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Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???

banjocircus 31 Aug 11 - 07:43 PM
GUEST,999 31 Aug 11 - 08:52 PM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 11 - 12:53 AM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 11 - 01:22 AM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 11 - 01:55 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 01 Sep 11 - 02:44 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 01 Sep 11 - 02:57 PM
Joe Offer 01 Sep 11 - 05:20 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 02 Sep 11 - 11:00 AM
banjocircus 07 Sep 11 - 04:10 AM
GUEST,JohnnyB 07 Sep 11 - 05:54 PM
GUEST 02 Oct 11 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,baz parkes 03 Oct 11 - 10:08 AM
Desert Dancer 03 Oct 11 - 12:24 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 03 Oct 11 - 12:53 PM
GUEST 03 Oct 11 - 03:12 PM
GUEST,baz parkes 03 Oct 11 - 03:21 PM
GUEST 12 Sep 12 - 09:18 AM
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Subject: Origins: Pigeon Pie
From: banjocircus
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 07:43 PM

In the 1934 book Caddy Woodlawn, set during the Civil War, a character sings (about Passenger Pigeons):

When I can shoot my rifle clear
At pigeons in the sky,
I'll bid farewell to pork and beans
And live on pigeon pie


Does anybody know if this was a real song, and if so, where words and a melody can be found?

Thanks,

Jonathan Leiss


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie
From: GUEST,999
Date: 31 Aug 11 - 08:52 PM

A search shows many references to that stanza. It may have been a ditty. Owen Sound (Canada) comes up lots. I'll look further. The guy ya really want on this is Jim Dixon.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 12:53 AM

Well, I would have bet it was a parody of Long Time Travelin'; but the same verse can be found in an Isaac Watts hymn called Saints Delight, a more likely candidate.

Using Jim Dixon's method of extrapolation in Google Books snippet view, I get this (click):
    I wish I had a rifle tall,
    To point into the sky
    I'd never do a stroke of work
    But live on pigeon pie.

    I heard the voice of Twiggins say
    Come let us work no more,
    Lay down thy ommer and thy tongs
    And beg from door to door

    John Wesley had a bony hoss
    As lean as ever was seen,
    We took him down to Hayseech Brook
    And shoved him yed fust in.

    Chorus:
    Bright crowns laid up, Laid up for you and me,
    Bright crowns, bright crowns
    There's a crown of victory.

...and my extrapolation indicates the name of the song might be "Bright Crowns Laid Up."

The song seems to be in to British books about the Black Country, Michael Raven's Folklore and Songs of the Black Country, Volume 3; and Jon Raven's The urban & industrial songs of the Black Country and Birmingham. I'm going to add "Black Country" to the thread title temporarily to see if it will draw someone who has one of those books - although my guess is that pigeon pie was more of an American delicacy....

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 01:22 AM

A little different here (click):

I wish I had a rifle tall
To reach up to the sky
I'd never do a day of work
but live on pidgeon pie

John Wesly had a bonny 'oss
As fine as ever been seen
We took him down to Hayseech brook
And shoved him headfirst in

Lay down thy 'ommer and thy tongs
And never work no more...........


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 01:55 AM

And the song goes back quite a way. Here's a one-verse version from the Yale S.S.S '77 Shooting Club in the Yale Banner of 1877, page 92:
    Now I can shoot my rifle clear
    To pigeons in the sky;
    I've bid farewell to freshman year,
    And live on pigeon pie.

And another, which takes it back to 1843:
    Niles (Michigan) Republican (NR), 29 April 1843

    "Pigeons—warm weather has brot [sic] innumerable quantities of pigeons. The air is filled with them, and in the morning so densely that they darkened the sun. A continual firing of guns is kept up, and a graceless scamp was heard singing the following:
      When I shoot my rifle clear,
      to pigeons in the skies,
      I’ll bid farewell to pork and beans,
      And live on good pot pies".


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 02:44 PM

Joe

According to this article MYERS: Farewell (premature) to pork & beans it was sung to the tune of When I Can Read My Titles Clear, which seems to support your earlier supposition of the hymn tune.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 02:57 PM

Also the first verse is quoted in Mahew's London Labour and the London Poor (1851-61) as one of the songs sung by the Canvas Clown.

Also the History of Cooks County takes the reference back to 1836 (page 128).

I don't have any of the Black Country references.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: Joe Offer
Date: 01 Sep 11 - 05:20 PM

The Isaac Watts hymn is referred to as When I Can Read My Title Clear at Cyber Hymnal (hymntime.com). The Southern Harmony Hymnal also calls the song "When I Can Read My Title Clear," and identifies the melody as "The Saints' Delight," written by F. Price.

Anybody have those Black Country songbooks referred to above, particularly the ones by the Raven brothers?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 02 Sep 11 - 11:00 AM

Re the original post and a civil war setting, the usual song of this type seems to be related to Mosby's Rangers as:

When I can shoot my rifle clear
At Yankees on the roads,
I'll bid farewell to rags and tags
And live on sutler's loads

He who has good buttermilk aplenty
And gives the soldiers none,
He shan't have any of our buttermilk
When his buttermilk is gone.


The first verse is given in several books you can see at Google books: The Edge of Mosby's Sword: the life of Confederate Colonel William Henry Chapman by Gordon B Bonan, Gray Ghost: The Life of Col. John Singleton Mosby by James Ramage, Mosby's Rangers by James Joseph Williamson and Ranger Mosby by Virgil Carrington Jones.

The 2 verses are quoted in God Knows All Your Names: Stories in American History by Paul N. Herbert.


The Chorus above Bright Crowns... also seems to come from a (Salvation Army?) hymn of that name:

  "Bright crowns there are, bright crowns laid up on high,
  For you and me there's a palm of victory;
  There's a palm of victory.


(see: ISEW).


And re Joe's earlier extrapolation, the Jon Raven book does seem to have the song under the title Bright Crowns are Laid Up.


Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: banjocircus
Date: 07 Sep 11 - 04:10 AM

Wow, thanks. I appreciate the help and the wealth of information.

Jonathan


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: GUEST,JohnnyB
Date: 07 Sep 11 - 05:54 PM

The John Wesley reference could certainly be Black Country, as he made several visits there to orate and set up Weslyan/Methodist chapels.
Also, the words 'Ommer, 'Oss are very Black Country.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Oct 11 - 07:40 PM

Guest
I don't know the origin of this song/ditty but my dad sang it to me while I was a child growning up in Birmingham,AL. My dad was from south Alabama and his grandfather fought in the Civil War so I always assumed that's where he heard the song or that it passe down through the family.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 10:08 AM

I have both but can't lay my hand on them...but the song is certainly in both

The reference to John Wesley recalls a supposed visit to (I think) Wednesbury. Although popular in the Black Country, some of the rougher elements didn't agree with the teetotal aspect it decreed....hardly surprising when they were working in the heat of foundries and the water wasn't safe to drink...

"Bright Crowns Laid Up" is , I believe, in the Methodist Hymnal.

Off to check the bookshelves (I think it may also be found in Jon Raven's "Victoria's Inferno")
Baz


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 12:24 PM

For others like me who didn't understand the reference to "Black Country": Wikipedia -- "The Black Country is a loosely defined area of the English West Midlands conurbation, to the north and west of (but not inclusive of) Birmingham, and to the south and east of Wolverhampton. During the industrial revolution in the 19th century this area had become one of the most intensely industrialised in the nation. The South Staffordshire coal mines, the coal coking operations, and the iron foundries and steel mills that used the local coal to fire their furnaces, produced a level of air pollution that had few equals anywhere in the world."

~ Becky in Long Beach


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 12:53 PM

Baz - it's not in Victoria's Inferno - that's one I do have and I checked it earlier.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 03:12 PM

You're right...it is, however, in "Folk out of Focus...being a brief resume of the little known folklore of the Black Country and Staffordshire"

You'll be hard pushed to find it, published by Wolverhampton Folk Song Club 1965...in which we learn:-

"Wesley had considerable impact on the Black Country and his visits to the area were numerous. Often he needed a bodyguard...provided from the ranks of local followers. Many of these meetings ended in full scale fights between the two factions. In 1742 he visited Wednesbury, where he preached to a large crowd of colliers....His 1742 visit led to serious repercussions in 1743 when the colliers of Wednesbury attacked the property and person of rich Methodists.

The connection between social conditions and the strength of their religious conviction is apparent in the anti-Wesley song "Bright Crowns Laid Up". It speaks first of the plight of the workers, but the third verse is levelling direct insults at Wesley"

There may be other references, but I'm pretty certain this is the first.

Any help?

Baz


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 03 Oct 11 - 03:21 PM

That was me...last guest

Baz


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Subject: RE: Origins: Pigeon Pie - Black Country Song???
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Sep 12 - 09:18 AM


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