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Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake / The Snake

Related thread:
Lyr Req: The Snake (Oscar Brown, Jr.) (14)


storyhat@aol.com 18 Aug 98 - 05:39 PM
Barry Finn 18 Aug 98 - 06:01 PM
Mountain Dog 18 Aug 98 - 06:24 PM
StoryHat 18 Aug 98 - 09:09 PM
Rodney Rawlings 19 Aug 98 - 06:24 PM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 98 - 01:53 AM
DWDitty 20 Aug 98 - 06:06 AM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 98 - 02:03 PM
Jerry Friedman 20 Aug 98 - 07:22 PM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 98 - 07:55 PM
DWDitty 21 Aug 98 - 05:50 AM
storyhat@aol.com 21 Aug 98 - 10:02 AM
Smok 27 Dec 00 - 05:25 PM
Gypsy 27 Dec 00 - 11:15 PM
Smok 28 Dec 00 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,judith 13 Oct 09 - 02:13 PM
Tinker 13 Oct 09 - 02:21 PM
Charley Noble 13 Oct 09 - 04:19 PM
Joe_F 13 Oct 09 - 06:25 PM
oldhippie 13 Oct 09 - 08:33 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 19 Feb 10 - 12:16 PM
GUEST,Linda K 20 Feb 10 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Gene 20 Feb 10 - 04:53 PM
GUEST 23 Mar 10 - 11:00 AM
GUEST 23 Mar 10 - 11:05 AM
BB 23 Mar 10 - 04:13 PM
GUEST,LInda Kosut 24 Mar 10 - 02:41 AM
GUEST 07 Jan 13 - 09:11 AM
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Subject: The Lady and the Snake
From: storyhat@aol.com
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 05:39 PM

I'm a storyteller. My daughter and I are searching for the origins of a story-song that we heard sung on the Northern Exposure tv show several years ago, sung by the character of Shelly. The song was based on a very common folktale: about a person (the Lady) who takes pit on a cold, dying snake and is then bitten by the ungrateful snake, because that's the snake's nature. Here's the first verse:
    On her way to work one morning, on the path beside the lake,
    A tender-hearted woman saw a poor half-frozen snake.
    Its pretty-colored skin had been all frosted with the dew.
    "Poor thing," she cried, "I'll take you in and I'll take care of you."

    The chorus:
    Take me in, tender woman. Take me in, for heaven's sake.
    Take me in, tender woman, sighed the snake.

    We don't know if this is based on an old folksong, a recent piece of music by an independent songwriter, or something specifically composed for the tv show. I would really appreciate any information you can give me. If you want to message me direct, my e-mail is storyhat@aol.com. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Barry Finn
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 06:01 PM

I've only heard it as a story, usually the snake crosses a river either aiding or being aided by another animal & biting it's victim mid stream, saying, "I never said I wasn't a snake". Hope I'm being somewhat helpful. Barry


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 06:24 PM

I recall hearing a version in the 70s by a country-esque male vocalist (Bobby Bare, perchance?) in which the chorus ran:

"Take me in, oh pretty woman,

Take me in, for goodness sake,

Take me in, oh pretty woman,

Said the snake."

I've done a search through the COWPIE and OLGA archives without much luck. Maybe Gene Graham, Resident Maven of Country and Western Tunes, will recall this one? Gene, y'out there?


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: StoryHat
Date: 18 Aug 98 - 09:09 PM

Mountain Dog and Barry Finn - Thank you. I put the question to my storytellers' listserve and also went out to some Northern Exposure sites and now have a little more info. It was called "snake dance" in NX's 25th episode of the 4th season. All the other songs for that episode were written for the show, but not that one. The NX source said the song was not original and that the story was a traditional one, but didn't mention who (if anyone) might have recorded it. Storytellers remember it being around in the 60's and being associated with Rosalie Sorrels (present day) and maybe Johnny Rivers and/or Utah Phillips. Now you've given me more to go on. There's hope!


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Rodney Rawlings
Date: 19 Aug 98 - 06:24 PM

I remember a certain recording of this song. It is sometimes played on oldies stations. I don't recall who did it or the exact title.

I'm a great help, aren't I! But maybe this gives you a clue of sorts.

Rodney Rawlings

Stop the Persecution of Bill Gates and Microsoft - Stop the Punishment of Success for Being Success


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 01:53 AM

How's this:

Snake Dance

[Episode 4.25 - Old Tree]

Shelly (singing, of course):
So you were nice and normal to Dr. F.
And he acted like a jerk,
And you think if you're nice that he should be nice,
But Maggie, i don't it'll work.

Maggie:
No? Why not?

Shelly:
Like the lady with the snake
He's just like he is,
And that's how it's gonna be.

Maggie:
Huh..

(Start music)

On her way to work one mornin down the path alongside the lake,
A timson-hearted (tender-hearted??) woman saw a poor half-frozen snake.
His pretty-colored skin had been all frosted with the dew,
"Poor thing," she cried, "I'll take you in and i'll take care of you."

Chorus:
"Take me in, tender woman,
Take me in for heaven's sake
Take me in tender woman,"
Said the snake.

Maggie:
What happened after that?

She wrapped him up all cozy in her comforter of silk,
And laid him by her fireside with honey and some milk.
She hurried home from work that night and as soon as she arrived,
She found that pretty snake she'd taken in had been revived.

Chorus

She clutched him to her bosom, "You're so beautiful," she cried,
"But if i hadn't brought you in, by now you might have died."
She stroked his pretty skin again and kissed and held him tight.
Instead of saying thanks, the snake gave her a vicious bite.

"Take me in tender woman," sighed the snake.

"I saved you," cried the woman, "and you bit me, but why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now i'm gonna die."
"Oh shut up you silly woman," said the reptile with a grin,
"You knew damn well i was a snake before you took me in."

Chorus

Transcribed by jude shabry
Source: The Moose's Guide to Northern Exposure

-Joe Offer-

I didn't find anything about the background of this story. In my search, though, I found a terrific folklore site - Click here.


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: DWDitty
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 06:06 AM

I learned The Snake off an Oscar Brown, Jr. album - Tells It Like It Is (circa 1963). The album attributes the song to him. It is always a crowd pleaser when I play it, as are all the OB,jr songs that I do.


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 02:03 PM

There are a few Oscar Brown, Jr., CD's available - but not "Tells It Like It Is." The one I have is called "Then & Now," and it has a GREAT recording of "Signifyin' Monkey." Sure wish I could hear that recording of "The Snake." Click here for Oscar Brown Jr's lyrics.
I've looked all around, trying to find the source of the story, but no luck. Maybe it's an old African tale, like "Monkey." Storyhat, why don't you go to The Oscar Brown Jr. Web Site and send him an e-mail? Maybe he can shed some light on the story. Be sure to report back to this thread if you get any information.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Jerry Friedman
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 07:22 PM

Timson-hearted?

A version of this story, with a scorpion and a frog instead of a snake and a woman, appears in that excellent movie The Crying Game. It is said to be an African--Egyptian?--folktale.


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 98 - 07:55 PM

That's "tender-hearted" woman, I think, Jerry. At least, that's what it is at the Oscar Brown, Jr., site, which also has a number of typographical errors. Good to see you're paying attention, though. Looks like the "Northern Exposure" song is Brown's composition. I sure would like to hear a recording.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: DWDitty
Date: 21 Aug 98 - 05:50 AM

Joe, OBj's "Sin & Soul" is also available on CD. I have several other albums - some in rough shape, though. Let me know where to send it, and I will gladly make a tape for you - I appreciate all you do as "one of the regulars" to keep this sight vital. Thanks.


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: storyhat@aol.com
Date: 21 Aug 98 - 10:02 AM

Wow! I really appreciate all the info you guys have dug up on this. Special thanks to Joe Offer and D.W. Ditty. I've been to Oscar Brown, Jr.'s site and it looks indeed as if he's the asuthor/composer of The Snake. I tried to e-mail him at brwnhse@aol.com, but the message bounced - AOL says the address is no longer valid. So I posted a request for a newer address on the bulletin board at PsyberView, a site he's apparently active at. Thanks again! - Suzie


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Smok
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 05:25 PM

I have been looking for The Snake for years. The first time I heard it was in the 60's then again on Roy Clark sang it on Hee Haw. I had totaly forgotten that it was on Northern Exposure. One of the sites is was checking out credites it to Johnny Rivers. I wish I had paid more attention to the truths of this song a long time ago.


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Gypsy
Date: 27 Dec 00 - 11:15 PM

Cher covered it, too, in the 60s


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Subject: RE: The Lady and the Snake
From: Smok
Date: 28 Dec 00 - 06:52 AM

I can't understand why this song is not more popular than it is. It should have been a marching song for woman's lib. So much truth.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake
From: GUEST,judith
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 02:13 PM

I thought this was a song on the flip side of a Robert Mitchum 45, Thunder Road, from the 50's. I'm getting old hard to remember details like that, but, I have tried to live by:

The Nature of the Beast.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake
From: Tinker
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 02:21 PM

Here is a Youtube link to the Northern Exposure rendition of The Snake Song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 04:19 PM

Ladies, heed this warning!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake
From: Joe_F
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 06:25 PM

The version of the story with the scorpion & the frog is particularly nasty in that the scorpion is going to die too, but can't help it because that's its nature. That rather changes the moral.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake
From: oldhippie
Date: 13 Oct 09 - 08:33 PM

Al Wilson had a recording of this song as well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 19 Feb 10 - 12:16 PM

I was just looking for some info as to the origins of this song and found myself here on Mudcat. Anyway, the version I'm most familiar with is Al Wilson's (simply called "The Snake." Like another poster above, I've always had the feeling this is probably based on an old African folktale, and channeled through our deep south. I was reminded of the song because of a story in the news here in southeast Michigan about a woman (either aunt or mother) who allowed a convicted (paroled) murderer into her family's life only for him to shoot their five-year-old little girl. Anyway, I was wondering whether anyone ever found anything definitive on the song's origins.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake
From: GUEST,Linda K
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 12:54 PM

Hi - The Snake, the song, was indeed written by Oscar Brown Jr. n 1966, (words and music) Al Wilson recorded the song in 1968 and it was on the charts for 3 months. Many people have recorded it including Paula West, and even, myself. My version of The Snake can be heard here.

There are also fables with this theme - including the snake and the tortoise - escaping from a fire in the woods, the snake asks the tortoise for a ride on his back across the stream - halfway to the safe bank of the stream the snake bites the tortoise. The tortoise asks why since he's going to die and then so is the snake who is on his back; the snake's response - "you knew I was a snake!"

The story/fable of how Oscar wrote this song is that he was out after a gig with Abbey Lincoln and Max Roach and they were talking about their agents! Oscar went home that night and by the time he woke up, he had written the song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake
From: GUEST,Gene
Date: 20 Feb 10 - 04:53 PM

Play this version of
The Snake Song by Jim Owen

AT"

http://jimowenmusic.com/

Gene


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake / The Snake
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 11:00 AM

watch Natural Born Killers to see a great rendition of this story by an old indian guy.
told in joke format with the punch line 'look bitch, you knew i was a snake'.

gqh


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake / The Snake
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 11:05 AM

oh, and the version of the song i recently heard on the radio was by
Al Wilson, and is called 'the snake', it is quite easy to find i think.


gqh


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake / The Snake
From: BB
Date: 23 Mar 10 - 04:13 PM

Cathryn Craig & Brian Willoughby recorded it on their CD 'I Will'. Beautifully performed.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake / The Snake
From: GUEST,LInda Kosut
Date: 24 Mar 10 - 02:41 AM

The song, The Snake, that you are all referring to with these lyrics was written by Oscar Brown Jr. It was originally made famous by Al Wilson in 1968 and his version was #1 on the charts for about 3 months or so. Oscar wrote this piece when after a show he did with Max Roach and Abbey Lincoln they were discussing their "agents!" Onoe of the orginal stories upon which this lyrics is based, is an old fable about the tortoise and the snake by a river escaping from a fire. The tortoise agrees to carry the snake on his back and swim across the river to avoid the fire - midway, the snake bites the tortoise who says "we're now both going to die, why'd you bite me? The snake's reply "you knew I was a snake!"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Lady and the Snake / The Snake
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jan 13 - 09:11 AM

To "Guest" who posted the "Natural Born Killers" reference above: The "old Indian guy" you mention was the late political activist/actor Russell Means, who was 55 at the time. Guess that makes me downright elderly.


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