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Origins: Billy Barlow

DigiTrad:
BILLY BARLOW


Related threads:
Folklore: Study of the Billy Barlow Phenomenon (21)
Lyr Add: Billy Barlow in Australia (15)
Lyr Add: Billy Barlow 3 (Civil war) (30)
Lyr Add: Billy Barlow (England) (9)


Uncle_DaveO 15 Sep 03 - 10:46 PM
Kudzuman 15 Sep 03 - 11:03 PM
Malcolm Douglas 15 Sep 03 - 11:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Sep 03 - 11:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 15 Sep 03 - 11:27 PM
Joe Offer 16 Sep 03 - 03:15 AM
Joe Offer 16 Sep 03 - 04:00 AM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Sep 03 - 11:35 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Sep 03 - 11:49 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Sep 03 - 12:37 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Sep 03 - 01:27 PM
Uncle_DaveO 16 Sep 03 - 03:44 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Sep 03 - 04:08 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Sep 03 - 04:28 PM
Reiver 2 16 Sep 03 - 05:54 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Sep 03 - 06:06 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Sep 03 - 06:22 PM
Joybell 16 Sep 03 - 06:22 PM
Malcolm Douglas 16 Sep 03 - 06:30 PM
Joybell 16 Sep 03 - 07:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Sep 03 - 08:45 PM
Joybell 17 Sep 03 - 12:07 AM
Joybell 17 Sep 03 - 06:48 AM
Goose Gander 03 Aug 06 - 12:19 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 10:46 PM

This is the version of this song I know, which is somewhat different from, and I think better than, the one in the DT, which is found HERE, IN THE DT

----------

BILLY BARLOW

What shall we do? said Risky Rob
What shall we do? said Robin to Bob
What shall we do? said Dan'l to Joe
Let's go huntin! said Billy Barlow.

What shall we hunt? said Risky Rob
What shall we hunt? said Robin to Bob
What shall we hunt? said Dan'l to Joe
Let's get us a rat! said Billy Barlow.

How will we kill him? said Risky Rob
How will we kill him? said Robin to Bob
How will we kill him? said Dan'l to Joe
Let's borry a gun! said Billy Barlow.

How can we cook him? said Risky Rob
How can we cook him? said Robin to Bob
How can we cook him? said Dan'l to Joe
Strike up a match! said Billy Barlow.

How will we share him? said Risky Rob
How will we share him? said Robin to Bob
How will we share him? said Dan'l to Joe
Tear him apart! said Billy Barlow.

I'll take shoulder, said Risky Rob
I'll take side, said Robin to Bob
I'll take ham, said Dan'l to Joe
Tailbone mine! said Billy Barlow

I'll boil shoulder, said Risky Rob
I'll broil side, said Robin to Bob
I'll bake ham, said Dan'l to Joe
TAIL-BONE RAW!!!! said Billy Barlow.

From the singing of Richard Dyer-Bennett, in the late 40s or early 50s.

DRO


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Kudzuman
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 11:03 PM

Just a slight variation of the one I knew as a kid. Thanks for posting it!

Kudzuman


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 11:11 PM

It's different in some minor particulars. It would be interesting to know why you think it better. Where did Dyer-Bennett get it from? What tune was it sung to? The DT file, sadly but typically, names no source of any kind and gives no music. The only "Risky Rob" variant I know of appeared in Lomax, Our Singing Country, but I don't have a copy, so I don't know if either of these derives from it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 11:20 PM

There are other versions in the Forum, mostly with the Cutty Wren songs, but the relationship to that group is not clear-cut. Here is a "Billy Barlow" that was popular in Texas.

HUNTING THE WREN (BILLY BARLOW)

"Let's go hunting," said Rob-sha-Bob;
"Let's go hunting," said Ridge to Rodge;
"Let's go hunting," said Daniel Joe;
"Let's go hunting," said Billy Barlow.

"What shall we hunt?" said Rob-sha-Bob;
"What shall we hunt?" said Ridge to Rudge;
Etc.

"Go hunt a wren," said Rob-sha-Bob;
etc.

"How'll we kill it?" said Rob-sha-Bob:
etc.

"Go borrow a gun," said Rob-sha-Bob;
etc.

"How'll we cook it?" said Rob-sha-Bob;
etc.

"Go borrow a skillet," said Rob-sha-Bob;
etc.

"How'll we divide it?" said Rob-sha-Bob;
etc.

I'll take the head," said Rob-sha-Bob;
"I'll take the back," said Ridge to Rodge;
"I'll take the breast," said Daniel Joe;
"I'll take the rest," said Billy Barlow.

William A. Owens, 1950, "Texas Folk Songs," pp. 252-254, with music.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 15 Sep 03 - 11:27 PM

The version in the DT is the one from Lomax and Lomax, Our Singing Country. It also is a Texas version, sung by Bud Wiley, Fort Spunky, Texas, 1935, with sheet music.
There are several tunes used for the song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 03:15 AM

I think it's worthwhile to post thew entry from the Traditional Ballad Index. There are also entries for "Billy Barlow 2" and "Billy Barlow in Australia", but those are different songs.
-Joe Offer-

Billy Barlow (I)

DESCRIPTION: "Let's go a-huntin', said Risky Rob, Let's go a-huntin', said Robin to Bob, Let's go a-huntin', said Dan'l to Jo, Let's go a-huntin', said Billy Barlow." They hunt a (rat/possum), kill it, cook it, and divide it. All get sick except Billy, who feels fine.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1916 (Brown)
KEYWORDS: hunting humorous animal disease poison
FOUND IN: US(MW,SE,So)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
BrownII 57, "'Let's Go A-Hunting,' Says Richard to Robert" (1 text)
Lomax-Singing, pp. 101-102, "Billy Barlow" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-1ed, pp. 252-254, "Hunting the Wren" (1 text, 1 tune)
Owens-2ed, pp. 143-144, "Hunting the Wren" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 159, "Let's Go A-Huntin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scott-BoA, pp. 165-166, "Let's Go a-Huntin'" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 204, "Billy Barlow" (1 text)
DT, BLLYBRLO

Roud #236
RECORDINGS:
Pete Seeger, "Billy Barlow" (on PeteSeeger03, PeteSeegerCD03)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Cutty Wren" (form)
cf. "Cricketty Wee" (form)
NOTES: Thought by many to be an Americanized version of "The Cutty Wren." The similarity, both in form and in subject matter, is there -- but the two have gone in such separate directions that it seems better to keep them distinct; it is barely possible they are independent (and quite possible that "Billy Barlow" is a deliberate parody).
I can't help but add Paul Stamler's comment, though: "If this is independent from 'Cutty Wren,' I'll eat that possum." (Yes, but would you eat the rat?) - RBW
Last updated in version 3.5
File: SBoA165

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


And here are the Digital Tradition lyrics:

BILLY BARLOW
C
Let's go hunting, says Risky Rob
G7
Let's go hunting, says Robin to Bob
C F
Let's go hunting, says Dan'l to Joe
G7 C
Let's go hunting, says Billy Barlow

What shall I hunt? says Risky Rob
What shall I hunt? says Robin to Bob
What shall I hunt? says Dan'l to Joe
Hunt for a rat, says Billy Barlow

How shall I get him? says Risky Rob
How shall I get him? says Robin to Bob
How shall I get him? says Dan'l to Joe
Go borrow a gun says, Billy Barlow

How shall I haul him? says Risky Rob
How shall I haul him? says Robin to Bob
How shall I haul him? says Dan'l to Joe
Go borrow a wagon, says Billy Barlow

How shall we divide him? says Risky Rob
How shall we divide him? says Robin to Bob
How shall we divide him? says Dan'l to Joe
How shall we divide him? says Billy Barlow

I'll take shoulder, says Risky Rob
I'll take side, says Robin to Bob
I'll take ham, says Dan'l to Joe
Tail bone mine, says Billy Barlow

How shall we cook him? says Risky Rob
How shall we cook him? says Robin to Bob
How shall we cook him? says Dan'l to Joe
How shall we cook him? says Billy Barlow

I'll broil shoulder, says Risky Rob
I'll fry side, says Robin to Rob
I'll boil ham, says Dan'l to Joe
Tail bone raw, says Billy Barlow

note: a wren song without a wren.
@hunt
filename[ BLLYBRLO
DP
apr97


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Subject: ADD Version: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 04:00 AM

LET'S GO A HUNTING, SAYS RICHARD TO ROBERT

'Let's go a-hunting,' says Richard to Robert,
'Let's go a-hunting,' says Robin to Bobbin.
'Well, well," says Robin to Bobbin,
'Well, well,' says John all alone.

'Let's kill a squirrel,' says Richard to Robert,
.............................................
'Let's kill a squirrel.' says John all alone,
'Let's kill a squirrel,' says every one.

'Shoot, shoot,' says Richard to Robert,
'Shoot, shoot,' says Robin to Bobbin,
'Shoot, shoot,' says John all alone,
'Shoot, shoot,' says every one.


No title but the first line. Contributed in August 1916 by Mrs. E. E. Moffitt as "words of a song sung by 'Aunt Sophy,' the mammy-nurse of the children of Hon. Josephus Daniels and wife Addie (Bagley)
Daniels."


source: The Frank C. Brown Collection of North Carolina Folklore, volume 2 (no tune)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 11:35 AM

Malcolm Douglas:

I think it is better because it maintains a consistent pattern throughout. The chief way in which this is shown is the indecision of the other members of the gang and the decisive (and sometimes bloody-minded) ruling on each question by Billy Barlow. Thus, all questions are by group members, but all answers are by Billy. Also, this version maintains a group orientation, "What shall WE do", or "How shall WE" do so-and-so, rather than lapsing from the original decision for the group to go hunting into a "How shall I", as does the DT version.

I could record an MP3 and Email it to somebody who would make a MIDI for the DT.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 11:49 AM

The song belongs with the version (or similar) given by Bruce Olson in thread 47949, from Herd's Scotch Songs, 1776: Will ze go to the wood Fozie Mozie
Olson says the song given there is without title. He included Lyr. Add. in his post, but the song has not been collected.

Malcolm Douglas and McGrath of Harlow (same thread) have provided information on other old versions, which seem to have been widespread in the British Isles.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 12:37 PM

Thread 47959: DT Study, Cutty Wren: Fozie Mozie
Sloppy! I let Abdul get his nose into this.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 01:27 PM

I wondered how he got in there! Actually, the text from Herd was added to the DT as Hunting the Wren (though it wasn't published with that title), apparently the year before Bruce posted it at Lyr Add: an old Cutty Wren. Perhaps he had sent it to Dick already. The song (though without Billy Barlow, who seems to have been a creation of the comedian Sam Cowell; heaven knows how he got into an American variant of the Cutty Wren) is found throughout the British Isles, as outlined in the "study" thread Q has pointed to.

Thanks for that clarification, Dave. I rather suspect that the Dyer Bennett text will turn out to be the one from Lomax's book, slightly re-written to give it the more consistent pattern you speak of, but I could of course be quite wrong about that. There's a midi at the Midi pages, incidentally, which says it's Billy Barlow, but no source of any kind is named. I wonder if you'd have a listen and tell us if it resembles the tune Dyer Bennett used? That might save a bit of time all round.

Billy Barlow (midi)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 03:44 PM

No, that's another Billy Barlow, I guess, not the one I have. No resemblance that I can hear.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 04:08 PM

That rather confirms my suspicion that it may have been sent in by somebody who thought that, if the name was the same, it must be the right tune. There are quite a few like that floating about, almost always with no proper identification attached to them at all. Perhaps I'm wrong, though; let's hope so. Would someone who has the Lomax book like to post that tune for us? Q: can you perhaps help on the question of that midi?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 04:28 PM

Songs in the British Isles are by Sam Cowell, 1820-1864, and others who played the part of the fool character, 'Billy Barlow.' Versions by Sam Cowell perhaps can be identified- at least those with early dates- by a line about Mother Goose (several copies in the Bodleian Library). The Billy Barlow character went to Paris, experienced the miseries of marriage, and met of talked of important people during the Victoria-Albert time period. One version has 46 verses (including encores).

In America, several entertainers played the part and composed songs based on the original character. A Mr. Wills sang it in 1834-1836, arr. P. F. Fallon. The most well-known of these is the Civil War song by Edward Clifford, 1863, "Billy Barlow," ('But a bully old soldier is Billy Barlow'). There also is a song about a bank robber, "Billy Barlow," and in some versions of "Billy the Kid," another Billy Barlow, a cowboy shot down, appears.

In Australia, "Billy Barlow also was played by more than one entertainer- see thread 18602, "Help: Jimmie Crack Corn." Help Jimmie
According to Joybell, one was Robert (Billy) Barlow, born in England in 1819. Joybell says the song "Billy Barlow in Australia," or "Billy Barlow's Emigration to Australia," was written by Benjamin Pitt Griffin, although sheet music at the National Library of Australia, 1850s, mentions Sam Cowell and a Mr. Toole, but no clear indication of authorship. Banjo Paterson, in his "Old Bush Songs," leaves it without author, and others have regarded it as anonymous.

What any of this has to do with the Billy Barlow Hunting Song is probably little or nothing. Sam Cowell could have lifted the name from the hunting rhyme, but there is no indication of this in the songs.

Paterson: Bush Songs

Billy Barlow; "Billy Barlow's Emigration to Australia": Barlow Australia

http://nla.gov.au/nla.mus-an6618002


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Reiver 2
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 05:54 PM

I used to sing this to my kids when they were little... it was always one of their favorites. I got my version from "Folk Songs of North America" by Alan Lomax and made a single notation on the "cheat sheet" I made: "Decended from an old English ballad -- popular in the South and West". I'm sure that note was from Lomax's book. The song was titled "Let's Go A-Huntin'" not "Billy Barlow."

LET'S GO HUNTIN'

    D
1. "Let's go a-huntin'," says Risky Rob
                         A7
"Let's go a-huntin'," says Robin to Bob
D
"Let's go a-huntin'," says Dan'l and Joe
A7
"Let's go a-huntin'," says Billy Barlow

2. What shall we hunt, says Risky Rob
(continue as in verse 1)

3. "Let's hunt coons," says Risky Rob,
"'Possum for me," says Robin to Bob,
"Let's catch rabbits," says Dan'l and Joe,
"I'm huntin' 'rats," says Billy Barlow

4. "How shall we devide him," says Risky Rob
(continue as in verse 1)

5. "I'll take shoulder," says Risky Rob,
"I'll take thigh," says Robin to Bob,
"We'll take back," says Dan'l and Joe,
"Tail-bone mine," says Billy Barlow.

6. "How shall we cook him," says Risky Rob
(continue as in verse 1)

7. "I'll fry shoulder," says Risky Rob,
"I'll broil thigh," says Robin to Bob,
"We'll bake back," says Dan'l and Joe,
"Tail-bone raw," says Billy Barlow.

('rats in verse 3 refers to Muskrats)

Reiver 2


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 06:06 PM

I'd think it more likely that an American variant of the Wren hunting song acquired Barlow from the stage songs. The examples referred to by the TBI overlap to an extent. The Lomax and Seeger songs are from the same source, and Barlow is not mentioned in the Brown example; are the others separate, and do they name him? So far as I know, he appears in no British or Irish variants at all. As I mentioned in the other thread, the closest Barlow gets to the song in the Old World is the first line of the broadside: Oh when was I born, says old mother Goose. Not very near.

Now, then. A "Civil War song by Edward Clifford". I wonder if that's the one at the Midi Pages? It is sub-titled "a Civil War song", and bears an uncanny resemblance to sheet music for Billy Barlow at Levy. Completely the wrong tune then, it appears, and nothing at all to do with our "Wren" variant here...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 06:22 PM

Q has already told us that the (uncredited) DT file is the Lomax text. I now remember that I said much the same (though in my case it was only an educated guess) in the other thread when somebody posted the text there, too. It appears so far that the only sources to call the song "Billy Barlow" were (Ruth Crawford) Seeger; who got the song from Lomax; Pete Seeger, who will have got it from RCS, presumably; and Silber, who probably also did. Looks as if it's really just one single variant in which Barlow features, though one much put about in print and on record. I can't imagine why anyone might think for a moment that it isn't a "Wren" variant; though according to the TBI there have been people who did.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Joybell
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 06:22 PM

No No Q I'm sorry if this is becoming a bit like the Devil's nine questions but : "Billy Barlow's Immigration to Australia" - by John Lawrence Toole (ref. National Library of Australia) and "Billy Barlow in Australia" (ref. "Coppin the Great" by Alec Bagot and also in the introduction to the play "Jemmy Green in Australia" by convict writer James Tucker - intro. by Colin Roderick) -- are 2 different songs. As I've said not all my references are on-line but I can give them all the same. Page numbers and dates of publication if you wish.
                           
I don't imagine you've found "Little Billy Barlow what can I say? " either but then what can I say? except -- Hey Ho! Raggedy O!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 06:30 PM

Now, don't leave us in suspense like that. Please do tell.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Joybell
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 07:25 PM

Ok sorry. Tell me though is Q the Winged Serpent? If so and anyway I'd like to be friends.
I visited a friend (and Q this is anecdotal) in Forbes New South Wales, Australia last year. My friend was recording the songs of an elderly man, and over morning tea I asked this man if he had met any of my beloved Billy Barlows. Without pausing for thought he sang "Little Billy Barlow what shall I say?
      Little Billy Barlow what shall I do?"
I begged and pleaded for more but that's all he remembered. He didn't even remember where he heard it, but he said it was back a long way. I've been searching ever since. Ive found lots of other things about Billy in many of his many manifestations but this little song has eluded me. Sorry that that's all. Hey Ho etc.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Sep 03 - 08:45 PM

Are there two "Billy Barlow in Australia" songs?

The song published under that name by A. B. (Banjo) Paterson, with the exception of the odd word, is identical for the first three verses with "Billy Barlow's Emigration to Australia." Differences start with the last two lines of the fourth verse; the trouble with the 'blacks' in the Paterson version is replaced with trouble with 'bushrangers.'

The 'Toole' version has 8 verses, while the Paterson has 16. Verse 6-7 of 'Toole' is identical with 9-10 of Paterson. In other words, the 'Toole' version is either a shortened rewrite of the one in Paterson, or the latter is expanded from the former.

Joybell, in print, the Paterson version is always anonymous; can you definitely associate the more complete version with an author? Or, as you may be suggesting, is there still another version?

There does not seem to be a "Little Billy Barlow" in any on line collection. The only suggestion that I have is that Australian archives might have papers of Australian stage performers of the past that fit the time frame and the type of venue. Sometimes one gets lucky, but it is one hell of a job searching through the materials. The curator must be helpful as well- some won't accept you unless you fit a certain profile.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 12:07 AM

No problem with that everyone's been very helpful. I did find a few Little Billy Barlow references on-line but I haven't been able to make any connections. There is a little book called "The Songs of Billy Barlow" by Hugh Anderson published in 1956. Anderson gives some background but he did not have the advantage of the internet and there are some gaps. He does, however cover the Patterson version quite well. It was from him that I found the detailed account of "Billy Barlow in Australia" that is covered in the introduction to the book "Jemmy Green in Australia." ed. Colin Roderick. I would recomend to anyone interested in "Billy Barlow in Australia" -- the song -- that they read this introduction. Roderick gives the background of the first performance of the song and makes a studied guess that it was written by Griffin. This can be confirmed by the reference in the book "Coppin the Great" by Alec Bagot - to a letter written by Coppin where he states that Griffin wrote the song. Roderick did not have access to the Coppin letter at the time of his writing. I don't mean to complicate things further but Coppin wrote new Billy Barlow songs all his life and he lived into his 80s. Sam Cowell also wrote them all the time but of course he died young. The wonder is that there are not more Billy Barlow songs still around!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 06:48 AM

Now -- John Lawrence Toole and Billy Barlow. Toole was a London wine merchant when the above song - "Billy Barlow in Australia" was first performed in Maitland -North of Sydney. This song was printed and sold on the streets of Sydney from 1843-1846 - printed by a Sydney newspaper. Ref. Colin Roderick as above. Toole began acting in 1850 and subsequently performed as Billy Barlow and sang his own version of a Billy Barlow song, based on Sam Cowell's song. (although he doesn't state exactly when he first did this). Toole toured in Australia only once, in 1890. Toole, like Cowell and George Coppin, sussed out any area where he was going to perform his Billy Barlow act so that he could use local references and mention local identities. I don't find it at all strange that his "Billy Barlow" song resembles "Billy Barlow in Australia" and also Cowell's song. Banjo Patterson (b 1864)of course came on the scene much later, his book published in 1905.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Another 'Billy Barlow'
From: Goose Gander
Date: 03 Aug 06 - 12:19 PM

Here's a fragment of the wren-hunting Billy Barlow song . . . .
Billy Barlow as sung by Don Gaetz, Clifton, Arkansas on July 14, 1967.

From the Max Hunter Folksong Collection


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