Fooba Wooba

The Bluegrass Messengers
Frog in a Well- Version 7 

Frog in a Well/Kitty Alone

Traditional Song and Dance Tune- US and British Isles, Widely known

ARTIST: From unknown on-line source;

CATEGORY: Fiddle and Instrumental Tunes

DATE: “Froggie Went A Courtin’” branch- 1549; “Martin Said to His Man” branch-1588

OTHER NAMES: “Who’s the Fool Now?,” “Old Blind Drunk John,” “Fooba-Wooba John,” “Johnny Fool,” “Kitty and I,” “Frog in the “Well,”

RELATES TO: “Martin Said to His Man,” “Froggie Went a Courtin’,” “Limber Jim,” “Kemo Kimo/Sing Song Kitty.”

ORIGINATES FROM: Two main sources of origin are: “A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go” and “Martin Said to His Man.”

SOURCES: Kinloch-BBook XIV, pp. 50-54, “The Man in the Moon” (1 text) Randolph 445, “Johnny Fool” (2 texts); Wyman-Brockway I, p. 22, “The Bed-time Song” (1 text, 1 tune) Lomax-FSNA 136, “Hurrah, Lie!” (1 text, 1 tune); Chappell/Wooldridge I, p. 140, “Martin Said to His Man” (1 text, 1 tune)

RECORDING INFO: Beers Family. Seasons of Peace. A Great Family Sings, Biograph BLP 12033, LP (1970), cut#B.03; Bradley, Hank; and Cathie Whitesides. American Fogies. Vol. 2, Rounder 0389, CD (1996), cut#18a; Hills, Anne; and Cindy Mangsen. Never Grow Up, Flying Fish FF 671, CD (1998), cut# 1. Martha Hall, “Kitty Alone” (on MMOK, MMOKCD)

Old Blind Drunk John -Feldmann, Peter. Barnyard Dance, Hen Cackle HC 501, LP (1980), cut#A.05 (Fubba Wubba John); Mitchell, Howie. Howie Mitchell, Folk Legacy FSI-005, LP (1962), cut#B.01 (Kitty Alone); Seeger, Mike. Music From the True Vine, Mercury SRMI-627, LP (1972), cut# 8;

We’re A’ Jolly Fu’- MacColl, Ewan. Scotch (Scots) Drinking Songs, Offbeat OLP 4023, LP (196?), cut# 1

Kitty Alone- Beers Family. Seasons of Peace. A Great Family Sings, Biograph BLP 12033, LP (1970), cut#B.03; Bradley, Hank; and Cathie Whitesides. American Fogies. Vol. 2, Rounder 0389, CD (1996), cut#18a; Hills, Anne; and Cindy Mangsen. Never Grow Up, Flying Fish FF 671, CD (1998), cut# 1

NOTES ON KITTY ALONE: “Kitty Alone” is branch of the “Froggie Went Courtin’” and “Frog in the Well” songs. For detailed notes see: “Froggie Went a Courtin” and “Kemo Kimo.” It is also related to the “Old Blind Drunk John/Martin Said to His Man” songs and the text is found in the “Limber Jim/Buck-Eye Jim” group of songs.

NOTES ON KITTY ALONE- FROGGIE ORIGIN: One origin of the “Kitty Alone” text is the “Frog in the Spring/Frog in the Well” songs which is the “Puddy in the Well” offshoot of “Froggie Went A Courtin’.”

“A Frog He Would A-Wooing Go” or “Froggie Went a Courtin’” in the US: The air for this song (which Horace M. Belden believes is the most widely known song in the English language) first appears in Thomas Ravenscroft’s “Melismata” (1611). It is an early version of the song (“Froggie Went A-Courtin'”) famous in British and American traditional folklore and folksong, of which the earliest appearance was in Wedderburn’s “Complaynt of Scotland” (1549) where it is called “The frog cam to the myl dur.” Another early version is found in a broadside text of 1580, called “A moste Strange weddinge of the ffrogge and the mowse” (Rollins).

From David G. H. Parsons The History of “The Frog’s Courtship” A Study of Canadian Variants: Tolman and Eddy document another group of texts from the Scottish tradition that contain a “Cuddy alone” burden or variation such as “Kitty alone.” The origin or meaning of this burden remains a mystery. Here’s a typical verse:

 

There lived a puddy in a well,

Cuddy alone, Cuddy alone

There lived a puddy in a well

Cuddy alone and I

 

There lived a puddy in a well

And a mousie in a mill

Kickmaleerie, cowden down

Cuddy alone and I.

 

Here’s a typical verse from “The Frog” in the Well:”

 

There was a frog lived in a well,

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

There was a frog lived in a well;

Kitty alone and I!

 

There was a frog lived in a well,

And a merry mouse in a mill.

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

Many “Kitty Alone” versions of “Froggie” have been recorded, some are mixed in with the “Kemo Kimo” versions of Froggie.

Two more Canadian variants have this “Kitty alone” burden. Helen Creighton collected one in which the burden is altered to “Kitty in the kimeo” and another where it is “Kitty me love.” In both cases the informants remembered only one verse. Tolman and Eddy give a detailed list of the published variants of this family and mention several developments. A burlesque using the ‘kimo’ burden was once popular on the African-American minstrel stage, and there is a different song, but still “Keemo kimo,” on a British broadside, though obviously American in origin. (Parson)

Here is an example of the nonsense syllables in the Kemo Kimo chorus:

Keemo kyemo dell ray hi hoe

Rumpity Rump

Periwinkle soap fat

Link horn nip cat

Hit ’em with a brick bat

Sing song kitty catchy kye me oh

NOTES ON KITTY ALONE- MARTIN SAID TO HIS MAN ORIGIN: In a long note on this song, Professor G. L. Kittredge shows that the “Old Blind Drunk John” songs derive from “a famous old English song, ‘Martin Said to His Man,’ and entered in the Stationers’ Register in 1588.” It is a lying song—“I saw a louse run a mouse…. I saw a squirrel run a deer…. I saw a flea kick a tree…, in the middle of the sea.” One Scottish version cited says, “Four and twenty Hilandmen chasing a snail,” etc.

Referred to in Dryden’s 1668 play “Sir Martin Mar-all, or the Feign’d Innocence” (act IV). It seems to have been very popular in the century prior to that. The American versions can generally be told by their narrative pattern, “(I) saw a ( ) (doing something),” e.g. “Saw a crow flying low,” “Saw a mule teaching school,” “Saw a louse chase a mouse,” “Saw a flea wade the sea.” Other names for “Kitty Alone” are “Who’s the Fool Now?,” “Old Blind Drunk John,” “Johnny Fool,” and “Fooba-Wooba John.”

Here’s an example of the Martin Said to His Man- Kitty Alone:

 

Saw a crow a-flying low

Kitty alone, kitty alone.

Saw a crow a-flying low,

Kitty alone, alone.

Saw a crow a-flying low

And a cat a-spinnin’ tow.

Rock-a-bye baby bye, rock-a-bye baby bye.

FINAL NOTES: It’s not difficult to distinguish the difference between the “Froggie Went Courtin’” and “Martin Said to His Man” versions. It’s more confusing to sort through and identify the numerous variants of the popular “Froggie” and categorize them.

Here’s a version of “Kitty Alone/ Frog in the Well:”

 

There was a frog lived in a well,

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

There was a frog lived in a well;

And a merry mouse in a mill.

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

This frog he would a-wooing ride,

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

This frog he would a-wooing ride,

And on a snail he got astride,

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

He rode till he came to my Lady Mouse Hall,

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

He rode till he came to my Lady Mouse Hall,

And there he did both knock and call.

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

Quoth he, “Miss Mouse, I’m come to thee,” –

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

Quoth he, “Miss Mouse, I’m come to thee

To see if thou canst fancy me.”

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

Quoth she, “Answer I’ll give you none,” –

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

Quoth she, “Answer I’ll give you none

Until my Uncle Rat comes home.”

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

And when her Uncle Rat came home,

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

And when her Uncle Rat came home:

“Who’s been here since I’ve been gone?”

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

“Sir, there’s been a worthy gentleman,” –

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

Sir, there’s been a worthy gentleman,

That’s been here since you’ve been gone.”

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

The frog he came whistling through the brook,

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

The frog he came whistling through the brook,

And there he met with a dainty duck.

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

This duck she swallowed him up with a pluck,

Kitty alone, Kitty alone;

This duck she swallowed him up with a pluck,

So there’s the end of my history-book.

Cock me cary, Kitty alone,

Kitty alone and I.

 

Subject: LimberJim/Buck-eye Jim History

From: GUEST,Richie

Date: 17 Nov 02 – 12:50 PM

I wanted to share this with you.

There’s been some extensive research on Buck-eye Jim and Limber Jim in several threads. I’m posting my notes on Limber Jim for Turtle

Old Man and others that are interested. Any comments or additional info would be appreciated.

NOTES: The Limber Jim Songs originated from and combined with various 1800 minstrel song adaptations of the “Froggie Went a Courting/Martin Said To his Man” songs including the “Kemo Kimo” songs, “Kitty Alone” songs and “Goodbye Liza Jane” songs.

Some titles of the “Kemo Kimo” songs are “Keemo Kimo” “Sing Song Kitty (Won’t You Ki-Me-O);” “King Kong Kitchie Kitchie Ki-Me-O;” “Kyman-I-Doe;” and “Beaver Creek” which are variants of the old “Froggie Went Courting” songs.

Here are some excerpts from two “Kemo Kimo” songs:

King Kong Kitchee:

 

Ki-mo, kemo, ki-mo, kee

Way down yonder in a holler tree

An owl and a bat and a bumblebee

King kong kitchie kitchie ki-me-o

 

Sing Song Kitty:

 

Way down yonder and not far off,

Sing song kitty can’t ya kime-e-o.

A jaybird died with the whoppin’ cough,

Sing song kitty can’t ya kime-e-o.

 

Way down yonder on Beaver Creek,

Sing song kitty can ya kime-e-o.

The gals all grow to be six feet,

Sing song kitty can ya kime-e-o.

 

The Limber Jim Songs are also related to the “Kitty Alone” songs which are variants from the “Martin Said to his Man” and “Froggie Went a Courting” songs. “Limber Jim” relates to the “Martin Said to his Man” branch of “Kitty Alone.” In a long note on this song, Professor G. L. Kittredge shows that the “Old Blind Drunk John” songs derive from “a famous old English song, ‘Martin Said to His Man,’ and entered in the Stationers’ Register in 1588.” It is a lying song-“I saw a louse run a mouse…. I saw a squirrel run a deer…. I saw a flea kick a tree…, in the middle of the sea.” One Scottish version cited says, “Four and twenty Hilandmen chasing a snail,” etc. Other names for “Kitty Alone” are “Who’s the Fool Now?,” “Old Blind Drunk John,” “Johnny Fool,” and “Fooba-Wooba John.”

 

Here’s an example of the Martin Said to His Man- Kitty Alone:

 

Saw a crow a-flying low

Kitty alone, kitty alone.

Saw a crow a-flying low,

Kitty alone, alone.

Saw a crow a-flying low

And a cat a-spinnin’ tow.

Rock-a-bye baby bye, rock-a-bye baby bye.

 

There are also Froggie variants that introduce the “weave and spin” line commonly found in Limber Jim/Buck-eye Jim.

 

FROGGIE: From Mrs. Ford Kent of New York

 

A frog he would a-wooing go

A-too-re-lal, a-too-re-lal,

He went into Miss Mouse’s hall

And there he loudly rapped and called,

He said, Miss Mouse, are you within?

She said, I sit and spin.

 

BUCK-EYE JIM:

Chorus: Buck-eyed Jim, you can’t go

Go weave and spin, you can’t go

Buck-eyed Jim

 

From Children Of The Levee, published by the University of Kentucky Press in 1957. It is a reprint of the original articles written by Lafcadio Hearn in 1874-1877 for the Cincinnati Enquirer and the Cincinnati Commercial. Hearn: “But the most famous songs in vogue among the roustabouts is “Limber Jim,” or “Shiloh.” Very few know it all by heart, which is not wonderful when we consider that it requires something like twenty minutes to sing “Limber Jim” from beginning to end, and that the whole song, if printed in full, would fill two columns of the commercial! The only person in the city who can sing the song through, we believe, is a colored laborer living near Sixth and Culvert streets, who “run on the river” for years, and acquired so much of a reputation by singing “Limber Jim,” that he has been nicknamed after the mythical individual aforesaid, and is now known by no other name.

 

Here’s an excerpt of Limber Jim from Hearns, March 17, 1876:

 

Chorus: Limber Jim,

[All.] Shiloh!

Talk it agin,

[All.] Shiloh!

Walk back in love,

[All.] Shiloh!

You turtle-dove,

[All.] Shiloh!

 

Went down the ribber, couldn’t get across;

Hopped on a rebel louse; thought ’twas a hoss,

Oh, lor’, gals, ‘t ain’t no lie,

Lice in Camp Chase big enough to cry,–

 

Bridle up a rat, sir; saddle up a cat,

Please han’ me down my Leghorn hat,

Went to see widow; widow warn’t home;

Saw to her daughter–she geve me honeycomb.

 

Jay-bird sittin’ on a swinging limb,

Winked at me an’ I winked at him.

Up with a rock an’ struck him on the shin,

G-d d–n yer soul, don’t wink again. (posted by Masato)

 

The origin of the closely related “Buckeye Jim” song is obscure. According to the Library of Congress, Fletcher Collins collected “Buckeye Jim” (aka “Limber Jim”) from Mrs. J.U. (Patty) Newman in 1939, at Elon College, in North Carolina, which is the first documented version.

 

The “Limber Jim” group of songs includes “Buck-eye Jim” and “Shiloh”. There are connections with other fiddle tunes such as “Seven Up”. The “Seven Up,” “Charlotte Town is Burning Down,” “Shiloh,” and “Goin’ Down to Cairo” are all related to the large body of “Goodbye Liza Jane” songs.

 

This fiddle tune has floater verses and many variants. There are two distinct versions: the “Way Up/Down Yonder” versions (see also: Jim Along Josie), and the “Weave and Spin” (Limber Jim) versions. There are also versions that include “Shiloh” which appears to be a slang word for a type of dance or dance step in connection with the tune.

 

-Richie

 

[http://www.ceolas.org/]

MARTIN SAID TO HIS MAN. AKA – “Fooba-Wooba.” English, Air (3/4 time). C Major. Standard. One part. Chappell (1859) reports the song appears with its music as one of the Freeman’s songs to three voices in Deuteromelia (1609) and the Fitzwilliam Virginal Book. Regarding those songs, in the life of Sir Peter Carew by John Vowell, he says “For the King himself (Henry VIII) being much delighted to sing, and Sir Peter Carew having a pleasant voice, the King would often use him to sing with him certain songs they call ‘Freeman’s Song’s.'” Registered as a ballad with the Stationers’ Company in 1588, it seems a satire on the tellers of marvelous tales, much in the vein (says Kines) of such traditional songs of exaggeration such as “Tom-a-lyn,” “Paddy Backwards,” “The Darby Ram,” “Amhran na mBreag,” and “I was born 1000 years ago.” A much later derivative of “Martin Said to his Man” was written by William Courtright, published in 1877 and called “Flewy, Flewy.”

***

Martin said to his man, fie, man, fie

Martin said to his man, who’s the fool now?

Martin said to his man, fill thou the cup and I the can,

Who hast well drunken man, who’s the fool now?

***

Chappell (Popular Music of the Olden Time), Vol. 1, 1859; pg. 140. Kines (Songs From Shakespeare’s Plays and Popular Songs of Shakespeare’s Time), 1964; pg. 91.

 

 

 

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