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Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody

DigiTrad:
AUNT RHODY


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Aunt Rhody (25)
Lyr Req: Go Tell Aunt Rhode / ...Rhody (8)


GUEST,SaxMan4Life 13 Sep 00 - 07:00 PM
Joe Offer 13 Sep 00 - 07:12 PM
Stewie 13 Sep 00 - 09:13 PM
Stewie 13 Sep 00 - 09:19 PM
GUEST,Liland 29 Aug 01 - 06:07 PM
Dicho 29 Aug 01 - 08:04 PM
iamjohnne 29 Aug 01 - 08:18 PM
Art Thieme 31 Aug 01 - 06:52 PM
masato sakurai 31 Aug 01 - 11:24 PM
Gareth 01 Sep 01 - 07:34 PM
Dicho 01 Sep 01 - 08:36 PM
Dicho 01 Sep 01 - 09:25 PM
Snuffy 02 Sep 01 - 07:38 PM
Haruo 02 Sep 01 - 07:40 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Sep 01 - 08:05 PM
Dicho 02 Sep 01 - 08:12 PM
IanC 03 Sep 01 - 04:18 AM
masato sakurai 03 Sep 01 - 06:42 AM
masato sakurai 03 Sep 01 - 09:57 AM
IanC 03 Sep 01 - 10:41 AM
masato sakurai 03 Sep 01 - 11:36 AM
Dicho 03 Sep 01 - 12:38 PM
IanC 03 Sep 01 - 12:45 PM
masato sakurai 03 Sep 01 - 01:15 PM
Dicho 03 Sep 01 - 01:28 PM
Gareth 03 Sep 01 - 03:00 PM
Dicho 04 Sep 01 - 08:03 PM
GUEST,BigDaddy 05 Sep 01 - 01:00 AM
Haruo 05 Sep 01 - 08:26 PM
Dicho 06 Sep 01 - 12:22 AM
katlaughing 06 Sep 01 - 03:00 PM
katlaughing 06 Sep 01 - 05:30 PM
Dicho 06 Sep 01 - 08:11 PM
Dicho 06 Sep 01 - 08:34 PM
Dicho 22 Oct 01 - 12:53 AM
Burke 22 Oct 01 - 10:18 PM
masato sakurai 12 Oct 02 - 11:06 PM
GUEST,Q 15 Jan 03 - 01:36 AM
masato sakurai 15 Jan 03 - 07:56 AM
masato sakurai 15 Jan 03 - 09:07 AM
masato sakurai 06 Feb 03 - 10:26 PM
delphinium 06 Feb 03 - 11:33 PM
dick greenhaus 06 Feb 03 - 11:53 PM
GUEST,susan frost 07 Nov 04 - 12:35 AM
Tannywheeler 07 Nov 04 - 06:09 PM
Q 07 Nov 04 - 06:36 PM
masato sakurai 19 Dec 04 - 10:00 AM
GUEST,Steve Sottile 25 Mar 05 - 03:40 AM
Malcolm Douglas 25 Mar 05 - 03:47 AM
masato sakurai 25 Mar 05 - 04:13 AM
Azizi 25 Mar 05 - 07:18 AM
Croco Maes 05 Mar 08 - 09:00 PM
masato sakurai 05 Mar 08 - 10:45 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 06 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM
GUEST,Peanut Buddy 24 Oct 09 - 02:02 AM
MtheGM 24 Oct 09 - 02:34 AM
Rowan 25 Oct 09 - 05:30 PM
GUEST 25 May 10 - 05:35 PM
Herga Kitty 25 May 10 - 06:17 PM
GUEST,norton howe 05 Dec 10 - 11:16 AM
Joe_F 05 Dec 10 - 07:41 PM
MtheGM 06 Dec 10 - 04:32 AM
GUEST,AST 21 Jan 12 - 10:22 AM
GUEST,leeneia 21 Jan 12 - 08:19 PM
GUEST,David Lawrence 03 May 12 - 03:05 PM
Stilly River Sage 04 May 12 - 12:13 AM
GUEST,Guest 30 Jul 12 - 02:50 AM
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Subject: History of 'Go Tell Aunt Rhody'
From: GUEST,SaxMan4Life
Date: 13 Sep 00 - 07:00 PM

I need to know the history behind the origins of the song "GO Tell Aunt Rhody". I would appriciate any info that could be provided and the sorce where you got it from.


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Subject: RE: Help: History of 'Go Tell Aunt Rhody'
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Sep 00 - 07:12 PM

Well, a great place to start research is in Fresno, at the Traditional Ballad Index. Here's their entry for this song.
-Joe Offer-

Go Tell Aunt Rhody


DESCRIPTION: "Go tell Aunt (Rhody) (x3) The old gray goose is dead. The one she'd been saving (x3) to make a feather bed." The cause of death varies; "a pain in the head"; "somebody... knocked it on the head"; "from standing on its head"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1925
KEYWORDS: bird death mourning
FOUND IN: US(MW,NE,SE,So)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Randolph 270, "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" (4 texts, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSUSA 3, "Go Tell Aunt Nancy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 305-306, "The Old Gray Goose" (1 text, 1 tune)
Arnett, p. 39, "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" (1 text, 1 tune)
Chase, pp. 176-177, "The Old Gray Goose is Dead" (1 text, 2 tunes)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 45, "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 404, "Aunt Rhody" (1 text)
DT, AUNTRODY

Notes: Randolph quotes Chase to the effect that this tune was used in an opera by Jean Jacques Rousseau in 1750. This does not seem to have been independently verified, and the opera is not named. However, Jackson (again quoted by Randolph) says that the tune "Grenville/Rousseau's Dream" was published as a piano solo around 1818. - RBW
Seeger also credits the Rousseau story, but his date is 1752. - PJS
File: R270

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2000 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: Lyr Add: GO TELL AUNT RHODY (from Pickard Family)
From: Stewie
Date: 13 Sep 00 - 09:13 PM

The Pickard Family's recording has been reissued on Various Artists 'The Story the Crow Told Me: Early American Rural Children's Songs from the 1920s and 1930s Vol 1' Yazoo CD 2051. No recording date or source info is given. The lyrics differ from the better known version - gander, goslings etc - but has the familiar tune.

Go tell Aunt Rhody (x3)
The old grey goose is dead

She died in the haystack (x3)
With a toothache in her heel

'Twas the one she was saving(x3)
To make a feather bed

We'll bury her at daybreak
Just like Aunt Rhody said

The barnyarn is mourning(x3)
And waiting to be fed

Aunt Rhody's weeping (x3)
For the old grey goose is dead

We'll all join the chorus, the grave is before us
'Twas dug with the shovel of old Uncle Ned

We'll eat no more goose eggs(x3)
For the old grey goose is dead

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Help: History of 'Go Tell Aunt Rhody'
From: Stewie
Date: 13 Sep 00 - 09:19 PM

'We'll bury her ...' above should have (x3), but neither line in the 'We'll all join the chorus' stanza is repeated.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: 'Greenville' by J-J Rousseau
From: GUEST,Liland
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 06:07 PM

I just posted a lively MIDI of what I take to be an Americanized hymnic setting of this tune, Greenville, as an alternative tune for Nin irontajn, Dio, benu (the Esperanto version of Lord, dismiss us with Thy blessing. (Scroll down to the next-to-the-last MIDI link near the bottom of the page.) My MIDI source was The Cyber Hymnal's entry for the English original, where the opera title is given in both French (Le devin du village) and English (The village soothsayer). It makes quite the lively recessional.

I would note also that one of the other tunes given, Sicilian Mariners, is a folk tune, and Viner's Dismissal may have folk antecedents, as well. The Webbe tunes and the Barnby, on the other hand, are clearly "composed" pieces, and not nearly as much fun to my ear. And hymnody ought to be fun.

Liland


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Subject: RE: Help: History of 'Go Tell Aunt Rhody'
From: Dicho
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 08:04 PM

Very interesting, Liland. Only the tune from Rousseau's opera is comparable.


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Subject: RE: Help: History of 'Go Tell Aunt Rhody'
From: iamjohnne
Date: 29 Aug 01 - 08:18 PM

I learned this song in kindergarten. We used to cry when we sang it because the goslings mother was dead.


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Subject: RE: Help: History of 'Go Tell Aunt Rhody'
From: Art Thieme
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 06:52 PM

Well, ya see, there was this aunt and this goose...

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 31 Aug 01 - 11:24 PM

We can hear the allegedly "original" music from Rousseau's Le Devin du Village here. Click "Pantomime."

Masato


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Gareth
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 07:34 PM

A Question - Just what is the Origin though.

Stones tossed into the pool to disturbe the Mudcatters

1/. Any connection with the Wild Geese ? (Irish mercenaries/religious outcasts)

2/. The Goose feather, synonim for the Arrow from the Welsh Long Bow
"And we will eat of the old Grey Goose
Gareth


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 08:36 PM

At present, there are no data to connect the words of the song with any event or old story, if we accept the references in the Fresno Univ. summary. Someone here may turn up something, however.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 01 Sep 01 - 09:25 PM

Le Devin du Village is available on cd for $8 US; either it is a short opera or it is terrible (not listed in Penguin's compendium). Gedda is one of the singers and he is good. The small bit on the site found by Sakuri is not entirely convincing, since that short bit of simple melody could have been composed independently several times over.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Snuffy
Date: 02 Sep 01 - 07:38 PM

Gareth,

Is this the meaning of the verse in HAL-AN-TOW?

What happened to the Spaniards
Who once made such a boast-o?
It's they shall eat the feathered goose
And we shall eat the roast-o
.

Wassail! V


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Haruo
Date: 02 Sep 01 - 07:40 PM

One thought to pursue: Are there French lyrics of a folkie or children's song, mother-goosey variety that may predate the opera, in which case maybe all J-J did was write new lyrics to an already universally known tune. For example, doesn't Malbrouck s'a va-t'en guerre predate The bear went over the mountain by quite a ways?

Liland


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Sep 01 - 08:05 PM

In answer to Gareth's question: almost certainly no, on both counts.  Geese are fairly common and, besides being aggressive and annoying, are, so far as I know, usually more-or-less grey.  It is extremely unlikely that there is any hidden significance here.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 02 Sep 01 - 08:12 PM

As I understand it, the libretto of Rousseau's opera has nothing in common with the lyrics of Aunt Rhoda's loss. We are accusing someone of stealing his music; that is the only connection (and a questionable one at that). He may have used an old tune (or many tunes) in the opera but they could have been about green cheese and ham or pie a la mode for all that it matters in this instance.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: IanC
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 04:18 AM

Snuffy. Yes. Of course.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 06:42 AM

19th Century Sheet Music Project (University of North Carolina) has a music sheet of "Rousseau's Dream", showing us its images. Here's the description:

Rousseau, Jean-Jacques
Rousseau's dream, arr. piano
"Rousseau's dream. An air with variations for the piano forte. Composed
& dedicated to the Countess of Delaware by J.B. Cramer."
Price: 75 cents
Cover design
7 p.
Philadelphia: G. Willig's Musical Magazine, [1818-1819].
"Philadelphia. Published and sold at G: Willig's Musical Magazine No. 171
Chesnut Street."
Pub. Pl. no. n/a
Wolfe 7667
XXVI,11

Musically, this tune (without words) seems to be related with "Aunt Rhody."

Masato


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 09:57 AM

There are 5 editions of "Rousseau's Dream" in The Lester S. Levy Collection of Sheet Music

(1)
Title: Absence.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Air Rousseau's Dream. Arranged By C. Meineke.
Publication: Baltimore: John Cole, n.d..
Form of Composition: strophic with chorus
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: Days of absence, sad and freary, Cloth'd in sorrows dark array
Subject: Courtship & love
Subject: Depression
Call No.: Box: 043 Item: 001
(2)
Title: Days of Absence, or, Rousseau's Dream.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: With Variations for the Piano Forte by Ferdinand Lauter.
Publication: Baltimore: G. Willig, 1826.
Form of Composition: theme and variation
Instrumentation: piano
Call No.: Box: 040 Item: 068a
(3)
Title: Firth & Hall's Occasional Selections of Celebrated Duets for Two Performers on one
Piano Forte. No. 5. Rousseau's Dream.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: na
Publication: New York: Firth & Hall, No. 1 Franklin Square, n.d..
Form of Composition: sectional
Instrumentation: piano four-hands
Subject: Parlors
Subject: Entertainment
Subject: Musicians
Call No.: Box: 168 Item: 025a
(4)
Title: Absence.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Adapted to the favorite Air of Rousseau's Dream.
Publication: New York: Bourne, Depository of Arts, 359 Broadway, n.d..
Form of Composition: strophic
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: Days of absence, sad and dreary, cloth'd in sorrow's dark array
Plate Number: 258
Subject: Courtship
Subject: Love
Subject: Sadness
Call No.: Box: 114 Item: 001
(5)
Title: Rousseau's Dream. An Air with Variations for the Piano Forte.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Composed by J[ohann] B[aptist] Cramee [1771-1858].
Publication: New York: Wm. Dubois, n.d..
Form of Composition: theme and variation
Instrumentation: piano
Dedicatee: Dedicated to the Right Honble. The Countess of Delaware
Call No.: Box: 111 Item: 160

In the Thomas Jefferson papers, there is a poem to "Rousseau's Dream." The manuscript is in the Library of Congress.

From the above, could we assume that the melody was known to some extent in the first half of the 19th century?

Masato


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: IanC
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 10:41 AM

Masato

Since Joe Offer above quotes from The Traditional Ballad Index that

Randolph quotes Chase to the effect that this tune was used in an opera by Jean Jacques Rousseau in 1750. This does not seem to have been independently verified, and the opera is not named. However, Jackson (again quoted by Randolph) says that the tune "Grenville/Rousseau's Dream" was published as a piano solo around 1818. - RBW

I should say we could, wouldn't you?

;-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 11:36 AM

IanC

Randolph (original and abridged editions) gives us little info on the history. Hastily, I went to Jackson's books. In White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands (1933; Dover, 1965, pp. 173-174), Jackson's version is "Go Tell Aunt Tabby" (incidentally, he doesn't mention the name "Rhody"), saying:

Another favorite type is "Go Tell Aunt Tabby" (Aunt Nancy, etc.). Everybody in the South, singer and non-singer alike, seems to know this tune:

Go tell Aunt Tabby, go tell Aunt Tabby,
Go tell Aunt Tabby the old grey goose is dead.

The one she was saving, the one she was saving,
The one she was saving to make a feather bed.

And according to Jackson's Down-East Spirituals And Others (1943; Da Capo, 1975, pp. 241-242):

The tune is ascribed generally to Jean Jacques Rousseau. This source assumption has been debated, with Lightwood on the negative, and Metcalf and McCutchen on the affirmative side. If one examines the antecedent Rousseau melody (reproduced McCutchen) from which the above tune [i.e. "Rousseau's Dream"] is supposed to have been taken, one may see that the noted French author was merely strolling along in those simplest melodic paths which the folk singers, especially the children, like to follow.

I'm not on the affirmative side. But, anyway, this is an interesting story.

Masato


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 12:38 PM

Masato, thanks for finding Aunt Tabby. In the west, she often was Aunt Rhoda rather than Rhody, but everything else the same. My wife, from Georgia in the south, remembers Rhoda, but can't put a date on the memory. There is no point in pursuing Rousseau, that is a dead end and I agree about the coincidence of "simple melodic paths". Without hearing or seeing the piano adaptations, their application can't be evaluated. Rousseau couldn't be held responsible for their arrangements in any case. Is there anything that indicates an origin TO THE WORDS earlier than 1925 (Fresno summary)? It seems odd to me that, with that date, an author or group can't be cited.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: IanC
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 12:45 PM

Dicho

If you're looking for instances earlier than 1925, try this Texas Slave Narrative. Tempie Cummins, born before the US civil war (1860) describes whaty she did when she was a slave:

"I don' 'member none 'r' d' wuk songs. I tuk care 'r' d' little w'ite chillun an' uster sing dem t' sleep wid: 'Go tell Aunty Nancy, Go tell Aunt Nancy, Go tell Aunt Nancy, Her ol' gray goose is dead. D' one she was savin' D' one she was savin' D' one she was savin' T' mek a feather bed.' "Boss an' Mistus look atter d' slaves w'en dey was sick.

Should take you some way into the 19th Century. Then you'd have to ask yourself where she learned it from ...

Cheers!
Ian


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 01:15 PM

Dicho,

The earliest record I know is Cecil Sharp's collection. "The Old Grey Goose" in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians (no. 236) was "Sung by Mrs. Laurel Jones at Burnsville, N.C., Sept. 17, 1918." The collection itself was published in 1932.

Masato


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 01:28 PM

Looks like IanC is a better researcher than the folks at Fresno. Now there are all those other slave narratives, from other states... Now just "Go tell it on the mountain, Go tell it everywhere. Go tell it on the mountain, that Jesus Christ is born."


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Gareth
Date: 03 Sep 01 - 03:00 PM

Snuffey - Yes, at least thats how I was always taught. The best feathers for the arrow were cut from the goose hence the Spaniards ?? Poitiers ?? The "free Companies" of mercenaries eat of the feather. and the Archers, mainley Welsh mercaniries aet of the goose to celebrate victory.

But as I said, its just a thought.

Gareth


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 04 Sep 01 - 08:03 PM

I am reviving a near-dead thread, but I wondered if anyone thinks there is a coincidence between the spiritual "Go tell it on the mountain" and the song "Go tell Aunt Rhody" (Tabby, Nancy, Rhoda)? Go tell it on the mountain-Go tell aunt Rhody,/ Go tell it everywhere-Go tell aunt Rhody,/Go tell it on the mountain-Go tell aunt Rhody,/ That Jesus Christ is born-That the old gray goose is dead. Both simple, only a few accents differently placed. Or am I stretching so far that my head will be cut off?


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,BigDaddy
Date: 05 Sep 01 - 01:00 AM

I'm waiting to hear either from "Kytrad" on this one or someone familiar with her version which manages to include "yes, Jesus loves me," "there is a happy land," and "Ode to Joy."


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Haruo
Date: 05 Sep 01 - 08:26 PM

None of the versions of "Go tell it on the mountain" that I know has that repeated three times; everything I've heard or seen is more along the lines of
Go tell it on the mountain
Over the hills and everywhe-e-e-re
Go tell it on the mountain
That Jesus Christ is born
(the second line of which is metrically quite hard to accommodate to the dead goose tune; however, the "go tell" lines and the finale are indeed quite similar, and there's no reason it couldn't be sung that way. question is, was it ever?)

Liland


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 12:22 AM

Yes, it is stretching to compare with "Go tell it on the mountain", but the meter is the same. I checked the Tempie Cummins Texas slave narrative (p. 263). It is not the one with "Go tell aunt Nancy."


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 03:00 PM

Sorry, Dicho, just sent you a PM. It is in the Tempie Cummins narrative. I found it in the version included at ancestry.com, the part for subscribers.

Just checking the free version found on google.com, it is at this addy:

http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~ewyatt/_borders/Texas%20Slave%20Narratives/TEXAS%20C/Cummins,%20Temple.html

and is included near the bottom of the seventh paragraph.

Thanks for asking me about that link. This was very interesting!

kat


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: katlaughing
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 05:30 PM

Well, I just checked out the Library of Congress copy of Tempie's narrative and it is considerably shorter than the one at the sites I mentioned in this thread and in another one on slave narratives. As some are unable to access the full version, I will post her full narrative here and will highlight the quote about the song. I have also added some breaks for easier reading. It looks as though they have a short version first, then the fuller one right after. This is exactly the way it came from the page except for the highlighting, etc. which I noted.

Temple "Tempie" Cummins

Tempie Cummins was born at Brookeland, Texas, sometime before the Civil War, but does not know her exact age. William Eeyland owned Temple and her parents. She now lives alone in a small, weather-beaten shack in the South Quarters, a section of Jasper, Tex.

They call me Tempie Cummins and I was born at Brookeland but I don' know jus' the 'xact date. My father's name was Jim Starkins and my mother's name was Charlotte Brooks and both of 'em come from Alabama. I had jus' one brudder, Bill , and four sisters named Margaret and Hannah and Mary and 'Liza . Life was good when I was with then and us play round. Miss Fennie Neyland , she Mis' Phil Scarborough now, she raise me, 'cause I was give to them when I was eight year old. "I slep' on a pallet on the floor. They give me a homespun dress each a year at Christmas time. When company come I had to run and slip on that dress. At other time I wore white chillens' cast-off clothes so wore they was ready to throw away. I had to pin them up with red horse thorns to hide my nakedness. My dress was usually split from hem to neck and I had to wear them till they was strings. Went barefoot summer and winter till the feets crack open.

"I never seed my grandparents 'cause my mother she sold in Alabama when she's 17 and they brung her to Texas and treat her rough. At mealtime they hand me a piece or cornbread and tell me 'Run 'long.' Sometime I git little piece of meat and biscuit, 'bout once a month. I gathered up scraps the white chillens lef'. Marster was rough. He take two beech switches and twist them together and whip 'em to a-stub. Many's the time I's bled from them whippin's. Our old mistus, she try to be good to us, I reckon, but she was terrible lazy. She had two of us to wait on her and then she didn' treat us good . Marster had 30 or 40 acres and he raise cotton, and corn and 'tatoes. He used to raise 12 bales cotton a year and then drink it all up. We work from daylight till dark, and after. Marster punish them what didn' work hard enough.

The white chillen tries teach me to read and write but I didn' larn much, 'cause I allus workin'. Mother was workin' in the house, and she cooked too. She say she used to hide in the chimney corner and listen to what the white folks say. When freedom was 'clared, marster wouldn' tell 'em, but mother she hear him tellin' mistus that the slaves was free but they didn' know it and he's not gwineter tell 'em till he makes another crop or two. When mother hear that she say she slip out the chimney corner and crack her heels together four times and shouts. 'I's free, I's free.' Then she runs to the field, 'gainst marster's will and tol' all the other slaves and they quit work. Then she run away and in the night she slip into a big ravine near the house and have them bring me to her. Marster, he come out with his gun and shot at mother but she run down the ravine and gits away with me.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A stout, pleasant faced colored woman, Tempie Cummins , lives alone in a small weather-beaten shack in the South Quarters of Jasper. She wears a clean white apron over a neat print dress, and the cloth on her head almost covers her kinky hair. She has just added to her health and appearance by the acquisition of a full set of false teeth of which she is very proud. But, she says, "I 'spects I'll be payin' on 'em 'til I die. Tempie keeps a few chickens and a cat and kittens for company. She recalls many details of her days of servitude under the Neylands and Brookeland , Texas, near Jasper, but cannot tell her exact age.

Dey call me Tempie Cummins . I was bo'n at Brookeland some time durin' d' wah. I don' know jes de 'zack date. It muster been 'bout 1862 but I don' know fo' sure. My father's name was Jim Starkins an' my mother's name was Charlotte Brooks . Bofe 'r' dem come from Alabama. I had jus' one brudder, Bill Starkins an' fo' (four) sister' name', Mar'gret , Hannah , Mary an' 'Liza . Life was good w'en I was wid dem. Us play' 'roun' an' had a good time an' was good t' one anudder. Miss Fannie Neylan', she Miz Phil Scarborough now, she raise' me. Mother gimme t' dem w'en I was eight year' ol'. I had a hard bringin' up. I slep' on a pallet on d' flo' (floor). Dey gimme a humspun dress onct a year at Crissmus time. W'en comp'ny come I had t' run an' slip on dat dress. At uder time I wo' (wore) d' w'ite chillun's cast-off clo's so wo' dey was ready t' frow away. I had t' pin dem up wid red horse thorns t' hide my nakedness. My dress was us'ully split t' d' neck an' we had t' wear dem 'til dey was strings. Sometime' I wash my dress fo' Sunday, an' sometime I didn'. Neber had no shoes. Went barefeet summer an' winter 'til my feet crack open. Mistus gimme a nice mek gingham dress fo' my weddin' dress, but nuthin' else tho' she allus sayin' she's gwinter.

I neber see my gran'parents. Mother was sol' in Alabama w'en she was seventeen, an' dey brung her t' Texas an' treat her rough. I was too young t' wuk an' earn any money durin' d' wah. At meal time dey han' me a piece 'r' ca'n bread, an' tell me t' 'Run long.' Sometime I git a little piece 'r' meat an' a biscuit 'bout onct a mont'. I would gadder up an' eat d' scraps dat d' w'ite chillun lef'. D' slaves neber had time t' mek a gyarden 'r' dey own. I had a rough marster. He tek two beech switches, twist dem togedder an' whip 'em t' a stub. Many's d' time I's bled from dem whippin's. Our ol' mistrus she try t' be good t' us, I reckon but she was turrible lazy. She had two 'r' us t' wait on her an' den she didn' treat us good." "Marster an' Mistrus had nine chillun 'r' dere own. I nuss all 'um 'cept'n two. Will Neylan ' he was d' ol'es' son, an' Mamie Neylan' Patten she d' ol'es' daughter. Dey lib in a nice fo' (four) room house paint' yeller an' green.

Marster had a farm of thutty or fo'ty acres an' kep' from twenty t' fo'ty head 'r' niggers. He raise cotton, co'n, 'taters. He uster raise twelve bales 'r' cotton a year an' den drink it all up. We wuk from daylight 'til dark an' atter. Marster punish dose dat didn' wuk hard 'nuf. I neber saw no slaves sold, an' neber saw none in chains. Marster's w'ite chillun tried t' teach me t' read an' write, but I's forgot mos' 'r' it. I kin write my name w'en I tries. D' slaves had no chu'ch 'r' dey own. Sometime d' grown slaves went t' chu'ch at Gilgal, nor'wes' 'r' Jasper. Mistus she read d' Bible t' her chillun on Sunday an' I listen w'ile holdin' d' baby an' got a knowledge of God. I went t' chu'ch on'y twict w'ile I was growin' up. D' fus' time I went t' see my mother baptize' but dey put off d' baptisin'. Den I went ag'in w'en she were baptized. I don' 'member any slave songs. My mother she run 'way onct but dey got her back. Mother was d' house girl. She say she uster hide in d' chimney corner an' lissen t' w'at d' w'ite folks say. W'en freedom was 'clared, d' marster wouldn' tell 'em. But mother hear him tellin' Mistus dat d' slaves was all free now, but dey didn' know it, an' 'I not gwinter tell 'em 'til I mek anudder crop 'r' two.' Mother an' anudder woman had babies, an' one nuss bofe 'r' dem in d' mawnin' an' d' udder at noon an' so on. W'en Mother hear she was free, she say she slip out 'r' d' chimney corner, crack her heels togedder fo' (four) times shoutin', 'I's free. I's free.' Den she run t' d' fiel' gainst d' marster's will, an' tol' all d' udder slaves an' dey quit wuk.' Den she run 'way an' lef' me, her baby. All dat night I yell, dey say. Dere was a big ravine near d' house, an' she slip back dat night, an' sign t' d' udder woman w'at had a baby t' bring me t' her. But marster he come out wid his gun an' shot at Mother an' she run off again. Nex' night she come back ag'in, an' jus' as she tuk me out d' woman's arms, Marster shot ag'in an' jus' miss her head, but she run wid me down d' ravine an' git away.

Atter wuk hours, d' slaves had t' wash dere clo's, cook an' any udder wuk fo' deyse'fs. Dey didn' hab much t' eat. On Sundays dey gib dem a little pan 'r' meal, a little piece 'r' meat, an' a oyster can 'r' syrup, an' dey bettah not ax fo' no mo' 'til d' nex' week. Dey had t' wuk Sat'day atternoon an' be in bed by nine o'clock.

My husban' come from Ga'gia. Said he nevah was whip' dere. Dey had hol'days on Crissmus, New Year's Day an' Fo'th 'r' July, w'en dey had a big barb'cue an' d' darkies dance all night. Befo' freedom, dey didn' hab no cullud weddin's, dey jus' put a couple togedder an' let 'em raise a fam'ly

W'en I was a chile we play all kinds 'r' games. We like t' ketch d' lightnin' bugs an' put dem in bottles. We uster play 'William Trimbletoe,' an' sing: "William Trimbletoe, He a good fisherman; He ketch his hens, An' put dem in pens. Some lay eggs An some lay none." I see lots 'r' ghostes w'en I was young. I couldn' sleep fo' dem. Mother uster tell me if I didn' go sleep she paddle me. I's kinda outgrowed dem now. But one time, my younges' boy an' me was comin' ober t' d' Souf Quarters t' chu'ch. Right near d' dippin' vat is two big gates. W'en we git 'bout dem gates, out come a big ol' w'ite ox, wid long legs and long horns. W'en he git 'bout half way 't us, he turn' t' a man wid a Pan'ma hat on, an' a seersucker coat slung ober he lef' sho'der. He follers us t' d' Sandy Creek bridge. W'en he git close my boy he say, 'Good ebenin',' De ghos' he didn' say nuthin' but went back in d' woods. W'en we git furder on we hear a woman scream, 'O, my mamma's gone, my mamma's gone.' I say, 'Yes, some w'ite folks dyin' an' dat's d' spirit come fo' her.' Sometime at night I see dat same spirit sittin' on dat Sandy Creek bridge yit. I hab seen people walkin' 'roun' d' house in long gowns 'til I couldn' sleep. "My ol' man said, in slavery time, in fodder-pullin' time w'en he was twenty-one, he had t' pass a place w'er d' patterroles whipped d' slaves an' had kilt some dere. He was a sittin' on a big load 'r' fodder an' right w'ere he had t' thru' two gates, dere come a big light, wavin' down d' road an' scarin' d' team. D' hosses drag him an' 'bout near kilt him. Said dat sho' was d' spirits.

"I don' 'member none 'r' d' wuk songs. I tuk care 'r' d' little w'ite chillun an' uster sing dem t' sleep wid: 'Go tell Aunty Nancy, Go tell Aunt Nancy, Go tell Aunt Nancy, Her ol' gray goose is dead. D' one she was savin' D' one she was savin' D' one she was savin' T' mek a feather bed.' "Boss an' Mistus look atter d' slaves w'en dey was sick.

W'en I was eight I uster slip out an' eat d' dirt out 'r' d' chimbly 'til I got a hole 'could mos' crawl troo (through). Marse tol' me it would kill me but I wouldn' stop. Ol' Doctor Neylan ' he put sumpthin' on d' chumbly an' I see d' green flies blowin' it. I git a stick an' rake' off w'at he put on it an' et d' dirt anyhow Den he whip' me good. Said, 'Bu'n you, I will stop your.' So he go t' town an' git sumthin' else an' smear dat on d' chimbly. Atter I git up, I et mo' dirt an' den he gib me castor oil an' turpentine ebery time he ketch me an' dat broke me

Bill Cummins , dat was my husban', he was twenty-one durin' d' wah. He haul bread t' d' sojers fo' we was marry. He had been marry befo' an' had five chillun. We was marry w'en I was sebenteen. Us had a good weddin'. Uncle Bud Adams he marry us down d' country toward Beech Grove. I hab had ten chillun. His fus' wife's mother raise' his fus' chillun. I hab twelve gran' chillun, an' two great-gran' chillun. Babe Rawl's wife is my ol'es'. She wash fo' a libin'. Arlie , libin' in Call, Texas, she wash too. George Cummins wuks at d' mill at Call. Cora is marry an' libes in Goose Creek. Hab anudder boy in Beaumont unloadin' ship. Hab a gal in San Augustine, d' mother 'r' seben boys an' one gal. Won't she hab help? Seymour an' Jane libes up No'th. My youn'es' boy is marry lately an' gone t' Roganville t' buil' him a house." "I hopes dem pictures w'at you's takin' is good 'cause I want one t' sen' t' each 'r' dem chillun.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 08:11 PM

There seem to have been two interviews. In Kat's narrative , where the dashed line occurs, is the end of p. 2 of the Lib. Congress typescript and page 3 is missing. To make the record complete, here it is: "I seed lots of ghosties when I's young. I couldn' sleep for them. I's kind of outgrowed them now. But one time me and my younges' chile was comin' over to church and right near toe dippin' vat is two big gates and when we get to them, out come a big old white ox, with long legs and horns and when he git 'bout halfway, he turns into a man with a Panama hat on. He follers us to Sandy Creek bridge. Sometimes at night I sees that same spirit sittin' on that bridge now. My old man say, in slavery time, when he's 21, he had to pass a place where patterroles whipped slaves and had kilt some. He was sittin' on a load of fodder and there come a big light wavin' down the road and scarin' the team and the hosses drag him and near kilt him. *****. The discussion after the dashed line and the rest of the narrative does not appear in the Library of Congress version. The page numbering and typescript headings are continuous in the Lib. Congress typescript so there has to be another interview, parts are not just left out. Kat, thanks for inserting the complete story. It gives proof to Aunt Nancy-Rhoda-Tabby being as least as old as the Civil War, and not as recent as 1925 which is the date in the Fresno listing. And IanC, I never doubted you.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Dicho
Date: 06 Sep 01 - 08:34 PM

Liland, I have been listening to some of the midis of "Go tell..." that are on google and yahoo and find variance in how "everywhere" is handled. In some, the where is a single note; the extra note seems to be an elaboration. In other words, the two songs become quite similar. There is no reason to relate the two songs, both are simple and easily duplicated unintentionally- as in the case of Rousseau's melody.


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Subject: Lyr Add: GO TELL AUNT DINAH (from Lomax)
From: Dicho
Date: 22 Oct 01 - 12:53 AM

Version from Alabama, recorded by Lomax on his 1939 Southern Collecting Trip.

GO TELL AUNT DINAH

Go an' tell Aunt Dinah, Go an' tell Aunt Dinah,
Go an' tell Aunt Dinah, de old grey goose is dead.

Died last Friday, died last Friday,
Died last Friday with a pain in de back o' her head.

She was savin', she was savin'
She was savin' to make a feather bed.

Walkin' round dat green tree, walkin' round dat green tree
Walkin' round dat green tree, de ole grey goose is dead.


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Subject: RE: Origins of: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Burke
Date: 22 Oct 01 - 10:18 PM

There's also an old hymn called Sweet Affliction that uses the theme. Like the versions at Levy, it's got a second section.

You can see it in The Southern Harmony (melody in 2nd line) The Sacred Harp has an attribution for the tune of Lowell Mason and J. J. Rousseau, 1823. Mason liked to claim he was arranging great composers when he wasn't. I'll see if I can find an early Mason version in my books.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE OLD GREY GOOSE (from Cecil Sharp)
From: masato sakurai
Date: 12 Oct 02 - 11:06 PM

The earliest printed version with lyrics and music I've found is in Cecil J. Sharp's Nursery Songs from the Appalachian Mountains [1st series] (London: Novello, 1921; no pagination). The tune is the familiar one, though there're some minor differences from the version in English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians:

THE OLD GREY GOOSE

1 Go and tell Aunt Nancy,
Go and tell Aunt Nancy,
Go and tell Aunt Nancy
The old grey goose is dead.

2 The one that she'd been saving
For to make her feather-bed.

3 She died last Friday
With a pain all in her head.

4 Old gander is weeping
Because his wife is dead.

5 The goslings are mourning
Because their mother's dead.

The earliest recording, according to Meade et al.'s Country Music Sources (p. 112), is Carolina Tar Heels' "The Old Gray Goose" (04/03/1929); the Pickard Family version (02/11/1930) is the second. Ernest Stoneman with his wife, however, had interpolated a "Go and tell Aunt Sally" stanza in "The Mountaineer's Courtship" (05/12/1927), which has a different melody; their recording is on Smith's Anthology of American Folk Music.

The earliest printed words (without music) I've found are those quoted in Frank E. Jerome, "The John Brown Song," in The American Missionary (New York: American Missionary Association), Volume 41, Issue 7 (July 1887, pp. 189-191). The journal is in the >Making of America collection (CLICK HERE for page 190):

This sentiment remained with me. I pondered over it, and finally got to singing it in different ways in several songs. Some time after, I heard a prominent citizen say that "John Brown was dead, but the rebels would find that his soul would roll on and crush them!" Before either of these occurrences, I heard a number of soldiers on a South-bound steamer singing, as they swept by:

"Go tell Aunt Susey! Go tell Aunt Suesy!
Go tell Aunt Susey old John Brown is dead!" (Etc.)

This tune I had picked up and learned thoroughly. One gift of nature to me has been the art of combining two tunes of different kinds and thereby producing a new one. I had combined "Go tell Aunt Susey" with the old Sunday-school hymn, "I love to go to Sunday-school," and the union of these two tunes produced the air of "John Brown's Body," as sung everywhere since that time. I sang this tune long before I put any words to it. But when I heard "Freedom and Right will surely win the day," and that John Brown's soul "would roll on and crush them," I found with delight that I could fit them neatly into my tune. (pp. 189-190)

"Run, Tell Aunt Susey," mentioned HERE, is seemingly a variant:

Frank E. Jerome, for example, wrote that he had written the words for a John Brown song in Leavenworth, Kansas, in June of 1861, one month after the "Tiger" Battalion first performed the song at Fort Warren. He further asserted that the tune he invented was based on the melody to "Run, Tell Aunt Susey," a tune which in no way resembles the "Say, Brothers" hymn.

"Go tell Aunt Susie" had been sung up to the World War I days. See Down Plucking
by Lillie Cole
(Good Old Days Magazine -- July 2002, Volume 39, No. 7):

Go tell Aunt Susie,
Go tell Aunt Susie,
Go tell Aunt Susie, I said.
Go tell Aunt Susie
That her old gray goose is dead.
The one she's been saving,
The one she's been saving,
To make a feather bed.

The direct antecedent to the tune is that of Cramer's variations titled "Rousseau's Dream" (first published in London in 1812). An edition is in the Levy Collection:

Rousseau's Dream. An Air with Variations for the Piano Forte. (Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: Composed by J[ohann] B[aptist] Cramer [1771-1858]; New York: Wm. Dubois, n.d..).

A guitar piece "Le Songe de Rousseau" (Op.17), which is based on this tune, was written by Matteo Carcassi (1792-1853, Italy); midi version is THIS, from HERE.

According to the Hymn Tune Index, the earliest hymn version is in Walker's 1819 hymnals:

HTI: Citations of Selected Tunes
HTI Code Description
16564 33(2)112231 - 55(4)332(1)2(3)1 - 33(4)5566(4)53 - 33(4)556U1(D6)5 - 33(2)11 - [2231] - 55(4)332(1)2(3)1
Meter: 8.7.8.7.4.0.7       Mode: major    3 citation s , earliest in 1819

WalkTSSWC 1819 e 16564 Rousseaus Dream GMOTGJ1   F 2/3
WalkTWC 4 1819 e 16564 Rousseaus Dream GMOTGJ1   F 2/3
WalkTWC 5 1820 e 16564 Rousseaus Dream GMOTGJ1   F 2/3
Total of 3 citations

This seems to be "Sweet Affliction," in The Sacred Harp (CLICK HERE for the 1860 edition) and in The Southern Harmony (linked to by Burke above).

Thomas Moore wrote "Hark! 'Tis the Breeze" to this tune (CLICK HERE).

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 01:36 AM

There is a listing in American Memory for a song, anonymous, popular in the 1840s (1844), called "The Ole Grey Goose." It was printed in Philadelphia, A. Fiot, words and music.
The reference is in "Greatest Hits, 1820-1860." Greatest Hits

They have a copy with that title, by Chas. Reps (arranger), published by C. O. Christman, New York, 1844. It is a minstrel tune (Boston Minstrels) and not related to "Go tell Aunt Rhody."

The sheet music is notable for an engraving showing musicians with their instruments, including accordion and flute.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 07:56 AM

De Ole Grey Goose / by Chas. Reps (New York: C. G. Christman, 1844) is a completely different song. The Great Song Thesaurus (Oxford UP, 1984, p. 309) mistakenly puts the two songs into one entry (where the date given--"1844"--is not that of "Aunt Rhody").

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 15 Jan 03 - 09:07 AM

The Ole Grey Goose (Philadelphia: A. Fiot, 196 Chesnut St., 1844) is at the Levy collection (link to the cover is inactive).


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Subject: Lyr Add: AUNT TABBIE
From: masato sakurai
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 10:26 PM

From Emelyn Elizabeth Gardner and Geraldine Jencks Chickering, eds., Ballads and Songs of Southern Michigan (1939; rpt. Folklore Associates, 1967, p. 466; text only):

             AUNT TABBIE

Version A
(Sung in 1931 by Mrs. Elmer Jencks, Kalkaska)

1 Old Mother Slipper-Slopper jumped out of bed,
    Ran to the window, said, "O John, the old gray goose is dead!

2 "Go tell Aunt Tabbie, go tell Aunt Tabbie,
    Go tell Aunt Tabbie the old gray goose is dead!

3 "One she'd been saving, one she'd been saving,
    One she'd been saving to make a feather bed.

4 "Died in the garden, died in the garden,
    Died in the garden for the want of bread."

Version B
(Sung in 1931 by Mrs. C.C. Chickering, Belding)

3 Died in the woodshed, died in the woodshed,
    Died in the woodshed eating a crust of bread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: delphinium
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 11:33 PM

Masato, the first verse of your last posted version doesn't go very well with the other verses. It looks like it is from the song Daddy Fox

Old mother Slipper Slopper jumped out of bed
And out of the window she pop her head,
Crying John, John, the grey goose is gone,
And the fox is gone to his den-o

Interesting, the 2 songs have always been connected in my mind, maybe because they both are about dead geese, or more likely because my dad used to sing them both.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 06 Feb 03 - 11:53 PM

A prime candidate for some fakelore. You know--English archers used yew bows and arrows fletched with grey goose feathers. Or the dispersed Irish troops were referred to as Wild Geese. Or other irrelevancies.

In defense of the Traditional Ballad Index, the compilers aren't seeking the earliest version extant of each song: they're l;isting references in the books they've examined. If the next book to be examined has an earlier reference, they'll update their earliest date.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,susan frost
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 12:35 AM

I was just discussing this song at work with a patient of mine. She is 81 years old, intelligent and well educated; she seemed to think that the origin of the song was from civil war times, when soldiers used to come into someone's homestead and take foodstuffs, including fowl. Neither of us could recall any but the chorus of the song, and looking at the full lyrics, the explaination she gave of it's origin does not seem to jibe, but who knows...........that's all I have to contribute, hope it helps! :)


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Tannywheeler
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 06:09 PM

Guest Susan, I only found this place a few mos. ago, so I missed the earlier postings. I always knew this as a lullaby, and the person named was Aunt Rhody.

1.) Go tell Aunt Rhody,
    (repeat 1st line 2 times)
    Go tell Aunt Rhody, the old grey goose is dead.

2.) The one she's been savin'
    (2 repeats)
    The one she's been savin' to make a feather-bed.

3.) She died in the mill-pond
    (2 repeats)
    She died in the mill-pond, standing on her head.

4.) Gander's in mournin'.
    (2 repeats)
    Gander's in mournin', because his wife is dead.

5.) Goslin's are cryin'.
    (2 repeats)
    Goslin's are cryin', 'cause their mammy's dead.

This works in a rocking chair with a groggy child. In the interests of slowing things down, dragging them out, I always use the 1st verse as a chorus in between verses 3 & 4, and after 5.

Remember you had to raise your own whatever in this country (and others) for a long time. All of life was tied to agriculture. You couldn't go to a discount store and buy a quilt or comforter cheap (made in China or India) with synthetic batting. The insulation/padding was a natural product, as well as the materials used as the covering.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Q
Date: 07 Nov 04 - 06:36 PM

Tannywheeler, thanks for your verses.
I regard the song as pre-Civil War, but no proof, just a personal speculation. The Slave Narrative points in that direction.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 19 Dec 04 - 10:00 AM

This, from Louis Albert Banks, Immortal Songs of Camp and Field (Cleveland: The Burrows Brothers & Company, 1899 [copyright 1898], p. 100), may be one of the earliest records of "Aunt Rhody."
The way was opened for this song ["John Brown's Body"] through a campaign song heard from the lips of the Douglas, and the Bell, and the Everett Campaign Clubs, who, in order to spite Governor John A. Andrews, the famous war governor of Massachusetts, sang the following lines as they were marching through the streets of Boston, with their torches in hand,--

             "Tell John Andrew,
               Tell John Andrew,
               Tell John Andrew
               John Brown's dead.
                         Salt won't save him,
                         John Brown's dead."

These lines are supposed to have been an imitation of the doggerel,--

             "Tell Aunt Rhody,
               Tell Aunt Rhody,
               Tell Aunt Rhody
               The old goose is dead.
                         Salt won't save him,
                         The old goose is dead."


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,Steve Sottile
Date: 25 Mar 05 - 03:40 AM

Memory serves me that the words came from England and were a political pun about Cecil Rhodes and Queen Victoria with reference to the colonialization of South Africa and Rhodesia. Trying to find the reference to it but drawing blanks so far.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 25 Mar 05 - 03:47 AM

I suspect that someone has been pulling your leg; but do let us know if you ever find any documentation.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 25 Mar 05 - 04:13 AM

I've come across a march titled "The Fifth Regiment March" (rec. 1889) at Edison National Historic Site - Very Early Recorded Sound. It's a medley of several tunes, the first being "Go Tell Aunt Rhody."

The Fifth Regiment march
Performed by: Issler's Orchestra
Record format: Edison yellow paraffine cylinder
Recorded by: Walter H. Miller
Location: West Orange, New Jersey or local vicinity
Recording date: c. March 1889.


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Subject: RE: Origins: History of Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Azizi
Date: 25 Mar 05 - 07:18 AM

This discussion is fascinating!

I had a paper back copy of Tempi Cummins
Narative that I got from a used store, but somehow misplaced it.
I'm glad to see that it is online.

I'm wondering about another portion of this song.

Dicho's post of 22 Oct 01 - 12:53 AM mentions these lines from "Go Tell Aunt Dinah" [Version from Alabama, recorded by Lomax on his 1939 Southern Collecting Trip.]

Walkin' round dat green tree, walkin' round dat green tree
Walkin' round dat green tree, de ole grey goose is dead.

-snip-

These might have been an add-on from another song-who will ever know?!

But I'm wondering does anything think that there's a connection between these words and the words "walking on the green grass?" that are found in folk songs & children's rhymes?

See this short thread A Sailor Boy in which a copy of versions of this song include these words:

"We go walking on the green grass, thus, thus, thus,
Come all you pretty fair maids..."

Also I found mention of "walking on the green grass" in a post in the Children's Street Song threads.

[I apologize if I should not have reposted it without permission]

Subject: RE: Children's Street Songs
From: Alice - PM
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 11:48 PM

I remember being at a birthday party when I was about 7, and the mother of the birthday girl was from the Southern US. She taught us a game we played at the party that was two lines of girls walking back and forth, towards and then away from each other. The song was "Walkin' on the green grass, green grass, green grass, Walkin' on the green grass, Rat-ta-tat-ta-tee-i-oh."
What are you doin that for, that for, etc.
We're goin' to get married, married, etc.
Who ya gonna marry, marry, etc.
We're gonna marry, XXX, XXX, etc.
Then the chosen girl would go over to the other side. Anyone else hear of this one? I always connected it to the South, because this mom had a southern drawl, which seemed really exotic in Montana...

Also, it just occurred to me to ask does this "walking on the green grass" floating verse have anything to do with the 'Green Gravel' songs?

Thanks,

Azizi


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Croco Maes
Date: 05 Mar 08 - 09:00 PM

I first came across this song in a recording of a Pete Seeger Singalong. I believe it was a live recording made in 1980 or '81 at a university up north (I believe it was Massachusetts). Seger song and banjoed hie way through 5 strophes with the public joining in:

=> Go tell Aunt Rhodie - The old grey goose is death

=> The one she has been saving - to make a feather bed

=> The old gander's weeping - because his wife is death

=> the gosslings are a-mourning - because their mother's death

=> she died in the millpond - a-standing on her head

Seeger always lead the first verse, let the public catch in on the second and third and then give the conclusion line. He seemed to accentuate the words 'saving' 'a-mourning' and so on, to make it sound like a spiritual with a preacher leading the song and the congregation falling in. Therefore, my first idea was that the sone was a kind of spoof on a black spiritual, making it sound like a religious song, but with a set of nonsensical verses.

Subsequently I started singing the song as a spoof spiritual, me playing the preacher, laying out the first line, having the 'choir' fall in with lots of 'hallelujah' and 'Ooh-Lord' in between the lines.The fourth line (the conclusion) I would speak --- preach--- with my 'congregation' repeating it.

Ps, my 'choir' mostly being young male co-workers we would always sing the third verse: the old gander's weeping - For the best (explicit) he ever had

'Niklas


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: masato sakurai
Date: 05 Mar 08 - 10:45 PM

Go Tell Aunt Rhody was sung by Joan Baez & Peter Yarrow at the 1963 Newport Folk Festival.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 06 Mar 08 - 05:50 PM

The first time I ever heard this song, which was, ironically, in Fresno, CA in around 1957 or '58, I thought it was one of the least scintillating songs I had ever heard. Of course, the performance (by a well-meaning, but monotone lady who looked like the teacher on "Ding Dong School") might have had something to do with it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,Peanut Buddy
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 02:02 AM

My Grandmother grew up in Zebulon, Georgia. Born May 19, 1894. Her "Aunt Carrie" had sung this to her when she was a child. She sang "Go Tell Aunt Tabby" to me throughout my childhood.

Go tell Aunt Tabby (3X)
the old grey goose is dead.

The one she's been savin' (3X)
to make her feather bed.

John Thomas killed her (3X)
he hit her on the head.

Bury her in the garden (3X)
the old grey goose is dead.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: MtheGM
Date: 24 Oct 09 - 02:34 AM

I used often to sing this song, learned from The Burl Ives Song Book, about 50+ years ago, as an old schoolfriend recently reminded me. My recollection is that Ives' version began in D-major, then {& I would do it this way also} modulated to the tonic minor for the "died in the millpond' & "old grey gander crying" & "left 9 little gosling" verses, then back to the major for repeat 1st verse; but that most singers didn't do this, but remained in the major thru'out. Is my recollection of these variations in the tune as sung by Burl Ives correct?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Rowan
Date: 25 Oct 09 - 05:30 PM

MtheGM, your memory is probably correct (although I have no access to the disc) because I must have picked up the habit of singing it (in the minor, throughout) from somewhere and it isn't a song that is part of the Australian tradition. Burl Ives performed here in the 50s and became part of the tradition that says "I'm interested in folk music. I've got a Burl Ives/ Kingston Trio/etc/etc/etc record at home."

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST
Date: 25 May 10 - 05:35 PM

Five years onward and I have an odd connection. There is a painting by a Quaker artist named Marcus Mote(1817-1898) in the Museum in Richmond, Indiana. It depicts a scene from the temperence movement where the local Quaker ladies boycotted and picketed a local grocery store that was known to sell buckets of beer to children. Apparantly, this particular demonstration made national news with reporters coming from as far away as Chicago. What is the connection you ask? The grocery was named The Old Gray Goose and Mr. Mote's wife and Quaker demonstrater was named Rhoda. I have to wonder if there wasn't some symbolism in Rhoda Mote trying to bring the demise of the Old Gray Goose, and telling Aunt Rhodie that the Old Gray Goose is Dead.
Perhaps it is nothing more than a coincidence, but since there seems to be no definitive history to the lyrics I found it very interesting. Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 25 May 10 - 06:17 PM

There is a previous thread, here . My first memory of Dusty Springfield is of her singing Aunt Rhody with the Springfields.

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,norton howe
Date: 05 Dec 10 - 11:16 AM

Re: "Go tell Aunt Rhody"

I am 73 years old. My grandmother sang this song to me while rocking me to sleep. My great grandmother was a piano teacher,so she might have bought the collection of Southern and Appalachian folk songs when my uncle was born around 1918. If I were to search for European origins, I would begin with Scotch-Irish traditions. So many songs emanate from plagues, such as the "Black Death." Maybe the song came from a poultry disease many years ago in Europe.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Joe_F
Date: 05 Dec 10 - 07:41 PM

As I learned it from my mother ca. 1940, it contained the odd stanza

    She died a-laughing,...
    'Cause she'd lost her head.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: MtheGM
Date: 06 Dec 10 - 04:32 AM

···So many songs emanate from plagues, such as the "Black Death."···
====
A much-disputed assertion. The great children's folklorist Peter Opie once dismissively described this theory in relation to 'Ring-o-Roses' [on which see several threads] as "one of those pieces of folklore about folklore", in an interview I did with Peter & Iona Opie for Folk Review July 1974, published under title "The Children's Child". "We have had a publisher badgering us for the secret history of nursery rhymes, as if all we have published is the official story and we know something more but we won't say. And this is what has made it a woolly, silly subject".

~Michael~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,AST
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 10:22 AM

I am 71 and grew up in the Georgia. My Dad sang this song to us and I sang it as a lullaby to my children. I knew the chorus and two verses. The first verse was "Go tell Aunt Tabbie the old grey goose is dead. The one she's been saving to make a feather bed." The second verse was "Go tell Aunt Tabbie the old grey goose is dead. The Yankee soldiers kill him to eat with their cornbread." This certainly supports the belief that the song came out the civil war. I love the song because my Dad sang it to me and I sang it to my grandchildren when they were too little to understand any words. I wish I could pass it on, but I'm afraid it sounds too "old south" and thus racist.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 21 Jan 12 - 08:19 PM

I think you're worrying too much. There is no real evidence that this is a southern song, and even if it were, so what? Is it somehow shameful that there is a southern part to our country?

We heard this song as a lullaby when I was little kid in Chicagoland. It was neither northern or southern, it was just a song. It could have happened on any farm where there's a goose and a pond.

I have my doubts about your "Yankee soldier" verse. A farm dweller wouldn't call a goose, which is female, "him." Not that I think you're lying; I think somebody with a politcal agenda slapped the verse onto an old song. I recommend that you ditch that verse and continue to enjoy singing to children.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,David Lawrence
Date: 03 May 12 - 03:05 PM

My grandmother born 1989 Georgia, sang the last two lines

She died a smilin x2
On her feather bed. (from the goose!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 04 May 12 - 12:13 AM

Grandmother from 1989 Georgia? Your grandmother is 23 years old? Oy. I gave birth to a daughter in 1988. I hope you mean your grandmother was born in 1889?

SRS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Go Tell Aunt Rhody
From: GUEST,Guest
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 02:50 AM

As another point of reference, the tune to "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" is used in the last part of the Aggie War Hymn, the official fight song of Texas A&M University, which was written in 1919. The lyrics are "Saw varsity's horns off (x3); Short! A! Varsity's horns are sawed off (x3); Short! A!" It refers to sawing the horns off of the University of Texas mascot, the Longhorn steer.


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