottle of wine I'll treat thee,
And all so merrily we'll agree,
With bread and wine to our oysters.

They had not long at the tavern been,
When she picked his pocket of fourscore pound,
She gave him the slip and ran into the town,
Thus dearly he paid for his oysters.

O waiter, waiter, did you see,
An oyster wench come in with me?
She's picked my pocket of all my money,
And left me her basket of oysters.

O yes, kind, sir, I did see
An oyster girl come in with thee,
She paid the reck'ning - so you may go free,
And, troop with your basket of oysters.

Of all the years I lived in France,
I never met with such a mischance,
An oyster girl gave to me a fine dance
And made me pay dear for my oysters.


Printer: Bebbington

Bodleian Ballads Catalogue: Firth c.18(291)


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Subject: Lyr Add: OYSTER GIRL (from Bodleian)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 04:26 AM

Now, this one is a different song, but still not the one you're seeking. I'm wondering if the "December" one in Hugill might be.

OYSTER GIRL

Many a knight and lady gay,
Will stay me as I cry,
While roaming through the streets each day -
"My native oysters buy,
I'll please you well,
With what I sell,"
Then mark my love-arched eye?:
"Pray buy of me, I all excel,
My Milton oysters buy.
Oysters, sir ? oysters, sir," I cry,
"The finest native oysters that ever you did buy."


My father was a seaman brave,
No cares did us annoy,
Until he sank beneath the waves,
Then farewell every joy.
Then I got bold,
And oysters sold,
And raised a cheerful cry,---
"Who'll buy of pretty Marian?
My native oysters buy.
Oysters, sir ? oysters, sir," I cry,
"The finest native oysters that ever you did buy."


They squeeze my band, as they pass by
And call me pretty maid:
To this I only do reply,
According to my trade:
"I'll please you well,
With what I sell,"
And many an arch reply:
"My oysters they are fresh and good,
Will you be pleased to try?
Oysters, sir ? oysters, sir," I cry,
"The finest native oysters that ever you did buy."



Printer: J. Pitts

Bodleian Ballads Catalogue: Harding B 11(3151)


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: bubblyrat
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 08:02 AM

Hmmm.....Lovely songs all, really, but I can't make any of them fit the "Oyster Girl" traditional dance- tune that I know !! One could always ask George Garside I suppose......he'd know,wouldn't he ??


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: SqueezeMe
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 08:40 AM

At the risk of offending admin, I have to say no, Joe, not very helpful at all really :-) :-)   :-) (Well, you did ask!)

bubblyrat, George is a regular on the forum where this query originated, but did not respond.


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 11:41 AM

Oscar Brand somewhat rewrote the well-known song in the '50s. You can recognize his version by a line where the landlord says to the victim, "Aah, you shouldn't be so fond of your oysters!"


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 02:11 PM

I think Brian Peters does the song followed by the tune so I guess the two are incompatible. I could be wrong though - Try PMing him.

Cheers

DeG


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 02:31 PM

Hi, SqueezeMe-
Well, I figured that none of the songs I posted were what you wanted, but at least it was a start of a process of elimination, and it kept the thread alive. We haven't explored the version that's in the Digital Tradition; and exploration is worthwhile, whether it answers a question or not.
I suppose the tune you're referring to can be found at ABC Tune Finder. Do you have any idea of the story told by the lyrics? Is it a sea song, a bawdy song, or what?


-Joe-
The Fiddler's Companion has a bit of information on the tune, but no mention of lyrics. I'm wondering if the lyrics you heard were a modern composition.

OYSTER GIRL [1]. English, Jig and Morris Dance Tune. England; Northumberland, North‑West. G Major. Standard tuning. AABB (Hall & Stafford, Sweet): AABBC (Kennedy, Raven, Wade). Tune used for a single step dance in the North‑West (England) morris dance tradition. Hall & Stafford (Charlton Memorial Tune Book), 1974; pg. 14. Kennedy (Fiddlers Tune Book), vol. 1, 1951; No. 78, pg. 38. Raven (English Country Dance Tunes), 1984; pg. 124. Sweet (Fifer?s Delight), 1965/1981; pg. 35. Wade (Mally?s North West Morris Book), 1988; pg. 23. Topic TSCD 669, Arthur Marshall (et al) ? ?Ranting and Reeling: Dance Music of the north of England? (1998. North Yorkshire accordion player Marshall was born in 1896).

X:1

T:Oyster Girl

R:jig

Z:From Josephine Marsh in Kilfenora, 1996

Z:Transcribed by Thom Pratt

M:6/8

L:1/8

K:G

ded B2 G|A2 F D2 F|GFG BAB|d2 c A2 d|ded Bdg|f2 e c2e|\

d2 B c BA|GAG G2 d:|Bcd Bcd|e2 c e2c|ABc ABc|d2 B d2 B|\

ded Bdg|f2 e c2 e|d2 B cBA|GAG G2 d:||\

 

OYSTER GIRL [2]. English, Jig. D Major. Standard tuning. AA'BB'. Carlin (Master Collection), 1984; No. 17, pg. 23.

 

OYSTER GIRL [3]. Old‑Time, Breakdown. May be very distantly related to version # 1. USA, Nebraska. D Major. Standard tuning. AABB. Source for notated version: Bob Walters (Burt County, Nebraska) [Christeson]. R.P. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 1), 1973; No. 80, pg. 59.


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: SqueezeMe
Date: 19 Dec 09 - 05:43 PM

Too long ago for me to remember what the song was about, Joe; I've slept since then! I just recall the refrain.
"I gave my heart to an Oyster Girl; my beautiful Oyster Girl"

I've had a pm suggesting Bob Cann, so might get on to Mark Bazeley, see if he recalls it. I must admit it's the sort of thing I've heard Bob doing when calling dances, singing a few words here and there to a tune in addition to the call.

MC


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: doc.tom
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 07:10 AM

"I gave my heart to an Oyster Girl; my beautiful Oyster Girl" is not the Oyster Girl that Mervyn Vincent & Charlie Bate used to sing (that would be the Cornish memory - and almost certainly Bob Cann's therefore). Their version was like the broadsides quoted above and does not fit to the English jig Oyster Girl. Sounds like a different & rather nice set of words to the jig.

TomB


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: Brian Peters
Date: 20 Dec 09 - 12:34 PM

"I think Brian Peters does the song followed by the tune so I guess the two are incompatible."

They are compatible in the sense that they're both in 6/8, so it was a fairly obvious idea to use the tune as an interlude between verses of the song and see if anyone got the joke.

A lot of our well-known traditional dance tunes started out as songs in 18th century ballad operas and other stage productions, so it's possible the mysterious lines represent an old song that later got used as a dance tune. They do scan quite well to it.


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Subject: RE: Oyster Girl lyrics sought
From: GUEST,Nick N
Date: 21 Dec 09 - 07:31 AM

Regarding "Twas the fifteenth of December, so well I do remember", I don't know the words nor have Hugill's Bosun's Locker, but does the tune 'Annie of the Vale' fit the words? This will fit the first line and bears some resemblance to the broadside 'The Reason Why' and Pardon's 'One Cold Morning in December' (see Belshazzar's Feast and Paul Sartin).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Oyster Girl
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Mar 10 - 12:12 PM

Click on the midi here http://trillian.mit.edu/~jc/cgi/abc/tuneget?F=MIDI&U=/~jc/music/abc/England/jig/Oyster_Girl_North_Skelton_1.abc&X=2&T=NORTHSKELT suitable for beginners??


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Oyster Girl
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 17 Mar 10 - 08:41 PM

I went searching for "beautiful oyster girl" and found this. It's a story that could have inspired a ballad:

From Old and New Paris: Its History, Its People, and Its Places, Volume 2 by Henry Sutherland Edwards (London, etc.: Cassell and Company Limited, 1893), page 7:

In Paris a sempstress is supposed to be "gentille," a lingère, or getter-up of linen, "aimable," a flower-girl "pretty." The oyster-woman, although not characterised by any one particular quality, is credited with a combination of qualities in a more or less modified degree. Without being in her first youth, she is young; without being in the bloom of beauty, she does not lack personal charm; and frequently she invests even the opening of oysters with a grace which may well excite admiration. La belle écaillère is indeed the name traditionally applied to her. With the origin of this name a tragic story is associated.

There was once a charmingly pretty oyster-girl named Louise Leroux, known as La belle écaillère. She had a lover named Montreuil, a fireman, who, in a moment of frantic jealousy, plunged his sword into her breast. This horrible crime at once rendered "the beautiful oyster-girl" famous, not only in Paris, but throughout Europe; and in due time the legend of her life and love took dramatic form, and found its way to the stage. The interest excited in her unhappy end was all the greater inasmuch as her murderer had eluded justice by flying to England, where, in London, he set up as a fencing master. The Gaieté Theatre achieved, in 1837, one of its greatest successes by putting on the boards, under the title of La Belle Écaillère, the tragic history of Louise Leroux.

Since then the name has been familiarly applied without discrimination to the female oyster-sellers of Paris, many of whom have well deserved it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Oyster Girl
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 10:38 AM

Long shot but a minstrel song starts 'Oh swiftly goes de oyster boat' which fits the tune perfectly. Unfortuately I Haven't got a copy of the text or tune. A lot of these old sword dance tunes are derived from minstrel songs. May be a connection. The title on the broadsides is 'Swiftly goes de oyster boat.' It has 3 verses and a chorus. it was printed by Such of London, Sanderson of Edinburgh and Williamson of Newcastle so probably mid 19thc. Will check out the Bodl for a copy.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Oyster Girl
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Mar 10 - 10:52 AM

3 copies on Bodl but no mention of an Oyster girl, it's all about catching em and bringing em to port.

Here's the first verse of a freshly caught one FWIW

As I was rolling down the street,
A pretty lass I chanced to meet,
She fairly knocked me off me feet
A shouting of her wares.
    Oh oysters, sir, Oh oysters,
    Fresh oysters was her cry,
    They're freshly gathered from the bay,
    Me oysters won't you buy?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Oyster Girl
From: SqueezeMe
Date: 02 Nov 10 - 10:25 AM

Nice one, Steve.
Awaiting further verses....
Or should this become a Song Challenge?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Oyster Girl
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 03 Nov 10 - 03:46 PM

The Bodleian Library broadside collection has another copy of THE OYSTER GIRL?with the same lyrics as those posted by Joe Offer above, that begin "Many a knight and lady gay"?but this version (Johnson Ballads 194) also has musical notation for one voice.

The Bodleian has even provided a MIDI file: click to play. (It's a good thing, too, because the online image is partly illegible.)


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