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Songs about bad wives (or bad SO's)

Uncle_DaveO 18 Jan 05 - 11:09 AM
Don(Wyziwyg)T 18 Jan 05 - 01:50 PM
Leadfingers 18 Jan 05 - 01:57 PM
gnu 19 Jan 05 - 07:35 AM
JulieF 19 Jan 05 - 08:09 AM
gnu 19 Jan 05 - 08:12 AM
Abby Sale 19 Jan 05 - 10:23 AM
Amos 19 Jan 05 - 10:29 AM
GUEST,Chief Chaos 19 Jan 05 - 10:49 AM
Bobert 19 Jan 05 - 11:24 AM
Uncle_DaveO 19 Jan 05 - 12:04 PM
Abby Sale 19 Jan 05 - 03:01 PM
Amos 19 Jan 05 - 03:07 PM
belter 19 Jan 05 - 03:21 PM
Shanty Filker 19 Jan 05 - 04:22 PM
JennyO 19 Jan 05 - 09:30 PM
GUEST,CraigS 19 Jan 05 - 09:42 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 18 Apr 11 - 09:03 AM
GUEST,Elmore 18 Apr 11 - 09:22 AM
GUEST,Gerry 18 Apr 11 - 08:06 PM
Joe_F 18 Apr 11 - 09:12 PM
Joe_F 18 Apr 11 - 09:24 PM
MorwenEdhelwen1 18 Apr 11 - 09:41 PM
Jim Dixon 26 Jun 18 - 01:17 PM
Jim Dixon 26 Jun 18 - 01:48 PM
Georgiansilver 26 Jun 18 - 04:29 PM
GUEST 26 Jun 18 - 04:59 PM
keberoxu 27 Jun 18 - 12:44 PM
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Subject: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 18 Jan 05 - 11:09 AM

Reading the current thread with a title something like Violence or Abuse to Women immediately made me think of THE WEE COOPER O' FIFE, and DEVILISH MARY, and their ilk. But then I realized they were out of place in that thread, because it's a predominantly serious thread that deals with the abusive behavior, where those two songs, among others, deal with the wife's character and behavior.

There's a lot of "bad wife" songs in the folk arena, usually funny for some reason. "Bad husband" songs, on the other hand, are NOT funny, by and large. In fact, I can't think of any "bad husband" songs that are funny. Why is that? There are two reasons that come to my mind:

1. In our historical culture, the wife is "supposed" to be relatively weak and subservient, while the husband is "supposed" to be strong and the master of his household. The "bad wife" is seen as an upsetter of nature, showing the husband to be foolish or weak, unable to control her "as he should". Lots of room for comedy there.
2. The "bad husband", on the other hand, is bad because he's a drunkard, or a gambler wasting the household's resources, or a wife-beater, or a womanizer. None of those is likely to be funny.

Besides the well-known songs listed above, a good example of the bad wife song is THE MAN WHO WROTE THE HOME SWEET HOME NEVER WAS A MARRIED MAN.

Surely there's a lot more that could be listed.

Dave Oesterreich

[Many song titles in this thread have been converted to links by a Mudelf.]


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE JOLLY CAPTAIN (Jake Thackray)
From: Don(Wyziwyg)T
Date: 18 Jan 05 - 01:50 PM

Here's one from the pen of Jake Thackray, the archetypal misogynist. I used to sing this one at a club with one very controlling female organiser, who ordered the audience to join in choruses. She never realised where it was pointing. Bless her heart, she was a very nice lady who really thought she needed to encourage the children (us).

She has passed on now and we sorely miss her. So here is the song, who's anti-heroine is nothing like her at all.

THE JOLLY CAPTAIN
As recorded by Jake Thackray on "Jake in a Box: The EMI Recordings 1967-1976" (2006)

1. There once was an old captain who wished nothing more
Than to live again his voyages and walk by the seashore--
A simple man, and a good man, but the bane of his life
Was his ill-tempered, bad-hearted bitch of a wife.
Though the jolly captain was plagued by her bile,
He smoked his long pipe and he smiled upon her tenderly.
He didn't like her much, but he loved her, despite her rough tongue.
The whey-faced old nag–bag had been his pretty darling once.

2. She fell down a staircase; she fractured her neck.
She lay upon the linoleum in a black apoplexy.
Her baleful eyes bulged with unspeakable abuse.
It seems that her spleen had been overproducing.
So the jolly captain carried her to bed.
"Close your poor eyes", he said. "Sleep a little peaceably."
He brought her fresh butter and cool watercress,
Violet and peppermint to soothe her heart's bitterness.

3. From her deathbed, she said: "If you marry when I die,
I'll crawl from my coffin to haunt you vexatiously."
With a howl and a scowl, with a shudder and a shake,
She spat out her peppermint and went to vex her maker.
The unhappy captain, so sad when she died,
He closed her wild eyes and he cried a bit on the Friday,
But he saw no good reason for wasting away,
So he married an apple-cheeked girl on the Saturday.

4. Alas, jolly captain, you married too soon.
She'll come to torment you from underneath her tombstone.
She'll scratch and she'll claw her way up from the grave,
Hacking her way back again with furious fingernails.
"No"! said the jolly captain. "She'll stay in her place.
She can scratch, she can scrape, till she's black in the face.
No! she won't come to haunt me, and taunt me, I know,
'Cos I buried her face downward; she's a long way to go".

Don T.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Leadfingers
Date: 18 Jan 05 - 01:57 PM

What about Mike Waterson's superb ' STITCH IN TIME' - In the Digitrad !!

And 'I WISH I WAS SINGLE AGAIN' is another good old song !!


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: gnu
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 07:35 AM

Can't find it in the DT. Can't remember enough to get me started. The harder I try, the more trouble I have recalling anything except the last verse... anyone know this one... my apologies for any mistakes in the lyrics... it's about Poor Paddy's Wife (hey !!, that might be it ??)...

Now you old ones take warning, Lest you be left mourning, That no one will wed, Or take your daughter's hand, Raise a girl for a wife, That takes great joy in life, And of peace and contentment, You'll have full command. [See THE BACHELOR'S WARNING]


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: JulieF
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 08:09 AM

I remember doing the THE WEE COOPER O' FIFE in primary school concerts, complete with all the actions. I sort of think it might be deemed slightly inappropriate nowadays.

Julie


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: gnu
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 08:12 AM

Poor Packy (spelling ?), not Paddy... I've got a memory like a steel trap... rusted open.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 10:23 AM

"Bad husband" songs, on the other hand, are NOT funny, by and large. In fact, I can't think of any "bad husband" songs that are funny

I've a feeling that Kytrad could come up with a couple dozen of these if she tried.

I can think of "JOHN GRUMLIE / FATHER GRUMBLE / EQUINOXIAL / LITTLE PHOEBE" which seems to go back to the Bannatyne MS (1568) as THE WIFE OF AUCHTERMUCHTY

There are many 'foolish old man married to young wife' songs/variants. He is always considered silly; cuckold or not, it's his own fault.

I'll think a bit on more.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 10:29 AM

Ach, they say that the women are worse than the men
Rightful rightful, tiddy-fie-day
They say that the women are worse than the men --
When they go down to hell, they get kicked out again!


This verse from THE DEVIL AND THE FARMER'S WIFE has always represented a sort of quintessential "bad wife" verse to me. You could even call it a holotrope if you thought you knew what meant!

A


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: GUEST,Chief Chaos
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 10:49 AM

Parody anybody?

From the Beatles "Misery"

I'm the kind of guy
who never used to cry
my wife is treating me bad....misery


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Bobert
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 11:24 AM

Not specifically bad wife but bad woman songs are plentiful.

Hank Williams wrote lots of 'um:

"YOUR CHEATIN' HEART"
"COLD COLD HEART"
etc...

A group named Heartsfield did a nice one back in the 70's entitled "THE ONLY TIME I'M SOBER IS WHEN YOU'RE GONE."

George Thorogood's "IF YOU DON'T START DRINKIN', I'M GONNA LEAVE."

And, of the thousands of blues songs, half of' 'um are about bad things that women do...

Bobert


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 12:04 PM

I guess I (for some unaccountable reason) overlooked the type of song where there's a foolish old husband, which surely does constitute a bad husband if you look at it that way.

I think one of the songs I sing (with gusto), An Old Man Came Courtin' Me [= MAIDS WHEN YOU'RE YOUNG NEVER WED AN OLD MAN], would qualify here. The young wife's action of going out into the arms of a gallant young man would make her a bad wife if it were not that she's driven to it.

I guess what I had had in mind by "the bad wife" when I opened the thread was the lazy wife, the abusive wife, the hostile or extremely argumentative wife, the sexually wandering wife, and so on. Some of those songs end up (as in THE WEE COOPER O' FIFE) with the husband resorting to a degree of physical punishment, but I take that to be the excusable mirror image of the young wife in the previous paragraph.

Oh, and lest anyone think this thread is a reflection of my family life, I hasten to assure you that I have a truly exemplary wife.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 03:01 PM

I'm really wondering about this. I'd never say yer wrong about this, Dave...Maybe it's just that more songs are made, sung & collected by men that there's some selective discrimination here in the songs recorded. Or maybe, since real folksong accurately reflects life, men are so rarely foolish that there was little to sing about. Hmmm.

I'm thinking... add:

Child 281: THE KEACH I' THE CREEL (although she's sillier than he)

Child 275: GET UP AND BAR THE DOOR (they're pretty equally silly)

I think, at least in Scottish song but maybe generally, foolish men are old (auld) married or single, or else drinking rakes, or tailors. It's formulaic. But women can be silly about _anything_.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Amos
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 03:07 PM

(You Picked a Fine Time to Leave Me) LUCILLE is another angle.


A


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Subject: Lyr Add: ON WE GO (trad. from The Mollys)
From: belter
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 03:21 PM

The first song that came to mind when I saw the thread was

On We Go
Traditional
Kathleen Mullaly Masino - Lead vocal
Bill Masino - Harmony vocal
Colin O'Brian - Acoustic Guitar
Randy Wothke - Snare
Bryan Blaylock - Bodhran
http://www.mollys.com/mollys/   


ON WE GO
As recorded by The Mollys on "Live at El Casino Ballroom" (2011)

1. There was an old woman and there was an old man
They lived upon the high road.
He once sat as a jockey for his pay
And she was her mother's darlin'-o.

CHORUS: And on we go, and on we go.
Can you recall the day we married-o?
On we go, and on we go,
And wouldn't you be frightened to die alone?
Come a little closer to me, darlin'-o.

2. Come with me, you silly old man,
Cozy as a codfish-o.
I've never seen anyone sour as you,
At least not after breakfast-o.

3. She grabbed the old man by the hand.
She led him cross a moonlit night.
She took him to the public house
And filled him full of whisky-o. CHORUS

4. And on their way back home from town,
Oh, oh, my darlin'-o!
She pushed him in the water and she held him down.
Can you recall the day we married-o? CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Shanty Filker
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 04:22 PM

Well, "SEVEN NIGHTS DRUNK" has a couple that I'd not be too fond of. Chanteys are full of bad girlfriend songs, such as "Sarafina," "Haul Away Joe," etc. One of my favorite Ewan McColl songs is "THE MAID GAED TAE THE MILL" (or whatever the "real" title of that one is), with its generally wanton characters all around.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: JennyO
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 09:30 PM

How about RUBY DON'T TAKE YOUR LOVE TO TOWN?


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: GUEST,CraigS
Date: 19 Jan 05 - 09:42 PM

The OLD WOMAN FROM WEXFORD was a very naughty wife.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 09:03 AM

MATILDA ("She take me money and run Venezuela)". Let's face it, what is a worse thing to do than take your husband/lover's money, sell the horse and cart, then escape overseas (the narrator's guess, I suppose) into South America? Can anyone top that?


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: GUEST,Elmore
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 09:22 AM

In 1950 Pete Seeger recorded an album called "Darling Corey" which included a song titled "I HAD A WIFE" One of the verses was

I had a wife and got no good of her
here is how I easy Got rid of her.
Took her out and chopped the head of her.
Early in the morning.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 08:06 PM

Alma. Rocking the Cradle. A couple of "bad wife" songs from the DT.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 09:12 PM

Elmore: That's I Had a Wife.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 09:24 PM

There is also one apposite stanza in "FATHOM THE BOWL".

In WHISTLE O'ER THE LAVE O'T, it is not clear what has gone wrong, but at any rate the wife is pretty bad at the time of singing.

Margaret MacArthur (I think it is) sings a song (I can't find it at the moment) about a wife who worries that her husband will break her mother's favorite jug & nags him about it till he smashes it in a fury.


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Subject: RE: Bad Wife Songs (or bad SO's)
From: MorwenEdhelwen1
Date: 18 Apr 11 - 09:41 PM

"STONE COLD DEAD IN THE MARKET" AKA "He Had It Coming" is a funny song about a bad husband who causes his wife to kill him with "licks" from the pot and the frying pan. It was actually based on a true story, immortalised in a murder ballad known as "Murder in de Market", which was the inspiration for "Stone Cold Dead.." but is a sort of "black comedy".


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Subject: Lyr Add: ONLY TIME I'M SOBER IS WHEN YOU'RE GONE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Jun 18 - 01:17 PM

Bobert mentioned this song back on 19-Jan-2005:


THE ONLY TIME I'M SOBER IS WHEN YOU'RE GONE
As recorded by Heartsfield on "Heartsfield" (1973)

1. When I first met you, I didn't understand
What a naggin' bitchin' woman can do to a man.
Well, it seems that the girl I married ain't quite the same.
Well, I thought I knew you better when I gave you my name.

CHORUS: Now the only time I'm sober's when you're gone,
And the bottle is the only thing that keeps me hangin' on.
The man on the radio keeps singin' sad, sad songs
Like "The Only Time I'm Sober's When You're Gone."

2. Well, I have no need to travel anywheres too far,
And they know me by my first name at all the local bars.
Well, I've heard that a failin' love can drive a man to drink.
Well, I would have left you if I hadn't been too high to think

CHORUS: That the only time....

3. Guess I'd better go now; it's gettin' pretty late,
But I'll be back tomorrow night, so please save my place,
And I'll tell you all about the tales of pain and misery
And the heartaches that [are?] caused by bein' too damn blind to see

CHORUS: That the only time....


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Subject: Lyr: IF YOU DON'T START DRINKIN', I'M GONNA LEAVE
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Jun 18 - 01:48 PM

Also mentioned by Bobert:


IF YOU DON'T START DRINKIN', I'M GONNA LEAVE
As recorded by George Thorogood and The Destroyers on "Boogie People" (1991)

1. I'm tired o' puttin' up with your sober wit,
Tired o' lookin' at you through an alcoholic haze.

CHORUS: You better change; I'm beggin' you please,
'Cause if you don't start drinkin', I'm gonna leave.

2. I wake up in the mornin'; I'm hung to the roof,
But I get no sympathy, baby; you're too aloof. CHORUS

BRIDGE: Budweiser, Budweiser, Miller Light,
Take a little nip, baby; it's all right.
All a fellow wants is company.
Come on, baby; have a taste with me. [Or: "Have some fun with me."]*

3. Yeah, you say it's all right, baby; you don't care,
But soon as I indulge I get that icy stare. CHORUS

4. Don’t give me no lectures 'bout stress and strife.
Sobriety just ain't my way of life. CHORUS

[Repeat bridge, verse 3 and chorus]
[* Words change on the repeat.]


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Subject: RE: Songs about bad wives (or bad SO's)
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 26 Jun 18 - 04:29 PM

The Corries (Scottish Folk Duo) did this one. Probably not many worse than this!!


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Subject: RE: Songs about bad wives (or bad SO's)
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jun 18 - 04:59 PM

"Before the Daylight in the Morning / The Shrew Wife / Dirty Nell / The Banks of the Nile / The Pensioner's Complaint" is a little known traditional one.
It was sung splendidly by Sara Cleveland on "Ballads and Songs of the Upper Hudson Valley" (1968) Folk-Legacy Records - FSA-33.

This song is strangely confusing in the Roud index.
It has three different numbers and all three look like the same song to me:
Pensioner's Complaint, The - Roud #1663
Before the Daylight in the Morning (Dirty Nell) - Roud #5714
What Do You Think of My Darling? - Roud #9602

Here are some recordings of the song:
Sara Cleveland - Before The Daylight In The Morning
Frank Campbell - I Married a Jade
Sam Larner - Before Daylight In The Morning
Robert Wilcox - Come, gentlemen, ladies, a story I'll tell
Michael Cassius Dean - The Shrew Wife

The tune used for most versions of it is "The Limerick Rake".

Here's the text as given on a broadside:
The Pensioner's Complaint against his Wife.
http://ballads.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/search/roud/1663

You neighbours all listen, a story I'll tell,
It's of a misfortune that has me befel,
I married a jade and her name it is Nell,
And she is always a drinking and bawling.

Eighteen pounds pension I've got in the year,
Which causes my wife to drink whiskey and beer,
Her tongue like a cannon doth sound in my ear,
Before the day light in the morning.

To kindle the fire it was my first job,
If I dont do it right I've a slap on the gob,
A kick or a clout or a slap on the nob,
I surely will get from my darling.

Then out for the water the kettle to boil,
And when I come in I must nurse a young child,
I wish I had been killed on the banks of the Nile,
Before I had met with my darling.

Then Nell and her gossips sit down to their tea,
While I in the corner have nothing to say,
Or out in the garden a digging away,
While Nell the cups she is tossing.

Then in for the leavings I chance for to hop,
While Nell and her gossips are gone to the shop,
Backbiting their neighbours and swallowing their drops,
Hard fortune attend my darling.

Oh ! my shirt without washing does stick to my back,
While she is sporting with Billy and Jack,
And running in score for every nick nack,
Whilst I must pay up the last farthing.

Without shoes or stockings to cover my feet,
My bed without either blanket or sheet,
I'm a show to the world when I go to the street.
Pray what do you think to my bargain.

Her beauty and praise I mean for to disclose,
She's dirty and lazy with a short snuffy nose,
She's a disgrace to the women wherever she goes,
And her clothes all in tatters are hanging.

With a beard on her lip like a wandering jew,
Not a tooth in her head that is sound, only two,
And a shift on her back, neither black, white, or blue,
That never was wet with a washing.

I travelled all nations, thro' France and thro' Spain,
Thro' Egypt and India, and home back again,
At Waterloo wounded, where I felt great pain,
And I ne'er met the match of my darling.

To finish my ditty I firmly do pray,
Before she either drinks whiskey or tea.
That something or other may whip her away,
Before the day light in the morning.

- Kevin W.


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Subject: RE: Songs about bad wives (or bad SO's)
From: keberoxu
Date: 27 Jun 18 - 12:44 PM

Well, there's Jean Ritchie's "Single Girl" traditional song.


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