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Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase

DigiTrad:
FRANKIE AND ALBERT
FRANKIE AND ALBERT
FRANKIE AND JOHNNY
FRANKIE SILVERS
LEAVING HOME
MAGGIE WAS A LADY (Frankie & Johnny variant)


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Uncle_DaveO 25 Jul 00 - 08:39 PM
ddw 25 Jul 00 - 10:10 PM
Sorcha 25 Jul 00 - 10:13 PM
Mrrzy 25 Jul 00 - 11:15 PM
Mrrzy 25 Jul 00 - 11:16 PM
GUEST,vixen@work 26 Jul 00 - 08:47 AM
Turtle 26 Jul 00 - 04:47 PM
Jeri 26 Jul 00 - 05:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 26 Jul 00 - 07:56 PM
Irish sergeant 27 Jul 00 - 10:05 AM
Mark Clark 27 Jul 00 - 10:46 AM
Brian Hoskin 27 Jul 00 - 11:36 AM
Mark Clark 27 Jul 00 - 03:16 PM
L R Mole 28 Jul 00 - 11:48 AM
GUEST,Richie 28 Aug 02 - 11:40 PM
Tweed 29 Aug 02 - 01:29 AM
Nigel Parsons 29 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM
Art Thieme 29 Aug 02 - 01:00 PM
Art Thieme 29 Aug 02 - 01:06 PM
GUEST,Brían 29 Aug 02 - 05:44 PM
Amos 29 Aug 02 - 07:17 PM
Susanne (skw) 30 Aug 02 - 11:14 AM
Art Thieme 31 Aug 02 - 12:03 AM
Leadfingers 31 Aug 02 - 11:32 AM
Dicho (Frank Staplin) 31 Aug 02 - 02:25 PM
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Subject: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 25 Jul 00 - 08:39 PM

On an old Josh White LP I have his version of Frankie and Johnny, and there's one reference that I don't understand.

The verse (after she's shot him) goes like this:

Frankie went down on Broadway
As far as she could see.
All she could hear was a two-string bow
Playing "Nearer, Oh my God, To thee"
All over town
Ohhhh, Johnny's dead!

What, pray tell, would "a two-string bow" be? Anybody?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: ddw
Date: 25 Jul 00 - 10:10 PM

Dave, I always thought it meant a frayed, nearly useless fiddle bow with only two strands of horse hair still hanging on. Can't say that's right, so I'll be interested to hear other interpretations...

david


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Sorcha
Date: 25 Jul 00 - 10:13 PM

I think that is it exactly, dw. Was always my interp. anyway.


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Jul 00 - 11:15 PM

I thought it was one put together cheaply - only two strings (I envision them fat, like shoestrings), rather than fallen apart, but we get the same idea... Would be interested in anyone who knows...


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Jul 00 - 11:16 PM

Well, I meant to say I'd be interested in what anybody who knows, knows...


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: GUEST,vixen@work
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 08:47 AM

I always took this line to mean that the song was faint, faint, barely heard, since the sparser the bow hairs the softer the volume.

my $0.02 fwiw.

V


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Turtle
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 04:47 PM

Well, I might be confused about this, but isn't having a second string to your bow another way of saying "two-timing"? and wasn't Johnny two-timing Frankie? Seems like it might be kind of a back-door allusion to the root of the whole sad situation.

My favorite line to "Frankie & Johnny" (from the Burl Ives version I grew up with) has always been: "It was not murder in the second degree; it was not murder in the third. Frankie just went and dropped her man like a hunter drops a bird..."


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Jeri
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 05:11 PM

Could have meant second string as in orchestra - not the best musician. (As in "second rate.") The "first strings" are the best.


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 26 Jul 00 - 07:56 PM

I just assumed it was a sort of cigar-box fiddle, but with only two strings. Plaintive anyway. (Here is a picture of a cigar-box fiddle. It comes from what looks like a brilliant website I just found, when I put "cigar-box fiddle in my Webferret search engine.

That makes three songs mentioning "Nearer my God" - Titanic, Engine 143, and this. (The lady who wrote the words, Sarah Flower Adams, is buried in Harlow where she was born and lived, and there's a blue plaque on her house in the Old Town, so I feel a sort of local patriotic interest.)


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Irish sergeant
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 10:05 AM

I don't know but I like the idea of a beat up nearly useless fiddle with the strings barely hanging on myself. reguards, Neil


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 10:46 AM

This didn't seem to belong in the old Frankie and Johnny thread so I'm inserting it here.

This is a verse I've heard and sung most of my life that I've never heard anyone else do. Perhaps someone knows something of its origin.

Frankie said Judge, I'm so sorry,
This thing has come to pass,
But I didn't shoot Johnny in the first degree,
I shot him right in his trifling ass,
He was my man...

Thanks,

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Brian Hoskin
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 11:36 AM

Again, this is only a guess, but I'd go along similar lines to McGrath. A common form of homemade instrument was the 'diddley bow', which was usually a one-stringed instrument. This might be a reference to a two-stringed version. These instruments were usually plucked and played with a slide.

Brian


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Mark Clark
Date: 27 Jul 00 - 03:16 PM

Feeling some remorse that my previous post didn't really add to the subject, I looked around a little bit for information on a two-stringed bow. I discovered that this particular turn of phrase is used to describe several instruments. Two of them are Chineese, the erhu and the huqin, one is African, another, the kobyz is native to the Kazak people and a mention may be found in Henry Drummond's The Ascent Of Man. What I can't say is whether any of these instruments made their way to the U.S. in enough numbers to have been immortalized in song.

Thinking about Turtle's suggestion, I wonder if bow has an additional intended meaning of beau?

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: L R Mole
Date: 28 Jul 00 - 11:48 AM

Hm. Don't know that, but older liner notes sometimes call "Rosin the Bow"," Rosen[or Roger] the Beau";I always assumed it was just mishearing on the note-writer's part. Webster's says no, though: Bow is just something bent, as in, "...and arrow", but beau is from F. belle, from L. bellus, "pretty", as in the male, "dandy". This just thought of, though: is the title "His Last Bow", a tale of that old fiddler Sherlock Holmes, a pun on this"?


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 28 Aug 02 - 11:40 PM

I think the lyric is supposed to be or misinterpreted from- "Shoestring Bow.

Yuh know- "Cornstalk fiddle and a shoestring bow"

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Tweed
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 01:29 AM

Here's a pic of Hill Country Foot Stomper Richard Johnson with his two string bow. If that Frankie heard this thing playin' she probably started dancin'right there in the street. You would not believe the music that comes outta this cigar box with a double broomstick neck.
Two String Diddly


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 10:48 AM

Her 'back-up' lover ? i.e. her second string beau ??

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 01:00 PM

Folks, Frankie told me in Memphis in 1938 when I met here for ribs at Randy's Rib Shack by the river that the two strings were on a rosined clothes-line bow (quite thick strings) and they were used to play a musical saw because their whores-hair bow was worn out. The song, "Nearer My God To Thee", was onne she'd heard in 1912 when a boat she was on sank after hitting an iceberg in the North Atlantic. She was one of the women and children that got into a lifeboat and made it back to shore eventually. Quite a harrowing tale she told.

Later, around 1973, when I learned to play the saw, I used her idea and a nylon clothesline bow was all I used to play my original Clarence Mussehl musical saw.

What's wrong with this ???? Frankie was Afro-American and she, along with Jack Johnson, weren't allowed to board that boat.

Otherwise it's all true !!!

Ah, folklore. If you don't know it, just make it up.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Art Thieme
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 01:06 PM

That's just a lesson for the young folksingers of today.

Art ;-)


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: GUEST,Brían
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 05:44 PM

You made that up? Awwwwwwwww........

Brían


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Amos
Date: 29 Aug 02 - 07:17 PM

When in doubt, prevaricate!! A real Art if ever there was one....


A


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 30 Aug 02 - 11:14 AM

You nearly fooled me, Art! Could we have more folklore, please?


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Art Thieme
Date: 31 Aug 02 - 12:03 AM

As Utah Phillips once said to me,

B.A, B.A. Botkin,
Have you any folklore?

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Leadfingers
Date: 31 Aug 02 - 11:32 AM

Quote-Never let the truth get in the way of a good story - Unquote


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Subject: RE: Meaning? FRANKIE & JOHNNNY phrase
From: Dicho (Frank Staplin)
Date: 31 Aug 02 - 02:25 PM

And I was about to get out my 44 and razor to do battle over that one.


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