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The Story BEHIND the song!

Pete Savage 15 Sep 97 - 01:28 PM
Joe Offer 15 Sep 97 - 04:59 PM
Gene 15 Sep 97 - 05:17 PM
Joe Offer 15 Sep 97 - 05:32 PM
Gene 15 Sep 97 - 06:37 PM
Shula 15 Sep 97 - 07:21 PM
Susan of DT 15 Sep 97 - 07:28 PM
pete savage 15 Sep 97 - 07:37 PM
Shula 15 Sep 97 - 08:09 PM
Bill 16 Sep 97 - 02:49 AM
Joe Offer 16 Sep 97 - 02:59 AM
pete savage 16 Sep 97 - 05:45 PM
pete savage 16 Sep 97 - 10:41 PM
pete savage 16 Sep 97 - 11:11 PM
pete savage 16 Sep 97 - 11:26 PM
Joe Offer 17 Sep 97 - 03:45 AM
Earl 17 Sep 97 - 11:19 AM
Jon W. 17 Sep 97 - 12:39 PM
gloker 17 Sep 97 - 03:30 PM
Joe Offer 17 Sep 97 - 04:23 PM
pete savage 17 Sep 97 - 05:41 PM
pete savage 17 Sep 97 - 05:47 PM
pete savage 17 Sep 97 - 05:58 PM
Peter T. 17 Sep 97 - 06:42 PM
pete savage 17 Sep 97 - 07:57 PM
dick greenhaus 17 Sep 97 - 08:37 PM
Allan Samuels 17 Sep 97 - 08:56 PM
Earl 18 Sep 97 - 01:18 AM
Gene 18 Sep 97 - 03:12 AM
Sheye 18 Sep 97 - 10:42 AM
Bruce 18 Sep 97 - 06:40 PM
Genie 28 Mar 02 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,adavis@truman.edu 29 Mar 02 - 01:46 AM
GUEST,kaylie 17 Apr 03 - 06:34 AM
Noreen 17 Apr 03 - 08:28 AM
Susanne (skw) 21 Apr 03 - 07:51 PM
Susan from California 22 Apr 03 - 01:03 AM
masato sakurai 22 Apr 03 - 02:35 AM
Leadfingers 22 Apr 03 - 02:38 AM
Frankham 22 Apr 03 - 12:29 PM
Allan C. 22 Apr 03 - 05:22 PM
rich-joy 01 Nov 03 - 08:14 PM
Little Robyn 02 Nov 03 - 02:58 AM
jaze 02 Nov 03 - 08:34 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 02 Nov 03 - 12:40 PM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 02 Nov 03 - 12:43 PM
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Subject: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Pete Savage
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 01:28 PM

For many years, my daughters and I have sung folk songs on vacations. This year, I compiled "The Savage Family Songbook" since youngrer daughter Renee said we'd need the words for our two son's-in-law who didn't know all the songs.

Then i started adding the chords for our friends who wanted to strum along at beach bonfire sing alongs.

Then, from this discussion forum, when asking for several song lyrics that we've wanted to add, I've collected information that many of you have so graciously provided, and we've found that knowing the "story behind the sing" has added greatly to our singing enjoyment.

I've started digging through the few books I have on folk songs adding the background material I can find to our song book. But of course, there are loads of songs with no information available, at least from my meager library.

But this is starting to become something of a quest, so I'm hard at work compiling background information on the 80 or so songs (mostly Kingston Trio, Brothers Four, Peter, Paul and Mary, Woody Guthrie, The Limeliters, and similar groups of the 50's and 60's, and old standards like the Whiffenpoof Song) that are in our family songbook.

While it would be a daunting task to suggest we add a page to every song in the DT database to record it's history, it could be a wonderful contribution to folk song history.

I'm working on the history of the songs that we have in our family song book, and would be delighted to share what I find, and provide electronic or paper copies of the songbook to anyone who would like a copy, in return for more wonderful background stories about the origin of the songs our family and friends so love to sing!

I guess I'd have to provide a list of the songs that are in our family song book for this to work, and if there's any interest, I'll do that on this thread.

Thank you everyone, for the help you've provided in the past when I've looked for lyrics to add to our book!

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 04:59 PM

Yes, there's interest. Start the list, Pete. Need I say more???? :)
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Gene
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 05:17 PM

There's some interesting stories behind the songs in the following books:

SING YOUR HEART OUT COUNTRY BOY by Dorothy Horstman...over 300 songs

FOR A COWBOY HAS TO SING by Jim Bob Tinsley..60 classic western songs

and another one I didn't buy that I don't recall the title to..with the story behind over 100 top country songs

All were available thru Barnes & Noble and probably at:

http://www.amazon.com


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 05:32 PM

Gene, was the one you didn't buy "Songs of Life: the Meaning of Country Music," by Jennifer Lawler? It has a picture of Johnny Cash on the cover. This book is just "OK," not extraordinary like "Sing Your Heart Out." Still and all, it's worth the $1.99 I paid at Tower Outlet.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Gene
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 06:37 PM

Hi Joe. --nope! haven't seen that one....this one ran about 10/11 bucks...and since I already had 90%+ of the songs -- didn't spring for it. I will check around for that one, though. thanks!


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Shula
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 07:21 PM

*Attention!* Since what follows is not a story behind a song, but a response to Pete Savage's mention of HIS family songbook, those with little time to waste should skip to the next contribution.
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Pete, your thread has put me in mind of the story behind our family songbook, which was begun in rather trying circumstances a little while back. (I realize this wasn't exactly what you were fishin' for and I hope you get lots of other juicy responses; just thought someone else working on a similar project might like to swap stories.)

Three or four years 'n' some ago, I had the grave misfortune to become intimately acquainted with a ruthlessly ambitious influenza virus. Not content to lay waste to my respiratory system, it set its megalomaniacal sights on my heart, which it left in a condition similar to that in which the infamous General Sherman left Georgia. When the docs at the hospital had done their fancy dancin', I was packed off to expire in the comfort of home.

As soon as the grim prospect of imminent demise sank in, (which took some doing, since my grandparents and their siblings had been notoriously long-lived; --one grandmother lasted to 103, still cracking wise at every opportunity), I turned my attention to settlin' my affairs, such as they were. Akiba, my best of all possible husbands, called together all the young'uns (mostly not so young, as it so happens), and I asked em', "Other than a piece o' whatever's left o' my mind, watcha reckon y' got comin'?"

"We're in for it now, guys, she's talkin' funny again!," declared the family smart-ass, my son Chaz. Then they all sat lookin' at me like I'd put salt 'stead o' sugar in the lukshen kugle (sweet noodle pudding).

"Well," sez I, "No use a'lollygaggin,' speak up afore ya need a long-range satellite t' reach me. Who wants what?" From the guilty looks, you'd a'thunk they'd et up ever' one o' the shul's (synagogue's) special-order hamentashen (pastries served on the holiday of Purim), like they did one year in the locust phase of adolescence. I "figerred" my books 'n' records 'n' my py-anner 'n' git-awr 'n' my afghans 'n' tins 'n' blue glass bottles warn't much, but ez they's all I had t' leave 'em, th' ungrateful lil' buggers could at least "pertend" t' think my stuff worth havin,' if only 'til they reached th' curb with it!

"Is it gonna be a bigger "potch in tuchas" (swat on the behind) if'n y' git it afore er after y' tell me what th' tarnation's a'goin on?!" (I was startin t' get m' dander up, don't y' see?)

"Wool-la, Wool-la (Relax, relax, in pidgin), Ema (Mom, in Hebrew)!," said our darlin' only daughter, who'd only had about five years t' lose her Vietnamese accent, but saw no particular advantage in doin' so.

"We want the songs!," declared Joel, our youngest, who never could wait for a punchline, completely devoid of the Native American taciturnity that should have been his birthright.

"Huh?" sez I, at a thoroughly unfamiliar loss for words.

"Bigmouth!," snarled Chaz, givin' Baby Brother a less-than-tender cuff upside the head, "Shoulda flushed ya when I had th' chance!" Then, he up 'n' tells me, "We decided when you were in the hospital, that if... well, if you came home, we'd really like it if you would write out the words to all the songs you used to sing with us; you know, at bedtime, or in the car or in the kitchen..."

"Yeah, and your recipes, too!," piped up Joel, careless of his continued existence.

"And your recipes, of course, Muti (Mommy in German Yiddish), and your stories, too," said Chaz, ignorin' th' ignorant, "But mostly what we want is the songs. I know they're probably in books somewhere, but we'll never get around to looking them up, and we just thought that we'd like to be able to pass them on, someday," -- which was the longest joke-free utterance ever to exit that boy's mouth!

And so, to keep a long story from gettin any bigger for its britches, it was decided that they would bring home the entire music section of the local library, and I would search my fading recollection, and we'd end up with a nice little keepsake for each of them. We're past five hundred songs, now, (not all of them "folk"), with no end in sight, and since I've discovered the Internet, and the Mudcat, I'm a'fixin t' keep on addin' t' "Savta (Grandma) Shula's Special Collection of Stolen Songs and Other Tasty Treats" until I kick. (And th' ticker that took a lickin' just keeps on a' tickin' -- must be th' healin' pow'r o' music, doncha reckon?) True story.

L'Chaim!

Shula


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Susan of DT
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 07:28 PM

1. Please share your family songs with the Digital Tradition.

2. Pete, if you post the list of songs for which you are needing background, probably some people here can help


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: pete savage
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 07:37 PM

1. Shula... Thanks for the info. I'm running between meetings right now, so I'll get back to you on family song books a bit later, but I'll put in a request for the hamentashen recipe now! My mom (god rest her soul!) used to make those (even though we're goyim(??)) and send them to me at college. They made me very popular at the boat school (U. S. Naval Academy)!!

2. I'll get the song list posted tonight!

Thanks everyone!

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Shula
Date: 15 Sep 97 - 08:09 PM

Dear Susan of D.T.,

Since you didn't specify Pete's list in message # one, assuming you are addressing everyone.

The last time I indexed our songbook,(before the Internet and The DT), we were up to about 280 songs, only 20-25% folk songs. I will send the list to your personal page, and you can let me know if the DT is interested in anything we have, though I doubt we have many folk songs you lack. When we update the index, I'll send you that, too. Hope I'm not wasting your time.

Shula


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Bill
Date: 16 Sep 97 - 02:49 AM

Howdy Shula,

Thanks so much for sharing your experience. It says a great deal about what you did in raising those wonderful kids (including smart-aleck Chaz). Keep on with all your efforts including the healing power of music.

Allinkausay,
Bill


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Sep 97 - 02:59 AM

Hey, Pete, we're still waiting for you to list those songs. You'll be amazed at how much we know (or think we know) about them.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: pete savage
Date: 16 Sep 97 - 05:45 PM

Herewith the list of songs in the Savage Family Songbook... any info, leads etc. on "the story behind the song" would be gratefully received. I'm getting the books recommended by Gene, and I've just found an OLD copy of "Folk Song U.S.A" by John A. and Alan Lomax, which has a pile of interesting information.

******************************************** Acres of Clams, Amazing Grace, A'Rovin, Andrew Marteen

Back to Back, Belly to Belly, Ballad of the Shape of Things, Battle of New Orleans, Blowin in the Wind, Blow Ye Winds, Brandy

Camp Grenada, Charlie and the MTA, Clementine

Danny Boy, Drunken Sailor, Dunderbeck, Desert Pete, Down by the Riverside

Eddystone Light, Edmund Fitzgerald, Escape of Old John Webb

Five Hundred Miles

Good Night Irene, Green Alligators, Gentlemen Rankers

Hammer Song, Henry Martin, Home on the Range, Hundred Miles, Heart of My Heart

If I Had a Hammer, I've got Sixpence

Jamaica Farewell

Lemon Tree, Lemon Tree (MIT Parody), Lady in Red

Margaritaville, Merry Minuet, MTA

Old Settler's Song, Oleanna

Puff the Magic Dragon

Quartermaster Corps

Red River Valley, Reuben James, Riddle Song, Roving Gambler

Scarborough Fair, Scarlet Ribbons, Scotch and Soda, Sinking of the Reuben James, Sloop John B

There's a Tavern in the Town, They're Rioting in Africa, This Land is Your Land, Three Jolly Coachmen, Tom Dooley, To Morrow

Unicorns

Wabash Cannonball, What do you do with a Drunken Sailor, Where have all the Flowers Gone, Wreck of the John B, Whiffenpoof Song, Wedding Bells are Breaking Up that Old Gang of Mine

**************************

Many thanks everyone!

If anyone would like a copy of anything I have now, or would like a copy of the complete songbook, please send me your email or snail mail address and I'll get you out a copy when I complete this present update.

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: pete savage
Date: 16 Sep 97 - 10:41 PM

from "Folk Song USA" I've got some excellent information on Home on the Range, Red River Valley, Blow Ye winds in the Morning, 10 WWI verses and 6 WWII verses of Mademoiselle from Armentieres, The Old Settler's Song, Tom Dooley, and Amazing Grace.

I'll get these "origin" stories transcribed into the thread... some of them seem incomplete, and perhaps wrong.

For example, I recall a television special, by Bill Moyers I believe, on "Amazing Grace", that related the tale of a slave ship captain, who, faced with the loss of his ship, human cargo and his life in a storm, told his mate that their fates were in the hands of God. I don't recall much more of Moyers' story, but believe that the captain was "born again" as a result of surviving the storm, immediately went out of the slave trade, and became a minister, and wrote "Amazing Grace" to describe his transcendental experience. This explanation might jibe with the account of Lomax who says the song was written by "the English divine, John Newton," in the 18th century.

I'll look for more on Amazing Grace!

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: pete savage
Date: 16 Sep 97 - 11:11 PM

I've got more than I believed possible on Amazing Grace... As soon as I compile it, I'll post it here. Seems like this was an easy one!

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: pete savage
Date: 16 Sep 97 - 11:26 PM

...and I have a gazillion pages on the history of the Edmund Fitzgerald, but nothing on the writing of the song by Gordon Lightfoot, if there is any further story there.

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 03:45 AM

Hmmmm. I wonder if Mr. Savage might be a Kingston Trio fan...
.
Well, let's see, Pete,words and music for both Merry Little Minuet (They're Rioting in Africa) and "The Ballad of the Shape of Things" were written by Sheldon Harnick, who was born in 1924. You might recognize several other songs by Harnick - does the name "Fiddler of the Roof" ring a bell? Harnick did the lyrics, and Jerry Bock the music for "Fiddler" and several other Broadway shows.

"The Unicorn" (Green Alligators) is by kidbook writer and Playboy cartoonist Shel Silverstein, author of "The Giving Tree" and "Boy Named Sue."

Well, that's a start. By the way, I like the Kingston Trio, too.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Earl
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 11:19 AM

I recently read something interesting about the "Wabash Cannonball". Roy Acuff got a copyright on the song in 1940 (proably the most familiar version) but A. P. Carter got one in 1939 and someone named William Kindt got one in 1904. The song has traditional roots from the 1800's.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Jon W.
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 12:39 PM

From a local folkie radio show, I got the following on Danny Boy (the DJ was trying to explain why he was playing such a "done to death" song): It was written during World War One by a father whose son died in the war.

BTW the version they played was by De Dannaan, very good in my opinion. I've liked the song since I was a kid and heard it on Harry Belafonte's Carnegie Hall album, and I somehow missed all the soppy versions that made everyone hate it.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: gloker
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 03:30 PM

Check out Edith Fowke's various collections of folk songs. Admittedly, she concentrated on Canadian folk songs the most, but it's amazing how they spread. For example, one song you have on your list is "Red River Valley", which most people assume has to do with Texas or somewhere in the American west. It actually originated in Canada and dealt with the Red River Rebellion in what is now Manitoba. The story in the original words was of a volunteer soldier who came in to help put down the rebellion and who fell in love with an Indian maiden while there. The song was a lament from the maiden when she heard that her lover was going to be heading back east.


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Subject: The Story BEHIND the song: Puff the Magic Dragon
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 04:23 PM

Here's the basic story of "Puff."

Lenny Lipton grew up in Brooklyn. In 1958 he graduated from high school and headed off to college at Cornell in Ithaca, New York. Lenny came to the realization that he was not a little kid anymore and never would be; that made him sad.

One night in the Spring of 1959 Lenny headed for the Cornell library. He had just turned nineteen. He found a book of poems by Ogden Nash, one of which discussed a Really-o Truly-o Dragon. After he was finished he left the library, walked down the hill from Cornell into the town of Ithaca, and went to visit his friend Lenny Edelstein. The two friends were supposed to have dinner together that night.

No one was at home, but the door was unlocked so Lenny Lipton let himself in; this was not an uncommon practice in Ithaca in the late 50's. Lenny was thinking again about the loss of his carefree childhood days, and he was inspired by the poems he had been reading earlier in the evening. He sat down at the typewriter of Edelstein's roommate, Peter, and decided to write a poem of his own. He wrote for about three minutes and felt somewhat soothed. He left the poem in Peter's typewriter, and then left.

Peter returned and saw the sheet of paper in the typewriter. He was a singer/performer/concert organizer around Ithaca, in addition to being an undergraduate and doing some teaching. He liked what he saw and put some music to it, and later began to use it in some of his performances.

Peter later joined a group and used the song. It became more and more popular, and eventually the group recorded it. Within a few years it had become a top ten pop song. Peter went back and tracked down Lenny Lipton, who was by that time a counselor at a summer camp. Peter added Lenny Lipton's name as a co-writer, and Lipton has done well with the royalties he has received ever since.

Peter was Peter Yarrow, and his group was Peter, Paul and Mary. The song, which reached number 2 on the charts early in 1963, was Puff The Magic Dragon. According to Lenny Lipton, it is a simple, sentimental song about the loss of childhood and nothing more.

For more information, including comments about the allegation this song was about marijuana, check this URL:

http://www.visi.com/~damsel/Puff.html

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: pete savage
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 05:41 PM

gloker:

Thanks for the info on Red River Valley... Lomax claims: "This latter day western piece stands as proof of what folk singers can do to refine and purify a song which comes to them from written sources. It has its origin in a ditty from new York State, "The Bright mohawk Valley" Western singers not only changed the locale of the song, they cut away much of the original pretentious from both teh melody and the lyrics. There emerges a chorus of great simplicity aand a lazy little tune that drifts straight into your heart like smoke from a lonely cabin rising and disappeaering into the prarie sky. Breathe this one softly through your harmonica or pump it gently out of your old concertina. Tou'll hear he summer wind swinging the tall grass. You'll see the sky of the West with its drifting herds of starts."

I like the Edith Fowkes version better...

Thanks very much!

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: pete savage
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 05:47 PM

Joe: You're right! Having graduated from college in 1963, I'm a Kingston Trio fan. Still strum a four string tenor guitar like one of the Trio (Dave Guard?). And of course those songs from my high school and college days bring back loads of memories as well as being great sing along pieces with friends who all grew up about the same time, and with their children, who also learned these songs as their parents knees.

Thanks very much for the info, especially on Puff! I've heard the allegation that it was marijuana related and I'm delighted to have the real story.

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: pete savage
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 05:58 PM

Earl: Thanks for the data on Wabash Cannonball! Does anyone know who Daddy Claxton was?

Jon: Interesting stuff on Danny Boy! Both of the versions in the DT base are Irish, and the second version is attributed to David Geller, hardly an Irish name. Do you have any information on who may have written the original song?

Joe: Thanks for the leads on Harnick and Silverstein!

Thanks Earl, Jon and Joe!

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Peter T.
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 06:42 PM

This thread may be more interesting for the bogus stories and arguments that turn up than the real ones, e.g. everybody claims that Red River Valley was about their part of the world. I think you need to keep your sceptic's hat on here. Did I ever tell you about how Michael Row The Boat Ashore Came to be Written? Yours, Peter


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Subject: The Story BEHIND the song: Danny Boy
From: pete savage
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 07:57 PM

Peter T.: I believe you're right on the mark! There are a lot of conflicting stories out there about all these songs. I'm finding what sounds like solid data by correlating data from various sites on the net. See the following data re: Danny Boy:

from: http://www.dannyboy.ie/history.htm

Composed by Rory Dall O'Cahan in the 1600's as a lament for his ancient Irish clan. Performed over 200 years later at Limavady market by Jimmy McCurry, a blind street fiddler. Heard and noted down by miss Jane Ross, a private music teacher in Limavady. Published in 1855 in honour of Jane and her native county as "The Londonderry Air" by Dublin music publisher George Petrie. Lyrics added in 1912 penned by Fred Weatherley, an eminent English Lawyer.

from: http://www.sirius.com/~ststones/dannyboy.htm

To begin with, Danny Boy is one of over 100 songs composed to the same tune. The author was an English lawyer, Frederic Edward Weatherly (1848-1929), who was also a songwriter and radio entertainer. In 1910 he wrote the words and music for an unsuccessful song he called Danny Boy. In 1912 his sister-in-law in America sent him a tune called the Londonderry Air, which he had never heard before. He immediately noticed that the melody was perfectly fitted to his Danny Boy lyrics, and published a revised version of the song in 1913. As far as is known, Weatherly never set foot in Ireland.

The Danny Boy lyrics proved particularly popular in the United States, where they were recorded by a number of popular singers including Bing Crosby. In England, however, the tune is often still known as the Londonderry Air. This title has a certain political bias, since the name "Londonderry" is used to emphasize the ties between Northern Ireland and Britain (referring to the colonization of the area by English settlers in the early 17th century). Irish nationalists usually prefer to use "Derry", the original name of the Northern city and county.

The first appearance of the tune in print occurred in 1855, in Ancient Music of Ireland, published by the early collector George Petrie (1789-1866). The untitled melody, described as "very old", was supplied to Petrie by Miss Jane Ross of Limavady, County Londonderry, who claimed to have taken it down from the playing of an itinerant piper. This is the origin of the Londonderry Air name.

A great collector of the 1930s, Sam Henry, speculated that Miss Ross had collected the tune from a fiddler, Blind Jimmy McCurry, who was known to have been active in Limavady at the time. But there seems to be no hard evidence supporting this theory, although Jimmy's descendants have embraced it enthusiastically.

As the tune grew in popularity, and at the same time traditional Irish music came to be more thoroughly researched, considerable doubt emerged about Miss Ross's story. No additional versions of the melody were encountered by other collectors. The structure of the tune is unlike any other traditional Irish tune, and it is not suited for words in any of the known Irish song meters. Miss Ross was unable to provide any supporting evidence (the name of the piper, for example), and the suspicion grew that she had composed it herself and was attempting to pass it off as a genuine Irish tune (although by doing so she would be missing out on considerable royalty payments!). She continued to maintain the truth of her original account.

The next piece of the puzzle appeared in 1934, when Anne Gilchrist published an article entitled "A New Light Upon the Londonderry Air" in the Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society. She theorized that the tune was taken from a performance in which the performer was using extreme rubato, and this "so disguised the natural rhythm that the tune was wrongly noted down in common instead of triple time". If the prolonged notes occurring on the first beat of the bar are shortened "the tune falls at once and easily into a rhythm which instead of being unique in Irish folk-music is paralleled in scores of other Irish folk- tunes".

Finally, in 1979, an article "New Dates for Old Songs 1766-1803", by Hugh Shields, appeared in Long Room (the journal of the library of Trinity College Dublin). Shields identified a tune in Edward Bunting's 1796 publication A General Collection of the Ancient Irish Music, entitled Aislean an Oigfear (in modern Irish Aisling an Ógfhir, "the young man's dream"), as being very close to the Gilchrist version of the Londonderry Air, except in the fourth phrase which "makes the Londonderry Air almost unsingable in traditional style while endearing it to virtuosos eager for effects of vocal expression". (This phrase does not, however, exceed the range of the pipes, so there is nothing to show it was not present in the original performance.)

Edward Bunting (1773-1843) was the pioneer collector of harp music whose career began in 1792 when he was hired to write down the tunes performed at the Belfast Harp Festival. It is to him that we owe the preservation of much of the traditional Irish harp repertoire. Bunting noted Aislean an Oigfear from Denis Hempson (1697-1807), the very last traditional performer on the Irish wire-strung harp (who luckily lived to the age of 110, allowing Bunting to collect many of his tunes before his death), in Magilligan, County Derry—very near to Miss Jane Ross's home in Limavady.

In his 1840 work, A Collection of the Ancient Music of Ireland, Bunting discusses the characteristics of typical Irish melodies, stating "The Young Man's Dream, and the air of The Green Woods of Truigha, might be suggested as answering more nearly to the Editor's conception of such a standard than any others with which he is acquainted".

So after more than a century, Miss Ross has been vindicated, although her skill as a transcriber is perhaps called into question. (Of course, we cannot be sure that the anonymous piper's performance was of the best standard, either.)

this is getting interesting!!

Pete


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 08:37 PM

I suspect that, in many things folkish, THE story behind the song is about on a level of THE right version. Explanations are fun, but should be taken with several grains of salt. THere's a fine term for this: Fakelore (I forget who coined it, but the history I've heard is probably apocryphal.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Allan Samuels
Date: 17 Sep 97 - 08:56 PM

Pete-- nice chatting tonight with you. Hey, you guys-- we had FIVE in the chat room. Check it out!!

I had the pleasure of seeing G. Lightfoot in concert, he did sing "Edmund Fitzgerald". His entire intro (not his strong point as an entertainer) was "it's a good song and I'm glad I wrote it".

The MTA is a rewrite of The Ship That Never Returned. I don't know much more than that, but have seen the words and chords(all 3 of them) in folk song books.

I saw a PP&M concert and they DID say that Puff The Magic Dragon IS a simple children's song NOT about marijuana etc. ---Sometimes a cigar is only a cigar.

Pete, It is GREAT project, and DO please email it to me when it's ready.

allands@erols.com

Allan


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Earl
Date: 18 Sep 97 - 01:18 AM

Pete,
This is a great project. I've found that in reasearching interesting songs, things get muddier the deeper you go and I don't think I'd want it any other way.

I think I remember hearing Roy Acuff say Daddy Claxton was a relative of his, but that's hearsay at best.

"Goodnight Irene" is usually attributed to Leadbelly but there were probably earlier versions.

"The Battle of New Orleans" was written by Jimmy Driftwood who, I learned by reading another thread, turns 90 this year.

"Acres of Clams" gets its tune from "Rosin the Bow" which I'm sure someone (not me) has a story about.

"Charlie on the MTA" is still a requested song in the Boston area but it's now the MBTA, Scolly Square is now Government Center, the fare has gone up about 500%, and you don't pay when you get off anymore.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Gene
Date: 18 Sep 97 - 03:12 AM

In SING YOUR HEART OUT COUNTRY BOY! Roy Acuff says the reference to a DADDY CLAXTON in Wabash Cannonball, which also happns to by his middle name..is only a coincidence..His father named him after Dr. P. T. Claxton, a prominent teacher and lecturer at Austin Peay College. On the day Roy was born, Dr. Claxton had given a lecture in Roy's hometown and Roy's father was so impressed, he named Roy after him...


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Sheye
Date: 18 Sep 97 - 10:42 AM

Had to print this thread to read later (aka on my own time). Yes, Pete, VERY interested in the compilation. Sheye@hotmail.com

Shula: Thanks for sharing such an intimate piece of your life with us.


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Subject: The Story BEHIND the song: Young Man's Dream
From: Bruce
Date: 18 Sep 97 - 06:40 PM

Back to Pete S.
What and where is connection to Rory Dahl O'Cahain?

I see only a vague of similarity between "Londonderry Air" and "The Young Man's Dream". Here are Bunting's tune and a few other early versions in ABC, so you can play/ display and judge for yourself. There are many later copies of the tune, and Thomas Moore used it for his song "As a beam o'er the face of the waters" in the first issue of 'A Selection of Irish Melodies'.

The 'Irish' song "Young Man's Dream" is an imitation of the English "Love's Fancy, or, The Young Man's Dream" or, "She lay all naked in her bed". (See my broadside index, ZN2339).



X:1
T:The Young Man's Dream
T:Bunting, 1796
Q:60
L:1/4
M:3/4
K:G
G/2A/2|Bc/2e/2d/2B/2|AG3/4E/4G/2A/2|B3/2 G/2 B/4A/4G/2|G2||(d/4e/4f/2)|g (g/2f/2) (f/4e/4d/4f/4)|(ed3/4)B/4 (d/4e/4f/2)|g g/4f3/4e/4d3/4|e3/2 e/4f/4 g/2f/2|e d/2B/2 (e/4d/4)(B/4A/4)|G A/4G/4E/4D/4 G/2A/2|B A/2G/2 B/4A/4G/2|G2|]



X:2
T:Young man's dream (Tytler's song)
T:Scots Musical Museum #126 (1788)
Q:60
L:1/4
M:3/4
K:Cm
G/2|c/2d/2e(d/2c/2)|(e/4d/4) (c/4=B/4)cG|c/2d/2ed/2c/2|(e/4d/4) (c/4=B/4)c3/2G/2|c/2d/2ed/2c/2|(e/4d/4) c/4=B/4c||e/2d/4c/4)|B3/4 A/4G(F3/4G/8A/8)|G/2F/2E/2D/2C|E/2F/2G((A/2G/2)|(F/4A/4) (G/4F/4)Ee3/4c/4|B3/2A/4G(F3/2D/8A/8)|G3/2F/4E3/4D/4C|E/2F/2 (G/2c/2B/2) A/2|G/4F/4 E/4D/4 C3/2|]



X:3
T:I dream'd I lay (By Robert Burns)
T:Scots Musical Museum #146 (1788)
Q:60
L:1/4
M:3/4
K:F
D|F/2 G/2AA|B/2 (A/4G/4)AD|F3/4 G/4 A3/2 (d/2c/2)|B/2 A/4G/4F2|F3/4 G/4AA|B/2 A/4G/4AD|F3/2 G/4A(d/2c/2)|B/2 A/4G/4F2||c/2 d/4e/4fe|d3/4 c/4d(c/4A3/4)|c/2 d/4e/4f(e/2f/4g/4)|(f/4e/4) (d/4c/4)d2|f3/4 e/4d(d/2c/2)|B/2 A/4G/4AD|F3/4 G/4Ad/4c/4|B/2 A/4G/4F2|]



X:4
T: The Young Man's Dream
T: Hime's 'A New Selection.... Irish Airs', c 1800
Q:60
L:1/4
M:3/4
K:G
G3/4A/4Be|d/2A/2BE3/4F/4|G/2A/2B/2e/2d/2c/2|B/2A/2G2::d/2B/2gf|e/2^d/2eB|d/2B/2gf|e/2^d/2 e3/2f/2|g/2f/2ed|B/2A/2BE3/4F/4|G/2A/2B/2e/2d/2c/2|B/2A/2G2:|]


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Genie
Date: 28 Mar 02 - 10:36 PM

Pete, I know this is a very old thread, but if your compilation is still available, I'd very much like a copy.  You can contact me at geniesings@yahoo.com.

I wonder if your story about Brewster Higley and "My Western Home" (which later became the lyrics to  "Home On The Range") is the same as the one related by Robert Fulghum in his "Everything I Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten."  Also, do you happen to have all of Higley's verses in their original order?

Thanks,
Genie


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: GUEST,adavis@truman.edu
Date: 29 Mar 02 - 01:46 AM

So the urban legend about "Puff" and marijuana lives on? About John B.: I've heard from one knowledgable source that the bad things that happen on that sloop are all the result of naming the boat "John B." In Afro-Carribean culture, nobody with a surname beginning with "B" (supposedly) will name a son "John," because the result ("John B." sounds too much like "jumby" -- a west african (Wolof/Bambera) term referring to this undead thing we've anglicized to "zombie" -- apparently it won't do to mention these creatures; "speak of the devil," and all that.

"Back to Back/Belly to Belly" is a song that passed for smutty *and* multicultural in middle-class circles in the sixties. It was on an album called "The Big Bamboo" that was sold in swingin' joints with a carribean theme. My parents had a copy, and John Updike includes it in a scene in *Rabbit is Rich*.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: GUEST,kaylie
Date: 17 Apr 03 - 06:34 AM

who actually sang the song when it was released


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Noreen
Date: 17 Apr 03 - 08:28 AM

Which song, kaylie?
(Good thread, not seen it before)


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 21 Apr 03 - 07:51 PM

For some more stories behind songs try My Songbook ((-:) shameless self-advertising!)


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Susan from California
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 01:03 AM

Peter T. If you are still around, I for one , would like to know the story of how "Michael, Row Your Boat Ashore" came to be written...


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 02:35 AM

Not much info on "Michael" is known (see this thread: Michael Row the Boat Ashore). The earliest printed version is in William Francis Allen, Charles Pickard Ware, and Lucy McKim Garrison's Slave Songs of the United States (New York: A. Simpson & Co., 1867; see No. 31 [p. 23], and comment [p. xvi]). Allen heard it as a boat song on Mar. 20, 1863 and Feb. 13, 1864; quotations from his diaries are in Dena J. Epstein, Sinful Tunes and Spirituals (University of Illinois Press, 1977, pp. 290 and 352).

~Masato


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Leadfingers
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 02:38 AM

Back to Back was written for the Trinidad Carnival in 1951


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Frankham
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 12:29 PM

Re: Puff, the expression "honah lea" is used to describe the state of high using opium. It's known in the jazz world.

"Strings and sealing wax" are used to roll joints.

Sorry, Joe, don't buy that story.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Allan C.
Date: 22 Apr 03 - 05:22 PM

Holy cow, Frank! I've never seen one so big that the use of strings and sealing wax would have been necessary to hold it together! (Which is my way of saying that I question your source for what sounds like totally bogus information.) NOI


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: rich-joy
Date: 01 Nov 03 - 08:14 PM

Just found this thread - what's the update on SHULA??????!!!

Cheers!
R-J


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Little Robyn
Date: 02 Nov 03 - 02:58 AM

A quick check suggests Shula hasn't posted anything since June 2001.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: jaze
Date: 02 Nov 03 - 08:34 AM

Pete Savage, for some reason, it doesn't work when I pm you but I'd very much like a copy of your songbook.Can you e-mail me @ j5wilby@aol.com. thanks


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 02 Nov 03 - 12:40 PM

Jaze, That's because Pete hasn't been around since January of '98. Sorry. You can probably find MOST of those songs right here at the DT. It's pretty easy to cut'n'paste these into a document which you can print out yourself.

I do that myself. My favourite ones like Water is Wide combined about 30 threads and at least 50 or sixty messages into one document with as many versions/verses I can get together. Some of those are in pretty small font sizes.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 02 Nov 03 - 12:43 PM

BTW, this is one of the threads which inspired the creation of the "Origins of" series of threads listing threads with some of the histories. You can have a look at this Permathread on Song Origins

I suspect it's one of the grandfather threads to the newer DTStudy threads.


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Subject: Danny Boy
From: GUEST,Anonymous
Date: 12 Mar 04 - 02:53 AM

Back in the 1980s, a Los Angeles radio show "went to Dublin" for Saint Patrick's Day. During the week they interviewed the Mayor of Dublin who gave a unique account of the song Danny Boy. He said the song was about a father sending one of his sons to the New World, knowing he would never see the boy again. This seems to fit the lyrics without requiring someone to have died in a war. Moreover, it fits the mid 19th Century dates cited in the other posts on the thread.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: GUEST,wanderin cybernut (stringy69@hotmail.com)
Date: 10 May 04 - 01:39 PM

I just had to add something to keep this thread going cuz it's one of the best I've seen. Maybe we can set a record for longest running thread.

Peter, of Peter Paul and Mary (or maybe it was Paul) (I'm sure it wasn't Mary, I'm not that out of it) (from all those years of smoking it) said (actually sang) that Puff was not about mary wanna, but rather the loss of innocence. I've always thought that Puff was a kite.

Now H.R. Puffin Stuff (a tv show, not a song) was definitely drug inspired. Come on, Puffin Stuff (imagine a big cloud of smoke billowing out everytime you say it)

I found this thread looking for who Daddy Claxton was. Think he was nobody and the wabash cannonball never rolled down any track and was merely a train of thought.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Amos
Date: 10 May 04 - 01:52 PM

I believe you're mistaken there, cybernut. IF you put Claxton into the search box you will come up with several threads in which the whole history of the Cannonball is discussed at length.

A


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: GUEST
Date: 09 May 05 - 11:11 PM

Does anyone have the complete lyrics to "Michael Row the Boat Ashore"? I also would like the historical background to this tune and its lyrics. Thanks, Dave Mason    davidvmason@yahoo.com


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Azizi
Date: 09 May 05 - 11:41 PM

David Mason,

Since "Michael Row The Boat Ashore" is a folk song, there is no such thing as a "complete' set of lyrics.

I have read that this song is of Afro-Caribbean origin and I have also read that it is of African American origin. Since enslaved Black people from the Caribbean came to the USA and vice versa during those centuries of slavery, it's not surprising that both cultures claim this song..

I have also read that 'Michael Row The Boat Ashore" was sung as a religious song and also sung as a work song {while rowing a boat}.
And that wasn't uncommon..for the choruses, and verses of quite a few religous songs composed by enslaved Black people were also used for secular purposes {including secular dancing}.

Also David, might I suggest that you read Masato Sakurai's post on 22 Apr 03 - 02:35 AM In This Thread and click on the link that Masato provided to a thread whose subject is "Michael Row The Boat Ashore".

I believe that you will find the thread on "Michael Row.." interesting.

[And David, it's a good practice to read or at least scan all the previous posts in a thread-but we all have failed to do that sometimes].

Best wishes,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: RobbieWilson
Date: 10 May 05 - 08:38 AM

One of the things I realy like about folk music, in its broadest folk scene sense, is going to see people who not only wrote but lived the songs I love.

An early highlight for me was going to see Eric Bogle a few years ago and as well a the raw emotion of his account of how visiting a war cemetery in Northern France and observing how young the majority of the fallen were inspired no mans land, he told the story behind two of my favourites, Leaving Nancy and the Belle of Broughton.

Leaving Nancy I had always pictured a young soldier leaving his sweetheart behind, probably because Bogle is so well known for his anti war songs, but in fact the song relates the day when, as a young man, he left his mother on the platform of Edinburghs Waverley Station to go and live in Australia. At a similar time and similar age I had done the same thing (only moving away to London mind you. ) With me it was my father and Glasgow Central Station but the recollection of the wordless emotion reduced me to tears then ( I'm choking now writing this.

Belle of Broughton
A lovely simple song Bogle says he wrote it following the death of his grandmother. He says he could never remember his Grandfather aving anything nice to say about her when she was alive but that when she died he was really cut up and told him that when they were young in the borders village of Broughton she had been the village beauty and he could never really quite believe that she had chosen him. Bogle only remembered his grandmother as an ordinary old woman
and the two as constantly bickering but the old man told him he had been in awe of the beautiful girl who had chosen him all through their long years together. Again this chimed with me because I can only remember my own grandmother as a little fat grey haired Glasgow woman, but apparently she was a real stunner when she was young. My Grandfather had always seemed to me as a kid pretty indifferent to her but when she died he completely went to pieces.
He was physically a very strong man and lived outlived her by some years, but there was no life left in him.

Thats the strength of many great songs, they can be written specifically about one person but speak so much of the human condition you feel they could be about you. cf " Killing me softly", about a Don Mclean concert.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: katlaughing
Date: 11 Mar 06 - 05:14 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Azizi
Date: 05 May 09 - 08:53 AM

The urban legend about the song "Amazing Grace" lives on.

Check out this paragraph from a blog post honoring Pete Seeger on his 90th birthday:

"Now, if you ever miss that feeling of being among the youngest in a crowd, I highly recommend attending your pal's ninetieth birthday party. It's the perfect way to get that warm enfant terrible feeling all over again. I had a wonderful time strumming and harmonizing with Pete and his posse. At one point when the folk song army was conducting a rather croonish version of "Amazing Grace," Pete got up from his chair, interrupted, and told the story of how the words were written: how the captain of a slave ship had a moment of clarity and turned the ship around back to Africa. He then led the assembled to raise their voices to sustain each word and note, converting it back from a mere folk song into a gospel spiritual again. The guy's still got it."

http://narcosphere.narconews.com/thefield Happy Birthday, Pete Seeger
Posted by Al Giordano - May 3, 2009 at 8:31 am

(my italics for emphasis)

-snip-

Here's a paragraph that debunks that commonly held version:

Turner... explodes what he calls the "folk myth version" (p. 49) of the hymn's origins,
according to which Newton converted to Christianity and abandoned the slave trade after his near loss of life, and wrote "Amazing Grace" about his having done so. In fact, Turner argues, Newton began commanding slave-trading ships only after embracing Christianity, saw no inconsistency between these two commitments, and turned against slavery only
gradually."
https://www.h-net.org/reviews/showpdf.php?id=9298


"Turner" is Steve Turner. Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song. New York: Ecco, 2002. xxxii + 266 pp. $23.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-06-000218-3; $14.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-06-000219-0

-snip-

Here's an account of Newton's composition of "Amazing Grace" that provides information about the hymn's tune:

"Steve Turner's book Amazing Grace: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song tells the story of composer John Newton's conversion from slave trader to abolitionist, and traces the evolution of the song from its composition in 1772 as a hymn with no set tune to the version familiar today.

Amazing Grace" was first heard on New Year's Day in 1773. Turner tells NPR's Liane Hansen it was written without "ceremony" in an attic room where Newton wrote weekly hymns to amplify the message of his sermons. When Newton put the internal rhyme "amazing grace" together, it wasn't purely for poetic reasons. He understood grace to mean God's unmerited favor to lost souls. Turner says it was a meaning Newton — with his sordid history and personal tale of redemption — could take to heart.

Newton supplied the lyrics, but the tune sung today arrived much later. Turner says that in Newton's day, the song would have been sung "to another song that fit its meter" — if it were sung at all. And "Amazing Grace" continued to be associated with a number of different tunes throughout much of the 19th century. In 1835, "...the tune that we now sing... was married to the words of John Newton," Turner says. That same year a South Carolina singing instructor named William Walker published a widely popular hymn book combining the now-familiar tune with Newton's words."
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=894060


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: Azizi
Date: 05 May 09 - 09:04 AM

And speaking of long held urban legends about songs (and rhymes), there's always "Ring Around The Rosie".

Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: GUEST,the black death - PM
Date: 25 Jan 05 - 05:51 PM

Ring around the rosie- the red "mark" 1st sign that you had the plague.
pocket full of posies- The flowers that People carried to the smell of the bodies down.
Ashes ashes- They burned the bodies sence no one wanted to bury them.
Or Achoo Achoo- the snezzing that came with the plague.
We all fall down- The plague spared no one. Rich, poor, old or young it would kill you..
This is the real meaning of the childhood song that we sang.

thread.cfm?threadid=49672#2382361


-snip-

That thread has several witty alternate meanings for the words to that well known children's rhyme. I'll take the liberty of posting one example:

Subject: RE: Origins: Ring Around The Rosey's History??
From: Nerd - PM
Date: 31 Jan 05 - 01:49 PM

Actually, it's about that favorite schoolyard pastime, the kick up the arse!

The "Rosey" is not a facial cheek but the cheek of someone's arse. The "ring" is the mark made by the hobnail boot of a person administering a swift kick. The Pocket full of posies is the back pocket of the victim's trousers, at which the kick was traditionally aimed, and the rest of the rhyme is:

"arses, arses, we all fall down!"

-snip-

But, in spite of the fact that this rhyme's connection to the plague was roundly debunked, as of this date, the last post to that thread is:

Subject: RE: Origins: Ring around the Rosy / Rosey
From: GUEST,joeeeyyy - PM
Date: 19 Jan 09 - 08:19 PM

its about the plauge


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 05 May 09 - 12:00 PM

For Pete Savage:

The Martin four-string guitar to which you refer was played by Nick Reynolds, "The runt of the litter," as often described by Dave Guard, Bob Shane and, later, John Stewart. Sadly, we recently lost both Nick, who I had met locally from time to time, and John Stewart. Both had roots in the San Diego area. Nick's dad was a retired navy captain in Coronado and John was born here. Nick once said, with a wink, that some of the "back stories" were basically stage patter that may or may not have had roots in reality. You may find a lot of that in your research.

Remembering some of the exploits of my "misspent youth" in folk music, I kiddingly asked Nick once if he realized how much mischief his group had gotten some of us into. He just grinned and said, "Yeah; but, wasn't it a gas!"

Bob, the only surviving original member, is in the Phoenix area, as is Travis Edmonson, of Bud & Travis. Both are in difficult health situations, but Bob still plays a bit, from what I hear.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: GUEST,Honah Leah H.
Date: 07 May 09 - 11:31 AM

This has been a very interesting read! I was obviously named from the song puff the magic dragon. It was my mothers favortite song. Not an easy name to grow up with. Anyhow, I have heard that there is a place in Hawaii that is called hanalei or something of that nature and that is what inspired where puff was from. Who knows, but it was an interesting tidbit.


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Subject: RE: The Story BEHIND the song!
From: GUEST,Brazos Valley Boy
Date: 02 Jul 10 - 05:25 PM

Hanalei is on the north side of the island of Kauai, HI. Great place to visit!


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