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Origins: I'm a Swell

GUEST,David Kilpatrick 24 Nov 13 - 05:03 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Nov 13 - 05:21 PM
Joe Offer 24 Nov 13 - 05:23 PM
Joe Offer 26 Nov 13 - 02:44 AM
Joe Offer 26 Nov 13 - 06:57 PM
Joe Offer 27 Nov 13 - 10:43 PM
Billy Weeks 28 Nov 13 - 06:27 AM
Jim Dixon 28 Nov 13 - 08:57 AM
Joe Offer 03 Dec 13 - 01:10 AM
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Subject: Origins: I'm a Swell
From: GUEST,David Kilpatrick
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 05:03 PM

Paul Walker, photographer and FB friend of mine, has posted a video of his mum singing a song with a music-hall like tune and lyrics -

I'm a swell, I'm a swell, I'm a market-street swell
With a curl in my moustache and a bow-tie as well
A cigar in my mouth and a stick by my side
And a wink at the ladies as they pass me by
(then a peculiar nonsense chorus ending one-two-three which seems to indicate a dance)

It's a triple time 2:3 without swing and I can't post a link to the Flashplayer FB video.

These lyrics produce a blank - just can't find them. Any ideas?

David
Kelso Folk & Live


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Subject: RE: Origins: I'm a Swell
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 05:21 PM

'Swell' songs reached a peak in the 1860s with the Lion Comiques like the Great Vance competing with George Leybourne to see who could produce the most popular song. (Champagne Charlie). However their popularity lasted till about 1900.

Kilgarriff gives in Charles Coburn's repertoire 'I'm a swell with toothpick and crutch', but I can't find anything under 'Market-street Swell'.

Billy Weekes, where are you?


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Subject: RE: Origins: I'm a Swell
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Nov 13 - 05:23 PM

Hmmm. Sounds like the song I know as "Glasgow Cat," but I think the official name is Sam the Skull (click).

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: I'm a Swell
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 02:44 AM

refresh - anybody?


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Subject: RE: Origins: I'm a Swell
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Nov 13 - 06:57 PM

This is fwustwating. I'm sure this song is related to "Glasgow Cat," which I first heard in September from the talented 11-yr-old son of Jim Malcolm.

Can somebody post "I'm a Swell" for us? David, can you post what you hear on the video?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: I'm a Swell
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Nov 13 - 10:43 PM

This thread disappeared from the Forum Menu because of a power outage at Mudcat Central.
Can anybody come up with an answer?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: I'm a Swell
From: Billy Weeks
Date: 28 Nov 13 - 06:27 AM

Hi Steve: I'm still around (to my constant surprise) and still enjoying Mudcat as much as ever, but rarely finding anything for the last year or two that I felt competent to comment on.

You have already made an essential point about the historical place of swell songs. This one certainly sounds quite like 'Crutch and Toothpick', 1879, words by H J Byron:

I'm a swell, you can tell,and behave of course as such,
Close-cut hair, elbows square, with my toothpick and crutch

- but I am hampered by the fact that I don't have this song in my collection of sheet music, so have not been able to look at a published copy. It was,in any case, one of several with similar names, four being listed in the BL catalogue. Another was called (such originality!) 'Toothpick and Crutch' and there was at least one ladies' version (I think I have this one) and there were no doubt American variants.

It strikes me that the lines above, would not fit comfortably to triple time. I was going to add that swell songs don't seem to survive very long in oral tradition, but then I noticed that Leadbelly's discography included 'Champagne Charlie'.

I'd really like to see the video mentioned in the opening post.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE CRUTCH AND TOOTHPICK (Byron/Lutz)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 28 Nov 13 - 08:57 AM

This is the song that Steve Gardham and Billy Weeks referred to, although it doesn't have the words that our OP, David Kilpatrick, quoted, and so may not be the right song. The chorus begins, "I'm a swell."

From the sheet music at Baylor University:

The chorus is in 3/4 time, but the verses are in 6/8.

THE CRUTCH AND TOOTHPICK
Words by Henry J. Byron; music by W. Meyer Lutz
London: Hopwood & Crew, 1879.
"Sung with immense success by Miss Nellie Farren in the popular burlesque of 'Pretty Esmeralda'"

1. I'm an aristocrat,
Make no mistake in that,
I come of a line
Remarkably fine,
For troubles I do not care
For pleasure's my aim,
Delight is my game,
And I adore the fair.

CHORUS: I'm a swell
You can tell
And behave of course as such
Close cut hair
Elbows square
With my toothpick and my crutch.

2. With glass enclosed in eye,
I scan the passers by.
I've pantomime cuffs,
And ready rebuffs
For cads familiar.
Although really glad,
I say "not baad,"
When leaving, drawl "Ta ta."

3. To your true aristocrat
All luxuries come pat:
The driest Champagne,
The softest La Rose,
The tastiest Caviar.
Havana for us
Especially grows
It's exquisitest cigar.

4. Though we're aristocrats,
At fighting we're not flats
For when England's name,
The foe would defame,
Swell dandies tho' we be,
In meeting the foe,
No swelldom we show—
So owns the enemy.
Staunch and true,
Red or blue,
Sure our courage isn't Dutch,
And the sword
We can wield
With more vigour than the crutch.


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Subject: RE: Origins: I'm a Swell
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 01:10 AM

Great song, Jim!
Don't think it's the requested song, so I'll keep requesting.
I like it when we get "bonus" songs like the one Jim posted.
I've learned some treasures that way.
-Joe-


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