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DTStudy: My Sweetheart's the Mule in the Mines

Joe Offer 18 Mar 17 - 11:34 PM
Stilly River Sage 18 Mar 17 - 11:36 PM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 17 - 11:45 PM
Stilly River Sage 18 Mar 17 - 11:47 PM
Joe Offer 18 Mar 17 - 11:54 PM
Joe Offer 19 Mar 17 - 12:00 AM
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Subject: DTStudy: My Sweetheart's the Mule in the
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 17 - 11:34 PM

This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

Search for other DTStudy threads


I don't know how many variants of this song we'll find, but it's worth a try.

Here are the words we have in the Digital Tradition:

MY SWEETHEART'S THE MULE IN THE MINES

My sweetheart's the mule in the mines
I drive her without any lines;
On the dasher I sit
And I chaw and I spit
All over my sweetheart's behind.

@animal @mining @work
filename[ MYSWEETM
TUNE FILE: MYSWEETM
CLICK TO PLAY
DC




Here is the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

My Sweetheart's a Mule in the Mines

DESCRIPTION: "My sweetheart's a mule in the mines, I drive her without any lines, On the (bumpers/dasher) I sit and tobacco I spit All over my sweetheart's behind."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927
KEYWORDS: animal mining work humorous
FOUND IN: US(MA)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Lomax-FSNA 65, "My Sweetheart's a Mule" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-AmFolklr, pp. 864-865, "My Sweetheart's the Mule in the Mines" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, p. 127, "My Sweetheart's the Mule in the Mines" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 27, "My Sweetheart's The Mule In The Mines" (1 text)
DT, MYSWEETM*

Roud #4756
RECORDINGS:
Pete Seeger, "My Sweetheart in the Mines" (on PeteSeeger07, PeteSeeger07b)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon" (tune)
File: LoF065

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: My Sweetheart's the Mule in the Mines
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 18 Mar 17 - 11:36 PM

I learned it as a singular "Mine," not "Mines." It's close enough to still work with "lines."

My sweetheart's a mule in the mine,
I drive her without any lines.
On the bumper I sit
And tobacco I spit
All over my sweetheart's behind.

This was learned as a child so it could have been altered over time.


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Subject: ADD Version: My Sweetheart's the Mule in the Mines
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 17 - 11:45 PM

Hi, Acme. I learned it as "a mule in the mine," but it looks like the printed sources prefer "the mule in the mines." Here's a school songbook version:

MY SWEETHEART'S THE MULE IN THE MINES
Pennsylvania Coal Miner's Song

My sweetheart's the mule in the mines,
I drive her without any lines;
On the bumper I stand,
With my whip in my hand.
My sweetheart's the mule in the mines.


Source: Music in Our Country, Silver Burdett Music For Living Series, book 5, page 63

notes: Before electricity was installed underground, mules were used to pull the flat-cars that transport mined coal from the digging area to the shaft up which it Is lifted to the surface. Boys in their early teens drove these mules. Early in the morning they got their mules from the stables, fed them, then hitched them to "trips" of empty cars. With a crack of the whip and a shout, each mule train started off down a passage so dark only the mule could see what lay ahead. Thus, the driver had no reins; he had to govern his mule with the tone of his voice. The boys had to work underground for ten hours. They sang this and other songs to brighten the long day.


I wonder if the song was "sanitized" for school use.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: My Sweetheart's the Mule in the Mines
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 18 Mar 17 - 11:47 PM

My father sang it once and that was enough for us to learn it - and sing at the top of our lungs while at play out in the back yard. If I come across his version I'll post it. It's only in my head right now. :)


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Subject: ADD Version: My Sweetheart's a Mule
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Mar 17 - 11:54 PM

I wish I could have heard your dad sing it, Acme. Do you have any recordings of him singing anything? Did he ever do studio recordings?

And Lomax:

MY SWEETHEART'S A MULE

My sweetheart's a mule in the mines
I drive her without any lines;
On the bumpers I sit
And tobacco I spit
All over my sweetheart's behind.

Source The Folk Songs of North America (Alan Lomax, 1960), page 131

reprinted from Minstrels of the Mine Patch, by G.G. Korson (Grafton Press, 1927)

Notes from Lomax:
65. MY SWEETHEART'S A MULE
MINING MULES were almost as tough as the miners themselves. Horses usually proved too nervous for underground work, but a mining mule, with a leather guard to protect his head from the roof, and a flickering lamp set between his ears, could surefootedly pick his way along the dark passages, pulling several times his own weight in coal. A mule became so accustomed to life underground that, when he was put out to pasture in the sunlight, he would refuse to eat grass until he had watched his companions for several days. Despite their stubbornness, they proved to be tough, unexcitable, loyal members of the underground team. The men grew deeply attached to their four-footed comrades, and sometimes went on strike when the management transferred a mule from one mine to another.


B.A. Botkin's A Treasury of American Folklore (poage 864-865) has the Korson version, along with what Botkin calls a "bowdlerized" version that I posted from the Silver Burdett school songbook. Botkin says the air is "My Sweetheart's the Man in the Moon."


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Subject: ADD Version: My Sweetheart's the Mule in the Mines
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Mar 17 - 12:00 AM

Silber (Folksinger's Wordbook page 27) isn't much different:

MY SWEETHEART'S THE MULE IN THE MINES

My sweetheart's the mule in the mines.
I drive her without any lines.
On the bumper I sit
And I chew and I spit
All over my sweetheart's behind.

Well, that covers all the versions cited by the Traditional Ballad Index except for I Hear America Singing! Great Folk Songs from the Revolution to Rock (Hazel Arnett, 1975), which I don't have or don't find.

A couple of YouTube videos wouldn't hurt, would they

Here's Joe Glazer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pyNbVjMJink

And Pete Seeger: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g2glwmGpbFc

Malvina Reynolds started her "You Can't Make a Turtle Come Out" with the same melody, expanded.


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