Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures

DigiTrad:
GOOD NEWS
GOOD NEWS, DE CHARIOT'S COMIN'
SWING LOW SWEET CHARIOT


Related threads:
Lyr Req: 'Chariots of Fire' - a Christian song (27)
(origins) Origins: Good News - Chariot's Comin' (12)
(origins) Lyr Add: 'Chariot' Spirituals (42)
(origins) Origins: Swing Low Sweet Chariot (rugby) (11)
Swing low sweet chariot 24/7 (rugby) (26)
Artist/Lyr Req: Round & round like a chariot wheel (2)
Lyr Req: The Trumpet - The Chariot (3)


John M. 26 Feb 05 - 02:33 PM
Geoff the Duck 26 Feb 05 - 03:46 PM
alanabit 26 Feb 05 - 04:12 PM
Joe Offer 26 Feb 05 - 04:20 PM
GUEST,Leadfingers 26 Feb 05 - 05:11 PM
Dickmac 01 Mar 05 - 02:10 PM
radriano 01 Mar 05 - 02:52 PM
Helen 01 Mar 05 - 03:02 PM
greg stephens 01 Mar 05 - 05:53 PM
greg stephens 01 Mar 05 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,another Mehlberg 31 Aug 06 - 11:37 PM
Bert 01 Sep 06 - 01:18 AM
GUEST,Jack Campin 01 Sep 06 - 06:21 AM
GUEST 01 Sep 06 - 06:52 AM
Snuffy 01 Sep 06 - 08:56 AM
Joybell 01 Sep 06 - 09:16 PM
Rumncoke 02 Sep 06 - 05:58 PM
Lighter 02 Sep 06 - 08:02 PM
An Pluiméir Ceolmhar 04 Sep 06 - 10:10 AM
Geordie-Peorgie 04 Sep 06 - 04:26 PM
Ref 04 Sep 06 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,Old VRC member 23 Nov 12 - 12:32 AM
GUEST 07 Jun 14 - 11:45 AM
GUEST,Eliza 07 Jun 14 - 04:57 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jun 14 - 12:08 AM
GUEST 08 Jun 14 - 09:54 AM
Musket 08 Jun 14 - 10:04 AM
Weasel 09 Jun 14 - 05:05 AM
Tattie Bogle 10 Jun 14 - 03:34 AM
GUEST,Trevor Stones 11 Apr 15 - 12:49 PM
GUEST 02 Jun 15 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,Tony Ashby 01 Nov 15 - 09:39 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: John M.
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 02:33 PM

Hello everyone,

If you are easily offended, please STOP READING.   This thread is for mature audiences only.  Please don't post "dreadful song" or "worst song written" as you are not helping. 

Below are some bawdy gestures for the song "Swing Low Sweet Chariot".


             Do you know gestures for "Swing Low"?  If so when/where did you learn them? 


Any help is appreciated.

Sincerely,

John Mehlberg
john@mehlberg.com
~
My, mostly traditional, bawdy songs, toasts and recitations website: www.immortalia.com
~

Swing Low Sweet Chariot
(With Gestures)

The version below is from an anonymous US Air Force fighter pilot who learned it while serving in Vietnam.   First this song is sung with gestures.  Then it is hummed with gestures.  Finally, "Swing Low" is done silently with gestures only.  

"Swing Low Sweet Chariot" is used as a drinking game among US Air Force fighter pilots.  The person who screws up the motions is required to purchase the next round of drinks.  A copy of the 26 Oct. 2004 field recording is available to interested folklorists.


Lyric           |       Gesture
Sing low             Hand clasped and fingers interlocked  motion with arms
sweet                  kiss fingers and blow kiss
chariot                snapping invisible reins and shaky voice as if riding in a chariot
Comin'                simulated masturbation
for                      hold up four fingers
to                        hold up two fingers
carry                   cradle arms as if carrying baby
me                      point to self
home                  make arc over head with arms


[ Repeat the above lyrics and gestures]
 


Lyric           |       Gesture
I                          point finger to the chest (some people point to eye)
looked                shade eyes with hand
over                    sweeping motion with hand in an arc.
Jordan                 make waving motion with hand (perhaps international river or water sign)
and what             make inquisitive posture by having arms up and palms up
did I                   Point finger to the chest (some people point to eye)
see                     shade eyes with hand (or using making as if looking through binoculars)
 


Lyric           |       Gesture

Comin'                simulated masturbation
for                       hold up four fingers
to                        hold up two fingers
carry                   cradle arms as if carrying baby
me                       point finger to the chest 
home                   make arc over head with arms
 


Lyric           |       Gesture

A band                play "air" trombone
of angles             place thumbs in armpits and flap arms
comin'                simulated masturbation
after                   [No Gesture]
me                      point finger to the chest
 


Lyric           |       Gesture

Comin'                simulated masturbation
for                       hold up four fingers
to                        hold up two fingers
carry                   cradle arms as if carrying baby
me                       point finger to the chest
home                   make arc over head with arms
 


Lyric           |       Gesture

If                         [No Gesture]
you                      point to someone else
get there              point somewhere
before                 hold up four fingers
I                          point to self (some people point to eye)
do                       [No Gesture]
 


Lyric           |       Gesture

Comin'                simulated masturbation
for                      hold up four fingers
to                       hold up two fingers
carry                  cradle arms as if carrying baby
me                      point finger to the chest
home                  make arc over head with arms
 


Lyric           |       Gesture

Tell                    cup hands around mouth as if shouting
all                      sweeping motion with arm
my                      point to self
friends                simulated hugging someone
I'm                      point finger to the chest (some people point to eye)
comin'                simulated masturbation
too.                    hold up two fingers
 


Lyric           |       Gesture

Comin'                simulated masturbation
for                       hold up four fingers
to                         hold up two fingers
carry                   cradle arms as if carrying baby
me                       point finger to the chest
home                   make arc over head with arms
 


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 03:46 PM

Rugby Clubs pionered it in the UK. I do not know if they got it from Americans, but the tradition in Rugby Union is for extremely crude versions of songs, so I would suspect that it originated with the people who play football with oddly shaped balls....
Quack!
GtD.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: alanabit
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 04:12 PM

We certainly did it when we played rugby at Borocourt in the mid seventies. I didn't know that Americans knew naughty songs too. Tut tut!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 04:20 PM

Ed Silberman from the San Francisco area sings this one. I've seen him do it too many times - but it never fails to crack me up. I e-mailed him a link to this thread and asked him to drop by and comment. John, if he doesn't come of his own accord, let me know and I'll twist his arm.
-Joe Offer-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST,Leadfingers
Date: 26 Feb 05 - 05:11 PM

One addition to the list John ! A bandof Angels coming after me - You have no gesture for after - I have on occasion Pointed Over my Left Shoulder with my Right Hand at this point . Otherwise , just the way we used to do it in the NAAFI in 1961 !


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Dickmac
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 02:10 PM

John, who started this thread, has described the actions used in most of the rugby clubs I frequented in the 60's and 70's. At that time it was sung in Scotland but I don't think it is now - it's "an English song". One follow song up I have heard (to the tune of She'll be comin'round the mountain) is "you can shove your f***ing chariots up your arse".
After Saturday's result blacksmiths are fully employed mending the broken chariots. Well done the Irish.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: radriano
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 02:52 PM

Ed Silberman of the San Francisco Bay Area is the only person I've ever seen do this rendition. It's all the more hilarious because he does it with a straight face. I've never asked him where it came from because it takes so long to stop laughing and pick myself up off the floor. Besides, Ed has quite a reputation for silly songs and he writes many of them. I tend to just throw up my arms and say the obvious - "That's Ed!"


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestu
From: Helen
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 03:02 PM

I first saw this performed by a group of people at the Newcastle (Australia) Folk Club back in the early 80's I think. I may have seen it a couple of times since then, and it always cracks me up too - especially the po-faced delivery. In at least one of the versions I saw Leadfingers' pointing over the shoulder gesture was used for "back".

It's possible that here in Oz someone brought it back from Vietnam, or that it came here from footy players, but it would be hard to track it back to find out who learned it from whom after all this time.

Helen


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gest
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 05:53 PM

In Oxford(England) Rugby circles in the early 60's the line"band of angels coming after me" was changed to "a band of angels coming up behind me". I'm sure you will be able to figure out gestures for "coming up behind me" for yourself.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gest
From: greg stephens
Date: 01 Mar 05 - 05:58 PM

Another bit we had that was different I've just remembered.
"and what did I see" was pronounced as
"an TWOT did I see". The gesture for TWOT being generally to point at someone listening to the singing. On occasion the singer(if very rude and drunk) would point at the relevant portion of a lady's anatomy at this point(if any were present).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST,another Mehlberg
Date: 31 Aug 06 - 11:37 PM

I have seen the gestures of which you speak. A group from Baden performed this song with gestures at the Strasinfest in your town (our town) many years ago. It was quite unoffical.It was performed with the German band that also played at the Badenfest. cummin'- four- two....
We may be related. My grandfather was Elmer Mehlberg. Any relation?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Bert
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 01:18 AM

YHA group around 1958 or 59.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST,Jack Campin
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 06:21 AM

In the UK, an appropriate action for "Jordan" would be to hold both hand cupped in front of your chest and make tit-wobbling motions.

("Jordan" is the assumed name of a tabloid celebrity with a couple of kilograms of silicone hanging off her ribs).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 06:52 AM

It is especially well done some times as a group all in time with eachother except one that is lagging one gesture behind the others, doing the Harmonies!!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Snuffy
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 08:56 AM

Used to sing it in South Wales in the late 60s - Cardiff Students Union bar. Everyone joining in and singing and signing.

Don't know how or when it came to be regarded as "English", but probably several decades later

We also used gestures for "Who Killed Cock Robin" and "Old MacDonald Had A Farm" (to name but two), but that's a different story


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Joybell
Date: 01 Sep 06 - 09:16 PM

Hildebrand learned it here -- Uppsala 1970 from a Swedish man who hung out with English rugby players.
Cheers, Joy


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Rumncoke
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 05:58 PM

OOOH yes, I remember that, and those.

Portsmouth Polytechnic caving club singing in a pub in the Mendip hills on Saturday night, before going back to the Cerberus Club hut, where we slept, or didn't and looked up at the stars through the holes in the roof.

That would be 1969/70.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Sep 06 - 08:02 PM

Did the singing of Paul Robeson or Marian Anderson popularize this song in the '40s? The gestureless song appears in "The Fireside Book of Folk Songs" (1949), a staple in America, and we had to learn it public grade school


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: An Pluiméir Ceolmhar
Date: 04 Sep 06 - 10:10 AM

Definitely has rugby connotations for me - I learnt it in the army reserve in the late 1960s, but from a guy who used to hang out with a rugby crowd, before then it wasn't part of the classic army repertoire.

I would surmise that the specific England association arose in the era when forward domination became the hallmark of their game (what swings low on a bull?)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Geordie-Peorgie
Date: 04 Sep 06 - 04:26 PM

aah remember this well from me rugby playin' days - We aalways followed it up with

Come home to bird's eye country (think aboot it!)

Crackin' stuff


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestu
From: Ref
Date: 04 Sep 06 - 07:49 PM

Learned it playing college rugby in Maine in '70s. Presume English origin much earlier as other posts attest!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST,Old VRC member
Date: 23 Nov 12 - 12:32 AM

Three time through.First time through it is sung with the hand gestures. Second time it is hummed while using hand gestures. The third time just the hand gestures. I was introduced to it in the early 80's in Vancouver. We had numerous ex-pats at our club.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jun 14 - 11:45 AM

In the early 70's ... Osurfc with representatives from around the British empire. Re: old mc Donald's , we introduced a rule that could only be sung on a cement floor, because we cracked the wood support beams of one house where it was "sung". If I shoul dump a truckload of manure ...


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 07 Jun 14 - 04:57 PM

For 'sweet' we used to make a bulge with our tongue in one side of the cheek and point to it with an index finger. (Indicating one was sucking a sweet, you see.) The Scots I knew at Uni used to sing this a lot in the Union bar, and at the time I didn't realise it wasn't just Scots who sang it!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jun 14 - 12:08 AM

This is something people really need to see. I had hoped this UB 40 live recording would have it since the video ties the song to rugby - but alas, no bawdy gestures. I may just have to do a video of San Francisco's Ed Silberman doing this song next time I see him.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Jun 14 - 09:54 AM

It may very well be Loughborough Fives - ripping off the local Pentecostalists who used to do something similar with other spirituals as an entirely innocent kid's entertainment. I recall the Navigators Christian group on campus (inspired by Nick Campling who went on to produce the G7 capo) had a group from St Michael's York who had all the kids songs that way, and that was the first time I ever ran across it.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Musket
Date: 08 Jun 14 - 10:04 AM

Back in the '70s, that was almost the nearest I did to dancing. (I did hold our local rugby club record for "dance of the flaming arseholes" for two years running for that matter.. 2.5")


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Weasel
Date: 09 Jun 14 - 05:05 AM

I once did a classical orchestral concert at which was appearing the local male voice choir. Someone made the incredible decision that the choir should sing "Swing Low". The entire brass section of the orchestra, only just out of sight of the audience (and in some cases possibly not quite out of sight) performed the actions.

Weasel.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 10 Jun 14 - 03:34 AM

Well I believe Ed Silberman is over here in Scotland at the moment, so maybe we'll get to hear his version! Not often sung here now since it became the England rugby supporters' anthem. I also remember the version with actions being sung by rugby players at med school in London in the 60s.
The original song goes back to the 1860s, a lot further back than Lighter's 1949 song book.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST,Trevor Stones
Date: 11 Apr 15 - 12:49 PM

Darlington Grammar School Old Boys Rugby Union Football Club 1960. Club subsequently evolved into Darlington Mowden Park Rugby Club and currently play in National League 1....where I presume they continue to sing this and the many other bawdy songs that were part and parcel of rugby in N.E.England 55 years ago!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Jun 15 - 03:50 AM

I remember people singing this - in the rugby context - in Cardiff University around 1963-64. A variation is "swing low, sweet Cadillac" ..


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: 'Swing Low Sweet Chariot' Bawdy Gestures
From: GUEST,Tony Ashby
Date: 01 Nov 15 - 09:39 AM

I certainly sung this (with gestures)in 1962 playing rugby for Thanet Wanderers and the club sung it before that.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 13 December 7:40 PM EST

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.