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Lyr Req: Monkey on a String (Charlie Poole)

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HUNGRY HASH HOUSE
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vaellens@hotmail.com 09 Sep 99 - 02:55 PM
Wally Macnow 09 Sep 99 - 03:41 PM
Pete Peterson 10 Sep 99 - 07:40 AM
Dale Rose 10 Sep 99 - 11:10 AM
Paul Stewart 10 Sep 99 - 11:06 PM
Paul Stewart 10 Sep 99 - 11:10 PM
Pete Peterson 11 Sep 99 - 12:08 PM
Pete Peterson 11 Sep 99 - 12:08 PM
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Subject: Monkey on a String-Charlie Poole
From: vaellens@hotmail.com
Date: 09 Sep 99 - 02:55 PM

Trying to find lyrics for a friend. Have searched Net for hours, no luck. He heard it at Galax Fiddlers Convention this summer and really liked it. Thanks for any help.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Monkey on a String-Charlie Poole
From: Wally Macnow
Date: 09 Sep 99 - 03:41 PM

It's on two recordings that I'm aware of. One is Hell and Scissors by Rafe Stefanini and the other is "Devil Eat The Groundhog" by a href="http://www.camsco.com/artists/smithp.html"> by Paul Smith . I haven't heard either of the recordings so I don't know if they have verses on them or if they just play the tune.

Wally


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Monkey on a String-Charlie Poole
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 10 Sep 99 - 07:40 AM

I have tried to decipher Poole's recording and gotten almost nowhere-- Poole mumbled! Most every year when springtime comes And the birds begin to sing An Eyetalian come around the town With a monkey on a string

If of interest I will write out the lyrics as given by Kinney Rorrer in his biography (Rambling Blues, now probably well out of print)

But I don't think that's what Poole was singing


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Subject: Lyr Add: MONKEY ON A STRING (Charlie Poole)
From: Dale Rose
Date: 10 Sep 99 - 11:10 AM

I agree with Pete. It is always hard to figure out what Charlie is singing, but with Monkey On A String, it is just about impossible. I hadn't answered before because I didn't think I could face up to the project. Maybe if Pete prints the words from the book, gives his ideas, and I give mine, maybe we can arrive at a concensus.

It is my understanding that the biography has been made available again, by the way.

I just had a thought (I do that once in a while) After thinking about the task for a bit, I decided to visit the rec.mus.country.old-time newsgroup and do a power search. For those of you who have never been there, most of the people who populate the RMCOT are highly knowledgeable on old time music. Here is an interpretation from Jerry Dallel, posted late last year. Note that he prefaced his version with this disclaimer: (and here I will insert mydisclaimer and apology if the html does not work out right!)

This is the best I can do.
Corrections are gratefully appreciated.
What *can* you make out? :-)

Rorrer gives lines 5/6 as
And an organ that he plays around
At the corner grocery store
Yeah, right!

Monkey On A String

Most every year when the springtime comes
And the birds begin to sing
An Italian comes around this town
With a monkey on a string
And an organ set that monkey set
Was in the grocery store
The foolish things that monkey does
he sets me in a roar

Now that's the time the fun begins
Heh-ha-ha-ha-ha
Oh how that monkey hops and grins
Heh-ha-ha-ha-ha
Some says he looks like Sally Smith
Some say like Deacon Brown
It's laugh, by gosh, the whole day long
When that darn monk's in town

[Laugh]
Some say he looks like Sally Smith
Some say like Deacon Brown
And its laugh, by gosh, the whole day long
When that darn monk's in town

Some said that the monk was made one night
When I would see the way
And that the monk was made from an Italian
On the great creation day
But a monk was made from an Irishman
And I would see the way
That a monk was made from an Italian
To pass the time away

And this is a quote from the RMCOT by noted musician and old time scholar, Kerry Blech.

I recall asking Lonnie Austin what in the world Charlie Poole sang as lyrics for this song.

Lonnie replied, "I stood no more than three feet from him when he sang that many a time and I have no idea what he was saying. He usually was drunk when he sang that one." Offhand, I cannot recall if it was Lonnie on fiddle for the recording or it it was Posey Rorer, but Lonnie toured quite a bit with Charlie and would have heard that song a lot, as it was one of the most-requested numbers.

We'll probably never really know...

Regards,
Kerry

I think that Kerry just about sums it up there in his last sentence. If anyone wants to tackle the project, there's Jerry's interpretation, and Charlie's version is available on Charlie Poole, volume 1, County CD 3501, 1993. Start listening ~~ again and again . . .


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Monkey on a String-Charlie Poole
From: Paul Stewart
Date: 10 Sep 99 - 11:06 PM

The following is the transcription given in 'Rambling Blues: The Life and Songs of Charlie Poole' by Kinney Rorrer. (Old Time Music Booklet 3 1982). Rorror notes: 'A song with the same title was copyrighted in 1908 by Ethel Smith Music Corporation. The author was listed as Denes Agay. Since this date parallels the Cal Stewart recording, it may be the same as the Poole recording. Poole's references to the Irish in the second verse, which are different from Stewart's, may have been his own contribution since his own grandfather was an Irish immigrant. A 1931 recording by the Georgia Wildcats may be related'.

Most every year when the springtime comes And the birds begin to sing An Italian comes around this town With a monkey on a string And an organ that he plays around At the corner grocery store And the foolish things that monkey does Just sets me in a roar.

Now that's the time the fun begins Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha Oh how that monkey hops and grins Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha Some say he looks like Sally Smith Some say like Deacon Brown And it's laugh, by gosh, from morn till night When that darn monk's in town

Ha-ha-ha-ha-ha etc Some say he looks like Sally Smith Some say like Deacon Brown And it's laugh, by gosh, the whole day long When that darn monk's in town

Some say one time we all was monks Some say the other way That a monk was made from odds and ends On the great creation day And that they used him for a clown To pass the time away And as he was a monkey then A monk he'll always stay

[Alternative second verse:]

Some say that the monk was made one night That I would see the way And that the monk was made for mockery On the great creation day But a monk was made from an Irishman That I might see the way And a monk was made from ... [?] To pass the time away.

'Note: the second verse given first above is from a Cal Stewart recording; the alternative second verse is as Poole sang it on his recording'.

Thus, like everyone else, Poole's biographer has difficulties in deciphering the great man.

Cheers, Paul Stewart. Darwin, Australia.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Monkey on a String-Charlie Poole
From: Paul Stewart
Date: 10 Sep 99 - 11:10 PM

Sorry the line structure seems to have gone awry after submitting the message, but I think the line pattern should be clear enough from the capitalisation.

Cheers, Paul.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Monkey on a String-Charlie Poole
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 11 Sep 99 - 12:08 PM

Yours are pretty close to what I sing (when I dare) -- I always heard "Sally's kids" rfather than Sally Smith

I also hear In the marketplace that monkey sits by the corner grocery store and the foolish things that monkey DID just set me in a roar

Now I laughed so hard when the monkey grins. . . .


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Monkey on a String-Charlie Poole
From: Pete Peterson
Date: 11 Sep 99 - 12:08 PM

Yours are pretty close to what I sing (when I dare) -- I always heard "Sally's kids" rfather than Sally Smith

I also hear In the marketplace that monkey sits by the corner grocery store and the foolish things that monkey DID just set me in a roar

Now I laughed so hard when the monkey grins. . . .


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