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Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse

Mik2 02 Feb 14 - 06:10 AM
peregrina 02 Feb 14 - 11:00 AM
Mik2 02 Feb 14 - 02:34 PM
peregrina 02 Feb 14 - 03:27 PM
Lighter 02 Feb 14 - 04:48 PM
Lighter 03 Feb 14 - 09:32 AM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 03 Feb 14 - 07:06 PM
Lighter 03 Feb 14 - 08:08 PM
Lighter 05 Feb 14 - 09:49 AM
Lighter 05 Feb 14 - 10:15 AM
GUEST,Hootenanny 05 Feb 14 - 10:54 AM
Mik2 06 Feb 14 - 08:37 AM
Mik2 06 Feb 14 - 08:47 AM
Lighter 06 Feb 14 - 09:18 AM
Mik2 06 Feb 14 - 12:42 PM
Lighter 06 Feb 14 - 01:02 PM
Mik2 16 Feb 14 - 01:20 PM
Mik2 02 Aug 17 - 07:34 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Mik2
Date: 02 Feb 14 - 06:10 AM

Hi, I have been trying to figure out this short verse since I got this early 1940s version
(Lomax Portraits CD) and here's what I have come up with :

'Old Kimball, gave me money

("Noal Massey" or "no musket")... he bet more

Old Kimball... ("were murdered" (sounds like "your murdrer"

...Through the keyhole in the door


Hope the above is readable.

Texas Gladden (his sister) had this Cuckoo version of Old Kimball
on her Portraits CD, but this Hobart verse is left out.

The words:

"Old Kimball gave (or 'give') me money

... he bet more "

    "Through the keyhole in the door"

are from the notes to the record.

A similar
Banjo Hangout thread from 2009 exists :

O kim'll gimme money (??)
No mussie (??)
He been hold (??)
He'll (????) your mother (???)
through the keyhole in the door


Here is the short clip

20 seconds or so.

Thanks in advance.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: peregrina
Date: 02 Feb 14 - 11:00 AM

There's a site with Hobart Smith's lyrics, tune transcription in notes and tab here, with the words of this clip (Lomax recording) as well as the words from the recording of Hobart singing the same song, different words, on the Fleming Brown tapes (later reissued as a folkways CD)

Hobart Smith's Cuckoo birds, Lomax and Brown recordings, at Banjology

That site gives this for the lines on the Lomax version that you've asked about:


"Old Kimball / gave me money / ? / he bet more.

Old Kimball / ? / through the keyhole / in the door."

an audio program tells me that at least one of the breaks (before 'keyhole' is a break in the recording.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Mik2
Date: 02 Feb 14 - 02:34 PM

Thanks for link to the DK Garner site! Nice transcriptions, although he has not cleaned up the Cuckoo and Wabash Blues yet.

The 'break' in the recording you mention could be an explanation for the mystery verse,
although it is hard to tell with those old Aluminium discs transfered to CD.

This verse might be from an old songbook originally, since it refers to the racehorse
'Kimball, Stewball, Scewball, Skewball etc.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: peregrina
Date: 02 Feb 14 - 03:27 PM

Yes, it seems to have elements of Stewball/Skewball and the name Kimball could be from there. Unless it's Kiper from some versions of Molly and Tenbrooks.I think this song tends to be a fairly unstructured grouping, often with floating verses found elsewhere, and in the Appalachians, almost no plot. It really sounds as if here Hobart was doing something different with it.
Wiretap studio shows such a complete break that I'm even wondering about editing to remove a rude word.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Feb 14 - 04:48 PM

I hear:

Ol' Kimball
Give me money
'N' ol' Muskie
He bet more.
Tell Kimball
Yo' musclin'
Through the keyhole
In the door.


"Musclin'" or not, the word is absolutely not "mother" or "murder." "Muzzlin'" is a possibility.

It's also possible that Smith was singing something he'd misheard originally, or that he forgot the words and plugged in nonsense: hence the alleged break in the recording while he took time to think of the right words and couldn't.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 09:32 AM

That might explain why he dropped the stanza from other performances.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 07:06 PM

"mussie" or "muskie" might be "Massa/Massie"??? that is,

Old Kimball give me money,
'N ol' Massie, he bet more,
Tell Kimball - - - -    (muslin?)
Through the keyhole of the door.

The song isn't really "The Cuckoo." It's "Old Kimball," a horse race song. Texas Gladden sings it as "Old Kimball."

Old Kimball was a grey nag,
Old Nelly was a brown,
Old Kimball beat old Nelly,
On the very first go round.

Cho:
And I see,
And I see,
On the first day
Of July.

The correspondence with The Cuckoo is close in melody. The difference is the lyrics. Hobart Smith may have mingled the two on a recording, but they're still different songs. Though a case could be made that "Old Kimball" is as much of a melange as "The Cuckoo," since they both have verses unrelated to the main theme. I get the feeling Texas and her brother Hobart caught a couple of verses of "Old Kimball" and filled it out from other songs.

Anybody know a fuller version of the horse race song about Kimball and Nellie? Or is Kimball just a version of Tenbroeck, the original of "Tim Brook" and "Molly and Tenbrooks?" The themes, and the soundalike Nellie and Molly, could lead you to that conclusion.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Feb 14 - 08:08 PM

Hi, Bob. I considered "muslin" too, but I can't think of a way to fit into the line that makes any sense. Of course, if it was a mistake to begin with, it might not make any sense.

Frankly I'm not very happy with "musclin'" either. "Muzzlin'" might suggest that a racehorse is pushing his nose through a door, but that's plain silly!

Maybe the original described a horse who was so fast he could slip through a keyhole.

I think somebody needs to make up a new line in the spirit of the song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Feb 14 - 09:49 AM

Hey, OP! You're welcome!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Feb 14 - 10:15 AM

Bob, maybe the line about a horse going through a keyhole isn't quite so far-fetched, even if it might come from poor memory:

"The bell it did tap and the flag it did fall,
And Mollie went a darting for the hole in the wall."

(Charles K. Wolfe, "Kentucky Country," 1982, p. 9: version of "Ten Broeck and Mollie" said to have been learned in 1884)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: GUEST,Hootenanny
Date: 05 Feb 14 - 10:54 AM

The current issue of Bluegrass Unlimited has more information on the race at Louisville Race Track 4th July 1878 between Ten Broeck and Miss Mollie and suggests that the song is a form of "The Noble Skewball" an early 19th Century Anglo-Irish street ballad.
A further account "Molly and Tenbrooks, The Race" was published in the same magazine in December 2003.

Hopefully this will help clarify things if not he lyrics used by Hobart.

Hoot


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Mik2
Date: 06 Feb 14 - 08:37 AM

"The bell it did tap and the flag it did fall,
And Mollie went a darting for the hole in the wall."

Lighter@ that seems like a good verse, it sounds and reads right, but english isn't my first language.

@Hootenanny, thanks for directing me to Bluegrass Unlimited, I will try to get those volumes, hope they sell back-issues like Oldtime Herald does.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Mik2
Date: 06 Feb 14 - 08:47 AM

Hobart seems to have 'cut' some of his words on purpose, I remembered the Folk Legacy record of Cuckoo Bird, where he did this to great effect.
Another almost contemporary (in age), Charlie Poole, did this all the time.

Thanks, Bob Coltman, for explaining the difference of the two tunes, and for suggestion of lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Feb 14 - 09:18 AM

I'm not saying that Smith was singing those lines, merely that what he did sing seems to have devolved from them.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Mik2
Date: 06 Feb 14 - 12:42 PM

@Lighter, yeah I know, I just added some of my own thoughts in my latest replies.

Everything that has come up here has given me a better idea of what kind of words that Hobart might have used.
Still I don't have an early slang dictionary to go through and guess from.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Feb 14 - 01:02 PM

No dictionary will help if, as I believe, the words were misunderstood to begin with.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Mik2
Date: 16 Feb 14 - 01:20 PM

Yes, that would be a problem, btw thanks for welcoming me! - I finally found the meaning of 'OP' in the urban dictionary...

Still, I think this thread is a good start,
speaking of making up a new verse in the spirit of the song Old Kimball,
or giving more ideas to further ear-deciphering.
In this way, old dictionaries can add to this subject.

a thought came to mind:
English is like Photoshop,
"no one will master it completely within reasonable time with all its possibilities" (and borrowed words).
-Without the particular word in mind, I won't be able to guess it.

Hobart learned his version from one John Greer.
I have also heard some trad singers either forgetting or making up verses on the spot -
the sometimes strange result is fascinating and adds to each song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Hobart Smith's Cuckoo - one early verse
From: Mik2
Date: 02 Aug 17 - 07:34 PM

Finally, I think I have found (with assistance from this thread and a

musician friend), the exact words as sung in 1942:

Old Kimball,
give me money,
now "Massee",
he bet more,
Old Kimball,
you're lookin',
through a keyhole,
in the door.

'Massee' – (Massah)


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