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Lyr Add: Billy Barlow (England)


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)
(origins) Origins: Billy Barlow (24)

Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Sep 03 - 04:33 PM
Joybell 17 Sep 03 - 05:30 PM
Joybell 17 Sep 03 - 05:41 PM
Joybell 17 Sep 03 - 05:50 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Sep 03 - 08:33 PM
Joybell 18 Sep 03 - 01:43 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Sep 03 - 02:02 PM
Malcolm Douglas 18 Sep 03 - 03:34 PM
Joybell 18 Sep 03 - 05:18 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 04:33 PM

Best to keep the Billy Barlow comic songs from British Isles, Australia and U. S. A. separate because the content is different for the three areas in which the performers were popular.

There are two types of the comic song in England. One, the oldest (?), has comments about Mother Goose and Guy Fawkes, verses about a misfit, and lacks topical comment. The second, mostly inspired by Samuel Houghton Cowell (1820-1864), includes topical comment on the events and people of the day and, in separate songs, the adventures of Billy Barlow- marriage, his breeches, his travels, his relatives.

Lyr. Add: BILLY BARLOW (early)

O when I was born, says old Mother Goose,
He is a fine boy, but he'll be of no use;
My father he said that to church I should go,
And there he had me christened Billy Barlow.

Refrain: O dear, lackaday O, etc.

My father he said I came from a good breed,
So he sent me to school for to learn me to read,
But because I coud not tell all my letters at once
They put me on a foolscap, and called me a dunce.

One day my mother O Billy, says she,
Will you go and fetch me some milk for my tea,
But going along I broke the milk pot,
And when I got home what a whopping I got

As I walk through the streets, I can't tell for why,
The boys they point at me, saying- "there goes a Guy."
'Twas only last night very well I remember,
They said that they'd burn me next 5th of November.

O then there's my brother I did him displease,
He gave me soap for to eat and said it was cheese
And when that he had done it he call'd it a joke
But for three weeks after poor Billy ne'er spoke.

As I walk along, the girls as I pass
O how they look at me and cock up a glass,
And then they cry out, one and all,
There goes a great fool that's got nothing at all.

One morn I got up, not thinking of harm,
And took a walk to the New River all for to catch fish,
But my foot gave a slip, so I fell into a ditch.

I'm grown old, it is my ill luck,
For with another man to draw a truck
Because I'm so feeble to work I can't stick,
And when I get home give me oakum to pick.

Firth b25(72), Catnach Printer, London, 1813-1838. Bodleian Library.
Also Harding B11(2908), 1840-1866. Minor differences.

Samuel Houghton Cowell, excerpted from 48 verses

Oh, ladies and gentlemen, how do you do!
I've come here, you see, with one boot and one shoe;
I don't know how it is, but somehow is so-
Now isn't it hard upon Billy Barlow?
Oh, dear, Oh, raggedy, oh!
Now isn't it hard upon Billy Barlow?

There's a cove in this town- of his name I can't think-
He's a-trying to persuade people not for to drink;
When he showed me his medal, says I "It's no go;
You can't make a tee-totaller of Billy Barlow."
Oh, dear, Oh, raggedy, Oh!
The cold water cure don't suit Billy Barlow.

I was offered a berth in Newhaven to-day,
But I don't like the job- I'm afraid it won't pay;
The fishwives wanted me to lie down, would you know,
And let them scrape "Caller Haddies" on Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear,Oh, raggedy, Oh!
And spoil all the toggery of Billy Barlow.

On the roof of an house, at the Mound, may be seen
A statue stuck up, of our good little queen;
Now the Provost and Council their good taste would show
By building another for Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear, Oh, raggedy, Oh!
A slight testimonial for Billy Barlow.

There are two water companies to Glasgow, just now;
And 'bout which one is best they make a great row;-
I said I'd take a look up to ten pounds or so,
If they mix it with whisky for Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear, Oh, raggedy, Oh;
He's fond of the "Islay" is Billy Barlow.

The Queen as an Envoy once sent me to Spain,
I knew so the honour of state to maintain;
But the ladies all follow'd and flatter'd me so,
The grandees got jealous of Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear, Oh, raggedy, Oh!
The gals were all "nuts" on young Billy Barlow.

I told you some time since, in confidence here,
That a long promised visit was then drawing near;
For the Queen and Prince Albert to Auld Reekie would go,
To pay their respects to young Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear, Oh, raggedy, Oh!
He's a great royal favourite is Billy Barlow.

I've been told as a fact, in the course of the year,
That Miss Faucit will once more play Juliet here;
If she wants a real slap-up Romeo,
She ought to engage Mister Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear, Oh, raggedy, Oh!
She'd look well making love to young Billy Barlow.

In Dublin I went to hear Catherine Hayes,
And that lady most sorely deserves immense praise;
The house was a reg'lar slap-up overflow-
'Twould have suited the pockets of Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear, Oh, raggedy, oh!
And got some new toggery for Billy Barlow.

Now that D'Orsay is gone I intend to appear
As the leader of fashion in London this year;
To Almeck's next ball I shall certainly go,
Just to give a notion of Billy Barlow.
Oh, dear, oh, raggedy, oh!
He's a stunner at Polking is Billy Barlow.

and on and on.

Harding B11 (3415), no date, Bodleian Library.

Bodleian Library

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 05:30 PM

Are but Q how do we do that? They had ships in those olden times Q! They travelled. Performers more than most. Coppin and Cowell and Reeve and Robert and all the others. They all toured in The British Isles, Australia, America, South Africa, Europe, China -- New Zealand even. They left behind them -- songs - in the minds of the people who heard them - in books - (remember them) on slips of paper -- a great big mix of words and ideas. And now they tour in cyberspace. How can we keep them apart? Do you really want to? Don't you find it interesting? This mix of songs? I thought that was why I came here! To find other curious minds from everywhere. Please don't make me stay in a little pigeon-hole and only speak when the word Australia comes up! Billy Barlow where are you? Please say something!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 05:41 PM

Q Guess what I found! A room full of Monkeys Monkeys Monkeys everywhere an infinite number of Monkeys! With computers - an infinite number of computers. They have an infinite amount of time (although aparently they don't really need that) They say they will come up with everything that has ever been written by humans. And will ever write and more! How will you ever sort it out Q ? Thought I'd better warn you.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 05:50 PM

Sorry must be a bit mad. I'll be good.

Taking leave's an old game I must freely admit
But in this present instance the cap doesn't fit
For tomorrow I'm off in The Statesman must go
'tis the last night on shore for poor Billy Barlow

From "Coppin the Great" Alec Bagot. Sung by George Coppin in Australia 20th Jan 1854.

Put it in the Australia bag if you want.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Sep 03 - 08:33 PM

Although the Billy Barlow comic songs are related, the events portrayed are quite different and poorly known from one country to the other. Americans would not understand references to D'Orsay; even Guy Fawkes and the plot is unknown to most of them and would require explanation.
Someone in the British Isles or Australia would know little about President Pierce and his times, or place and personnel names in the American Civil War, or places of interest in the New York City of long ago.

The problems with outback stations in Australia would be confusing to many Americans. For that reason, Banjo Paterson's excellent version from his book of bush songs should be in a separate thread.

Someone who wishes to peruse verses from all three areas would have no trouble since the name "Billy Barlow" yokes the threads together.

The Sam Cowell "Billy Barlow" I gave extracts from was largely for a northern tour; I will try to add some verses with more English events later. Perhaps someone else would like to give their favorite verses.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 01:43 AM

Billy Barlow, as portrayed by actors and singers, was the 19th-Century form of a stand-up comic - using song. His songs were never meant to last. They were meant to be local and topical. Pavement art. Of course they are difficult to untangle, there were hundreds of them sung over half a century. They are quaint at best, dumb and boring at worst. (I have a collection of his songs and fragments of songs,that includes the ones already mentioned - with their references - had them for years!) The men who sang them were amazing and exciting performers, but we can't tell that by just wading through the dated and quite dead songs of Billy Barlow. I say all this as someone who dearly loves Billy and has come to love his friends and the world he inhabited. But it causes me pain to continue the pulling apart of Billy Barlow. If anyone is genuinely interested in aspects of the Billy Barlow phenomenon I'd love to hear from them. 'till then I'll go away and play my banjo and sing some of the old songs. Hey Ho Raggedy Oh!

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 02:02 PM

They are snapshots of popular culture and history at the time they were performed, hence contribute to our understanding of the 19th century and performance techniques of the period. Like the old minstrel songs, "folk" versions are still sung in the United States; I don't know about their current use in the British Isles or Australia.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 03:34 PM

At the moment, the Roud Index lists only one example found in oral tradition in the UK: a set noted by Cecil Sharp from Mrs Lock, Muchelney Ham, Somerset, in 1904, beginning Now young London gentlemen how do you do. So far as I know it has not been published. The other entries at no. 7758 are broadsides and songsters.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: BILLY BARLOW (England)
From: Joybell
Date: 18 Sep 03 - 05:18 PM

Thanks Malcolm I hadn't found that one. Indeed the Billy Barlow songs are a wonderful way to view the world of the 19th century, being as they were topical songs. That's why I became hooked in the first place. (I'm sorry this all became a slanging match because that doesn't help. I'm still stinging from the original barb) About regional differences - no they weren't all that apparent in the cities during the period of Billy Barlow's heyday. Billy was an urban character. He didn't become isolated in remote places like the Australian outback or the American mountains. In the cities people were at great pains to keep up-to-date. Ladies waited at the docks for the next shipment of Paris and London gowns, for the new load of song-sheets and newspapers. Stephen Foster's songs were barely dry from the printer when fast Yankee clipper ships had them in Sydney. They were already in the British Isles. Remember that the period of greatest immigration to Australia happened at the same time as Billy became so popular. Fashions swept the English-speaking world. The language differences were very minor. Stone the crows mate Q you're putting a modern slant on a 19th-century character. Who now has a strange mixture of fact and fiction.

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