Thursday, November 26, 2015

"Jolly Good Ale and Old"



AG: So…  “Jolly Good Ale and Old”. Does anybody know that one? Did anybody ever sing that, Jolly Good Ale and Old?  

Student:  Yes. Many times.

AG: Where? Is there a song (to it)? Is there a tune? Anybody ever hear a tune to it?

Student: Yeah we sang an old tune. .

AG: You sang it? . Can you sing it?

Student: No

AG: Oh come on, I never heard it sung?

Student: ..”Jolly Good Ale..”..see, where is it?

AG: Page sixty-nine

Student:  Where’s the refrain, I can’t remember it?

AG: The refrain’s at the end (of the poem), at the bottom of the page, the first page, page sixty-nine – the last two lines – “I stuff my skin so full within/ Of jolly good ale and old” - how does it go?

Student: Yes. “Of jolly good ale and old..”, “Of jolly good ale and old” [offers up a melody]

AG: [takes it up]  “I cannot eat but little meat/ My stomach is not good./ But sure I think that I can drink/ With him that wears an hood” – “Though I go bare, take ye no care,/I am nothing am a-cold;/I stuff my skin so full within/Of jolly good ale and old.” -  Is that it?  huh?..

AG:  What? What is Gilligan’s Island? a television show?

Student: It’s an old tv show

AG; And do they have this song?

Student: They have the same tune

AG: Well..well, we just made it up on the spot...

Student:  (Original..)

AG: “Back and  side go bare, go bare/ Both hand and foot go cold/But belly, God send thee good ale enough/Whether it be new or old” -  “Whether it..”  I never.. You need to know the singing of that to know how it should be pronounced.

Student: Sounds like an old sea-shanty

AG: Yeah,well, it is, yeah, do you remember how that goes? That part

Student: That part?

AG: Yeah, could you sing it?

Student: . ..if you’ve got someone to sing it with – “Back and side fgo bare, go bare” -  something like that

AG: Please complete that quatrain, singing

Student: : Okay. “Back and  side go bare, go bare/Both hand and foot go cold/But belly, God send thee good ale enough/Whether it be new or old” 

AG: Ah – “ But belly, God send thee good ale enough/Whether it be new or old”

Student: I think it’s “belly, God send thee..”.  I think we just sang it “ale enough” – that would be more natural – “And belly God send me ale enough” would be more metrical..

AG: Yeah, I .. more square , more square metrical –  [sings] “But belly God send thee good ale enough/Whether it be new or old” ..  No, it’d be alright. I just.. I stumble on that too, you see. I don’t know how to put it. Because it’s there, it means it really is there and there must have been some fantastic syncopated melody to deal with that “good” there

Student: …."jolly good ale". that would stretch - "Jolly good ale" – but here...

AG: “But, belly, God send thee good ale enough” – ok “But, belly, God send thee good ale enough” – ok [sings] “But, belly, God send thee good ale enough/Whether it be new or old”

Student: (I like the first)

AG; I like it that way.  What’s the rest of it like?

“I cannot eat but little meat/My stomach is not good;/But sure I think that I could drink /With him that wears an hood./Though I go bare, take ye no care/I nothing am a-cold/I stuff my skin so full within/Of jolly good ale and old/I love no roast but a nut-brown toast,/ And a crab laid in the fire/A little bread shall do me stead/Much bread I not desire/Nor frost nor snow, no wind, I trow,/Can hurt me if I wold;/ I am so wrapp'd and thoroughly lapp'd/Of jolly good ale and old/ And Tib, my wife that as her life/Loveth well good ale to seek/Full oft drinks she till ye may see/The tears run down her cheek:/ Then doth she trowl to me the bowl/Even as a maltworm should,/And saith, "Sweetheart, I took my part/Of this jolly good ale and old/Now let them drink till they nod and wink,/Even as good fellows should do;/They shall not miss to have the bliss/Good ale doth bring men to/And all poor souls that have scour'd bowls/Or have them lustily troll'd/God save the lives of them and their wives/Whether they be young or old". 


That’s really good, good common sense and good  well-intentioned. That’s one of the, I guess that’s one of the early.. funny sort of best early lyrics that college students learn when they’re smart and hip and drink a bit, and used to live in the 1940s. That was famous as being the sort of outrageous poem in the anthologies that fitted going to the West End at Columbia College, going to the West End Bar

[Audio for the above can be heard  here, beginning at approximately seventy-one-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately seventy-six-and-a-half minutes in] 








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