Mudcat Café message #42644 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #2624   Message #42644
Posted By: Jennifer Burdoo
21-Oct-98 - 08:26 AM
Thread Name: How to Create a Folksong (FS for Dummies)
Subject: RE: How to Create a Folksong (FS for Dummies)
Anyone here ever listened to Tom Lehrer? This is his cliche'd version of an Irish folksong, including some things we already have in our list. I include some of the liner notes to explain his reasoning. Hope they look ok as I've typed in a ton of linebreaks.

Jennifer

...
At any rate, for this elite I have here an ancient Irish ballad, which was written a few years ago, and which is replete with all the accoutrements of this art form. In particular, it has a sort of idiotic refrain, in this case rickety-tickety-tin you'll notice cropping up from time to time, running through, I might add, interminable verses - The large number of verses being a feature expressly designed to please the true devotees of the folk song who seem to find singing fifty verses of On Top Of Old Smokey is twice as enjoyable as singing twenty-five.

This type of song also has what is known technically in music as a modal tune, which means - for the benefit of any layman who may have wandered in this evening - that I play a wrong note every now and then, I think I might add...

This song though does differ strikingly from the genuine folk ballad in that in this song the words which are supposed to rhyme - actually do.

About a maid I'll sing a song,
Sing rickety-tickety-tin,
About a maid I'll sing a song,
Who didn't have her fam'ly long.
Not only did she do them wrong,
She did ev'ryone of them in, them in,
She did ev'ryone of them in.

One morning in a fit of pique,
Sing rickety-tickety-tin,
One morning in a fit of pique,
She drowned her father in the creek.
The water tasted bad for a week,
And we had to make do with gin, with gin,
We had to make do with gin.

Her mother she could never stand,
Sing rickety-tickety-tin,
Her mother she could never stand,
And so a cyanide soup she planned.
The mother died with the spoon in her hand,
And her face in a hideous grin, a grin,
Her face in a hideous grin.

She set her sister's hair on fire,
a-Rickety-tickety-tin,
She set her sister's hair on fire,
And as the smoke and flame rose high'r,
Danced around the funeral pyre,
Playin' a violin, -olin,
Playin' a violin.

She weighted her brother down with stones,
a-Rickety-tickety-tin,
She weighted her brother down with stones,
And sent him off to Davy Jones.
All they ever found were some bones,
And occasional pieces of skin, of skin,
Occasional pieces of skin.

One day when she had nothing to do,
Sing rickety-tickety-tin,
One day when she had nothing to do,
She cut her baby brother in two,
And served him up as an Irish stew,
And invited the neighbors in, -bors in,
Invited the neighbors in.

And when at last the police came by,
Sing rickety-tickety-tin,
And when at last the police came by,
Her little pranks she did not deny.
To do so she would have had to lie,
And lying, she knew, was a sin, a sin,
Lying, she knew, was a sin.

My tragic tale I won't prolong,
Rickety-tickety-tin,
My tragic tale I won't prolong,
And if you do not enjoy my song,
You've yourselves to blame if it's too long,
You should never have let me begin, begin,
You should never have let me begin.