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Symbolism used in Songs

Ebbie 03 Apr 10 - 10:44 PM
Uncle_DaveO 04 Apr 10 - 09:27 PM
MGM·Lion 05 Apr 10 - 12:46 AM
The Fooles Troupe 05 Apr 10 - 03:46 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 Apr 10 - 02:22 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Apr 10 - 03:01 PM
JeffB 05 Apr 10 - 04:34 PM
Ebbie 05 Apr 10 - 06:12 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Apr 10 - 06:12 PM
The Fooles Troupe 05 Apr 10 - 06:32 PM
frogprince 05 Apr 10 - 08:54 PM
GUEST,MG 05 Apr 10 - 11:48 PM
MGM·Lion 06 Apr 10 - 12:11 AM
Dave the Gnome 06 Apr 10 - 09:52 AM
Steve Gardham 06 Apr 10 - 01:58 PM
MGM·Lion 06 Apr 10 - 02:31 PM
Steve Gardham 06 Apr 10 - 02:42 PM
The Fooles Troupe 06 Apr 10 - 06:16 PM
MGM·Lion 07 Apr 10 - 12:15 AM
Bryn Pugh 07 Apr 10 - 10:09 AM
Uncle_DaveO 07 Apr 10 - 01:49 PM
Darowyn 07 Apr 10 - 02:04 PM
MGM·Lion 07 Apr 10 - 02:10 PM
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Subject: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Ebbie
Date: 03 Apr 10 - 10:44 PM

In the Counting Song, aka Dublin City and as Wheel of Fortune, why are the numbers given? And every other one at that? Those are not the numbers that would come up on a roulette wheel, so why?

Incidentally, I think the version that Gordon Bok sings, about the fair maiden washing and drying her feet, her towel pegged over her shoulder, is beautifully sensuous. I love the song.

At our local Gold Street Music concert series the other night one musician explained his thinking on the hidden message in 'Black is the color of my true love's hair', etc.

He said that in most traditional songs hair color is given as honey-colored or flaxen or copper or golden or flaming, etc. He thinks that "black" was purposely used to signify something defiantly foreign in some way, as in Jewish hair is black, African American hair is black, Romany hair is black and so on.

He thinks that the narrator is defying regional mores in proclaiming her or his love.

I'd love to read about lyrical symbolism that has struck you


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Subject: RE: Sybolism used in Songs
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 04 Apr 10 - 09:27 PM

"Round, round, the wheel of fortune. Where it stops worries me!"

The gambling game one might see at a carnival or fair, with its numbered chances as the wheel slowly comes to its stop, is symbolic of the blind fates we are all subject to.

It seems like a pretty straightforward metaphor for the blind chanciness of life, to me.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 12:46 AM

20 18 16 14 ,,, Counting or reciting [e.g. The Lord's Prayer] backwards could be a way of casting a spell ~~ I have a recollection of some such ref in Huckleberry Finn, I think. Indeed ∴ probably a Romany (one of the sometimes connotations of Spanish Lady), but a witch to boot: hence the spell she casts on him...

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 03:46 AM

Naked Ladies and Butchers ... oops, sorry, wrong thread.... just can't stop thinking about them...


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 02:22 PM

"Black is the color of my true love's hair"

Could there be a remote possibility that his true love might in fact have had black hair?...


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 03:01 PM

McGrath, the voice of reason. There's far too much of this reading things into songs which just ain't there. If a song seems to be calling a spade a spade it is very likely just a spade. That isn't to say that symbolism and metaphor don't uccur, but usually these are well documented and have plenty of examples and evidence.


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: JeffB
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 04:34 PM

Ebbie, one kind of song where you will find a lot of symbolic meanings is where flowers and plants are mentioned, e.g. The Seeds of Love.


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Ebbie
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 06:12 PM

Right, Jeri. I enjoy looking for them.

As for the rest of you, pah! I thought that I had a lock on being literal but no fears! (Just kiddin', luvs)

Of course his true love may simply have had black hair (although most dark hair is not in fact black, of course); I have no problem with that thought.

Keep in mind, btw, that it was not I who proposed a hidden message in Black is the color of my true love's hair but a man. :)

Incidentally, who says that "There's far too much of this reading things into songs which just ain't there." In whose opinion?


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 06:12 PM

Jeff, absolutely, but all of this plantlore is well-used and understood throughout folklore and there is nothing hidden about it.

Ebbie, a useful book that looks at symbolism in the big ballads is Wimberley's 'Folklore in the English and Scottish Ballads' which though long out of print seems to be fairly easily obtained. You wouldn't have much problem getting a cheap copy on Alibris, Abe Books or Amazon.

Foolestroupe
Have you noticed how Johnson keeps whipping out his sword. Symbollock or not? NOT!


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 06:32 PM

"Sheath thy naked weapon!"

Well, was his weapon really naked? They did have primitive condoms at that time, made from things such as sheepskin. I would give Wiki references, but, you'd probably say I was sending you up...

Sheepskin! Bloody hell - I meant sheep gut!

:-P


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: frogprince
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 08:54 PM

I bought a sheepskin condom once; my girlfriend was tickled pink.


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: GUEST,MG
Date: 05 Apr 10 - 11:48 PM

Well, he takes out his violin to play his love a tune...

And Mama's got a squeezebox Daddy's going to play all night...

And apron strings are for pregnancy.

And blackbirds..don't they mean Mother Ireland? mg


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 12:11 AM

Steve ~~ Why, of course, we all count backwards, in even then odd pairs, all the time. Couldn't possibly have any other meaning but to repro our constant habit, could it?

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 09:52 AM

Beyond me I'm afraid. We used to talk a lot of symbolics but then sym left...

:D (eG)


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 01:58 PM

Michael,
Don't suppose counting backwards with alternate numbers could just be to show how clever you are could it? Like being able to sing the whole of those long accumulative songs without taking a breath.

Foolestroupe,
You had it your way last night, dear,
It's the hairy side outside tonight!
Bryan Borhu.


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 02:31 PM

Yay. Mebbe. But I kinda like the idea of the spell tho...


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 02:42 PM

Nothing wrong with 'kinda likng' but some people see symbolism in almost everything and take it seriously. Me, I'm a died in the wool skeptic.


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 06 Apr 10 - 06:16 PM

"Well, he takes out his violin to play his love a tune...
And Mama's got a squeezebox Daddy's going to play all night..."

And for the record player theme:
Give me a Long Playing daddy...


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 12:15 AM

Try "dyed" in the wool, Steve ~~ not "died" ~~ otherwise someone might just find a symbolic deathwish lurking in there somewhere!

(Someone on the Creeping Jane thread the other day called me "a professional pedant". Nice one; thanx to him ~ but if I am a 'professional', pay me, oh pay me, pay me my money down!)

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Bryn Pugh
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 10:09 AM

As Noel Murphy was wont to say :

More bollock than sym . . .


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 01:49 PM

I simply have to ask, where do you get black hair from? I've never heard a version of this song with black hair.

As I know it, it goes:

As I walked out in Dublin City
About the hour of twelve at night
Twas there I saw a fair, pretty maid
Washin' her feet by candlelight.


Fair, not black haired.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: Darowyn
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 02:04 PM

In my mind that is very near to a verse from "The Spanish Lady"- who would be quite likely to have had black hair.
As I walked out in Dublin City
About the hour of twelve at night
Who should I see but the Spanish lady
Washin' her hair by candlelight.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Symbolism used in Songs
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Apr 10 - 02:10 PM

No, Dave ~~ by which I don't mean your version doesn't exist, but one of the widespread titles for that song is The Spanish Lady, & every version I know gives "... Who should I see but a SPANISH LADY, Washing her feet by candlelight": which surely implies black hair?

Even in your version, 'fair, pretty' rather means 'beautiful', I should have said, than 'blonde'.

~Michael~


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