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Origins: Oleanna (Ditmar Meidel, Norway, 1853)

DigiTrad:
OLEANNA


Related thread:
Lyr Req: ORIGINAL Norwegian Fish Song to Oleanna (7)


Mrrzy 10 Apr 02 - 04:21 PM
Joe Offer 10 Apr 02 - 06:29 PM
Joe Offer 10 Apr 02 - 06:41 PM
Tiger 11 Apr 02 - 09:04 AM
Joe Offer 11 Apr 02 - 01:22 PM
Joe Offer 11 Apr 02 - 02:39 PM
Mrrzy 11 Apr 02 - 03:01 PM
Charley Noble 12 Apr 02 - 08:56 AM
Jim Dixon 14 Apr 02 - 07:21 PM
GUEST,, NOMADman 15 Apr 02 - 09:45 PM
Mrrzy 16 Apr 02 - 09:43 AM
Jim Dixon 18 Apr 02 - 10:27 AM
Mrrzy 18 Apr 02 - 11:05 AM
Joe Offer 25 May 02 - 10:18 PM
masato sakurai 25 May 02 - 11:00 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 19 Jun 06 - 10:23 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 19 Jun 06 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,mg 20 Jun 06 - 01:57 PM
pdq 20 Jun 06 - 02:50 PM
GUEST 24 Jul 07 - 07:49 PM
Charley Noble 24 Jul 07 - 09:03 PM
Mrrzy 24 Jul 07 - 09:44 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 28 Jul 07 - 06:16 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 28 Jul 07 - 07:04 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 29 Jul 07 - 08:06 PM
Charley Noble 29 Jul 07 - 09:35 PM
GUEST,mg 30 Jul 07 - 03:39 PM
GUEST,Tunesmith 30 Jul 07 - 04:12 PM
Mrrzy 31 Jul 07 - 09:38 AM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 01 Aug 07 - 08:22 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 01 Aug 07 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 01 Aug 07 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 01 Aug 07 - 09:02 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 08 Jan 10 - 02:19 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jan 10 - 02:51 PM
open mike 08 Jan 10 - 07:10 PM
mg 11 Jan 10 - 01:30 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 11 Jan 10 - 11:05 PM
Joe Offer 11 Jan 10 - 11:57 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 12 Jan 10 - 06:28 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 25 Mar 10 - 08:47 PM
GUEST,Paul F. Anderson 28 Mar 10 - 05:48 PM
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Subject: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Mrrzy
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 04:21 PM

I was reminded of this song by the thread on the Big Rock Candy Mountain. I see the version in the Trad but it isn't the one I had, does anybody have another one? Mine starts O to be in Olean, that's where I'd like to be, than be bound in Norway and drag the chains of slavery. It has the verse about wheat and corn that is in the trad but not the middle ones, and it had OTHER middle ones which I now cannot remember. It's from an old album of the Gateway SIngers at the Hungry I, probably from the 40's or so. Maybe even 30's...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 06:29 PM

Mrr, you're making me feel very old, since I remember the Gateway Singers. Thank heaven for The All-Music Guide, which says the Gateway Singers were formed in 1970.
They're wrong, of course - the Gateway Singers were active in the 1950's and 1960's. I believe Allmusic is right in saying members of the group were Lou Gottlieb (later of the Limeliters), Ernie Sheldon, Jerry Walter, Travis Edmondson, Elmer Lee Thomas.
Lyrics coming right up, as soon as Mr. Scanner finishes.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: ADD Version: Oleanna
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Apr 02 - 06:41 PM

The version in the Digital Tradition is here (click). the version below is quite similar.

OLEANNA

Oh, to be in Oleanna! That's where I'd like to be,
Than be bound in Norway, and drag the chains of slavery.

CHORUS
Ole, Ole, anna; Ole, Ole anna
Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole;
Ole, Ole anna

In Oleanna land is free; the wheat and corn just plant themselves.
Then grow a good four feet a day, while on your bed you rest yourself.
CHORUS

Beer as sweet as Muenchener springs from the ground and flows away.
The cows all like to milk themselves and hens lay eggs three times a day.
CHORUS

Little roasted piggies rush about the city streets,
Inquiring so politely if a slice of ham you'd like to eat.
CHORUS

Say, if you'd begin to live, to Oleanna you must go;
The poorest wretch in Norway becomes a duke in a year or so.
CHORUS

Oh, to be in Oleanna! That's where I'd like to be,
Than be bound in Norway, and drag the chains of slavery.
CHORUS


Source: Collected Reprints from Sing Out! (pink book)
English lyrics by Pete Seeger

Based on a traditional Norwegian song
(Pete Seeger says it was written in 1853 by Ditmar Meidel)
TRO ~ 1958 (renewed) Ludlow Music, Inc., New York, NY. International Copyright Secured
Made in USA. All Rights Reserved including Public Performance for Profit.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Tiger
Date: 11 Apr 02 - 09:04 AM

Thats "Emmerlee" Thomas (a she). Fabulous contralto!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Apr 02 - 01:22 PM

Now that Mr. Scanner is cooperating, here's more:

(The original went on this way (in Norwegian) for thirty or forty verses.

"They pay you two dollars a day for carousing, and if you carouse very well, they pay you four dollars a day."
"The sun shines all night long; you can see in the dark just like a cat."
"The moon is always full; I can tell you that for sure because I
am observing it now with a bottle for a telescope."

(The song was obviously composed by a man.)
"In Oleanna, a man can lie around all day in his velvet jacket, smoking a meerschaum pipe which his old lady fills for him. If she
doesn't like doing all the work she takes a stick and gives herself a beating."


English lyrics by Pete Seeger

Based on a traditional Norwegian song (Pete Seeger says it was written in 1853 by Ditmar Meidel)
TRO ~ 1958 (renewed) Ludlow Music, Inc., New York, NY. International Copyright Secured
Made in USA. All Rights Reserved including Public Performance for Profit.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Apr 02 - 02:39 PM

Here's something from Pete Seeger's book, Where Have All the Flowers Gone:

The original of the text can be found in Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads, by Blegen and Ruud (Arno Press, New York). It was a famous drinking song both in Norway and among Norwegian-American men. The story behind it? In the 1840's, the famous Norwegian violinist Ole Bull toured the USA. Some real estate agents sold him 120,000 acres in northwest Pennsylvania, and when he returned home he announced there was free land for Norwegian emigrants. But the first settlers found it was mostly rocks. No good for farming. They headed west to places like Wisconsin. This satirical ballad was written in 1853 by Ditmar Meidel, a Norwegian newspaper editor. It had several dozen verses.
The tune is one more variant of what we know best as "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star," a melody with hundreds of different versions throughout Europe and the Americas.
A slow, minor-key version is "Hatikvah," the national anthem of Israel. The gospel song "Come By Here" (Kumbaya) incorporates it. I suspect the tune was known by our cave-dwelling ancestors.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Mrrzy
Date: 11 Apr 02 - 03:01 PM

Wild! Thanks, all!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Charley Noble
Date: 12 Apr 02 - 08:56 AM

Hmmmm. I don't see one of the verses we used to sing back in 1965:

They pay you here for getting drunk,
The more you drink, the more they pay,
And so the rich man is the lazy man
Who drinks all night and sleeps all day.


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLEANNA (Kingston Trio version)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Apr 02 - 07:21 PM

Here in Minnesota, where there are lots of people of Norwegian ancestry, Oleanna is heard from time to time at festivals. There is a statue of Ole Bull in Loring Park in Minneapolis. I looked for the Norwegian lyrics on the Internet and failed to find them, so this will have to do for now. Here's the version sung by the Kingston Trio.
Copied from http://home.att.net/~kingstontrioplace/lyricsor.htm

OLEANNA
(H. Geller/M. Seligson)

CHORUS:
Ole, Oleanna. Ole, Oleanna.
Ole, ole, ole, ole, ole, Oleanna.

Climbing up the Matterhorn, all alone as I could be,
I reached the top, I forced a stop and heard this mystic melody.
CHORUS

On an island in the ocean, not a human soul around,
As I searched for bread and water, once again I heard this sound.
CHORUS

My plane had all its motors gone. The wings would never keep me up.
I heard a voice that seemed to say, "Now, let's take it from the top."
CHORUS

I was tramping through the Congo when the Mau Mau tribe appeared
And their native chant was haunting, just the sound that I had feared.
CHORUS

While rocketing into space, I found myself upon the moon.
An ectoplasm greeting me with, "Have you heard the latest tune?"
CHORUS

My ship was sinking in the water, so I sent an S.O.S.
And I waited for an answer, you don't even have to guess.
Came a voice so calm and cheerful, just as cheerful as can be,
Said, "According to our survey, now the song is number three!"
CHORUS TWICE

Oleanna (Traditional; adapted and arranged by Geller-Seligson) The Kingston Trio was known, among other things, for resurrecting unusual, somewhat obscure material. "Oleanna" originally was a satirical tune about a 19th-century Norwegian fiddler named Ole Bull who tried to buy land in Pennsylvania for his fellow countrymen to settle on. But he was bilked in the deal, and many immigrants went bust in pursuit of the land of milk and honey they called "Oleanna." Various lyrics were written to the tune, including this playful set (from Here We Go Again!) that retains practically nothing of the original story except the chorus.


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Subject: ADD Version: OLEANNA (Gateway Singers)
From: GUEST,, NOMADman
Date: 15 Apr 02 - 09:45 PM

Here are the Gateway Singers' lyrics, transcribed directly from their lp, The Gateway Singers at the Hungry i, which was released, it appears, in the mid-'50's on Decca. It's monaural (remember that?) and has no copyright date.

OLEANNA
Chorus:

Ole Ole Anna, Ole Ole Anna
Ole Ole Ole Ole Ole Oleanna

Oh to be in Oleanna, that's where I'd like to be
Than be bound in Norway to drag the chains of slavery

Chorus

In Oleanna land is free; wheat and corn just plant themselves
Grow a good four feet a day while on your back you rest yourselves

Chorus

Little roasted piggies run around the city streets
Inquiring so politely if a slice of ham you'd like to eat

Chorus

When life is rough and things get tough, you need a place to go
The violinist Ole Bull, he knew that this was so
Tahiti and Bikini aren't what they used to be
So if you want an easy life, why come right along with me

Dresses all are beautiful, never have to pay the bills
Married life is just a dream; single life is better still
Chorus

Ole was a nice old guy who got to wealth and fame
But couldn't be contented unless others were the same
He built a place called Oleanna, model colony
And while it never made the grade it was a fine idee
Chorus

Never have to wash the clothes, or even sew a button
When you cook a mulligan stew it comes out leg of mutton
Chorus

The personnel listed on the album jacket are Elmerlee Thomas (yes, that's Elmerlee), Jerry Walter, Travis Edmonson and Ernie Sheldon. Later in the notes it mentions that "Since this album was cut, Lou Gottlieb, the Singers' bass player, has returned to the University of California to complete his PhD in Musicology and has been replaced by Ernie Sheldon, whose picture appears on this record jacket." That's kind of an interesting way of dealing with the personnel change. It is very clearly Lou Gottlieb's voice on the recording.

Regards,
John


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Mrrzy
Date: 16 Apr 02 - 09:43 AM

Thanks John!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 10:27 AM

Still no luck on finding the original Norwegian lyrics. I even checked the official "Sons of Norway" songbook and they don't have it!

(The "Sons of Norway," by the way, were probably the inspiration for the "Sons of Knut" that Garrison Keillor tells about.)

Mrrzy, maybe you don't care, but I do. If I could find them, maybe I could get my wife's aunt Marilyn (who happens to be a published poet) to translate them.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Apr 02 - 11:05 AM

Not that I don't care, sounds fascinating! Anybody remember When I First Came To This Land? Wasn't that a Norwegian one too, and I only know about 4 verses (shack, cow, wife, son) but I bet there were a ton more...!


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Subject: DTStudy: Oleanna
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 May 02 - 10:18 PM

Oleanna

DESCRIPTION: The singer sings the praises of "Ole, Oleanna," where "land is free," the crops grow themselves, the livestock cooks itself, and "the poorest wretch... becomes a king in a year or so."
AUTHOR: Norwegian Words: Ditmar Meidell (English words by Pete Seeger and others)
EARLIEST DATE: 1853 (Krydseren, March 5 issue)
KEYWORDS: emigration farming money talltale nonballad
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Lomax-FSNA 42, "Oleanna" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 47, "Oleanna" (1 text)
DT, OLEOLEAN*
ADDITIONAL:Theodore Blegen and Martin B. Ruud, editors & Translators, _Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads_, University of Minnesota press, 1936/Arno Press, 1979, pp, 187-197, "Oleana" (1 Norwegian text with literal English translation, 1 tune)
Rochelle Wright and Robert L. Wright, _Danish Emigrant Ballads and Songs_, Southern Illinois University Press, 1983, #105, pp. 222-223, 274-275, "I Oleana Der Er Det Godt at Vaere" (1 Danish text with literal English translation, 1 tune)

RECORDINGS:
Pete Seeger, "Oleanna" (on PeteSeeger10) (on PeteSeeger12)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Darling Neddeen" (absurdist sorts of claims for the town)
Notes: Ole Bull was a Norwegian fiddler who tried to found a colony in Pennsylvania. Despite his extravagant hopes for the settlement (satirized in this song), it was too poor and too far from transportation arteries, and eventually failed.
Bull, incidentally, was quite a character, playing both violin for classical pieces and hardanger fiddle for folk dances. He was a fervent Norwegian patriot, and Oleana (the usual spelling) was not his only attempt to help other Norwegians find a better life, though it was the most spectacular.
Bull inspired several books; the most recent, as far as I know, is Einar Haugen and Camilla Cai, Ole Bull: Norway's Romantic Musician and Cosmopolitan Patriot, University of Wisconsin Press, 1993. It devoted 22 pages to the short life of the Oleana colony, which theoretically was active from 1852 to 1857 but which really existed only for part of 1853.
The original tune to this was apparently called "Rio Janeiro" (so Wright/Wright), but there are several tunes -- e.g. the one you've probably heard from Pete Seeger or his imitators is not the same as the one in Blegen, though they started from the same roots. The Danish tune in Wright/Wright diverges even more, to my ears. - RBW
The town now calls itself "Oleona," and contains a museum celebrating the colony. - PJS
File: LoF042

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Bibiography
Go to the Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


This thread covers most of the information I'd like to see in a DTStudy thread. Any corrections to the lyrics, tune, attribution, or categories?
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: ADD Version: OLEANA
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 May 02 - 11:00 PM

OLEANA
(Arranged, adapted, and with additional lyrics by Theodore Bikel)

Ole-ole-ana Ole-ole-ana
Ole-ole-ole-ole Ole-ole-ana

Oh, to be in Oleana
That's where I'd like to be
Than be bound in Norway
And drag the chains of slavery.

Ole-ole-ana...

The trees and shrubs grow by themselves,
There really is no need for rain;
It only rains at banquet-time,
Instead of water--pure champagne.

Ole-ole-ana...

Beer as sweet as Münchner
Springs from the ground and flows away,
The cows all like to milk themselves,
The hens lay eggs ten times a day.

Ole-ole-ana...

Little roasted piggies
They rush about the city streets,
Inquiring so politely
If a slice of ham you'd like to eat.

Ole-ole-ana...

And when it comes to courting,
I tell you boys, that's better still;
Before you pop the question
The girls all shout, "Oh yes, I will!"

Ole-ole-ana...

If you really want to live
To Oleana you must go,
The poorest wretch in Norway
Becomes like a king in a year or so.

Ole-ole-ana...

The women there do all the work
As round the fields they swiftly go,
They carry around the hickory stick
And beat themselves if they work too slow.

Ole-ole-ana...

(Source: Folksongs and Footnotes by Theodore Bikel, Meridian Books, 1960, pp. 213-214)

~Masato


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Subject: ADD Version: Oleana
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 10:23 PM

Theodore C. Blegen's book from 1938 has all 22 verses in Norwegian with a literal translation. He also wrote a singable translation in 1944. Here it is.

(The Mel Bay Immigrant Songbook from 1992 also has a 22 verse translation by Jerry Silverman.)

OLEANA

I'm off to Oleana, I'm turning from my doorway,
No chains for me, I'll say good-by to slavery in Norway.
Ole---Ole---Ole---oh! Oleana!
Ole---Ole---Ole---oh! Oleana!

II
They give you land for nothing in jolly Oleana,
And grain comes leaping from the ground in floods of golden manna.

III
The grain it does the threshing, it pours into the sack, Sir,
You make a quart of whisky from each one without expense, Sir

IV
The crops they are gigantic, potatoes are immense, Sir,
You make a quart of whisky from each one without expense, Sir.

V
And ale as strong and sweet as the best you've ever tasted,
It's running in the foamy creek, where most of it is wasted.

VI
The salmon they are playing, and leaping in the brook, Sir,
They hop into your kettle, put the cover on, and cook, Sir.

VII
And little roasted piggies, with manners quite demure, Sir,
They ask you, Will you have some ham? And then you say, Why, sure, Sir.

VIII
The cows are most obliging, their milk they put in pails, Sir,
They make your cheese and butter with a skill that never fails, Sir.

IX
The bull he is the master, his calves he likes to boss, Sir,
He beats them when they loaf about, he's never at a loss, Sir.

X
The calves are very helpful, themselves they skin and kill, Sir,
They turn into a tasty roast before you drink your fill, Sir.

XI
The hens lay eggs colossal, so big and round and fine, Sir,
The roosters act like eight-day clocks, they always tell the time, Sir.

XII
And cakes come raining down, Sir, with chocolate frosting* coated,
They're nice and rich and sweet, good Lord, you eat them till you're bloated.
    *The original, translated literally, is "cholera frosting."

XIII
And all night long the sun shines, it always keeps a-glowing,
It gives you eyes just like a cat's, to see where you are going.

XIV
The moon is also beaming, it's always full, I vow, Sir,
A bottle for a telescope, I'm looking at it now, Sir.

XV
Two dollars for carousing they give each day, and more, Sir,
For if you're good and lazy, they will even give you four, Sir.

XVI
Support your wife and kids? Why, the county pays for that, Sir,
You'd slap officials down and out if they should leave you flat, Sir.

XVII
And if you've any bastards, you're freed of their support, Sir,
As you can guess since I am spinning verses for your sport, Sir.

XVIII
You walk about in velvet, with silver buttons bright, Sir,
You puff away at meerschaum pipes, your women pack them right, Sir.

XIX
The dear old ladies struggle, and sweat for us, and labor,
And if they're cross, they spank themselves, they do it as a favor.

XX
And so we play the fiddle, and all of us are glad, Sir,
We dance a merry polka, boys, and that is not so bad, Sir.

XXI
I'm off to Oleana, to lead a life of pleasure,
A beggar here, a count out there, with riches in full measure.

XXII
I'm coming, Oleana, I've left my native doorway,
I've made my choice, I've said good-by to slavery in Norway.
Ole---Ole---Ole---oh! Oleana!
Ole---Ole---Ole---oh! Oleana!


English lyrics by Theodore C. Blegen


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Subject: ADD Version: Oleana (Norwegian original)
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 19 Jun 06 - 10:30 PM

Here are the Norwegian lyrics for Oleana from Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads. That book and Danish Emigrant Songs and Ballads are available through Amazon.

OLEANA
(Ditmar Meidell)

I Oleana der er det godt at være,
i Norge vil jeg inte Slavelænken bære!

Ole-Ole-Ole oh! Oleana!
Ole-Ole-Ole oh! Oleana!

I Oleana der faar jeg Jord for Intet,
af Jorden voxer Kornet, — og det gaar gesvint det.

Aa Kornet det tærsker sig selv oppaa Laaven,
imens ligger jeg aa hviler mig i Koven.

Hej Markedsgang! Poteterne skulde Du se, Du.
Der brændes mindst en Pot af hvereneste en Du.

Ja Bayerøl saa godt, som han Ytteborg kan brygge,
det risler i Bækkene til Fattigmandens Hygge.

Aa Laxene dem springer saa lystig i Bække,
dem hopper selv i Gry den aa roper: dem ska' dække!

Åa brunstegte Griser de løber om saa flinke
åa forespør sig høfligt, om Nogen vil ha' Skinke.

Aa Kjørene dem melker aa kjærner aa yster
liksaa naturlig som Else, mi Syster.

Åa Storstuten sjelve staar inte og hænger,
han banker sine Kalve, fordi de gaar og slænger.

Aa Kalvene de slagter sig hurtig og flåar sig
aa stejker sig fortere end man tar en Taar sig!

Aa Høna værper Æg saa svære som Stabur,
mens Hanen angir Tiden som et ottedags Slaguhr.

Fra Skyerne det regner med Kolerakaker.
Aa Gubevare Dere vel for dejlige Saker!

Aa Sola hu skinner saa trufast hele Natta
saa atte man kan se i Mørke liksom Katta!

Aa Maanen hver Aften er fuld — det er sikkert.
Jeg ligger just aa ser paa'n med Flaska tel Kjikkert.

Ja to Daler Dagen det faar Du for at svire,
aa er Du rektig doven, saa kanske Du faar fire.

Åa Kjærringa og Unger dem falder paa Kommynen.
Betaler dem ikke, såa faar dem paa Trynen!

Kronarbejde findes ej — nej det var saa ligt da!
jeg såd nok ikke ellersen saa frisk her aa digta.

Vi gaar i Fløjelsklæder besat med Sølverknapper,
Aa ryker af Merskum, som Kjærringa stapper.

Aa Kjærringa maa brase aa styre aa stelle —
aa blir hu sint, saa banker hu sig sjelv — skal jeg for-tælle.

Aa Fiolin det speller vi Allesammen — hejsan!
Aa Danser en Polskdans, aa den er'nte lejsan.

Ja rejs til Oleana, saa skal Du vel leve,
den fattigste Stymper herover er Greve!

I Oleana langt heller vil jeg være,
end længer i Norg min Slavelænke bære!

Ole-Ole-Ole oh! Oleana!
Ole-Ole-Ole oh! Oleana!


Norwegian lyrics by Ditmar Meidell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 01:57 PM

That to me is a perfect example of an absolutely wonderful song with wonderful tune with the most abomidable translation of lyrics that I can think of. There have to be better translations...it is a song that should be sung but I can't stomach the lyrics..except in Oleanna I've been told all the streets are paved with gold..hardly original but at least the accent is in the right place. And if anyone wants to know my opinion on accents in the wrong place, no better song to start with than this one. So please someone fix it so we can sing it. Also please find the original Norwegian words that were an old Norwegian fishing song..perhaps that one should be translated instead or song in Norwegian.   mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: pdq
Date: 20 Jun 06 - 02:50 PM

A minor point about the Gateway Singers. The contralto is the late Elmerlee Thomas. Her son is Elmer Lee Thomas, a blues singer who is popular in the San Francisco Bay Area.

                               more here


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Subject: ADD Verses: Oleanna
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 07:49 PM

Pete Seeger wrote the best-known translation of "Oleanna" in 1955. He did not have a verse about a hickory stick. That was written by Theodore Bikel, who recorded the song on the 1959 album "Folk Songs From Just About Everywhere" on the Elektra label.

In 1960 Theodore Bikel and Alan Lomax each published versions of "Oleanna" that drew on Seeger's translation, Ditmar Meidell's original lyrics and their own imaginations. Lomax adapted Seeger's lyrics and added three new verses of his own.

    The cows and calves do all the work,
    They milk and churn till the dairy's full,
    While the bull keeps herd production high
    And sends reports to Ole Bull.

    The sun keeps shining day and night,
    Till the moon politely asks a turn,
    As the harvest here is once a month,
    We've time to waste and money to burn.

    They pay you here for getting drunk,
    The more you drink, the more they pay,
    So the rich man is the lazy man,
    Who drinks all night and sleeps all day.

Source: Folk Songs of North America by Alan Lomax, Doubleday, 1960, pp. 88-89)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 09:03 PM

Well, I see that it's Lomax who added the verse that I posted above:

They pay you here for getting drunk,
The more you drink, the more they pay,
So the rich man is the lazy man,
Who drinks all night and sleeps all day.

I wonder who was responsible for the other verse I collected from the Puleston family members of Long Island back in 1963:

The little pigs they roast themselves
And trot about this lovely land;
With knives and forks stuck in their backs,
Inquiring if you'd like some ham.

Then there was a concluding verse:

So if you'd like a happy life
To Oleana you must go;
The poorest farmer in the States
Becomes a king in a year or so!

Clearly even back in the early 1960's the folk-processing of this song was still going strong.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Mrrzy
Date: 24 Jul 07 - 09:44 PM

I recall now Little roasted piggies / run around the city streets / inquiring so politely / if a slice of ham you'd like to eat...

More verses?

I love seeing an old thread I started resurrected!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 28 Jul 07 - 06:16 PM

SPELLING
Ditmar Meidell's song is spelled OLEANA in some songbooks and OLEANNA in others.

OLEANNA - DIGITAL TRADITION PAGE
The "hickory stick" verse was written by Theodore Bikel (not Pete Seeger). Seeger's complete translation was posted on this thread April 10, 2002.

When Theodore Bikel published his version of Oleanna, the credits read: "arranged, adapted, and with additional lyrics by Theodore Bikel".

When Alan Lomax published his version of Oleanna, the lyrics were credited to Pete Seeger and Alan Lomax.


OLEANA (Seeger - Lomax)

O to be in Oleana,
That's where I'd like to be,
Than be bound in Norway
And drag the chains of slavery.

CHORUS:
Ole, Oleanna. Ole, Oleanna.
Ole, ole, ole, ole, ole, Oleanna.

In Oleana land is free,
The wheat and corn just plant themselves,
Then they grow four feet a day,
While on your bed you rest yourselves.

The little pigs, they roast themselves
And trot about this lovely land,
With knives and forks stuck in their backs
Inquiring if you'd like some ham.

The cows and calves do all the work,
They milk and churn till the dairy's full,
While the bull keeps herd production high
And sends reports to Ole Bull.

The sun keeps shining day and night,
Till the moon politely asks a turn,
As the harvest here is once a month,
We've time to waste and money to burn.

They pay you here for getting drunk,
The more you drink, the more they pay,
So the rich man is the lazy man,
Who drinks all night and sleeps all day.

So if you'd like a happy life
To Oleana you must go,
The poorest man from the old country
Becomes a king in a year or so.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 28 Jul 07 - 07:04 PM

Pete Seeger made two recordings of Oleanna for Folkways Records. The first one appeared on the 1955 album "Folk Songs of Four Continents". The second one appeared on the 1956 album "With Voices Together We Sing".

In 1958 Gene Bluestein recorded Oleanna in Norwegian and English on the Folkways album "Songs of the North Star State". The English lyrics were by Seeger except for the following verse by Bluestein.

"And when you plant potatoes, it's never very risky.
From each little one you plant you get a quart of whiskey."

SMITHSONIAN GLOBAL SOUND
The Smithsonian Global Sound web site has Seeger and Bluestein's recordings of Oleanna. One can listen to a sound sample of each or download them at a cost of 99¢ per song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 29 Jul 07 - 08:06 PM

THE GATEWAY SINGERS
The Gateway Singers recorded Oleanna on the 1958 LP "Gateway Singers at the hungry i". This album (Decca - DL 8671) is now available as a CD at this web site:

http://www.starbeams.com/

LINER NOTES FROM THE ALBUM
Oleanna - Old Bull, an extremely successful violinist of the 1800's, attempted to buy a part of Pennsylvania as a home for some of his poor and homeless fellow Norwegians. His philanthropy was doused when it turned out that the men from whom he had "bought" the land didn't own it, and there is nothing left of his utopia, Oleanna, save this song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Jul 07 - 09:35 PM

Paul-

You do really excellent research and you should really consider joining Mudcat as a member. There is a small group here who really enjoy tracking down old songs.

It's nice to know where the verses I learned orally came from.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: GUEST,mg
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 03:39 PM

Actually one of the translations by the Norwegian is OK..it is just the Seeger one that grates on my nerves...but does anyone know the original verses to the fishing song it started out as? Or was at one time? mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 30 Jul 07 - 04:12 PM

Somewhere - on and old reel-to-reel tape - I have Pete talking about Oleanna on a BBC radio programme C1960.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: Mrrzy
Date: 31 Jul 07 - 09:38 AM

I am gonna have to get my Mom thatCD - thanks!


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Subject: ADD Version: Oleana (Norwegian)
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 08:22 PM

OLEANA

In Oleana, that's where I'd like to be,
and not drag the chains of slavery in Norway.

Ole-Ole-Ole-oh! Oleana!
Ole-Ole-Ole-oh! Oleana

In Oleana they give you land for nothing,
and the grain just pops out of the ground. Golly, that's easy.

The grain threshes itself in the granary
while I stretch out at ease in my bunk.

And the markets! You just ought to see the potatoes!
You can distill at least a quart of whiskey from every one of them.

And Münchener beer, as sweet as Ytteborg's,
runs in the creeks for the poor man's delectation.

And the salmon, they leap like mad in the rivers,
and hop into the kettles, and cry out for a cover.

And little roasted piggies rush about the streets,
politely inquiring if you wish for ham.

And the cows, they milk and churn
and make cheese just as skillfully as Else my sister.

And the bull himself doesn't stand around idle;
he beats his calves for loafing and shirking.

And the calves, they kill and flay themselves
and turn to veal roast faster than you can take a drink.

And the hens lay eggs as big as a storehouse,
and the cocks strike the hour like an eight-day clock.

And cakes fairly rain from the skies above you.
Good Lord, what wondrous tidbits!

The sun shines faithfully all night long,
so that you can see in the dark just like a cat.

The moon is full every night, that is certain:
I am observing it now with a bottle for a telescope.

You bet, they give you two dollars a day for carousing;
and if you are good and lazy, they'll probably give you four.

The old woman and the kids, why, they go on the township;
if the authorities don't pay they get it on the snout.

You don't have to work to support your bastards;
if you did, I shouldn't be sitting here spinning verses.

And we all stalk about in velvet suits with silver buttons,
smoking meerschaum pipes which the old woman fills for us.

And she has to sweat and toil and struggle;
and if she doesn't do it, she gives herself a beating.

And every last one of us plays upon the fiddle,
and dances a merry polka; and that's not so bad!

Aye, go to Oleana, there you'll begin to live!
The poorest wretch in Norway is a count over there.

Oh, I'd much rather live in Oleana
than drag the chains of slavery over there in Norway.


Ditmar Meidell
Literal translation by Martin B. Ruud 1936
(from Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads)


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Subject: ADD Version: Oleana
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 08:33 PM

OLEANA

In Oleana that is the place where I would stay,
Instead of bearing slav'ry's chains and suffering in Norway.

Ole, oleanna. Ole, oleanna.
Ole, ole, ole, ole, ole, oleanna.

In Oleana land they'll give you, and it won't cost you a thing.
Grain it will grow by itself while you just sit around and sing.

And then the grain will thresh itself after the harvest,
While all I do is lie around. That's the part that I like best.

At the market are for sale the biggest spuds you e'er did see.
Each one yields a quart of whisky at the distillery.

Fine Bavarian beer is here, as good as you have tasted.
It runs through all the streams in town, and not a drop is wasted.

The salmon leap into the kettle fast as they are able.
Then they wiggle from the pot right onto the table.

Rushing 'round the streets, roasted piggies cause a traffic jam,
Inquring so politely if perchance you'd like a slice of ham.

And the cows they milk themselves. Please believe me, mister.
Then they churn out cheese as good as does Else, my sister.

And the calves they kill themselves right before your very eyes.
Then roast veal is served to all, quicker than you realize.

The hens lay eggs so big, their size surely would give you a shock.
And the roosters strike the hour as well as an eight-day clock.

There is a full moon every night, so there is no need to grope.
I am observing it right now — my bottle for a telescope.

When you go carousing, you'll get two dollars, and what's more,
If you do it very well, they will surely give you four.

Cakes and cookies rain down from the heavens day and night.
Good Lord, they are so delicious, they're a source of great delight.

No need to support your kids and to fill their purses.
If I had to work, I couldn't sit here spinning verses.

Velvet suits with silver buttons, we all wear without a fuss.
And we smoke our meerschaum pipes, which the old woman fills for us.

And she has to sweat and toil, all her work completing.
If she doesn't finish it, she gives herself a beating.

Everyone plays violin and dances polkas daily.
Life is very pleasant here, we pass the time so gaily.

So just you go to Oleana, and you'll never have a care.
The poorest wretch in Norway becomes a count once over there.

In Oleana that is the place where I would stay,
Instead of bearing slav'ry's chains and suffering in Norway


Ditmar Meidell
English lyrics by Jerry Silverman 1992
(from Mel Bay's Immigrant Songbook)



MISSING VERSES
Silverman translated 19 of the 22 verses. Here are the ones he omitted.

RUUD 1936
And the bull himself doesn't stand around idle;
he beats his calves for loafing and shirking.

The sun shines faithfully all night long,
so that you can see in the dark just like a cat.

The old woman and the kids, why, they go on the township;
if the authorities don't pay they get it on the snout.

BLEGEN 1944
The bull he is the master, his calves he likes to boss, Sir,
He beats them when they loaf about, he's never at a loss, Sir.

And all night long the sun shines, it always keeps a-glowing,
It gives you eyes just like a cat's to see where you are going.

Support your wife and kids? Why the county pays for that, Sir,
You'd slap officials down and out if they should leave you flat, Sir.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 08:50 PM

CORRECTIONS
Blegen's book was published in 1936.
Silverman only translated 19 of the 22 verses.

THEODORE C. BLEGEN
Theodore C. Blegen (1891-1969) was born in Minneapolis. He was a professor of history and the dean of the graduate school at the University of Minnesota, a professor of history at Hamline University, and a superintendent of the Minnesota Historical Society. Blegen Hall on the U of M's West Bank campus is named after him.

ANNE-CHARLOTTE HARVEY
In 1972 Swedish-born singer Anne-Charlotte Harvey recorded a bilingual version of Oleanna. The five verses were sung first in Norwegian (Meidell) and then in English (Seeger).

OLEANNA BIBLIOGRAPHY
1936 Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads - Theodore C. Blegen
1944 Grass Roots Magazine - Theodore C. Blegen
1959 Sing Out Reprints - Pete Seeger
1960 Folksongs and Footnotes - Theodore Bikel
1960 Folk Songs of North America - Alan Lomax
1992 Mel Bay's Immigrant Songbook - Jerry Silverman

OLEANNA DISCOGRAPHY
1955 Folk Songs of Four Continents - Pete Seeger
1956 With Voices Together We Sing - Pete Seeger
1958 Songs of the North Star State - Gene Bluestein
1958 At the hungry i - Gateway Singers
1959 Folk Songs From Just About Everywhere - Theodore Bikel
1959 Here We Go Again - The Kingston Trio
1972 Memories of Snoose Boulevard - Anne-Charlotte Harvey

OLEANNA'S RHYMES
The Norwegian lyrics for Oleanna have two syllable rhymes: væ-re / bæ-re. Theodore C. Blegen's translation follows that pattern: door-way / Nor-way.   Pete Seeger's verses have one syllable rhymes: go / so. This is also true of versions that are partly based on Seeger's work: Gateway Singers, Bikel and Lomax. Silverman's translation has two syllable rhymes and one syllable rhymes.

OLEANNA AT SMITHSONIAN GLOBAL SOUND
The albums by Seeger and Bluestein are available at the web site below. One can listen to sound clips or download the songs at 99 cents each. The liner notes can be downloaded — free of charge — as PDF files. They contain commentary on Oleanna as well as the lyrics.

http://www.smithsonianglobalsound.org/



THE BALLAD OF OLEANA:
A VERSE TRANSLATION BY THEODORE C. BLEGEN

http://www.stolaf.edu/naha/pubs/nas/volume14/vol14_5.htm


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Oleanna as by the Gateway Singers
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 01 Aug 07 - 09:02 PM

OLEANNA'S MELODY

According to Theodore C. Blegen, the lyrics for Oleanna were set to a melody known as "Rio Janeiro".


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Subject: Message for Joe Offer
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 02:19 PM

Dear Joe,

I didn't know of any other way to contact you. Sorry to intrude on this thread.

A few years ago you posted Pete Seeger's translation of Oleanna on a thread. Digitrad has the song's lyrics, but they're in the wrong order, missing a verse, have mispelled words and a verse by Theodore Bikel thrown in. In short, they're a mess and wrongly identified as being by (only) Pete Seeger. I contacted someone at Mudcat about correcting the problem. They said they would, but months have gone by without any corrections.

Could you fix this? The Oleanna (song) Wikipedia article gets hundreds of readers every month, and it has a link to the Digitrad site with the messed-up lyrics. I hate seeing this misinformation being spread. I added a link to the Folkways records by Seeger, which have downloadable liner notes with his lyrics, but I'm sure most people just go to Digitrad.

Thanks for your help.
Paul


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Subject: DT Correction: Oleanna
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 02:51 PM

Hi, Paul -
I moved you over here. Here's what's in the Digital Tradition. Let's see what people think about whether a corrected version should be placed in the Digital Tradition (DT). In the case of a "folk" song, there often is no "correct" version (but we do have a number of songs in the DT that are just plain wrong, traditional or not).
Here's the DT version:

    OLEANNA (DT Version)
    (Translation from the Norwegian by Pete Seeger)

       Ole, oleanna, ole, oleanna
       ole, ole, ole, ole, ole, oleanna

    Oh to be in Oleanna,
    that's where I'd like to be
    Than to be in Norway
    and bear the chains of slavery

    Little roasted piggies
    rush around the city streets
    Inquiring so politely
    if a slice of ham you'd like to eat

    Beer as sweet as muncheners
    springs from the ground and flows away
    The cows all like to milk themselves
    And the hens lay eggs ten times a day
    The women there do all the work
    As round the fields they quickly go
    Each one has a hickory stick
    And beats herself if she works too slow

    In Oleanna land is free
    The wheat and corn just plant themselves
    Then grow a good four feet a day
    While on your bed you rest yourself

    @immigrant   @American
    filename[ OLEOLEAN
    TUNE FILE: OLEOLEAN
    CLICK TO PLAY
    SOF

Here is a Pete Seeger version, just a bit different from what I posted above:
    OLEANNA
    (Ditmar Meidel, translated from Norwegian by Pete Seeger)

    Oh, to be in Oleanna,
    That's where I'd like to be,
    Than be bound in Norway,
    To drag the chains of slavery.

    CHORUS
    Ole, Ole-anna,
    Ole, Ole-anna,
    Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole,
    Ole, Ole-anna;

    In Oleanna land is free,
    The wheat and corn just plant themselves.
    Then grow four feet a day,
    While on your bed you rest yourself.
    CHORUS

    Beer as sweet as Muenchener
    Springs from the ground and flows away,
    The cows all like to milk themselves
    And hens lay eggs ten times a day.
    CHORUS

    Little roasted piggies
    Rush about the city streets,
    Inquiring so politely if
    A slice of ham you'd like to eat.
    CHORUS

    SPOKEN: "The moon is always full. I am observing it now, with a bottle for a telescope.

    SPOKEN: "In Oleanna the women do all the work!
    If she doesn' work hard enough,
    She takes a stick and gives herself a beating!"*

    Aye, if you'd begin to live,
    To Oleanna you must go,
    The poorest wretch in Norway
    Becomes a duke in a year or so.
    CHORUS

    Oh, to be in Oleanna,
    That's where I'd like to be,
    Than be bound in Norway,
    To drag the chains of slavery.
    CHORUS

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

    *alternate sung version from Theodore Bikel:
    The women there do all the work
    As round the fields they quickly go
    Each one has a hickory stick
    And beats herself if she works too slow

    ...two other Bikel verses:
    The trees and shrubs grow by themselves,
    There really is no need for rain;
    It only rains at banquet-time,
    Instead of water--pure champagne.

    And when it comes to courting,
    I tell you boys, that's better still;
    Before you pop the question
    The girls all shout, "Oh yes, I will!"


    Source: Where Have All the Flowers Gone: A Singalong Memoir, by Pete Seeger

    Based on a traditional Norwegian song
    (Pete Seeger says it was written in 1853 by Ditmar Meidel, translated in 1953 by Pete Seeger)
    TRO ~ 1958 (renewed) Ludlow Music, Inc., New York, NY. International Copyright Secured
    Made in USA. All Rights Reserved including Public Performance for Profit.

    @immigrant   @American
    filename[ OLEOLEAN
    TUNE FILE: OLEOLEAN
    CLICK TO PLAY
    SOF, JRO, PFA

Do you think this second version is a good replacement for what's in the DT? This is the version most people sing. I propose that for accuracy, we should add a second version from Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oleanna (Ditmar Meidel, Norway, 1853)
From: open mike
Date: 08 Jan 10 - 07:10 PM

reagrding the origins of this song,
here is info about the history of
the utopian community and it's founder
Ole Bull
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=117859&messages=15


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oleanna (Ditmar Meidel, Norway, 1853)
From: mg
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 01:30 PM

I can not think of a song with a prettier tune or uglier words..just how they go together hurts my brain.

There is an older Norwegian fishing song this is based on. Would anyone have the words to that? At least the chorus? I would love to get this more toward its original..not the Oleanna but the fishing words. mg


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oleanna (Ditmar Meidel, Norway, 1853)
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 11:05 PM

Joe,

Digitrad credits its Oleanna lyrics to Pete Seeger but is missing one of his verses and adds one by Bikel.

I like the second version you posted, but I would omit the spoken part and the Bikel verse. His verse is no more important than the other two he made up or the three that Alan Lomax invented for his Seeger – Lomax version of the song in 1960. Seeger spoke of the hickory stick verse, but it was not part of his translation. He only translated six of the song's twenty-two verses.

Smithsonian Folkways sells two recordings that Pete Seeger made of the song. You can download the liner notes from these albums at no charge. The 1956 recording is live, and Pete Seeger's spoken part is on the recording. The liner notes have the song lyrics, which omit the spoken part.

IRRELEVANT BUT FUN
Seeger's introduction to the song was incorrect and / or misleading. It suggests, though, that his translation was done in 1955, the year he first recorded the song.

About a year ago — almost exactly a year ago — a friend of mine loaned me a book (1) of the songs made up by Norwegian immigrants. (2) Oh, there are several hundred songs (3) in the book — all in Norwegian, which I can't understand a word, much less pronounce a word. But I was fortunate to get some translations (4), and I think a lot of you know one of the songs which came out of that.

(1) Norwegian Emigrant Songs and Ballads by Theodore C. Blegen
(2) The songs were all written by people living in Norway
(3) The book had about 60 songs
(4) The book was written in English and each song had the original Norwegian lyrics plus a literal translation

I wrote all of the Oleanna (song) Wikipedia article except the first small section. I also added the Norwegian lyrics and a link to Theodore C. Blegen's 1944 rhyming translation of all 22 verses.

According to a third party traffic counter, several hundred people read the article a month. It links to Digitrad, which unfortunately has these garbled lyrics attributed to Seeger.

Anyway, thanks for listening. My suggestion: go with the second version, minus the spoken parts and Bikel.

Paul


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oleanna (Ditmar Meidel, Norway, 1853)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Jan 10 - 11:57 PM

Hi, Paul-
I was thinking the other way - I added another Bikel verse, which puts all the "popular" English verses in one entry. The Bikel verses and the spoken Seeger parts are legitimate translations of the original Norwegian, so I don't want to leave them out.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oleanna (Ditmar Meidel, Norway, 1853)
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 12 Jan 10 - 06:28 PM

Seeger's translation has only six verses. (1 and 6 are the same.) That's about the right length for a song with so much repetition.

His 1956 recording of the song and his 1958 publication of the lyrics in Sing Out! Magazine contained his comments about five other verses, including the hickory stick one.

I would be in favor of including those comments and his six verses. In other words, just what Seeger actually wrote.

I have a generally favorable opinion of Theodore Bikel, but Oleanna was not his finest hour. His recording of the song was sung in a middle-European accent that sounded nothing like Norwegian and was inappropriate for a song that was not a Scandinavian dialect song. At least he credited Seeger on the record. He used four of Seeger's verses in his songbook without giving credit, which I think is deplorable. And I imagine he based the hickory stick verse on Seeger's comments. His other two verses had nothing to do with the original Norwegian text.

The "popular" verses of Oleanna in English are the ones that Seeger wrote. I've seen his translation in several songbooks. Bikel's version is only in one. Unfortunately, Digitrad's garbled version — minus one verse by Seeger + one verse by Bikel will probably confuse the issue. And since there is so much copying of lyrics on the Internet, the mistake will be perpetuated.

Someone else added the Digitrad link to the Oleanna (song) Wikipedia article. It's too bad that the lyrics are incomplete and inaccurate.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oleanna (Ditmar Meidel, Norway, 1853)
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 25 Mar 10 - 08:47 PM

More about Pete Seeger and Oleanna

Oleanna is a Norwegian song, whose lyrics were written by Ditmar Meidell in 1853. There were 22 verses although the first and last verses were nearly identical. Martin B. Ruud wrote a literal translation of the entire song in 1936. Theodore C. Blegen wrote a rhyming one in 1944.

Pete Seeger translated Oleanna in 1955. His version consisted of only six verses, with the first and last verses being the same. In a live recording in 1956 Seeger also summed up five of Oleanna's other verses. His understanding of the song was based on Ruud's earlier translation. Following Seeger's comments are the same five verses in Blegen's 1944 translation.

PETE SEEGER 1956 WITH VOICES TOGETHER WE SING

(The original went on this way (in Norwegian) for thirty or forty verses. "They pay you two dollars a day for carousing, and if you carouse very well, they pay you four dollars a day." "The sun shines all night long; you can see in the dark just like a cat." "The moon is always full; I can tell you that for sure because I am observing it now with a bottle for a telescope." The song was obviously composed by a man. "In Oleanna, a man can lie around all day in his velvet jacket, smoking a meerschaum pipe which his old lady fills for him. If she doesn't like doing all the work she takes a stick and gives herself a beating."

THEODORE C. BLEGEN 1944

Two dollars for carousing they give each day, and more, Sir,
For if you're good and lazy, they will even give you four, Sir.

And all night long the sun shines, it always keeps a-glowing,
It gives you eyes just like a cat's to see where you are going.

The moon is also beaming, it's always full, I vow, Sir,
A bottle for a telescope, I'm looking at it now, Sir.

You walk about in velvet, with silver buttons bright, Sir,
You puff away at meerschaum pipes, your women pack them right, Sir.

The dear old ladies struggle, and sweat for us, and labor,
And if they're cross, they spank themselves, they do it as a favor.

THEODORE BIKEL 1959 - 1960

Theodore Bikel recorded Oleanna in 1959. He sang Pete Seeger's lyrics and gave him proper credit. In 1960 he published a book of folksongs that included Oleanna. His version of the song had four verses by Seeger and two that were completely his own invention. He also had a verse about women beating themselves with a hickory stick. This was no doubt based on Seeger's paraphrase from the 1956 recording, which was also reprinted in Sing Out! Magazine. There's no evidence that Bikel ever saw Ruud's translation. Seeger did not receive credit for his lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Oleanna (Ditmar Meidel, Norway, 1853)
From: GUEST,Paul F. Anderson
Date: 28 Mar 10 - 05:48 PM

RIO DE JANEIRO was a Scandinavian sailor's song. In 1846 August Blanche borrowed the melody and chorus for his Swedish song SKÖNASTE PERLOR (The most beautiful pearls), which appeared in the comic play RIKA MORBROR (Rich maternal uncle). The lyrics to Blanche's song were printed at first as a broadside ballad and years later in songbooks. Almost certainly there are versions of the song in Norwegian and Danish.

In 1853 the Norwegian editor Ditmar Meidell wrote the lyrics for OLEANNA and set them to the melody of RIO DE JANEIRO. Blanche's song, which used the same tune, may have influenced Meidell's lyrics.

SKÖNASTE PERLOR appeared in the 1981 book EMIGRANT VISOR which was published in Stockholm, Sweden. This book is listed at WorldCat.

NOTES: The song reflects the racist attitudes of the time. In the interest of historical accuracy the offensive lines have not been censored. Andrew Carnegie was only eleven years old in 1846. The addition of his name must have come in later versions of the song.


SKÖNASTE PERLOR

Skönaste perlor
ur hafvet kan man fiska
tolftusen slafvar
de dansa för min piska
På Rio, Rio, Rio de Janeiro.

Jag har negrinnor —
den äldsta heter Martha —
Säkert fem tusen,
och alla ä' di svarta, På Rio etc.

Der växer socker
och snus och kaneler,
Der har jag öfver
hundrade kameler,
På Rio, etc.

Der utaf russin
och sviskon kan man lefva,
Gå kostymerad
som Adam och Eva, På Rio, etc.

Silfver ur bergen
man der kan taga gratis,
Guld växer der på åkern
som potatis, På Rio, etc.

Der är hvar torpare
rik som en Carnegie,
der äter boskapen
färsk spenat med ägg i,
På Rio, etc.

Ja, Rio de Janeiro,
det är land, som duger
Och ta mej tusan,
jag står för er och ljuger, På Rio, etc.

August Blanche 1846


THE MOST BEAUTIFUL PEARLS

The most beautiful pearls
you can fish from the sea,
twelve thousand slaves —
they dance to my whip.

In Rio, Rio, Rio de Janeiro.

I have Negro women —
the oldest is called Martha —
at least five thousand
and all are of them are black.

Sugar grows there
and snuff and cinnamon,
there I have over
one hundred camels.

There one can live
on raisins and prunes,
and go costumed
as Adam and Eve.

Silver from the mountains
you can take for free there
gold grows like potatoes
in the fields there.

There every sharecropper
is rich as a Carnegie,
there the cattle eat
fresh spinach with eggs

Yes, Rio de Janeiro,
that's a country that suits me,
and the devil take me
if I didn't stand before you and lie.

August Blanche 1846


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Mudcat time: 22 June 11:54 AM EDT

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