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Going to German. What does it mean?

21 Oct 99 - 10:59 PM (#126651)
Subject: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Tony Burns

There is a jugband standard called "Goin' to German". Can someone explain the term? I doubt it has anything to do with Germany.


21 Oct 99 - 11:20 PM (#126656)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Mike Billo

Good question Tony. I always assumed that the song was in fact a malapropism that was referring to Germany, but now you've got me wondering. Anyone else?


22 Oct 99 - 06:31 AM (#126711)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Barbara

Are there words, or is it just a tune? Could it be short for Germantown?
Blessings,
Barbara


22 Oct 99 - 08:06 AM (#126723)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Lesley N.

I don't know how old the tune is but one source says the song High Germany (http://www.contemplator.com/folk5/germany.html) (which was printed on a broadside circa 1780) refers to the Seven Years' War (1756-1763). The Seven Years' War was fought between a coalition of Austria, France, Russia, Sweden and Saxony and Prussia (led by Frederick the Great). If your tune has similar dates that may be the Germany meant.

There are a couple of other versions in the database of High Germany. High Germany, The Wars of Germany and Bonnie Lass O' Benachie also refers to "high germany."


22 Oct 99 - 08:16 AM (#126728)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: murray@mpce.mq.edu.au

There is a song called "Going to Germany" done by Cannon's Jug Stompers in 1929. In the song they never mention Germany; but it starts out

Goin' to Germa... I'll be back some old day

It never mentions the full word "Germany" throughout the song.

Murray


22 Oct 99 - 01:09 PM (#126816)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Tony Burns

Yes, the song Gus Cannon did is the one I mean. Are you sure the title says Germany? Not that it would mean that it's right. I have a CD which contains Bob Snider's "Anna Marie" and the liner calls it "All of Marie".


22 Oct 99 - 01:47 PM (#126835)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Roger in Baltimore

Tony,

I always assumed that the song was "I'm goin' to German'" and the "y" was simply dropped, just like the "g" in going.

Having believed this for at least 30 years, I refuse to let loose of this belief, I don't care what anybody else says.

Roger in Baltimore


22 Oct 99 - 04:09 PM (#126921)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: RWilhelm

Gus Cannon's song is definately titled "Going to Germany" Like Roger I always assumed the "y" had just been dropped. I also assumed the song was originally written during World War I and they just continued singing it in the 20's.


27 Oct 99 - 08:19 AM (#128521)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Tony Burns

Email from Ken Whiteley who has been singing this song for 35 years says that German is a town near Memphis that probably has/had a prison.

The prison connection makes sense if you listen to the words.

A quick check on Mapquest shows a place called Germantown close to Memphis.


24 Mar 00 - 01:58 PM (#200793)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: GUEST,Jim Linwood

Why is the English soldier in the ballad going to fight in the Seven Year's War? He say's "I must go..."; what army is he fighting in, is he a mercenary?


24 Mar 00 - 07:04 PM (#200991)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Timehiker

Guest Jim,

The Seven years War began as a territorial dispute between Empress Maria Teresa of Austria and Fredrick the Great of Prussia. The other countries in Europe chose sides, either from family loyalty or from the hope of gaining something from the confusion of war. England allied with Prussia (High Germany), and France allied with Austria. England secured control of India during this war, and also fought France on the American continent, capturing Canada in the process.

Take care, Timehiker


25 Mar 00 - 01:09 AM (#201166)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: john c

Does anybody have all the lyrics to "German" or know where I can find them? Would be very grateful.
J.


22 Jan 12 - 11:28 PM (#3294797)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: GUEST,satish

guys!! it simply means .. that the woman is going to face menopause! it's their way of saying it out.


23 Jan 12 - 10:40 AM (#3294979)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: GUEST,leeneia

Did you just make that up? Cause I've never heard that in my life.
==========
I agree with Tony that 'German' is probably a town. People shorten names of towns, and I can easily picture Germantown becoming German. We all know it's a town, so why bother to say it?

Real life parallel: Garden City, Kansas is usually called 'Garden.'


23 Jan 12 - 02:15 PM (#3295064)
Subject: Lyr Add: GOING TO GERMANY
From: Jim Dixon

This is my transcription:


GOING TO GERMANY
Written by Noah Lewis
As sung by Cannon's Jug Stompers on "The Best of Cannon's Jug Stompers" (Shanachie, 2005)

I'm goin' to German; I'll be back some ol' day.
I'm goin' to German; I'll be back some ol' day.
I'm goin' to German; I'll be back some ol' day.

Please tell me, mama: what more can I do?
Tell me, mama: what more can I do?
Done all I knowed; I can't get along with you.

SPOKEN DURING HARMONICA BREAK:
(Aw, play, Mister Lewis; play, play, play!—Play it, Mister Lewis, play!)

Get 'way f'm my window; stop knockin' on my, stop knockin' on my door.
Go 'way f'm my window; stop knockin' on my door.
I got no woman; can't use you no more.

When you's in trouble; I worked an' paid yo', I worked an' paid yo' fine.
When you's in trouble, I worked an' paid yo' fine.
Now I'm just trouble; you don't pay me no mind.

SPOKEN DURING HARMONICA BREAK:
(Aw, play it, Mister Lewis! Play clean, ah!—Play it, Mister Lewis, play!—Aw, play it from down in Dixie, now. Play it right on from down in Dixie.)


[The same recording also appears on "Gus Cannon & Noah Lewis, Complete Recorded Works in Chronological Order, Volume 2" (Document Records, DOCD-5033, 2005) and Gus Cannon, "Jug Band Essentials" (Master Classics Records, 2010). It was originally recorded October, 1929 and was released as Victor 38585 and Bluebird 5413.

[The title on all recordings was GOING TO GERMANY, but of course we don't know who decided to call it that. It may well have been the record company. The singer (Noah Lewis?) pronounces it "German."]


06 May 13 - 03:36 PM (#3512267)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: GUEST,ed

Check out a band from Chicago suburbs, "Safe Haven" they cover the song on there C.D. "Sermon for No One"


27 Sep 13 - 01:23 AM (#3561735)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: GUEST,charlie

Love this song
3rd verse in the Cannon's Jug Stompers recording-
"I got no woman" or "I got another woman" ?
Just an awkward amount of syllables but it makes more sense. I love how they add extra bars to the last two verses in the first line but maybe that tripped up the singer by the time he got to "I got another woman" and who knows if it was intentional for that matter.
Classic break-up song but in this case our protagonist seems to be more down in the dumps instead of sitting on top of the world.


27 Sep 13 - 07:02 AM (#3561816)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: PHJim

Hey Tony, thanks for asking that question. I've always wondered that.
Are you the same Tony who plays ukulele at The Corktown group? If so, we are both friends of David Newland. I am Jim Yates from Port Hope.


27 Sep 13 - 08:22 AM (#3561839)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Mr Happy

Tony posted on this thread only 14 years ago, so he could be still around


09 May 15 - 04:45 AM (#3707712)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: GUEST,frizztext

I've set a link to your interesting article with some quotations in my blog at
https://flickrcomments.wordpress.com/2015/05/09/going-to-germany/
and I tried to sing this song in my SoundCloud:
https://soundcloud.com/fingerstyle_guitar/going-to-germanywav


07 Dec 16 - 08:02 AM (#3825027)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: GUEST,JoeB

germantown is not far from memphis. it was pretty much a railroad depot and a few building back when the song was written. It's a rich suburb now. Back when the song was written, it was a place along the railroad to get out memphis.


08 Dec 16 - 06:32 AM (#3825208)
Subject: RE: Going to German. What does it mean?
From: Thompson

It seems highly unlikely that this would refer to an 18th-century war, considering the phrasing, which sounds much more like early 20th century usage.