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DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy

DigiTrad:
STEP IT OUT, MARY
STEP IT OUT, NANCY


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter (23)
Tune Req: Step It Out, Mary (30)
Chords Req: Step It Out, Mary (25)
Lyr Req: She Had a Pair of Cotton Stockings On (12) (closed)


Joe Offer 08 Jun 17 - 01:52 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 17 - 02:02 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 17 - 02:24 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 17 - 02:44 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 08 Jun 17 - 08:59 PM
Mrrzy 08 Jun 17 - 11:19 PM
Joe Offer 09 Jun 17 - 01:32 AM
Long Firm Freddie 09 Jun 17 - 03:48 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 09 Jun 17 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 09 Jun 17 - 04:34 AM
GUEST,Pat Cooksey. 09 Jun 17 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Jerome Clark 09 Jun 17 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,jim bainbridge 10 Jun 17 - 04:19 PM
Joe Offer 10 Jun 17 - 05:59 PM
GeoffLawes 10 Jun 17 - 07:10 PM
GeoffLawes 10 Jun 17 - 07:25 PM
vectis 11 Jun 17 - 05:22 AM
Janie 11 Jun 17 - 02:14 PM
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Subject: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 17 - 01:52 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


Here are the lyrics we have in the Digital Tradition Folk Song Database:

STEP IT OUT, NANCY
(Robin Williams and Jerome Clark)

Near Cheyenne in Wyoming, there's a maiden fine and fair
Her eyes they shone like diamonds, she had long and golden hair
When the cattleman came riding, he came to her father's door
Mounted on a milkwhite pony, he came at the stroke of four

Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Step it out Nancy, if you can
Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Show your legs to the wealthy man

I've come to court your daughter, Nancy of the golden hair
I have wealth and I have money, I have goods beyond compare
I will buy her silks and satins and a gold ring for her hand
I will build for her a mansion, she'll have servants to command

Can't you see I love a cowboy, and I've promised him my hand
I don't want your goods and money
I don't want your house and land
Nancy's father spoke up sharply, said you'll do as you are told
You'll be married on the Sunday, you will wear the ring of gold

The cattleman spoke with fury, said you will not have that man
And he rode from town in anger with his rifle in his hand
He came back from Colorado, on his pony was a sack
Deep red with the blood of the cowboy, slung across the back

Pretty Nancy cried in anguish, she wept and tore her hair
She slipped into her father's room and found a pistol lying there
On the Sunday came the wedding the town's folk gathered at noon
They saw Nancy pull the pistol and shoot down that wealthy man groom

Nancy said, I am not sorry, when the jury heard her tale
Though he rots beneath the ground and I shall rot in jail
There in the crowded courtroom, twelve good men took their stand
Said we will not hold you, Nancy, for killing that wealthy man

@murder @courtship @feminist
Copyright The New Music Times, Inc.
There is also an Irish version with "step it out" referring to step dancing(?)
filename[ STEPOUT
TUNE FILE: STEPOUT
CLICK TO PLAY
SOF

This is very close to the Robin & Linda Williams recording I found, but not an exact transcription. I made two obvious corrections in bold.


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Subject: ADD Version: Step It Out Nancy
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 17 - 02:02 PM

The version in Sing Out! is quite different:

STEP IT OUT NANCY
(Robin Williams and Jerome Clark)

Step it out Nancy, purty darlin'
Step it out Nancy, if you can
Step it out Nancy, purty darlin'
Show your legs to the wealthy man

At Cheyenne in Wyoming
There's a maiden fine and fair
Oh, her eyes they shone like diamonds
She had long and golden hair
When the cattleman came a-riding
He came to her father's door
Mounted on a silk white pony
He came at the stroke of four
(Chorus)

I've come to court your daughter, Nancy
Of the golden hair
I have wealth and I have money
I have goods beyond compare
I will buy her silks and satins
And a gold ring for her hand
I will buy my love a mansion
She'll have servants to command
(Chorus)

Can't you see I love a cowboy
And I promised him my hand
I don't want your house and money
I don't want your goods and land
Nancy's father spoke up sharply
Said You'll do as you are told
You'll be married on the Sunday
You will wear the ring of gold
(Chorus)

The cattleman spoke with fury
Said You will not have that man
And he rode from town in anger
With a rifle in his hand
He came back from Colorado
On his pony was a sack
Deep red with the blood of the cowboy
A-slung across the back
(Chorus)

Pury Nancy cried in anguish
She wept and tore her hair
She slipped into her father's room
And found a pistol lying there
On the Sunday came the wedding
The townsfolk gathered at noon
They saw Nancy pull the pistol
And shoot down that wealthy groom
(Chorus)

Nancy said I am not sorry
When the jury heard the tale
Though he rots beneath the ground
And I shall rot in jail
There in the crowded courtroom
Twelve good men took their stand
Said We will not hold you, Nancy
For killing that wealthy man
(Chorus)

Music and lyrics by Robin Williams and Jerome Clark
© 1979 Love Breeze Music

Notes from Sing Out!: "Women are always getting killed in murder ballads," Robin Williams declares, but he's decided that it's a tradition worth breaking. "Step It Out Nancy" is what Linda Williams gleefully calls "an affirmative action murder ballad."
Robin and Linda's original songs are rooted in the mountain music of the south. "We try to delve into every subject of country music," Robin says, "and of course murder ballads are among the most popular." Robin and Jerome Clark wrote the lyrics for "Step It Out Nancy" after listening to the Dayhills sing "Step It Out Mary," a suicide ballad of Irish origin (on Mom's Favorites, Biscuit City 1308). Mary is a young woman in love with a sailor, but her father orders her to marry for wealth. On her wedding day, Mary and the sailor drown themselves. In "Step It Out Nancy," the story moves to the American west and the heroine chooses a different fate.
Robin and Linda are known for their harmony singing, and we've included a harmony line here. To hear their variations on this basic harmony, listen to "Step It Out Nancy" on Dixie Highway Sign (JAO31, June Appal Records, Box 743, Whitesburg KY 41858).

Source: Sing Out! The Folk Song Magazine, Volume 27, No. 5 (Sept/Oct 1979), page 16

This transcription doesn't match the Robin and Linda Williams recording. I wonder where it came from.

Here's the Robin and Linda Williams recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWdmUqb6Ojc

Holly Near recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88lKY6jeiDo


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Subject: ADD Version: Step It Out Nancy
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 17 - 02:24 PM

Here's my transcription from the Robin and Linda Williams recording.

STEP IT OUT, NANCY
(Robin Williams and Jerome Clark)

Near Cheyenne in Wyoming, there's a maiden fine and fair
Oh, her eyes they shone like diamonds, she had long and golden hair
When the cattleman came riding, he came to her father's door
Mounted on a milkwhite pony, he came at the stroke of four

CHORUS
Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Step it out Nancy, if you can
Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Show your legs to the wealthy man

I have come to court your daughter, Nancy of the golden hair
I have wealth and I have money, I have goods beyond compare
I will buy her silks and satins and a gold ring for her hand
I will build for her a mansion, she'll have servants to command
CHORUS

Can't you see I love a cowboy, and I've promised him my hand
I don't want your house and money
I don't want your goods and land
Nancy's father spoke up sharply, said you'll do as you are told
You'll be married on the Sunday, you will wear the ring of gold
CHORUS

But the cattleman spoke with fury, said you will not have that man
And he rode from town in anger with his rifle in his hand
He came back from Colorado, on his pony was a sack
Deep red with the blood of the cowboy, slung across the back
CHORUS

Pretty Nancy cried in anguish, she wept and tore her hair
She slipped into her father's room and found a pistol lying there
On the Sunday came the wedding, the town's folk gathered at noon
They saw Nancy pull the pistol and shoot down that wealthy groom
CHORUS

Nancy said, I am not sorry, when the jury heard the tale
Though he rots beneath the ground and I shall rot in jail
There in the crowded courtroom, twelve good men took their stand
Said we will not hold you, Nancy, for killing that wealthy man
CHORUS (twice)

Source-Robin & Linda Willams recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aWdmUqb6Ojc


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Subject: ADD Version: Step It Out Nancy
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 17 - 02:44 PM

STEP IT OUT, NANCY
(Robin Williams and Jerome Clark)

Near Cheyenne in Wyoming, there's a maiden fine and fair
Oh, her eyes they shone like diamonds, she had long and golden hair
When the cattleman came a-riding, he came to her father's door
Mounted on a milkwhite pony, he came at the stroke of four

CHORUS
Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Step it out Nancy, if you can
Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Show your legs to the wealthy man

I have come to court your daughter, Nancy of the golden hair
I have wealth and I have money, I have goods beyond compare
And I will buy her silks and satins and a gold ring for her hand
I will build for her a mansion, she'll have servants to command

Can't you see I love a cowboy, and I've promised him my hand
I don't want your house and money
I don't want your goods and land
Nancy's father spoke up sharply, said you'll do as you are told
You'll be married on the Sunday, you will wear that ring of gold
CHORUS

Well, the cattleman spoke with fury, said you will not have that man
And he rode from town in anger with a rifle in his hand
He came back from Colorado, on his pony was a sack
Deep red with the blood of the cowboy, slung across the back

Pretty Nancy cried in anguish, she wept and tore her hair
She slipped into her father's room and found a pistol lying there
On the Sunday came the wedding, the town's folk gathered at noon
They saw Nancy pull the pistol and shoot down that wealthy groom
CHORUS

Nancy said, I am not sorry, when the jury heard the tale
Though he rots beneath this earthly ground and I shall rot in jail
There in the crowded courtroom, twelve good folks took their stand
Said we will not hold you, Nancy, for killing that wealthy man
CHORUS

Well, I hope you get my meaning, it's not that murder pays,
But that women must not be bought or sold, neither then nor nowadays.
We will choose our lovers, we'll live out our own lives,
We'll love whome we please with a passion and a sparkle in our eyes.

FINAL CHORUS
Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Step it out Nancy, if you can
Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Show your legs to NO wealthy man

Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
Step it out Nancy, if you can
Step it out Nancy, pretty darling
No more leg for the wealthy man.

Source: Holly Near recording: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=88lKY6jeiDo

Compare with the High Kings recording of "Step It Out Mary": https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K2S8dRxwmE0


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 08 Jun 17 - 08:59 PM

Sometime in the latter 1970s Robin Williams and I co-wrote "Step It Out, Nancy," based on the quasi-traditional Irish "Step It Out, Mary." Our song sort of entered tradition itself, with assorted variants popping up in surprising places since then. I know for certain that we didn't write, and never would have written, "purty darling." When she recorded it, Holly Near appended the frankly cringe-inducing verse that begins "I hope you get my meaning...." You shouldn't have to explain to a listener above the age of five or six that murder is not an acceptable solution except in wildly melodramatic ballads.

The inspiration was the Dayhllls's recording of "Mary." Though I loved the melody and the first part of the narrative, I was repelled by the ending, in which the young lovers (he a sailor boy) resolve the problem of parental disapproval by drowning themselves. We set the narrative in Wyoming's Johnson County Wars of the late 19th Century, when juries composed of friends of cowboys and ranch families who'd run afoul of the big landowners refused to convict them. The story is not, however, based on any specific incident.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: Mrrzy
Date: 08 Jun 17 - 11:19 PM

High Kings' Step It Out Mary? Which came first?


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Jun 17 - 01:32 AM

Hi, Mrr - Wikipedia says the High Kings were formed in 2008 - the High Kings were one of many groups that recorded "Step It Out Mary." We don't have a date in the other thread (click) for the publication date of "Step It Out Mary," but we do know that songwriter Sean McCarthy included it in a songbook in 1983.

Sing Out! Magazine dates "Step It Out Nancy" at 1979, but Jerome says above in this thread that the other song came first.

Thanks for stoppiong by, Jerome.

I brought this song up because I'm researching all the songs in the Rise Up Singing Songbook (the song is on page 250). I think Rise Up Singing has a fairly accurate transcription of Robin & Linda Williams version of the song - they do include the Holly Near final verse in italics.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: Long Firm Freddie
Date: 09 Jun 17 - 03:48 AM

Earliest I've found Step It Out Mary on Discogs is a 1966 single release by Danny Doyle.

The writer is credited as Sean McCarthy.

Discogs Step It Out Mary

LFF


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 09 Jun 17 - 04:32 AM

Sean McCarthy was (is? Not sure) a well known irish writer of songs in a traditional vein. "Step it Out, Mary" was a sizeable hit, by Irish standards, when recorded by Danny Doyle.

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 09 Jun 17 - 04:34 AM

He died some years ago, alright:

Wikipedia entry

Regards


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: GUEST,Pat Cooksey.
Date: 09 Jun 17 - 04:20 PM

Sean McCarthy wrote the song but I think that to this day there are many recording and claiming royalties from it, the American version is the same song with a few changes here and there to claim copywright, Danny Doyle was a great singer and a decent guy who gave Sean his due, unlike many of today's generation.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: GUEST,Jerome Clark
Date: 09 Jun 17 - 08:50 PM

On their album the Dayhills (an Irish-American trio from the Upper Midwest) identified "Step It Out, Mary" as a traditional song in the public domain. I'd never heard it before and took them at their word.

If I'd known of Sean McCarthy's authorship at the time, I'd never have suggested the idea of a rewrite to Robin.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: GUEST,jim bainbridge
Date: 10 Jun 17 - 04:19 PM

Sean McCarthy kept a pub near Clapham Junction in London in the mid sixties- he ran a folk club there for a while & I heard Jo-Ann Kelly do the guest slot there one night & recall him singing 'Step it out Mary' that night around 1965-

he also wrote/adapted ''Shanagolden' another big hit in Ireland. To an old tune I can't put a name to, but Johnny Mathis recorded 'Twelfth of Never' to the same tune


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jun 17 - 05:59 PM

cantaria.org estimates that Sean McCarthy wrote "Step It Out Mary" in 1955. Cantaria says "Step It Out Mary" is based on a children's skipping-song:

    Step it out Mary, my fine daughter

    Step it out Mary, if you can

    Step it out Mary, my fine daughter

    Cock your legs for the country man.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 10 Jun 17 - 07:10 PM

Step It Out Mary (Live) - The Dubliners


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: GeoffLawes
Date: 10 Jun 17 - 07:25 PM

Katy Creek -- Step It Out Nancy


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: vectis
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 05:22 AM

Step it out Mary
Sean McCarthy

In the village of Kildorey, there lived a maiden fair
Her eyes they shone like diamonds, she had long and golden hair
And a countryman came riding, up to her father's gate
Mounted on a milk white stallion, he came at the stroke of eight

CH
Step it out Mary, my fine daughter
Step it out Mary, if you can
Step it out Mary, my fine daughter
Show your legs to the countryman

I've come to court your daughter, Mary of the golden hair
I have wealth and I have money, I have goods beyond compare
I will buy her silks and satin and a gold ring for her hand
I'll build for her a mansion, she'll have servants to command

CH

Oh kind sir I love a soldier, I've pledged to him my hand
I don't want your wealth nor money, I don't want your goods nor land
Mary's father spoke up sharply: "You will do as you are told
You'll be married on next Sunday and you'll wear that ring of gold"

CH

In the village of Kildorey, there's a deep stream running by
They found Mary there at midnight, she drowned with the soldier boy
In the cottage there is music, you can hear the father say:
"Step it out Mary my fine daughter, Sunday is your wedding day"

CH

The chorus has been around in the town of Listowel as a childrens' skipping rhyme. My mother was brought up in Tralee, just down the road, and they didn't know or play the same game with skipping ropes; so it was a rhyme restricted to one small town.

Sean wrote the verses on the back of some cement bags during one lunch time while he was working on a building site in London. This was in the 1950s sometime.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy
From: Janie
Date: 11 Jun 17 - 02:14 PM

I learned off the earlier Robin & Linda Williams "Dixie Highway Sign" lp err cassette, from Junappal - no longer available. Maybe just because I tend to always prefer 'where I heard it first" prefer that arrangement and recording to their later recording. Unfortunately, the cassette is long gone so can not compare changes in lyric that might have occurred.

I think you 'done good' Jerome. And many thinks for taking the time to post here.


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