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Origins: Donkey Riding/Riding on a Donkey


Related threads:
Bungee Jumping / Donkey Riding (14)
Donkey Riding - What's Hong-ki-kong? (80)
Origins: Bonnie Hieland Laddy / Highland Laddie (34)
Lyr Req: Hielan Lassie / Highland Lassie (6)

Joy 30 Jul 97 - 10:25 AM
Bert Hansell 30 Jul 97 - 11:57 AM
GUEST,irolita 14 Feb 04 - 11:32 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Feb 04 - 11:46 AM
topical tom 11 Aug 18 - 12:08 PM
leeneia 11 Aug 18 - 12:35 PM
Joe Offer 11 Aug 18 - 04:38 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 11 Aug 18 - 05:37 PM
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Subject: Donkey riding
From: Joy
Date: 30 Jul 97 - 10:25 AM

I would just like to inform people who may be searching the lyrics to this song that there is an error in one of the place names. Mirramashee does not exist as a place. However, Miramachi is a lovely city in New Brunswick, Canada. I'm sure they would enjoy the credit they're due. Thanks. Joy

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Subject: RE: Donkey riding
From: Bert Hansell
Date: 30 Jul 97 - 11:57 AM

It being a nautical song I am not surprised. I have noticed, among the merchant seamen that I know, that there is an "inverted snobbery" associated with deliberately mispronouncing place names and names of ships.

A very similar snobbery exists among Cockneys who often deliberately mispronounce words of three syllables or more; or even replace them with different words.

They will also comment on other peoples use of long words with sayings such as "We had one of those but it died" or "We had one of those and crossed it with a Flemish Giant"

It's a whole different branch of folklore.


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Subject: RE: Donkey riding
From: GUEST,irolita
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 11:32 AM

Seems to be a couple of verses missing from that song...

Were you ever in Ottawa?
Strangest place I ever saw
There the mounties keep the law
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever in Ile St. Jean?
Or the Ile D'Orleans?
There the folks drink whiskey blanc
Riding on a donkey

Mirramashee is just a phonetic spelling of Miramichi. That's exactly how Miramichi is pronounced.

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Subject: RE: Donkey riding
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Feb 04 - 11:46 AM

This has been pretty well gone over in thread 41062: Donkey

This old French-Jersey song has many permutations. Can't see the reason for another thread- since the other is open for additional comment.

Yes, Mirramachee is nice, I enjoyed staying there during my short visits to eastern Canada.

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Subject: Lyr Req: Riding on a Donkey
From: topical tom
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 12:08 PM

Years ago I heard this song gung by the Canadian folk singer Alan mills.
It was on CBC radio (Canada).The donkey in the song is not the animal but some kind of contraption to transport lumber (planks or logs).Can someone send me the lyrics of this jaunty, jolly work song?

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Riding on a Donkey
From: leeneia
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 12:35 PM

Hi, Tom. Put this in the box at the upper right, uncheck forum, and it should appear.

Donkey riding

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Subject: RE: Origins: Donkey Riding/Riding on a Donkey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 04:38 PM

Interestingly, the Traditional Ballad Index puts "Donkey Riding" under the "Hieland Laddie" entry. I didn't think the songs shared anything but a tune. Guess I'd better study more. the Digital Tradition says, "A variation on Hieland Laddie, which often has interchangeable verses."

Hieland Laddie

DESCRIPTION: Used by sailors as they stowed cotton or lumber. "Were you ever in Quebec? Bonnie Laddie, Hieland Laddie, Stowing timber on the deck, Bonnie Hieland Laddie"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1846 (Erskine)
KEYWORDS: nonballad shanty work
FOUND IN: US(MA,SE) Britain(Scotland) Canada(Que) West Indies(St Vincent)
REFERENCES (13 citations):
Doerflinger, pp. 50-51, "Highland Laddie" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Walton/Grimm/Murdock, p. 102, "Bonbie Highland Laddie (1 text, with localization to the Great Lakes, including mentions of Marquette and Grand Marais)
Colcord, p. 95, "Highland Laddie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Harlow, pp. 72-73, "Riding on a Donkey" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 143-150, "Heiland Laddie," "Donkey Riding," "My Bonnie Highland Lassie-O" (5 texts, 5 tunes plus fragments) [AbEd, pp. 115-121]
Sharp-EFC, XXVI, p. 30, "Heave Away, My Johnny" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/Johnston, pp. 38-39, "Donkey Riding" (1 text, 1 tune)
Erskine, p. 297, "(Were you ever in Boston town)" (1 text)
Pankake-PHCFSB, p. 64, "Donkey Riding" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 96, "Hieland Laddie" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Charles Nordhoff, _The Merchant Vessel: A Sailor Boy's Voyages To See the World _(Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys & Co., 1856 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), p. 42, "(Were you ever in Quebec)" (1 text)
Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Highland Laddie" is in Part 2, 7/21/1917.

Roud #4691
Pete Seeger, "Hieland Laddie" (on PeteSeeger26)
cf. "Belle-a-Lee" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Stow'n' Sugar in de Hull Below" (floating lyrics)
cf. "Tommy's Gone to Hilo" (floating lyrics)
cf. "The Powder Monkey (Soon We'll Be in England Town)" (similar chorus)
cf. "Geordie Sits In Charlie's Chair" (tune and structure)
Mussel Mou'd Charlie (Kinloch-BalladBook, pp. xi-xiii)
Geordie Sits In Charlie's Chair (File: GrD1131)
NOTES [354 words]: Doerflinger writes that this is "usually heard at the capstan ... as a walkaway shanty" (p. 50).
Both Nordhoff and Erskine heard this chantey in the 1840s from sailors acting as winter stevedores using cotton jack-screws to stow bales into waiting holds in New Orleans and Mobile. Nordhoff writes that -- in the versions he has heard -- the sailors are "calling to their minds the peculiarities of many spots with which they have become familiar in their voyagings." Erskine's version has that theme also: "Were you ever in Boston town... Where the ships sail up and down," "Were you ever in Mobile Bay... Screwing cotton by the day," "Were you ever in Miramachi... Where you make fast to a tree" and "Were you ever in Quebec... Stowing timber on the deck." Nordhoff adds "Were you ever in Dundee... There some pretty ships to see." - BS
Some versions of this song have verses or chorus about "Donkey riding, donkey riding, Riding on a donkey." This is legitimate shipboard technology, referring to a donkey engine (which might indeed need someone "riding" it to keep it running), but also caused the song to be tempting to children.
Since, however, there is no possible way to separate sea versions from kids' versions, I keep them as one song.
Riding the donkey might also be known as "donkeying around." Modern folkies may recognize this from Larry Kaplan's song "Old Zeb." - RBW
Day has another children's version from St. Vincent in the 1840s, probably modified from the shanty:
"Singing seems to be the grand feature, and I hear the children singing in chorus half the day. Pious ejaculations are accompanied by the drollest tunes. As a specimen, I may mention one of the St. Vincent melodies:
'Holy Bible, book divine, tural-ural, tural-ural,
Precious, precious, thou art mine, tural-ural, tural-ural'
The tune was 'Bonnie laddie, sodger laddie.'
'A boat, a bota unto the ferry,' is another infantile chorus, while the children promenade round the school room."
(Charles William Day, Five Years' [1846-1850] Residence in the West Indies (London: Colburn and Co., 1852 ("Digitized by Google")), Vol. 2, pp. 274-275) - BS
Last updated in version 4.2
File: Doe050

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Were you ever in Quebec
Stowin' timber on the deck?
Where there's a king with a golden crown
(where ye'd break yer bleedin' neck)
Riding on a donkey!

cho: Way O and away we go
Donkey riding, donkey riding
Way O and away we go
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever off the Horn
Where it's always fine and warm?
Where's there's a lion and a unicorn
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever in Cardiff Bay
Where the folks all shout, "Hooray!"?
"Here comes Johnny with his six months pay
Riding on a donkey."

Were you ever in Timbucktoo
Where the gals are black and blue?
And they wriggle their arses, too
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever in Vallipo
Where the gals put on a show?
Wriggle their arse with a roll and go
Riding on a donkey.

Wuz ye ever down Mobile Bay
Screwin' cotton all the day?,
A dollar a day is a white man's pay.
Ridin' on a donkey.

Wuz ye ever in Canton
Where the men wear pigtails long,
And the gals play hong-ki-kong?
Ridin' on a donkey.

Wuz ye ever in Mirramashee
Where ye tie up to a tree,
An' the skeeters do bite we?
Ridin' on a donkey

Wuz ye ever on the Broomielaw
Where the Yanks are all the go,
An' the boys dance heel an' toe?
Ridin' on a donkey.

Note: Reportedly, "Donkey" refers to a donkey engine, used for
loading and unloading cargo. A variation on Hieland Laddie, which
often has interchangeable verses. Also see HIELANLD
filename[ DONKEYRD

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Subject: RE: Origins: Donkey Riding/Riding on a Donkey
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 11 Aug 18 - 05:37 PM

I learned this in the Girl Guides before I was five*, but with certain of the verses above not sung by them. I still sing it some 60 years later, with added verses.

*Thereby hangs a tale. My mum was a Guider and took me along to camp with her, but decided when I started school that I was old enough to be left at home when she took the girls camping. Strangely enough, I'm still in touch with a number of them, though their hair is a different colour now and they no longer tower above me - they seem to have shrunk somehow ...

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Mudcat time: 31 October 5:37 AM EDT

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