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Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic

DigiTrad:
INFLUENZA


Related threads:
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Mexican Corrido about the 1918 Influenza (16)
BS: Influenza Britain (31)
INFLUENZA (30)


Abby Sale 22 Dec 99 - 11:04 AM
GUEST,karres@pipers-hut.com 13 Jan 04 - 04:31 PM
Rustic Rebel 14 Jan 04 - 04:11 PM
McGrath of Harlow 14 Jan 04 - 04:57 PM
The Fooles Troupe 14 Jan 04 - 06:30 PM
mg 14 Jan 04 - 06:38 PM
Gorgeous Gary 14 Jan 04 - 07:52 PM
Celtaddict 14 Jan 04 - 11:45 PM
GUEST,karres@pipers-hut.com 15 Jan 04 - 02:07 PM
Celtaddict 15 Jan 04 - 10:18 PM
Mrs.Duck 16 Jan 04 - 11:38 AM
mg 16 Jan 04 - 11:56 AM
Celtaddict 16 Jan 04 - 12:45 PM
JohnInKansas 16 Jan 04 - 07:01 PM
Jack Campin 23 Nov 09 - 08:44 PM
Joe Offer 23 Nov 09 - 09:04 PM
MartinRyan 24 Nov 09 - 03:27 AM
GUEST,OldNicKilby 24 Nov 09 - 07:09 AM
Dead Horse 24 Nov 09 - 07:21 AM
Marion 24 Nov 09 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,bradleygarder 24 Jun 11 - 06:30 AM
Marion 19 Apr 20 - 02:21 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Apr 20 - 02:55 PM
GUEST,mayomick 20 Apr 20 - 05:18 AM
Jim Dixon 14 Jul 20 - 11:06 AM
Jim Dixon 14 Jul 20 - 12:34 PM
Jim Dixon 14 Jul 20 - 01:37 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: INFLUENZA (Lomax collecttion)
From: Abby Sale
Date: 22 Dec 99 - 11:04 AM

At the LC Lomax collection, Lomax Home Page here there's a song called "Influenza" as follows: (If I format right, it's Joe Offer's fault.)


INFLUENZA

In nineteen hundred and twenty-nine, men an' women sure was dyin',
From de disease what de doctors called de flu.
People was dyin' ev'ywhere; death was creepin' th'ough de air,
For de groans of de sick sure was sad.

CHORUS: It was God's almighty hand; he was judgin' this old land;
North an' South; East an' West could be seen,
Yes, he killed de rich an' poor, an' he's goin' to kill more
If you don't turn away from your sins.

In Memphis, Tennessee, doctors said it soon would be,
In a few days influenza will [or "we'll"?] control.
But God showed that He was head, an' He put de doctor to bed,
And the nurse they broke down with de same. CHORUS

Influenza is a disease, makes you weak all in your knees;
'Tis a fever ev'ybody sure does dread;
Puts a pain in ev'y bone, a few days an' you are gone
To a place in de groun' called de grave. CHORUS
^^

Tune basically "Jesus Christ" ("Jesse James") and may be hearable by copying the link, pnm://lcweb.loc.gov/data/ammem/afcss39/3552b3.ra directly in the RealAudio Location line. (I don't think it will be clickable but here it is, if it is: Click here ) Sung by Ace Johnson, Clemens state farm, Brazoria, Texas, April 16, 1939.

So, a question. There was always death from flu, especially in the under health-cared South. But this song seems to speak of the great pandemic of 1919, not 1929. Far as I know, US flu death were at an extreme low about 1929.

Another one of those oddities. There's plenty of (blues) songs about TB but oddly rare on the flu. I mean the Spanish (ie, originating in China) Flu that killed some 22,000,000 people.

Have a nice day.


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Subject: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: GUEST,karres@pipers-hut.com
Date: 13 Jan 04 - 04:31 PM

Hi,

In the Mid-90's I visited the North Texas Irish Festival. I heard a song there that has recently come back to haunt me. Unfortunately I don't remember more than a few words of the choraus and the general melody and theme. What I do remember went something like:

The Great Flu Pandemic it swept the whole world wide
20 million of them got it and they died, died died
Whether standing in the trenches or lying in their beds
20 million of them got it and they're dead


Ok, whoever the band was would sing a verse then the chorus and then vamp a bit on a recognizable deathe-associated tune, like taps or the death march or whatever.

Does anyone have all the words for this song?

Dean...K...


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Subject: Influenza ^^^
From: Rustic Rebel
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 04:11 PM

I have done a small search haven't come up with the right song I don't think but found this....

Influenza

Influenza

In nineteen hundred and twenty-nine, men an' women sure was dyin',
From de disease what de doctors called de flu.
People was dyin' ev'ywhere; death was creepin' th'ough de air,
For de groans of de sick sure was sad.

Cho:    It was God's almighty hand; he was judgin' this old land;

North an' South; East an' West could be seen,

Yes, he killed de rich an' poor, an' he's goin' to kill more

If you don't turn away from your sins.

In Memphis, Tennessee, doctors said it soon would be,
In a few days influenza will (we'LL?) control.
But God showed that He was head, an' He put de doctor to bed,
And the nurse they broke down with de same.

Influenza is a disease, makes you weak all in your knees;
'Tis a fever ev'ybody sure does dread;
Puts a pain in ev'y bone, a few days an' you are gone
To a place in de groun' called de grave.


Tune basically "Jesus Christ" ("Jesse James") and may be hearable by copying th
e link,
pnm://lcweb.loc.gov/data/ammem/afcss39/3552b3.ra directly in the RealAudio
Sung by Ace Johnson, Clemens state farm, Brazoria, Texas, April 16, 1939.

So, a question. There was always death from flu, especially in the under health-
cared
South. But this song seems to speak of the great pandemic of 1919, not 1929. Fa
r as
I know, US flu deaths were at an extreme low about 1929.

Another one of those oddities. There's plenty of (blues) songs about TB but oddl
y
rare on the flu. I mean the Spanish (ie, originating in China) Flu that killed s
ome
22,000,000 people.


I have learned alot about the flu while searching for you!
Rustic

    (exact copy of Digital Tradition entry.)
    -Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 04:57 PM

If the line was:

In the year nineteen nineteen, men and women sure were dyin'

It'd near enough rhyme, as well as being factually true.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: The Fooles Troupe
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 06:30 PM

... you could force it to fit the tune "In the year 2525"... :-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: mg
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 06:38 PM

Didn't Marion just write one? mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: Gorgeous Gary
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 07:52 PM

D'oh! This thread popped up a couple days too late...I was down at a filk con in Atlanta last weekend and there was a guy there who sings the song I think Dean's looking for. Tho' I think I have an e-mail lurking around, so I can still see if I can scrounge it up.

I remember the chorus as:

"It was the great pandemic and it swept the whole world wide
Caught soldiers and civilians and they died, died, died
Whether standing in the trenches or lying in their beds
20 million of them got it and they're dead, dead, dead"

-- Gary


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: Celtaddict
Date: 14 Jan 04 - 11:45 PM

The song, "Flu Pandemic" is sung and recorded by the Flying Fish Sailors, and is on their one CD. (They have several cassettes.) Probably written by Greg Henkel, a truly sick and hysterical songwriter who also plays fiddle as if he is taking hostages. I have the CD at home and will be glad to post information and words when I get there.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: GUEST,karres@pipers-hut.com
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 02:07 PM

Celtaddict has it bang on! After seeing the name "The Flying Fish Sailors" I remembered that's who it was. I visited their web site and saw other tune titles I had forgotten about like, "Mow Johnny, mow" and others.

If you can send me the lyrics that would be great but now that I know who they are I'll pay them for an album.

Thanks,
Dean...K...


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Subject: Lyr Add: FLUPANDEMIC (Flying Fish Sailors)
From: Celtaddict
Date: 15 Jan 04 - 10:18 PM

Check out Flying Fish Sailors' other stuff. They have some wild modern-day shanties. (The moving shanty: Haul, U-Haul, Haul. The morning shanty: Cuppa Joe, gimme cuppa Joe.) In concert I have heard them do Loch Ness Monster as it is recorded, then as rap, then as calypso. I tried to put in a clicky but the website is not currently responding; the address is

www.flyingfishsailors.com

They also list a phone # (713) 318-5178.

FLUPANDEMIC
Greg Henkel
As recorded by Flying Fish Sailors on "Loch Ness Monster" (1999)

CHORUS: It was the flu pandemic and it swept the whole world wide.
It caught soldiers and civilians and they died, died, died!
Whether lying in the trenches or lying in their beds,
Twenty million of 'em got it and they're dead, dead, dead!

There was a soldier on the battleground in 1917.
He turned there to his buddy with his face a ghastly green.
He said: "We made it both through Passchendaele, the Somme and Flanders, too,
But now my number's up, my lad, for I've gone and caught the flu." CHORUS

Well, a nurse was in the hospital when Tommy was brought in.
When he sneezed she caught a face full that was flying in the wind.
She wrote a letter home to England to tell them of her plight,
But the letter never got there for the postman too had died. CHORUS

From the meadowlands of Somerset and o'er the bounding main,
To the shores of old Americay they sung the same refrain.
Mother, fathers, uncles and aunts as well as the odd nephew,
Brothers and sisters and bosses and lovers were all got by the flu. CHORUS

Well, a farmer out in China watched his family dropping down,
And a businessman in Cairo hit the street without a sound,
And an eager little Bolshevik in old Sevastapol
Couldn't keep up his grinnin' at Lenin as Comrade Virus took its toll. CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: Mrs.Duck
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 11:38 AM

My Auntie Molly died of it in 1919.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: mg
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 11:56 AM

And my grandfather in 1918 I think in Tacoma, Washington. mg


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: Celtaddict
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 12:45 PM

I am sorry for the loss of your family members, among those many. It is a fascinating thing, that so many of the old nursery rhymes even are about hideous events in history. A modern day (relatively) Ring Around a Rosy. When something is too dreadful to think seriously about, what do we do? We give it to the children to play with.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Song about the Flu Pandemic of 1900's
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 16 Jan 04 - 07:01 PM

While maybe not the worst plague ever ... (?)

From R.S. Bray, Armies of Pesitlence, Barnes & Noble Books, 1996, ISBN 0-7607-1915-2:

The pandemic of influenza which struck the world in 1918-19:

… an attack rate of about 40-50% of the population and a death rate of between 0.5 and 1.2% of cases
… killed about 22,000,000 people world-wide.
… the USA suffered a mortality of about 0.5% of its population, that is about 500,000.
… the UK lost about 200,000
…Samoa, wihtout previous experience of the disease, lost 25% of its population
… Influenza wiped out whole Esquimo (sic) villages.
… India … lost 12,000,000
In confined communities such as aboard ship passenger liners bound for Australia from the UK there was an attack rate of anything from 4% ro 43%. Attack rates could also be higher for the younger age groups as they were unprotected by previous experience of the disease.

Then there's plague, malaria, yellow fever, smallpox, typhus, cholera, ... polio ... and aids. No shortage of song material, but the "bugs" seem to be holding their own. With the exception of smallpox(??) they all still cause far too many deaths.

John


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Subject: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 08:44 PM

It just occurred to me that I have never heard of any song about the 1919 flu pandemic. Or for that matter any novel, poem or painting. It killed more people than the preceding war and seems to have left no cultural trace at all. (Whereas the cholera epidemic of the 1830s left quite a few songs).

Anybody know of anything, from anywhere in any language?


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Subject: RE: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Nov 09 - 09:04 PM

Hope you don't mind my moving you over here, Jack. This thread needed refreshing, and I think there should be more songs than the ones we've found already.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: MartinRyan
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 03:27 AM

Somewhat off-thread, I know, but each outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in cattle in 20th C. Ireland produced at least one song on the topic.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: GUEST,OldNicKilby
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 07:09 AM

It wasnt just the people who died who suffered there were many that survived who had awful lives.
When I bought my house in 1966 from an old chap I thought he was a batchelor.
. In 1970 he told me that it was his Golden Wedding Aniversary and that his wife had had Spanish flu 6 weeks after they had married in 1920.The flu had affected her brain and that she had been in the local mental hospital ever since. Annie was still there in 1984.
Just a small matter of 64 years on a Ward.


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Subject: RE: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: Dead Horse
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 07:21 AM

Hows about "Badamoosel frob Arbadeers"
Think about it :-)


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Subject: RE: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: Marion
Date: 24 Nov 09 - 11:03 AM

Hi Jack.

As MG mentioned above, I have a Spanish Flu song based on a woman's memoirs. The lyrics and MP3 are on my website here: Cecilia Delory

Cheers, Marion


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Subject: RE: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: GUEST,bradleygarder
Date: 24 Jun 11 - 06:30 AM

I seem to be a bit late to the conversation, but I feel I should note that Blind Willie Johnson's song about the 1919 flu is rather incredible. Called "Jesus Coming Soon"


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Subject: Lyr Add: CECILIA DELORY (Marion Parsons)
From: Marion
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 02:21 PM

The link I posted in 2009 is broken now; here is the current link to my Spanish Flu song:


CECILIA DELORY

My name is Cil Delory, though a Cullen I was born
Here on Prince Edward Island, where the waters meet the morn
I’ll tell you of my girlhood days in simple words and true
And of the deadly fever that we called the Spanish Flu.

The year was nineteen eighteen, and my age was seventeen
I had two older sisters, there were nine more after me
And had our mother lived to see the springing of the year
There would have been another babe to christen and to rear.

Now as the war across the sea drew to its bitter end
There rose an epidemic that claimed as many men
The ships that brought our valiant boys back home again from war
They also brought the new disease onto our peaceful shore.

The place where I was teaching school shut down to slow the spread
My brother Tom was freed from class, he went to work instead
Down at the docks of Charlottetown, while loading up the freight
He caught the fever and the chills and felt the grip of fate.

Eugene and Art and Gertie too took sick within the week
Brave cousin Maggie came to help although our hopes were bleak
Our mother spent her restless days by her poor children’s side
Alas the day she joined them in a sickbed cool and wide.

The tenth day of November, I was tending the young ones
The doctor said the end was near, I went to her at once
My father held her weakening hand, she laboured for her air
The last rays of the setting sun spun gold into her hair.

The undertakers in those times were working night and day
So Doctor Leadwell laid her out for just one night of wake
And though no neighbour dared to cross our fever-stricken door
Papa brought us one by one to see her face once more.

Morning on the way to church, word spread to everyone
The peace was signed in Europe and the victory was won
We heard the pipes and trumpets at their gayest and their best
As we laid our mother in the quiet grave to rest.

The worst was over for the boys, and Gertie’s hair grew back
Aunt Laura came and stayed awhile to help make up our lack
The neighbours they pitched in to reap the praties and the grain
By these good folk and grace of God we turned to life again.



Cecelia Delory's memoirs are published in "Close to the Folks" by Reginald Pendergast, a book of PEI oral history.

The melody is "The Garden Where the Praties Grow", or you may recognize it as the tune Pat Cooksey used for "The Sick Note". I sing it unaccompanied. Praties are potatoes.


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Subject: RE: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 02:55 PM

Powerful song, Marion.


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Subject: RE: Songs of the 1919 Flu Pandemic
From: GUEST,mayomick
Date: 20 Apr 20 - 05:18 AM

re Bradley Parker's comment from 2011
A pity some Trump supporters wouldn’t heed Blind Willie Johnson's last verse's warning !
‘Well, the nobles said to the people, "You better close your public schools."
"Until the events of death has ending, you better close your churches too."’


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3G9NwsOtO7U&fbclid=IwAR3ai3_pRsT-JL30m3CfKj_i_RKwRnh78Th-vwKC-3AV03jIynJF9qhE2mY


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Subject: Lyr Add: THAT EPIDEMIC RAG (Foran/Williams, 1911)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 11:06 AM

This is actually from 7 years before the 1918-19 pandemic, but interesting nonetheless.

There are several instrumental recordings on YouTube of this ragtime tune, such as this one by the Paragon Ragtime Orchestra, and this one, which seems to be a midi made directly from the sheet music. The only vocal performance I could find was this one—for one voice and ukulele.

Lyrics below are from the sheet music at University of Oregon:


THAT EPIDEMIC RAG
Words by Billy Foran, music by Edna Williams, ©1911.

1. Have you heard about the new disease
That's spreadin' 'round the universe?
It's nothing like the influenza sneeze.
It's not the eppizudy* but it's twice as worse.
Folks are stricken with it ev'rywhere.
The germ is in the atmosphere.
You can fumigate, camphorate, vaccinate, emigrate,
But it's bound to overtake and sting you in the ear.

CHORUS: It's that epidemic rag,
That contagious melody,
That delirious drag,
That makes you dance, makes you prance, in a feverish trance.
It's raging, that raving ragtime.
Oh! Doctor, joyous convulsions of melodious pain,
Oh, spasms of ecstasy, come get me again!
I'm passing away; let me swoon to the tune of that strain. (Oh! Lawdy, come and get me!)
Oh, that epidemic rag!

2. When the symptom of that chronic craze
Once fondles and embraces you,
You're quarantined with joy for sixty days.
No matter where you go, this microbe chases you,
And your eyes begin to shake and roll.
Your heart longs for your turtledove.
It goes pumpin' and bumpin' and thumpin' and jumpin'
And Lawdy, Lawdy, how it makes you spoon and love!

- - -
* Eppizudy = epizootic


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Subject: Lyr Add: INFLUENZA BLUES (Smith/Franklin, 1919)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 12:34 PM

From the sheet music at UCLA:

There is a piano-only performance at YouTube.


INFLUENZA BLUES
From the musical "A Lonely Romeo," book by Harry B. Smith and Lew Fields.
Words by Robert B. Smith, music by Malvin M. Franklin, ©1919.

What a night! What a night!
Not a star seen in sight.
How it rains! How it pours!
How I envy the people indoors!
Lordy! It's a beaut!
Wish I had my bathing suit.

While in the swell cabaret,
The folks are merry and gay.
I'm on the outside feeling blue.
While they're a-dancing the fox,
I'm getting soaked to the socks
And feeling friendly with the "flu."
While ev'rybody gets champagne,
I'm getting nothing here but rain;
And while they got all the booze
That anybody could use,
I got the Influenza Blues.


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Subject: Lyr Add: TAKE YOUR GIRLIE TO THE MOVIES (1919)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Jul 20 - 01:37 PM

Here's a popular song from the time that mentions influenza, from the sheet music at Indiana University:

The Internet Archive has early recordings by Billy Murray and by Irving Kaufman. They both take some liberties with the printed lyrics.


TAKE YOUR GIRLIE TO THE MOVIES
(IF YOU CAN'T MAKE LOVE AT HOME)
Words by Edgar Leslie and Bert Kalmar, music by Pete Wendling, ©1919.

1. Beatrice Fairfax gives advice to anyone in love.
That's why Johnny Gray
Wrote to her one day:
"When I call to love my girl, her folks are always there.
That's why I'm blue.
What shall I do?"
And Beatrice said: "Never despair—

CHORUS: Take your girlie to the movies if you can't make love at home.
There's no little brother there who always squeals.
You can say an awful lot in seven reels.
Take your lessons at the movies and have love scenes of your own.
When the picture's over and it's time to leave,
Don't forget to brush the powder off your sleeve.
Take your girlie to the movies if you can't make love at home.

2. Sweethearts always used to spoon in a big Morris chair.
Young folks of today
Have a diff'rent way.
Far away from a cranky dad and mother's eagle eye,
It's lots of fun.
Here's how it's done,
So come on and give it a try:

CHORUS: Take your girlie to the movies if you can't make love at home.
Pick a cozy corner where it's nice and dark.
Don't catch influenza kissing in the park.
Take your lessons at the movies and have love scenes of your own.
Though she's just a simple little ribbon clerk,
Close your eyes and think you're kissing Billie Burke.
Take your girlie to the movies if you can't make love at home.


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