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Origins: This Old Man

DigiTrad:
DIRTY OLD MAN
THIS OLD MAN


Related thread:
(origins) Origins: Knick Knack Patt/ddy Whack -This Old Man (81) (closed)


23 Feb 99 - 07:04 PM
Bert 24 Feb 99 - 09:18 AM
Bruce |O. 24 Feb 99 - 02:56 PM
Bruce O. 24 Feb 99 - 03:42 PM
Joe Offer 24 Feb 99 - 04:28 PM
Bruce O. 24 Feb 99 - 04:40 PM
Bruce O. 24 Feb 99 - 04:49 PM
Bruce O. 24 Feb 99 - 04:59 PM
GUEST, Australian Vet student 05 May 07 - 03:49 AM
concertina ceol 05 May 07 - 06:22 AM
Darowyn 05 May 07 - 12:30 PM
Waddon Pete 05 May 07 - 04:56 PM
oldhippie 04 Jul 07 - 11:37 AM
Flash Company 05 Jul 07 - 09:59 AM
GUEST,Richie 17 Mar 08 - 07:03 PM
GUEST,Steve Gardham 17 Mar 08 - 07:27 PM
GUEST,Richie 17 Mar 08 - 07:41 PM
Dan Schatz 17 Mar 08 - 08:04 PM
Joe_F 17 Mar 08 - 08:18 PM
GUEST,Steve Gardham 18 Mar 08 - 12:19 PM
The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive) 18 Mar 08 - 12:26 PM
GEST 18 Mar 08 - 09:06 PM
GUEST,A Spooky Story 07 Sep 08 - 09:51 AM
GUEST 27 Oct 10 - 06:18 AM
kendall 27 Oct 10 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,Ron 28 Oct 10 - 12:35 AM
kendall 28 Oct 10 - 04:26 AM
GUEST,Paul H 15 Nov 10 - 01:13 PM
GUEST,Mike Patterson 28 Nov 11 - 10:08 PM
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Subject: this old man
From:
Date: 23 Feb 99 - 07:04 PM

What is the country of origin of this song?


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Bert
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 09:18 AM

I always thought it was English but Bruce O. should know for sure.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Bruce |O.
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 02:56 PM

Sorry to disappoint you, but I have no idea where the song came from.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Bruce O.
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 03:42 PM

Steve Roud's Folk song index (74,000+ folk song texts) lists copies only in two American books: Ruth Crawford Seeger's 'American Folk Songs for Children', and Alton Morris's 'Folk Songs of Florida'.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 04:28 PM

Hi, Bruce - thanks for the lead to "Folk Songs of Florida." Here's what it says:
Knick Knack - text communicated by Miss Jimmie Green, Branford, who took it down from the singing of a small schoolboy of Branford. His parents are native Floridians who have sung this song all their lives. they do not know the origin of it, but it has been in their family as a sort of lullaby for several generations.
This nursery song has eluded identification, and is the only version that has thus turned up in Florida.
It's almost the same as the version learned by Joe Offer, Native Detroiter, in the early 1950's - except that I learned it with what might be an anti-Irish "paddywhack" and "This old man came rolling home." Here's the Florida version (Detroit version in parentheses):
This old man he played one;
He played knick knack on my gun.
Knick knack potterack, give a dog a bone;
This old man came a-rolling on.

two...shoe
three...knee
four...door
five...on my head (hive)
six...sticks
seven...head'n (up to heaven)
eight...slate (gate)
nine...rine (don't recall, but it wasn't that) ten...shin (hen)
I found this song listed in several books in the UTK Song Index. I have several of the books listed, but none has any explanatory notes for the song.
Say, Bruce, what's the index you checked? Is it online?
-Joe Offer-

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

    This Old Man

    DESCRIPTION: "This old man, he played one, He played knick-knack on my thumb, With a knick-knack, paddy wack, Give the dog a bone, This old man went rolling home." Similarly, "This old man, he played two, he played knick-knack on my shoe," and on upward
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1950 (Morris)
    KEYWORDS: nonballad
    FOUND IN: US(SE) Canada(Newf)
    REFERENCES (4 citations):
    Morris, #114, "Knick Knack" (1 text)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 390, "This Old Man" (1 text)
    Peacock, p. 21, "Old Tommy Kendal" (1 text, 1 tune)
    DT, THOLDMAN*

    Roud #3550
    RECORDINGS:
    Charlotte Decker, "Old Tommy Kendal" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
    Pete Seeger, "This Old Man" (on PeteSeegeer3, PeteSeegerCD03)

    SAME TUNE:
    All Gall ["Cognac, Armagnac, Burgundy and Beaune, This old man thinks he's Saint Joan"; Charles de Gaulle song] [by Michael Flanders and Donald Swann] [from "At the Drop of Another Hat"]
    File: FSWB390C

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Song List

    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Bruce O.
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 04:40 PM

No Joe, it only on 3.25 inch disks, and you need your own database system to read it into. See the introduction on my broadside ballads file to contact Steve Roud for a quotation. There are both a folksong index and a broadside ballad index (mostly 18th and 19th century), but Roud # are the same in both, but selection as to just what is the broadside original can be tricky, and I found one place where Roud gave the same # for what I would call 3 similar, but different songs.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Bruce O.
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 04:49 PM

I should have added that Steve Roud's folksong index covers Great Britain, U.S., Canada, and Australia. Includes phono records as well as printed songs. It's my understanding that he's the Secretary of the Folklore Society, not the English Folk Dance and Song Society, although he works closely with the EFDSS.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Bruce O.
Date: 24 Feb 99 - 04:59 PM

Steve Roud is listed as the Librarian of the Folklore Society in the membership list of the Traditional Song Forum Index (find with Alta Vista or such like web search engine).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Knick Knack Patt/ddy Whack -This Old Man
From: GUEST, Australian Vet student
Date: 05 May 07 - 03:49 AM

Hi there,

I was recently on a practical rotation in an abbatoir for my Veterinary Science course in Australia - I found out that the large ligament that runs along the neck of Cattle (and horses for that matter) is colloquially refered to as a "paddy-whack", I was trying to find out via the internet if it was related to the old rhyme as it also mentions "give the dog a bone".. and thought it might have origniated from something to do with animal slaughter/cooking (so many old childrens rhymes have links with bizare things eg ring around the roses and the black death). Anyway, that is how I stumbled on this site. I'll post here again if I find out anything more.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Knick Knack Patt/ddy Whack -This Old Man
From: concertina ceol
Date: 05 May 07 - 06:22 AM

"Paddy-whack" is the viscous very chewy fibrous tissue on lamb bones, which you can't eat (well it won't do you any harm) but you might throw to the dog.

I think it is just a "nonsense" song to help kids count and has nothing more to it than that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Knick Knack Patt/ddy Whack -This Old
From: Darowyn
Date: 05 May 07 - 12:30 PM

You are all looking at the wrong words.
This old man, he PLAYED one.
It's about a musician.

"Nick nack paddy whack, give a dog a bone" is like Little Richard's

"Wap bop a loo mop a lop bam boom" (expained in his Biography), or the vocalised Tals that tabla players have to learn.

It's a drum beat- and a good groovy one too! The words have no meaning because they are actually vocables.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Origins: Knick Knack Patt/ddy Whack -This Old
From: Waddon Pete
Date: 05 May 07 - 04:56 PM

Hello,

If it helps...my Mum learned this at school in 1910!
(then taught it to me..... much later!)


Best wishes,

Peter


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Subject: LYR ADD: A wartime President Song by Ariel
From: oldhippie
Date: 04 Jul 07 - 11:37 AM

And, of course, the tune was used for the "Barney" theme song; and the following:

A Wartime
President Song!


(Written/Performed by ARIEL)

My old man, he had oil...
so I'd never have to toil !
With a knick-knack, bomb Iraq
all your money's spent...
I'm a wartime president !



My old man, made a call...
so I didn't go to 'nam at all!
With a knick-knack, bomb Iraq
all your money's spent...
I'm a wartime president !



Did my time in the Guard...
Went AWOL... It wasn't hard!
With a knick-knack, bomb Iraq
all your money's spent...
I'm a wartime president !



DUI? I made bail...
Then Daddy sent me off to Yale!
With a knick-knack, bomb Iraq
all your money's spent...
I'm a wartime president !



We won the war, so wave the flags...
just ignore those body bags !
With a knick-knack, bomb Iraq
all your money's spent...
I'm a wartime president !



I'm in charge. I'm the Prez...
Cause I do just what Cheney says!
With a knick-knack, bomb Iraq
all your money's spent...
I'm a wartime president !



I'll do fine in the end, cause
Halliburton is my friend !
With a knick-knack, bomb Iraq
all your money's spent...
I'm a wartime president !


Performed by ARIEL
song by JJ Jenkins and George Petersen
© 2004 JENPET Music International (ASCAP)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Knick Knack Patt/ddy Whack -This Old Man
From: Flash Company
Date: 05 Jul 07 - 09:59 AM

Mike Flanders did this to it....

Vive De Gaulle!

This old man, he played one,
He played Knick Knack at Verdun,
Cognac, Armagnac, Burgundy and Boune,
This old man came rolling home.

This old man, World War Two,
He told Churchill what to do,
Free French President, Crosses of Lorraine,
He came rolling home again.

Can't remember all the rest but it finished.....

This old man, nine and ten,
He'll play Knick 'til God knows when,
Cognac Armagnac Burgundy and Boune,
This old man thinks he's Saint Joan!

Brian Q


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 07:03 PM

I recently saw a documentary on The History Channel over here in the states about the early new york gangs, namely the irish(mafia), and made a few references on this song. Actually, it was called 'Paddy Whacked', and stirred up some curiosity in me.

After a little research, and talking to my grandmother a bit, i found out Patty was also slang for a woman on their period. I'm not really sure if these are related, but paddy is definatly meant, or at least was 50 years ago, as an insult to someone with a short temper. By the way, the irish themselves started the nickname Paddy. Take a look at St Patricks Day's 'The wearing of the Green'.

As far as the word Whack, this is still used today as meaning hitting, but was also used for a while by the original new york gangs as a hit(assassination).

The word knick-knack started in the early 1900's meaning poor street performance, and later adopted the meaning 'something worthless'. We still use it to describe really cheap decorative items.

As far as the saying 'give a dog a bone' goes, the only kind of definition i could find on this saying is meaning 'Give me a break', or 'help me out here', a couple other uses of the saying is 'throw me a bone', or 'throw the dog a bone', but it could literally mean as it says. I dont know if these are related at all, but when the definitions of the old slang words are put together, it seems a little too coincidental to be just nonsense.

Thought i would post the info i found on the topic, someone might find it interesting. Atleast this Irish thought it was.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 07:27 PM

Knick Knacks is one of the terms for Knacker bones which probably go back to before speech was invented, certainly well before 1900. I don't normally indulge in these flights of fancy, but as someone has already mentioned the rhythmic qualities of the chorus here goes:-

Knick-knack, pat and whack, rattle on yer bones, might have been a more apt original.

We sing a similar song in Yorkshire called Old John Braddleum/ Old Jack Braddler which has a different tune, but recently I came across a version to the same tune as 'This Old Man'.

The form is something like:-
Number one, number one, now the fun has just begun,
With a rum pum paddle-um, Owd joe braddleum,
Jolly country lads are we.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 07:41 PM

Yeah, the idea about it basically being a song about bones seems just as likely. i thought i would address the irish relativity as it seems to also be a good theory.

it's no secret that racism against irish was around, and heavily prevelant in the early 20'th century, so either theories wouldnt suprise me. The irish communities was the poorest communities at the time, and subject to heavy criticism, due to relativly higher crime rates. Of course the later orginazation of the crime didnt help.

The idea that this song came into existance, or atleast popularity, around this time, takes a mark away from it being about bones in this book. I guess no one could really figure this one out without an interview with the original songwriter.

Tell me when that time do-hickey is done.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Dan Schatz
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:04 PM

There's an English version that doesn't mention Paddy at all -

Number one,
Number one
Now my song has just begun
With a rum-tum-tid-a-lump
Old John Brad-a-lump
Oh what country folk we be!

The tune is the same. I learned it from the singing of Eric Ilott years ago.

Dan


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: Joe_F
Date: 17 Mar 08 - 08:18 PM

I was under the impression, from something or other I read in childhood, that paddywhack meant a spanking.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: GUEST,Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 12:19 PM

Dan,
Although they use the same basic pattern and in some versions share the tune, they should be considered two separate songs, i.e., 'This Old Man' and 'Old John Braddle-um'.

Cheers
SteveG


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: The Mole Catcher's Apprentice (inactive)
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 12:26 PM

"You are all looking at the wrong words.
This old man, he PLAYED one.
It's about a musician.

being a musician myself, I wouldn't claim that this childrens counting song was anything to do with musicians . It's a wonderful piece of counting nonsense that keeps children happy for hours..

Charlotte (the view from Ma and Pa's piano stool)


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: GEST
Date: 18 Mar 08 - 09:06 PM

In 1959 Kenneth Peacock collected a variant in Newfoundland titled Old Tommy Kendall, which was published in his Songs of the Newfoundland Outports. Also, in 1988 Buddy Wasisname and the Other Fellers wrote and recorded a parody about a Johnson motor and titled it This Old Man on their Nods 'N' Winks album. Both songs are now archived at GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador.

~GEST~


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: GUEST,A Spooky Story
Date: 07 Sep 08 - 09:51 AM

I was up at 2am watching the conclusion of the movie, "flight 93". Right at the end of the movie when they were showing the charcoaled remains from the crash one, of my nephew's musical toys started to play the song "This Old Man".

Creeped out by the ghostly experience, I wanted to know what the words to the song meant. I thought maybe a ghost was trying to communicate something.

I wonder if the song means someting about death. In particularly the part, "...this old man cam rolling home".


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 06:18 AM

It was most interesting to read this discussion. I am from Pakistan and I learned this in my school days. But I alway thought this was some local small group fabricated rhyme. I never knew that so many other people across the world know it. However, I still don't understand what it means. Our version was:

This old man
He plays one
He plays knick knack on my gun
With a knick knack paddy whack, give a dog a bone
This old man came rolling home

--two---shoe
---three--tree
---four---door

Can't recall any further.


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Subject: RE: this old man
From: kendall
Date: 27 Oct 10 - 07:44 AM

Kermit the Frog went to his bank to apply for a loan. All he had for collateral was a small jade statue. The loan officer was named Paddy Whack.
When he saw what Kermit had for collateral he said, "No, I can't accept that it's worthless."
Kermit had a fit, so Mr. Whack called in the bank manager and told him what was up. Manager looked at Kermit, then at his "collateral" and said,



( if you don't see this coming, you are really thick)



"That's a nick knack, Paddy Whack, give the Frog a loan."


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Subject: RE: Origins: This Old Man
From: GUEST,Ron
Date: 28 Oct 10 - 12:35 AM

one-gun, two-shoe, three-tree, four-door, five-hive, six-sticks, seven-heaven, eight-gate, nine-fine, ten-hen.
These have been told to me as a means of recalling in order of things to speak to. One-gun being used to relate something (maybe silly) in some way the order of things to be done or spoken of. Two, think of a shoe and somehow relate shoe to the task such as "If I'm going to walk to town just mentally put "shoe" on your mental list of things to do. "Three-tree" might fit a task that somehow includes a branch or something. "Four", somehow arrange the image of something that needs attention to look like a door, that you might walk through. etc. etc.
And "he played knick-knack on my drum", 'way befor Kermit.


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Subject: RE: Origins: This Old Man
From: kendall
Date: 28 Oct 10 - 04:26 AM

Maybe so, but it's not as funny.


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Subject: RE: Origins: This Old Man
From: GUEST,Paul H
Date: 15 Nov 10 - 01:13 PM

This is covered off a bit more in wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/This_Old_Man

Origins and history

The origins of this song are obscure. The earliest extant record is a version noted in Anne Gilchrist's Journal of the English Folk Dance and Song Society (1937), learnt from her Welsh nurse in the 1870s under the title "Jack Jintle" with the lyrics:

    My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but one,
    And I can play nick-nack upon my own thumb.
    With my nick-nack and pad-lock and sing a fine song,
    And all the fine ladies come dancing along.

    My name is Jack Jintle, the eldest but two,
    And I can play nick-nack upon my own shoe.
    With my nick-nack, etc.[1]

The more familiar version, with references to the "old man" and "knick-knack paddy-whack" was included in Cecil Sharp and Sabine Baring-Gould's English Folk-Songs for Schools, published in 1906.[2] It was collected several times in England in the early twentieth century with a variety of lyrics. In 1948 it was included by Pete Seeger and Ruth Crawford in their American Folk Songs for Children and recorded by Seeger in 1953. It received a boost in popularity when it was adapted for the 1958 film The Inn of the Sixth Happiness by composer Malcolm Arnold as "The Children's Marching Song", which led to hit singles for Cyril Stapleton and Mitch Miller.[3]
[edit] Sanitized lyrics

The term "Paddywack" was used from at least the early nineteenth century to describe an angry person, specifically a "Brawny Irishman".[4] From at least the 1970s sensitivity over possible racism has meant that the song is often sung as "Knick-knack patty-whack", particularly in the United States.[5]


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Subject: RE: Origins: This Old Man
From: GUEST,Mike Patterson
Date: 28 Nov 11 - 10:08 PM

The oral tradition, as passed down to me in the early 1960s, is this:

Paddy whack refers to hitting an Irishman with a stick. Rolling home refers to a drunken Irishman rolling home. The rhyme originates in America after the huge Irish immigration to the U.S. during the Great Famine, 1845-1852.


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