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Lyr Add: The Twang Man

DigiTrad:
TWANGMAN


GUEST,Terry Moylan 19 Oct 16 - 04:52 AM
GUEST,Guest: Tim Martin 01 Oct 16 - 12:34 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 29 Sep 16 - 05:01 AM
eftifino 29 Sep 16 - 03:35 AM
GUEST,Taidhgín 29 Sep 16 - 03:01 AM
GUEST,Tom clinton 04 Feb 16 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Siggi Nebel 06 Aug 15 - 01:43 AM
Thompson 28 Mar 15 - 12:23 PM
GUEST,Fergie (sans cookie) 27 Mar 15 - 08:52 PM
GUEST,leeneia 27 Mar 15 - 05:42 PM
MartinRyan 27 Mar 15 - 10:01 AM
GUEST,Fergie (sans cookie) 27 Mar 15 - 09:03 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 15 - 08:55 AM
MartinRyan 27 Mar 15 - 08:40 AM
GUEST,Peter Laban 27 Mar 15 - 08:27 AM
GUEST 27 Mar 15 - 08:16 AM
MartinRyan 27 Mar 15 - 04:16 AM
Thompson 27 Mar 15 - 03:45 AM
MartinRyan 26 Mar 15 - 01:00 PM
GUEST 26 Mar 15 - 12:56 PM
GUEST,Peter Laban 26 Mar 15 - 12:42 PM
MartinRyan 26 Mar 15 - 12:03 PM
Dave Hanson 26 Mar 15 - 06:45 AM
Thompson 26 Mar 15 - 05:20 AM
GUEST,Padraig 26 Mar 15 - 04:03 AM
MartinRyan 13 Jul 09 - 05:39 PM
Matthew Edwards 13 Jul 09 - 05:30 PM
MartinRyan 13 Jul 09 - 05:04 PM
Matthew Edwards 13 Jul 09 - 02:29 PM
Matthew Edwards 13 Jul 09 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Jerry O'Reilly 13 Jul 09 - 11:49 AM
MartinRyan 13 Jul 09 - 05:39 AM
MARINER 13 Jul 09 - 05:29 AM
GUEST 12 Jul 09 - 10:09 PM
GUEST,Barrie Roberts 17 Aug 04 - 03:42 PM
GUEST,Paranoid Android 16 Aug 04 - 08:59 PM
AKS 16 Aug 04 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,Paranoid Androd 15 Aug 04 - 08:36 AM
OldPossum 15 Aug 04 - 02:32 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 22 Oct 03 - 03:59 AM
GUEST,John D. Cross 22 Oct 03 - 12:15 AM
OldPossum 01 Oct 03 - 04:46 PM
Charley Noble 22 Aug 03 - 08:19 AM
Kevin Sheils 22 Aug 03 - 07:05 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 22 Aug 03 - 07:01 AM
Charley Noble 21 Aug 03 - 07:58 PM
GUEST,Q 21 Aug 03 - 04:56 PM
OldPossum 21 Aug 03 - 04:27 PM
OldPossum 21 Aug 03 - 04:17 PM
MartinRyan 21 Aug 03 - 02:19 PM
Kevin Sheils 21 Aug 03 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Matthew Edwards 21 Aug 03 - 11:38 AM
Snuffy 21 Aug 03 - 08:48 AM
Charley Noble 21 Aug 03 - 08:29 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 21 Aug 03 - 08:10 AM
Kevin Sheils 21 Aug 03 - 07:54 AM
GUEST,Matthew Edwards 21 Aug 03 - 07:47 AM
OldPossum 21 Aug 03 - 07:25 AM
Kevin Sheils 21 Aug 03 - 05:57 AM
GUEST,Matthew Edwards 20 Aug 03 - 01:31 PM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Terry Moylan
Date: 19 Oct 16 - 04:52 AM

Haven't been aware of this thread till now. I note that Dominic Behan's alternative verse has been overlooked:

He knew the route the Bags would take along up Watling Hill,
His heart it pounded like a flute he told it to be still,
He lay in wait by James's Gate and when poor old Bags came up
With his long knife he took the life of the poor oul gatherem up.

In my opinion, the idea of twang being a kind of sweetmeat, and a Twangman a dealer therein, is just prurient wishful thinking. It's surely a sexual term.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Guest: Tim Martin
Date: 01 Oct 16 - 12:34 AM

I don't know where I heard it but I've always known "Billy in the bowl" to be sexual intercourse. As regards "Mot" I believe it to be from Irish: Cailín 'maith' (A good girl). I've never heard of it being used elsewhere except in Dublin.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 29 Sep 16 - 05:01 AM

Hi GUEST,Taidhgín

If you glance through the rest of the thread, you'll see that the evidence suggests that the woman had Dutch rather than Irish roots!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: eftifino
Date: 29 Sep 16 - 03:35 AM

My dad taught me that twang was a kind of slab toffee, ( Hence the Twangmans Mot' having a treacle factory for his source of sugar). You would get a square foot of it for tuppence, and if it didn't stick to the counter, you got your money back! So you needed a knife and/or hammer to break the slabs up.

He also said that ' mot ' was a shortening of Moth, as in delicate butterfly, but with a less than generous implication! Similarly, Midge was a delicate fly, flitting from place to place, like lots of young wans in those days!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Taidhgín
Date: 29 Sep 16 - 03:01 AM

I believe the word "Mot" came from the Irish word
"Maith" meaning: good, well. "Maith also has other
meanings not relevant to mot.
Taidhgín


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Tom clinton
Date: 04 Feb 16 - 05:45 PM

I sang this song in the sixties. I always presumed that Billy in the bowl meant sexual intercourse. Growing up in the 40s and 50s we used the word mot all the time for girl friend. Of course we didn't pronounce the 't'. I remember a girl coming to our door once and asking me "who's your mot?" This was in Primrose st in Phibsboro.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Siggi Nebel
Date: 06 Aug 15 - 01:43 AM

"Twangman" in the sense of twine dealer would fit to a twang knife and a twang cart (although I can't really tell if this was the typical equipment), but the whole setting rather suggests that the song's hero actually is a pimp. This would very well imply that he accepts sexual relations of his mot to other men on a strictly commercial base without problems, but shows malicious reactions, if they start to go beyond.

So, the expression "twang man"could be a kind of double entendre that allows to tell the story of a "cully" who falls in love with a whore and is bumped off by her pimp as a kind parody of typical broadside ballads about - if you like "innocent" - jalousy tragedies.

I wouldn't claim that this is the only possible interpretation of this song, but it seems to me that it is at least coherent.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Thompson
Date: 28 Mar 15 - 12:23 PM

I see that Slanguage agrees with Patridge:

Twang (vb & n poss onomat). Fuck a woman; woman seen as sexual object. Hence twangman (n) Pimp. N.d. Anon. The Twangman: 'Come listen to my story,/Tis about a nice young man./When the militia wasn't wanting/He dealt in hawking twang.

It's unlike my mother - a dignified and elegant woman, but not one with great patience for unnecessary obfuscation - to make any mistake on something like this. It may be that 'twine' is what she herself was told as a child and young woman.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Fergie (sans cookie)
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 08:52 PM

leeneia,

This little ditty is a favourite song here in Ireland and is sung very often; especially in Dublin. Dubliners love songs that end with a pious moral.

So now ye've heard my story, I hope yis will all be good men,
And not go chasing the twangman's mot, or any other auld hen,
For they'll lave ye without a brass farthing, not even yer auld sack o' rags,
And ye'll wind up in the gutter, just like poor auld Mickey-de-bags.

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 05:42 PM

My unabridged dictionary says that 'twang' can mean 'taste, or savor,' and is related to 'tang.'

Apparently nobody's interested in actually singing the song, and I'm glad, because there's nothing funny about one man knifing another.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 10:01 AM

Agreed. This thread has only been going for twelve years, so there's plenty of time to get to the bottom of it ...

Regards

p.s. a first guess on "twang-knife" is a weapon to threaten the unfortunate "cully" caught up the lane with his trousers down.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Fergie (sans cookie)
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 09:03 AM

Hi Martin, I agree that twang had the meaning you offer (see one of my postings above), but that doesn't explain the references to the twangman's twang-cart and his twang-knife.

Fergus Russell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 08:55 AM

From; A Dictionary of Modern Slang, Cant, and Vulgar Language. 1859.
Mott, a girl of indifferent character. Formerly Mort. Dutch MOTT-KAST , a harlotry.

Fergus Russell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 08:40 AM

OK - let's cut to the chase!

Partridge in his Dictionary of Historical Slang has

twang To coït with (a woman): cant : C. 17-18
So a word from the criminal underworld. He makes no attempt at derivation.


He also has
twang(e)y. A tailor: North Country: ca. 1780-1850.
This tailor sense was mentioned earlier in the thread.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 08:27 AM

I only did a quick Google for any sort of an alternative explanation, Martin. I must say I don't recall ever having heard 'mort' referring to a woman of any description in any Dutch context but I'll grant you my reading of 17th century Dutch is relatively limited. My Dutch dictionary (a heavy duty, extensive enough one) doesn't mention it either.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 08:16 AM

I've been trying to get a handle on the twang word. Looking around on Google books I've discovered the word THWANG.
Of Saxon origin, the word thwang seems to have two uses;
A) a large chunk of bread or cheese.
B) it was a leather thong used to secured boots to your feet.
So Thompson's mother may not have been to far from the truth when she described the twangman as a dealer of twine.
I could speculate that a thwangman made or sold strips of leather for tying shoes to the feet (no eyelets and laces in those days). That scenario might make sense of the terms twang-cart and twang-knife.

Fergus Russell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 04:16 AM

"cully-and-twang" was very old slang for a whore and her customer (in reverse order!). A "twangman" was more than likely her pimp. The other explanation you hear is that "twang" was a kind of toffee sold in the street - but I haven't seen any evidence of its use.

The "Billy-in-the-bowl" phrase for a legless beggar was common enough, alright.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Thompson
Date: 27 Mar 15 - 03:45 AM

"Playing Billy-in-the-Bowl" certainly does sound like sex.
But no, my mother didn't say it in the way of someone using a euphemism; she said it in the way of someone conveying a fact. And the contents of the twangman's card would presumably be twang?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 26 Mar 15 - 01:00 PM

No, Peter - that's an old one! Apart from anything else, "buachaill maith" is "good boy" - so why would it become female only?

The main slang dictionaries (Grose, Partridge etc.) trace it to "mort" as from an Old Dutch word meaning "woman" and, eventually, "harlot". Earliest printed references late 17th C. Once common, then isolated in Ireland - particularly Dublin, of course. None of the Irish experts (Share, Dolan, Ó Muirithe) go along with a Gaeilge origin.

Regards

p.s. There is one suggestion of a possible Romany-Shelta root - but I know nothing of it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Mar 15 - 12:56 PM

Billy-in-the-bowl is and was a euphemism for sexual intercourse and that is the context in which I understand the line in this song.
In the 17th century a twangman was an archer or bowman, but in the 19th century it meant a pimp and to hawk twang was to be an agent for a prostitute. How this connects with a "twang knife" has eluded my investigation.
Treacle-billy was normally consumed for breakfast by the poor labourers of Dublin it seems that it was a type of doughnut soaked in treacle and was usually vended from handcarts. Carlisle Bridge was, it seems, a favoured place to deal in treacle-billy.

Fergus Russell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Peter Laban
Date: 26 Mar 15 - 12:42 PM

Not sure which root in Dutch you are thinking of, I can't come up with one straight off.

This sounds plausible though:

The word originates in from the Irish 'maith' which means good. Caillín maith meaning 'good girl' became a way of referring to your girl friend.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 26 Mar 15 - 12:03 PM

Nice notes, Thompson. Two points:

1. I think "mot" is usually given Dutch rather than Latin roots, with an "r" lost. Once common throughout "these islands". Basically a whore or low woman.


2. Re "twang" - I think your mother was being polite!

Regards

p.s. I went to school in Donore Avenue, just down the road from Dolphin's Barn, in the '50's!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 26 Mar 15 - 06:45 AM

'...and with his twang knife, sure he took the life,
Of the pour old gatherer of muck '

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Thompson
Date: 26 Mar 15 - 05:20 AM

Feck feck feck, it's happened again. Why does this happen? I'd composed a post with several points, and when I pressed "Submit message", it didn't post, but just returned to the menu. Here it is again, as much as I can remember.

A twang man was a dealer in twine, so my mother told me; she grew up in Dolphin's Barn in the 1920s.

Billy-in-the-Bowl was a popular song; it was the norm for men who lost their legs in war (common after the invention of chain shot) to be set in a large bowl to beg; they navigated by rocking themselves along, steering with their hands. The concept appears in Johnny I Hardly Knew You, in the line "You'll have to be put in a bowl to beg", addressed to the singer's formerly athletic and handsome young husband who's come back crippled, armless, legless and eyeless from war; modern singers usually mis-sing this as "put with a bowl to beg".

My mot, then and now in Dublin, is my girlfriend of wife; it's not a polite usage though a common one; the term comes from "motte", an 18th-century term for the mons veneris.

Old hen would correctly be pronounced ow-uld hen, and the line would scan, in Dublin accents.

Carlisle Bridge is now O'Connell Bridge. At the time the song was written, Bachelors Walk at the side of the bridge was a brothel area (hence the name). I'm saying nothing, mind.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Padraig
Date: 26 Mar 15 - 04:03 AM

There is no evidence that Zozimus composed this song. It is said to resemble his style but other than that there is absolutely no evidence. Could have been any songwriter from that era that wrote it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 05:39 PM

Campbell's is one of several versions in circulation - not to mention the Chester City and other branches of the family.

Regards

p.s. funny that Joseph Campbell should crop up in this thread - on the same day as Thomas Campbell turned up in the thread on The Bard of Armagh. Looks like the Campbells are coming alright!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 05:30 PM

Old age has laid its hand upon me;
Cold as a fire of ashy coal -
And where is the lovely Spanish Lady,
That maid so neat about the sole?


Another great song, though I hope I can say I'm in the grasp of middle age rather than old age! Now Dominic Behan claimed that Joseph Campbell wrote The Spanish Lady, and it is indeed included in the Collected Poems of Joseph Campbell, but surely it goes back further than that?

I have heard Jerry sing at Bradfield, and his singing is indeed a great treat. (He's not too bad at dancing either!)

Matthew


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 05:04 PM

I've wandered North and I've wandered South
From Stoneybatter to Patrick's Close
Up and around be the Gloucester Diamond
And round be Napper Tandy's house


Matthew: few better men than Jerry to sing these songs! You have a treat in store, if you haven't heard him before.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 02:29 PM

Also thanks to Barrie Roberts for the story of Billy in the Bowl. Apparently his story originally appeared in a book Oxmantown and its Environs by Nathanael Burton, 1845 and it is retold in Life in Old Dublin, Chapter 8 by James Collin, 1913.

It seems the original Billy in the Bowl was a legless beggar of Stonybatter in the 1780's who moved about in a large bowl partially made of iron. He would hide and cry for assistance from a passer-by who he then robbed. He was said to have murdered some of his victims, but he escaped suspicion until he was unwise enough to try to assault a pair of stout Dublin gentlewomen.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 01:23 PM

Thanks Jerry for that extra verse; hope I'll get to hear you sing it one day.

So the song was already in the DT after all, but spelled Twangman (one word).

I named Michael Moran (Zozimos) as the originator since that is who Dominic Behan said it came from in his notes to the Topic LP Down By The Liffeyside. However Dominic Behan's scholarship might perhaps not always be entirely reliable....

Colm O'Lochlainn included the song in an Addendum to his Irish Street Ballads as one of a number of Dublin ballads. Since the article mentions Zozimus as the author of The Finding of Moses it is quite easy to misread O'Lochlainn and infer that the other ballads described in the article are attributable to Zozimus as well. This could very well be the source of Dominic Behan's mistake, and hence mine also.

Matthew Edwards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Jerry O'Reilly
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 11:49 AM

A verse I heard sung in O'Donoghues in the sixties goes:

"There's a moral to me story, a lesson for to learn
If ye want a mot get one of your own, don't chase the Twangman's hen
Or you'll end up like the poor oul bags, in a plot in Mount Jerome
And your no bloody use to anybody, when the maggots is chewin' your bones"
Don't know who put it together, but it works well as an alternative final verse or even a 5th one.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 05:39 AM

MARINER

The Maid of Camden Town appears to have been first. May have grown out of the popularity of some of Tom Lehrer's stuff in the '60's?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MARINER
Date: 13 Jul 09 - 05:29 AM

Re; She Loved a Portugese, which version came first, the Derek Brimstone "London" version or Frank Harte's "Dublin" version. Sorry for the slight thread creep


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST
Date: 12 Jul 09 - 10:09 PM

I always thought "playing Billy in the bowl" meant playing the song 'Billy in the Bowl' on a whistle/banjo/fiddle etc and winning the girl's heart.

This seems to match with the Pogues lyric in 'the Sickbed of Cuchalainn':"there were lazy drunken bastards singing billy in the bowl".

Nonetheless, i've never come across a song called 'Billy in the Bowl'.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Barrie Roberts
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 03:42 PM

The most fascinating person in this song is the bloke who isn't really in it --- Billy in the Bowl.
He was, I believe, a celebrated Dublin beggar and robber. He had no legs or severely lamed legs. Someone had constructed a sort of wooden bowl in which he squatted and on which he could move himself about by pushing on the ground with his hands.
If the begging wasn't doing very well, he would flop over and lie on the ground shouting for help. Some kind (and foolish) person would stoop to lift him into his perch, whereupon he would grapple the stranger in his arms (made strong by his endless pushing himself about) and strangle them, then scuttle off in his tub with their wallet, watch etc. So 'playing Billy in the Bowl' came to mean taking someone in a good strong grip, whether for criminal or sexual reasons apparently.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Paranoid Android
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 08:59 PM

Thanks AKS.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: AKS
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 07:45 AM

"The Maid of Cabra West" is in the DT, klik.

AKS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Paranoid Androd
Date: 15 Aug 04 - 08:36 AM

I sang this song in the 60s and I'm re-learning it at present. There's a similar song about a lad who's lass was seduced by a Portuguese which ended up in a double tradgedy. First line "Its all for the love of a fair young made that in Cabra West did reside". Can anyone point me to the lyrics?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: OldPossum
Date: 15 Aug 04 - 02:32 AM

Well, this one was in the DT all along: TWANGMAN. But now we have a discussion thread as well! :-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 22 Oct 03 - 03:59 AM

John

There is evidence of a connection between Zosimus and The Finding of Moses, alright - although the song has been well folk-processed by now. However, as far as I know, there is no such evidence for The Twang Man.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,John D. Cross
Date: 22 Oct 03 - 12:15 AM

I love this song, have known it and its lyrics since 1967 and am currently practicing it for a 20th or so year to get it just right in a new version with minor modifications of melody to play at my local sessiun.

Frank Harte's song and lyrics books has it and a similar wondrous little tune, "The Ragman's Ball." If I had the book handy I'd read you any differences in Frank's version, such as "any Midge" which I've sung for years. I know Frank was mentioned in another message and he has a good handle on the old Dublin tunes. I wonder why there is doubt as to a Zosimus ascription? Also, I believe the Dubliners say "billy cart," despite the lyrics. Too, on the Zosimus ascription - if one can attribute the Ragman's Ball to Zosimus, it is difficult to divorce that melody from the Twang Man. They sound like they had similar authors or background somehow, although, they both could be non-Zosimistic in origin.
Best to all
John


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: OldPossum
Date: 01 Oct 03 - 04:46 PM

I have come across the song "Limerick is Beautiful" in volume 3 of Folksongs and Ballads Popular in Ireland, ed. by John Loesberg, Ossian publications, and I can now answer my own question: It is indeed the tune of the "book" version I mentioned above (Dubliners songbook) - but not the tune the Dubliners actually sang on the record.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Aug 03 - 08:19 AM

Thread Drift Alert!

Hey, "Guest Q," would you please review my thread "Fight Wid Ole Satan" and see if you've run across this old Black Gospel song. I'd PM you or e-mail you but that's hard to do when you persist in staying in "guest status."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 22 Aug 03 - 07:05 AM

And I'd guess "mot" or "mott" (?) is closely related in meaning to "moll", as in "gangsters moll", which has the wider "whatever" meaning given by Martin Ryan above.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 22 Aug 03 - 07:01 AM

"mot", though now very local to Dublin, was once widespread in the British Isles (or on both sides of the Irish Sea, if you prefer). It usually meant more "whatever" than "wife, sister or sweetheart"!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 07:58 PM

This kind of thread is why I still check into Mudcat!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 04:56 PM

In northern England, a century or so earlier, a twangy man would be a tailor or a seller of cheap clothing and alterations (Many other meanings as well). Variation in slang from one area to another makes the language a "puzzlement" to the outsider.


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Subject: Tune Add: THE TWANG MAN (from the Dubliners)
From: OldPossum
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 04:27 PM

This is my best attempt at transcribing the tune by ear from the record.

X:8
T:THE TWANG MAN
S:LP: The Dubliners in Concert, Hallmark SHM 682
M:2/4
L:1/8
K:G
d | GG Bd | cHd AB | cA GG |
w: Come list-en to my sto-ry, 'Tis a-bout a nice young
HG2 Bd | d/d/d eg | aHb z1 a | ge (d/B/)d |
w: man, When the mi-li-tia was-n't want-in' He dealt in hawk_-ing
Hg2 z1 g | ad d/e/f | gHb z1 a | ge (d/B/)d |
w: twang, He loved a lo-ve-ly maid-en, as fair as a_-ny
Hg2 dd | GG Bd | cHd z1 B | cA/A/ GG | HG3 |]
w: midge, And she kep' a trea-cle de-pot one side of the Car-lisle Bridge.


The sleeve notes on the LP says:
This is a Dublin slang song which Ronnie learned from his father. "Hawking twang" means bartering home made toffee; a Mot is a woman - wife, sister, sweetheart or whatever.
So did I get it right? And does either tune resemble "Limerick Is Beautiful"?


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Subject: Tune Add: The Twang Man (from book)
From: OldPossum
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 04:17 PM

Here is the tune as given in The Dubliners' Songbook:

X:7
T:The Twang Man
S:The Dubliners' Song Book, Music Sales Limited, 1974
M:6/8
L:1/8
K:D
D3 | F2 F (FE) D | A3 B B, B, | (B,A,) B, D2 D | D3 A A A |
w: Come list-en to_ me sto-ry, 'Tis a-bout_ a nice young man, When the Mil-
B2 B (BA) F | (d2 e) d2 B | A2 F FE D | E3-E2 A |
w: ee-tia was_-n't want_-in' He dealt in hawk_-ing twang._ He
B2 B B A F | (d2 e) (dc) B | A2 F (FE) D | E3 D2 E |
w: loved a love-ly mai-den_ As_ fair as a-ny__ midge, An' she
F2 F (FE) D | {D}A3 HB2 B, | B,>A, B, D2 D | D3 |]
w: kep' a tray_-cle de-pot Wan side of the Car-lisle Bridge.

The notes in the book says:
A rare bit of old Dublin from a broadsheet ballad. The tune is Limerick Is Beautiful.
I don't know "Limerick Is Beautiful", but this doesn't sound much like what Ronnie Drew sings on the record.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: MartinRyan
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 02:19 PM

I hadn't read the set carefully:

"midge" is usual
"treacle billy depot" instead of "treacle depot"
"James's Gate" is the site of Guinness' Brewery, of course.
"When the milita wasn't wantin', he dealt..." is usual. The sense is "wasn't needed.."

The last line is usually:
"And you'll wind up in the gutter there, like poor ould Mickey Bags."

To the best of my knowledge, there is no evidence for the Zosimus ascription.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 11:47 AM

The song makes perfect sense to me (even if some of the slang is vague). Boy courts girl, 3rd party joins the triangle, seduces her in Sandymount, First party gets upset and kills the third.

Still we'll always have "parrots" as Kryten would have said.

And I think that "midge" is more than likely original and "image" is the mondegreen, but each to their own.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Matthew Edwards
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 11:38 AM

Thanks to all suggestions so far, although as Charley Noble said this could be one of those songs that is all the more interesting just because it doesn't make sense!!

If Snuffy is right then the transformation of "as fair as an image" into "as fair as any midge" would have to rank as one of the best mondegreens of all time, and the ghost of old Zozimus must be roaring with laughter!!!

As Kevin rightly says there isn't any sense in looking for a "definitive" version here, as the variations help keep this song alive, but it is intriguing to find out what other people think is going on in the song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Snuffy
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 08:48 AM

I only know the Dubliner's version, but I'd always thought they sang "as fair as an image"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 08:29 AM

Nice to have some suggested lyrics, although I've enjoyed the mystery of this song for years after first hearing it on a Dubliners' recording. What could it all mean? Who was doing what with what to whom? Any someone surely came to a sorry end...

I also enjoyed how the phrase "the poor old gather-em-up" managed to get compressed into one final gasp.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 08:10 AM

Odd that we haven't looked at this one before, alright.

There's more to it than meets the eye. I suspect "treacle billy" is the toffee - "twang" is another matter!


Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 07:54 AM

I guess "midge" is a term a bit like "mott" in the later verse.

Yes the addition of "other" helps the scan, I usually sing that. There are a few minor differences like that but I highlighted the miss/midge difference as it was fairly relevant to the rhyme, but things don't always have to rhyme exactly.

I guess it's best to sing what makes sense and comfort to the singer. If that didn't happen then there'd be no variations to songs generally.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Matthew Edwards
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 07:47 AM

Ok "midge" it is then, and does that have any meaning in Dublin slang? By the way I should have written that Ronnie Drew sings the second line of the fourth verse as:-
"And not go chasing a twang man's mot or any other old hen,"
This scans better than as I gave it above.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: OldPossum
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 07:25 AM

The Dubliners Songbook 1974 has "midge" as well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: Kevin Sheils
Date: 21 Aug 03 - 05:57 AM

I've always heard (and sing) the line in the first verse as

"He loved a lovely maiden, as fair as any midge" (or occasionally "old midge")


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Subject: Lyr Add: The Twang Man
From: GUEST,Matthew Edwards
Date: 20 Aug 03 - 01:31 PM

After recently hearing somebody sing one of blind Zozimus' songs The Finding of Moses (The singer was Norman at the Open Door who had learned it from Frank Harte), I thought I might retaliate another night with The Twang Man. However the necessary accent is only achievable by those who grew up in a smoky pub down by the Liffeyside so I may pass on this one.
Surprisingly the lyrics aren't in the DT although Aidan Crossey (né Derrymacash) has posted a useful précis here Story behind 'The Twang Man' . After listening to recordings of Dominic Behan and of Ronnie Drew this effort is the best I can come up with, but any corrections are welcome. Ronnie Drew sings a fourth verse to Dominic Behan's three but otherwise the versions are similar. I'll leave the full explanation of the words to better qualified experts, apart from noting that Seamus Ennis (I think it was him) said that in all his life he'd only once been asked the meaning of the phrase "playing billy in the bowl" by a sweet young American lassie to whom he'd suggested it had something to do with beachcombing.

The Twang Man

Composed by Zozimus (Michael Moran) 1794-1846

Come listen to my story, its about a nice young man,
When the militia wasn't wanting him he dealt in hawking twang,
He loved a lovely maiden, as fair as any miss,
She kept a treacle depot on one side of the Carlisle Bridge.

Another one came courting her; his name it was Mickey Baggs,
He was a commercial traveller, he dealt in bones and rags.
He took her out to Sandymount for to see the waters roll,
He won the heart of the twang man's girl playing billy in the bowl.

But when the twang man heard of this he flew into a terrible rage,
He swore by the contents of his twang cart on him he'd have revenge,
He lay in wait by James Gate and when poor Baggs came up
With his twang knife he took the life of the poor old gather-em-up.

Now you'll have heard my story and I hope youse 'll be good men,
And not go chasing a twang man's mot or any old hen,
For she'll leave you without a brass farthing not even an old pack of rags,
And that's the end of the story and poor old Mickey Baggs.

Notes
twang - a hard toffee
mot - sweetheart or girlfriend


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