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You've heard of a place called Benghazi

Jon Corelis 20 Mar 12 - 01:28 PM
Jon Corelis 20 Mar 12 - 01:17 PM
GUEST,Paul Slade 20 Mar 12 - 12:04 PM
Keith A of Hertford 20 Mar 12 - 04:51 AM
Lighter 19 Mar 12 - 09:24 PM
Leadfingers 19 Mar 12 - 09:18 PM
Sandra in Sydney 19 Mar 12 - 09:13 PM
Lighter 19 Mar 12 - 06:46 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Mar 12 - 03:46 PM
Jon Corelis 19 Mar 12 - 01:12 PM
Lighter 19 Mar 12 - 12:07 PM
Jon Corelis 19 Mar 12 - 10:51 AM
mayomick 19 Mar 12 - 09:11 AM
Ross Campbell 19 Mar 12 - 07:39 AM
Lighter 18 Mar 12 - 12:18 PM
Newport Boy 18 Mar 12 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,Spike Woods 18 Mar 12 - 11:59 AM
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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 20 Mar 12 - 01:28 PM

Folk-music related footnote: for a splendid example of anapestic absurdity, see The Fugs Swinburne Stomp.

Jon Corelis


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 20 Mar 12 - 01:17 PM

In English-language versification, triple meters -- anapest and dactylic -- sound fairly good, I think, to set to music, since triple meter is so common in English-language songs, but attempts to use such meters for serious verse almost always quickly start sounding absurd, as in Poe's Ulalame:

It was night in the lonesome October
Of my most immemorial year;
It was hard by the dim lake of Auber,
In the misty mid region of Weir-
It was down by the dank tarn of Auber,
In the ghoul-haunted woodland of Weir.

Can anyone really read that without wishing Spike Jones had covered it?

Anyway, I think this is why serious song lyrics written in triple meter, like the one that started this thread, tend to sound absurd when denuded of their music, and it's also one reason why such lyrics are so easy to parody.

There are of course some good serious triple meter poems, like Byron's The Destruction of Sennacherib or Blake's The Sick Rose, but these are exceptions.

Jon Corelis
Songs by William Blake


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: GUEST,Paul Slade
Date: 20 Mar 12 - 12:04 PM

Every time I see the line "You've heard of a place called Benghazi" in this thread's title, I imagine Stanley Holloway adding: "It's noted for fresh air and fun".

But that's me...


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 20 Mar 12 - 04:51 AM

The Forgotten Army song was a genuine song of that conflict and anon.


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 09:24 PM

The tune I recall was "Botany Bay." The same?

("Just below the Manchurian border,/ Korea's the name of the spot....")


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Leadfingers
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 09:18 PM

MacColl also did a 'Forgotten Army' song about Korea , to the tune of The Gresford disaster


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 09:13 PM

Lighter said -

The Benghazi song, also BTW, is first cousin to the sardonic "Dying Aviator" ("Take the manifold out of my larynx...And assemble the engine again"), which parodies "The Tarpaulin Jacket."

We have numerous parodies of The Dying (someone) here - The Dying Stockman, The Dying Treasurer (politician)

I found 4 very quickly when I was looking for parodies for a singing session a few years ago, unfortunately I didn't keep them after printng them, so I can't remember them

sandra


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 06:46 PM

Indeed there are textual similarities between "Benghazi" and "Oh! Bury Me Out on the Prairie" that can't be coincidental. (See the text in the DT.) The "cowboy" song has its own melody.

"Oh! Bury Me out on the Prairie" (alias "I've Got No Use for the Women") was copyrighted in the USA by Dean Fitzer in 1927.

Fitzer seems to have been a radio announcer in Kansas City, but I can't verify this.

That's the earliest attestation I've found. The song doesn't appear in Lomax's "Cowboy Songs" until the 1938 edition.


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 03:46 PM

Here's a version I recorded from Norman Cressey of Goole who joined up in 1944 at the age of 18 in the East Yorkshire Regiment and was later transferred to the Yorks & Lancs Regt. He was sent to Burma but at some point picked up this North African version. The tune is something like 'Botany Bay'

He wasn't a lad for the women
In true love could never be found
He wasn't a lad for the women
They laughed at him when he was down.

Now had she been the girl that she promised
He might have been raising a son
Instead he's pushing up daisies
Under the Libyan sun.

Now you've heard of a place called Gazella
Where most of the fighting was done
Twas there that this poor British Tommy
Was hit by an old I-tie gun.

He raised himself up on his elbows
The blood from his wounds dripping red
He turned to his comrades around him
And these were the last words he said.

'Oh bury me out in the desert
Under the Libyan sun
Oh bury me out in the desert
My duty for England is done.'

So they buried him out in the desert
Coyotes to watch o'er his grave
They buried him out in the desert
His young life for England he gave.

Now when you get back to old Blighty
The war will be over and won
But think of that poor British Tommy
Out under the Libyan sun.

Pure folk!

I've always thought these songs were based on the American western song 'Bury me not on the prairie'


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 01:12 PM

Interesting about the women coming out to cut up the enemy wounded. The same phenomenon is reported after Custer's Last Stand. I can't site a source for it happening in 19th century Afghanistan, but it seems plausible.

The "dying man's request" topos, also found famously in St. James's Infirmary and The Streets of Laredo, is indeed common enough to have attracted parodies. Two well known ones, which I'll yield to the temptation to quote even though they are well known, are by Rolf Harris:

Tan me hide when I'm dead, Fred,
tan me hide when I'm dead.
So we tanned his hide when he died Clyde,
And that's it hanging on the shed.

and John Prine:

Please don't bury me
Down in that cold cold ground
No, I'd druther have 'em cut me up
And pass me all around ..
Give my feet to the footloose
Careless, fancy free
Give my knees to the needy
Don't pull that stuff on me
Hand me down my walking cane
It's a sin to tell a lie
Send my mouth way down south
And kiss my ...

Can't quite remember that last part.

Jon Corelis
Laugh if you will: Comic and Light verse


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 12:07 PM

One of Kipling's best "barrack-room ballads", BTW.

The Benghazi song, also BTW, is first cousin to the sardonic "Dying Aviator" ("Take the manifold out of my larynx...And assemble the engine again"), which parodies "The Tarpaulin Jacket."


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Jon Corelis
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 10:51 AM

For a less sentimental view of both military adultery and death in combat, cf. Kipling's The Young British Soldier:

If the wife should go wrong with a comrade, be loath
To shoot when you catch 'em -- you'll swing, on my oath! --
Make 'im take 'er and keep 'er: that's Hell for them both,
An' you're shut o' the curse of a soldier ...

When you're wounded and left on Afghanistan's plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An' go to your Gawd like a soldier.

Jon Corelis
Poems, Plays, Songs, and Essays


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: mayomick
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 09:11 AM

Whever wrote it must have known the Irish rebel song :

In Cork near the town of old Bantry
where most of the fighting was done
It was there that a true Irish soldier
was shot by a black and tan gun

As he raised himslef up to his elbow,
As the blood from his wounds ran red,
He turned to his comrades beside him,
And these are the words he said:

Won`t you bury me out on the mountains,
So that I can see where the battle was won
So they buried him out on the mountains,
`Neath a cross that stood facing the sun.

They wrote: "Here lies a true Irish soldier,
Who was shot by a Black-and-Tan gun,
And now we are back in old Dublin, our victory over and won,
We think of our comrades we buried under God`s rising sun


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 07:39 AM

I had a version of this from Vicki Lewis which she sang at the Moorbrook session in Preston a couple of years ago. She had it from her father. The lyrics seem to have disappeared when my old laptop died last year (so I didn't manage to add them to an existing thread).

The "Benghazi" song would appear to be an antecedent of a Fleetwood song "Deckie Learner", collected in the Strawberry Gardens pub, Fleetwood by Ron Baxter and Dick Gillingham from an anonymous singer.

Fleetwood & Fishing: Songs of the Trawling Trade

Benghazi threads:-

Any Alemain songs?

Lyr Req: WWII Song:'Come bury me out in Benghazi'

Ross


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Lighter
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 12:18 PM

Ewan MacColl recorded a version of this on "Bundook Ballads" ca1960.

The words were more sentimental, there was no gratuitous slam at the wife, and the soldier was killed by "an old Eyetie gun." He wanted to be buried "out in the desert" for some reason.

MacColl's tune was "Red River Valley." Yours?


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Subject: RE: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: Newport Boy
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 12:17 PM

Spike

This is on the
BBC WW2 poetry website

UNDER THE LIBYAN SUN

Now I'll tell you the tale of a soldier,
And it's never been told before,
Who counted the days to his wedding,
To the girl we would love and adore.

One morning I gave him a letter,
Then I looked at his face in surprise,
For as he was reading this letter,
Tear welled up in his eyes.

So here is the tale of the Tommie,
Whose sweetheart had never been true,
A Yank was the cause of the trouble,
That made him go up in the blue.

If she'd been the girl she should have
He would have been raising a son,
Instead he's kicking up daisies,
Under the Libyan sun.

Now you've hear of the place called Benghazi,
Where some of the fighting was done,
It was there that this poor British Tommie,
Went down to an old 'Itie' gun.

They carried him on a stretcher,
His blood stained the desert sands red,
He raised himself up on one elbow,
And these are the last words he said.

Please bury me out in the desert,
My duty to England is done,
So bury me out in the desert,
Under the Libyan sun.

So they buried him out in the desert,
All Allah to watch over his grave,
He now lies out there with his comrades,
His life for old England he gave.

And now that we're all in blighty,
The battle is over and won,
Just think of the boys left behind us,
Under the Libyan sun.

Phil


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Subject: You've heard of a place called Benghazi
From: GUEST,Spike Woods
Date: 18 Mar 12 - 11:59 AM

Anybody know the song Under the Libyan sun? Sometimes called You've heard of a place called Benghazi. I have these lyrics :
You've heard of a place called Benghazi
Where most of the fighting was done.
And it was there that a poor British Tommy
Was shot by a Messerschmidt gun.

Then raising himself on his elbow
These were the last words that he said :
Don't bury me out on the desert -
Take me back to old Blighty instead.

If she'd been the woman she ought to,
She might have been raising a son.
Instead, he's shoving up palm trees
Under the Libyan sun.

Collected from John Bevan via Max Cole, Tenby 1963/4
I think there are more verses.


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