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DonD Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrew's Soiree (61* d) Lyric Deconstruction: Kelligrews Soiree 30 May 03


Re-learning this song for a sing-around next month, I've run into several questions about the meaning of various terms. I'm planning to contribute this and 'Johnny McEldoo' and any other songs that have similar menus, and I will apreciate suggestions.

But about KS:
   Clara Nolan's Ball - I always heard it as Clarence Olan's Ball, but if it really is from a popular music hall song of that era (1910?) does any one have a source for the original words and melody?

   hold a snuffbox to - is there any other usage known of this 'can't compare' idiom?

   eyeball(s) straightened out - what's that supposed to convey, and why?

    have to wear your glasses - why?

   birch rind - is there such a 'delicacy'? Is it a nosh, or a beverage? I've always thought it was birch wine, like birch beer;

    tar twine - I gather this is cord that has been treated with tar for waterproofing, but why is it on a menu? Is there some kind of licorice stick, maybe, that looks like tarred twine that might apply, or is it actually 'tart wine', fittingly between birch wine and cherry wine?

   turpentine -- I presume is just for comic effect.

   dumplings boiled in a sheet - did anyone ever hear of boiling dumplings in a sheet? I had heard it as 'dumplings by the dinner sheet' and presuming that a large serving platter might have been called a dinner sheet (cf cookie sheet) that seemed more sensible;

   crackies' teeth - I figured that crackies are chickens and their nonexistent teeth are comical, too;

   Bryant sat in the blues ... - after references to three US presidents (Wilson, Taft and Teddy Roos) is that W.J. Bryant and his blues might have been because of his electoral defeat (plus the useful internal rhyme) but why was he looking hard at me?

   lashed old muskets from the rack - is this a known figure of speech for wild dancing, or was the soiree held in the town's militia hall where the weapons might have been against the walls? But it was apparently held at Betsy Snook's; why would she have a rack of old muskets?

   and her Grannie on the Head - what the Hell is that? Did she have hair tied up in a grannie knot? Is the Head a geographical allusion?

   Bullocks' heads and picaninnies - I guess the first is a meat dish, but what were picaninnies? Any thoughts on that one?

   aple jam was in the cuff - what's a cuff that you'd serve apple jam in?

Real information from Newfie centenarians, as well as educated guesses or wild surmises from outsiders will be welcome. BTW, although this has been reprinted in various anthologies, is there an original Burke manuscript or published sheet music that verifies these lyrics or are all versions merely transcriptions from the singing, recorded or live, by performers?

Thanks.

Don


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