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Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'

Lighter 16 Jun 13 - 07:40 AM
MGM·Lion 16 Jun 13 - 09:11 AM
Lighter 16 Jun 13 - 09:38 AM
MGM·Lion 16 Jun 13 - 10:25 AM
dick greenhaus 16 Jun 13 - 10:31 AM
MGM·Lion 16 Jun 13 - 10:40 AM
Abby Sale 16 Jun 13 - 11:10 AM
MGM·Lion 16 Jun 13 - 11:46 AM
Georgiansilver 16 Jun 13 - 12:00 PM
Georgiansilver 16 Jun 13 - 12:06 PM
Georgiansilver 16 Jun 13 - 12:08 PM
MGM·Lion 16 Jun 13 - 12:11 PM
dick greenhaus 16 Jun 13 - 12:20 PM
MGM·Lion 16 Jun 13 - 01:28 PM
Nigel Parsons 16 Jun 13 - 02:58 PM
GUEST 17 Jun 13 - 10:40 AM
Nigel Parsons 17 Jun 13 - 11:13 AM
dick greenhaus 17 Jun 13 - 11:18 AM
dick greenhaus 17 Jun 13 - 02:00 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Jun 13 - 04:07 PM
Joe_F 17 Jun 13 - 08:42 PM
MGM·Lion 17 Jun 13 - 11:49 PM
dick greenhaus 17 Jun 13 - 11:54 PM
Uke 18 Jun 13 - 12:41 AM
MGM·Lion 18 Jun 13 - 01:29 AM
Uke 18 Jun 13 - 01:54 AM
RoyH (Burl) 18 Jun 13 - 05:12 AM
Keith A of Hertford 18 Jun 13 - 05:38 AM
GUEST,Eliza 18 Jun 13 - 05:45 AM
GUEST,Eliza 18 Jun 13 - 06:00 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 18 Jun 13 - 06:57 AM
MGM·Lion 18 Jun 13 - 08:26 AM
Lighter 18 Jun 13 - 09:11 AM
Snuffy 18 Jun 13 - 09:14 AM
greg stephens 18 Jun 13 - 09:36 AM
Suzy Sock Puppet 18 Jun 13 - 11:34 AM
Abby Sale 18 Jun 13 - 12:37 PM
Suzy Sock Puppet 18 Jun 13 - 12:46 PM
Joe_F 18 Jun 13 - 03:01 PM
MGM·Lion 18 Jun 13 - 05:56 PM
GUEST 19 Jun 13 - 08:33 AM
greg stephens 19 Jun 13 - 09:04 AM
Lighter 19 Jun 13 - 09:21 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Jun 13 - 09:32 AM
cooperman 19 Jun 13 - 10:40 AM
GUEST,SJL 19 Jun 13 - 11:02 AM
greg stephens 19 Jun 13 - 11:10 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Jun 13 - 11:17 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Jun 13 - 11:20 AM
MGM·Lion 19 Jun 13 - 11:29 AM
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Subject: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 07:40 AM

This rugby and military favorite is among the most unpleasant and reviled, yet frequently sung, narrative songs in English. Think about *that* for a moment. Then understand that "The BGW" meets every qualification of the "Child ballad," except that a decent Victorian professor like Child would have been outraged even to know it existed.
(Though the inspiration clearly goes back to the 1830s.)


I am revising a detailed discussion of this song and would like to have some input from 'Catters, some of whom have presumably sung "The GBW" (or a least heard it sung) more than most other people.

Common reactions range from "I wish I didn't know this song!" and "It encourages violence against women" to "funniest bleeping thing I've ever heard" and "ROFLMFAO!!" As a researcher, I'm not really allowed an opinion.

A noticeable absence in folksong research is in the realm of singers; own opinions about the songs they sing, what they mean, and why and when they bothered to learn them and what they think of them years later.

So does anyone have any special recollections, associations, or strong feelings connected with "The Bloody Great Wheel"? Or is it just another pointless thingie to fill up your brain?

(Shameless self-promo: my published study of "Johnny I Hardly Knew Ye" is still available from Dick Greenhaus at CAMSCO for about the price of two Egg McMuffins. Cheap! The nourishing conclusions may surprise you. "The Bloody Great Wheel" should follow.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 09:11 AM

Not quite sure about the Child ballad bit; most ballads are not first person narrations ["An engineer told me before he died"]; and lack moralistic interjections by the narrator ["But woe alas, the biter bit"]. Tho there are admittedly one or two exceptions. But an interesting piece of Industrial Balladry, without a doubt. Pity Bert is no longer around to ask about it (though I suspect he might be a bit 'creative' about its provenance!)

I think it an accomplished piece of versification, to be sure; and have often sung it to the appreciation of the right audience [coach on way to football (soccer: I was a goalkeeper, not a rugger-bugger), eg, or army barrack room ~~ I was noted in 2 Trg Bn, RASC, Oudenarde Barracks, Aldershot, 1951, as the one with the biggest repertoire of barrack-room songs!]. I think it sufficiently witty to pass muster as a worthwhile piece of creative writing, to put it no higher.

Good luck with the project.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Lighter
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 09:38 AM

Thanks, M. Bear in mind that "Child ballads" run the gamut from the irreducibly stark "Lord Randall" and "Edward" to the later elaborations of Peter Buchan (or some say his informants).


"TBGW" has little or no significant moralizing filler. On the positive side, and more important, I think, are its narrative concision and the fact that it really does tell a story in rhymed stanzas.

The first-person element you refer to is inconsequential. Recall the "I" in, e.g., "The Battle of Harlaw" and "The Burning of Auchindoun." As in "TBGW," these "narrators of convenience" play no role in the story itself.

M, if you have plenty of time on your hands, I'd love to know the specifics of your repertoire at Aldershot. (For an alarmingly growing number of people, 1951 is rather like the Great War or earlier for the likes of us....) PM me if you like!

(And make that "two Egg McMuffin Meals." Still cheap!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 10:25 AM

Yes, indeed. Auchendoon, Harlaw, &c were the exceptions I mentioned.

These came to mind without much prompting. I am sure there were more I have forgotten for the moment ~~~

Many cumulative songs like Cosher Bailey [Did you ever see?] or QM's stores have disobliging variants to verses

BGW
Queen of all the fairies [aka Leave it alone, play with your own][tune Blaze away]
Mary in the mountain glen [They called the bastard Stephen]
3 old ladies locked in the lavatory
Chastity belt
Sexual life of the camel [tune Eton Btg Song]
Eskimo Nell [to tune Annie Laurie]
Good Ship Venus
My god how the money rolls in [tune Bonny over ocean]
Little Angeline
Roll me over
Caviare
Sweet violets
One-eyed Riley
Christopher Robin variants
In the south of France [aks When your balls hang low]
Hitler has only got one ball [tune Col Bogey]
Where was the engine-driver?[ ditto]
Boolox & the asame to you [ditto]
Inky-pinky parleyvoo [aka Mlle from Armentieres]

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 10:31 AM

A tangential comment to Jon's study of "Johnny, I Hardly Knew Ye" AKA "THe BEst Anti-War Song Ever Written":

It provides a brilliant demonstration of how sensibilities and reactions to songs change drastically over a relatively brief period of time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 10:40 AM

Let me add that I got a copy of Jon's book mentioned above from Dick, & found it most fascinating.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Abby Sale
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 11:10 AM

I'm with you strongly on the book. I'd go so far as to call it one of the most important pieces on folksong we have. The revelation on the meanings of songs dramatically changing from the origin to today are startling. Jon's research is superb and patently proves the remarkable points.

As to BGW, even Legman hesitates on this one. He names it frankly - sadistic and misogynistic. The only note I've ever personally seen in Legman that suggests any pause whatsoever on bawdy or sadistic lines in folk song.

I think the difference these days may be similar to the moral or tolerance changes we have since BGW was first produced. The perceived humor of a blind person stumbling around or of kicking out a person's crutch or shooting him in the foot or punching out the sassy child seems to have changed. I admit I have no issue singing or hearing bawdy folk song and few taboo words bother me. (I sang a stronger version of The Old Sea Crab the other night and it went over well.)

But that's just sex. I don't sing BGW. I also don't sing "hateful" songs recommending or finding humorous the reviling any group - for me that includes sexual orientation, race or even preferred musical instrument. I don't permit ethnic jokes in my house or hearing.

I was struck when I discovered I objected to BGW. At least to my _own_ singing of it. Surprised me, that did. It didn't bother me much as a child but I finally concluded it wasn't about sex at all.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 11:46 AM

'concluded it wasn't about sex at all.'
.,,.

No, indeed: a most cogent conclusion ~~ it's more about dominance, and the fact that men can't bear a controlling woman, so any such has to be punished with a disgusting death.

It has affinities in theme to Eskimo Nell, hasn't it? But that IMO has much wit. I remember many years ago (1969) having a Legman book to review: "The Rationale of the Dirty Joke", and corresponding with him a bit. I have dug out this correspondence and find inter alia having written to him about his view of Eskimo Nell ~~

"I disagree about its lacking 'the saving grace of humour' -- no room for detailed analysis, but take eg

...Deadwood Dick was breathing quick with lecherous snorts and grunts
As 40 arses were bared to view, to say nothing of 40 cunts.

Now 40 arses and 40 cunts, you'll find if you use your wits,
Or if you're slick at arithmetic, add up to 80 tits;
And 80 tits are a goodly sight to a man with a mighty stand.
It may be rare in Berkeley Square, but it's not on the Rio Grande.

The deflation, or bathos, at the end of the stanza after the great build up, by the incongruous introduction of the concept of upper class mores which are in their turn deflated by such an introduction into a situation in which their morality cannot apply, is surely humorous [& witty] in the extreme?"


I think I would stand by that judgement, BGW has its humour indeed; but I think many of the same points are better made by E Nell; who, far from being destroyed like the GBW's unfortunate wife, gets the better at every turn of Deadwood Dick, & of Mexican Pete, who at one point, in supposed revenge for her having got the better of his companion by deflating him almost immediately on penetration, inserts his pistol into her ~~

He shoved it up to the trigger-guard and fired it three times three,
And to his surprise she rolled her eyes and squealed in ecstasy


Must say I prefer Nell to Wheel, all in all, both morally & æsthetically.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 12:00 PM

Mthe GM.. on our rugby coach we used to use Deadeyed Dick.... and Mexican Pete.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 12:06 PM

Just realised that "The Wild West Show" didn't get a mention yet... well it has now....
Chorus:-
Ok We're off to see the Wild West Show.
The elephant and the kangarooooooooo
Never mind the weather, as long as we're together,
We're off to see the Wild West Show....

And in this cage ladies and gentlemen we have the.......... Red Pepper bird!.... (crowd shouts) The Red Pepper bird What the ........ hells that? (narrator replies) The Red Pepper bird eats red pepper, drinks red pepper and flies backwards to keep his a..e cool! Back to the chorus and rthen onto another outrageous animal... any memories for anyone?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Georgiansilver
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 12:08 PM

Also just remembered "The Lobster"


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 12:11 PM

Have heard both versions of the name, G Silver. Dick Deadeye is a character in G&S {HMS Pinafore}, and I suspect he might have floated into E Nell by association of some sort; though either name will do, as both scan perfectly well, and it is of course a chimerical search for any definitive version of such a widespread work.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 12:20 PM

"it's more about dominance, and the fact that men can't bear a controlling woman, so any such has to be punished with a disgusting death."

Hardly. It's about a woman who couldn't be satisfied by normal means, and a helpful man who tries to help her with advanced technology. Her death was clearly an accident, following her "enough, enough, I'm satisfied!"

Listen to the words.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 01:28 PM

But his 'helpful, technologically advanced' gadget was not fit for purpose ~~ there was no way of stopping it. And if she was blameless, then why "the biter bit"? So she died a peculiarly disgusting death, brought on by a combination of her insatiability and his neglectful inefficiency. That not a punishment then, Dick?

Accident? Manslaughter at least, in law, I should reckon. I can't imagine that volenti non fit injuria would have applied in this instance. (Is Richard about?)

Listen to the words, right back to you; and oblige me, if you would be so good, by not adopting that patronising tone.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 16 Jun 13 - 02:58 PM

And if she was blameless, then why "the biter bit"?
"The biter bit" may be a typo for "the bitter bit", although I've always sung it (and heard it sung) as "Now we come to the tragic bit"

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 10:40 AM

Surely the point of these most degrading rugby songs was to see who could come up with the worse form of excess, who could exaggerate the most, stretch their imaginations the furthest in vileness. It may only have its place in a few very limited situations, but it does have its place! Or did!

I think a good shrink would be able to tell us why young men in certain situations need to stretch the boundaries, so to speak.

I am not ashamed to admit that once I laughed at and revelled in such vile filth!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 11:13 AM

Surely the point of these most degrading rugby songs was to see who could come up with the worse form of excess, who could exaggerate the most, stretch their imaginations the furthest in vileness.
If that was the point then surely only one song would survive from the whole genre.
The fact that that isn't the case suggests your assumption is wrong.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 11:18 AM

While the creation of a machine that can't be stopped (I had a Chevy like that, once) may be criminal negligence,I see no indication that the woman was "controlling", nor any that she was "punished" for duch a propensity. Her only comment, prior to the violent and disgusting end, was "Enough, enough, I'm satisfied!"

Abby-
I think the "Crabfish" is considerably more sadistic, though perhspd a better song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 02:00 PM

THinking about it a bit, isn't this another case of looking at a Victorian era song through modern sensibilities?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 04:07 PM

GUEST was a cookieless me.

Sorry, Nigel, don't follow your logic. As it says, I was referring only to the most extreme ones like TBGW. If lots of wits were trying to come up with the vilest stuff why would only one survive?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Joe_F
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 08:42 PM

I think the emphasis on the putatively misogynistic engineer may be uncalled for. He is missing in both versions that I heard & supplied to Lighter in correspondence (the one at Putney School, VT, in 1953, and the one at St Andrews University, Scotland, in 1958); there, the source of the story is "a sailor", and he takes no part in it; the "maid" builds the machine herself. Her foolishness in not providing a method of stopping it echoes that of the Sorceror's Apprentice & his descendents in the wake of the Industrial Revolution. No doubt her being made a lustful woman reflects the war of the sexes, but so do many other things.

In both, also, it is "the bitter bit", not "the biter bit"; I had not heard of the latter useful phrase until Lighter mentioned it in his essay. I think "bitter" suits the context better.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 11:49 PM

the biter (is) bit (British old-fashioned) ···

someone who has caused harm to other people in the past has now been hurt - 'It's a case of the biter bit. After years of breaking girls' hearts, he finally fell for someone who didn't love him.'

                                             The Free Dictionary


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 Jun 13 - 11:54 PM

In the version I learned back in 1947 or so, there were no "bitter bits"
"But here my story must lag a bit
There was no way of stopping it"

The sailor built the machine, but it was to help a frustrated woman.
There was no indication of misogynism, nor of controlling women, nor of sadism (except, possibly, on the part of the singer.

I'm not sure why the death of Charlotte, the Harlot is any less repulsive.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Uke
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 12:41 AM

The meaning of this extreme song would probably vary according to the social context in which it was sung. For instance, in his book "Dark Laughter" (1994), a unexpurgated study of military folksong, Les Cleveland explains that soldiers like himself perhaps found some symbolic resonance when singing "The Great Big Wheel":

"This sadomasochistic parable of a death machine devouring its individual victims is paralleled collectively on the battlefield by the larger spectacle of a whole civilization caught up in the murderous complexities of military technology." (p.28)


I think Gershon Legman makes a similar point, that the song can be read as a protest against industrial civilization - an inhuman techno-Moloch that "f***s people up".


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 01:29 AM

Oh, indeed. It's a fine exemplar of the Frankenstein/Golem/RUR motif, the invention or creation that can't be controlled.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Uke
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 01:54 AM

Yeah, Cleveland also mentions the song being a variation on "The Sorceror's Apprentice" tale.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 05:12 AM

My recollection of this, based on many hearings during my 7 years millitary service, is of a recitation rather than a song. I'd like to hear it sung. What's the tune like?
I also heard 'The Crabfish' for the first time whilst in the army, and by my time of demob had heard 'McCafferty', Young Soldier Cut Down', D Day Dodgers, The Screw Gun,and 'Wild Colonial Boy'. It was hearing McCafferty and Dodgers sung by an old Battery Sgt Major that led me to search for British folk songs. Before that my interest in country music and Blues made me think that all folk music came from America. Therefore, in a roundabout sort of way I have my service days, beginning in 1951, to thank for my life in folk music. I started as a professional in 1964, so next year will be my 50th anniversary. They have been wonderful years, and I look forward to many more.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 05:38 AM

The tune is Froggie Went a Courting.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 05:45 AM

I remember BGW at Uni donkey's years ago, along with many other similar songs, some mentioned here. I adored the Wild West Show, and must have heard literally dozens of verses. (I also particularly liked a song about a gentleman who seemed to have "...large balls, twice as heavy as lead..." who, "...with a singular twist of his muscular wrist, he threw them over his head, tarara boom..." etc. Anyone know that one? If so, I'd be grateful for the rest of the words which I've forgotten!)
As to the original post, I thought BGW was deliciously funny when I was young and naive, and it was sung by rather juvenile and very drunk lads who roared it out. I don't think one can 'analyse' it for sadism, cruelty, disrespect to women etc. In its day, in the context of men, booze and general merriment, it was just a young lads' rude song. The students I heard singing it were not in the least cruel or disrespectful to women, they were perfectly normal and nice to have as a boyfriend. Dirty/rude songs have their place, and are often witty and funny as well as rude. Just don't sing them in the vicar's hearing!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: GUEST,Eliza
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 06:00 AM

Ah! I've just found the song about the gentleman with the large balls on here! (He was a juggler of course.) Good old Mudcat!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 06:57 AM

I don't know where you got your information, but that's not how it goes. It goes like this:

A woman told me before she died
And I've no reason to think she lied
That her husband had a dick so small,
That she couldn't feel the damned thing at all

So he built her a tool of steel,
Driven by a bloody great wheel,
Balls of brass he filled with cream,
And the whole fucking issue was driven by steam.

When she saw it she drew back in fright
Then off to her sister's she fled for the night
She can't say what happened as she wasn't there
But when she got back there was shit everywhere!

She retched as mopped up his vile remains
Here an eye, there a toe, a bit of his brains
Ah, the poor man, even so what luck!
A lousy inventor and an even worse fuck!

So there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 08:26 AM

Re: tune. The one I knew had little resemblance to Froggie's Courting - have tried to sing it to that but the rhythm didn't feel right. The one I know is a slowish, quite stately air, somewhat hymn-like, which SFAIK is one peculiar to the song rather than a re-use or reworking of any other.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Lighter
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 09:11 AM

SJL shows that the women are just like the men: when they get sent to hell, they will absolutely not be coming back again.

But seriously:

There are no less than *fourteen* recognizably different tunes that have carried the "BGW" lyrics. In addition, it sometimes appears without any tune at all, as in RoyH's recollection.

By far the most usual melody before about 1960, however, was the hymn tune known usually as "Old Hundredth." ("St. Bees" is also used.) Around 1960 the popular folk-revival tunes of "Froggie Went a-Courtin'" and/or "The Crawdad Song" began to take over.

Pseudo-industrial sound effects were also added.

Some years bacl I suggested that "BGW" was closely related to a popular Victorian music-hall ditty of the 1830s called "The Steam Arm." Since then, Patrick Spedding and Paul Watt's anthology of "Bawdy Songbooks of the Romantic Period" bears out the theory: several comic songs on similar themes were produced in quick succession. Unfortunately, no text of "BGW" seems to have survived from much before WWII.

The existence of bawdy songs in the 1830s called "The Steam Tool" and "The Steam Jock" in the same meter *and the same nearly unique aaaa rhyme scheme* demonstrates the relationship.

Exactly when "BGW" as we know it was created remains unclear: but the circumstantial evidence (too complicated to go into here) shows that it was almost certainly no later than around 1900. (The words, by the way, rarely varied until the 1960s, when various additions began to get tacked on)

Thanks for the replies. There's always something more to say and new to learn. (Most of these threads on "what song X means to me" quickly fall flat: what is it about "BGW" I wonder? Don't answer.)

RoyH, were the texts and tunes of the other songs you mention pretty much the usual?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Snuffy
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 09:14 AM

The tune is reminiscent of Froggie's Courting but very slow and ponderous, echoing the rhythm of the machine

|So he invented a | prick of steel a-| hummm-| mmmmmmm|
|So he invented a | prick of steel | driven round by a | bloody great wheel. A-|
| hummm-| mmmmmmm a- | hummm-| mmmmmmm|


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: greg stephens
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 09:36 AM

In my youth, we invariably sang it to the hymn tune St Bees(or a slight variation thereof). Then the Froggie Went a Courting version started coming in, in the 60's, possibly influenced by a commercial recording of rugger songs(performed by the Jock Strapp Ensemble), which used the latter tune.I much prefer the stately measured tones of the hymn tune.]

I don't see it is particularly sexist or mysogynistic, far from it. The version we sang recounted the genuine and caring attempts of an engineer to provide his wife with some fun which he was incapable of providing himself. Her end was a tragic and unforeseen accident, and in no way presented as any kind of judgement on her. What we sang was "now we come to the painful bit" (nothing about a biter being bit or anything).


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 11:34 AM

Why, thank you Lighter. It took me all of 5 minutes to earn my ticket to hell :-)

Invented by Men


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Abby Sale
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 12:37 PM

It seems fairly obvious that a sadist must justify the sadism - "the victim deserves it for xxx reason." Even if the justification is absurd, it seems (to me) needful for the sadist to proceed without qualms.

I think she is being punished and I think her "crime" is a simple, common one: having a greater sexual apatite/need than the man. The mere existence of the song is justified by that. I've many times heard the notion that referring to another being "oversexed" just means having a greater apatite than the speaker. Makes sense to me.

Dick: I can only go by my perception of others' perceptions. The venue I sang Sea Crab in was a friendly, singer-songwriter place and appropriate laughter from them was evident. I'm pretty sure BGW would have been greeted less kindly for the reason of tending towards hate crime. Maybe I'm projecting, though. I could take a survey there on this next month, if you like. It would hardly be a valid sampling of US reactions, but if you like...


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Suzy Sock Puppet
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 12:46 PM

Excuse me. That should have read, "Invented by Lazy, Self-Centered Men Who Are Threatened By Women's Sexuality"

Nothing misogynist about any of this? Yeah, right.

And btw, according to anthropologist David D. Gilmore:

Man hating among women has no popular name because it has never (at least not until recently) achieved apotheosis as a social fact, that is, it has never been ratified into public, culturally recognized and approved institutions ... As a cultural institution, misogyny therefore seems to stand alone as a gender-based phobia, unreciprocated.

There is no equivalent of this sort of "humorous" folk song for women. Instead there are lamentations, "I have no money, no decent clothes, I'm overworked, I'm pregnant and abandoned, he gets drunk and beats me..." Somebody's lying here.

When people victimize others, there is generally speaking, some sort of rationale involved that blames or demonizes the victim. And if you think this song is funny, then maybe you should move to Pakistan :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 03:01 PM

It is rash to speak of "the" tune to this song -- or of "Froggy Went a-Courting" for that matter. I don't happen to have heard a tune that fits both, but that is no surprise. Of the two for The Wheel that I have heard, the Vermont one was rather nondescript (scale DRMFSLTdrmfslt; dots mean continuation for a beat):
Sd.ddrmr.TS.
Sr.rrmfm.rd.
mf.fL.fm.mS.
mr.rrmfm.rd.
The Scottish one was Old Hundred!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 18 Jun 13 - 05:56 PM

Old Hundred is, of course, best known, hymnwise, as "All people that on Earth do dwell", a metrical version of Psalm 100, hence the tune's name. GBW doesn't seem to me to fit that tune too well, metrically.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 08:33 AM

I have to say I have never heard The Engineers Wheel sung to Old 100th.It doesn't seem to go at all. Always to St Bees or Froggie Went a-courting


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 09:04 AM

that was me, logged out for some reason


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 09:21 AM

Thanks for the link, SLJ. You'll be happy to know that I'm familiar with Maines's amazing discussion of Taylor's inventions of ca1870.

The website photo of the "Manipulator" is quite something. However, it bears *no resemblance whatever* to Taylor's own illustration of it in his "Pelvic and Hernial Therapeutics" (1885).

This makes me suspect that the thing in the photo is a postmodern sculpture inspired by "The Bloody Great Wheel." I don't see any documentation at the website, so I reserve my opinion.

Taylor's machines were designed (he said) to treat hernias through abdominal massage. He had another one (for men!) that bears some resemblance to the device described in the song.

It would be interesting to know how many of his machines Taylor actually manufactured and sold.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 09:32 AM

The tune I have always known this to is, I think, having played it a couple of times on YouTube, based on not quite accurate recollection of the hymn tune called St Bees ~~ used for hymn "Hark My Soul, It Is The Lord". Seems to me to go best, and with fewest complications like introduction of anomalous 'umm-hmm's & such, of all the tunes nominated here thus far.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: cooperman
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 10:40 AM

I always thought Froggie went a courting was sung to the Bloody Great Wheel tune!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: GUEST,SJL
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 11:02 AM

St. Bees

Michael, you're right. This is the tune that fits. Froggie does not at all. In fact, my lyrics with this tune- bloody hysterical!

Hysterical. What does that word mean actually? Where does it come from?

And look Lighter,if you want to challenge me on the issue of hardware contributing to female bondage, we can go with the chastity belt. I'm flexible.

I really think it would be fab if y'all made a youtube video of it. Seriously. If you think the song worthwhile, it will survive longer in that format than a book.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: greg stephens
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 11:10 AM

It does indeed fit the St Bees tune(with modified last line) perfectly. But it also sings perfectly to the Froggie tune as well, with the inserted uh-huhs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 11:17 AM

Susan

Hysteria, [whence 'hysterical'] like your children, was born of your womb ~~

X❤♥M♥❤X

Wikipedia
For at least two thousand years of European history until the late nineteenth century hysteria referred to a medical condition thought to be particular to women and caused by disturbances of the uterus (from the Greek ὑστέρα "hystera" = uterus), such as when a neonate emerges from the female birth canal. The origin of the term hysteria is commonly attributed to Hippocrates, even though the term isn't used in the writings that are collectively known as the Hippocratic corpus


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 11:20 AM

And ~ uhmmm ~

we can go with the chastity belt. I'm flexible

Would you care to rephrase that?.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Bloody Great Wheel'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 19 Jun 13 - 11:29 AM

We have been into all this before, about how any song in common metre, allowing for variations between 4343- and 4444- stressed lines, i e ballad metre, can be sung to the tune of any other. Sometimes, from this, you will get changes in the classic settings regarded as appropriate, as eg the tune of Fause Foodrage has become associated ubiquitously with Willie-o-Winsbury bacause someone by misapprehension recorded it so ~~ forget who, but it's all in one of the threads somewhere. So now try singing BGW to that & you will find it goes perfectly well. So it is in fact mainly convention that assocs one ballad tune with one set of words; & BGW could be sung to any of those with the 4444 metre.

We have had lots of threads on this.

~M~


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