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Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey

In Mudcat MIDIs:
Peter Gray (from Our Singing Country, Lomax & Lomax)
Peter Gray (from The Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection)


Joe Offer 12 Jun 04 - 05:00 AM
Joe Offer 12 Jun 04 - 05:16 AM
Joe Offer 12 Jun 04 - 05:19 AM
masato sakurai 12 Jun 04 - 05:50 AM
Uncle_DaveO 12 Jun 04 - 01:10 PM
Uncle_DaveO 12 Jun 04 - 01:13 PM
Joe Offer 13 Jun 04 - 05:04 AM
Abby Sale 13 Jun 04 - 07:23 PM
Joe Offer 14 Jun 04 - 02:17 AM
Abby Sale 14 Jun 04 - 04:16 PM
GUEST,Dave Ruch 09 Jul 04 - 09:30 PM
Stewie 09 Jul 04 - 10:10 PM
Stewie 09 Jul 04 - 10:28 PM
GUEST,Bob Staneslow 09 Aug 09 - 10:31 PM
Peace 10 Aug 09 - 12:08 AM
Bill D 10 Aug 09 - 10:51 AM
Q 10 Aug 09 - 01:39 PM
Fergie 17 Jun 10 - 03:16 PM
Artful Codger 17 Jun 10 - 07:23 PM
Dave Ruch 19 Apr 11 - 02:32 PM
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Subject: ADD: Peter Gray / Grey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 05:00 AM

We all need somebody from an older generation, somebody who knows the old songs and can pass them on to us. My friends Alan and Marge do that for me. At song circle this evening, they introduced "In An Anarchist's Garret," "Roll on the Ground," and "Peter Gray." The first two are in the Digital Tradition, but I don't think "Peter Gray" has been posted here.
Can anybody tell us more about the song, or post other versions?
-Joe Offer-

Peter Gray

Once on a time there lived a man,
His name was Peter Gray,
He lived way down in that air town
Called Pennsylvan-i-a.

CHORUS
Blow, ye winds of morning,
Blow, ye winds, heigho,
Blow, ye winds of morning,
Blow.

Now Peter fell in love all with
A nice young girl;
The first three letters of her name
Were Lucy Annie Pearl.

Just as they were gwine to wed
Her father did say no,
And quin-ci-cont-ly she was sent
Beyond the Ohio.

When Peter heard his love was lost,
He knew not what to say,
He'd half a mind to jump into
The Susquehan—i-a.

Now Peter went away out West
To seek his for-ti-an,
But he was caught and scal-pi-ed
By blood-i In-di-ans.

When Lucy heard of this bad news
About poor Peter Gray,
She wep' and wep' and wep'-i-ed
Her dear sweet life away.


NOTES: As sung by Frank A. Melton, Norman, Okia., 1939.
Professor Frank A. Melton of the University of Oklahoma says his father sang "Peter Gray" to him thirty years ago in Kansas, sang it soberly as a straightforward, factual account. The editors of the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays add, "'Peter Gray' (1858) seems to have been, like 'Springfield Mountain,' an American ballad which proved irresistibly comic once it got on the stage." Oral transmission has brought numerous changes both in the words and in the music.


Source: Our Singing Country, Lomax & Lomax 1941

Click to play


Notes from folktrax.org:
PETER GRAY - "Once on a time there lived a man" - ROUD 13236 - LOMAX OSC pp.252-253 - GREIG-DUNCAN 8 23002 #1897 p330 (1vch/m) -- Frank A Melton rec by John & Alan.Lomax, Norman, Oklahama 1939: LoC AAFS record No.2505

Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Peter Gray

DESCRIPTION: Peter Gray, of Pennsylvania, loves Lucy Annie Pearl. Her father sends her west; he considers suicide, but instead goes west himself and is scalped by Indians. She takes to her bed and dies. Chorus: "Blow ye winds of morning, blow ye winds heigh-o."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1860 (Dime Song Book #2)
KEYWORDS: courting separation father Indians(Am.) death humorous
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (2 citations):
DSB2, p. 45, "Peter Gray" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 240, "Peter Gray" (1 text)

Roud #4307
RECORDINGS:
Pete Seeger, "Johnny Gray" (on PeteSeeger07, PeteSeeger07a)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Blow Ye Winds in the Morning" (chorus lyrics, tune)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Johnny Gray
Notes: Yes, I said humorous [in the keywords]; this is a reworking of a classic ballad plot unto the absurd. - PJS
And the versions I've heard sung are performed with great bathos, just to make sure we get the point. - RBW
File: FSWB240C

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

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: ADD Verse: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 05:16 AM

Not much in the Greig-Duncan Folk Song Collection - just one verse. Note the chorus.
-Joe Offer-

Peter Gray

My song is of a nice young man whose name was Peter Gray
And the place where he was born was Pennsylvania
'Twas Pennsylvania, 'twas Pennsylvania
And the place where he was born was Pennsylvania.
Come back Peter oh where's my Peter Gray
When I sing duril addie O when I sing Peter Gray.



from the singing of JOHN QUIRRIE

Click to play


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Subject: ADD Version: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 05:19 AM

One last version - this one from the Folksinger's Wordbook (Silber & Silber)

Peter Gray

Dm
Once on a time there lived a man,
F        A7Dm
His name was Peter Gray;

He lived way down in that there town
A        Dm
Called Penn-syl-va-ni-a.

Chorus:
Dm
Blow ye winds of morning,
F        A
Blow ye winds heigh-o,
Dm
Blow ye winds of morning,
A        A7 Dm
Blow, blow, blow.


Now Peter fell in love all with
A nice young girl,
The first two letters of her name
Were Lucy, Annie, Pearl.

Just as they were gwine to wed
Her father did say no;
And quin-ci-cont-ly she was sent
Beyond the Oh-i-o.

When Peter heard his love was lost,
He knew not what to say,
He'd half a mind to jump into
The Susquehan-i-a.

But he went traveling to the west
For furs and other skins;
Till he was caught and scal-pi-ed
By blood-i In-j i-ins.

When Lucy-Annie heard the news,
She straightway took to bed,
And never did get up again
Until she di-i-ed.

You fathers all a warning take,
Each one as has a girl;
And think upon poor Peter Gray
And Lucy, Annie, Pearl.


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Subject: RE: lyrics & origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: masato sakurai
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 05:50 AM

Two editions are at the Levy collection:
Title: The Music of Morris Brothers, Pell, and Huntley's Minstrels. Peter Gray, a touching Comic Ballad.
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: na
Publication: Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., 277 Washington St., 1858.
Form of Composition: strophic with chorus
Instrumentation: piano and voice
First Line: I'll tell you of a nice young man, Whose name was Peter Gray
First Line of Chorus: Blow ye winds of morning, blow ye winds I oh
Performer: [Morris Brothers, Pell, and Huntley's Minstrels]

Title: Peter Gray, a touching Comic Ballad.The Music of Morris Brothers, Pell, and Huntley's Minstrels. [cover only]
Composer, Lyricist, Arranger: na
Publication: Boston: Oliver Ditson & Co., 277 Washington St., 1858.
Five editions are at American Memory:
Peter Gray (H. De Marsan, Publisher, 60 Chatham Street, N. Y. [n. d.]) [song sheet]

Peter Grey (McCoull & Slater's, N. W. Corner of Baltimore and Charles Street, Baltimore, [n. d.]) [song sheet]

Peter Grey (McCoull & Slater's, N. W. corner of Baltimore and Charles streets, Baltimore. [n. d.]) [song sheet]

Peter Gray (Boston, Massachusetts, Oliver Ditson & Co., 1859) [sheet music]

The Plantation Galop (Billy Paterson; Peter Gray) by Charles Coote (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Lee & Walker, [between 1856 and 1867]) [sheet music]


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Subject: RE: lyrics & origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 01:10 PM

The listing of recordings given above from the Traditional Ballad Index misses Burl Ives. His version was similar to the two given by Joe Offer. I don't remember much about the details of difference, except that Ives's young lady was named "Lucy Anna Quirl".

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: lyrics & origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 12 Jun 04 - 01:13 PM

Oh, and Richard Dyer-Bennet recorded it, using (as I recall) Joe's second version. I don't recall and am presently too lazy to listen and find if there were any variations in his words. I don't think so.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: RE: lyrics & origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Jun 04 - 05:04 AM

I found "Peter Gray" on Burl Ives CD's called "Poor Wayfaring Stranger" and "Wayfaring Stranger," and on a Vanguard CD called "The Art of Richard Dyer-Bennet." Both use the Lomax version of the song.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: lyrics & origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Abby Sale
Date: 13 Jun 04 - 07:23 PM

I'm feeling too lazy to boot up the LP player, but I argree with Joe (and feel much safer in so doing) Ives' Songbbook gives "Lucy Annie Pearl". It is the first version posted by Joe. Ives only says it is "a folk version of a comic song of the early 19th century." He also sings it pretty dead-pan and I think that's important.

I have most things Dyer-Bennett recorded (all of his own-label items - missing some early stuff) and his song book but it doesn't appear in any of it. Chances are it would be similar to Ives, though, since they regularly stole from each other.

My Kalb, _A Treasury of Folk Songs_ (a favorite old songbook of mine I don't look in enough - I've lost the title page - like the Ives, barely three pages still stick together - say, 1958) also uses 'Luci-anna Quirl'.   They agree with the 1858 date and that it is likely a travesty of an earlier serious song. It is (was) a favorite of college students.

The Fireside Book locates it to 'a favorite song in the Susquehanna River Valley in the 1850's.'

I don't have any specifically Pennsylvania material.

Roud (mentioned in Ballad Index) cites versions collected in Virginia, 1924 & '34 and Oklahoma, 1939 and Arkansas (Hunter) 1958 and Alabama, 1939. Of the broadsides, he confirms the above and gives the hard reference: Beadle's Dime Song Book No.2 (1859).

But basically, Joe, you've already answered your own question.

(It sings good, too.)


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Subject: RE: lyrics & origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Jun 04 - 02:17 AM

Well, maybe I DID answer my own question, Abby - but you sure added some interesting details. I transcribed the tunes from Lomax and Greig-Duncan. You'll find links to them above, in logical places...
Thanks, Abby & Dave & Masato.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: lyrics & origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Abby Sale
Date: 14 Jun 04 - 04:16 PM

I'm pleased to say that Masato is at least partly wrong here. (I'm only pleased because it's novel - I've not seen it happen before.)

The Plantation Galop (Billy Paterson; Peter Gray) is a galop - a dance - not a song. The two names are hand written at the bottom of the cover page, apparently the performers. That also exempts the earlier date & leaves "The Music of Morris Brothers," etc as earliest so far - one year earlier than Beadle. The texts seem (quickly) to be the same for all the Am Memory & Levy items.

Note:
    The first two letters of her name,
    Was Loo-egge-ianna Quirl.


And a nother oddity--

    But he went traveling to the west
            For furs and other skins;
    And there was caught and killed and drest
            All by the In-gi-ins.


I know of 'dressed' used to mean 'Put clothing on' or 'Prepared to be cooked (and eaten)' or a few other less likely things. I guess the suggestion is the Indians were cannibals. Perhaps in later years this was changed to a more PC version that they were just Bloody, not actually cannibals.   ??


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: GUEST,Dave Ruch
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 09:30 PM

I first heard it as "Johnny Grey" on the great Jeff Warner & Jeff Davis lp called "The Days of '49", sung by Jeff Davis. If I recall correctly, I think the notes said Jeff D learned it from Uncle Dave Macon.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Stewie
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 10:10 PM

Uncle Dave Macon's 'Johnny Grey' is related to this. Here is the transcription from page 117 of the beautiful hard-cover book accompanying Bear Family's box set of Uncle Dave's complete commercial recordings:

JOHNNY GREY

There was a little feller, his name was Johnny Grey
The state where Johnny Grey was born was Penn-syl-van-i-a

Chorus
Blow you in the morning, blow you winds, hi ho
Blow you in the morning, blow, blow, blow

This Johnny fell in love, all with a nice young girl
The name of her most positive was Louzy Isry Anner Pearl

When Johnny asked her father, her father he said no
And brutally sent her beyond the O-hi-o

Johnny went out a-west a-trading in furs and other things
And soon he found himself in trust with the chief of the Indians

When Miss Louisa heard of this, she straightway went to bed
And never did get up from there until she died

[Banjo and fiddle duet: 'Ryestraw']

Uncle Dave Macon vocal and banjo, unidentified fiddler, recorded 26 January 1938 in Charlotte, NC, and issued as Bluebird B8379 in May 1940. Reissued on County CD 115 and in Bear Family box set BCD 15978 JM.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Stewie
Date: 09 Jul 04 - 10:28 PM

I just listened to Uncle Dave's recording. I don't know why the transcriber for the Bear Family set had 'Blow you in the morning' because Uncle Dave clearly sings 'Blow you winds of morning, blow you winds hi ho'. As for the Indian verse that Abby commented on above, Uncle Dave certainly seems to be singing 'found himself in trust with' which also seems to be an oddity.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: GUEST,Bob Staneslow
Date: 09 Aug 09 - 10:31 PM

I can remember my older brother (he was in college at the time) singing 'Peter Gray' with the 'Luciannie Quirl' name.

I would like to say to Joe Offer that I have always felt the same way about the old songs. When I taught elementary school in my youth, I used to play my guitar and sing some of the old songs (especially the funny ones) to the children. I have been fooling around with folk songs and folk tales most of my life, when I wasn't digging into automotive history. I have performed publicly perhaps a dozen times. Back in the late 50s/early 60s period we even briefly had a small group called 'The Homespuns.' My daughter and I, with a couple of friends, also performed at a local Renaissance Faire staged by a local church. If you want to talk more about this, contact me at nitewing@snet.net.

Bob Staneslow


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Peace
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 12:08 AM

According to Wikipedia, versions were recorded by both Ed McCurdy and Mike Seeger.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 10:51 AM

I've been singing it for 40 years, but got it only from the Burl Ives LP. Such an amazing bunch of variants here! I guess ol' Peter's travails were pretty well known at one time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Q
Date: 10 Aug 09 - 01:39 PM

Lyr. Add: Peter Gray
Morris Bros. Pell & Huntley's Minstrels, 1858

1
I'll tell you of a nice young man,
Whose name was Peter Gray
And the town that he was born in
was Pennsylva-ni-a.

Chorus:
Blow ye winds of morning,
blow ye winds I oh,
Oh blow ye winds of morning,
oh blow ye winds I oh.

2
This Peter Gray did fall in love
All with a nice young gurl,
The first two letters of her name
Was Loo-egge-ian-na Quirl.
3
Just as they were gwine to wed,
Her father did say no,
And quincicently she was sent
Beyond the Ohio.
4
Peter heard his love was lost
He knew not what to say,
He'd half a mind to jump into
The Sus-que-han-i-a.
5
But he went travelling to the west
For furs and other things,
And there was caught and killed and drest
All by the In-gi-ins.
6
When Loo-egge-ianna heard the news
She straitway went to bed,
And never did get up again
Until she di-i-ed.
7
Ye fathers all a warning take,
Each one as has a gurl,
And think upon poor Peter Gray
And Loo-egge-ianna Quirl.

Sheet music, Levy Collection. Oliver Ditson & Co. Boston, 1858.
Levy Coll. has the title page of another, also Ditson, 1858; no author cited, same minstrel troupe.
Other copies at American Memory.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Fergie
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 03:16 PM

Hi all

My Granny use to sing little snatches of this song with a slightly different air to those in the midi's. I guess that my granny (born 1890) picked this song up from a uncle of hers that had lived in Chicago Illinois in the 1880/90s and who became wealthy enough to return to Ireland in 1898.

Using my memories of her singing and with the help of copies of versions from the Bodleian Library which you can see here, here
and here I have attempted to reconstruct my granny's version (below). The rhythm and general feel of the song was of a skipping song (rope jumping song), the long words were broken into distinct syllables that emphasised the strict timing of the song. The name of the girl was a joke that my granny never ceased to find funny "the first two letters of her name were L C (Elsie) Anna Pearl". I sang this song to some American women that were in Ireland for a writing workshop, they were of the opinion that the Alli-fatch-i-ay is a tributary of the Missouri river.

Peter Gray

I'd like to sing you all a song,
About a man named Peter Gray,
He fell in love with a nice young girl,
In Phil-i-del-phi-a,
In Phil-i-del-phi-a, my boys,
In Phil-i-del-phi-a,
He fell in love with a nice young girl,
In Phil-i-del-phi-a.

Oh come back Peter,
Oh come back Peter Gray,
While we sing too-ri-add-i-o,
Sing too-ri-add-i-ay.

Yes, Peter Gray he fell in love
All with this nice young girl,
The first two letters of her name,
Were El-sie Anna Pearl,
Were El-sie Anna Pearl, my boys,
Were El-sie Anna Pearl
The first two letters of her name,
Were El-sie Anna Pearl.

Oh come back Peter, etc.

They wanted to get marr-i-ed
But her father he said "NO"
And cruelly he trans-port-tied her,
Beyond the O-hi-o,
Beyond the O-hi-o, my boys,
Beyond the O-hi-o,
And cruelly he trans-port-tied her
Beyond the O-hi-o.

Oh come back Peter, etc.

When Elsie saw her love was crossed,
She didn't know what to say,
So she went and she did drown herself
In the Sus-que-han-i-a,
The Sus-que-han-i-a, my boys,
The Sus-que-han-i-a,
So she went and she did drown herself,
In the Sus-que-han-i-a.

Oh come back Peter, etc.

When Peter Gray he heard this news,
He did not feel so gay,
He wept as many tears would fill,
The Alli-fatch-i-ay,
The Alli-fatch-i-ay, me boys,
The Alli-fatch-i-ay,
He wept as many tears would fill,
The Alli-fatch-i-ay.

Oh come back Peter, etc.

Oh Peter Gray went tra-di-ing,
For furs and other skins,
Where he got scalped and tom-i-hawked,
By some nas-ty In-ji-ins,
By some nas-ty In-ji-ins, me boys,
By some nas-ty In-ji-ins,
Where he got scalped and tom-i-hawked,
By some nas-ty In-ji-ins.

Oh pare-i-ents let boys and girls,
Get married when they can,
For he who parts to lov-ine hearts,
Ain't worth a sing-ile damn,
Ain't worth a sing-ile damn, my boys,
Ain't worth a sing-ile damn,
For he who parts to lov-ine hearts,
Ain't worth a sing-ile damn.

Fergus


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Artful Codger
Date: 17 Jun 10 - 07:23 PM

I would interpret "dressed" as meaning ritually laid out. While America was not devoid of cannibalistic tribes, in this song if cannibalism were meant, I believe it would have been baldly stated, for the added shock/pathos value. "Dress" has a general meaning of "to treat or prepare something in a certain way," as in dressing a wound, a field or stone.

I also think it was to Peter Gray's honor to be considered worthy of scalping and dressing. I'd rather have a Friar's roast, but beggars can't be choosers.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peter Gray / Peter Grey
From: Dave Ruch
Date: 19 Apr 11 - 02:32 PM

Just posted a version of Johnny Grey on YouTube as performed by my group. I learned it from a Jeff Davis/Jeff Warner recording. The fiddle tune that follows is John Bowe's.


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