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Origins: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter

DigiTrad:
STEP IT OUT, MARY
STEP IT OUT, NANCY


Related threads:
DTStudy: Step It Out Nancy (18)
Tune Req: Step It Out, Mary (30)
Chords Req: Step It Out, Mary (25)
Lyr Req: She Had a Pair of Cotton Stockings On (12) (closed)


Mrrzy 18 Oct 04 - 08:41 AM
GUEST,Keith A o Hertford 18 Oct 04 - 08:52 AM
Dave the Gnome 18 Oct 04 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,Keith A 18 Oct 04 - 08:59 AM
Mrrzy 18 Oct 04 - 09:10 AM
s&r 18 Oct 04 - 09:12 AM
Mrrzy 18 Oct 04 - 09:15 AM
s&r 18 Oct 04 - 10:00 AM
Mrrzy 18 Oct 04 - 02:09 PM
Acme 18 Oct 04 - 04:50 PM
Mrrzy 18 Oct 04 - 04:54 PM
Janie 18 Oct 04 - 06:09 PM
YorkshireYankee 18 Oct 04 - 10:50 PM
The Fooles Troupe 19 Oct 04 - 03:16 AM
GUEST,MARY 04 Oct 05 - 09:54 AM
Peace 04 Oct 05 - 09:11 PM
Peace 04 Oct 05 - 09:30 PM
Bard Judith 04 Oct 05 - 10:06 PM
Malcolm Douglas 04 Oct 05 - 10:42 PM
Matthew Edwards 05 Oct 05 - 07:53 AM
Peace 05 Oct 05 - 07:22 PM
Acme 06 Oct 05 - 12:33 AM
GUEST,Gerry 03 Apr 13 - 10:57 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 08:41 AM

Heard while scanning radio stations so not sure where... lovely Celtic tune; basic story is a lovely young woman lives in the country, a rich guy rides in to wed (not woo) her, and her father wants the marriage though the woman does not; she and her true love drown themselves, and her father goes mad and continues to believe the marriage will take place. The chorus ran:
    Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
    Step it out, Mary, if you can
    Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
    Show your legs to the country man (I think - not too sure on that last line)

I also remember one verse when she refuses the country man:
    Then up spoke her father sharply
    You will do as you are told
    You will marry on this Sunday (or something like that)
    You will wear the ring of gold

Thanks in advance...


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Subject: ADD Version: STEP IT OUT MARY
From: GUEST,Keith A o Hertford
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 08:52 AM

STEP IT OUT MARY

In the village of Kildory lived a maiden young and fair,
She had eyes as bright as diamonds, she had long and golden hair.
A country man came riding to her father's cottage gate,
He came on a milk white stallion, he came at the stroke of eight.

Sir I come to court your daughter, Mary of the golden hair,
I have gold and I have silver, I have wealth beyond compare.
I will buy her silks and satins and a gold ring for her hand,
I will build for her a mansion, she'll have servants to command.

But kind sir I love a soldier, I have promised him my hand,
I don't want your gold and silver I don't want your house and land.
Then up spoke her father sharply, you will do as you are told,
You will take the rich man's offer, you will wear the ring of gold.

In the village of Kildory there's a deep stream running by,
They found Mary there at midnight, she was drowned with her soldier boy.
From the curragh there came laughter, you could hear her father say,
Step it out Mary my fine daughter, Sunday is your wedding day.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 08:53 AM

Written by Sean McCarthy btw.

Cheers

DtG


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: GUEST,Keith A
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 08:59 AM

And in DT under "Step It Out Mary"
Damn! I assumed you had looked!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 09:10 AM

I had looked! I tried step it out as a phrase and my fine daughter as a phrase and got no results in the trad or the forum!

Also, this version as above is missing some verses. I will check the trad though next...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: s&r
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 09:12 AM

Just being picky; it's Kilgory (in Clare I think). The chorus is a children's skipping rhyme I believe that inspired Sean McCarthy to write it.


A lot of versions (sadly) have Kildare, presumably because of the internal rhyme with Kildare.

Stu


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 09:15 AM

thanks all.

Another question: most of the Willie Moore-type songs where the woman drowns herself over not being allowed to marry as she wills end at her death and the sorrow of her parents... are there any others where the parents deny their child's death as in this one? It was that rather macabre touch that made me like the song so much...


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Subject: ADD: Step It Out Mary (Sean McCarthy)^^^
From: s&r
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 10:00 AM

This is from the horse's mouth

Stu

    Info below copy-pasted from the link in this message. -Joe Offer-

Step It Out Mary
words and tune by Sean McCarthy (1923-1990) c. 1955

Background notes

Sean McCarthy, born in Listowel, Co Kerry, was a prolific songwriter, singer and colorful character who for his many years hosted programs on RTE Radio 1.  His more well-known songs include Shanagolden, Red Haired Mary, Highland Paddy, Murphy's Volunteers, Step it out Mary, Mountain Tae (The Hills of Connemara) and In Shame Love, In Shame. He also wrote several volumes of poetry.  The Sean McCarthy Weekend festival, held at the beginning of August in Linuge, Co. Kerry celebrates his life and songs and includes concert, ceili and ballad competition.  www.finugeweekend.com

In  the songbook titled: The Road to Song: Sean McCarthy, His Songs, Their Music and Story, (pub Clo Duanaire, Cork Ireland, 1983) Sean wrote the following notes:

Step It Out Mary is based on a children's skipping-song:

Step it out Mary, my fine daughter / Step it out Mary, if you can / Step it out Mary, my fine daughter / Cock your legs for the country man.

The children in the swaying circle took their game very seriously. All along the Kanturk streets, farmers and shopkeepers traded and argued, but the children paid no heed to them, they were too intent in their skipping game. The rules of the skipping game were fairly simple. Each skipper took it in turn to use the skipping rope, while the others changed the above ditty. When it came to the last line, the skipper stopped with the left leg cocked as high as he or she could manage and stayed still until the next skipper took his or her place. If the skipper failed to keep their left leg cocked or it if touched the ground, then with many jeers and catcalls they were banished from the game. It is only a slightly mad, or a childish Kerryman who would have watched the children atall. I watched them for a whole hour.

Kanturk in the County of Cork is a town of numerous pubs, friendly people and plenty of craic. I started my search that night, but could find no man or woman who had ever heard extra verses to the childrens' skipping song. Indeed my own Kerry, home of strange songs and poems, failed to supply any more than the four lines. In desperation then, in a London building site, when again times were hard on folksingers, I composed the story of the soldier and Mary, and added it to the Kanturk childrens' skipping ditty.

I did it while I was hiding from the foreman under a concrete stairway, and I used the inside of a cement bag for note paper. I took it home to my modest flat, stuck it in a drawer and forgot about it. Eighteen months later, when fortune was again smiling in my direction, I found myself, along with two others, running a folk singing club in the Clapham area of London.

The folk club was called "The Crubeen" and I suppose if you are a folk buff, you will remember that it started a lot of the present day trend. If you were a folk singer, then the Crubeen was the place to sing. Most of your present day singers, Irish, English and American, dropped in there to try out their material. A young Dublin ex-army rifleman named Danny Doyle wandered in there one night, I sung Step It Out Mary and later gave him the words, no longer written on the cement bag, but neatly typed on shop paper.

The rest is folk History.



STEP IT OUT MARY (Sean McCarthy)

In the village of Kilgory, there's a maiden young and fair
Her eyes they shine like diamonds, she has long and golden hair
But the countryman comes riding, rides up to her father's gates
Riding on a milk-white stallion, he comes at the strike of eight.

Chorus:
Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
Step it out, Mary, if you can
Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
Show your legs to the countryman

I have come to court your daughter, Mary of the golden hair
I have gold and I have silver, I have goods beyond compare
I will buy her silks and satin and a gold ring for her hand
I will buy for her a mansion, she'll have servants to command

I don't want your gold and silver, I don't want your house and land
I am going with a soldier, I have promised him my hand
But the father spoke up sharply: You will do as you are told,
You'll get married on the Sunday and you'll wear that ring of gold

In the village of Kilgory there's a deep stream flowing by
On her marriage day at midnight she drowned with her soldier boy
In the cottage there is music, you can hear her father say:
Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter, Sunday is your wedding day.^^^




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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 02:09 PM

Hmmm - thanks, but the version where they die at midnight of the day the offer was made makes more sense than waiting till the wedding day at midnight, when she presumably is already married and, likely, bedded! Interesting about the cocked leg game, though.

Question about reactions to dead daughters remains, perhaps another thread?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Acme
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 04:50 PM

The Arbutus Tree (Paddy Graber) has her changing form into the tree when her father tries to wed her to a king she doesn't love.

The song is here: http://www.mudcat.org/@displaysong.cfm?SongID=320 but the credit is wrong. It says "traditional" and "grater," but it should be "Graber." There are corrections to the song in the DT posted by Stewart.

A version of this is on Paddy's newest CD The Craic Was Great. And there's a little more discussion here.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Mrrzy
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 04:54 PM

That's a good one, SRS. I am reminded of the old Hungarian folk tale that starts off being like the red rose and the briar, tying the true lovers' knot, then the Mom (if the woman/red rose) comes and tears the plants down, they regrow, and Mom burns them, and they don't regrow, end of story. Never understood why they died in the first place in that song, though...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Janie
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 06:09 PM

Robin & Linda Williams do a song that must be derivative "Step It Out Nancy" that some common lyrics with this one. (In the forwhatitsworth department.)

Janie


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 18 Oct 04 - 10:50 PM

It's in the DT – a "cowboy" version that has Nancy taking matters into her own hands by getting rid of the wealthy suitor...

I've heard it performed with an additional verse on the end – which warns against treating women as chattel; did a Google search for it but couldn't find it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 19 Oct 04 - 03:16 AM

ARBUTUS - just an old folk song...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: GUEST,MARY
Date: 04 Oct 05 - 09:54 AM

IKEEP GETTING THIS SONG FROM A FEW PEOPLE BUT ITS NOT THE ONE I'M LOOKING FOR
    THE SONG WAS AN OLD IRISH DITTY ME DAD SANG HE HAS ALZHEIMERS AND CAN'T REMEMBER THE WORDS ANYMORE I ONLY KNOW A FEW LINES AS FOLLOWS

SHE HAD A PAIR OF COTTON STOCKINGS ON
HER HAIR TIED UP WITH A RIBBON ON
I'M GOING TO MARRY THAT LITTLE IRISH GIRL

HE WOULD FINISH IT WITH

KNEES UP MARY MY FINE DAUGHTER
KNEES UP MARY IF YOU CAN
KNEES UP MARY MY FINE DAUGHTER AND SHOE YOUR LEGS TO AN IRISHMAN.

HOPE SOMEONE CAN HELP ME BUT IT IS NOT STEP UOT MARY       THANKS

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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Peace
Date: 04 Oct 05 - 09:11 PM

Mary,

I see you have been looking for this song a long time now. Would it be possible for you to ask your dad for any other words he recalls? We are trying to help, and we are also aware that it is frustrating. However, the more you can tell us the more we have to go on.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Peace
Date: 04 Oct 05 - 09:30 PM

What are some Irish spellings of 'Mary'?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Bard Judith
Date: 04 Oct 05 - 10:06 PM

Máire - (MAW-zhe, MAW-re or MEH-ree) "bitter"; Irish= Mary. The name was considered too sacred to name a child and was not used before the 17th C. Children were given 'Mael Muire' "devotee of Mary."   Alt: Moira, Maura, Maurya, Mairin (maw-REEN).

Also Mhair / Mhairi / Mari ?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 04 Oct 05 - 10:42 PM

Since Step it out Mary is a modern song written by Sean McCarthy (see thread Step It Out, Mary), Irish approaches to the spelling of the name (now or in the past) would seem irrelevant.

McCarthy said specifically that he based the chorus on a children's skipping song:

Step it out Mary, my fine daughter
Step it out Mary, if you can
Step it out Mary, my fine daughter
Cock your legs for the country man.

Probably our correspondent Mary's father had just tacked a form of that onto the end of another song that he only knew in part; that sort of thing happens all the time. The thing to be looking at would be "I'm going to marry that little Irish girl", I'd guess. I'd expect that to be a music hall or vaudeville piece, likely American, but perhaps we'll get better information soon.

Probably the discussion would be best kept in the one thread rather than spread over several; and, with the best will in the world, it would be considerate to type in the normal way rather that all in UPPER CASE, which is hard on the eye and has a tendency to annoy people.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Matthew Edwards
Date: 05 Oct 05 - 07:53 AM

Doing a google search for "pretty little Irish girl" took me to some very odd sites, but if it didn't turn up the song Mary is looking for it did suggest some possible leads.

There was a 1926 Daryl F Zanuck silent movie called 'The Little Irish Girl' starring Dolores Costello in the title role luring the innocent John Harron into a gambling den. Could this be based on an earlier Broadway show?

Or there is a song composed by Hermann Lohr and Edward Teschemacher in 1903 which Rufus Wainwright apparently sings.

The Little Irish Girl (Duet)

This version is set up for two voices.
Each verse has four lines, but due to the two
different parts, it may not look that way on paper.

M) As I went out one evening to Tipperary town,
M) I met a little colleen a-moung the heather brown.
M) Oh, says I perhaps you're lonely, she tossed her pretty curl.
F) Well maybe I prefer it!
M) Och, the dear little girl.

M) Says I, perhaps you're married?
F) Says I, perhaps I'm not!
M) Says I, I'll be your gossoon,
F) Says I, I'll not be caught!
M) Oh, your eyes are like the ocean, and your heart is like a pearl.
F) 'Tis true, then I will keep it!
M) Och, the dear little girl.

M) Says I, I've got a cabin and pigs that number seven,
M) And oh, with you ma-yourneen sure, the place would be like heaven.
F) Oh, I looked into his eyes then, my heart was in a whirl!
M) The little pigs had done it! Och, the dear little girl!
F) The little pigs had done it!


There's another song [or tune?] "I'm going to marry that pretty little girl" recorded by the Sweet Brothers which appears on County records LP 535 'Round the Heart of Old Galax Vol.3 - recordings 1924-37'.

Ruby Murray recorded a song called 'A Pretty Irish Girl' but I can't find the words to it.

To be honest Malcolm's reminder that the chorus of 'Step it out, Mary' comes from an Irish skipping rhyme has made me wonder whether the rest is related in some way to the children's game song 'Pretty Little Girl of Mine' although the words which Mary's father remembers are quite distinctive.

One factor that might help in tracking down this extremely elusive song is knowing whereabouts in his youth that Mary's father might have heard it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Peace
Date: 05 Oct 05 - 07:22 PM

Any chance that two songs have been conflated by Mary's father?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: Acme
Date: 06 Oct 05 - 12:33 AM

The [Wild] Irish Rovers did a version of Step it out Mary in 1972 that was very popular. Here's a page from a diskography of their work.

A search, not exhaustive, but through my quota of popups and non-releasing pages yields no samples of this song to listen to. But as popular as it was back then, the version may have stuck with someone who is losing more recent memories now.

SRS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Step it out, Mary, my fine daughter
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 03 Apr 13 - 10:57 PM

A few posts up, and many years ago, Yorkshire Yankee wrote, "I've heard it performed with an additional verse on the end – which warns against treating women as chattel; did a Google search for it but couldn't find it."

The extra verse was written (or maybe co-written) by Holly Near. A websearch will turn up recordings by her, but not the written lyrics --- on her website, she cites copyright restrictions (she posts the lyrics of songs she wrote herself, but not this song where she just added one verse onto the work of someone else). The extra verse does appear in Rise Up Singing.


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