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Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song

John M. 20 Jan 05 - 05:01 PM
John M. 20 Jan 05 - 05:03 PM
John M. 21 Jan 05 - 02:47 PM
Lighter 21 Jan 05 - 05:30 PM
Micca 21 Jan 05 - 06:59 PM
Lighter 21 Jan 05 - 08:52 PM
John M. 22 Jan 05 - 10:36 AM
Big Jim from Jackson 22 Jan 05 - 11:09 AM
John M. 22 Jan 05 - 06:24 PM
John M. 30 Aug 06 - 11:32 AM
GUEST,Karen 18 Jul 11 - 09:25 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: John M.
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 05:01 PM

Hello everyone,

Does anyone still sing The Woodpecker song found in the digital tradition database?   Does your tune match up with this 78 recording from the late 1930s?   

Would you agree with me that the "The Pussy Cat Song" (recording) as sung by Connie Vannette is directly derived from "The Woodpecker Song" (recording)?

Any help is appreciated.

Sincerely,

John Mehlberg
~
My, mostly traditional, bawdy songs, toasts and recitations website: www.immortalia.com
~

      THE SONG OF THE WOODPECKER

Caught this bird in the neighborhood
Pecking away on a piece of wood
He pecked and he pecked on my front door
Pecked 'til he made his pecker sore.

Sore pecker, pecker sore, sore pecker,
Bad luck bird

Now the woodpecker is this little bird's name
When he start's a-peckin' it is a shame
In my neighborhood he's boss
Because his pecker don't get soft.

Soft pecker, pecker soft, soft pecker,
He's a lovely little bird.

He's the nuttiest bird you ever did see
He'll take a chance on any old tree
The other day he was pecking in an oak
Made a few strokes and his pecker broke.

Broke pecker, pecker broken, broke pecker,
Bad luck bird.

This bird got in an argument the other day
He got mad and few away
He lit on top of a telephone line
Hollered "Your pecker ain't as long as mine!"

Long pecker, pecker long, pecker long,
He's a lovely little bird.

Now if I ask you on bended knees
Will you tell me something please
Peck all day in my back yard
What do you use to keep your pecker hard?

Hard pecker, pecker hard, hard pecker,
He's a lovely little bird

Now listen little birdie you ain't so smart
you're just a little old lark
Something I'm telling you to remember
When you get old your pecker's going to get limber.

Limber pecker, pecker limber, limber pecker
The woodpecker song!


Notes: This is transcribed from the 78 record titled "The Song of the Woodpecker" (Blue Records 101) as sung by Billy Mitchell.  A text for this song can be found in the rare book titled The Stag Party (ca 1891) and it is also found in Randolph (song #40 "The Schoolhouse Door (This Mornin')" pgs. 177-8).
 

Recordings of "The Woodpecker Song":


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: John M.
Date: 20 Jan 05 - 05:03 PM

Since I have been told to only put one song text per post (for searching purposes), here is the continuation of the comparison of  "The Woodpecker Song" (recording) and "The Pussy Cat Song" (recording).

If you have had a chance to listen to both recordings, do you agree that the later song is derived from "The Woodpecker Song"?

Any help is appreciated.

Sincerely,

John Mehlberg
~
My, mostly traditional, bawdy songs, toasts and recitations website: www.immortalia.com
~

THE PUSSY CAT SONG

My pussycat was scratching out on the back door
Scratched so long, poor pussy got sore
Sore pussy!
Sore...pussy
Just a friendly little cat!

My pussycat was sitting out on the front step
Sat so long, poor pussy got wet
Wet pussy!
Sore...wet...pussy
Just a friendly little cat!

My pussycat was playing out on the back lot
Played so long, poor pussy got hot
Hot pussy!
Sore...wet...hot....pussy
Just a friendly little cat!

My pussycat was rocking in the rocking chair
Rocked so long, he lost his hair
Bald pussy!
Sore...wet...hot...bald...pussy
Just a friendly little cat!

My neighbor and I are at the clothesline
I said to my neighbor, "Won't you look at mine?"
My pussy!
Sore...wet...hot...bald...pussy
Just a friendly little cat!

My neighbor stole my kitty, but I did see
I said to my neighbor, "Set my pussy free!"
Free pussy!
Sore...wet...hot...bald...free...pussy
Just a friendly little cat!

Here kitty kitty kitty kitty kitty
Awww, nice pussy!
(Meow)


Note: This is transcribed from the song as sung by Connie Vannett and originally issued on Gill's Records as a 45.  It was later issued on the Raunchy Rock & Roll cd.
 

Recordings of "The Pussy Cat Song":

 


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: John M.
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 02:47 PM

Since this post is not drawing up any comments from others, I thought I would put up the text from The Stag Pary.
A woodpecker flew to the school-house yard,
And he pecked and he pecked for his pecker was hard.
The woodpecker flew to the school house door.
And he pecked and he pecked until his pecker was sore.
After which he flew back to the yard again,
And the woodpecker's pecker got over its pain.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 05:30 PM

The only woodpecker song I've heard is the one about the woodpecker's hole. As ever,Oscar Brand recorded a somewhat augmented version about 1962. The earliest texts I've seen of it are from WWII, but Stan Hugill published an unfortunately "camouflaged" version under the title of "Dixie" in "Shanties from the Seven Seas." He presumably learned it in the '20s or '30s.

Robert W. Gordon received a fragment of a similar but milder song in the mid-'20s with the words "I stuck my head in a little skunk's hole...." I think this one too is still current.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: Micca
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 06:59 PM

Lighter, I also only know that one of which the first and second verses are as follows
" I put my finger in the woodpecker's hole,
And the woodpecker said, "God bless my soul,
Take it out,
Take it out,
Take it out,
Remove it,

I removed my finger from the woodpecker's hole
And the woodpecker said, " God bless my soul,
Put it back,
Put it back,
Put it back,
Replace it."
and so on for 5 more verses
Micca


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Jan 05 - 08:52 PM

Yeah, Micca. "Revolting." Make of it what you will, but Hugill's "camouflaged version" involves "my fist in the mate's ear'ole." I wouldn't speculate about the original (though it might just be a skunk or a woodpecker; we'll never know).


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: John M.
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 10:36 AM

Thanks Lighter & Mica. I am familiar with "The Woodpecker's Hole" and Richard Reuss in the master's thesis suggests that that song may be derived from the "Woodpecker pecked and he pecked for his pecker was hard" rhyme. My concern is to find informants who still sing the (older?) ditty and to show that the other "Woodpecker Song" still survives orally as "The Pussy Cat Song".

Here is a third song text titled "Friendly Little Cat" (recording) as sung by Catwoman (Dayton Hash House Harriers).   She told me she learned her version from an old 1920's blues recording but has no other details.  Does anyone remember a "Friendly Little Cat" blues record?

 

FRIENDLY LITTLE CAT  (recording)

Kitty Cat sittin in the parking lot.
Sun came out and the pussy got hot.
Hot pussy, such a friendly little cat
MMMMMM hot pussy

Kitty Cat came on to my front porch.
Rain came down and the pussy got wet.
Wet pussy, such a friendly little cat.
MMMM hot wet pussy.

Kitty cat got in to my liquor one night.
Drank all my whiskey and the pussy got tight.
Tight pussy, such a friendly little cat
MMM hot wet tight pussy

Kitty cat climbed into my rocking chair
Rocked so hard that she rocked herself bare.
Bald pussy, such a friendly little cat.
Hot, wet, tight, bald pussy.
I said hot wet tight bald pussy.

 

 


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 11:09 AM

Woodpecker met his girl friend in a tree
Asid , "I've got somethin' I want you to see."
Showed her his pecker, pecker showed
He's a bad little bird, but that's the woodpecker song.

Woodpecker flew into a candy store;
Ate and he ate 'till he couldn't eat no more
Fat pecker, pecker fat
(and so on)...............

Woodpecker flew into a barber shop
Barber caught him and shaved his top
Bald pecker, pecker bald
(and so on)...............

Woodpecker peckin on an old knot hole
He pecked and he pecked 'till he pecked the wrong hole
Sick pecker, pecker sick (some kind of a fungus!)
(And so on)...............


And there are even some other verses.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: John M.
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 06:24 PM

Big Jim thanks for giving me that text of "The Woodpecker Song."  It's nice to have the variants that are close to "The Pussy Cat Song".

Back to my original question:  Do you agree with me that "The Pussy Cat Song" (recording) is directly derived from "The Woodpecker Song" (recording)?

Yours,

John Mehlberg
~
Here is a fourth song text titled "Pussy Cat Song" (recording) as sung by Shut Yer Manhole.  

 

PUSSY CAT SONG (recording)

My pussy cat sitting in the sun
Sat so long my pussy got warm

Warm pussy, warm pussy
Oooh, just a friendly little cat.

My pussy cat sitting in a rocking chair
Rocked so long my pussy got bare  (Spoken: uh...bald.  I'm singing it wrong)

Bald pussy, bald pussy
Bald, warm pussy
Oooh, just a friendly little cat.

My pussy cat stayed out late
Stayed out so late that he go wet

Wet pussy, wet pussy
Wet, bald, warm pussy
Oooh, just a friendly little cat.

My pussy got the mange
Had to shave her pussy so she wouldn't change

Shaved pussy, shaved pussy
Shaved, wet, bald, warm pussy
Ooh, just a friendly little cat.

(Spoken: It goes on from there.)
 

  • John Mehlberg Collection
    • Digital Recording - Shut Yer Manhole (aka Little Head) - 2004.10.09

 


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: John M.
Date: 30 Aug 06 - 11:32 AM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Woodpecker Song & The Pussy Cat Song
From: GUEST,Karen
Date: 18 Jul 11 - 09:25 PM

Does anyone happen to know who I should be trying to track down in order to secure licensing for recording a cover of "The Pussy Cat Song?" See, the version he plays includes a few extra verses that are locally oriented, and if I understand the rules correctly, we actually need more than just cover rights, we need the rights to create a derivative work. Who on earth do we contact? If it's true (as mentioned above) that this was recorded in the 1920s, then we're in the clear - but I don't know this for a fact. We're trying very hard to keep everything above board, but folk music is tough to track down sometimes!


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