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Women's Work Songs

In Mudcat MIDIs:
I'm Gonna Be An Engineer


LaMarca 15 Oct 97 - 05:51 PM
Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca 15 Oct 97 - 07:19 PM
Nonie Rider 15 Oct 97 - 07:55 PM
Susan of DT 15 Oct 97 - 09:31 PM
Nonie Rider 16 Oct 97 - 05:11 PM
Bruce 16 Oct 97 - 05:55 PM
Alice 16 Oct 97 - 10:38 PM
Alice 16 Oct 97 - 11:03 PM
Barry 16 Oct 97 - 11:23 PM
Moira Cameron 17 Oct 97 - 01:31 AM
LaMarca 17 Oct 97 - 01:39 PM
Nonie Rider 17 Oct 97 - 03:37 PM
rosebrook 17 Oct 97 - 09:32 PM
Alice 18 Oct 97 - 12:37 AM
Alice 18 Oct 97 - 12:46 AM
judy 18 Oct 97 - 01:47 AM
Steve D. 20 Oct 97 - 07:47 AM
judy 26 Oct 97 - 12:17 AM
RS 26 Oct 97 - 11:16 PM
Catfeet 27 Oct 97 - 12:05 PM
LaMarca 27 Oct 97 - 04:09 PM
judy 28 Oct 97 - 04:20 PM
Bert 29 Oct 97 - 09:12 AM
harpgirl 21 Feb 02 - 07:38 AM
Acme 21 Feb 02 - 01:28 PM
C-flat 21 Feb 02 - 01:53 PM
Rustic Rebel 21 Feb 02 - 02:37 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Feb 02 - 04:09 PM
Bennet Zurofsky 21 Feb 02 - 06:20 PM
maire-aine 21 Feb 02 - 10:25 PM
Dave Bryant 22 Feb 02 - 11:15 AM
hobbitwoman 22 Feb 02 - 07:07 PM
hobbitwoman 22 Feb 02 - 07:19 PM
Bennet Zurofsky 22 Feb 02 - 07:21 PM
Cobble 22 Feb 02 - 08:05 PM
Rustic Rebel 23 Feb 02 - 01:21 PM
Genie 24 Feb 02 - 12:50 AM
Genie 24 Feb 02 - 12:53 AM
Hrothgar 24 Feb 02 - 05:44 AM
hobbitwoman 24 Feb 02 - 10:12 PM
GUEST,tooligan 24 Feb 02 - 10:41 PM
Genie 08 Mar 02 - 03:50 PM
hobbitwoman 08 Mar 02 - 06:39 PM
Genie 08 Mar 02 - 10:32 PM
GUEST 28 Oct 04 - 11:09 AM
GUEST 28 Oct 04 - 01:13 PM
Emma B 28 Oct 04 - 02:11 PM
Susanne (skw) 28 Oct 04 - 06:57 PM
Snuffy 29 Oct 04 - 08:09 AM
*Laura* 29 Oct 04 - 08:17 AM
mg 29 Oct 04 - 12:32 PM
GUEST,corinne 29 Oct 04 - 02:02 PM
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Tansy 29 Oct 04 - 04:22 PM
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Subject: A subset of Work Songs thread
From: LaMarca
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 05:51 PM

I love to sing a lot of occupational songs, both from men's and women's perspectives, and am enjoying the "Work Songs" thread a lot. Suzanne Mrozak has organized a workshop for the NOMAD Festival(and possibly NEFFA, too) that I'm singing in, featuring "women's" work songs. I thought it might be fun to start a parallel thread to collect suggestions for songs appropriate for this subtopic.

Fellow feminists, PLEASE don't jump in and say "A woman can do any of the jobs described in any of those songs..."; I'm interested in collecting songs featuring women singing about their work, or songs they'd sing while doing a particular type of work. I can think of a lot of recently written songs, so I'm particularly interested in suggestions for more traditional ones.

Some songs sung to accompany work include Scottish waulking songs and lullabies (anyone who doesn't think getting a baby to sleep isn't work better not have kids!). Anyone have more suggestions of this type of song? Know any floor-scrubbing shanties?

I roughly lump occupational descriptive songs together in categories, so I'm looking for women's songs in these areas:
1. Textile work - The Sheep-to-Shawl sequence:shepherdesses, sheep shearing songs featuring women (are there any?), carding, spinning, weaving, waulking, sewing/knitting and textile mill songs
2. Home-making work - the unpaid labor of cooking, cleaning, and raising children
3. Agricultural work - animal husbandry (keep it clean, now), migrant farm workers, sowing and reaping, etc.
4. Non-textile factory work - Rosie the Riveter et al.
5. Songs about women in traditionally masculine manual labor professions: mining, lumbering, fishing, cowboy(girl)
6. Professional jobs - medicine/nursing, lawyers/policewomen (Lovely Rita, Meter Maid?) 7. Service jobs - maids, waitresses, barmaids and yes, the "oldest" profession

Some songs already on my list (not that I know them all to sing, mind you):

Fisher Lassies (or The Herring Gutter's Song) - Ewan MacColl; I usually pair this with "Pittenweem Jo", a love song to a herring gutter...
The Jute Mill Song, The Spinners' Wedding and others - Mary Brooksbank
Me and My Machine - James Taylor (a lovely mill-worker's song)
The Hand Weaver and the Factory Maid - trad. Poverty Knock - trad.
Serving Girls' Holiday - trad; see earlier thread for this
Housewife's Lament - trad.
All for a Piece of Yarn - J. Kirkpatrick, see earlier thread; I want to learn this one if I can find the tune again...
John Grumlie/Equinoctial and Phoebe/other titles - the trad. ballad of the foolish husband who insists "he can do more work in a day than his wife can do in 3"...with disastrous consequences
Leaboy's Lassie - an itinerant farm girl's lovesong, trad. I'm Gonna Be an Engineer - Peggy Seeger

I haven't been following any of the Fantasy Song Circle threads, (they're waayyy too long and load too slow) so I don't know what's already been mentioned there. Hope other folks out there will find this fun, too!


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Subject: RE:
From: Tim Jaques tjaques@netcom.ca
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 07:19 PM

I have waulking songs, but they are all in Gaelic. Any use to you? BTW, in Cape Breton, where the winters are worse than they are in Scotland, men joined in the waulking. I am informed that any of the lyrics to waulking songs are only what they happened to write down at that particular time. Quite often they'd make them up as they went along, poking fun at each other and having good natured insult contests.

I know a nice lullaby from Cape Breton, but will have to double-check some of the lyrics. Will post. I agree. I would rather do any number of hours of wood-chopping than try to get a baby to sleep.


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Subject: RE:
From: Nonie Rider
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 07:55 PM

"The Muckin'O Geordie's Byre" certainly has an overdose of Women's Work(tm)!

The database only has the humorous version; Jean Redpath performs the lament. (Both are certainly warnings to young ladies not to marry below their station, or they'll end up scraping pigshit.)


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Subject: RE:
From: Susan of DT
Date: 15 Oct 97 - 09:31 PM

OK LaMarca, this is fun. I may have more for you this weekend (I trust you will be there). I searched for @sheep @mill @work (449 hits)

Band O' Shearers
Ca' the Yowes
Bread and Roses
Cotton Mill Girls
Doffin Mistress
Lewiston Factory Girl
Mill Worker
No more shall I work in a Factory
Peg O' Ramsey
Cabin Boy (and other transvestite sailors)
Banks of Skene
Besom Maker
Bury new Loom
Canning Salman
Collier Lass
Factory Girl
Fumbling as Fast as i Can
Girl of Constant Sorrow
Go Down Old Hannah
Granite Mill Fire
Gudewife Stood on a Stane
Hard Liffe on the Cut
Help For the Helper
Molly Malone
Nobody Knew She Was there
Self-Employed Worker
Somebody's Grandmother
Song of the Fish Gutters
Tarry Wool
Truck Driving Woman
Union Maid
Weary of the Darning
Weaving Lilt
You Might Easy Know a Doffer
nowhere in a Hurry Blues

now to check @feminist and @transvestite

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 14-Feb-02.


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Subject: RE:
From: Nonie Rider
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 05:11 PM

I love unseparated song titles; they remind me of tabloid headlines:

> Band O' Shearers Ca' the Yowes Bread and Roses (Axl Rose sues!)

> Fish Gutters Tarry Wool Truck Driving (Perhaps we'd use the term "Delay" instead?)

> Cotton Mill Girls Doffin Mistress Lewiston (Needs an appostrophe; belongs on Oprah)

> Bury new Loom Canning (Workers highly opposed! Hey, Prince Albert wasn't a weaver, was he?))

> Factory Girl Fumbling (In six easy steps!)

> Cut Help For the Helper (Doctors' pay docked again.)

> Granite Mill Fire(s) Gudewife (She sues for discrimination)

> the Helper Molly Malone Nobody Knew (tribute to Mother Teresa's anonymous assistant?)

> Self-Employed Worker Somebody's Grandmother (Yeah, that happens a lot these days.)

> Lilt You Might (And whistle while you work!)


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Subject: Lyr Add: A WOMAN'S WORK IS NEVER DONE^^
From: Bruce
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 05:55 PM

With the "Housewife's Lament" compare a 17th century broadside ballad:

A Woman's Work is never done.

Here is a Song for Maids to sing,
Both in the Winter and in the Spring;
It is such a pretty conceited thing,
Which will much pleasure to them bring:
Maids may sit still, go, or run,
But a Woman's work is never done.

To a Delicate Northern Tune, "A Woman's Work is never done", or, "The Beds making"

As I was wandering on the way,
I heard a married woman say
That she had lived a sollid life [grave, serious]
Ever since the time that she was made a wife.
"For why," quoth she, "my labor is hard,
And all my pleasures are debarr'd:
Both morning, evening, night and noon,
I'm sure a woman's work is never done.

"And now," quoth she, "I will relate
The manner of my woful fate;
And how my self I do bestow,
As all my neighbours well do know:
And therin all, that will hear,
Unto my song I pray a while give ear;
Ile make it plainly to appear, right soon,
How that a woman's work is never done.

"For when that I wil rise early in the morn,
Before that I my head with dressings adorn,
I sweep and cleanse the house, as need doth require,
Or, if that it be cold, I make a fire:
Then my husband's breakfast I must dress,
To fill his belly with some wholesom mess;
Perhaps thereof I eat a little, or none,
But I'm sure a woman's work is never done.

"Next thing that I in order do,
My children must be lookt unto;
Then I take them from their naked beds,
To put on their clothes and comb their heads:
And then, what hap soever betide,
Their breakfast straight I must provide.
'Bread!' cries my daughter; and 'Drink!' my son,
And thus a woman's work is never done.

"And when that I have fill'd their bellies full,
Some of them I pack away to school,
All save one sucking childe, that at my brest
Doth knaw and bite, and sorely me molest:
But when I have laid him doen to sleep,
I am constrain'd the house to keep,
For then the pottage-pot I must hang on,
And thus a woman's work is never done.

And when my pottage-pot is ready to hoil, [boil over]
I must be careful all the while;
And for to cum the pot is my desire,
Or else all the fat will run i' th' fire.
But when th'leven a clock bell it doth chime,
Then I know't is near upon dinner time:
To lay the table-cloth I then do run,
And thus a woman's work is never done.

"When dinner time is gone and over-past,
My husband he runs out o' th' doors in haste;
He scarce gives me a kiss for all that I
Have dealt and done to him so lovingly;
Which sometimes grieves me to the heart,
To see him so clownishly depart:
But to my first discourse let me go on,
To shew a woman's work is never done.

"There's never a day, from morn to night,
But I with work am tired quite;
For when the game with me is at the best,
I hardly in a day take one hour's rest;
Sometimes I knit, and sometimes I spin,
Sometimes I wash, and sometimes I do wring.
Sometimes I sit, and sowe by myself alone,
And thus a woman's work is never done.

"In making of the beds such pains I take,
Untilmy back, and sides, and arms, do ake;
And yet my husband deals so cruelly,
That he but seldom comes to comfort me.
And then at night, when the clock strike nine,
My husband he will say, 'tis supper time;
Then presently he must be waited upon,
And thus a woman's work is never done.

"When supper's ended to bed we must go--
You all do know't is fitting it should be so--
Then do I think to settle all things right,
In hope that I shall take some rest by night.
The biggest of my children together I lay,
And place them by degrees so well as I may:
But yet there is a thing to be thought upon,
For why, a woman's work is neverr done.

"Then if my husband turns me to the wall,
Then my sucking childe will cray and brawl;
Six of seven times for the brest 't wil cry,
And then, I pray you judge, what rest take I.
And if at any time asleep I be,
Perchance my husband wakes, and then wakes me;
Then he does that to me which cannot shun,
Yet I could wish that work were oftener done.

"All you merry girles that hear this ditty,
Both in countrey, and in the city;
Take good notice of my lines I pray,
And make the use of the time you may:
You see that maids live more merrier lives,
Then do the best of married wives:
And thus to end my song as I begun,
You know a woman's work is never done.

Entred according to Order. [On June 1, 1629]
London, Printed for John Andrews, at the White Lion in Pye-Corner.

[Andrews' issue, the only copy known, printed 1656-62. "The Beds making" is not known. One tune called "Woman's Work is never done" is in the ballad opera 'Momus turned Fabulist'. A different tune, "Woman's work will never be done", is in the Blaikie MS of 1692, and the same tune is "Women's work will never be done" in the Leyden MS of 1692. "Momus' tune and Blaikie MS tune are reprinted in John Glen's 'Early Scottish Melodies', p. 59, 1900, and 'Momus' tune and Leyden MS tune in Wooldridge's re-edition of Chappell, "Old English Popular Music', II p. 150 and p. 152. 'Momus' tune is under the title "The Doubting Virgin" in C. M. Simpson's 'The British Broadside Ballad and Its Music'. The 'Momus' tuen has been connected with another ballad, "Womens work is never done", which commences "Oh that I had never been married". This is an unreprinted 18th century slip-song in the Crawford collection (#939).

Perhaps by adding appropriate slurs one might fit our ballad to the tune in the Scots MSS. The tune was later known in Scotland as "The Black Eagle", "The Bonnie Black Eagle", and "The Highway to Edinburgh". Here is that from the Leyden MS, in ABC.]

X:1 T:Women's work will never be done N:Leyden MS via Wooldridge's OEPM Q:60 M:C L:1/4 K:Em B,DD3/2E/2|D/2E/2D/2B,/2 D3/2D/2|B,EE(G/2A/2)|B(A/2G/2)D3/2D/2|B,DD3/2E/2|D/2E/2D/2B,/2 D3/2B/2|G/2E/2D/2E/2G(A/2B/2)|c/2B/2A/2G/2E2||G(A/2B/2)d3/2e/2|d/2B/2A/2B/2d2|A(B/2d/2)e3/2f/2|e/2d/2g/2f/2e3/2d/2|d(e/2f/2)g3/2e/2|d/2c/2B/2A/2G3/2G/2|A/2B/2d/2e/2 d/2B/2A/2B/2|A3/2G/2E2|]


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Subject: Lyr Add: I WILL SING A LULLABY^^
From: Alice
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 10:38 PM

Hi... I wish I could think of more that were sung as the work was done (all that come to mind are lullabies) but there is the Irish ballad THE SPINNING WHEEL, (the words and beat seem to follow the sound of the spinning wheel). Also on the Women's Song Circle, I posted the waitress song, MY MOTHER WAS A LADY. From a tattered old book of cowboy songs that has lost its cover and the first and last four pages, I have BLANCHE THE PRIDE OF THE RANCH. I don't know if that is in the DT. Haven't checked. It is more of a song about a cowgirl... her lover singing her praises, rather than from the point of view of the woman. There is also BROWN EYED LEE:

She talked to her friends and neighbors,
She said that she would fight.
She'd get her old six-shooter out
And put old Red to flight

This is a song about how brown-eyed Lee's mother has another man picked out for her to marry. Not quite a work song, but just surviving in the West and finding someone to marry was (and is still) hard work. If it's not in the DT I will post the lyrics.

I found this in an old book listed as a 17th century English Cradle Song. The tune is different than the Beatles, but you will recognize the words.

I WILL SING A LULLABY

Golden slumbers kiss your eyes
Smiles awake you when you rise.
Sleep pretty loved one, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby.

Care is heavy, therefore sleep,
Mother here safe watch will keep
Sleep pretty loved one, do not cry
And I will sing a lullaby.
Lullaby, lullaby, lullaby.

Alice in Montana

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 3-Jul-02.


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Subject: RE:
From: Alice
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 11:03 PM

I should have given the source for I WILL SING A LULLABY in case any of you want to find the tune in a library. It is in a small paperback that I got from the closing sale of an old one-room schoolhouse. The books were published for school bands and orchestras. It is called "The Golden Book of Favorite Songs" © 1915, 1923, 1946, 1951 by Schmitt, Hall & McCreary Co., Minneapolis. Alice in MT


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Subject: RE:
From: Barry
Date: 16 Oct 97 - 11:23 PM

LaMarca., Ten & Nine, Belle Starr, a song by Peter Bellamy & I can't recall the name but it's something like "Oh dear me the life of a convict's a pleasure to me", maybe The Convict Song, Coal Mining Woman by Hazel Dickens, Hello Coal Miner by Sarah Oran Gunning, Ida Lewis by me. I'll see if I can doing some digging for ya, & say hi to Suzanne. Barry


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Subject: Lyr Add: FISHERWIFE'S LAMENT^^
From: Moira Cameron
Date: 17 Oct 97 - 01:31 AM

Frankie Armstrong is an excellent source for traditional women working songs. She has recorded several such songs. One that springs to mind is a version of "The Factory Girl". Another song I like a lot is one I call the Fisherwife's lament. I learned it from my father, so I'm not sure of the original title. In this song, the woman laments because of how her husband's work affects their relationship, but she also tells of how she is expected to help him by mending the nets when he comes home.

FISHERWIFE'S LAMENT

All the week your man's awa', all the week, you bide your lame.
All the time you're waiting for the minute that he's coming hame.
And ye ken the way he has tae wark, and you ken the hours he has tae keep,
But still it makes ye angry when ye see him just come hame tae sleep.

Through the months and through the years, whilst your bringing up the bairns,
Your man's awa' tae here and there, followin' the shoals o' herrin.
And when he's home there's nets tae mend; ye've maybe got a score or twa',
And when they're done he'll rise and say, "Wife, it's time I was awa'."

Work and wait and dream awa', and put your hope in herrin's sail;
And often lie awake at nicht in fear and dread o' winter gales.
But man maun work tae gain his feed, and woman maun work tae gain their fee.
A fisherman will aye gang out, as long as fish swim in the sea.

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 6-Feb-02.


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Subject: RE:
From: LaMarca
Date: 17 Oct 97 - 01:39 PM

Thanks to everyone for some neat suggestions (Susan, as Nonie so funnily pointed out, putting slashes between songs titles would help...). I'm afraid waulking songs are out; I don't speak Gaelic, and I'm always afraid of mispronouncing something in a foreign language and singing something unmentionable in polite company. The cowgirl songs are good!

Thank you, Bruce, for the Ur-version of Housewife's lament - some things never change. Barry, is Ten & Nine the same as Jute Mill? ("Oh dear me, the mill's goin' fast, and the puur wee shifters cannae get nae rest...") I'll look for the Bellamy song on The Transports, and say hi to Suzanne in a few weeks(we mailed our NEFFA application out yesterday).

Moira, I really like the Fisherwife's Lament; I think it's another one from Ewan MacColl's Singin' the Fishin'.

Keep those suggestions coming!


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Subject: RE:
From: Nonie Rider
Date: 17 Oct 97 - 03:37 PM

Oh! Is it really "bide your lame" ("tend your loom"?) rather than "bide your lane" (wait or live alone")? I'd heard it as the latter.

Anyone have MacColl handy to check the wording?

(I'm famous for my bad ear for lyrics when there's competing noise, like buzzy instrumentals or multiple voices, and the cover of this that I heard was cluttered.)


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Subject: RE:
From: rosebrook
Date: 17 Oct 97 - 09:32 PM

LaMarca, A reference you might find helpful is a book entitled Here's To The Women: 100 Songs for and About American Women by hilda E. Wenner & Elizabeth Freilicher. There are a number of specifically "women's labor songs", some of which include I Am a Union Woman, The Factory Girl's Come All Ye, Truck Driving Woman, Please Tip Your Waitress, and Georgia Cotton Mill Woman.


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Subject: RE:
From: Alice
Date: 18 Oct 97 - 12:37 AM

Just thought of another one, THE PRETTY GIRL MILKING HER COW (Colleen Dhas Cruthen Na Moe), also called IT WAS A FINE SUMMER MORNING. Lyrics Thomas Moore, air "Cailin Deas". Also, MOLLY MALONE, and a song about taxes that refers both to men and women... A NEW SONG ON THE TAXES, All you young men and maidens come and listen to my song.... there never was such taxes in Ireland before. ... and they're going to tax the women if they do not try to read... They will tax the ladies chignons and their boas, veils and mats...and they'll double tax the maidens who are over forty one... and they'll double tax young girls who go lookin for a man...

Alice in MT


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE IRISH WASHERWOMAN^^
From: Alice
Date: 18 Oct 97 - 12:46 AM

I thought the lyrics to this would be in the database, but couldn't find them. A classic. We all recognize the tune, here are the words.

THE IRISH WASHERWOMAN, lyrics by Charles Hansen.

Oh, an Irisher wash-woman hasn't an equal,
She rubs better, scrubs better, than other people,
She jigs a bit, sings a bit all the day long,
And her heart's like a shamrock, it sings a gay song.

Oh, the neighbors all listen to missus McCleary,
And vow that a wash-woman's life is not dreary,
She jiggles and wiggles an eyeful of Ireland,
The pride of the Irish, the wash-woman queen.

Alice in MT


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Subject: Lyr Add: JENNIE LASSWADE^^
From: judy
Date: 18 Oct 97 - 01:47 AM

La Marca,

There's a terrific women's song about a woman who CARRIED people across a stream called "Jenny Lass Wade". I don't remember who did it at the moment but they sang it at a breakneck speed. I also (sorry) don't have the source where I finally got the words which had 6 unintelligeable place names in the chorus. Without further ado:

Verse I
Jenny was a maiden from a village in Midlothian
And she would carry gentlemen across a stream
She put them on her shoulder for to wade across the water
And they'd have to pay her half way there or she would drop them in! (I just love this line)

Chorus:
People came from Dalkeith, Liberton and Gilmerton
Frae Colinton and Roslin and Penicuik too
They traveled in their carriages leading tae some marriages
And when I come to think of it I think I saw you!

Verse II
She carried any maiden or a mannie that is laiden
Wi' his instruments o' tradin' just as long as she was paid
And when the flow was heavy then she added tae her levy
And the people shouted "Ready, steady, Jenny Lass Wade" (chorus)

I also love the work of being a mother to her child in Eric Bogle's "Glasgow Lullaby" (DT) Enjoy
judy


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Subject: RE: Women's work songs
From: Steve D.
Date: 20 Oct 97 - 07:47 AM

There's also the Peggy Seeger song to do with being an engineer ('Gonna be an Engineer'(?)). It's on the Smithsonian Folkways American Music Sampler.


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Subject: RE:"Women's" Work Songs
From: judy
Date: 26 Oct 97 - 12:17 AM

Finally got to looking through my records for the source of "Jenny Lasswade". It's from the McCalman's record called Burn The Witch on Transatlantic TRA357

judy


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: RS
Date: 26 Oct 97 - 11:16 PM

"I'm Gonna Be an Engineer" is in the Database - R.S.


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Subject: RE:
From: Catfeet
Date: 27 Oct 97 - 12:05 PM

There is a CD out called Spin the Weaver's Song, on which is compiled 30 songs about textile production. It is done by Carla Sciaky, and she includes everything from songs about the work, to doing the work, to about people who do the work. It is also multi cultural, I believe she has songs in 5 or 6 different languages, some of which have sung translations. If you're looking for working songs of women, this is the best album I've ever found for it, and it is one of my passions(womens work songs). Oh, it's a Green Linnet album.

Catfeet


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Subject: RE:
From: LaMarca
Date: 27 Oct 97 - 04:09 PM

Catfeet, thanks; I have the album, too. I really like it! Judy, have any of the MacCalmans' albums been re-released? Transatlantic has re-issued a bunch of older stuff by the Ian Matthews Band and other 60's-70's English and Scottish folk bands on CD. I wasn't into folk music when these were first coming out on LP, so there's a lot of neat groups like the MacCalmans and Hamish Innes that I don't have but would love to find...


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: judy
Date: 28 Oct 97 - 04:20 PM

sorry, I don't know if the McCalman's has been re-released. I'm sure someone else can say. I don't even know if the McCalman's were big or what, my husband has only that one record of theirs. I have never seen that song in any of the numerous books I have and wonder if it is traditional or in the tradition? Anybody know?


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Subject: RE:
From: Bert
Date: 29 Oct 97 - 09:12 AM

There's also...

Dashing away with the smoothing iron
Washing Up (Which I posted on the women's circle)
and Coney Island Washboard


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Subject: RE:
From: harpgirl
Date: 21 Feb 02 - 07:38 AM

for Art


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Subject: RE:
From: Acme
Date: 21 Feb 02 - 01:28 PM

Interesting thread to revive. Many years ago now when National Public Radio was playing all sorts of folksong programs (before a financial crunch that ended much of it in the late 1980's) there were programs that played this sort of song. I remember one lovely historic song from the POV of a young woman coal miner in Kentucky. If anyone can figure out where all of those recorded programs went when NPR went almost belly-up, you might find quite a rich source of material in general, and not on just this subject. Folksong USA, something like that, was at the heart of those programs.

Maggie


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Subject: RE:
From: C-flat
Date: 21 Feb 02 - 01:53 PM

On James Taylor's FLAG album there's a version of "millworker" which he sings in the female gender. Sounds great on guitar with a drop D tuning.


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 21 Feb 02 - 02:37 PM

Dirty Sheets, by Saffire the Uppity Blues Women. The chorus is like this; dirty sheets, dirty sheets. What's a poor girl supposed to do. I've got those sick and tired of changing, somebody elses dirty sheet blues. Good tune. It's on either their Flash cd or Saffire-The uppity blues women cd. Rustic


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Feb 02 - 04:09 PM

If you don't mind traditional sounds, Rounder has a nice CD titled "Coal Mining Women".


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Bennet Zurofsky
Date: 21 Feb 02 - 06:20 PM

The book "Here's to the Women," mentioned above, is still available through Legacy Books, a division of Sing Out! Go to Sing Out.org.

Bev Grant wrote a terrific song, "We Were There" about working women. She has recorded it and my group, the Solidarity Singers, has also recorded it for our c.d. which we hope to release on May Day, 2002.

Dick Greenhaus just mentioned the "Coal Mining Women" album that the Carawan's put together. You might also try their recordings of songs from John's Island, South Carolina and later recordings by one of the singers on that album, Bessie Jones. Many of these relate to work of various sorts, including childcare.

According to such sources as Jean Ritchie's "Singing Family of the Cumberlands" (a must read for everybody) the classic ballads were often sung by women as they did housework and that is one of the principal ways that they were passed down from mother to daughter over many generations. So certainly, the big traditional ballads should qualify as women's work songs as well.

Aunt Molly Jackson and Agnes "Sis" Cunningham have many excellent topical (and political) songs about various aspects of work from a woman's point of view.

There is also an excellent duo, Rebel Voices, out of the Seattle area, two women with fine voices who largely focus on labor oriented themes in their three excellent cds.

I also wonder if Dar Williams' song about the babysitter shouldn't be included in a list of this sort.

At the moment its title is escaping me, but there are several ballads wherein a husband and wife make a bet to see which one works harder and exchange roles for the day. The woman usually wins and, if properly sung, the song always gets a lot of laughs.

There are also several very bawdy songs describing women who work in the world's oldest profession, but I suspect that this thread doesn't want to go there.

I see where this could become an endless posting (as some of the learned entries above approach) so I'll end it for now.

-Bennet


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: maire-aine
Date: 21 Feb 02 - 10:25 PM

There is a song by Si Kahn called WHEN THE LAND AND THEY WERE YOUNG, and one of the verses is about immigrant factory women who "...gave their hands to strange machines, their lips to foreign tongues. They gave their youth to sweatshops when the land and they were young."


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Dave Bryant
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 11:15 AM

I suppose that THIS could be classed as a Women's Work song as could be Kipling's "The Liner She's a Lady" - Pete Bellamy set it to music (and so have I).


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: hobbitwoman
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 07:07 PM

What was the name of the old Pete Seeger song about the woman engineer?

Annie


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: hobbitwoman
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 07:19 PM

Oops - should've read the whole thread. Apparently that was answered in 1997 - LOL! "I'm Gonna Be An Engineer". Sorry about that.

Annie


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Bennet Zurofsky
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 07:21 PM

"I'm Gonna Be An Engineer" It was composed by Peggy Seeger, Pete's half-sister and Ewan MacColl's spouse. One of the finest feminist songs ever composed.


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Cobble
Date: 22 Feb 02 - 08:05 PM

Reputed to be from the Bedfordshire lace makers circa 17/18 century

Up in the morning, before it is light
Done all her work before it is light

Down at her pillow she sits so complete
Like a lace maker, working so neat,

With fingers so lissome and bobbins so small,
While the poor servant girl goes down to the hall,

With holes in her stockings and rags on her back
I'll be a lace maker, if ever so slack,

I'll turn over timber sticks, put in my pins of wire
My wire pin is in. I'm the one nigher.

'Lace makers were considered to make splendid wives!'

Young girls were often paid by the number of pins they inserted in the lace. They had little jingles to help them work.

Twenty pins have I to do, let ways be ever dirty
Never a penny in my purse but farthings five and thirty.

Another method of paying the lace makers was to cover the finished lace with coins, the good merchants would use silver coinage and bad ones pennies or even farthings giving the maker a very low wage. Most had to work by candlelight and many went blind at an early age.

Mrs C

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 2-Sep-02.


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 23 Feb 02 - 01:21 PM

I just thought of another one from Saffire called School Teacher Blues, starts like this-

Well Johnny's at the urinal, he's pissin' on the wall. If he hits the radiator, we'll smell it in the hall.

School teacher blues, I've got the school teacher blues, school teacher blues, nothing to loose but my pay, and that ain't nothin.

Rustic


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Genie
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 12:50 AM

The Farmer and His Wife
(She can do more work in a day than he can do in seven!)

Then, there's always "The House Of The Rising Sun"

A couple of non-folk tunes:
Nine To Five
She Works Hard For The Money
Waitress In A Donut Shop (sung by Maria Muldaur)
(She Sold) Artificial Flowers
Abigail Beecher (My History Teacher)
Million-Dollar Baby (In the Five-And-Ten-Cent Store) [...she was selling china ...]
Jackaroe [she goes to war dressed as a man]
Ob-la-di (...Molly is a singer in the band...)

One other thought -- the song "Forty-Hour Week" mentions a lot of occupations, some of which (e.g.,"...the one who pours the coffee...") are usually/often women's jobs and others (e.g., "... the one who brings the mail...") which are not very much gender-associated. In fact, you could do a bit of a rewrite on "Forty-hour week" to tie it more closely to women workers.


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Genie
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 12:53 AM

How about "Danger Waters?"


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Hrothgar
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 05:44 AM

John Warner in Asutralia has written a couple of good ones in "Scrubbing the Miner's Clothes" and "Kitty Kane." The latter is about a "working girl" in the colloquial sense.


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: hobbitwoman
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 10:12 PM

Genie: re "Danger Waters" - explain, please? I like the song but never knew what it was about. Thanks. Annie


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: GUEST,tooligan
Date: 24 Feb 02 - 10:41 PM

Sheena Wellington is the highly respected scottish singer who sang A Man's a Man at the opening of the newly devolved Scottish Parliament and brought a tear to many an eye. She also has some great women work songs based in the Jute mills in Dundee. In particular Women o Dundee is a song she wrote. It can be downloaded on Audio Galaxy but buy her albums, she is a fine singer


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Subject: Danger Waters
From: Genie
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 03:50 PM

Hobbitwoman, I'm not sure what it's about either, but it contains the line "... make me go in a room, ..., make me have-a me labor... ."
I sort of got the feeling --from that and some other lines (e.g., "first you give me one, then you give me two, then you give me three and I holler 'Lordy, have mercy!'") that it was about forced prosititution, but the meaning of that song is far from being explicitly spelled out. [If it's not prostitution, maybe she's having triplets!]

Maybe someone else knows the story behind the song.

Genie


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: hobbitwoman
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 06:39 PM

Genie,

I always thought it had something to do with having babies - I love that line! Lordy have mercy!! Either way I see your point - whether it's forced prostitution or "just" having and raising babies - it's definitely women's work!

Annie


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Subject: RE: 'Women's' Work Songs
From: Genie
Date: 08 Mar 02 - 10:32 PM

Definitely, Annie!

Genie


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 04 - 11:09 AM

Its a while since this thread was active, but I wonder if there is anyone out there with information or contacts who would know more songs relating to the herring gutters?    I've done a few interviews and I know that song was used to keep the girls going while they were working on the piers. But are there any specific songs about the women and their lives? Also any contacts for interviews would be most welcome - or any memories anyone else out there has.

thanks! and thanks for the interesting discussions above. The one song I remember singing was the Glasgow Mother's Lullaby - I think it was mentioned above - hugely sad.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Oct 04 - 01:13 PM

On one of the Golden Ring anthologies theres a song called I think Ten and Nine. Or there are the Waulking songs, if you don't mind that they're not in Engilish.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: Emma B
Date: 28 Oct 04 - 02:11 PM

Good book for reference - "My Song is my Own" 100 Women's Songs by Kathy Henderson with Frankie Armstrong and Sandra Kerr
published Pluto Press
includes - Fishgutter's Song
          my favourite "The Testimony of Patience Kershaw"
          and many many more


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: Susanne (skw)
Date: 28 Oct 04 - 06:57 PM

If you like The Glasgow Mother's Lullaby, there is also Liverpool Lullaby on the same theme, but with a little more humour. I've got a fairly old recording by The Spinners. The tune is that of an older Tyneside song, Dollia.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: Snuffy
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 08:09 AM

Gaye & Trish sing quite a few Scottish fishgutters songs on their albums Fish & Ships and Fish & Ships Too


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: *Laura*
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 08:17 AM

Poverty Knock?
I mean - it could be either i suppose, but I always got the feeling it was originally about women.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: mg
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 12:32 PM

Trucker's Cafe by Sylvia Tyson mg


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,corinne
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 02:02 PM

Couple of suggestions:

1.) Lace maker's songs form Bedfordshire in Fred Hamer's collection, one of the 2 books; there's a long chant beginning "21 pins hang over my lace" or something similar that I always meant to learn. I could look up the full words if anyone's interested.

2.) I agree that Poverty Knock was written in the woman's voice; the references to "rats in that dirty old barn" and the gossip about Lizzie who is "so easily led ... she used to be skinny, now look at her pinny" sounds like one woman on another!

I've only just discovered this site / thread, so excuse me joining in so late! I'll add more as I think of it.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,Corinne
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 02:10 PM

Just thought of another. Have you heard Hannah Hutton (from Rothbury in Northumberland) sing "The Lassie that works in the mill"?

"Oh the gay servant lassies are dressed up to kill,
And the dressmaker's bonnier still,
But the bonniest lass in the whole rig-ma-tig
Is the lassie that works in the mill".

There are a couple of songs from the North of Ireland about millgirls. The best known is the one from Sarah Makem where the rich man fails to persuade the mill girl to marry him; she'd rather carry on working for her living.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: Tansy
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 04:22 PM

Hmmm. When I was a girl and all us girls were doing massive amounts of dishes at Grandmas house, we sang a song that had dozens of verses that started off with "I wish I were a single girl again" but wasn't the common one you hear..it had a tune not unlike "Old Dan Tucker"! If we really got going, we could do it as a round with the various tasks falling into place after eachother with the different groups starting a few beats after the other one. I was very small then and have never heard it quite that way anywhere else. This would have been in the early 70's in Far upstate NY in The Adirondacks. The women who taught us the song are now in their 80's. I'll have to ask my Aunt and Grandmother. The song has verses about sewing, washing, cooking, planting, cleaning, birthing and dying and so on.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: emjay
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 05:02 PM

A very good resource is the book "CARRY IT ON! A history in song and picture of the working men and women of America," by Pete Seeger and Bob Reiser; published in 1985 by Simon and Schuster.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: gecko
Date: 29 Oct 04 - 08:42 PM

I transcribed this from a tape recorded in a folk club in Darwin (or Alice Springs) a few years ago, sung by the one and only Paul Lawler. So sorry, I have no more details about who wrote it or what melody it's sung to.

SERVING GIRL'S HOLIDAY

I've waited longing for this day
Spin the bottle and spool away
In joy and bliss I'm off to play
Upon this high holiday

Ch:                Spin the bobbin and spool away
                What joy that it's a holiday!

The milking pails has got to go
I ought to spread this bowl of dough
It clogs my nails and fingers so
As I knead this high holiday

Ch

The dirt upon the floors unswept
The fireplace isn't cleaned and kept
I haven't got the rushes yet
Upon this high holiday

Ch

The cooking herbs I must fetch in
And tie my kerchief under my chin
Darling Jack, lend me a pin
To fix me well this holiday

Ch

And as we rest beside the track
Happy in this Sunday Jack
We'll wet my whistle and pay my wack
As on every holiday

Ch

I've waited longing for this day.............


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,Jill
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 05:37 AM

Interested in Scottish fisher women's songs - Gaelic and/or English. Does anyone out there have any - or any connections I could make with ex-fisherlassies here in Scotland?   I would be really grateful for any help with this. They seem to have been quite a forgotten group over the course of history - and what a lifestyle!
Thanks


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: Snuffy
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 09:19 AM

Gaye Anthony and Trish Norman are based in Aberdeen and do quite a few Scottish fisher women's songs - why not try contacting them about their sources


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,Jill
Date: 10 Nov 05 - 07:25 AM

Finally found my way back into this thread! Work is going well - I have a few songs from the fisherwomen - but would still be interested in any more - or any more info out there about the herring girls.

Thanks Snuffy - I have followed up the contact - and hope to hear from G&T at some point.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,mick
Date: 10 Nov 05 - 07:40 AM

In Galway Bay the women do all the work "in the uplands digging praties" "in the meadows making hay". Galway men must be a very lazy bunch.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Nov 05 - 07:42 AM

Ohhhhh brill, what a load of fab material. Can't wait to investigate and get singing. BTW, haven't read the whole thread, but the convict song refered to earlier by Peter Bellamy was "I once lived in service" - great song - (from the folk opera, The Transports), but I can never remember the first few verses since they're a long list of housework chores and I'm not too hot on housework meself ;-) F


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,jgoetzel@wesleyan.edu
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 09:53 PM

Hello,
I am writing a paper about nationalism and gender during the Cold War in America. Any song lyrics from this era (with composer and year)would be extremely helpful.

Thanks,
Jo


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: WFDU - Ron Olesko
Date: 30 Nov 05 - 10:13 PM

Joe Jencks just recorded a superb CD of labor songs - "Rise As One". He included Linda Allen's "Rosie the Riveter Revisited", a song that is based on the women who worked in the Bremerton shipyards during WWII and were told to go home after the war ended.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,Robin
Date: 30 May 08 - 03:01 PM

I just stumbled on this thread. I'm looking for the songs Lamarca spoke about in the thread when it started: songs about women in traditionally masculine manual work and songs about women in professional jobs. I'm a teacher working with women trying to get back into the workplace and I love using music to inspire them. I have several songs from Linda Allen, Libby Roderick, Peggy Seeger and Ann Reed in mind but would love to hear about others.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 30 May 08 - 06:24 PM

Robin,

Man's Job, by Canadian singer-songwriter Eileen McGann, on her CD, Elements, is exactly what you're looking for.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 31 May 08 - 01:58 PM

"Tip Your Waitress."
"Queen of the House," the answer to "King of the Road."
"Single Girl, Married Girl" (Carter Family).


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Subject: Bob Coltman contact information requests
From: GUEST,Jimmy Keane
Date: 02 Jun 08 - 01:48 PM

Hi,
Sorry for being off thread, but I am attempting to get in contact with Bob Coltman regarding one of his songs which my band recorded. I would like to send him a mechanical license along with a royalty payment (and a copy of the recording). Please let me know if you can help with this matter.

You may contact me offlist at:

Jimmy Keane
bohola@boholamusic.com

Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 01 Jan 09 - 08:08 PM

What a great thread! Time to refresh!


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,John Whittingdale, England
Date: 17 Apr 09 - 07:22 AM

FOR ALICE OF MOMTANA

Thank you so much for your English cradle song "Golden Slumbers" which I have arranged for classical guitar and attempting to play it for my 2 year old granddaughter.    It was intended for her first birthday! My guitar teacher found me lullabies from many countries, but not the British Isles.

I am really most grateful

John Whittingdale
Surrey England


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 26 Jun 11 - 07:28 PM

"Linstead Market"- a woman who sells ackees (West African vegetables grown in Jamaica) in the market.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: Bert
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 06:20 AM

The girls that work in the Arsenal
they're working night and day
piling up munitions for the soldiers far away
and when our war is over, our guv'nor he will say
girls you've done your duty
you deserve a holiday.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 03:47 PM

I have some if anyone (almost anyone) wants them..

Fisherwomen
Oyster pickers in WWII
Crab shakers
Boarding house owner
Apple blossom queen (but I have forgotten that one)
Pulp mill worker
Dairymaid
Cannery workers
Mint farm worker
Pendleton wool worker
Fur trapper

Several about women in Vietnam war..one has radio operator, adjutant, nurse, singer, graves person (and I won't send that to anyone who has been rude on that subject).

I have a little handheld recorder now so I can send MP3s if anyone wants..just PM me (most of you). mg


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 27 Jun 11 - 03:47 PM

I have some if anyone (almost anyone) wants them..

Fisherwomen
Oyster pickers in WWII
Crab shakers
Boarding house owner
Apple blossom queen (but I have forgotten that one)
Pulp mill worker
Dairymaid
Cannery workers
Mint farm worker
Pendleton wool worker
Fur trapper

Several about women in Vietnam war..one has radio operator, adjutant, nurse, singer, graves person (and I won't send that to anyone who has been rude on that subject).

I have a little handheld recorder now so I can send MP3s if anyone wants..just PM me (most of you). mg


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Jan 12 - 02:41 AM

There's another Jamaican one "Missa Bilban Party"- a work song for women washing clothes by rivers.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 03 Jan 12 - 02:46 AM

And this one:
JEAN AND DINAH
Mighty Sparrow (Slinger Francisco) 1956

1. Well, the girls in town feeling bad,
No more Yankees in Trinidad.
They goin' to close down the base for good,
Them girls have to make out how they could.
Brother, it is now they park up in town,
In for a penny, and in for a pound,
Believe me it's competition for so,
Trouble in the town when the price drop low.

CHORUS: So when you bounce up Jean and Dinah, Rosita and Clementina,
Round the corner posin', bet your life it's somethin' they sellin',
And when you catch 'em broken, you can get 'em all for nothin',
Don't make no row, the Yankees gone and Sparrow take over now.

2. Things bad is to hear them cry,
Not a sailor in town, the nightclubs dry,
Only West Indians like me or you,
Go in to get a drink or two.
And as we have things back in control
Ah seekin' revenge with me heart and soul,
Brother when ah spread the news around
Is to see how them cavemen come in to town.

(Chorus)

3. When the Yankee was in full swing,
Just imagine how I was suffering,
Mavis tell me straight to me face,
She find I too fast and out of place.
No, no, no, they will start to fret,
Money or not poor Sparrow can't get,
With the Yankees they have it cool,
Calypsonians too hard to fool.

(Chorus)

4. It's the glamour boys again,
We are going to rule in Port-of-Spain,
No more Yankees to spoil the fete,
Dorothy has to take what she get,
All of them who used to make style,
They takin' two shilling with a smile,
No more hotel to rest your head,
By the sweat of thy brow thou shalt eat bread.
And "Rum and Coca-Cola".
(Chorus)


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: Sailor Ron
Date: 03 Jan 12 - 11:13 AM

Scolds Bridle do a show [& CD] "We are the women [left on the shore] about the wives/mothers of trawlermen, included are several sons about "women's work"   'Braiding', & 'The OMO song' being two.


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: GUEST,filiz bingölçe
Date: 09 Jan 12 - 04:51 AM

i have made a documentary film in turkey, which name is women's work songs

http://www.kadinisturkuleri.com/

http://www.kadinisturkuleri.com/index.php?lang=en --English version - mudelf


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Subject: RE: Women's Work Songs
From: Bert
Date: 09 Jan 12 - 07:29 PM

My Mum used to sing...

Washing up, Washing up, Washing up,
We're at it hours and hour each day
every plate, every saucer, every cup
We'd like to fling them miles away
We can't enjoy the way we should
a single bite or sup
for we realize with pain
that we'll have to start again
Washing up, Washing up, Washing up.


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