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Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?

Genie 20 Aug 07 - 03:27 AM
Liz the Squeak 20 Aug 07 - 03:39 AM
sian, west wales 20 Aug 07 - 04:33 AM
Susan of DT 20 Aug 07 - 06:43 AM
Liz the Squeak 20 Aug 07 - 07:14 AM
Joe Offer 20 Aug 07 - 02:08 PM
Rog Peek 20 Aug 07 - 02:31 PM
Rog Peek 20 Aug 07 - 02:39 PM
Rog Peek 20 Aug 07 - 02:45 PM
Genie 20 Aug 07 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 20 Aug 07 - 05:38 PM
Big Al Whittle 20 Aug 07 - 06:04 PM
GUEST,Rumncoke 20 Aug 07 - 06:54 PM
Rowan 21 Aug 07 - 12:38 AM
Genie 21 Aug 07 - 12:57 AM
Liz the Squeak 21 Aug 07 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,CrazyEddie 21 Aug 07 - 05:44 AM
Susan of DT 21 Aug 07 - 06:14 AM
Liz the Squeak 21 Aug 07 - 06:29 AM
Bill S from Adelaide 21 Aug 07 - 06:55 AM
Liz the Squeak 21 Aug 07 - 07:53 AM
GUEST,The black belt caterpillar wrestler 21 Aug 07 - 08:07 AM
Dave the Gnome 21 Aug 07 - 08:50 AM
An Buachaill Caol Dubh 21 Aug 07 - 10:35 AM
Genie 21 Aug 07 - 02:12 PM
Liz the Squeak 21 Aug 07 - 04:30 PM
Zhenya 21 Aug 07 - 04:44 PM
Genie 21 Aug 07 - 05:42 PM
Genie 21 Aug 07 - 05:44 PM
Zhenya 21 Aug 07 - 11:13 PM
Genie 22 Aug 07 - 12:43 AM
Ebbie 22 Aug 07 - 12:52 AM
Liz the Squeak 22 Aug 07 - 01:13 AM
Genie 22 Aug 07 - 02:21 AM
Big Al Whittle 22 Aug 07 - 02:55 AM
GUEST,Blackjack Davey 22 Aug 07 - 03:50 AM
Nigel Parsons 22 Aug 07 - 03:55 PM
Big Al Whittle 23 Aug 07 - 03:12 AM
GUEST 27 Aug 07 - 10:56 PM
Rowan 28 Aug 07 - 12:14 AM
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Subject: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Genie
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 03:27 AM

Not that this is an earth-shattering issue, but it seems to me that there are many, many more women's and girls' names "immortalized" in song than there are men's and boys.

E.g., for the female of the human species, we have songs about:
Abigail
Anna
Annie
Aura (Lee)
Annabelle
Alice
Adeline
Agnes
Alma
Anita
Anitra

Barbara (Barbara Ann)
Billie
Betty
Belinda

Carrie
Corinna (in various spellings)
Cindy
Caroline

Diana (Diane)
Delores
Dolly
Donna
Delia
Delilah
Daisy

Elenore
Ellen
Elvira
Elena
Eve

Flora
Fiona
Frankie
Fancy
Fannie

Gloria (she also has a bunch of 'em)
Georgia

Hannah
Helen

Jackie
Joanne (Joanna)
Jennifer (Jenny)

Katie
Kathleen
Katrina
Kelly

Joan
Jane
Jean (Jeanne)
Jeannette
Jeannine
Judy
Juanita
Juana
Jody
Julie
Juliette
Jennifer (Jenny)
Jill


Louise
Laura
Lara
Lucy (a whole slew of 'em)
Lulu
Lorena

Michelle
Melinda
Mary
Martha (She has her own opera)
Mary Ann
Maria
Mandy (Amanda)
Millie
Mollie
Muriel
Miranda
Margaret
Maggie
Margie
Marnie
Mabel


Nina
Nola
Nita
Nanette
Nellie
Nikita
Nona
Norma

Pamela
Paula
Penny
Phyllis
Polly



Rita
Rhiannon
Roberta
Rachel
Ruby
Ramona
Rhonda

Sue
Susan
Susannah
Sarah
Sylvie (Sylvia)
Shannon
Sheila
Sharon(a)
Sherry (Sherrie)
Sally (Sal)

Terry(ie)
Tracy
Tillie
T(h)eresa

Vicki
Veronica
Vilia

Wilhelmina
Wendy (Windy)
Winnie

Yvonne

-- just to name a few.


But for the men and boys, the list I come up with is pretty short, e.g.:

Adam
Bill(y)
Bernie
Bob(by)

Casey
Charlie
Chuck

Danny (Daniel)

Fred
Frank(ie)

John(ny)
Jim(my)
James
Jack
Joe (Joseph)

George (Georgie)
Geordie
Harry

Jeremiah

Karl (Carl)

Louie (Louis)
Leo (Lee)

Michael (He has a bunch!)
Mick, Mike, Mickey, etc. (ditto)
Marty

Norman
Nick

Oliver

Pete(r)
Paul'

Ray(mond)
Rick
Rocky
Reuben (Rubin)
Robin
Robert

Sam(my)
Steven (Stephen), Stevie
Saul


Tom (Oh, yeah, lots o' those) -- or Tommie
Ted(die)
Timothy
Toby
Tony

William
Walter
Willie


Am I wrong, or do songwriters just kind of get lazy when it comes to incorporating male names -- with or without regard to payola and shifting public opinion -- into songs these days?


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 03:39 AM

A lot of the songs are from the male perspective (as I was a walking... I met a fair maiden etc) so they tend not to mention their names. If they are from the female perspective, they tend to focus on the one man (My Johnny was a shoemaker, seven long years since I've seen my Willie-Oh).

There are exceptions - 'T stands for Tommy I suppose, J for my love John', but they are few and far between.

Besides - if you look at parish records and such documents, there weren't that many names around, even 120 years ago. Searching through what amounts to 400 years of parish records, I find innumerable amounts of John, Thomas, William, Richard, Robert, Joseph and James; Mary, Sarah, Susannah, Elizabeth, Ann, Fanny (or Frances), Maria, Joan and Jane.

There was a fashion in the mid 1800s for Biblical names - Charity, Hope, Love, Nehushta, Jonathan, Absolome, Reuben and Eli, but it wasn't until the turn of the 18th Century that names became more varied. If you folk song comes from the 17th/18th Century, it'll have a limited amount of names, and girls names have always evolved faster than boys names.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: sian, west wales
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 04:33 AM

I can think of a few Willies. (I'd rephrase that, but ...) Liz's Willie-Oh, Willie Archer, Willie Moore, etc.

And then if you look in specific song repertoires like lumberjack songs, mining, sailing, cowboy, etc. there'd be a lot more men named.

And, as an aside on the 'I was a roving' songs, it struck me a while back that I was just assuming that they were from a male perspective. When the "I" is a third party, though, it can sometimes be equally likely to be a woman. Just thought of that because there's a Welsh song that falls into that category and I feel a lot more comfortable singing it now that I've realized this.

sian


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 06:43 AM

From the Digital Tradition

William    286
Willie    215
Willy       27
Billy      149
Thomas    154
Tom       277   
Michael    80
Mike       79
Edward      64
Eddie       29
John       909
Johnny    294
George    274
Harry      138
James      251
Jimmy      107
Jim         99
Jamie       39
Robert    277
Bob       292
Richard    107
Frank      143
Charles    161
Charlie    124

These are not necessarily in the lyrics - could be writer, singer, etc.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 07:14 AM

It's not so much the number of mentions as the variety of names, hence my lists. Johnnys and Willys are so frequent because they were the commonest names.

I did find a D'Oiley Bussell, way back in 1710 but somehow I don't think he'll be mentioned in many songs... Over the years the name corrupted into Dailey. I suspect the original was named for the local lord of the manor.

To determine the 'gender' of the narrator, you have to work through the song as a whole. Some are definately male perspective (I met a maiden and shagged her), some are female (I met a pretty ploughboy who shagged me), some indeterminate (I met a maiden who told me she'd been shagged by a ploughboy) and others 'bi' as it were... being 'doable' by either male or female voices. Some can be re-jigged to cover either sex ('Moved through the fair' is one that it works for) and some just don't matter.

Of course, in this day and age, gender specific songs are no longer so specific...

LTS


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 02:08 PM

Susan didn't mention it, but "Joe" appears very frequently in Digital Tradition songs, a phenomenon that is very satisfying to me.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Rog Peek
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 02:31 PM

Henry (Falk)


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Rog Peek
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 02:39 PM

Sorry, That should have been John Henry, so don't know if that counts.

What about:
Medgar (Evers)
Sonny (Liston)
Muhammad (Ali)
and

Christine (Keeler)
for anither girl.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Rog Peek
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 02:45 PM

And then there's Alferd (Packer)
and Phil (Ochs)
Celia and Cecelia, two more for the girls


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Genie
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 05:26 PM

Liz The Squeak said: "To determine the 'gender' of the narrator, you have to work through the song as a whole. Some are definately male perspective (I met a maiden and shagged her), some are female (I met a pretty ploughboy who shagged me), some indeterminate (I met a maiden who told me she'd been shagged by a ploughboy) and others 'bi' as it were... being 'doable' by either male or female voices. ..."

Hmm, Liz, you seem to have covered about 75% of the themes in folk music there.   *g*

Yes, my question was more about the seemingly smaller variety of male names mentioned in song than about the number of mentions.   Joe, Johnny, Willie, Billy, Georg(ie), Tom(my) and a few others seem to have most of the 'market cornered', while the ladies the male 'narrator' has shagged (or would like to) or has murdered (or would like to) seem to go by a plethora of names.

Maybe that's just because men tend to shag (or hope to shag) -- or murder (or hope to murder) a wider array of specimens of the other gender than vice-versa.   Or are there fewer male names that are melodic sounding or rhyme-able?

Of course, songs about real-life people tend to use whatever names they had. And names like Mary and John are very common in English-speaking countries -- and easier to rhyme than Robert and Elizabeth, for instance.

What I'm wondering is, if we remove the variation that's due to how common various names are (or were), is there still some reason for more female names than male names to be immortalized in song?


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 05:38 PM

Somehow, Nancy was left out. I also think that women, for reasons of discretion or self-preservation, may often tend to omit the actual male names in songs about lost love, cheating and other miscreant behavior, such as rape, abuse and neglect. Guys, on the other hand, freely share the names of their unrequeited sweeties, lost loves, dearly departed, etc. That's MY story, and I'm stickin' to it.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 06:04 PM

I agree - mention of willies is dead common. I'm surprised its allowed.

I seem to remember, jake thackeray coming up with a song about a bloke who broke everything in his house - with an unusual name.

And there's jeremy Taylor's Young Paul.

In the airplane crash at Los Gatos(Guthrie) theres Juan and Jesus.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: GUEST,Rumncoke
Date: 20 Aug 07 - 06:54 PM

There's young Edwin who ploughed the Lowlands low.

It does seem to be the common thing though for men not to leave their names....

And when nine months was over the poor girl was brought to shame
For she had a little militia boy and could not tell his name.

Oh the drums they are a beating and the fifes do sweetly play
So it's fair thee well Polly my dear I must be going away.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Rowan
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 12:38 AM

And from Marie's Wedding there's the phrase
"Lips as red as Rowan's are"
or should I have omitted the possessive apostrophe?

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Genie
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 12:57 AM

LOL, Rowan. *g*

SD guest, you're right, I did forget Nancy. She's oft cited in song.
I also find your theory -- about women being more reluctant to "kiss and tell" -- interesting.

But I can't help wonder how Peter, Paul, Andrew, Luke, Matthew, and some others could achieve sainthood, with many generations of namesakes, yet be so seldom celebrated in song. I mean, the snubbing of Bartholomew and Ignatius (in lyrics) I can understand, but some of the others, not so much.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 05:28 AM

A conversation in our office has come up with only two rhymes for Luke... not that many popular songs (not from the Punk era) that have 'puke' in them.

LTS


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: GUEST,CrazyEddie
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 05:44 AM


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Susan of DT
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 06:14 AM

OK, Here are some more, again from the DT, again remembering that the name may be the author or singer, rather thanin the lyrics:

Joe    216
Joseph   68
Henry   224
Bernie    2
Bernard 15
Bobby    33
Chuck    29 (but chuck wagon, chuck it away)
Danny    26
Daniel   54
Jack    292
Geordi(e)38
Georgie   6
Carl    35
Louis    37
Lou      41
Louie    6
Leo      15
Mick    30
Martin   94
Marty    11
Nick    32
Pete    87
Peter   223
Paul    158
Reuben   15
Sam    129
Samuel   45
Steven   11
Stephen 72
Steve    56
Saul    11
Timothy   9
Tim      49
Tony    50
Anthony 14
Walter   41


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 06:29 AM

What? No mention of Matty Groves?

Or is that a small village in Hampshire?

LTS


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Bill S from Adelaide
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 06:55 AM

Reminds me of a friend called Alison who complained that there were no songs about Alisons. Of course I played her "Alison Gross, she must be the ugliest witch in the north country" and the subject was never raised again!
Bill


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 07:53 AM

You could have player her any one of the thousands of Kyrie Alisons that composers have been writing down the centuries!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: GUEST,The black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 08:07 AM

The Jake Thackeray one is Leopold Alcox.

He seeemd to like less usual names for a folk song; Isobel, Caroline, Sophie, Arthur, perhaps as he was poking fun at the middle classes.

Napoleon turns up in a lot of songs, as does Robin Hood.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 08:50 AM

Isiah was walking over...

Al get mike oat...

:D


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: An Buachaill Caol Dubh
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 10:35 AM

A lot of Eighteenth-Century "Pastorals" have Classical names for both male and female characters; Strephon, Corydon, Chloe, Amyntas, and (gods help us) Teraminta. As Burns remarked acerbically, "was there ever such a banns posted as a proposal of marriage between Adonis and Mary?"


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Genie
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 02:12 PM

Liz, you're right that many names -- e.g., Luke, Richard, Andrew -- don't rhyme with many words likely to be used in song.   But when names are included in song lyrics, I'd say they usually are not used as part of the rhyme scheme.


Caterpillar, as I said above, I would put songs about specific, real people -- Napoleon, Lizzie Borden, Amelia Earhardt (sp?), Davy Crockett, Matty Groves, etc. -- in a different category from songs that just mention a first name (which may not even refer to a particular person the songwriter knows).

And, oh, Liz and Dave, methinks your minds are straying over into that "Accidental names in song lyrics" thread's territory. LOL


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 04:30 PM

My mind is straying??? Damn... never a sheepdog around when you need one!

LTS


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Zhenya
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 04:44 PM

Here's a few more:

Andy's Gone for Cattle, Andrew Lammie,

"P" stands for Paddy, Paddy (or Pat) worked on the Railroad,

Sir Patrick Spens, Alan Tyne of Harrow, Henry Martin,

Arthur McBride


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Genie
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 05:42 PM

Lots o' "Paddy"s, of course. But more than a few of those are, I fear, used as ethnic slurs.

Again, Zhenya, "biographical" songs or tributes to specific real life people are kind of in a different category -- at least to my way of thinking -- from songs like "Leave Her, Johnny, Leave Her" and other strictly first-name songs with rather universal themes.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Genie
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 05:44 PM

Need a sheepdog, Liz? Been wool-gathering, have ya?

§;-D


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Zhenya
Date: 21 Aug 07 - 11:13 PM

Genie,

Hmm...I thought I was staying away from real life people (for example, avoiding a song like Jesse James.)

But now that I look at my list again, I'm not so sure, since I don't really know all the origins of the songs I listed. Some of them may in fact be about real people.

Now that I'm home with my iTunes song library open, I can make a few more comments.

First, let me correct a song title up there - it's "Andy's Gone With Cattle", not for cattle. Oops!

How about a combination song, although common names:

Get up Jack, John sit Down.

Here's a less common name: A song called "When Barney flew over the hills" recorded by the group Relativity.

How about Brennan on the Moor?

I see Donald or Donal do show up in a number of Irish and Scottish songs.

Mostly, I see Genie's original statement highly confirmed. Lots of Johns, Joes, and every possible form of William.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Genie
Date: 22 Aug 07 - 12:43 AM

Oh, I thought "Henry Martin," "Sir Patrick Spens," and "Alan Tyne Of Harrow" were songs that told real (or maybe embellished) stories about real guys.

I know it's hard to tell sometimes. I think some songs -- e.g., maybe "Eleanor Rigby" ? -- tell fully fictional stories about people (maybe using made-up names or maybe just picking a name someone heard somewhere).   But initially, my puzzlement was about why, when songwriters stick just a first name in a song, the name seems to be drawn from a really long list if it's about a female but a much shorter list if it's about a male.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Ebbie
Date: 22 Aug 07 - 12:52 AM

A leap to the side here: I met a man last week who is 68 years old and his full name is John Henry Venables. And he is a Junior. Where do you suppose they came up with the first and middle names- you suppose they are/were involved in music?

(I also know a man named Jim Crow.)


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Liz the Squeak
Date: 22 Aug 07 - 01:13 AM

We're forgetting Dream Angus too...

LTS


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Genie
Date: 22 Aug 07 - 02:21 AM

I knew a guy named Casey Jones too. And a few others who have been the subject of song.

But I'm thinking now that there are really maybe two different questions behind this thread:

1) Are there more men than women celebrating (or otherwise 'immortalizing') their womenfolk in song than the other way around?

and

2) Are there fewer different male names used in song to designate the "hero" (or antihero), even if we control for the number of different male- and female-theme songs?

Re the second question, it seems to me that just about any not-too-odd female name has been used in a song or two but there are some rather common men's names that seldom, if ever, become song lyrics.


I mean, when was the last time you heard a song about Herb, Melvin, Clifford, Clarence, Gregory (or even Greg), Brad, Jerome, Philip, etc.? (Again, not talking about "historical" story songs.)


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 22 Aug 07 - 02:55 AM

I remember one very non PC song called

My name is Clarence, though you can call me Clare

Traddies used to sing it (back in the 1970's when you could admit to having lustful thoughts in a folk club without being denounced as a pervert). They weren't quite so dull in those days.

I wrote one about John Herbert Dillinger! I always try to get a mention of Melvin Purvis, without whose attempts to please J Edgar Hoover, there would have been no ballads of Dillinger or Pretty Boy Floyd.

Floyd....see you forgot him as well.

I'm sure theres an epeic one called Young Clifford. And Miles Davis used to play a tune called I Remember Clifford - I think I used to have the record. Correct me if I'm wrong. Perhaps someone wrote words to it.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: GUEST,Blackjack Davey
Date: 22 Aug 07 - 03:50 AM

Oi! Wot about me? And my cousin Gypsy.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 22 Aug 07 - 03:55 PM

Jackie Boy: (from The Keeper)
Chester: (Chester song at twilight!)
Tarzan: (Tarzan old mill by the stream, Nellie Dean!)


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Big Al Whittle
Date: 23 Aug 07 - 03:12 AM

Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: GUEST,Blackjack Davey - PM
Date: 22 Aug 07 - 03:50 AM

Oi! Wot about me? And my cousin Gypsy.

sorry mate - a bit racist for these times! Its like Micheal Jackson says you don't want spend your whole life being a colour. and as for being a gippo - try not to let your race define you.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Aug 07 - 10:56 PM

In the song Marie's Wedding, "Lips as red as Rowan's are" actually refers to the berry from the Rowan tree, not a chap called Rowan!!

In Scotland, the Mountain Ash tree is called a Rowan tree.   They are often found planted by the gate to a house for good luck and to keep evil away.


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Subject: RE: Men's & boys' names in song -- how many?
From: Rowan
Date: 28 Aug 07 - 12:14 AM

And there I was, for all those years, wondering why the word "rowan" in Marie's Wedding always had no capitalisation. Guest, 'twas merely a jest.

But now you mention it.....
The mountain ash (Sorbus aucuparia, I believe) that the Scots call a rowan tree is also the second tree in the Irish tree alphabet, known for its association with stone circles all over northern Europe, its ability to divine water and precious metals, the notion that only a whip made from rowan can control a bolting horse and various other things that Robert Graves pulled out of Celtic lore.

By comparison, the tree that is called mountain ash in Oz (Eucalyptus regnans) has no particular associations with any of the above but was (until they cut it down to measure it as 366' long) the tallest tree in the world; its mates are now only the tallest flowering plants in the world and the sequoia is regarded as the tallest tree. I have had the privilege of climbing a mountain ash (the Oz version), where the lowest branch was about 120' above the ground and about 40' above any of the understory. Beautiful salmon grey trunks for the whole 360 degrees around and all turning salmon pinks in the setting sun as I returned to earth.

Cheers, Rowan (whose lips are reddish)


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