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Info: GrafSpee (Molsky's Mtn Drifters)

06 Nov 19 - 02:23 PM (#4017535)
Subject: Info req:GrafSpee(Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: Joe Offer

My friend Robert Rodriquez just got the 2019 Closing the Gap album by Molsky's Mountain Drifters. Robert is quite taken by an instrumental piece on the album called "The Graf Spee." Robert is blind, and can't read the album notes on the song, if there are any. Can anybody give background information on this tune? As far as I can tell, the tune first appeared on a 2013 Bruce Molsky album titled If It Ain't Here When I Get Back.
I found a YouTube recording of the tune here:The notes say "Graf Spee" is a "midwest fiddle tune collected from John W. Summers."

I suppose the tune is about the Admiral Graf Spee, a German ship that was scuttled in December, 1939.

But can anybody come up with more information about the tune?

-Joe-


06 Nov 19 - 02:33 PM (#4017540)
Subject: RE: Info req:GrafSpee(Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: Joe Offer

tunesearch.org relates the song to a tune called "The Grand Spy" in the US, or the Scottish tune "Grant's Strathspey" or "The Grants of Strathspey."

So, maybe "Graf Spee" is a misheard title, and has nothing to do with the ship.

Guess that more-or-less answers my question, but does anyone have other comments?

-Joe-


06 Nov 19 - 03:01 PM (#4017550)
Subject: RE: Info req:GrafSpee(Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: Charley Noble

Well, that was fun!

Charlie Ipcar


06 Nov 19 - 03:08 PM (#4017551)
Subject: RE: Info req:GrafSpee(Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: Joe Offer

If it's just the title that's misunderstood, is it still a Mondegreen?


06 Nov 19 - 05:01 PM (#4017573)
Subject: RE: Info: GrafSpee (Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: Raedwulf

Having had a little (inconclusive) hunt around of my own, Joe, I'd say your "misheard" explanation is both entirely reasonable & probably the most likely explanation. I can't think of any reason why a Midwest folk tune would have anything whatsoever to do with either the ship or the admiral it was named after.

And yes, of course it's still a Mondie. If one misheard word in an entire song is, why shouldn't the title be for an instrumental? From wiki's entry on Mondies,

A number of misheard lyrics have been recorded, turning a mondegreen into a real title. The song "Sea Lion Woman", recorded in 1939 by Christine and Katherine Shipp, was performed by Nina Simone under the title, "See Line Woman". According to the liner notes from the compilation A Treasury of Library of Congress Field Recordings, the correct title of this playground song might also be "See [the] Lyin' Woman" or "C-Line Woman". Jack Lawrence's misinterpretation of the French phrase "pauvre Jean" ("poor John") as the identically pronounced "pauvres gens" ("poor people") led to the translation of La Goualante du pauvre Jean ("The Ballad of Poor John") as "The Poor People of Paris", a hit song in 1956.


06 Nov 19 - 05:05 PM (#4017574)
Subject: RE: Info: GrafSpee (Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: GUEST,Starship

Joe, the following link leads to some good study by JiC (RIP), from about seventeen years ago. Deals mostly with the melody.

thread.cfm?threadid=44935


06 Nov 19 - 07:55 PM (#4017616)
Subject: RE: Info: GrafSpee (Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: Jack Campin

The title that got misheard (in Ireland) was "The Grants of Spey". The oldest title for it is "Rothiemurchus Rant" from the middle of the 18th century - Rothiemurchus was the estate of the Grant family in Speyside, north-east Scotland.


07 Nov 19 - 12:15 PM (#4017649)
Subject: RE: Info: GrafSpee (Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: GUEST,Peter Laban

You'll have to wonder if it was misheard or perhaps used tongue in cheek. Wasn't this one not also known (later) as 'Hitler's downfall' among the London Irish musicians?

The tune has always been popular around here, Bobby Casey and Joe Ryan were always playing it. Paddy Canny played it often too.


07 Nov 19 - 01:01 PM (#4017663)
Subject: RE: Info: GrafSpee (Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: GUEST,kenny

"Hitler's Downfall" was certainly recorded by Martin Byrnes, Peter, but it was the jig which "Steeleye Span" recorded as "Bryan O'Lynn".
"Strathspey" / "Grants Of Spey" : "Graf Spey" - easy to mis-hear in a noisy pub session.


07 Nov 19 - 01:16 PM (#4017668)
Subject: RE: Info: GrafSpee (Molsky's Mtn Drifters)
From: GUEST,Peter Laban

You're right ofcourse Kenny. A bit of a brain muddle.