Mudcat Café message #3562592 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #2385   Message #3562592
Posted By: Lighter
29-Sep-13 - 05:02 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Mademoiselle from Armentières
Subject: Lyr Add: MADEMOISELLE FROM ARMENTIERES
It is often claimed that "Mademoiselle" was the result of a team effort in the spring of 1915 by Canadian Sgt. Gitz Rice (who contributed the tune)and British Sgt. Edward C. H. "Red" Rowland (who claimed the words).

Little evidence was ever adduced to support this assertion, so I was extremely skeptical of it for many years. Extensive research, however, has unearthed some detailed testimony from Rice and corroboration from Rowland which makes their claim to combining *one* seemingly early set of the words and an adaptation of the melody all but proven.

There's no space to go into detail here, or into the song's earlier history in other guises, but what follows is probably as close to Rowland & Rice's composition as we are ever likely to find.

Nova Scotian Gitz Rice, a graduate of McGill University in Toronto, was a successful songwriter and a vaudevillian. He copyrighted "Keep Your Head Down, Fritzie-Boy!" "I Want to Go Home!" and "Dear Old Pal of Mine." Rowland had been a music hall comedian; he told a journalist in 1939 that he and Rice had produced "Mademoiselle" in "about fifteen minutes" - which is entirely believable.

The following text (no tune) appeared in "The McGill University Song Book" in 1921. It is possibly the earliest printing of the song with "mademoiselle" and "forty years" in it, and it seems to me to be just naughty enough for presentation by enlisted men at a British Army concert party in Armentieres in 1915 without risking any disciplinary measures from the brass hats.

But it is clear, in any case, that this "Mademoiselle" was inspired by earlier bawdy songs of the "Three German Officers" type.

                MADEMOISELLE FROM ARMENTIERES

Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parlez vous,
Mademoiselle from Armentieres, Parlez vous,
Mademoiselle from Armentieres,
She hasn't been kissed for forty years,
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.

The "Forty Thieves" they have a good time, Parlez vous,
The "Forty Thieves" they have a good time, Parlez vous,
The "Forty Thieves" they have a good time,
They steal our rations behind the line,
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.

Oh Landlord have you any good wine, Parlez vous,
Oh Landlord have you any good wine, Parlez vous,
Oh Landlord have you any good wine,
Fit for a soldier of the line,
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.

Oh yes, I have some very good wine, Parlez vous.
Oh yes, I have some very good wine, Parlez vous.
Oh yes, I have some very good wine,
To cheer the soldiers of the line,
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.

Oh Landlord have you a daughter fine, Parlez vous.
Oh Landlord have you a daughter fine, Parlez vous.
Oh Landlord have you a daughter fine,
She breaks our hearts while up the line,
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.

Oh yes I have a daughter fine, Parlez vous.
Oh yes I have a daughter fine, Parlez vous.
Oh yes I have a daughter fine,
But not to waste upon the line.
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.

But dear father I love them all, Parlez vous.
But dear father I love them all, Parlez vous.
But dear father I love them all,
Thin and fat and short and tall.
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.

They come to save our country fair, Parlez vous.
They come to save our country fair, Parlez vous.
They come to save our country fair,
Et a la guerre comme a la guerre.
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.

Go to your room, oh daughter mine, Parlez vous.
Go to your room, oh daughter mine, Parlez vous.
Go to your room, oh daughter mine,
And leave the soldiers to their wine.
Hinky dinky, Parlez vous.



(I believe that the "Forty Thieves" was a nickname for the British Army Service Corps.)

Claims of authorship by other writers turn out, upon investigation, to refer to quite different sets of words, most or all of them written for the London stage at the very end of the Great War.