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Origin: Skip to My Lou

DigiTrad:
SKIP TO MY LOU


Related thread:
Lyr Add: Shoo Fly / Shew Fly (11)


12 Feb 99 - 01:38 PM
bri 12 Feb 99 - 07:23 PM
John Hindsill 12 Feb 99 - 09:36 PM
Azizi 03 Feb 07 - 08:09 AM
catspaw49 03 Feb 07 - 08:18 AM
GUEST,leeneia 03 Feb 07 - 10:57 AM
Azizi 03 Feb 07 - 11:30 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 03 Feb 07 - 12:56 PM
Q 03 Feb 07 - 02:09 PM
sapper82 03 Feb 07 - 03:15 PM
Q 03 Feb 07 - 03:27 PM
Q 03 Feb 07 - 03:43 PM
Q 03 Feb 07 - 04:45 PM
Alec 03 Feb 07 - 04:57 PM
Azizi 03 Feb 07 - 05:08 PM
Alec 03 Feb 07 - 05:24 PM
Q 03 Feb 07 - 05:48 PM
Mo the caller 04 Feb 07 - 09:21 AM
Mo the caller 04 Feb 07 - 09:25 AM
Mo the caller 04 Feb 07 - 05:26 PM
Genie 24 Aug 09 - 12:19 AM
Monique 24 Aug 09 - 04:28 AM
jexie 24 Aug 09 - 04:43 AM
Monique 24 Aug 09 - 06:00 AM
GUEST,allan s. 24 Aug 09 - 09:31 AM
GUEST,Graeme 12 Dec 09 - 05:18 AM
GUEST,CL 09 Mar 10 - 06:56 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Mar 10 - 08:47 AM
MissouriMud 09 Mar 10 - 02:26 PM
GUEST,tealeaf 09 Mar 10 - 04:39 PM
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Subject: Skip to My Lou and Shoo Fly
From:
Date: 12 Feb 99 - 01:38 PM

I'm interested in any background info. on these two songs. I know that Skip to My Lou dates before the Civil War, and I read that Shoo Fly was a Civil War nonsense song - but that's all I know. Any additional info. would be appreciated.
Thanks.
Heidi


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou and Shoo Fly
From: bri
Date: 12 Feb 99 - 07:23 PM

is it shoo fly don't bother me? is that the right one? i luv that song! we used to sing it in kindergarten. i don't have ne info tho. just thought i'd take up space w/my silly comments! bye!


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou and Shoo Fly
From: John Hindsill
Date: 12 Feb 99 - 09:36 PM

I remember from grade school doing some sort of square dance type thing to such songs as these, and "way down yonder in the pawpaw patch. We had to have yucky girls as our partners (and, of course, conversely).

Skip to My Lou had a verse that went, "Fly,s in the buttermilk, shoo fly, shoo (3x), Skip to my Lou my darling." There's a twofer for ya.

Incidentally, it is a little known fact that baseballer Felipe Alou has a younger brother named Skip Tim. Would I lie?


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 08:09 AM

This comment is reposted from this Mudcat thread:

thread.cfm?threadid=98023&messages=10

Subject: RE: Children's games. Chosing the middle 1
From: Azizi - PM
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 08:04 AM

I just came across this article on the song "Skip to My Lou", and thought it might fit this thread-as well as any Mudcat thread that might be archived on that specific song:

Skip to My Lou
In early America, respectable folk in Protestant communities have always regarded the fiddle as the devil's instrument and dancing as downright sinful. Faced with such a religious prejudice for socializing, young people of the frontier developed the "play-party," in which all the objectionable features of a square dance were removed or masked so that their grave elders could approve.
   
No instruments were permitted - the dancers sang and clapped their own music. In time, the play-party acquired a life of its own. It became an ideal amusement for teenagers and young married couples. In many a frontier community, the bear hunters, Indian fighters, the rough keelboat men and the wild cowboys could be seen dancing innocently with their gals, like so many children at a Sunday school picnic.

"Skip to My Lou" is a simple game of stealing partners. It begins with any number of couples hand in hand, skipping around in a ring. A lone boy in the center of the moving circle of couple sings, "Lost my partner what'll I do?" as the girls whirl past him. The young man in the center hesitates while he decides which girl to choose, singing, "I'll get another one prettier than you." When he grasps the hand of his chosen one, her partner then takes his place in the center of the ring and the game continues. It's an ice-breaker, a good dance to get a group acquainted to one another and to get everyone in the mood for swinging around.

It's interesting to note that 'loo' is the Scottish word for "love." The spelling change from "loo" to "lou" probably happened as our Anglo ancestors, and the song, became Americanized.

Source: The Folk Songs of North America, by Alan Lomax, Doubleday.
Recordings on file by: Carter Family, Lead Belly, Mike & Peggy Seeger, Pete Seeger.

https://www.oldtownschool.org/resources/songnotes/songnotes_S.html
Song Notes: A Companion to the Old Town School of Folk Music Songbook
Compiled and edited by Mark Dvorak


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: catspaw49
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 08:18 AM

"Skip to My Lou" is much better at weddings than "Shoo Fly." Of course it does depend on the hygiene of the families involved as in some cases "Shoo Fly" might be exactly right.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 10:57 AM

Other verses I have heard over the years - not in the Digitrad:

Lost my partner, what'll I do?
etc


I'll get another one, a pretty one, too.
etc

(and my favorite)

Little red wagon painted blue


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 11:30 AM

I've also heard a Zydeco flavored version of "Skip To My Lou" called "Skip to My Blue". I think it's by Buckwheat Zydeco.

The verses are the same as the one's mentioned, but the refrain is "Skip to My Blues" actually it's "skip skip skip to my Blues".


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 12:56 PM

In England, this is called Skip To My Loo.


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Q
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 02:09 PM

Many variants, and formerly different methods of playing the game.
According to Randolph, Hofer, 1907, "Popular Folk Games," was the earliest he knew in print with "Skip-to-ma-Lou, My Children Dear."
There are a number of variants in Jour. American Folk-Lore.
This one is from Randolph, coll. 1927.

Lyr. Add: SKIP TO MY LOU

"After choosing partners, all the players join hands and form a large circle, while everybody sings":

Flies in the buttermilk, two by two,
Flies in the buttermilk, shoo fly shoo
Flies in the buttermilk, two by two,
Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.

"While this is being sung, one couple steps into the ring and chooses another boy, so that there are two men and one girl in the center, who hold hands and dance about the circle with a peculiar skip and double-shuffle step.
The first boy and girl hold their hands high, and the odd boy steps under the arch thus formed, after which the first couple joins the circle again. The boy left alone in the ring calls in another couple, then he and the girl make an arch and join the circle, leaving the new boy alone in the center. Then he chooses another couple, and so on."
Meanwhile, the song proceeds:

Little red wagon, painted blue, (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.

Dad's old hat got tore in two, (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.

Purty as a redbird, purtier too, (3x)
Skip to my Lou my darlin'.

Cain't get a redbird, a bluebird 'll do, (3x)
Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.

From Carl Durbin, Pineville, MO, 1927. With tune. No. 515, A, vol. 3.

Other verses from Arkansas and Missouri, also from Randolph:

She is gone, an' I'll go too,...
Git me another'n as purty as you, ...
Hair in the butter, six foot long, ...
Chicken in the breadpan, scratchin' out dough, ...
Rabbit in the briar parch, shooe, shoo, shoo, ...
Hole in the haystack, chicken fell through, ...
Hog in the cornfield, shoo, shoo, shoo, ...
Cain't git a fat gal, skinny gal'll do,...
Come along Maw, an' let's go visitin', ...
Cowboys a-leavin', two by two, ...
Bring in the biscuit, two by two, ...
One old boot an' one old show, ...
Choose your partners, skip to my Lou, ...
Cat's in the cream jar, what'll I do? ...
Right across center, two by two, ...
Stole my gal, that'll never do, ...
Skip, skip, why don't you skip? ...
Chicken in the dough tray, what'll I do? ...


Also see related game, "The Miller Boy," from England, versions in Gomme, "Traditional Games. Also found in America.
Tune different from 'Skip to My Lou." A tune for "Skip to My Lou," found in North Carolina, in Brown, North Carolina Folklore, Vol. 5, seems more akin to that of "The Miller Boy" than the tune general in the Ozarks and West.
From Arkansas:

Lyr. Add: THE MILLER BOY

Happy is the miller boy who lives by the mill,
The mill turns around with its own free will,
Hand on the hopper and the other on the sack,
Lady keeps a-going, gents turn back.

Snow and it blows and it's cold stormy weather,
Along comes a farmer a-selling apple cider,
You be the reaper and I'll be the binder,
Lost my true lover and here's where I find her.

Sailing east, we're sailing west,
We are sailing far o'er the ocean,
Any young man who wants a wife
Had better be taking a notion.

Coll. from Dr. G. E. Hastings, Arkansas, 1942.
"The Miller Boy," No. 518 variant E, Randolph, Ozark FolkSongs, vol. 3.

Randolph, in 1980, said, "The play-party is passing, and the next generation will probably see its total extinction in the Ozark country." The game has been preserved, in variant form, by square dance and other dance groups.

Verses in Austin E. and Alta S. Fife, 1969, "Cowboy and Western Songs," no. 99, p. 275, with score:

Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou, ...
Little red wagon, paint it blue, ...
She's gone again, skip to my Lou, ...
Fly's in the buttermilk, shoo, fly, shoo, ...
Cows in the cornfield, two by two, ...
I'll get another one better'n you, ...

Coll. from singing of Bill Koch, South Dakota and Kansas.

Lomax attribution of Lou to Scottish 'loo' is, of course, fakelore.


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: sapper82
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 03:15 PM

Version I know is:-

I've had one pint of beer today,
I've had two pints of beer today,
I've had three pints of beer today,
Skip to the loo my darling!


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Q
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 03:27 PM

English versions are uncommon. Not in Gomme. The Opies have two.

Lyr. Add: Skip to My Lou

Lou, lou, skip to me lou, (3x)
Skip to me lou, my darling.

Lost my partner, what shall I do? (3x)
Skip to me lou, my darling.

I've found anuvver one, just like you, (3x)
Skip to me lou, my darling.
1976, From small cockneys whirling round in a circle. Iona and Peter Opie, 1985, "The Singing Game," pp. 319-320. In Louth, 1961, chilren confirmed that the way to play the game was to 'go quickly round, singing the song.'
The Opies note that more sophisticated wordings are found in Brian J. Sims "Cub Scout Songs, 1972. In J. E. Tobitts teaching manual "Singing Games for Recreation," 1938, more sophisticated movements are found. A slightly more sophisticated dance was found in 1961, between Glasgow and Paisley:
Skip, skip, skip to m'loo...
Skip to m'loo, my darling.
Slice the butter, choo, choo, choo...
Skip to m'loo my darling.
"The girls interrupted their circling to dance a pas de basque step opposite their neighbour."

Loo is an old dialect form of 'love,' (Opies'), but whether that is meant in the song is uncertain. I haven't found the song in Gomme and other older English references; it is conceivable that the song is an import from America.
I may be wrong in calling the Lomax attribution 'fakelore.' I was basing the remark on Perrow, 1913, JAFL 26, p. 136, who remarked that "lou is a common term for sweetheart in eastern Tennessee."

The Opies have an interesting note about the tune, which Simpson, in "The British Broadside Ballad," says the tune of "Skip to My Lou" 'bears strong traces' of the tune "Dargason," first found in the 16th. c. Does anyone know this tune or a source for it?

Not seen is the version in Grace Cleveland Porter, 1914, "Negro Folk Singing Games." (A rare book).


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Q
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 03:43 PM

SKIP TO MY LOU

Pretty as a redbird, prettier too, ...
I'll have her back in spite of you, ...
Gone again, skip to my Lou, ...
Sweet as a pop-paw punkin-pie, ...
Pigs in the 'tater-patch, skip to my Lou, ...
She wears shoes number two, ...
Stand like a fool, skip to my Lou, ...

1905, East Tennessee mountain whites.
Perrow,E. C., "Songs and Rhymes from the South," 1913, JAFL vol. 26, p. 136.

Others in Perrow, 1908-1909:
Lost my partner, what will I do? ...
Dad'd old hat and Mam's old shoe, ...
If I can't get a jaybird, a redhead will do, ...
Lead 'em up and lead 'em down, ...
Swing her on the corner, ...
Sweetheart skipped me, ...
Black-eyed pretty one, ...

Sapper82, there should be more like the one you posted. Soldier song books, etc. should have some.


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Q
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 04:45 PM

In Ames, L. D., "The Missouri Play-Party," JAFL 1911, vol. 24, no. 93, pp. 304-305:
Lost your partner, What'll you do? ...
I'll get another one, Better one , too, '''
Can't get a red bird, A blue bird will do, ...
Gone again, Skip-to-my-Lou, ...
Common as corn-bread, Commoner, too, ...
Chicken in the dough-tray, Shoo, shoo, shoo! ...

Piper, E. F., "Some Play-Party Games of the Middle West," 1915, JAFL vol. 28, no. 109, pp. 276-277.

Lyr. Add: SKIP TO MY LOU
Western Nebraska, 1888
1. I lost my partner, what'll I do? ...
Cho. Gone again, skip to my Lou! ...
2. I'll get another one better than you, ...
3. If you can't get a white girl, a black girl'll do, ...
4. If you can't get a red bird, a black bird'll do, ...
5. I'll get her back again, you bet you! ...
6. Pigs in the tater patch, two by two, ...
7. Gone again, and I don't care, ...
8. I'll get another one, sweeter than you, ...
9. My Ma says, I can have you, ...
10. Rats in the bread-pan, chew, chew, chew, ...
11. Some folks say that a nigger won't steal, ...
12. I caught a nigger in my cornfield, ...
13. Rats in the sugar-bowl, two by two, ...
14. My fellow wears a number 'leven shoe, ...
15. Dad's old shoes'll never fit you, ...
16. Chicken on the haystack, shoo, shoo, shoo, ...
17. Little red wagon, painted blue, ...
18. Stands like a fool, what'll I do? ...
Piper says there were some 40 verses in western Nebraska.


Lyr. Add: MEXICO
Tune var. of Skip to My Lou; Western KS, 1905

There was a little war in Mexico,
Mexico, Mexico,
There was a little war in Mexico,
Long time ago,

(Spoken)
Come to the place where the blood was shed,
Gents turn around and ladies go ahead.

When we meet we'll dance and sing,
Dance and sing, dance and sing.
When we meet we'll dance and sing.
Tra la li la.
ibid., p. 277.


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Alec
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 04:57 PM

Don't know of any British dialect (past or present) where lou means love. To British children today Loo means "Toilet" hence the sniggers this song tends to generate amongst the very young on this side of the pond.
I do recall,as a child, hearing a version which contained the somewhat surreal image of "Cows in the sugar bowl"(!)


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Azizi
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 05:08 PM

Alec, thanks for that information. This is the value of an international folk music forum.

**

Btw, I also heard "Cows in the sugar bowl/shoo fly shoo" . Also, "I was playin in the water, and I lost my shoe" etc. I think both of these verses were in the Zydeco song I mentioned earlier.

Of course, this song propably was meant to be open-ended with other short verses being improvised as long as they fit the rhyming pattern.

**

Q, I'm glad things have changed since 1888: "If you can't get a white girl, a black girl'll do/If you can't get a red bird, a black bird'll do."


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Alec
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 05:24 PM

I was just logging off for the night when I had one of those "Light bulb over the head moments".Namely could "Lou" be a corruption of "Lieu",as in replacement or deputy?
This seems to make sense in the context of a dance which centres on changing partners.
Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Q
Date: 03 Feb 07 - 05:48 PM

Alec, it's in the Oxford English Dictionary. Loo-toilet, however, I'm sure would be kid's only understanding of the term.

I think of the English card game, loo, because we have a round English Victorian table, called a loo table because the players could be seated around it.

The game of loo, I believe, has disappeared in the UK because I saw a Thorsten Van Elton catalogue from England which advertised a little table for the bathroom, made to hold toilet paper rolls, which they called a 'Loo Table.' Cost only 47 pounds!


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Mo the caller
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 09:21 AM

Dargason or Sedany is a dance and tune published in Playford's first edition 1651, and republished many times in the past century, e.g.The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master - by Jeremy Barlow. You might find it with Google.
Yes, I suppose there is a likeness.
The tune is the one that Vaughan Williams mingles with Greensleeves, in the Fantasia on ....
The dance starts in a single line, men at one end facing in, women at other end, also facing the middle.
1 Middle man and woman, 'sides'(i.e. go forward, to the side of partner, till R shoulders are near,drop back), set and turn single (i.e. step to the right and step to the left and turn yourself around).
Walk past that one and repeat with next.
You gradually bring everyone in, when you reach the ends you turn and carry on till back to starting place when you start part2
2 R arm turn (linking arms),set and turn single. Pass and repeat.
This figure will die away as everyone gets home
Figure 3. Single Hey (Scottish or American dancers might call this a reel or chain. I.E. give R hand pass, L to next, pass. All the way till all are home.)


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Mo the caller
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 09:25 AM

The use of 'loo' dates back to the Norman Conquest. "Guarde l'eau" - watch out for water. As you emptied something out of the window.


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Subject: RE: Skip to My Lou
From: Mo the caller
Date: 04 Feb 07 - 05:26 PM

You've got me wondering about that dance. I found instructions and score here


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: Genie
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 12:19 AM

Hmmm ...
Nothin' to do with Skip To MY LOU, probably, but that "l'eau" reference makes sense as to the why the Brits call the toilet a "loo" (when we Yanks know it's proper name is the "John").

Genie

The verses I use for Skip to My Lou usually include:

Flies in the buttermilk, shoo, fly shoo ...
Can't get a redbird, a bluebird'll do ...
Little red wagon painted blue ...
Lost my partner, what'll I do? ...
I'll find another one prettier'n you ...

etc.

It may be an oldie and a kids' song, but it's very catchy and a good square dance tune.

Oh, and one o' them there 2-chord songs too!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: Monique
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 04:28 AM

"Luve, lufe, lo, love, loo" = love - from the Conscise Scots Dictionary - Scottish National Dictionary Association


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: jexie
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 04:43 AM

I'd just like to thank all of you that added verses to Skip To My Lou. I was wanting to collect more verses.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: Monique
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 06:00 AM

As far as I remember, my American language assitant used to end it by "Some more verses but this'll have to do".


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: GUEST,allan s.
Date: 24 Aug 09 - 09:31 AM

also "If I had a brickbat i'd fix you"


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: GUEST,Graeme
Date: 12 Dec 09 - 05:18 AM

With all the discussion around Lou/loo, I'm surprised no-one suggested that _if_ it is "Lou", then "Lou" could be an abbreviation of Louise or Louis, depending on whether the singer is male or female.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: GUEST,CL
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 06:56 AM

That the song originated from Protestant taboos on dancing is highly unlikely. Protestant frowns on dancing, card playing etc, was part of the holiness fundamental movement of the 1940's and 50's. This song far predates those years. The many variations of the song makes the discovery of it's origin difficult and therefore may never be truly known. It is probably not of American origin.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 08:47 AM

Dargason or Sedany is a dance and tune published in Playford's first edition 1651, and republished many times in the past century, e.g.The Complete Country Dance Tunes from Playford's Dancing Master - by Jeremy Barlow. You might find it with Google.
Yes, I suppose there is a likeness.
The tune is the one that Vaughan Williams mingles with Greensleeves, in the Fantasia on... Mo the Caller Feb 07 ~~~

That also is the tune that carries song Lovely Joan which RVW collected in Norfolk 1908 ~ Penguin Book of English Folk Songs


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: MissouriMud
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 02:26 PM

Alan Spurgeon in his book "Waltz the Hall: The American Play Party" (University Press of Mississippi, 2005)definitely attributes anti-dance religious beliefs as the major influence in the rise of play parties, which he pegs as lasting from the 1830's to the 1950s with their heydey in the 19th century.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Skip to My Lou
From: GUEST,tealeaf
Date: 09 Mar 10 - 04:39 PM

I think, SKIP TO MY LOU,is sung to an Irish traditional tune.


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