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Zipper Songs

Related threads:
'Zipper Songs' we have known and sung... (2)
(origins) Origins: Zipper Verses (17)


PHJim 11 Jul 14 - 11:34 AM
Nigel Parsons 11 Jul 14 - 01:06 PM
GUEST, topsie 11 Jul 14 - 03:06 PM
Joe_F 11 Jul 14 - 03:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Jul 14 - 04:04 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jul 14 - 04:54 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jul 14 - 05:11 PM
PHJim 11 Jul 14 - 07:57 PM
PHJim 11 Jul 14 - 08:06 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jul 14 - 09:05 PM
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Subject: Zipper Songs
From: PHJim
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 11:34 AM

Pete Seeger used to talk about "Zipper Songs"; songs where by changing one word or one line, you can add a new verse. I think Pete credited Lee Hayes with coining the term. One example is:

As I went down in the valley to pray
Studyin' about that good old way
And who shall wear the stary crown
Good Lord, show me the way
Oh _______ let's go down
Let's go down come on down
Oh _______ let's go down
Down in the valley to pray

By using the words "Father", "Mother", "Sister", "Brother", "Sinners"... you can make a new verse.

Another example is:

Hot tamales and they're red hot
Yes she's got 'em for sale
Hot tamales and they're red hot
Yes she's got 'em for sale
_____________________________
_____________________________
Hot tamales and they're red hot
Yes she's got 'em for sale.

Here a two line phrase is inserted in each verse.

"I've got a gal that's seven feet tall
She sleeps in the kitchen with her feet in the hall."

"Ashes to ashes, dust to dust
Show me a gal that a man can trust."

I've even heard,
"I've got a gal that's four feet tall
She sleeps in the kitchen with her feet in the kitchen."


What are some other "Zipper Songs"?


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 01:06 PM

ZIP! from "Pal Joey"


Or,
"Tell me why, there's no buttons on my fly,
Use a zipper.
Have done since I was a nipper . . ."


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: GUEST, topsie
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 03:06 PM

I thought I had suggested 'One Man Went to Mow'.
Either I didn't notice that my post had failed to take, or it was deleted.


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: Joe_F
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 03:41 PM

PHJim: And then,

    I've got a gal 'bout five feet tall.
    She don't get no sleep at all.

Other songs with infinitely many verses include "Away with Rum", "My God, How the Money Rolls In", and, of course, the various settings of limericks.


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 04:04 PM

As I went down to the river to pray-
Changing the word does not change the sense of the song. They are zipper verses in the sense of the term as used by Seegar.

In your second example , the added verses have nothing to do with the subject, tamales. I don't think Seegar would use that example.


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 04:54 PM

There's a book titled 20-in-10: Linking Music and Literacy with Twenty, Ten-minute Mini-lessons ... by Luana K. Mitten, Cathy Fink, and Marcy Marxer. The book claims that Lee Hays of the Weavers invented the term "Zipper Songs."

I don't know if I'd agree that Hays invented the term "zipper song," but he certainly used the term. Take a look at Lonesome Traveler: The Life of Lee Hays, By Doris Willens (page 57):
    A "zipper song" is a simple folk tune built on repeated lines and, in Lee's words, "so constructed that you have to zip in only a word or two to make an entirely new verse. 'Roll the Union On' is the best example, with its structure allowing you to roll the union over anything you want to roll over, but there are many more...
    "now these are obviously songs that don't call for much brain-work. They are songs you can sing three seconds after you've heard the first line. And, because they are very rhythmic and full of bounce, they're inviting - as a matter of fact, that's just what they are, because they derive from the invitational hymns of the old camp meetings.
    "'Join the Union' is 'Come to Jesus.' 'Roll the Union On' is 'Roll the Chariot On.' So today the same music invites people to join churches and unions.

I guess one could say "We Shall Overcome" is a zipper song, as are a number of labor and civil rights songs. "If I Had a Hammer" is a good zipper song, although it doesn't really open itself to new verses made up on the spot.

Oh, the Unitarians have a very nice page on Zipper songs here (click).

-Joe-

Oh, and I think we need a link to Rita Hayworth's memorable performance of "Zip." Too bad the voice was dubbed. I understand that Hayworth was a pretty good singer, but was never given the chance to sing in her movies. Here's the link:


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 05:11 PM

I'm going to copy-paste a page from occupella.org that's too good to lose:

    Zipper Songs

    Zip in new words to fit your event. We're grateful to the Civil Rights, Labor, Women's and other movements for peace and justice for developing these songs & keeping them alive.

    Ain't Gonna Let Nobody turn me around, turn me around, turn me around, Ain't gonna let nobody turn me around, keep on walking, keep on talking, gonna build a better world. Ain't gonna let no corporations…  Ain't gonna let no tuition hikes… Ain't gonna let no pepper spray(Your ideas here!)

    Bella Ciao: Oh we are women, and we are marching, oh bella ciao, bella ciao, bella ciao ciao ciao, We are marching for liberation, We're going to occupy right now! Oh we are artists, and we are weaving (we are weaving for liberation…) Children...dreaming; Poets… singing; Lovers...longing; Mothers...caring; Fathers...crying; Workers...building; Many…demanding; Farmers... planting (we are planting the revolution) People…loving …(Your ideas here!)

    Come & Go With Me to that Land, come & go with me to that land, come & go with me to that land where I'm bound. (2x) Single payer in that land… Jobs and justice in that land… Free tuition in that land… (Your ideas here!)

    Down by the Riverside: Gonna lay down my sword & shield Down by the riverside. (3x) Gonna lay down my sword & shield down by the riverside, study war no more. (I) ain't gonna study war no more. (6x) Gonna Tell the banks we say no thanks!... We're the 99%...Gonna downsize the Pentagon... Gonna stop corporate welfare…(Your ideas here!)

    I'm Gonna Sit at the Welcome Table, (2x) one of these days, Hallelujah! I'm gonna sit at the welcome table, (2x) one of these days… We're gonna:  occupy together… move to a credit union… tax the corporations. . . march the streets together... (Your ideas here!)

    Look to the People for Courage in the hard times comin' ahead. Gonna sing and shout, gonna work it on out in the hard times comin' ahead. With people's courage (3x) we can make it. ...for wisdom… humor… singing… (Your ideas here!)
    [by Ruth Pelham]

    Roll The Union On: We're gonna roll (2x) We're gonna roll the union on. (2x) And if the courts get in the way, we're gonna roll right over them, (3x) If the courts get in the way, we're gonna roll right over them, gonna roll the union on. And if … the scabs... the police... the rich…

    Soon and Very Soon we are going to change this world, (3x) Forever and ever we're going to change this world! Time to tax the rich… Equal rights for all… No more corporate welfare… (Your ideas here!)

    This Little Light of Mine, I'm gonna let it shine, (3x) let it shine. (3x) Homes & jobs for everyone… Join the credit unions… All around the whole wide world…… All around my neighborhood… All around the workplace… Esta luz mía, voy a verla brillar… (Your ideas here!)

    Singing for Our Lives [by Holly Near]:  We are a gentle angry people and we are singing, singing for our lives. (2x) We are a justice seeking people… young and old together … Gay and straight together… (Your ideas here!)

    We Are Singing for a Peaceful World: We are singing for a peaceful world, we are singing for a peaceful world. (2x) We are singing (singing) we are singing (singing), We are singing for a peaceful world (2x). We are marching... We are dreaming... We are ready... For the children, for a peaceful world... (Your ideas here!) [from "Siyahamba," South African Freedom Song/new lyrics(?)]

    We Shall Not Be Moved: We shall not, we shall not be moved, (2x) Just like a tree that's standing by the water, we shall not be moved! Organize together… At Occupations everywhere… Out with corporate welfare… Bring the soldiers home now… No, no, no nos moverán, (2x) Como un árbol firme junto al rio, no nos moverán... Unidos en la lucha... Basta con la migra… Basta con la guerra… (Your ideas here!)

    We Shall Overcome, we shall overcome, we shall overcome some day, Deep in my heart I do believe that we shall overcome some day. We are not afraid… We shall live in peace… We'll walk hand in hand… Justice will prevail… (Your ideas here!)

    We'll Be Occupying Wall Street when we come, (Wah hoo!)
    We'll be closing down the big banks when we come, (Shut 'em down!)
    We'll be ending the foreclosures...(No more!)
    We'll be standing with the unions...(Solidarity!)
    We'll be standing with the homeless...(Gimme shelter!)
    We'll be challenging the power...(Speak truth!)
    We'll be saying no to empire...(No pasarán!)
    We'll be banking at the co-op...(We own it!)
    We'll be voting out big money...(No superPACs!)
    We'll be getting single payer...(Say ah!)
    We'll be standing with the students...(Save our schools!)
    We'll be taxing millionaires...(Vote yes!)
    ["She'll Be Comin' Round the Mountain," new words by Betsy Rose, exclamations by Nancy Schimmel and Claudia Morrow. Add your own verses.]

    When the Poor Have Won Their Rights, oh when the poor have won their rights, oh I want to be in that number, when the poor have won their rights. Oh when the rich pay all their tax…  When every worker has a job… Oh when the soldiers all come home… (Your ideas here!) [tune: "When the Saints Go Marching In"]


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: PHJim
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 07:57 PM

Q I must agree that Hot Tamales is not really a zipper song.

I prefer "Down In The Valley To Pray" to "Down In The River To Pray", probably because that's the way I learned it and have been singing it for fifty years or so. They changed the words to fit the movie "Oh Brother..." since the scene showed a river baptism. The new words were fine for the movie, but I don't think we should sing them anywhere else.
When I saw the movie, I knew something was wrong with the song, but I couldn't put my finger on it. It wasn't till I was on my way home that I realised that a key word had been changed.


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: PHJim
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 08:06 PM

Down In The Valley To Pray - Doc, Ricky, Allison & Earl


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Subject: RE: Zipper Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jul 14 - 09:05 PM

Why did they change it to "down to the river to pray"?

...because those three Sirens looked far more alluring when they were in the river and wet....although the song they sang was, Go to Sleepy, Little Baby. It was Homer who put those sirens in the water first. He was no dummy.

Here's the baptism scene that accompanined Down in the River to Pray (click).

Now, when the only thing changed in a song is Father, mother, sister, brother, is that really a Zipper song?

Is Maid Freed from the Gallows (Child 95) a Child Ballad Zipper Song? America wants to know.

-Joe-


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