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Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade

sdaughtry 22 Jan 06 - 02:45 PM
Peace 22 Jan 06 - 05:47 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Jan 06 - 06:38 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Nov 09 - 12:55 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Nov 09 - 12:58 PM
Joe Offer 05 Nov 09 - 02:07 PM
meself 05 Nov 09 - 02:19 PM
Amos 05 Nov 09 - 04:05 PM
Uncle_DaveO 05 Nov 09 - 05:14 PM
MartinRyan 05 Nov 09 - 05:27 PM
MartinRyan 05 Nov 09 - 05:37 PM
Jim Dixon 05 Nov 09 - 08:19 PM
MartinRyan 06 Nov 09 - 03:23 AM
Uncle_DaveO 06 Nov 09 - 05:46 PM
MartinRyan 06 Nov 09 - 07:01 PM
Charley Noble 07 Nov 09 - 09:11 AM
McGrath of Harlow 07 Nov 09 - 03:14 PM
MartinRyan 08 Nov 09 - 05:11 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blad
From: sdaughtry
Date: 22 Jan 06 - 02:45 PM

My elderly dad called me today and asked me to help him with this:

He remembers his father singing a song to him with these words:

When I was a billy-go-fister blad and world was young my dear
And the moon was as big as a cartwheel...

That is all that he remembers. Can someone help me with this so that this will not haunt him anymore.

Thank you so much in advance.

Sheila


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blad
From: Peace
Date: 22 Jan 06 - 05:47 PM

Message Malcolm Douglas.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blad
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Jan 06 - 06:38 PM

Not something I can help with, really: no useful references that I can find. "Billy-go-fister" turns up once, at any rate, here in the Forum, where it occurs in an unrelated song: Mister Finagan. The meaning there is a little different, but helps to understand the intent of the line as quoted here (there's another example at MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada, titled Finnegan's Wake -though it isn't the song usually called that- where the term has become "billy goat fist").

I expect that "blad" was meant to be either "lad" or "blade"; either would make sense. From what we have, it looks like the sort of thing Banjo Patterson might have written; or even Chesterton. Not that I think it was either of them, mind (an awful lot of people wrote verse and songs in that kind of style), but perhaps of that period, with a tune added later on? I'm afraid that we may not get further without more information, or striking lucky.


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Subject: Lyr Add: TIME FOR LOVE (Arthur Stringer)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 12:55 PM

THE TOIME FOR LOVE
By Arthur Stringer

Whin the moon was the soize av a cart-wheel,
And as sootherin' soft as cream;
Whin the lough lay strange wid the night-mist,
And the down was a sea av dream—

Whin the voice av a gurl was music,
And your own, like a linnet's wing,
Was fluttherin' full av the moonlight
And the mad glad fire av Spring—

Och, yon was the toime for lovin',
Those moitherin' bantherin' years
Whin I was a Billy-Go-Fister blade
And the worruld was young, me dears!

First published in Hampton's Magazine (New York: Columbian-Sterling Pub. Co., Vol 22, 1909), page 502.

Also The Canadian Magazine, Toronto : Ontario Pub. Co., Vol. 33, 1909, page 288

When the poem was reprinted in Irish Poems by Arthur Stringer (New York, M. Kennerley, 1911), page 46, the spelling was changed a bit:

THE TIME FOR LOVE
By Arthur Stringer

When the moon was the size av a cart-wheel,
And as sootherin' soft as cream;
When the lough lay strange wid the night-mist,
And the down was a sea av dream—

When the voice av a gerrl was music,
And your own, like a linnet's wing,
Was fluttherin' full av the moonlight
And the mad glad fire av Spring—

Och, yon was the time for lovin',
Those moitherin' bantherin' years
When I was a Billy-Go-Fister blade
And the world was young, me dears!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 12:58 PM

Unfortunately, there seems to be no way to contact sdaughtry! He/she only posted once.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: Joe Offer
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 02:07 PM

This requester registered as a member, so I was able to e-mail the information.
Great find, Jim!
Now, I wonder how the melody goes...
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: meself
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 02:19 PM

I hesitate to ask this, but - can anyone explain "Billy-Go-Fister"? ("Fister"=Faster?).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: Amos
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 04:05 PM

A comic song (peraps the one Malcolm found upthread) has these lines using the term:

YANKEE DOODLE.

Och, my she-divil came home from the spree,
Full of whiskey, and ripe from the buryin', sure; And she showed as much mercy to me
As a hungry man shows to a herrin', sure. One Billy-go-fister I gave,
Which caused her to grunt and to grin agin ; In six months I opened the grave
And slapped her on the bones of Finegan.
Whack fie lil Ian, etc.

It's now, that I'm single again,
I'll spind my time rakin' and batterin'; I'll go to the fair wid the men,
And I'll dance wid the girls for a patterin'. They'll swear that I'm stuck to a lee,
And think, as they say, to catch him agin; But they'll not come the kuckle o'ec me,
For they might be related to Finegan.
Whack fie lil Ian, etc,

In other contexts it seems to mean "go on a spree".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 05:14 PM

I'd interpret that last song or poem a little differently, Amos. I think it says he gave her a blow with is fist.

Which, if correct, might mean that "Billy-go-fister blade" in the subject song means he was prone to fighting in his youth.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 05:27 PM

Interesting. The usage seems to me "mock-Irish", for lack of a better term. In that context, it may be worth noting that "buille" (pronounced roughly bwill-eh is an Irish word for a blow or strike.

The only other possible connection I can come with is that the word "billy" was used for a stylish necktie or cravat (19C.), apparently. That may tie in with the first example, so to speak.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: MartinRyan
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 05:37 PM

"billy" was also used for a policeman's baton - so maybe ex "billy-go-faster"?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 05 Nov 09 - 08:19 PM

A search in Google Books turns up only 4 occurrences of "billy-go-fister" and 3 of them refer to the above poem! (In the 3 different publications I have cited.) The fourth one is in another song, MISTER FINAGAN. I just posted the lyrics to that song in another thread Lyr Add: Irish songs about balls, wakes, soirees, because it seems to fit the genre. (I have no idea what the tune is.)

It seems to be the same song that Amos posted 2 verses of, above, under the title YANKEE DOODLE. I have no idea how that title got attached to it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: MartinRyan
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 03:23 AM

There are some LISTSERV references online, of which THIS ONE pushes references back to 1863.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 05:46 PM

Does anyone have an understanding of this line from the Yankee Doodle song Amos posted?

And slapped her on the bones of Finegan.

What would "the bones of Finegan" be?

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: MartinRyan
Date: 06 Nov 09 - 07:01 PM

The sense seems to be that he dropped her into the grave alongside Finnegan, becoming single again in the process!

"patterin'" is interesting, here. I suspect it's actually from "pattern" - a tradtional feast-day.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Nov 09 - 09:11 AM

One can certainly learn a whole lot about our culture by reviewing old songs.

Nice to see another old query nailed.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 07 Nov 09 - 03:14 PM

I'd take "patterin" there as meaning pattern dancing.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: When I was a billy-go-fister blade
From: MartinRyan
Date: 08 Nov 09 - 05:11 PM

McGofH

Dunno - the other sense fits nicely with the "fair" reference in the previous line.

"stuck to a lee" has me puzzled - doesn't feel nautical, here.

Regards


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