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Origins: Eggs and Marrowbone

13 Aug 02 - 03:07 PM (#764570)
Subject: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Puffenkinty

Does anybody know the origin of the song "Eggs and Marrowbone"? It tells the same story as the song that begins "There was an old woman in Wexford/In Wexford town did dwell/She loved her husband dearly/But another man twice as well". Is "Eggs and Marrowbone" an American variant? Thanks

13 Aug 02 - 03:12 PM (#764573)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Rt Revd Sir jOhn from Hull

its called Marrowbones and was recorded by Steeleye Span.

13 Aug 02 - 03:20 PM (#764580)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: MMario

"eggs and Marrowbones" according to the DT came from rural Oklahoma - and the man it was collected from had moved there from Kentucky sometime between 1870-1880

13 Aug 02 - 04:45 PM (#764648)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Herga Kitty

There are English, Irish and American versions. Marrowbones is one of the songs in the Hammond and Gardiner MSS, and was the title of one of the anthologies published by the then EFDS in 1965. That particular published version was collected from John Pomeroy of Bridport, Dorset in May 1906. The note says, "It seems strange that this popular song should not have appeared in print more often. The Victorians took the song and rewrote it as "Johnnie Sands and Betsy Haigh" (in which form it appears regularly in American collections)."

13 Aug 02 - 04:59 PM (#764655)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Amos

There are several threads touching on this. The "Eggs and Marrow Bones" version is in the DT over here. It was also recorded by Richard Dyer Bennett in the 50's sometime.


13 Aug 02 - 06:05 PM (#764700)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone

Steve Roud's folk song index list a broadside copy in the Madden collection, but I can't find it on the Bodleian Ballads website.

Both the song here and Dibdin's "Andrew Carnegie" (with same story) I've seen as early as 1828, but both are probably older.

The "Johnny Sands" version is supposedly later.

13 Aug 02 - 06:33 PM (#764722)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Crane Driver

It's an old joke, that bone marrow makes you blind. If you take a marrowbone and boil it, all the marrow cones out into the water, making a broth. So, look through the middle of the bone, and you can't see anything at all!



13 Aug 02 - 07:37 PM (#764773)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone

Sorry, Dibdin's song is "Andrew Macintosh", not Andrew Canegie". It's in 'the Universal Songster', I, p. 416, 1828, and called "Tutheree OO and Tan" there.

13 Aug 02 - 09:07 PM (#764832)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Uncle_DaveO

In some versions of the song I've heard, she ground up the bone and rubbed it in his eyes.

Dave Oesterreich

13 Aug 02 - 09:30 PM (#764852)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone

Dibdin's song can now be seen in the Scarce Songs 2 file at

14 Aug 02 - 12:53 AM (#764941)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: masato sakurai

See The Traditional Ballad Index: Marrowbones [Laws Q2].

Steeley Span's "Marrowbones" (lyrics) are HERE and HERE.


14 Aug 02 - 03:27 AM (#764982)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: George Seto -

Here are some of the songs/threads on this song:

Auld Man and the Churnstaff
Tipping It Up To Nancy
Eggs and Marrowbones 4
Old Woman From Wexford
Old Woman From Wexford
Old Woman From Belfast

14 Aug 02 - 05:07 AM (#765006)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: DMcG

Thanks, Crane Driver! I'd never understood why marrowbones were used in this song. Now, why eggs?

31 Mar 04 - 02:07 PM (#1151143)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: scadz5

Hi, I've recently discovered Mudcat Forum....still not quite sure what it is exactly....but love it already. I'm collecting songs for a CD in the folk/blues vein and have been trying to find the words to a song my father often sang to me...Eggs and Marrowbone....Thank you to all who wrote about that song.

31 Mar 04 - 02:31 PM (#1151163)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Charley Noble

As my uncle used to sing:

Eggs, eggs and marrowbones
Will make your old man blind;
But if you wants for to do him in,
Creep up from behind!

Charley Noble

31 Mar 04 - 02:41 PM (#1151176)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Leadfingers

Hi scadz5 and welcome - The forum is nominally a place for Folk and Blues people to swop information and ideas about the music , or ANY
thing else you want rabbit about. See you in the Chatroom sometime perhaps.

31 Mar 04 - 02:52 PM (#1151184)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Going to make Osso Bucco tomorrow. Also bought some marrow bones for the dog.
Love that marrow!

Is Crane Driver right about the origin of the tale?

31 Mar 04 - 06:21 PM (#1151365)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Amos

Eggs and MArrowbones is probably in the DT...just a sec....yeah, here ya go


31 Mar 04 - 07:32 PM (#1151425)
Subject: RE: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

? See George Seto's thread above the top- a variety of marrowbones in the forum and DT

02 Apr 04 - 07:41 PM (#1153239)
Subject: RE: Origins: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Sandy Paton

The Ballad Index may refer to Twain's reference to this song as the earliest, but in 1828 James Hall published Letters from the West (containing the first report of Hugh Glass' amazing encounter with the grizzly) in which he described the song. I don't have a copy of the original book, or its 1967 reprint by Scholar's Facsimile Reprints (Gainesville, FL, 1967) but it is referred to in Michael Allen's Western Rivermen, 1763-1861 (p. 190) thusly:
    James Hall, who collected boatmen's songs, published in 1828 qa tune he has    heard concerning a boatman's infatuation with a lass who was "so neat a maid" that she carried her stockings and shoes in her "lily white hands/ For to keep them from the dews." Another popularsong, "Woman in Our Town," concerned a promiscuous woman who "loved her husband dear-i-lee/ But another man twyste as well."     I hope I have remembered how to italicize properly. If not, maybe a Joe Clone can fix it for me.

02 Apr 04 - 11:45 PM (#1153328)
Subject: RE: Origins: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: Sandy Paton

Am I ever going to learn to proof-read before I hit the "submit message" button? Western Rivermen, 1763-1861, by the way, is an excellent book, subtitled Ohio and Mississippi Boatmen and the Myth of the Alligator Horse by Michael Allen, Louisiana State University Press, Baton Rouge, 1990. I enjoyed it thoroughly. Now if I could only get hold of a copy of the James Hall book for less than $50! I dream, of course, but I'll keep watching.
    I'm occasionally lucky, though. I've been hoping to find a hardcover copy of The Sand Creek Massacre by Hoig for a long time. The other night on eBay, I bid on a batch of 20 history books, among them being a hardbound first edition of the Hoig book (which often is offered at over $30 on ABE), and got the whole damn bunch for $12.01. My patience has been rewarded!

01 Apr 11 - 10:06 AM (#3126209)
Subject: RE: Origins: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: GUEST,jack warshaw

I sing this American version adapted from an old Lomax recording, which he had in turn collected in 1934 from James Baker (aka Iron Head) at Sugarland Prison, Texas. The whole point of the story is the joke- the stupid woman has taken bad advice- neither eggs nor marrowbones will make anyone blind! Battle of the sexes again.

Once I knowed an old lady
Down Tennessee did dwell
She had a lovin' husband
And other mens as well

chorus: Love my darlin' oh
       Love my darlin' oh

2I'm goin' down to the doctor's shop
As fast as I can go
See if I can find something round that place
That'll run my husband blind2

Well she only found two marrow bones
And she made him eat them all
"Well now I'm blind my own dear wife
And I cain't see you at all" (Cho.)

"Honey I would go and drown myself
If I only knew the way"
"Come with me my own dear man
I'm 'fraid you'll run astray" (Cho.)

Well she gets right back for a runnin' start
Gonna shove her ol' man in
Ol' man steps just a little one side
And headlong she goes in (Cho.)

Well she whoops and she hollers
Just as loud as any woman could squall
"I'd help you out my own dear wife
But I cain't see you at all" (Cho.)

Now come all you young hasty women
Whereever you may be
Don't never try to drown your poor ol' man
That's so blind he cannot see. (Cho.)

01 Apr 11 - 11:15 AM (#3126262)
Subject: RE: Origins: Eggs and Marrowbone
From: RTim

I would like to correct something an earlier correspondent said about this song - ie. That it is from the Hammond & Gardiner Collection.
Yes - it does appear in Frank Purslow's book - Marrowbones, which contains songs collected by The Hammond Bros AND DR. George Gardiner, but Gardiner did not collect any versions of the song.
Both collections are individual collections and only have very little to do with each other, although both men knew each other well, and they collected together very briefly. They worked in different areas.
The version in the book above was collected by Hammond from John Pomery of Bridport, Dorset.

Tim Radford