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Floating lyrics

GUEST,AndyJames 03 Jan 10 - 11:04 PM
GUEST,Russ 04 Jan 10 - 12:02 AM
GUEST,999 04 Jan 10 - 12:04 AM
Joe Offer 04 Jan 10 - 12:13 AM
MGM·Lion 04 Jan 10 - 02:18 AM
Mo the caller 04 Jan 10 - 05:24 AM
Susan of DT 04 Jan 10 - 07:48 AM
Steve Gardham 04 Jan 10 - 02:21 PM
Tug the Cox 04 Jan 10 - 08:02 PM
MGM·Lion 04 Jan 10 - 10:29 PM
The Doctor 05 Jan 10 - 04:10 AM
MGM·Lion 05 Jan 10 - 04:53 AM
Terry McDonald 05 Jan 10 - 05:33 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Jan 10 - 04:22 PM
PHJim 06 Jan 10 - 01:03 PM
Jacob B 06 Jan 10 - 04:59 PM
Mr Happy 07 Jan 10 - 09:28 AM
Young Buchan 07 Jan 10 - 11:39 AM
Tug the Cox 07 Jan 10 - 08:43 PM
Goose Gander 07 Jan 10 - 08:51 PM
Nancy King 07 Jan 10 - 08:52 PM
Mr Happy 08 Jan 10 - 06:47 AM
Jim Dixon 09 Jan 10 - 01:01 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Jan 10 - 04:32 PM
Goose Gander 23 Jan 10 - 10:12 PM
mousethief 23 Jan 10 - 11:07 PM
MGM·Lion 23 Jan 10 - 11:24 PM
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Subject: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: GUEST,AndyJames
Date: 03 Jan 10 - 11:04 PM

I want to teach some 2nd graders about floating lyrics, the ones that drift from song to song in the American folk tradition. I'd like to use the kind of Mad Libs, build-your-own quality of these lyrics so they can build their own folk songs.

Think, for instance, of: "Peaches in the summer/apples in the fall/if I can't get the girl I want/I won't have none at all," which I've heard all over the place. "Cindy," itself a colony of floating lyrics, comes to mind.

I know there are hundreds of examples, but there's a whole hive of you armchair folklorists and the Internet won't run out of room if you throw them at me.

So I'm looking for:

1) the floating lyrics that come to mind;
2) the songs that are rife with 'em.

Thanks in advance, and sorry if this has been asked a bunch -- the search engine gave me nothing.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: GUEST,Russ
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 12:02 AM

Search DT for "shoe" and "pretty" and "feet"

Russ (Permanent GUEST)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: GUEST,999
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 12:04 AM

Many older blues songs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 12:13 AM

I don't know but I've been told
The streets of heaven are paved with gold

If I get there before you do,
I'll drill a hole and pull you through

...and many other verses from spirituals and gospel songs.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 02:18 AM

One of the finest floaters, Anglo/Scot as well as American, is that marvellous summary of the journey in haste found in many ballads [Little Musgrave #81, The Knight & the Shepherd's Daughter #110, &c, &c], variants of:—

When he came to the riverside
He fell to his breast and he swam
And when he came to the other side
He took to his heels and he ran


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Mo the caller
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 05:24 AM

Mary Humphreys and Anahata have done a cd of songs full of UK floating verses, tracks listed here


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Susan of DT
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 07:48 AM

I put "floaters" in the search box and got 9 hits that should be useful for you


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 02:21 PM

Lots of ballads end with the 2-3 stanzas about the rose and briar twining over the lovers' graves, Barbara Allen, Lord Lovel etc etc.

The example given by Michael above is actually part of a 3-4stanza run which can occur as solo stanzas or in almost any combination where the needy lover asks for a boy to run a message when one suddenly appears and runs,jumps, bends his breast and swims, leaps a castle wall/gate, gives the message to a lover, followed by the lover asking what's occurred and then the denial by the messenger.

There's multiple usage of sitting in bowers sewing a silken seam, and tirling of the pin. There are thousands of them in the Child ballads.
Lily-white hands and steeds. Looking over left shoulders,

When mass was sung and bells were rung and all were bound for bed, is a cliche.

A lot of it is there to help the singers recreate the ballad as they go along using familiar phrases. On the other hand it has also been used nauseously by antiquarians trying to lengthen their particular version.

BTW the more technical term is 'Commonplace'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 08:02 PM

If you don't like my peaches,
don't shake my tree.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 04 Jan 10 - 10:29 PM

=My verse often indeed part of sequence you postulate, Steve, but not invariably. E.g. in Knight & Sheps's Dtr which I mention, she is in most versions running pace for pace at his stirrup {As·If!} - "He's mounted high upon his horse And away so swift did ride; She's kilted up her petticoats And followed at the horse's side — And whan she came to the riverside..."|


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: The Doctor
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 04:10 AM

'The Water is Wide', also known as 'Waly Waly', is composed entirely of floating verses, all of which I have found in other songs.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 04:53 AM

Other American songs consisting almost entirely of floaters: Bowling Green; Going Down Town; Shady Grove; Old Joe Clark ... ++++


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Terry McDonald
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 05:33 AM

Pretty Saro/Peggy Gordon/Bachelor's Hall/When First I Came to Caledonia are all examples of North American songs that share some verses.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jan 10 - 04:22 PM

Absolutely, Michael, I should have used the word 'often'.

Another sequence of verses found in many ballads is where a man/miner etc comes home late at night, goes to daughter's room, finds her hanging from a beam, cuts her down, finds suicide note in bosom, she is pregnant by a sailor boy, wishes babe was born, asks to buried etc
Often known as 'Died for Love' and occurs in such songs as The Butcher's Boy in the States, The Rambling Boy in Ireland, and seems to have been in oral tradition for at least 3 centuries.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: PHJim
Date: 06 Jan 10 - 01:03 PM

I know a gal and she's so tall
Her head's in the kitchen and her feet's in the hall
This appears in many blues such as Robert Johnson's version of They're Red Hot and Pink Anderson's version of Bring It On Home.

Two old maids lying in bed
One rolled over to the other and said

I love you in blue and I love you in red
But most of all I love you in blue
This appears in Salty Dog versions and Brown's Ferry Blues versions.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Jacob B
Date: 06 Jan 10 - 04:59 PM

I've also heard the "Sleeps in the kitchen with her feet in the hall" line in Let Me Be Your Salty Dog, and in the sea shanty Running Down To Cuba.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Mr Happy
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 09:28 AM

Guess I, prob among many others, am a perpetrator of pinching verses from other songs to ones of similar sentiments/ themes.

One I do is a version of 'Bonnie Light Horseman'

I add an extra verse from 'If I were a Blackbird'


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Young Buchan
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 11:39 AM

Someone (I think it was Malcolm McDonald) wrote a song consisting almost entirely of floating lyrics. It went somewhat after this fashion:

As I was a walking one morning in May
By the banks of green willow a-mowing the hay,
I saw two young sailors and a highwayman too;
But they were all dressed as women so what could I do.
CHO Singing tooralyooralyooralyay,
Singing tooralyooralyooralyay,
Whip out your fiddle and give us a play
'Cos I like to hear folk songs the old fashioned way.

I said, "Come all ye young men, wherever you be
And listen a while in attention to me.
Don't you think that to dress in such clothes is unwise?
In folk songs it's the women go round in disguise."

The sailors replied in the form of a song
Of 86 verses all 30 lines long
Concerning Old Benbow, the fish of the sea,
Seth Davy, Lord Franklin, Tom Cobbleigh and me.

"As we were a-walking down Strawberry Lane,
We met with three women - Sal, Jenny and Jane;
And to those young women I fear we did wrong:
We took off their dresses - and then put them on."

Two of those women now plough the salt main,
And one is a robber on Salisbury Plain.
The highwayman's a barmaid at the sign of the Bell,
And the sailors are milkmaids and pregnant as well.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 08:43 PM

Brixton Bert wrote a portmanteau folk song in the early 70's.

The choruswas, as I remember..
Tittify Tittify Linten Addy,
Hey nonny nonny and a haul away.
One more chorus of tittify laddie,
and we'll save the rest for another day.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Goose Gander
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 08:51 PM

When I die don't bury me at all,
Just pickle my bones in alcohol.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Nancy King
Date: 07 Jan 10 - 08:52 PM

Some of us call these "zipper verses," and they're VERY common in gospel songs and sea chanties, among other genres.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Mr Happy
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 06:47 AM

............another [but deliberate] example is the Kipper's 'Spencer the Wild Rover' in which they sing alternating lines from 'Spencer the Rover' and 'The Wild Rover'

@displaysong.cfm?SongID=10204


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 09 Jan 10 - 01:01 PM

The cuckoo is a pretty bird. She sings as she flies.
She brings us glad tidings and tells us no lies.

Can't you see yon turtle dove that flies from pine to pine?
He's mourning for his own true love, as I shall mourn for mine.

Ain't no use me workin' so hard.
I got a gal in the rich folks' yard.

I went down the mountainside, give my horn a blow.
Everywhere them pretty girls said, "Yonder goes my beau."

My horses ain't hungry. They won't eat your hay.
So fare you well, darling, I'll be on my way. [or "I'm going away"]

A meeting is a pleasure but parting is grief.
An inconstant [or "false-hearted"] lover is worse than a thief.

Raccoon's got a bushy tail. Possum's tail is bare.
Rabbit's got no tail at all, just a little bunch of hair.

Who will shoe your pretty little foot? Who will glove your hand?
Who will kiss your ruby lips? Who's gonna be your man? [or "when I'm in a foreign land?"]
Papa will shoe my pretty little feet. Mama will glove my hand.
You can kiss my ruby lips when you get back again.
[or "No one will kiss my ruby lips till you come back again."]

Little piece of cornbread on the shelf,
If you want any more you can sing it yourself.
[You can vary the things that are on the shelf.]


You might want to mention the cliché expressions that occur especially in old ballads: ruby lips, rosy cheeks, lily-white hand, milk-white steed, gay gold ring, own true love, raging main, deep-blue sea, etc.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 09 Jan 10 - 04:32 PM

Many of the Spirituals, especially as the 20th C. is approached and the gospel song developed.
Sister Mary (etc.) wears a golden chain
Bury me with a silver spade
Hell is deep and hell is wide, or the Jordan is deep and the Jordan is wide, etc.
The devil is mad and I am glad or Tom is mad and I am glad, etc.


One I see often in bluegrass is "Who is that gal with the red dress on?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: Goose Gander
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 10:12 PM

Of course, there are whole songs that are really just collections of floating lyrics:

Bile Dem Cabbage Down

Shady Grove

Pretty Little Pink


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: mousethief
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 11:07 PM

World's shortest blues song:

I woke up this mornin' saw the blues walkin' like a man
And the sun's gonna shine in/on my backdoor someday.

O..O
=o=


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Subject: RE: Folklore: Floating lyrics
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 11:24 PM

2 points re Shady Grove:

i The title seems by some sort of confusion to be the name both of the place & of the young woman who lives there - unlikely as it may be as a person's name.

ii The 'shoes & stockings in her hand, little bare feet on the floor' motif seems, as far as I know, unique to this song & not a floater.


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