John Grumlie

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JOHN GRUMLIE. Scottish; Air, Jig and Country Dance Tune (6/8 time). D Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). AABB. This comic song was included in Songs of Scotland (1877) with the note that the air was anonymous and ancient. Indeed, the song has been traced to a sixteenth-century poem, 'The Wife of Auchtermuchty', found in the Bannatyne Manuscript (1568), and attributed to Sir John Moffat. Francis Child printed versions in his English and Scottish Ballads (1858), and several versions have been collected in America, under the title "Father Grumble" and others.

It begins:

John Grumlie swore by the light o' the moon
And the green leaves on the tree,
That he could do more work in a day
Than his wife could do in three.
His wife rose up in the morning
Wi' cares and troubles enow;
John Grumlie, bide at hame, John
And I'll go haud the plow.

Singing fal de fal lal de ral lal,
fal lal lal lal lal la!
John Grumlie, bide at hame, John,
And I'll gae haud the plow.

Kentucky singer Jean Ritchie's 1946 recorded version ("Father Grumble") begins:

There was an old man who lived in the wood
As you can plainly see,
Who said he could do more work in one day
Than his wife could do in three.
"If this be true," the old woman said,
"Why, this you must allow:
You must do my work for one day
While I go drive the plow.

The music can be played for the dance Strip the Willow.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Kerr (Merry Melodies, vol. 3), c. 1880's; No. 397, p. 44.

Recorded sources: Library of Congress AFS L14, Jean Ritchie - "Anglo-American Songs and Ballads". Parlophone Records CE12698, Jimmy Shand (78 RPM).

See also listing at:
Hear the song at Tobar an Dualchais [1]




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