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Origins: Peggy Gordon

DigiTrad:
PEGGY GORDON
THE BARON O' BRACKLEY
THE BARON O' BRACKLEY (2)
THE BARON O' BRACKLEY (3)


Related threads:
Peggy Gordon: where is Ingo? (105)
Lyr/Chords Req: Peggy Gordon (11)
'Just lay my head on a keg of brandy' (17) (closed)
Peggy Lee (8) (closed)


Liam's Brother 07 May 00 - 11:44 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 07 May 00 - 02:24 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 07 May 00 - 02:38 PM
John Moulden 07 May 00 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,Paul Burke 07 May 00 - 07:04 PM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 07 May 00 - 07:14 PM
John Moulden 07 May 00 - 07:23 PM
Liam's Brother 07 May 00 - 08:01 PM
Abby Sale 07 May 00 - 08:31 PM
Susan A-R 07 May 00 - 09:50 PM
John Moulden 08 May 00 - 06:55 AM
Abby Sale 08 May 00 - 07:41 AM
Liam's Brother 08 May 00 - 08:04 AM
John Moulden 08 May 00 - 12:13 PM
Malcolm Douglas 08 May 00 - 01:46 PM
The Shambles 08 May 00 - 05:24 PM
raredance 08 May 00 - 09:24 PM
John Moulden 09 May 00 - 08:32 AM
Richard Bridge 09 May 00 - 04:02 PM
raredance 11 May 00 - 11:06 PM
Steve Parkes 12 May 00 - 03:28 AM
shankmac 12 May 00 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,Zorro 12 May 00 - 07:51 AM
DonD 12 Mar 03 - 05:20 PM
mg 12 Mar 03 - 08:35 PM
GUEST,Q 12 Mar 03 - 09:10 PM
Malcolm Douglas 12 Mar 03 - 09:44 PM
DonD 12 Mar 03 - 11:29 PM
Boab 13 Mar 03 - 01:38 AM
GUEST,Aber Don 13 Mar 03 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,Murray on Saltspring 13 Mar 03 - 03:34 PM
Teribus 14 Mar 03 - 06:53 AM
Snuffy 14 Mar 03 - 09:51 AM
Malcolm Douglas 14 Mar 03 - 02:07 PM
Lighter 01 Feb 09 - 11:14 AM
Nerd 01 Feb 09 - 11:27 AM
meself 01 Feb 09 - 11:35 AM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Feb 09 - 12:50 PM
meself 01 Feb 09 - 02:56 PM
Nerd 01 Feb 09 - 03:53 PM
Dennis the Elder 01 Feb 09 - 06:16 PM
Malcolm Douglas 01 Feb 09 - 07:28 PM
Lighter 01 Feb 09 - 08:47 PM
Lighter 01 Feb 09 - 08:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Feb 09 - 09:49 PM
Lighter 01 Feb 09 - 10:12 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Feb 09 - 10:22 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Feb 09 - 10:40 PM
Lighter 01 Feb 09 - 10:40 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Feb 09 - 10:53 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: PEGGY GORDON
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 07 May 00 - 11:44 AM

I've always thought of Peggy Gordon as a song of Nova Scotia origin; it is in Helen Creighton's Maritime Folk Songs, for example, and I can't recall coming across it in any Scots folk song books.

A few weeks ago, I came across "Sweet Maggie Gordon" in a circa 1884 New York vaudeville songster...

PEGGY GORDON

Oh! I wish my love and I were sailing,
Far from land as far could be;
Sailing on the deep blue waters,
Where I'll have no more to trouble me.

Chorus:
Sweet Maggie Gordon, you are my bride,
Come and sit thee on my knee;
And tell to me the very reason,
Why I am slighted so by thee.

Oh! the sea is deep; I cannot cross over,
Nor neither have I wings to fly;
But I wish I had some jolly boatsman,
To carry over my love and I.

I wish I had a glass of water,
I will tell to you the reason why;
While I am drinking, I am thinking,
Of my true love with a sigh.

I hear a strong echo of "Carrickfergus" in this song. Therefore I would be inclined to think this is a song made made in North America with some Old World verses and some new ones. The Creighton version has another echo of Carrickfergus in the 10th and last verse...

"I'll sing no more till I get a drink."

Does anyone have any info to share on the origins of this rarely collected but (today) very popular song?

All the best,
Dan Milner


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 07 May 00 - 02:24 PM

I know Peggy Gordon, but had always assumed it was trad from the "old country". Is it familiar to others from the other side of the "pond"?


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 07 May 00 - 02:38 PM

One of my favourite Forebitters Peggy Gordon was popular with sailors in Lancashire, I think it was originally from Britain possibly Scots.. Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: John Moulden
Date: 07 May 00 - 06:52 PM

Here are some references to Peggy Gordon - astonishingly they are almost all from Canada and since they are taken from Steve Roud's Song Index which now has 93K+ entries of song versions in Britain, Ireland, North America and Australia, it indicates that the song was probably unknown to traditional singers elsewhere. There are obvious relationships with Carrickfergus, The Water is Wide etc all of which have had airings recently in various threads.

At present, it looks as if Dan's Songster is the oldest known report of this song and it is notable that one of the versions (7 here - the numbering is arbitrary) has a first line identical with that printed in the songster. PEGGY GORDON 1
Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling
Sound recording
Edith Fowke Coll. (FO 53)
Gooley, Bill
Canada : Ontario : Peterborough
1957 (Jul)
2
Oh Peggy Gordon you are my darling
Book
Creighton, Maritime Folk Songs pp.74-75
Tape 18 No.10
Smith, Dennis
Canada : Nova Scotia : Chezzetcook
3
Sweet Peggy Gordon you are my darling
Sound recording
Philo 1022 (`Adirondack Woods Singer')
Ashlaw, Ted
USA : New York : Hermon
1972 (Aug)
4
Oh Peggy Gordon you are my darling
Book
Creighton & Senior, Traditional Songs of Nova Scotia pp.193-195 (version a)
Smith, Dennis
Canada : Nova Scotia : Chezzetcook
5
O Peggy Gordon you are my darling
Sound recording
Edith Fowke Coll. (FO 30)
Clark, LaRena
Canada : Ontario : Ottawa
1966 (Mar)
6
O Peggy Gordon you are my darling
Book
Fowke, Family Heritage pp.72-73
Clark LCS 109
Clark, LaRena
Canada : Ontario
7
I wish my love and I were sailing
Book
Creighton & Senior, Traditional Songs of Nova Scotia pp.193-195 (version b)
Sullivan, John Francis
Canada : Nova Scotia : Erinville
8
Sweet Peggy Gordon, you are my darling
Songster (Book)
Everybody's Songster p.17
Cozans (New York)
9
Peggy Gordon you are my darling
Sound recording
Folkways FE 4307 ('Maritime Folk Songs')
Clergy, Grace
Canada : Nova Scotia : East Petpeswick
1951 (Jul)
Text in booklet


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: GUEST,Paul Burke
Date: 07 May 00 - 07:04 PM

I always liked the idea of putting my head to a cask of brandy. Has anyone tried this?


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 07 May 00 - 07:14 PM

A long straw works better mate...


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: John Moulden
Date: 07 May 00 - 07:23 PM

Please note that those nine refs above represent only 7 reports.

I should have checked each of the books mentioned above for further refs - Helen Creighton (and Doreen Senior - Trad Songs from Nova Scotia) cites "Maggie Godden" in J H Cox: Folk Songs from the South" and another version of her own collecting called "Maggie Gordon" - she also points out similarities to "Waly Waly" and to "Little Sparrow" (Paul Brewster: Ballads and Songs of Indiana) and to "Youth and Folly" also from Cox FS of the South


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 07 May 00 - 08:01 PM

Dear John,

Thank you very much for the references to Folk-Songs of the South. You are, as always, Chief of the Folk Song Detective Squad.

I don't know whether you have Folk-Songs of the South. If you don't, let me know and I'll keep an eye out for you. Some Mudcatters might want to know that it is a collection of West Virginia songs. It's Maggie Gordon is very, very close to the songster version.

By the way, as a special treat, the songster version was quoted "As sung by Dennis F. Murphy, the Irish Nightingale."

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Abby Sale
Date: 07 May 00 - 08:31 PM

It is suggested that "Oh, Johnny, Johnny" is a sex-changed version of this and seems to be to me. See Sam Henry's Songs of the People, p392. But in this case, John would know - maybe just another of the hundreds of "Waly Waly" generic varients. It does give an Irish branch of it, though, as requested.


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Susan A-R
Date: 07 May 00 - 09:50 PM

Interesting, when Tony Cuffe does Caledonia (When first I went to Calednia, I god loading at number three and I got boarding at Donald Norman's, He had a daughter who made good tea) he tells about the song being about the pit mines up in Nova Scotia. The song also has the verse about putting his head to a cask of brandy. Yet another canada connection, of course, who settled those areas, and what phrases from their traditions did they bring with them, and what phrases sprang up this side of the pond?

Susan A-R


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: John Moulden
Date: 08 May 00 - 06:55 AM

Dan's praise is hardly justified; there are many of us who bring special knowledge and interest to bear on these problems. I especially appreciate Bruce Olsen, Sandy Paton and Abby Sale - as well as Dan himself - and others. My advantage is that I can draw on Steve Roud's indices, a large personal library and the resources of the Irish Traditional Music Archive; but thanks, Dan!

Abby's suggestion opens another can of worms. The song, "Johnny Johnny" he mentions is closely related to all the "O Waly, waly" but also connects with all those songs which begin "Love is pleasing ..."

Also "Caledonia" does seem connected. It seems to me that we would be well served if someone would make a compendium of all the songs which share "floating" verses and begin to identify patterns. The basic unit of learning and the basic identifying term in what we sing and what some of us study, is the "song." It seems to me that in lyrical songs where verses interchange, land and borrow, the unit of learning may be the verse, and the song is only identifiable from the particular verses of which it comprises.

Typical of me to raise a question and then run.


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Abby Sale
Date: 08 May 00 - 07:41 AM

:-). I like to group song versions under one heading and call them all varients of that group. I'm a grouper. But this song group is a good example of when it can get silly to try. Cross-reference, yes, but not equate. As John says, sometimes it only makes sense to look at the verses. This is what Sam Hinton calls a "wandering folksong." And what television producers call "an all-new situation comedy."


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 08 May 00 - 08:04 AM

When First I Went to Caledonia (from Songs & Stories from Deep Cove Cape Breton) is a song in 2 parts really. The first 5 verses are lyrics shared elsewhere...

1. I wish I were a maid again
2. The sweetest apple will soon get rotten
3. If I had pen from Pennsylvania
4. I wish I were on the deepest ocean
5. I'd lay my head on a cask of brandy.

The last 4 comprise a cohesive narrative song...

1. When first I went to Caledonia
2. It was I and my brother Charlie
3. I went to Normans for a pair of brochans
4. I went over to their big harbour.

I think it's interesting (not fascinating, just interesting) that the floaters appear at the beginning of the song rather than at the end.

Regarding Peggy Gordon, is it safe to say that the choices are...

1. Product of New York vaudeville stage, recovered almost intact in West Virginia, went into tradition in Nova Scotia aquiring floating verses and a newer name, or...

2. Nova Scotia traditional song which was brought to New York vaudeville stage, then turned up almost intact in WV.

Any thoughts?

All the best,
Dan


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: John Moulden
Date: 08 May 00 - 12:13 PM

You takes your choice! Me, I hedge my bets! Until evidence comes along that is.


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 08 May 00 - 01:46 PM

The Library of Congress  Music for the Nation archive has a piano arrangement -as a waltz- of Sweet Maggie Gordon published by Mrs. Pauline Lieder (New York 1880); the arrangement is credited to one Ned Straight, and his portrait adorns the front cover, but he doesn't appear to claim the text, which is practically the same as the one Dan quotes.  The differences seem typical of oral transmission, to me at any rate:
^^
I wish my love and I were sailing
As far from land as far can be,

Far across the deep blue water
Where I'd have none to trouble me.

The sea is deep, I can't swim over
Neither have I the wings to fly,
But I will hire some jolly sportsman
To carry o'er my love and I.

I wish I had a glass of brandy
The reason I will tell to thee,
Because when drinking I am thinking
Does my true love remember me.

Chorus:

Sweet Maggie Gordon you are my bride
Come sit you down upon my knee
And tell to me the very reason
Why I am slighted thus by thee.

Also in the archive are two copies of an instrumental (piano) arrangement of the melody, by Jas. J. Freeman (1881; same publisher, same front and back covers.)  The melody is not one I recognise, but then I've only ever heard Peggy Gordon sung to a variant of the Banks of Sweet Primroses tune.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: The Shambles
Date: 08 May 00 - 05:24 PM

All good stuff but......

Didn't Mr and Mrs Gordon just, kinda get together, one night?

Sorry but I have just tried the head in the cask of brandy idea.


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: raredance
Date: 08 May 00 - 09:24 PM

This is just to throw in another recorded version of "Peggy Gordon", also Canadian. Charles Jordon sings the Helen Creighton credited version on the 9 LP set "Canadian Folk songs, A Centennial Collection" (1966). Alan Mills wrote the notes for this collection, but his comments do not add to anything already mentioned above.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: John Moulden
Date: 09 May 00 - 08:32 AM

The "Banks of Sweet Primroses" variant is the tune given by Helen Creighton in Maritime Songs and in Traditional Songs from Nova Scotia. Now what's its more recent performance history? Who started it in Irish currency?


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 09 May 00 - 04:02 PM

I know someone who has sung this for over 30 years (I first heard him sing it that long ago) and he is haveing a singing session on Sunday at his pub, so I will try to rmeember to ask him. He used to be in the fairly well known (By UK standards of 30 years ago) Crayfolk.


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Subject: Lyr Add: PEGGY GORDON
From: raredance
Date: 11 May 00 - 11:06 PM

There have been several mentions to the Helen Creighton collected version of Peggy Gordon and printed in "Maritime Folksongs". The version in the DT has notes saying that it was collected in Nova Scotia by Helen Creighton. HOwever the DT version is not the Helen Creighton one. For the record here it is. ^^


PEGGY GORDON

Oh Peggy Gordon you are my darling,
Come sit you down all on my knee,
And tell to me the very reason
Why I am slighted so by thee.

I'm deep in love but I dare not show it,
My heart lies smothered all in my breast,
It's not for you to let the whole world know it,
A troubled mind that has no rest.

I laid my head on a cask of brandy
Which was my fancy I do declare,
For while I'm drinking, I'm always thinking
How I'm to gain that lady fair.

I put my back against an oak tree
Thinking it was a trusty tree,
But first it bent and then it broke,
And that's the way my love served me.

I wish my love was one red rosy
A-planted down on yonder wall,
And I myself could be a dewdrop
That in her bosom I might fall.

I wish I was in Cupid's castle
And my true love along with me,
Oh Peggy Gordon, you are my darling,
Oh Peggy Gordon, I'd die for thee.

The sea is deep, I cannot wade it,
Neither have I got wings to fly
But I wish I had some jolly boatman
To ferry over my love and I.

I will go down to some lonesome valley,
Where no womankind is ever to be found,
Where the pretty little birds do change their voices
And every moment a different sound.

I wish I was as far as Ingo
Way out across the briny sea,
A-sailing over the deep blue water
Where love nor care never trouble me.

I wish I was in Spencervania
Where the marble stones are black as ink,
Where the pretty little girls they do adore me,
I'll sing no more till I get a drink.

Alan Mills has suggested that the last verse, especially the last line was a device for the singer to get a little payment before he would do another song.

rich r


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 12 May 00 - 03:28 AM

It's cheered me up to see this song given a Nova Scotia origin. I learned it years ago from someone who'd learned it in the sixties from a man who actually came from there, and I used to introduce it as such. But I soon founds that any Scots in the audience would claim it as Robert Burns! (Although why any self-respecting Scot would wish himself in England, I don't know, but there seem to be a lot of 'em!) I know RB smartened up a lot of trad songs, and I can easily believe that many songs crossed the Atlantic in the Clearances. What with floating verses and all, I expect Peggy Gordon must have a number of ancestors and descendants on both side of the Pond.

Steve


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: shankmac
Date: 12 May 00 - 05:08 AM

Ihave an Irish Ballad Song book which claims the origin of this song to be Scottish and it is unlike the Irish to give the Scots credit for any songs (all good songs being Irish) but I know a verse which is not in this book.

I wish I were away in Ingol,
Far across the briny sea,
Sailing over the deepest ocean,
Where love and care ne'er bothered me.

I have idea where Ingol is.


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: GUEST,Zorro
Date: 12 May 00 - 07:51 AM

Re: Shankmac's post. Could Ingol, be England. The Corries have a beautiful recording of the song and unless my ears are overwaxed, they are saying: "I wish I were away in England, or out upon the briny sea....." The Corries were Scottish. I've always thought it was a traditional scot song, but have never cared enough to ask. I'm glad someone did, the postings make interesting reading. Z


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: DonD
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 05:20 PM

I was singing this song -- in the shower, as usual -- and followed it up with 'Fyveo' for the shampoo, and it suddenly struck me that Peggy Gordon is Pretty Peggy-o!

I've taken to singing a combined version of interspersed (almost) verses : the narrative of the Irish Dragoons carries on until Peggy-o tells the captain that she'll never marry a soldier, and then he responds with his plaint about Peggy Gordon mistreating him. I have him asking for the 'very reason you are discourteous so to me', and bewailing the depth of his love.

The colonel then calls the troop to mount and the captain asks for more time, followed by a resprise of the first Peggy Gordon verse and the 'cask of brandy' verse. No wonder the troopers have their (drunken) captain to carry and then to bury! The end of the Fyveo tale calls for a final mournful/ghostly reprise of the first Peggy Gordon verse, and it seems to me a complete and effective picture.

What do you think of that?


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: mg
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 08:35 PM

Her name was Peggy MacPhee, wasn't it?

mg


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 09:10 PM

I can't see much correspondence between Peggy Gordon and Peggy O (Usually "Pretty Peggy of Derby"). See broadsides in the Bodelian Library.


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 09:44 PM

I too see no significant correspondence. As has been pointed out earlier in this old, recently-revived thread, Peggy/Maggy Gordon seems to be a late 19th century remake from Anglo-Scottish sources. The apparently unrelated Pretty Peggy of Derby, on the other hand, (despite its location in England in older versions) seems to be Irish or Scottish in origin (Bruce Olson has given specifics in earlier discussions on the subject).

When somebody drags an old thread back from the dead like this, one unfortunate consequence is that all the more recent discussions are disregarded, and people start to re-post the same information (and misinformation) that has already appeared elsewhere and been dealt with. One step forward, three steps back as often as not. It is not yet too late to avoid this! There is a quite good search engine here, after all.


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: DonD
Date: 12 Mar 03 - 11:29 PM

Sorry for treading on purist toes!

I intended no significant correspondence. As much as I respect and enjoy the amazing erudition of Malcolm Douglas and others, I was seeking a reaction to the performance possibilities. Songs of very different provenances are put together in medleys when they share a common theme or cast different lights on a subject.

All of the discussion from the past about the migrations of Miss Gordon's story haven't convinced me that her first name was Peggy or Maggie, or that she even ever existed outside some balladeer's imagination. And McPhee? That's a new one to me. Is the slighted male ever identified anywhere by name or otherwise?

On the other hand, were there really Irish Dragoons marching through Fife, and was there really a captain named Ned who died of love? And what's the proper name of the town where they had to carry him, which is spelled various ways in different transcriptions? The substance of the tale is that poor Ned was slighted by some Peggy whom he might very well have called his darling, and that her brusque 'kiss-off' of his proposal would warrant a complaint that she was slighting him or treating him discourteously.

In short, if any listener were ever to hear my mingling/mangling of the sacred texts and like it and learn it and repeat it and disseminate it, it might be someday be traced back to its two unrelated origins. Isn't that the folk process that's discussed above and in so many threads and scholarly papers?


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Boab
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 01:38 AM

First time I ever heard "Peggy Gordon" sung was in a folk club in Northumberland England 'way back in 1965. The lads who sang and played stated its origins as Robert Burns; but being something of a "Burnsian",I cast my doubts. I haven't come across anything which would lead me to change my mind on that. I was surprised, frankly, to find so many references to the song in the Americas. That it may have its origins here never entered my mind.I have been prepared to accept that it could be a Scots song, but to me it has the "feel" of Irish
origin. "it was my fancy, I do declare" doesn't come across as Scots usage---but has a very definite suggestion of Irish, or even English language structure. No matter where it's from, it's a grand wee song---and I was singing it yesterday, just me an' the squeezebox!


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: GUEST,Aber Don
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 02:45 PM

Bonny DonD - The song doesn't mention Fife but Fyvie in Aberdeenshire hence the mention of a variety of other locations in that area.


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: GUEST,Murray on Saltspring
Date: 13 Mar 03 - 03:34 PM

DonD: I think what you're doing there is quite ingenious, combining two songs (however unrelated they really are). More power to you. Though it's true that a future investigator may get the wrong idea!


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Teribus
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 06:53 AM

I've always heard this song claimed by both Scots and Irish, interesting to see the Nova Scotia contender.

The Corries sing

"I wish I was away in Ingle,"

In the Irish versions

"I wish I was away in Eigle,"


DonD:

"were there really Irish Dragoons marching through Fife,"

As someone above has said it wasn't Fife but the town of Fyvie, and Irish Dragoons most certainly, possibly as part of Montrose's forces. One story goes that the townsfolk of Aberdeen were so terrified of this particular contingent that Montrose stopped them short of Aberdeen and quartered them in Fyvie. Their Captain became enamoured of a daughter of the house, who rejected his advances and poisoned him.

"what's the proper name of the town where they had to carry him, which is spelled various ways in different transcriptions?"

Noo lang ere we cam
Tae auld Meldrum town
We had oor Captain tae carry-o
And lang ere we cam
Tae bonnie Aberdeen
We had oor captain tae bury-o


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Snuffy
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 09:51 AM

Meldrum is near Stirling: Oldmeldrum is between Fyvie and Aberdeen


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Subject: RE: Peggy Gordon: Origin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 02:07 PM

What are nowadays thought of as typical Scottish and Irish "versions" of Peggy/Maggie Gordon don't seem to date back further than the 1960s; they all seem to derive from published example(s) found in Canada and subsequently recorded by popular Revival performers.

Whatever the ultimate source(s) of the song -and attempting to place all the floating verses of which it is made is practically impossible, so often do they occur in so many related and unrelated songs- its modern travels are really a separate issue from a consideration of its origins. The fact that the tune to which it is sung nowadays is that most associated with the English Banks of the Sweet Primroses further clouds the matter, perhaps.

On reflection, I see no reason to exclude -as I had suggested earlier- an Irish source (at least in part) for the American and Canadian sets, but the same arguments apply at least equally to possible Scottish and English traditional sources; on the whole I think it pointless to make outright claims for any. Certainly, the song in its present form is a direct product of none of them; all we can say is that it was put together in America and/or Canada, using material drawn from the common stock of Britain and Ireland, and set to a tune which was subsequently abandoned in favour of a traditional one.

This is really only to summarise what was said when this discussion was originally started nearly three years ago.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 11:14 AM

The New York Herald of Nov. 9, 1884, printed an interview with an unnamed New York City ballad publisher, who said, among other things:

"Some songs attain a great popularity for no merit of their own. They are sung from the stage by some popular performer, and those who hear them go home and spread the melodies. 'Sweet Maggie Gordon' is a good sample of the trash that succeeds. Here is a verse and the chorus:—

I wish I had a glass of water—
I will tell you the reason why:
While I am drinking I am thinking
Of my true love, with a sigh.

CHORUS.

Sweet Maggie Gordon, you are my bride;
Come and sit thee on my knee,
And tell to me the reason
Why I am slighted so by thee.

Now that song had a tremendous run among the shop-girls of this city, although it did not sell in the country at all."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Nerd
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 11:27 AM

To build on Lighter's observation, on December 17, 1938, Herbert Halpert collect a song called "Sweet Peggy Gordon" from Mort Montonyea of Sloatsburg, New York. Although I haven't heard the recording, it does sound from the title like the "missing link" between "Sweet Maggie Gordon" and "Peggy Gordon."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: meself
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 11:35 AM

"To build on Lighter's observation, on December 17, 1938,"

I believe Peggy Gordon was still alive in 1938 - why didn't he just ask her who she slighted, and where and when?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 12:50 PM

I don't know what that is supposed to mean.

John Moulden listed references in the Roud Folk Song Index earlier in this discussion (nearly nine years ago); the Index is now available online, so interested people can consult it directly for themselves via the website of the Vaughan Williams Memorial Library at  http://library.efdss.org/:

Roud Folk Song Index

'Peggy Gordon' is assigned Roud Number 2280, though one reference has inadvertently been inserted under number 2180 (a typo which will be corrected). 'Sweet Peggy Gordon' is listed, but without a number assigned because the text has not yet been checked.

Other useful online catalogue listings:

Sweet Peggy Gordon / Mort Montonyea [sound recording]   - American Folklife Center: Traditional Music and Spoken Word Catalog entry.

Peggy Gordon   - instances in the Helen Creighton Collection, Nova Scotia Archives.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: meself
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 02:56 PM

"I don't know what that is supposed to mean."


Sorry, Malcolm - that was one of those "facetious remarks" you referred to in the other thread ...

I do appreciate your comments and information on this song, which has long been a favourite of mine.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Nerd
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 03:53 PM

Thanks, Malcolm.

Two of the recordings from Creighton's collections are also in the AFC archive, those by Dennis Smith and Nina Bartley Finn. (Creighton undertook collecting work funded by the Library of Congress, so we have about a thousand items recorded by her.) They are probably the same recordings listed by the Nova Scotia Archives, with the original copy going to LC and the derivative copy retained by Helen Creighton, ultimately to wind up at the Nova Scotia Archives.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Dennis the Elder
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 06:16 PM

Thanks Malcolm for the connection to the Roud Folk Song Index, what a great resourse.
I went into that area and found the reference to Sweet Peggy Gordon you quoted and its listing in an publication in the USA called the "Old Arm Chair Songster"
With this song were listed 16 other songs including the following
The Girl I left behind me
The Jolly Miller
Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor and
The Rose of Allandale
I do not believe it can be argued that none of these 4 songs could not have originated form the British Isles and Ireland. Certainly the Rose of Allandale is I strongly believe Scottish and Lord Thomas and Fair Eleanor in my humble opinion English.
I could therefore be concluded that the book of folk songs previously mentioned included songs that did not originate in North America.
This throws open the argument once again, in which country did this wonderful song originate from?
It would be interesting to find if there were any references to Miss Gordon prior to 1860.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 07:28 PM

None that scholars are aware of so far, it would appear; though such may well turn up at some point. The question isn't closed. If it were, though, the example you mention wouldn't 'throw open the argument once again' at all.

Perhaps you aren't familiar with the subject of C19 songsters. These typically included a wide range of material drawn from a wide range of sources, new and old, from various countries. The fact that some of the texts in a songster are old or demonstrably from a particular country tells us nothing whatever about any of the other songs, and you would be on very shaky ground indeed trying to draw any conclusions on that basis. To take one example only, you are quite wrong about 'The Rose of Allandale', which is an English song of known authorship (see various discussions here on the subject) and belief or opinion, whether 'humble' or not, is no substitute for knowledge supported by evidence; which is what we have been trying to arrive at here insofar as such a thing is possible.

You may be confusing the points being made in this thread, which concerns the origins of 'Peggy Gordon' and in which no firm conclusions have been reached, with the other thread currently running, which concerns the meaning of one single word found in one single, specifically Nova Scotian, version of the song; and where it has proved necessary several times to re-iterate that in an attempt to keep the discussion at least moderately on-topic.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 08:47 PM

Again the plot thickens. The Library of Brown University contains a broadside published in Boston, apparently by William Rutter, which consists of two songs, one called "The Wonders" (first line: "Your laughter I'll try to provoke"), and the other "Peggy [not 'Maggie'] Gordon" (first line: "Sweet Peggy Gordon you are my darling").

The unconfirmed date is reckoned as "1829-34." The Bodleian has several copies of "The Wonders" under the title of "The Hole in the Ballad." As "The Cabinet of Wonders," it has been attributed to Charles Dibdin (died 1814) and to "Charles Dibdin, Jr." Thus the "1829-24" date for the broadside seems quite plausible.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 08:57 PM

Charles Dibdin, Jr.'s dates are 1768-1834.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 09:49 PM

A little group of songs collected by Cox in West Virginia is related to "Peggy Gordon," but they add little to origins. All have floating verses from other songs; the 'parlor song' influence is strong. Since they are among the earlier versions collected, it is interesting to put them here so that they may be compared.

Lyr. Add: MAGGIE GODDON

1
I wish I was once a-sailing
As far from land as could be,
Far across the deep blue waters,
Where I have no one to trouble me.

Chorus:
Sweet Maggie Goddon, you are my bride;
Come set you down upon my knee;
Tell to me the very reason
Why I was slighted just by thee.

2
The sea is deep, I can't swim over,
Neither have I the wings to fly;
There I hear some jolly sportsman,
To carry over the love and I.
3
I wish I had a glass of brandy,
I'll tell you the reason why;
While drinking, I am thinking,
Does my true love remember me?

This confused little song is mentioned above, but it contributes little to the 'origins'.
Collected by Cox in 1918 from a Mr. Boggs, "learned about forty years ago from his brother, who was killed shortly after at Ashland, KS, by cowboys." No. 142, p. 424. See ref. below.
Cox compares it with "Youth and Folly," collected in 1916.

Lyr. Add: YOUTH AND FOLLY

1.
Youth and folly make youngsters marry,
And when they're married they must obey;
For many a bright and sunshiny morning
Has turned to a dark and rainy day.
2
O love is warming, O love is charming,
Love's quite handsome while it's new!
But as love grows older, love grows colder,
And fades away like the morning dew.
3
It was all in the sweet month of April,
While summer flowers were in their bloom,
Trees were budding, sweet birds were singing;
Times ain't with me as they have been.
4
Great Jehovah, have mercy on me!
My comrades, come to set me free;
I never courted but one fair lady;
Her name was Polly, she told me.
5
Polly, O Polly, you are my darling!
Come set yourself down awhile by me,
And tell me the very reason
Why I was slighted so by thee.
6
I am in love, I dare not own it,
The very pain lies on my breast;
I am in love, and the whole world knows it,
That a troubled mind can find no rest.
7
I wish to God I never had seen you,
Or in my cradle I had died;
To think as nice a young man as I am
Should be in love and be denied.
8
I wish I was on some stormy ocean,
As far from land as I could be;
And sailing for some better country
Where there no grief could trouble me.

Parts of old parlor songs seem co-mingled here. Some of the verses appear in another song collected by Cox (no date given), "Young Ladies (Little Sparrow)." No. 141, pp. 422-423 (See ref. below).

Lyr. Add: YOUNG LADIES (LITTLE SPARROW)

140 A
1. Come all fair and handsome ladies,
Take warning how you court young men;
For they're like a bright star on a summer's morning,
They first appear and then they're gone.
2
They'll tell to you some flattering story,
And swear to God that they love you well,
And away they'll go and court some other,
And leave you here in grief to dwell.
3
I wish to God I never had seen him,
Or in his cradle he had died;
For to think so fair and handsome lady,
Was one in love and be denied.
4
I wish I was in some tall mountain,
Where the ivy rock is black as ink;
I would write a letter to my false lover,
Whose cheeks are like the morning pink.
5
I wish I was some little sparrow,
And one of them that could fly so high;
I would fly away to my true love's dwelling,
And when he would speak I would be close by.
6
O I would flutter in his bosom
With my little [ex]tended wings;
I would ask him,. I would ask him,
Whose tender heart he has tried to stain.
7
My troubles now are just beginning,
My troubles like some mountain tall;
O I'll sit down in grief and sorrow,
And there I'll talk my troubles o'er.
8
Love is handsome, love is charming,
Love is beauty when it's new;
Love grows older, love grows colder,
Fades away like morning dew.

J. H. Cox, ed., 1925, "Folk-Songs of the South," Harvard Univ. Press; reprint Dover, 1967. No. 140 A, pp. 419-420.

All three with lyrics only.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:12 PM

Some stanzas appear in "The Primpenny Family," by Fitz-Hugh Ludlow, a story in the New York humor magazine Vanity Fair (Feb. 16, 1861, p. 75):

I lay my head on a cask of brand-eye,
It is my pleasure I dew declare,
And while I'm drinkin', I still am thinkin',
Haow I may win my lady fa-a-a-a-air!

CHORUS-- Oh, PEGGY GORDON, you are my darlin'!
Come sit you daown by the side o' me!
And tell to me the ver-eye reason,
Why I am slighted so by th-e-e-e-e-e-e!

I wish I was in Covill Castle,
Where the marble-stones is black as ink,
Where all the putty ge-irls adore me!
I'll sing no more until I dr-i-i-i-i-ink!

The description of the old singer's technique is also interesting: "Mr. Kineboy threw his head back, assumed an expression of countenance proper to a gentleman in immediate view of his decease...but supposed by rural musicians to be eminently necessary for the correct renedering of melodies, and beat time with his boot...." Then, "in a voice retaining reminiscences of the night under the bridge which years had been unable to efface," he "poured forth the lament which delighted our grandfathers."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:22 PM

Can't find in songs of C. Dibdin, Jun., as collected in T. Dibdin, 1875, "Songs by Charles Dibdin," nor among those by T. Dibdin in that volume (some miscellaneous songs by others are included). Of course there is no reason to assume that the volume contains all the songs by these three.
The style of Peggy, however, seems unlike that of C. Dibdin, Jun.

There is a song "Peggy Perkins" in the Bodleian, attributed to Charles Dibdin, but unrelated, andalso not in the volume by Thomas Dibdin.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:40 PM

SWEET MAGGIE GORDON
Ned Straight, Arr. 1880

1
I wish my love and I were sailing,
As far from land as far can be,
Far, far across the deep blue water,
Where I'd have none to trouble me.

Chorus:
Sweet Maggie Gordon you are my bride,
Come sit you down upon my knee,
And tell to me the very reason,
Why I am slighted thus by me.

2
The sea is deep, I can't swim over,
Neither have I the wings to fly,
But I will hire some jolly sportsman,
To carry o'er my love and I.
3
I wish I had a glass of Brandy,
The reason I will tell to thee,
Because when drinking I am thinking,
Does my true love remember me.

Sheet music, American Memory. The title page refers to Ned Straight as the composer. Pub. Mrs Pauline Lieder, NY, 1880. A note refers to the waltz, "Sweet Maggie Gordon Waltz," by J. J. Freeman.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:40 PM

The younger Dibdin's song appeared as "The Irish Auctioneer" so early as 1807.

I didn't mean to suggest that "Peggy Gordon" was ever attributed to him. But I agree that it isn't in the style of his known songs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Peggy Gordon
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Feb 09 - 10:53 PM

Mrs. Pauline Lieder also published the song as a broadside, without music (copy at Enoch Pratt digital collection.


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