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Lyr Req: Skin & Bones

DigiTrad:
LADY ALL SKIN AND BONES
LADY ALL SKIN AND BONES


Related threads:
(DTStudy) Lyr Add: Lady All Skin and Bone (24)
Lyr Req: Woman All Skin and Bone? (16)


Fred Burns (burnsfg@cadvision.com) 08 Jan 00 - 02:51 PM
Joe Offer 08 Jan 00 - 03:56 PM
Barbara 08 Jan 00 - 04:08 PM
Sandy Paton 08 Jan 00 - 11:21 PM
Malcolm Douglas 09 Jan 00 - 10:58 PM
Fred Burns 10 Jan 00 - 12:16 AM
Metchosin 10 Jan 00 - 03:02 AM
Joe Offer 10 Jan 00 - 03:19 AM
Alan of Australia 10 Jan 00 - 05:54 AM
Stewie 12 Jan 00 - 01:34 AM
Barbara 12 Jan 00 - 01:39 AM
GUEST,bet 24 Sep 02 - 12:08 PM
curmudgeon 24 Sep 02 - 08:37 PM
MAG 24 Sep 02 - 11:20 PM
bet 25 Sep 02 - 09:48 AM
GUEST,Mine Truly 08 Jul 05 - 12:21 AM
GUEST,Misika 07 Oct 12 - 05:23 AM
GUEST 08 Oct 12 - 02:14 AM
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Subject: Skin & Bones
From: Fred Burns (burnsfg@cadvision.com)
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 02:51 PM

Has anyone else heard of an old song about "an old woman, all skin and bones" who "took it in her head one day, to hear the parson sing and pray"? I heard it as a child from my mother (usually late on a dark evening, preferably around Halloween). My Father says she learned it from his mother. I would be interested in finding any other lyrics than those I already know.

Also see Halloween Songs


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Subject: RE: Skin & Bones
From: Joe Offer
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 03:56 PM

Hi, Fred - I've had some fun with that song. I make it up as I go along, since I have a hard time remembering lyrics. Click here for a previous discussion, and here for the version that's in our database. In this thread (click) Moira Cameron posted a version that's closest to what I sing.
Max, thank you very much for the great search engine.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Skin & Bones
From: Barbara
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 04:08 PM

Joe, were you in the dining hall when -- I think it was Renee -- and I were comparing versions of this song? She sang one in the fireplace room the night before, and I was doing her my version. (I got my version from Paddy Graber) When I got to the place "The lady to the parson said, "EEEEEEEEYYYAaaaaahhhhgh!" The whole end of the dining hall fell silent and several people leaped to their feet to come to my aid.
I'd made the erroneous assumption that it was so noisy in the dining hall that no one would hear a full voiced scream. I spent the next five minutes saying over and over, "No, I'm fine, it was just a song. Sorry."
Blessings,
Barbara


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Subject: RE: Skin & Bones
From: Sandy Paton
Date: 08 Jan 00 - 11:21 PM

Jean Ritchie has a family version that I'm sure she has recorded somewhere. I'll look through our stack of Jean's albums and see if I can find it. I'll have to get back to you on that, however. It's probably in her book,Singing Family of the Cumberlands, too.

I recorded a version I learned from a girl in Seattle (about 50 years ago) on one of our children's cassettes: When the Spirit Says Sing - Folk-Legacy C-1002. That's the cassette that comes with the coloring book and which also contains a version of "The Devil and the Farmer's Wife" (see other thread).

Sandy


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Subject: Lyr Add: A WOMAN STOOD AT THE CHURCHYARD DOOR
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 09 Jan 00 - 10:58 PM

Here is another one, which belongs to the second group mentioned by Iona & Peter Opie (The Lore & Language of Schoolchildren): THE WOMAN IN A CHURCHYARD, or, as I know it:

A WOMAN STOOD AT THE CHURCHYARD DOOR

 I learned it when I was in the Wolf Cubs (as they were called then) in the early '60s.   The song was sung only at Summer Camp, and we all had to promise not to tell the younger ones about it; that way they'd jump out of their skins like we had, when it was their turn to hear it.  It made a big impression on me, and the words and tune stuck in my mind after only one hearing.

A woman stood at the churchyard door
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
As many another woman had done before
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Saw three corpses carried in
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Very long and very thin
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Worms crawled in and worms crawled out
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Went in thin and came out stout
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Woman to the corpses said
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
"Will I be like you when I am dead?"
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
Corpses to the woman said:
(SCREAM!)

Each line was sung quietly but emphatically; the refrain, with which everyone had to join, was very quiet.

In the late '70s I played with an electric folk band in Sheffield, and we did the song a number of times at student venues -they jumped just as I had when I was 8 years old.  

I should mention that I had the song from a Mrs. Joyce Riddle, originally from Yorkshire, so perhaps this version was from there.  The version quoted by the Opies, incidentally, is from London and is a recitation, not a song.  The tune that I have is one of those trichord ones that belong particularly to children's and ritual songs (see also SOULING SONG, here, though I suspect that the tune given is taken from a commercial recording, and possibly a harmony line has inadvertently been incorporated into it at some point), the compass being in this case a minor third.  Because I can't resist it, I'll post the tune to the midi site.

Malcolm


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Subject: Lyr Add: THERE WAS AN OLD WOMAN ALL SKIN AND BONES
From: Fred Burns
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 12:16 AM

Thanks to all for your replies. I should probably list the version I heard.

There was an old woman, all skin and bones,
Ooo Ooo Ooo
She took it in her head one day
to hear the parson sing and pray
Ooo Ooo Ooo
When she got to the churchyard style
she stopped to rest a little while
Ooo Ooo Ooo
When she got to the church-house door
she stopped to rest a little more
Ooo Ooo Ooo
When she got to the church within
the parson prayed and she did sing
Ooo Ooo Ooo
She looked up and she looked down
she saw a corpse upon the ground
Ooo Ooo Ooo
The woman to the parson said
"will I look so when I am dead?"
Ooo Ooo Ooo
The parson to the woman said
"you will look so when you are dead"
Ooo Ooo Ooo
The woman to the parson said
(shriek!)

Of course getting quieter and quieted on the last 2 or 3 verses.

Fred
Line Breaks <br> added.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: Lyr Add: A WOMAN IN A GRAVEYARD SAT
From: Metchosin
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 03:02 AM

I learned this in Grade 1 in the early 50's, and like Malcolm never forgot it. It lacks the ahs of his version though.

Woman in a graveyard sat
Ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo ooo
She was very, very fat
Ooo etc. Corpses three came walking in
Ooo etc.
They were very, very thin
Ooo etc
. Corpses to the woman said
Ooo etc.
You'll be like us when your dead
Ooo etc.
Woman to the corpses said
Shrieeeek!


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Subject: Lyr/Tune Add: THE SCARY SONG (SKIN & BONES)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 03:19 AM

I guess I learned the song from the Fireside Book of Fun & Game Songs and altered it from there. Here's what the book has:

THE SCARY SONG

1. There was an old woman, all skin and bones, Oo-oo-oo-oo.
There was an old woman, all skin and bones, Oo-oo-oo-oo.

2. And she was full of grunts and groans...

3. One night, she thought she'd take a walk...

4. She walked down by the old graveyard...

5. She saw the bones all lying about...

6. She went to the corner to get a broom...

She opened the door, and EEEEEEK! (Everybody shrieks wildly)
No Barbara, I wasn't around when you were singing this song in the dining hall at camp. Darn.
-Joe Offer-

MIDI file: SKIN&B~1.MID

Timebase: 192

Name: THE SCARY SONG (SKIN & BONES)
Text: By traditional
TimeSig: 6/8 24 8
Start
0192 1 57 110 0094 0 57 000 0002 1 60 110 0094 0 60 000 0002 1 60 110 0094 0 60 000 0002 1 57 110 0094 0 57 000 0002 1 60 110 0094 0 60 000 0002 1 60 110 0094 0 60 000 0002 1 57 110 0094 0 57 000 0002 1 60 110 0160 0 60 000 0032 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 57 110 0256 0 57 000 0032 1 64 110 0256 0 64 000 0032 1 62 110 0160 0 62 000 0032 1 60 110 0094 0 60 000 0002 1 57 110 0256 0 57 000 0224 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0094 0 62 000 0002 1 65 110 0160 0 65 000 0032 1 67 110 0094 0 67 000 0002 1 62 110 0256 0 62 000 0032 1 69 110 0256 0 69 000 0032 1 67 110 0160 0 67 000 0032 1 65 110 0094 0 65 000 0002 1 62 110 0256 0 62 000
End

This program is worth the effort of learning it.

To download the March 10 MIDItext 98 software and get instructions on how to use it click here

ABC format:

X:1
T:The Scary Song (Skin & Bones)
M:6/8
Q:1/4=120
K:C
A,3CCA,|CCA,C2D|A,3E3|D2CA,3|-A,2DFFD|FFDF2G|
D3A3|G2FD21/8||


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Subject: RE: Skin & Bones
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 10 Jan 00 - 05:54 AM

G'day,
The MIDI that Malcolm sent for "A Woman Stood At The Churchyard Door" is now at the Mudcat MIDI site.

Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: Skin & Bones
From: Stewie
Date: 12 Jan 00 - 01:34 AM

In their 'The Singing Island', Ewan MacColl and Peggy Seeger gave the following as used by children in Edinburgh as a 'frightening' rhyme in the early 20th century:

There was an old lady all skin and bone
She went to the churchyard all alone
And when she came to the churchyard door
Behold a dead man on the floor
The worms and snails through him did creep
Then asked the lady while sore she did weep
Will I be this way when I die?
And then the dead man answered: Aye!

They commented also that American children had a more graphic version which ran:

The worms crawl in, the worms crawl out
The worms play pinochle on your snout


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Subject: RE: Skin & Bones
From: Barbara
Date: 12 Jan 00 - 01:39 AM

The version in DT has this description:
3. This lady she walked up and down
She spied a dead man on the ground
And from his nose unto his chin
The worms crawled out and the worms crawled in (x 2)


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Subject: Skin and Bones song
From: GUEST,bet
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 12:08 PM

I'm trying to remember the words to a song of long........ ago. It starts out: I know an old woman all skin and bones, Oooo, Ooo Oo. She lived --- (something by a cemetary) Any of you know this song? I din't find it in the data base, but boy are there a lot of old woman songs there. I'm hunting easy songs for the choir on Hlloween. Thanks, bet
Hi, Bet - I'm gonna move you and let people build on an existing thread instead of covering what's already been covered.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Skin & Bones
From: curmudgeon
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 08:37 PM

I first encountered this song on an obscure Riverside LP. "Ghost Ballads" sung by Dean Gitter. I never heard of him before or since, but he sang some very interesting songs, including Skin and Bones.

I don't sing this very often as i want a fresh audience who is unfamiliar with the punch line -- Tom

P.S. Michael Cooney does a great rendition of "The Worms Crawl In."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Skin & Bones
From: MAG
Date: 24 Sep 02 - 11:20 PM

The worm stuff I've only heard added on to The Hearse Song, which is most readily accessible in Sandburg's American Songbag.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Skin & Bones
From: bet
Date: 25 Sep 02 - 09:48 AM

Thanks for all your help. I haven't figured out where you have it in the data base , I did look there first but anyway thanks for the help! I too first hear it a Girl Scout camp with the promise not to tell younger ones about it. It always amazes me how many different versions there are to a simple song. bet
Click here for the version that's in our database. I updated the dead link above.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Skin & Bones
From: GUEST,Mine Truly
Date: 08 Jul 05 - 12:21 AM

I first came across this in a book...

A woman in the graveyard sat,
Oooooo
Very shoot and very fat.
Oooooo
She saw three corpses carried in
Oooooo
Very tall and very thin.
Oooooo
To the corpses the woman said,
Oooooo
"Will I be like you when I am dead?"
Oooooo
To the woman the corpses said,
Oooooo
"You will be like us when you are dead."
Oooooo
To the corpses the woman said,
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEK!"

I always thought she screamed because the corpses spoke. But during my search for the poem, I realized that she's supposed to scream because she realizes her own mortality. It's a deep meaning that many of the versions seem to have lost.

And after reading various versions in this thread, I developed my own version which, in my mind, has the most important elements:
- a woman visiting a church/graveyard (I think the fact she is going to church is significant, because even though this implies she's "good" she'll still end up this way)
- the woman seeing a corpse in some sort of gruesome condition
- the woman asking if she'll be like that when she's dead, and receiving the reply of "yes."
- the woman screaming at the answer.

The only key part it's missing is the woman being skin and bones, which gives the poem its name... but I left it out for the description of the corpses.

Throw in the "ooooo"s wherever it feels natural.

A woman in a graveyard sat
Fresh out of church in her Sunday hat

She saw three corpses carried in
Nothing but bones and rotting skin

To the corpses the woman said,
"Will I be like you when I am dead?"

To the woman the corpses said,
"You will be like us when you are dead."

To the corpses the woman said,
"EEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAHHH!" [or something to that effect]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Skin & Bones
From: GUEST,Misika
Date: 07 Oct 12 - 05:23 AM

A woman in a stood by the church yard gate
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
and it was very very late
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah

Three corpses lay their stiff and thin
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
The worms crept out and the worms crept in
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah

To the woman the corpses said,
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
"Will i be like that when i'm dead?"
Oo-oo-oo-ooh, a-a-a-ah
To the corpses the woman said,
YES!!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Skin & Bones
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Oct 12 - 02:14 AM

This was already an old English children's folk song when it was published in _Gammer Gurton's Garland_ (1810). Robert Southey (1774-1843), the English poet, wrote in his diary that this song always scared him when he was a little boy. He would beg his sisters not to sing it, but they always did, anyway.
(From the liner notes of Adam Miller's "Along Came a Giant - Traditional American Folk Songs for Young Folks.)


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