[lit-ideas] Re: West etc. Requests, was 'Old Manorial House'

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: <lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Fri, 04 Jun 2004 09:16:02 -0700

on 6/4/04 6:20 AM, Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx at Jlsperanza@xxxxxxx wrote:

> *the only song she knew*
> [emphasis mine. JLS], the 'Old Manorial  House',
> 'she stood there slightly self-conscious,  noble
> and yet amused at herself and
> *the ridiculous words*,

This is a tough one.  I can supply an old rustic bridge by a mill or old
folks at home, but no old manorial houses.

You caused me to look through a recent inheritance, a collection of my
grandmother's song books.  Of particular interest, I think, is the "Daily
Express Community Song Book, which has the following foreword:

On the night of November 20th, 1926, ten thousand people assembled in the
Albert Hall to launch the "Daily Express" Community Singing Movement.

There were a few minutes of shyness, strangeness, and timidity.  Then
suddenly, the spirit of song took complete command of the enormous audience.
The chorus of "John Peel" swelled and volleyed round the great hall, and in
that moment was born the astounding social movement that has swept over the
country like a prarie fire.

The story of the delight and inspiration of Community Singing flashed from
suburb to suburb, from town to town.  Wireless had already brought the
cheeriness and the friendliness of it all to millions of listeners who
caught the infection and sang as they sat at their receiving sets.

[Here I interject a memory that seems more distant that the chronolgy
suggests--clearly I have been reading and getting along better with
Sebald--of music class in elementary school.  We sat at wooden desks, with
ink wells on the upper right corner-- left over from the era of nib pens and
dipping-- and in the heavy wooden lid itself ("Boys, don't slam your
desks"), illegally carved marks, made by generations of schoolboys.  On the
front desk, the teachers' desk, was technology-in-the-classroom, a Roberts'
transistor radio.  We were shushed and silenced.  The BBC schools program
was about to teach us how to sing a new song, "Early One Morning."  When
we'd been through that line by line-- "First I'll sing it and then you try
it..."--we reprised the previous week's lesson, "Bonnie Charlie's Noo Awa'".
The bright BBC voice ("Now boys, we mustn't sound common") signed off, and
Mrs. Hodgson resumed control.  Learning from the wireless, a day or two
after the dinosaurs stopped roaming, just as the Beatles were evolving.]

From north, south, east and west there poured in requests that other centres
should be given the opportunity of enjoying first-hand the wonderful thing
which London had so successfully inaugurated.


Three months saw Great Britain turned into a land of song, and the whole
country in the grip of a new force the social consequences of which, even
now, are incalculable.

["even now" refers to 1927]

So what were they singing in vast crowds in England in 1927?  Marching
Through Georgia, Massa's in de Cold, Cold Ground, Ho-Ro, My Nut-Brown
Maiden, Bonnie Charlie's Now Awa'[English spelling], The Agincourt Song, Non
Nobis Domine, Wraggle-Taggle Gypsies, O!, Twankydillo, Swing Low Sweet
Chariot, Men of Harlech...a pretty eclectic mix.  I looked for First World
War songs.  The standard cultural histories now say that memories of the war
were suppressed until, at about this time, people began to write the memoirs
that we now think of as definitive, "All Quiet on the Western Front,"
"Goodbye to All That," "Memoirs of a Fox Hunting Man" and so on, so I was
interested to see whether the war's songs were included.  "Tipperary" isn't
in the collection.  Nor is "Keep the Home Fires Burning."  But "Pack Up Your
Troubles" is.  As are the two ditties quoted below.  I think it's more
likely to be a matter of avoiding copyright fees, than any indication of
communcal suppression coming undone...er, like a prarie fire.

David Ritchie
Portland, Oregon

Apres La Guerre Fini

Apres la guerre fini
We'll go home to Blighty
Won't we be sorry to leave chere Germaine
Apres la guerre fini

Apres la guerre fini
English soldier parti
Mam'selle Francais beaucoup picanniny
Apres la guerre fini

Lorsque la guerre fini
Soldat Anglais parti
Napoo bully beef comme souvenie
Madame, your soup's no bonne

And When I Die (call and response song)

Solo: And when I die
Chorus repeats each line

Don't bury me at all
Just pickle my bones
In alcohol
Put a bottle of booze
At my head and my feet
And then I know
my bones will keep.

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