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Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',

GUEST,Johnny Come Down To Hilo 13 Jan 18 - 02:54 PM
Jeri 13 Jan 18 - 02:56 PM
GUEST 13 Jan 18 - 03:08 PM
Gibb Sahib 13 Jan 18 - 05:39 PM
Steve Gardham 13 Jan 18 - 06:09 PM
meself 13 Jan 18 - 06:12 PM
Gibb Sahib 13 Jan 18 - 07:00 PM
Sandra in Sydney 13 Jan 18 - 07:43 PM
Jeri 13 Jan 18 - 08:51 PM
Gibb Sahib 13 Jan 18 - 09:16 PM
GUEST 14 Jan 18 - 11:06 AM
Steve Gardham 14 Jan 18 - 02:12 PM
Bat Goddess 16 Jan 18 - 11:50 AM
GUEST,Mark Bluemel 17 Jan 18 - 03:48 AM
Lighter 17 Jan 18 - 12:18 PM
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Subject: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: GUEST,Johnny Come Down To Hilo
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 02:54 PM

Is this a reference to whickey?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Jeri
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 02:56 PM

I don't know what a "whickey" is, but I'm guessing it was a girl with a blue dress on.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 03:08 PM

I meant whiskey


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 05:39 PM

it means gal wearing a blue dress who, we can assume, is not unattractive.

This is likely a line that you'd find reused (or added in improvisational fashion) in numerous songs of an African-American sort, including vernacular play- and work-songs and minstrel songs.

"Gal" can be substituted with another person, as can the dress be substituted with another clothing.

Yankee sailor with his sea boots on
Bucko mate with a cheesecutter on
Pretty little gal with a josey on
Big bad nigga with a derby on
W.C. Fields with his top hat on

Commonly used to rhyme with a trope such as "Who's been here since I been gone?"


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 06:09 PM

Or indeed Music Hall
'Girl with a blue dress on' by Tom MacLagan 1827-1892

Doesn't even have to be blue

The Girl in the Khaki Dress
The Girl in the Pinafore Dress

Or the more famous Harry Clifton's 'The Dark Girl Dressed in Blue' of 1862.

'Oh I love a little gal across the sea
She's a 'Badian beauty and she says to me


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: meself
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 06:12 PM

Not to say, Devil with a blue dress, blue dress, blue dress,/Devil with a blue dress on .....


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 07:00 PM

From White's Serenaders (a New York minstrel troupe):

https://books.google.com/books?id=R3lMAAAAcAAJ&pg=PA65&dq=Gal+wid+a+blue+dress+o


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Subject: LYR ADD - Alice Blue Gown by Tierney & McCarthy
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 07:43 PM

then there is Alice blue gown - a dress in the shade of blue that Alice Roosevelt Longworth wore.

My mother's cousin received a print of Alice blue gown by Arthur Garrett on her 21st birthday, c.1940 but the painting appears to be very early 1920s from the hairstyle. English born Arthur Garrett worked in America in the 20s.

Alice Blue Gown by Harry Tierney & Joseph McCarthy (1919)

I once had a gown, it was almost new,
Oh, the daintiest thing, it was sweet Alice blue,
With little forget-me-nots placed here and there,
When I had it on, oh, I walked on the air!
And it wore, and it wore, and it wore,
'Til it went, and it wasn't no more.


In my sweet little Alice blue gown,
When I first wandered down into town,
I was so proud inside,
As I felt every eye,
And in every shop window I primped, passing by.


A new manner of fashion I'd found,
And the world seemed to smile all around.
'Til it wilted, I wore it,
I'll always adore it,
My sweet little Alice blue gown!


The little silk worms that made silk for that gown,
Just made that much silk and then crawled in the ground,
'Cause there never was anything like it before,
And I don't care to hope there will be any more!
And it's gone, 'cause it just had to be,
Still it wears in my memory.


In my sweet little Alice blue gown,
When I first wandered down into town,
I was so proud inside,
As I felt every eye,
And in every shop window I primped, passing by.


A new manner of fashion I'd found,
And the world seemed to smile all around.
So it wouldn't be proper
If made of silk were another,
My sweet little Alice blue gown!


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Jeri
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 08:51 PM

Alice Blue Gown in the DT
Previous thread on Alice Blue Gown


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 09:16 PM

Guys... look at the name of the Guest OP... This is a chanty / African-American vernacular song question, most likely. As in, "Johnny come down to hilo... wake that gal with the blue dress on."

etc.
https://books.google.com/books?id=Ys3T_6clobAC&pg=PA231&dq=%22Gal+wid+de+blue+dress%22&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi52aabr9bYAhVY1mMKHccXDvAQuwUIRjAG#v=onepage&q=%22Gal%20wid%20de%20blue%20dress%22&f=false

No need to go all mudcat batty and interpret the worldwide significance of blue dresses or girls wearing different stuff in songs... It's a specific turn of phrase from a specific repertory.

Or so say I! :-)


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: GUEST
Date: 14 Jan 18 - 11:06 AM

Thanks Gibb, yes, you're on the right track. I've just been learning that exact song. I'm wondering if I heard correctly at one time that the girl with the blue dress was a reference to a particular brand of whiskey. So when the sailors made port they would wake the gal with the blue dress on by opening the bottle of whiskey.


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Jan 18 - 02:12 PM

In that case, Gibb, you probably covered it with your first response.

Is the book any nearer completion? Did you get my message with a suggested publisher this side of the pond?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 16 Jan 18 - 11:50 AM

Blue dresses or blue sashes in traditional songs usually indicated a girl who had slipped off the narrow path.

I can't find my references right now (and damned few they are) except for the notes to Arthur Argo's LP "A Wee Thread O' Blue" (Lyrica Erotica) from 1962 --

"Why the threed is blue I cannot say. The term "true blue" is originally from Scotland, but it derived from the Presbyterian preachers' custom of throwing a blue apron over their tub, and not all Presbyterian preachers were like the clerical visitor to the Ball of Kirriemuir. The Covenanters wore blue as a symbol of rebellion against the Sassenachs, too, but in color symbolism blue stands for chastity, of which there is happily little in these songs. However, prostitutes were called "blue gowns" from the uniform worn by apprehended ladies of the evening in the English House of Correction, and Jung in his Psychology and Alchemy said that blue stood for the vertical, by which we may take it he meant the ithyphallic."

Linn


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: GUEST,Mark Bluemel
Date: 17 Jan 18 - 03:48 AM

Did anyone else have Spike Milligan (or perhaps Peter Sellers) whisper "my dear little Alice blue goon" in their ear while reading this discussion?


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Subject: RE: Folklore: meaning of 'gal with the blue dress on',
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Jan 18 - 12:18 PM

> So when the sailors made port they would wake the gal with the blue dress on by opening the bottle of whiskey.

How colorful! How entertaining!

Of course there's not a shred of evidence to suggest they meant anything other than a GWTBDO.

Clever interpretations ain't evidence.

While women in a Victorian house of correction may have worn blue (just as convicts today wear stripes or orange), Farmer & Hanley's uncensored   slang dictionary of ca1900 doesn't list "blue gown" as a synonym for prostitute.

Red dresses were sometimes associated with harlots.

So if anyone wants to change "blue" in the song to "red," to make it so much more fun, they can go right ahead.


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Mudcat time: 18 July 4:52 PM EDT

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