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Absurdities in songs - any examples?

BobKnight 04 Dec 13 - 09:54 PM
GUEST,Guestibus 04 Dec 13 - 03:50 PM
Tradsinger 04 Dec 13 - 10:09 AM
kendall 04 Dec 13 - 08:32 AM
Big Al Whittle 04 Dec 13 - 02:39 AM
GUEST 03 Dec 13 - 07:58 PM
Bill D 03 Dec 13 - 02:25 PM
GUEST,kendall 03 Dec 13 - 12:47 PM
GUEST,kendall 03 Dec 13 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,John from "Elsie` Band" 03 Dec 13 - 11:16 AM
Bill D 03 Dec 13 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band" 03 Dec 13 - 10:27 AM
Snuffy 03 Dec 13 - 09:30 AM
Mr Happy 23 Nov 13 - 10:14 AM
PHJim 23 Nov 13 - 07:29 AM
Tattie Bogle 23 Nov 13 - 04:36 AM
Dave Hanson 23 Nov 13 - 03:24 AM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Nov 13 - 10:19 PM
Bill D 22 Nov 13 - 08:07 PM
Bill D 22 Nov 13 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,kendall 22 Nov 13 - 07:31 PM
Jim Dixon 22 Nov 13 - 04:09 PM
Richard Mellish 20 Jun 09 - 05:39 PM
Tradsinger 10 Jun 09 - 03:47 AM
bseed(charleskratz) 09 Jun 09 - 03:09 AM
Rapparee 08 Jun 09 - 09:45 PM
Joe_F 08 Jun 09 - 09:01 PM
MartinRyan 08 Jun 09 - 11:54 AM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 08 Jun 09 - 11:50 AM
Nigel Parsons 08 Jun 09 - 11:45 AM
MartinRyan 08 Jun 09 - 11:42 AM
Nigel Parsons 08 Jun 09 - 11:22 AM
MartinRyan 08 Jun 09 - 10:56 AM
Nigel Parsons 08 Jun 09 - 10:49 AM
Joe_F 07 Jun 09 - 08:00 PM
GUEST,William Pint 07 Jun 09 - 01:10 PM
GUEST,Bizibod 07 Jun 09 - 11:30 AM
DMcG 07 Jun 09 - 03:50 AM
GUEST,guest - texas 07 Jun 09 - 12:34 AM
GUEST,Gill Cawley 27 Feb 07 - 12:54 PM
GUEST,Nice Beaver. 27 Feb 07 - 12:46 PM
GUEST,English Jon 27 Feb 07 - 09:45 AM
Rowan 26 Feb 07 - 04:19 PM
Rowan 23 Feb 07 - 09:05 PM
Gurney 23 Feb 07 - 07:39 PM
Teribus 23 Feb 07 - 04:05 PM
GUEST,meself 23 Feb 07 - 06:29 AM
Liz the Squeak 23 Feb 07 - 04:45 AM
GUEST,Mike B. 22 Feb 07 - 10:50 PM
Joe_F 22 Feb 07 - 08:08 PM
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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: BobKnight
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 09:54 PM

Somewhere in the sixties (I think) some idiot added another verse to Tramps And Hawkers, with a line that reads, "I've helped the Buckie trawlers pull the herring ower the side." A bit difficult since trawlers don't fish for herring. The net trawls along the bottom collecting "white" fish, while herring are suface feeders, (Pelagic fish) caught by drifters.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,Guestibus
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 03:50 PM

One that I can't unhear is in "The Town I Loved So Well" - 'There was music there, in the Derry air' or as I always hear it, 'derriere'.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 10:09 AM

An Appalachian version of The Wife of Usher's Well starts:

There was a woman and she lived alone
And babies she had three

How...?


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: kendall
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 08:32 AM

Guest, I've been a sailor all my adult life so I know all that. It just struck me as poorly worded.

If it takes all hands, that must be one humongous anchor! The picture that come to mind was a full rigged ship, Barque or even a Brigantine.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 04 Dec 13 - 02:39 AM

as Derek Brimstone pointed out

He rode east and he rode west....

cos he was an idiot


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 07:58 PM

@Kendall 22 Nov 13 - 07:31 PM
A ship at anchor will always have left itself searoom before anchoring, which will still be there when weighing: there's time enough to weigh anchor and then set sail, particularly as the only thing making way on the ship at that point is the current. Many ships could be worked by a mere fistful of very exhausted men, which is how the prize crew system worked. And if you haven't left yourself searoom, either don't sail until the tide, currents and winds change, or crab your way out using sprung anchors and boats - which isn't what the song describes.
Sheets and halyards will normally be secured so they can be left to their own devices at that point. If it's really necessary to use the wind, a minimum sail can be set first, but the same applies.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 02:25 PM

*grin* ...is that 'absurd', Kendall?... or merely ghoulish ?

We both sing the whole thing, and it's sometimes hard to tell if the audience considers it absurd.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 12:47 PM

I stood by the water so green and so think,I stirred at the scum with an old withered stick,
When there rose from the depths of that limpid lagoon,
The luminous body of Mrs. Ravoon.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 12:44 PM

It was midnight on the ocean, not a streetcar was in sight,
I stepped into drug store to get myself a light,
The man behind the counter was a woman old and grey,
She used to peddle donuts on the road to Mandalay.

Aint we crazy, aint we crazy, we sing just to pass the time away,
Aint we crazy, aint we crazy, we sing this little song all night today.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,John from "Elsie` Band"
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 11:16 AM

Bill D.

It is on our Cd entitled "Cutaway Mike" and it contains your verses.

John


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Bill D
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 11:04 AM

Oh, "Cutaway Mike" goes on & on! (I know only one source on an old LP)

"He once took a trip to his grandfather's tower
Who lived about 600 miles out of town.
Got there in an hour and lifted the tower
Returned home again with a church in his lap.

He once made a contract with baker and butcher
For all they could bake and for all they could kill.
A whole batch of bread he consumed for his dinner,
Then stuck a cow's tail in the hole of his tooth."
---------------------------------------------------

Then there is Bob Beer's "PYTHAGORUS AND CANTANKORUS" which you can listen to here... of which he says:"This is a musical abstract. I would describe it as being in blank verse, with no meter, no ending, and no meaning. Of course, I wrote it with; absolutely no effort."


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,John from "Elsie`s Band"
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 10:27 AM

From our version of "Cutaway Mike":-


"Little Mike, he was born about six in the morning.
Himself and his mother were there at the time"
,..........
...........


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Snuffy
Date: 03 Dec 13 - 09:30 AM

In the Flying Fish Sailor version of Blow the Man Down, the narrator tells us how he treated the policeman:

So I smashed in his face, and I stove in his jaw;
Says he "My young feller, you're breaking the law"

After that sort of assault, I'd be amazed if he could manage to say anything intelligible.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 10:14 AM

There's a far away look on the face of the bum '


Seen his mule?


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: PHJim
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 07:29 AM

In "The FFV"/"Wreck Of The 143", The Carter Family* sing,

His face lay against the firebox door.
The flames were rolling high,
Said, "I'm proud to be born for an engineer
On the C&O road to die."

If the flames were rolling high, the firebox door would be red hot. A more realistic line, though one that doesn't scan as well, would be,

His face lay against the firebox door.
The flames were rolling high,
Said, "AAAAIIIIIEEEEEYYYAAAHHHH!!!"




*Also sun by Johnny Cash, Townes Van Zandt, Joan Baez and others.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 04:36 AM

There's a line in "Gallowa Hills" - when doon fa's a' (when everything falls down).
I never really thought about it until an English friend asked what it meant: literal translation as shown, but I suppose it is suggesting falling on hard times or everything going pear- shaped for you.
However my friend had this mental picture of your trousers and pants all falling down. Since she said that, I've never been able to get through that line (which happens twice in the song) without laughing!


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 23 Nov 13 - 03:24 AM

A great line from ' A Pub With No Beer '

' There's a far away look on the face of the bum '

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 10:19 PM

All those old songs where a well-off guy is out hunting or hiking, sees a young working woman (dairy maid, shepherdess) and instantly falls "in love."

Yeah, right.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 08:07 PM

revision/addendum

"Ladies & gentlemen, hobos & tramps,
Crosseyed mosquitoes & bowlegged ants,
I come before you to stand behind you
To tell you something I know nothing about.
Admission is free...."etc.

I assume my father and various kids I knew had 'processed' all this way before *I* ever got it.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Bill D
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 07:57 PM

"... longest version of this rhyme I have run across. "

I think it is a a 'zipper' rhyme... a melding of 2 (or more) similar items. I have heard pieces of it as separate poems.

One began

"Ladies & gentlemen, hobos & tramps,
Crosseyed mosquitoes & bowlegged ants,
The admission is free, so pay at the door.
So pull up a chair and sit on the floor.

I come before you...(etc..etc with variants)"

But my father used to recite the one:

"'Twas midnight on the ocean, not a streetcar was in sight.
The sun was shining brightly' cause it rained all day that night...
'Twas a Winters day in Summer, and the rain was snowing hard,
While a barefoot boy with shoes on stood sitting in the yard...etc"

and then he added the "While the organ pealed 'potatoes'
                     Lard was rendered by the choir.."

verses...


So... that sort of little recitation is easily mis-remembered, added to, 'improved', melded and generally 'folk processed'. I have heard bits & pieces for 65+ years, which were, as my father said "The same---only different"


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,kendall
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 07:31 PM

In the song Rolling Home, if you call all hands to man the capstan, who will man the sheets and halyards?


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 22 Nov 13 - 04:09 PM

This is the longest version of this rhyme I have run across. It was posted in another forum, without attribution.

Ladies and Gentlemen, skinny and stout,
I'll tell you a tale I know nothing about.
The admission is free, so pay at the door.
Now pull up a chair and sit on the floor.
One fine day in the middle of the night,
Two dead boys got up to fight.
Back to back they faced each other,
Drew their swords and shot each other.
A blind man came to watch fair play.
A mute man came to shout "Hooray!"
A deaf policeman heard the noise,
And dame to stop those two dead boys.
He lived on the corner in the middle of the block,
In a two-story house on a vacant lot.
A man with no legs came walking by,
And kicked the lawman in his thigh.
He crashed through a wall without making a sound,
Into a dry creek bed and suddenly drowned.
The long black hearse came to cart him away,
But he ran for his life and is still gone today.
I watched from the corner of the big round table,
The only eyewitness to facts of my fable,
But if you doubt my lies are true,
Just ask the blind man; he saw it too.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 05:39 PM

I second Joe's observation
> *Deliberate* absurdities are another matter. <
Some of the examples posted above are nonsense songs, a fine genre in its own right.

I like and sing Sarah Jane for its odd turns of phrase, such as "the north wind breeze", and for its (possibly deliberate) absurdities:
- "if I had Aladdin's wondrous lamp,
it would shine supremely grand"
i.e. ignore the genie and just use the thing for illumination,
and
- "by building castles in the air,
great pleasure I might obtain"
which is not the way castles in the air are usually understood.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Tradsinger
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 03:47 AM

Lots of folk songs have non-sensical words or plots. Try following the story of 'The Banks of Sweet Dundee', for example. The girl shoots her uncle who is so impressed he leaves all his money to her.

Another non-sequitor is the version of 'The Wife of Usher's Well' that I sing. It starts:

There was a woman and she lived alone
And babies she had three...

How does that happen...? (Don't ask).

Tradsinger


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: bseed(charleskratz)
Date: 09 Jun 09 - 03:09 AM

Rapaire, you missed one in that song: "I was born...when I was just a child."


One that always bugs me is in the song "The Greenland Whale Fisheries":

the last verse:

Oh, Greenland is a dreadful place, a land that's never green,
Where there's wind and snow and the whale-fishes blow,
And the daylight's seldom seen, brave boys,
And the daylight's seldom seen.

Whaling season in the far north Atlantic of course is summer, and days are long in Greenland, like Alaska, the land of the midnight sun.

Charles


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Rapparee
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 09:45 PM

Here's one:

My name is Tim McDonald, I'm a native of the Isle,
I was born among old Erin's bogs when I was but a child.
My father fought in "'Ninety-eight," for liberty so dear;
He fell upon old Vinegar Hill, like an Irish volunteer.
Then raise the harp of Erin, boys, the flag we all revere--
We'll fight and fall beneath its folds, like Irish volunteers!


The Battle of Vinegar Hill was on June 21, 1798. Assuming that the singer was conceived just before the battle, he would have been 62 or 63 at the outbreak of the US Civil War...a bit old for soldiering. Not impossible, but very highly unlikely.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Joe_F
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 09:01 PM

TJ: *Deliberate* absurdities are another matter. %^)


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 11:54 AM

Ooops, Nigel! Fell for that one, hook, line and sinker! I even recognise the bloody story when you tell it...

Curiously, it is possible to have Good Friday in May under the Eastern Churches (Julian) calendar. Which is rather nice since, IIRC, parts of the Celtic church in the West of Ireland (including Kerry, mentioned in the song) held on to that calendar much later than most of the Western church - but not as late as 1916, the date to whcih the song refers!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 11:50 AM

I forget who parodied this old cowboy song, but it works:

I can see by your outfit that you are a cowboy,
You can see by my outfit that I'm a cowboy too,
You can see by our outfits that we are both cowboys,
Get yourself an outfit and you can be a cowboy too.

One of the all-time absurdities in song must be a Carl Sandburg collected ditty, "A Horse Named Bill:"

Oh I had a horse and his name was Bill.
And when he ran he didn't stand still.
He ran away one day,
And also I ran with him.

He ran so fast he could not stop,
He ran into a barber shop,
And fell exhaustionized - with his eye teeth -
In the barber's left shoulder.

I got a gal and her name is Daisy,
And when she sings the cat goes crazy,
With deliriums - St. Vituses -
And all kinds of cataleptics.

One day she sang a song about
A man who turned himself inside out,
And jumped into the river,
Because he was so very sleepy.

Oh, my gal's Lena, she's a peach,
But don't leave food within her reach,
Nor babies, nor nursemaids,
Nor chocolate ice cream sodas.

I'm going out in the woods next year,
I'll shoot for beer and not for deer,
Well, I am, I was,
I'll be a great sharpshooter.

At shooting birds I am a beaut,
There is no bird I cannot shoot,
In the eye, in the ear, in the teeth,
Or in the fingers.

In Frisco Bay there lives a whale,
And she eats pork chops by the bale,
By the hogshead, by the schooner,
And sometimes, by the pillbox.

And when she's happy, how she plays,
She rolls about for days and days,
And hollers, and yodels,
And breaks the Ten Commandments.

Oh, and when she's happy, how she smiles,
You see teeth for miles and miles,
And tonsils, and adenoids,
And things too fierce to mention!

One day I went up in a balloon so big,
That the people on earth looked like a pig,
Like a mouse, like a katydid
Like flyses and like fleasens.

That balloon turned up with its bottom side higher,
It fell on the wife of a country squire,
She made a noise like a doghound, like a steam whistle,
And also like dynamite!

Well, what can you do in a case like that?
What can you do but sit on your hat,
Or on your grandmother, on your toothbrush,
Or anything else that's helpless.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 11:45 AM

1899 King George IV stakes, a horse named Good Friday was one of the fallers!


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 11:42 AM

Not in my version of what passes for the christian calendar! Explain please?

Regards


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 11:22 AM

Good Friday once fell on Boxing Day! almost as late in the year as you can get!


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: MartinRyan
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 10:56 AM

The song Lonely Banna Strand starts off:

It was on Good Friday morning, all in the month of May

No it wasn't - it's never that late!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 10:49 AM

IT'S IN THE BOOK
(Johnny Standley / Art Thorsen)

Johnny Standley with Horace Heidt & His Musical Knights - 1952


I have a message for you, a very sad message! My subject for this
evening will be Little Bo Peep.

It says here, "Little Bo Peep", who was a little girl, "has lost her
sheep, and doesn't know where to find them". Now that's reasonable,
isn't it? It's, it's reasonable to assume if Little Bo Peep had lost
her sheep, it's only natural that she wouldn't know where to find
them. That, that basically is reasonable, but, uh, "leave them
alone". Now that overwhelms me … completely overwhelms me. The man
said she lost her sheep, turns right around and boldly states, "She
doesn't know where to find them". And then has the stupid audacity to
say, "Leave them alone!" Now! Now, now think for a moment! Think! If
the sheep were lost, and you couldn't find them, you'd have to leave
them alone, wouldn't you? So, "Leave them alone". "Leave them alone".
It's in the book!

"Leave them alone and they", they being the sheep, "they will come
home". Ah yes, they'll come home. Oh, there'll be a brighter day
tomorrow, they will come home! It's in the book.

"They will come home a-waggin' their tails". Pray tell me what else
could they wag? "They will come home a-waggin' their tails behind
them, behind them!" Did we think they'd wag them in front? Of course,
they might have come home in reverse. They could have done that, I
really don't know. But, none the less, it's in the book.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Joe_F
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 08:00 PM

In "Harriet Tubman" we are invited to imagine a train with a first mate & a lifeline.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,William Pint
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 01:10 PM

Here's a subtle one pointed out by my old friend, musician and historian, Stuart Frank.

In the song "Brave Wolfe" about the death of General James Wolfe at the battle of Quebec:

If you recall the story, Wolfe and his troops scaled a cliff along the St Lawrence River to battle the French on the Plains of Abraham.

The lyrics read:

The drums did loudly beat and the colours flying
The purple dawn did stream and men lay dying
And shot from off his horse fell that brave hero
We'll long lament his loss in tears of sorrow

Stuart asks, "Who carried his horse up that cliff?"


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,Bizibod
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 11:30 AM

A Stitch in Time .The order of the words tells you what you need to understand.
Doesn't it just hit you in the solar plexus ?


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: DMcG
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 03:50 AM

English Jon: When I first heard "A stitch in Time" I thought exactly the same thing, but in the end I decided to think of it emotionally, not physically: i.e. she had no support of any kind. That works for me.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,guest - texas
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 12:34 AM

This is a reply to an old post, Bert, but maybe you're still out there! Nice to see you mention "Come To The Bower." It is a great song, written by Tim Henderson and Allen Damron. Tim co-wrote another song with Allen, called The Gringo Pistolero. Tim was the primary writer on both songs. Allen sang these two songs all over the country. Allen also beautifully recorded about twenty five of Tim's songs over about a twenty five year close friendship. Just like to keep the story straight.
All the best from me, a guest in Texas!


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,Gill Cawley
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 12:54 PM

1. My favourite absurdity is the "false true lover" who appears in several songs, eg "Fair and Tender Ladies"
2. If I had to sit in a rowing boat all the way to Botany Bay, I'd rather look at a handsome boatman than an ugly one.
3. Some absurdities are accidental. I once sang "Is not your horse uopn its perch, your hawk is eating hay". I've never sung "Little Musgrave" since.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,Nice Beaver.
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 12:46 PM

We've sort of gone from "absurdities" to the lack of historical accuracy in Bogle's modern use of the Gallipoli "myth" (or, popular understanding as disticnt from literal truth) in crafting an anti-war song. But we tend to rely on oral folk-memory, as set down in some contemporary songs, for our knowledge of events that "the victors" didn't write in the official history (like "Dunlavin Green", say). I wonder did earlier songsters take liberties for the sake of effect, or are their songs scrupulously accurate because of their memorializing function. And what about Homer's Catalogue of Ships?

By the way, a "Beaver" was a hat, which you could "cock up bravely". Derek Hill the harper used to delight in announcing the title of that melody, especially in the states.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,English Jon
Date: 27 Feb 07 - 09:45 AM

From "a stitch in time" by Mike Waterson..

"Oh there was a woman, and she lived on her own."

with me so far?

"she slaved on her own, and she skivied on her own"

it continues...

"she had two little boys and two little girls"

ie 4 small children..

"and she lived on her own..."

????

"with her husband."


Make of that what you will.

EJ


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Rowan
Date: 26 Feb 07 - 04:19 PM

Teribus gave some figures for the Gallipoli theatre as
"Casualties for the entire campaign were as follows:
Turkish Forces - 250,000 total - 65,000 killed
British Forces - 205,000 total - 43,000 killed
ANZAC Forces   - 33,600 total - 11,200 killed
French Forces - 47,000 total - 5,000 killed"

I can't remember all the figures now but I seem to recall that the forces described as British in most accounts include all the Australians and New Zealanders, as well as from the other British Dominions of the era; South Africa and India come to mind and I seem to recall the Indians had more casualties than the Anzacs. The French forces were similarly French mostly in their colonial status. My recollection is that most were Senegalese and their casualties also were greater than the Anzacs; Teribus' figures support such a recollection.

But the Australians generally don't seem to remember such things, as their own activities became part of the myth establishing nationhood. The irony is that the same campaign had the same effect (establishing nationhood, that is) for the Turks, leading to their emancipation from the Ottoman Empire. Their songs, being in Turkish, aren't as well known in the Australian folk repertoire. The Armenians don't have anything to celebrate from that era and their songs of mourning are hardly known at all.

Sigh, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Rowan
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 09:05 PM

Teribus, a friend of mine (who I'll not embarrass by naming) did his PhD on Australia's military history in the first 20 years of the 20th century and his first academic job was lecturing in Australian history. At least once he set exam questions using Bogle's song as the text and inviting candidates to list (with evidence) the errors of fact it contained.

But, as Eric said, during his earliest, well-attended, performance of it (the 1974 National FF in Brisbane) the song was written as an emotional response to Australia's involvement in the Vietnam (as it's known to nonVietnamese) War. In that political context the emotional content is worth the poetic licence, I think.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Gurney
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 07:39 PM

To weigh in on the 'Handsome' theories: In his historical novel(?) 'London,' Rutherford explains that handsome meant skilled, seaman-like. Nowadays we would say handy. It did not initially mean comely.

From such 'handsome' boatmen were formed the first fire companies in that town. Useful chaps, with oars or hand-pump.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Teribus
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 04:05 PM

An extremely good song - But - From the "Band Played Waltzing Matilda".

First verse contains the lines:

"Then in 1915 my country said, "Son,
It's time you stop rambling, there's work to be done."
So they gave me a tin hat and they gave me a gun
And they marched me away to the war."

As tin hats weren't issued to all until 1916 the hat he would have been given would have mostly likely been a "Slouch Hat".

Second verse contains the lines:

"And how well I remember that terrible day,
How our blood stained the sand and the water
And of how in that hell that they called Suvla Bay
We were butchered like lambs at the slaughter.
Johnny Turk, he was ready, he primed himself well.
He showered us with bullets, and he rained us with shells,
And in five minutes flat, he'd blown us all to hell,
Nearly blew us back home to Australia."

Description of the actual landings at Suvla Bay:
The landings were begun at 10pm on the evening of 6 August with 20,000 troops set down at Suvla Bay ('A', 'B' and 'C' Beaches) with virtually no Turkish opposition other than from sniper fire.

The scenes being described in Eric Bogle's song are the first landings at Helles and Gaba Tepe (ANZAC Cove) on the 25th April, not Suvla Bay.

The rest of the song is spot on though.

Casualties for the entire campaign were as follows:

Turkish Forces - 250,000 total - 65,000 killed
British Forces - 205,000 total - 43,000 killed
ANZAC Forces   - 33,600 total - 11,200 killed
French Forces - 47,000 total - 5,000 killed

Lest We Forget.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,meself
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 06:29 AM

They aren't so stupid ... (Remember Ransom of Red Chief?).


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 23 Feb 07 - 04:45 AM

Unless the child had been dead for some time, the vultures wouldn't go near it.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: GUEST,Mike B.
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 10:50 PM

"The Vulture of the Alps" was part of the repertory of New Hampshire's famous Hutchinson Family in the mid-19th century. A performance by the New Hutchinson Family Singers appears on a 1976 Vox album called "Homespun America".

For a vulture to swoop down, grab a small child and carry him away seems rather implausible to me.


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Subject: RE: Absurdities in songs - any examples?
From: Joe_F
Date: 22 Feb 07 - 08:08 PM

leenia:
A cherry in a Manhattan, it has no stone.
Chicken a la king, it has no bone.
The story of stupidity, it has no end.
A baby when it's strangled, there's no cryen.

*

A couple of splendid anticlimaxes:

I've held her mountains, I've kissed her plains
I've touched her sunshine and drank her rain
I've been so far boys but I broke too fast
I thought I had a winner picked but I came in last...again
Is this the way it always is in Baltimore?   

No. Thousands of women in Baltimore, over the years, have refrained from betraying their men, and the literature records many happy marriages there. Nor is there any reason to believe that you would have done better in Philadelphia; with your attitude, the odds are against it.

Oh, let us strive that ever we
May let these words our watch-cry be,
Where'er upon life's sea we sail:
"For God, for Country and for Yale!"

In that order, presumably.


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