1. Most people learned that the good fairy turned Bunny Foo-Foo into a goon, though there are a few outliers voting for "goose," "goo," and "gnu." What did you all think a goon was, anyway? I pictured a big blobby-looking, yet sinister creature, like the Staypuff Marshmallow Man.

2. Nobody but me has ever heard of "Bangum," which my Dad taught me. I knew this before I did the folk song poll, but lived in hope. While writing the poll, I discovered that it's a variant of Child Ballad 18, "Sir Lionel." And also possibly a variant of "Froggy Went A-Courting," though I think that just refers to the tune, and frankly I don't see the resemblance. Apparently the traditional refrain is "dilly down."

This is "Bangum;" Dad used to occasionally vary it by making it a dragon instead of a wild boar.

There is a wild boar in these woods,
Killy quo, killum
There is a wild boar in these woods
Killy quo
There is a wild boar in these woods,
And it breaks men's bones and drinks their blood
Killy quo, killy quo, killy quo qum.

Bangum took his wooden knife
Killy quo, etc...
And swore that he'd take that wild boar's life

Bangum came to the wold boar's den...
And he found the bones of a thousand men

They fought nine hours in that day...
And the wild boar fled and it slunk away

"Oh Bangum did you win or lose?"
And he swore by Jove he'd won the shoes.

3. "Pat Worked on the Railway" seems quite obscure, as well, but I've seen it in folk song books, while I've never seen "Bangum." Dad has no idea where he learned it, either.

4. Paul Robeson recorded the best versions ever of "Motherless Child," "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho," "Swing Low Sweet Chariot," "Shenandoah," and "Balm in Gilead." If I had any of his albums on CD instead of tape, I'd prove it.

5. Stagger Lee was a bad, bad man. He shot Billy Lyons/DeLeon/Dilly for his brand-new Stetson hat, or sometimes just because, and sometimes did other, unspeakable things to him. Billy had a wife, and sometimes she takes revenge. In all the versions of "Stagger Lee" that I've come across, if anyone ever gets back at him, it's a woman. In Nick Cave's unspeakably obscene version on Murder Ballads, Stagger Lee's woman throws him out in the cold and rain, and tells him never ever to come back here again. This makes Stagger Lee's woman the biggest bad-ass on the entire album, in my opinion.

6. I found a couple articles on "In the Pines," but none shed much light on its essential mystery. It's a spooky, haunting song. Who else knows these lyrics: "His head was found in the driver's wheel/And his body it never was found"?

7. I can guess where everyone heard about Mighty Casey, but I was surprised that so many people knew about Casey Jones. Is "one hand on the whistle, one hand on the brake" a story you learned in school?

From: [identity profile] umbo.livejournal.com

I know about "In the Pines" because Nirvana did a version of it on their MTV unplugged album--quite an excellent one. And I answered "goon," but the truth is I couldn't remember for sure what Little Bunny Foo Foo was supposed to get turned into....

From: [identity profile] cija.livejournal.com

"Pat Worked on the Railway" seems quite obscure, as well, but I've seen it in folk song books

I know it as "Poor Paddy," but only from the Pogues.

Also I thought I knew "Cape Cod Girls" at first, because I thought it was the same as "South Australia" (because of the chorus) but now I think it isn't.

"Bangum" sounds like the coolest song ever. I especially like the "killy quo qum" parts.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

Maybe I'll do a phone post and sing "Bangum," if I can figure out how.

"Cape Cod Girls" is "South Australia"-- you may know it from the Pogues as well:

Cape Cod boys they have no sleds
Heave away, haul away
They slide down hills on codfish heads
We are bound for Australia

Heave away, my bully bully boys
Heave away, heave away
Heave away and don't you make a noise
We are bound for Australia

From: [identity profile] nineweaving.livejournal.com

Re: I found Bangum!

Like the White Rabbit, I'm always terribly late.

Thanks for the Bangum link.

I only have four versions of 18 in my iChild archive, and one's a stretch.

"Old Bangum" (Jody Stecher/Oh the Wind and the Rain)
"Rackabello" (Waterson:Carthy/Common Tongue)
"Bold Sir Rylas" (Spiers & Boden)/Songs

and way out there (it's a dragon):

"Sir Eglamore" (Kate Rusby/Hourglass)

Think I'll add this one.

No one ever sang me Child ballads when I was a sprog.


From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

Re: I found Bangum!

iChild! I will have to look up your versions; the only singers I've ever heard are Waterson/Carthy.

I am pretty sure "Bangum" was the only Child-derived ballad my father sang to me, unless some other Child-via-Appalachia-via-disseminator of the American folk tradition song slipped in. I don't recall "House Carpenter" or "Pretty Peggy-O" or anything like that, though.

From: [identity profile] angevin2.livejournal.com

I learned to sing "Pat Worked on the Railway" in school when I was in third grade. And still remember it, so it's obviously very catchy. Also, I totally want to learn the tune for "Bangum" now because it looks neat. (It reminds me of a silly sixteenth-century ballad I sometimes sing, called "Sir Eglamore," a resemblance also pointed out here. The refrain to that one is "fa-la-lanky-down-dilly.")

I was never quite sure what a goon was except that I always thought it had a lot of hair.

Also, I wish my parents sang cool folk songs. My mom always sang us maudlin stuff like "Scarlet Ribbons" and "Love Makes the World Go Round."

From: [identity profile] jonquil.livejournal.com

I sang my kids Sondheim. Also "Waltzing With Bears".

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com


Maybe I will phone post just to sing "Bangum," if I can figure out how.

From: [identity profile] ide-cyan.livejournal.com

The only Casey Jones I know is the one who wears a hockey mask and hangs out with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

From: [identity profile] jinian.livejournal.com

That was the first one I knew of, but someone else confused the mad train guy with him at some point, pulling me slightly farther out of my cultural ignorance.
the_rck: (Default)

From: [personal profile] the_rck

I first heard about Casey Jones on a kids' record of songs about American folk heroes. I don't remember what all was on it apart from that song and the John Henry one, but it was an LP, so there must have been at least another six songs.

The LP was part of a collection of themed albums. All I remember about the others is that my mother made the one filled with martial music disappear after we'd played it once. She disapproved of it as propaganda, but my five year old self was dreadfully disappointed because the Marine Corps song was great for bouncing around to. (At the time, I actually didn't realize what had happened and kept playing the other albums over and over again in hopes of finding that song.)

From: [identity profile] matociquala.livejournal.com

Casey Jones also shows up in a Grateful Dead song, though it's based on the scurrilous Joe Hill version. (Driving that train/high on cocaine/Casey Jones you better/watch your speed.)

It's surprising how much trad music the Dead relied on.

From: [identity profile] jonquil.livejournal.com

I know Staggalee from Dr. John's version, in which Lee just shoots Billy Lyde because he can.

Even more mysterious, somebody then stabs Staggalee with a loaded .44.

From: [identity profile] mistressrenet.livejournal.com

IIRC, he's seen as a trikster figure, with all the heroic and not-so-heroic hangers on. I have a distinct memory of him figuring in a James Baldwin book I read once, but I'm not sure.

From: [identity profile] cerusee.livejournal.com

I have no earthly idea where I encountered Casey Jones. I heard or sang a fair amount of folk music in my childhood, more often than not in Girl Scout and church camps, but those strike me as slightly less likely sources than the many books of mythology and folk tales I devoured when I was young. A lot of the stuff that makes it into folk songs also makes it into collections of folk tales.

From: [identity profile] mistressrenet.livejournal.com

There was actually a fairly popular fifties pop song about Stagger Lee, but I can't remember who recorded it.

From: [identity profile] rachelmanija.livejournal.com

Lloyd Price. It's a terrific song, and was in my original poll:

The night was clear and the moon was yellow
And the leaves came tumbling down

From: [identity profile] juliansinger.livejournal.com

I encountered Casey in some random kid's book that talked about American legends like Paul Bunyan and Casey Jones.

And I can fully believe, given some of the Robeson I've heard, that he sang The Best Versions Ever of quite a lot of things.

From: [identity profile] wordsofastory.livejournal.com

7. My dad knew the song about Casey Jones, but possibly it was also in a book of kid's Folk Heroes, or something similar. There was one my dad liked a lot too, about a miner who holds up the roof during a cave-in to let all the other miners escape, but gets trapped himself, but I can't remember what the guy's name was.

But this reminds me- when I was 13 or so, I was doing a photography project for a club I was in, and the final assignment was to take a bunch of pictures that told a story and make a story board. My little brother was in a baseball team, so I took some photos of one of his games, and set them to the Mighty Casey poem. We had to have the storyboards judged, and my judge had never heard of the poem, and actually thought I'd written it. I was so surprised that it wasn't common knowledge that I accidentally implied I thought she was an idiot, and got points taken off for 'personality'.

From: [identity profile] katie-m.livejournal.com

Most people learned that the good fairy turned Bunny Foo-Foo into a goon

I once had a half-hour long conversation with a friend from Texas about this song, because she grew up in Amarillo and so Little Bunny Foo-Foo went hopping through the bean fields rather than the forest. (No forest in Amarillo.)

She pointed out that there were field mice in the song, and so didn't it make sense that it would've been a field? I had to admit that this was so.

From: [identity profile] filkerdave.livejournal.com

(pointed here by [livejournal.com profile] kate_nepveu)

I was surprised that so many people knew about Casey Jones

While I suspect many people come late to the original, the tune is certainly well known as the Good 'n' Plenty commercial (at least among people who, like me, are older than dirt), and I suspect an awful lot of people know the Grateful Dead song "Casey Jones" -- I can certainly sing more of that than the original.

IIRC, the "scab" version is in Rise Up Singing but I'm too lazy to dig it out of the filkbag right now.

From: [identity profile] od-mind.livejournal.com

(also pointed here by [livejournal.com profile] kate_nepveu)

I knew
Casey Jones mounted to the cabin
Casey Jones, with his orders in his hand
Casey Jones mounted to the cabin
And he took his farewell trip to the promised land...

even before the Good'n'Plenty commercial, and long before I ever heard the Grateful Dead version (on, IIRC, "Workingman's Dead"?)

Full disclosure: I grew up in southern Illinois in the '60s.

From: [identity profile] klwilliams.livejournal.com

Same here, though I grew up in southern Idaho in the '60s.

From: [identity profile] hokelore.livejournal.com

Nobody but me has ever heard of "Bangum,"

Not so, m'dear! I sing that one all the time, only it's a different version, with more verses. I play it on banjer sometimes, but I like it best sung unaccompanied.

From: [identity profile] klwilliams.livejournal.com

1. Bunny Foo-Foo was turned into a goon, because "Hare today, goon tomorrow."

4. I haven't heard "Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho" since I was a tiny kid. I'll have to look for Robeson's version.

7. We had "music class" in elementary school, which usually consisted of teaching us to sing Americana songs.


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