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Origins: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?

DigiTrad:
GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK
MY GRANDFATHER'S COCK
SEQUEL TO GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK


Related threads:
Who wrote 'Grandfather's Watch' parody? (19)
Lyr Req/Add: My Grandfather's Ferret (Derek Jolly) (32)
Lyr Add: The Grandfather's Clock (G Formby, Sr.) (5)
Lyr Req: My Grandfather's Clock (15)
The clock stopped, never to run again (30)
Lyr Req: My Grandfather's Clock (Henry Clay Work) (48)
Lyr Req: My Grandfather's Clock (George Formby Sr) (18)
At What Time did Grandfather enter? (12)
Lyr Add: My Grandfather's Ferret (7)


Jed at Work 04 Oct 00 - 04:03 PM
Little Neophyte 04 Oct 00 - 04:10 PM
Gary T 04 Oct 00 - 04:42 PM
Joe Offer 04 Oct 00 - 05:13 PM
Kim C 04 Oct 00 - 05:15 PM
bill\sables 04 Oct 00 - 08:21 PM
bflat 04 Oct 00 - 09:17 PM
Susan of DT 04 Oct 00 - 09:49 PM
Uncle Jaque 04 Oct 00 - 10:40 PM
bseed(charleskratz) 04 Oct 00 - 11:34 PM
Parson 04 Oct 00 - 11:38 PM
Barbara 05 Oct 00 - 12:47 AM
sian, west wales 05 Oct 00 - 08:18 AM
JedMarum 05 Oct 00 - 08:54 AM
Ferrara 05 Oct 00 - 09:27 AM
JedMarum 05 Oct 00 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,Pete Peterson at work 05 Oct 00 - 10:10 AM
Peter T. 05 Oct 00 - 10:33 AM
Jed at Work 05 Oct 00 - 12:38 PM
Little Neophyte 05 Oct 00 - 12:52 PM
Peter T. 05 Oct 00 - 02:39 PM
Jed at Work 05 Oct 00 - 02:59 PM
Little Neophyte 05 Oct 00 - 03:22 PM
Les B 05 Oct 00 - 10:51 PM
Night Owl 05 Oct 00 - 11:08 PM
Wotcha 06 Oct 00 - 01:10 AM
GUEST,Jon Bartlett 06 Oct 00 - 01:59 AM
Haruo 13 May 03 - 02:57 PM
Haruo 13 May 03 - 03:10 PM
KateG 13 May 03 - 03:54 PM
Kim C 13 May 03 - 04:43 PM
Haruo 14 May 03 - 01:33 AM
Teribus 14 May 03 - 03:52 AM
GUEST 14 May 03 - 08:50 AM
GUEST,Val 14 May 03 - 05:36 PM
Blackcatter 14 May 03 - 11:16 PM
Ralphie 15 May 03 - 06:26 AM
TheBigPinkLad 15 May 03 - 04:44 PM
clueless don 16 May 03 - 01:05 PM
Gorgeous Gary 16 May 03 - 10:53 PM
Blackcatter 16 May 03 - 11:53 PM
GUEST 07 Oct 08 - 01:50 PM
GUEST,Ken Brock 07 Oct 08 - 03:26 PM
Mark Ross 08 Oct 08 - 12:12 PM
Uncle_DaveO 09 Oct 08 - 10:34 AM
GUEST,LDT 09 Oct 08 - 11:07 AM
Jim Carroll 10 Oct 08 - 05:01 AM
GUEST 10 Oct 08 - 08:19 AM
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dick greenhaus 10 Oct 08 - 02:13 PM
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Subject: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Jed at Work
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 04:03 PM

I have enjoyed playing, singing and listening to the song My Grandfather's Clock for many years. I have found it in the DT, and a few discussions that ention it in passing, but no real history on it. Does any have any background on the song? Henry Clay Work is credited with writing it,any info on him?


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 04:10 PM

Oh thanks for asking this question Jed.
Which versions of the song have you been listening to?
I've just learned it from Brett Howland off the Acoustic Harvest IV Fresh Produce CD.
It is a fun song to play.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Gary T
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 04:42 PM

I don't know the history of the song, though I believe it's from the mid-1800's. I did read that the type of clock described in it started being referred to as a "grandfather clock" because of the song (I'm not sure what they were called before that).


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 05:13 PM

Henry Clay Work (1832-1884) published "MY GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK" in 1876. Click here for sheet music at The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music. The Public Domain Music (click) site has lyrics, MIDI files, and information about Work.
-Joe Offer-
Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Grandfather's Clock

DESCRIPTION: A description of the relations between grandfather and clock. The clock ran for the entire length of the old man's life, celebrating happy occasions and never complaining. "But it stopp'd -- short -- never to go again When the old man died."
AUTHOR: Henry Clay Work
EARLIEST DATE: 1876 (sheet music published by C. M. Cady of New York)
KEYWORDS: technology family nonballad
FOUND IN: US(MW)
REFERENCES (9 citations):
WorkSongs, pp. 177-180, Grandfather's Clock" (1 text, 1 tune, a copy of the original sheet music)
Stout 72, pp. 94-96, "Grandfather's Clock" (2 texts plus 2 fragments)
Neely, pp. 219-220, "Grandfather's Clock" (2 texts)
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 76-79, "Grandfather's Clock" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scott-EnglishSB, pp. 124-125, "My Grandfather's Clock" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Emerson, pp. 67-68, "Grandfather's Clock" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 251, "Grandfather's Clock" (1 text)
DT, GRANCLOK*
ADDITIONAL: Martin Gardner, editor, _Famous Poems from Bygone Days_, Dover, 1995, pp. 168-169, "Grandfather's Clock" (1 text)

ST RJ19076 (Full)
Roud #4326
RECORDINGS:
Carolina Buddies, "Grandfather's Clock" (Decca 5142, 1935)
[?] Clark & [Walter] Scanlan, "Grandfather's Clock" (Edison 50979, 1922)
Frank Crumit, "Grandfather's Clock" (Victor 19945, 1926)
Edison Male Quartette, "Grandfather's Clock" (CYL: Edison 8967, 1905)
Chubby Parker, "Grandfather's Clock" (Supertone 9732, 1930)
Tom & Roy, "Grandfather's Clock, Part 1/Part 2" (Montgomery Ward M-4242, 1933)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "My Grandfather's Cock" (tune, form)
cf. "His Grandfather's Hat" (tune, form)
NOTES: Soon after the Civil War, Henry Clay Work retired from songwriting (presumably because of the poor pay). In 1871, however, the Chicago fire burned down the offices of Root and Cady (the publishing firm), and Chauncy M. Cady asked his friend Work to write some songs to help him re-establish his business.
One of the songs Work turned in was "Grandfather's Clock," which had been gathering dust in his files for some years. The song sold some 800,000 copies, and earned Work about $4,000 in royalties (at that time, easily enough to retire on). He dedicated it "To my Sister Lizzie."
Folklore has it that, until this song was published, floor clocks were just "floor clocks" or "tall clocks." Since then, they have been known as "Grandfather clocks." This strikes me as more reasonable than many folk derivations, but I cannot verify this from any of my linguistic sources. Partridge, p. 116, says only that the term is from the late nineteenth or early twentieth century.
Incidentally, there are famous instances of something rather like this actually happening, though I doubt it inspired Work's song. One story is of the famous Captain Cook and his final voyage of exploration. One of the reasons Cook was such a great explorer was that he was among the first officers to actually be able to tell longitude; in recent decades, enough astronomical data had been gathered to make it possible to navigate by the stars -- plus the chronometer (the first timepieces accurate enough to tell time while at sea) had been invented.
True chronometers were still very rare in Cook's time, since they had to be hand-made with incredible accuracy. John Harrison (1693-1776) had invented the device and built a handful; Larcum Kendall had made a handful in imitation of Harrison. Kendall's first machine, known as K-1, was used by Cook on his voyages. And, according to Sobel, p, 151, "Almost at the instant the captain died in 1779, according to an account kept at the time, K-1 also stopped ticking."
Opie/Tatem, p. 84, tells a tale of the clock at the House of Lords, which should have been wound up, stopping when George III died. They also mention a comment in Notes & Querries, 1864, in which nurses said it was a common occurrence for a clock to stop when someone died. Opie/Tatem have several more references to this type of thing, but all are more recent than the song. - RBW
Parodies of this piece have been common. Paul Stamler tells us of "His Grandfather's Hat," which likely will not make it into this collection: "'His Grandfather's Hat' is a parody of 'Grandfather's Clock,' referring to candidate Benjamin Harrison [elected in 1888, but defeated in 1892], grandson of President William Henry Harrison: 'His grandfather's hat is too big for his head/But Ben puts it on just the same.'" - PJS, RBW
Not all the parodies were political; Finson, pp. 132-133, reports, "Work's vision of the clock as a human servant generated parodies numbering 'upwards of twoscore,' according to Birdseye, who exaggerated little in this case. Alice Dale and George W. Morgan copied Work's song immediately in 'Grandmother's Clock' (1876) which also provides companionship (she talks to the machine throughout) and dies with its owner. B. M. McWilliams came very close to plagiarism in 'The Clock That Struck When Grandpa Died' (1880). And Work himself tried to capitalize on his success with 'Sequel to "Grandfather's Clock"' (1878), in which a relative returns to the old man's house and watches the useless machine chopped up for kindling."
Finson, p. 126, notes that there had been a number of earlier clock songs, often lamenting aging and the passage of time, which (like this song) imitated clock noises. So Work was imitating a popular genre -- but transformed and totally transcended it; those other songs all seem forgotten.
Finson, p. 215, says that the song was popularized by Sam Lucas: "Lucas (1848-1916), born of former slaves in Fayette County, Virginia, enjoyed one of the most distinguished careers on stage of any nineteenth-century entertainer, at first as a member of the Original Georgia Minstrels (an all-black troupe which also include [James] Bland) and later in reviews, plays, and vaudeville." - RBW
Bibliography
  • Opie/Tatem: Iona Opie and Moira Tatem, editors, A Dictionary of Superstitions, 1989 (I use the 1999 Barnes & Noble edition)
  • Finson: Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994
  • Partridge: Eric Partridge, A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English (combined fifth edition with dictionary and supplement), Macmillan, 1961
  • Sobel: Dava Sobel, Longitude, 1995 (I use the 2007 Walker edition with a foreward by Neil Armstrong)
Last updated in version 4.1
File: RJ19076

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.


And the Digital Tradition lyrics:

GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK
(Henry Clay Work)

My grandfather's clock was too tall for the shelf
So it stood ninety years on the floor
It was taller by half than the old man himself
But it weighed not a pennyweight more

It was bought on the morn on the day that he was born
It was always his treasure and pride
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died

Ninety years without slumbering
Tic toc tic toc
His life's seconds numbering
Tic toc tic toc
It stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died.
In watching its pendulum swing to and fro
Many hours he had spent when a boy
And through childhood and manhood, the clock seemed to know
And to share both his grief and his joy

For it struck 24 when he entered at the door
With a blooming and beautiful bride,
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died

CHORUS

My grandfather said that of those he could hire
Not a servant so faithful he'd found,
For it kept perfect time and it had one desire
At the close of each day to be wound

At it kept to its place, not a frown upon its face
At its hands never hung by its side
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died

CHORUS

It rang an alarm in the still of the night,
An alarm that for years had been dumb
And we knew that his spirit was pluming for flight
That his hour of departure had come

Still the clock kept the time
With a soft and muffled chime
As we silently stood by his side
But it stopped, short, never to go again
When the old man died

-----------------------------------------------------------------

Before this song became popular, the floor standing clocks were
known merely as tall clocks, and became known as grandfather
clocks as a result of the singing of this song.
recorded by Trickett on Streams of Time
filename[ GRANCLOK
TUNE FILE: GRANCLOK
CLICK TO PLAY
DC


And the sequel (from the Digital Tradition)

SEQUEL TO GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK
(Henry Clay Work)

Once again have I roamed thro' the old-fashioned house,
Where my grandfather spent his ninety years.
There are strangers in charge, and the change they have wrought
Oh! it saddens me, even to tears.
Dear old clock! when they found you were speechless from grief,
Then they went and swapped you off, case and all.
For that vain, stuck-up thing
(tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick),
For that vain, stuck-up thing on the wall.

cho: Grandfather sleeps in his grave;
Strange steps resound in the hall!
And there's that vain, stuck-up thing
(tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick),
There's that vain, stuck-up thing on the wall.

While we talked of the old clock they all ran it down.
Tho' they claimed that it couldn't be made to run.
It was useless they said-- it was quite out of style;
Built, no doubt, just about the year One.
And the words echoed round, with a faint, mocking sound,
As if some one gave assent to it all;
'Twas that vain, stuck-up thing
(tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick),
'Twas that vain, stuck-up thing on the wall.

From the clock-peddler's cart to the junk-shop it went,
Where its cog-wheels were sundered one by one;
And the brass-founder joked as they writhed in the flames
"Melt'em up," says he; "then they will run."
There is grief in my heart, there are tears in my eyes.
Yet indignantly the sight I recall
Of that vain, stuck-up thing
(tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick),
Of that vain, stuck-up thing on the wall.

"An extremely hard case!" said the junk-dealer's wife,
As she carved it for kindling wood and sighed
That mahogany case, with its quaint, figured face,
Which so long was my grandfather's pride.
"There is hope for the small; there's a chance for us all;
For the mighty ones of Time, they must fall!"
Says that vain, stuck-up thing
(tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick),
Says that vain, stuck-up thing on the wall.

Words and music by Henry Clay Work, 1878
Source: Levy Sheet Music Collection, Johns Hopkins University

The original "Grandfather's Clock" was published in 1876.

@nostalgia @aging
filename[ GRANCLO2
TUNE FILE: GRANCLOK
CLICK TO PLAY
JRO MS


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Kim C
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 05:15 PM

Henry Clay Work was a popular songwriter in the mid-19th century and wrote several patriotic songs for the Union during the Civil War. I believe Grandfather's Clock was written not very long after the war, although it may have been much later than I think. I have a date on it somewhere, if I remember to look it up!

One of Work's more infamous compositions is "Kingdom Coming," which he wrote as a jab to white Southern slave owners. It backfired, though, because the song became popular in the South. Personally it's one of my favorite tunes - we usually play it as an instrumental because this is one of those things where the words could cause chaos when sung to the wrong audience.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: bill\sables
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 08:21 PM

The story popular in County Durham, England concerning ther clock is this,
The origional Grandfather Clock of the song stood in a public house in Piercebridge near Darlington County Durham It was owned by an old man and on the day he died the clock stopped, (no mention of it slowing down when he was ill.) The story goes that Christy's Minstrels were playing the Empire Theatre in Darlington at the time and heard the strange tale of the stopped clock. They in turn took the story back to America and the song was composed. I'm not sure if Henry Clay Work was one of Christies Minstrels or just heard the story from them but the clock still stands in that pub in Piercebridge with this story and a copy of the song. Cheers Bill


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: bflat
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 09:17 PM

For anyone who has a lingering question about where the clock was situated i.e., wall or shelf, it was neither. It stood on the floor. Hate to leave a question open so I'm chiming in, in bflat, of course.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 09:49 PM

Kim- The words are pure Abolitionist. The tune is pure wonderful. Henry Clay Work was a songwriter as prolific and influential as Stephen Foster. Try a search for [Henry Clay Work] in DigiTrad for a sampling of his songs.

(and he had a great beard, too)


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Uncle Jaque
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 10:40 PM

For a Fife version of "Grandfather's Clock" check tohe following link to the Company of Fifers and Drummers collection online:
http://www.fife-n-drum.org/towpath/music/gif/company1/00000017.html
It is part of the 3rd Maine's repitoire for informal concerts or jam sessions when "authenticity" to the Civil War period is not a major issue. The Drummers strike their sticks against those of their comrades on each side for the "tick-tock" rythm, and it is quite effective and a real audience-pleaser! On guitar, this tune begs for harmonic "chiming" thrown in here & there to simulate the clock's bell, and tapping on the deck for the "tick-tock" effect. Kids seem particularly tickled with that sort of thing. Our Daughter as a baby had a wind-up wooden toy music box clock that played this tune and "ticked" in time to it as the hands went 'round and 'round the smiling face. Her Mother and I frequently picked it up and gave it a crank as we too loved listening to it. I think Shearon still has the old toy (25 now), and she and Wife (Sue) frequently request the old "Clock" when I pick up my guitar to this day. From what I gather, it was a tremendous "hit" from when it was introduced in the 1870s well into the 20th Century. A better example of later Victorian popular music could hardly be offered.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 11:34 PM

Susan, I see nothing about the song which could be classified as abolitionist: the attitude expressed toward the working class in the third verse is highly elitist--the clock is compared with the run of workers:

My grandfather said that of those he could hire,
Not a servant so faithful he found,
For it wasted no time and it had but one desire,
At the close of each week to be wound.
And it kept in its place, not a frown upon its face,
And its hands never hung at its side...

It is certainly assuming a working class (which the grandfather--if not Work himself--held in low esteem) and a leisure class (ol' gramps, when he was a lad, could sit and watch the "pendulum swing to and fro" for hours, we assume with his hands at his side, or idle, at any rate--and this is seen as a sign of the attachment between the boy/man and the clock and possibly of the boy's active mind, not as a sign of idleness).

--seed


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Parson
Date: 04 Oct 00 - 11:38 PM

Gary T. Grandfather Clocks are also called "Tall Case" Clocks. I'm not sure which name came first, I expect, "Tall Case."

It may also be interesting to some to know that it once was the custom (at least in Appalachia) to stop a clock with a mechanical movement at the time of someone's death. That way, any visitors to the home could know at what time the deceased had passed. The clock was usually, but not always, started again after the funeral or an appropriate period of mourning.

For anyone interested in a dynamite version of "Grandfather's Clock," Steve Kaufman has a video lesson entitled, "The Art Of Crosspicking." The chiming of the clock is simulated by chiming the guitar in a scale! I can't play it, but I'm working on it. It's great, for me, tho, just to watch the video from time to time, & listen to Steve play it. GREAT!

Randall


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Barbara
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 12:47 AM

Seed, Kim and Susan are talking about KINGDOM COMING, not Grandfather's Clock.
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: sian, west wales
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 08:18 AM

There's more about Work on the Lyr Add: Strike the Bell thread.

BTW, when I was little, my dad gave his mother a Christmas cactus which bloomed brilliantly every year... and is still blooming. Well, all but one. The only year that it didn't bloom was the Christmas after she died.

Strange but true.

sian


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: JedMarum
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 08:54 AM

This is great information. Thanks, all.

The website (http://pdmusic.org/) posted by Joe Offer above is terrific. I am sure I'll be spending some time there!


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Ferrara
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 09:27 AM

Great site, Joe! -- I visited something called "The Public Domain Site," I thought, some months ago, but if this is the same place they've really done a lot of good work on it!


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: JedMarum
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 09:36 AM

Ya know, I brought this thread up because I played the song last weekend at a Celtic Festival's Ceili - on my 5 string banjo. We had been playing some wonderful jigs and reels, and a few old favorite Irish/Scot sing songs ... when the turn came around to me, again I wanted to change the 'feel' just a bit, and decided this crowd might appreciate the song. I was right; they did. Then it occurred to me, I have played this song for years, to all kinds of audiences, and they always respond to it.

Got me to wondering 'bout the songs origins.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: GUEST,Pete Peterson at work
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 10:10 AM

not too long ago I found myself at a Pagan festival in a song circle and suddenly found myself explaining "well I've met people whose totems were lions, tigers, bears (oh my) otters, eagles and so on, I found a song about a man whose totem was not an animal, but rather his clock.
I then sang verses 1,2,4 (omitting "My grandfather said that of those he could hire") and got a lot of people to think of the song in a Whole New Way.
I think the reason verse #3 is in there is that Work knew very well who was rich enough to buy sheet music-- the ones who could afford to hire servants! If you had enough money to own a piano (the badge of the middle class by 1870) then you probably also had a servant or two, and were compaining how hard it is to get good help these days. . .


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 10:33 AM

Just to add that Doc Watson has a version of this on Songs from the Mountain (I think that is right), which is so disgustingly good it makes you sick. He does the damn chimes of the clock winding down.
yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Jed at Work
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 12:38 PM

I love Doc's version of the song. As for the comments on the third verse? It never occurred to me there was anything controversial about it. In Work's day, many people were greatful for gainful, and honorable employment working in the domestic service of the established families ... and you it was not only wealthy people who employed servants. Many families with established incomes had the where-with-all to hire servant/s. Family members on my mother's side were proud of their work in the homes of respected families in Massachusetts.

Works would not have been aware of the sensitivity we may view this issue today.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 12:52 PM

Oh thanks Peter, I was hoping someone would mention other versions of the song I should listen to. Can anybody suggest any other versions besides Doc Watsons?

Jed, I'd like to hear your version of the song. Why I hear you can do a good imitation of a cuckoo bird.

Bonnie


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 02:39 PM

Doc also does an instrumental version on one of his family albums (Watson Family Tradition). I believe I have the sheet music from Sing Out from awhile ago of another version. (I can't play the darn thing, I am just a pack rat). yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Jed at Work
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 02:59 PM

imitation of a cuckoo bird?


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Little Neophyte
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 03:22 PM

Jed, you know. That little bird that comes out of the clock when it strikes 12:00. And it sings a cute song and then goes back in the clock.
I here you can do that part really well Jed.

Little Neo


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Les B
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 10:51 PM

Henry Clay Work, in addition to "Grandfather's..." and "Kingdom Coming" (and a slew of others), also wrote another Civil War classic, "Marching Through Georgia," which can also be controversial depending on who you play it for !


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Night Owl
Date: 05 Oct 00 - 11:08 PM

no history here...but the song is a great one to sing when stuck in traffic waiting to make a turn. My turn signal has the right rythym to be the clock ticking.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Wotcha
Date: 06 Oct 00 - 01:10 AM

The Cadgwith Fishermen of Cornwall (well only two fishermen and a bunch of other singers) give a roaring rendition down the Cadgwith Inn on Friday nights ... if you get a chance go hear them. In the confines of an ancient pub tis a great song.

Cheers, Brian


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: GUEST,Jon Bartlett
Date: 06 Oct 00 - 01:59 AM

The way I heard it was "My grandfather's clock was too big for the shelf/so we had to remodel the den..." My son Bevan has a much ruder version of course.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Haruo
Date: 13 May 03 - 02:57 PM

The link above to Kingdom Coming is defective; it should take you here, instead of back to the Forum. I noticed the same thing happening at a link in one of the other Grandfather's Clock threads (here — not sure where that URL is supposed to take us!); can these be repaired?


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Subject: Recent Japanese popular song
From: Haruo
Date: 13 May 03 - 03:10 PM

At Japanese Baptist's annual sukiyaki dinner a couple weeks ago, one of the songs performed during the after-dinner show (by a quintet of young ladies from the Nichigo congregation) was "A Big Old Clock", a recent Japanese popular song that is basically just an adaptation (to the usual tune) of the Work song, by Kougo Hotomi (here's the text, romanized, with English retrotranslation [unromanized here]). The Japanese version omits the third verse of the original (about servants), while the retrotranslater's English text omits the fourth verse.

"Tick tock" comes out sounding for all the world like "Chick talk". It was hilarious, even the non-Japonophones enjoyed it.

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: KateG
Date: 13 May 03 - 03:54 PM

In the strange but true category, the Grandfather Clock that had been in my father's family since about 1780 chimed 5:00 pm -- time to go home -- just as my dad was taking his last breaths. I'm not overly superstious or religious, but it really felt like the Lord was calling him home with the clock.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Kim C
Date: 13 May 03 - 04:43 PM

Mister and I finally got around to learning this song. It's always been one of my favorites. :-)


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Subject: Correction of my 2:57pm post yesterday
From: Haruo
Date: 14 May 03 - 01:33 AM

Sorry, the second defective link I referred to above is the one here, not the Forum (to which it defectively points).

Haruo


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Teribus
Date: 14 May 03 - 03:52 AM

The pub referred to by Bill above is "The George Hotel" in Piercebridge. If memory serves me correct, the clock in the song was owned by two twin brothers, neither of whom married. The clock stopped when the last of the brothers died.

The George is a great place and can be highly recommended, I've stayed there quite a few times (handy for the Newcastle Ferries), the clock stands in what was the reception area when I was last there and there is a full history of the clock and the song beside it. Other items that used to be in the George were a complete set of prints depicting Dick Turpin's ride to York and a whole rake of furniture carved with an adze by a Yorkshire furniture maker whose symbol was the carving of a mouse on each piece of furniture, his name escapes me at the moment.

The song was one of our local postman's at the new year in Scotland, the chimes were rung during the singing of the song by everyone tapping their glasses with a coin, key or knife.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: GUEST
Date: 14 May 03 - 08:50 AM

A bust of Henry Clay Work stands in Middletown, Connecticut, his home town. There is an old Nonesuch LP of his songs called "Who Shall Rule This American Nation?" It contains "Grandfather's Clock," but curiously omits Work's most famous song, "Marching Through Georgia."


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: GUEST,Val
Date: 14 May 03 - 05:36 PM

I have an LP somewhere with a recording of 'My Grandfather's Clock' sung by George Formby Snr. (Yes, father of the ukelele king!) Unfortunately, I can't play it, as I don't have the technology anymore, so can't transcribe the words - they are a little different from those usually sung and some lovely bits of patter are intersperced. Might be worth trying via the British Music Hall Society.

As an interesting aside, listening to the recording, it's amazing how similar Snr and Jnr Formby's sound, and yet George Junior never saw his father perform, as he was forced to retire from the stage through ill health, before Jnr was able to see him.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 14 May 03 - 11:16 PM

I learned differnet lyrics years ago (late 70s):

Anyone know the author?


GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK

My Grandfather's clock was too large for the shelf so it stood 90 years on the floor.
It was taller by half that the old man himself though it weighed not a penny-weight more.
And though years would congeal Grampa's brain to Malto-meal
He had one wish that would not be denied.
For his will said to bury him in the clock when the old man died.


Now Grandfather's grandfather built him the clock and he built it like no clock before.
But the old so-and-so built it so high and wide that we can't fit it out through the door
So when Grandma'd been calmed and Grampa'd been embalmed
We discovered the clock was too wide.
But the God damn cadaver had gotten jammed: He was stuck inside.


Now old Grampa-pa-pa's standing there in the hall at nine-seventeen Cherry Lane,
And he stands, the old cuss, making faces at us which we try to ignore just the same.
But we still think of him as we, haggard, pale and grim,
Stagger in to the cold morning's light.
'Cause at odd times he's ringing the blasted chimes every God damn night!

So at 3:22 am - My God! There goes Gramps again.
At odd times he's ringing the blasted chimes every God damn night!


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Ralphie
Date: 15 May 03 - 06:26 AM

Like GUEST, 2 posts above, I also own that Nonesuch LP...(50 pence!)

Am still mourning the loss of "Poor Kitty Popcorn" dead in a snowdrift!

"Oh, Take them away they'll drive me crazy!!"

A real gem, if you can find it...

And, to get back to the original subject...seeing Fred Jordan performing Grandfathers Clock at Barnsley Fest in the 70's was a defining moment for me. Gawd Bless 'im..

Ralphie


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: TheBigPinkLad
Date: 15 May 03 - 04:44 PM

Teribus .... I'm not sure I'd agree the George in Piercebridge is handy for the Newcastle ferries (50 miles away!) but it's a great pub. There was a story that the brewery that owned the pub in the 1970s made them fix the famous clock because the local magistrate's court was tired of hearing "my clock must have stopped" as an excuse by local landlords for staying open after licence hours.

They kicked me and my pal out once for lighting the fire in the grate before nighttime.

Also, it's not in County Durham as the pub is on the south side of the bridge in North Yorkshire.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: clueless don
Date: 16 May 03 - 01:05 PM

My favorite Henry Clay Work song (also on the Nonesuch LP, I believe) is "Come Home, Father", a song about a young girl trying to get her father to leave the saloon and come home to be by the side of his dying son (the girl's little brother.) I used to sing it at FSGW open sings in years past.

I never thought it was mawkish or hilariously sentimental, but always found (and find) it genuinely affecting.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Gorgeous Gary
Date: 16 May 03 - 10:53 PM

Blackcatter: That's by Computerworld columnist and filksinger Frank Hayes (he also of the Russians-in-Afghanistan take on "Moscow Nights").

Frank's also responsible for the 21st-century-when-I-was-your-age "When I Was A Boy", which I've been known to pull on unsuspecting FSGW Getaway attendees... 8-)

-- Gary


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Blackcatter
Date: 16 May 03 - 11:53 PM

YES! Frank Hayes. Now I remember. Learned it at a SF con in Miami.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 01:50 PM

Grandfathers Clock has been recorded by Johnny Cash, Hank Snow,
Bing Crosby, Burl Ives, Gene Krupa and his Orchestra,
Djanjo Reinhardt, Elton Britt, The Shadows, John Fahey, The
Everly Bros, The Yetties, Sam Cooke, Lonnie Donegan, John Pertwee,
Lennie Herman Orchestra, Chet Atkins, Sons Of The Ppioneers,
Lester Flatt & Earl Scruggs, The Rebelaires (bluegrass version)
and more I could mention. I perform the song with my own group
"Tumbleweed"
                                     God Bless you all,
                                                James Molloy
ooh yes, the song is listed in the James Joyce
music collection.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: GUEST,Ken Brock
Date: 07 Oct 08 - 03:26 PM

Henry Clay WOrk wrote a sequel in 1878, available here:
http://www.bluegrassmessengers.com/master/grandfathersclock2.html


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Mark Ross
Date: 08 Oct 08 - 12:12 PM

Django recorded GRANDFATHER'S CLOCK? When? Where?

Mark Ross


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 09 Oct 08 - 10:34 AM

Work's song, variously called "Kingdom Coming" and "Year of Jubalo", is sometimes criticized as un-P.C. because of the "darky" dialect, and some don't think it should be sung for that reason. Two thoughts:

Actually it's an antislavery song, about the reaction of slaves when freedom appears imminent, and sardonic fun-making directed at "The Mastah" who ran away.

and

Although I don't think it's been mentioned above, Work was a northern free Negro. I'm not sure if he was born free or was a freed slave. In any case, the phonetic representation of "darky" dialect is from him, and it is perfectly appropriate in the context of the song, methinks. I think, though, that the dialect could and should be cleaned up some for modern audiences, mainly for understandability's sake.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 09 Oct 08 - 11:07 AM

I was learning some tunes from a book and I didn't know how a lot of them should sound.
My grandad was looking through the book and recognised 'grandfathers clock' and started singing it...so I recorded him so I could get the tune.
My grandfather singing grandfathers clock


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 05:01 AM

Norfolk Singer Walter Pardon sang a song called 'The Old Man's Advice' which used the tune of Grandfather's Clock.
Walter's song came from his uncle Billy Gee and dates back to the re-establishment of the Agricultural Workers Union by George Edwards at the beginning of the 20th century.
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 08:19 AM

Dave, I can't seem to find any provenance for Work's being of African ancestry. Could you give a source, please?


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 09:31 AM

Wikipedia implies that he was not of African ancestry. But his involvement in the struggle emancipation is clear.


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 12:06 PM

Looks like I've got egg on my face, nameless GUEST.

I'm pretty sure that I'd read somewhere that he was black, but I can't remember and my quick Googling doesn't find anything to that effect.

Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa!

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Any history on Grandfathers Clock?
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 10 Oct 08 - 02:13 PM

HC Work was certainly not black. He sported one of the spiffiest bifurcated beards I've ever seen, though. And he wrote a bunch of real good songs.


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