Annotation:Molly Put the Kettle On (1)

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X:1 T:Molly put the Kettle on [1] N:From the playing of the Leake County Revelers (Mississippi), with N:fiddler Wil Gilmer. M:C| L:1/8 R:Reel N:Sometimes parts are repeated additional times on the recording. D: D: D:Columbia 15380-D (78 RPM), Leake County Revelers (1929. Recorded D:12/1928 in New Orleans, La.). D:Document DOCD 8029, "Leake County Revelers, vol. 1" (1998) Z:Transcribed by Andrew Kuntz K:D f-a-|abag fd3|efed cA2(f/a/-|a)bag fdd2|e2c2 d3(f/a/-| a)bag fd3|efed cA2f/-a/-|abag fddd|eec(d- [d2f2])A2-| |:ABAG FDFD|E2CC E2C2|ABAG FDFD|1E2C2 +slide+[D4D4]:|2 [M:3/2] E2C2 [D6D6]||

MOLLY PUT THE KETTLE ON [1]. AKA- "Jenny Put the Kettle On (1)," "Polly put the Kettle on (2)," "Sally put the Kettle on." American, Reel (cut time). USA; Georgia, North Carolina, Mississippi, Virginia, Missouri, Arkansas, central Alabama. D Major. Standard or ADae tuning (fiddle). ABB. "Molly put the Kettle on" is a wide-spread and old tune in the American upland and Piedmont South, into the Mid-West, and remarkably similar in many versions to the "Molly Put the Kettle On" that was imported from Great Britain (see "Molly Put the Kettle On (6)" for a standard old English country dance version). However there are a great many American variants of the melody with some more similar to the main tune than others, and some so distant as to be nearly unrecognizable. Further, there are some tunes to which the title "Molly Put the Kettle On" has migrated that bear no musical relation to any other tunes by that name.

The title, in which the protagonist is variously known as "Molly," "Jenny" "Sally" or "Polly," comes from a British rhyme commonly found in Mother Goose and other nursery editions, and the attachment survived the transatlantic crossing. The nursery rhyme goes:

Polly put the kettle on,
Polly put the kettle on,
Polly put the kettle on,
We'll all have tea.

Sukey take it off again,
Sukey take it off again,
Sukey take it off again,
They've all gone away.

William Chappell [Popular Music of the Olden Time, 1858) notes that the tune was already a well-known song and nursery rhyme when it was printed in John Johnson's Scots Musical Museum (vol. 3, 1797, No. 496, entitled "Jenny's Bawbee." ), and states: "This was about three years after Polly [Put the Kettle On] had become very popular with the young ladies by means of Dale's variations for the pianoforte." James Fuld [The Book of World-Famous Music], however, could find no publication by Dale before c. 1809-1810 under "Molly/Polly/Jenny Put the Kettle On" or Jenny's Bawbee." He did find "Jenny's Baubie or Jenny Put the Kettle On" published by McDonnell in Dublin, c. 1790-1810, and "Molly Put the Kettle On" issued by New York publisher by Paff (1803-7). "Molly Hang the Kettle On" is a country dance in the Boston, Mass., publication "A Treatise on Dancing" (1807), and the music appears in Daniel Steele's The New and Complete Preceptor for the Fife (Albany, 1815). The EASMES site lists seven different American musicians' manuscript entries dating from the first through the third decades of the 19th century.

"Molly Put the Kettle On" was the name of a tune in the repertoire of fiddler and Confederate veteran Arnold A. Parrish (Willow Springs, Wake County, N.C.), as recorded by the old Raleigh News and Observer. Parrish was a contestant at fiddler's conventions held in Raleigh prior to World War I. . The title (as "Sally put the Kettle on") appears in a list of "forgotten" tunes compiled by W.E.G. of Verbena, Alabama, as reported in the Union Banner of September 29, 1921. It also appears in a list of traditional Ozarks Mountains fiddle tunes compiled by musiocologist/folklorist Vance Randolph, published in 1954. Georgia guitar player and singer Riley Puckett sang the following verses as a member of the north Georgia band The Skillet Lickers:

Molly put the kettle on,
Ginny blow the dinner horn,
Molly put the kettle on,
All take tea.

Swing Sal, swing Sue,
Swing that gal with the run-down shoe.

Swing ma, swing pa,
Swing that gal from Arkansas.
Take a chew of tabaccer, promenade all, ...(or "Take her to the back and promenade all")
Pull that calico from the wall.

Molly put the kettle on,
Jenny blow the dinner horn,
Molly put the kettle on,
We'll all take tea.

Similarly, the Mississippi's Leake County Revelers sang on their 1928 Columbia recording:

Molly put the kettle on,
Sally blow the dinner horn;
Molly put the kettle on
And we'll all take tea.

Molly put the kettle on,
Sally blow the dinner horn;
Molly put the kettle on,
Daddy come home.

Wade Ward, of Independence, Virginia, at the end of his performance (Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40097, "Close to Home") gives lines in recitative:

Head like a coffee pot,
Nose like a spout;
Handle on the other side
To pour the coffee out.

African-American fiddler Joe Thompson plays the piece in FCgd tuning. See also "Annotation:Jenny Put the Kettle On (1)."

See also the related first strain of Yvon Mimeault's "Reel de Mont-Louis (2)."

Additional notes

Printed sources : - A.S. Bowman (J.W. Pepper Collection of Five Hundred Reels, Jigs, etc.), Phila., 1908; No. 232, p. 47. Brody (Fiddler's Fakebook), 1983; p. 194. Christeson (Old Time Fiddlers Repertory, vol. 2), 1984; No. 66, p. 46 (as "Jenny Put the Kettle On"). Clare Milliner & Walt Koken (Milliner-Koken Collection of American Fiddle Tunes), 2011, p. 425. Phillips (Traditional American Fiddle Tunes, vol. 1), 1994; p. 154.

Recorded sources : - Columbia 15380 (78 RPM), Leake County Revelers (1928). Columbia 15746D (78 RPM), Gid Tanner and His Skillet Lickers (1932). County 506, The Skillet Lickers- "Old Time Tunes" (reissue) County 529, Leake County Revelers- "Traditional Fiddle Music of Mississippi, vol. 2" (reissue). County CD-3509, The Skillet Lickers (reissue). Document DOCD-8060, The Skillet Lickers (reissue). Folkways FA 2399, New Lost City Ramblers - "Vol. 4" (1962). Global Village C217, (Black fiddler and banjo player) Joe and Odell Thompson - "Old Time Music From the North Carolina Piedmont." Marimac AHS #3, Glen Smith - "Say Old Man" (1990. Learned from Creed Smith). Marimac 9038, Dan Gellert & Brad Leftwich - "A Moment in Time" (1993. Primarily Tommy Jarrell's version). Musical Traditions MTCD321-2, Calvin Cole (et al) - "Far on the Mountain, Vols. 1&2" (2002). Rounder 0058, Haywood Blevins (southwestern Va.) - "Old Originals, Vol. II" (1978). Smithsonian Folkways SF CD 40097, Wade Ward. Victor 21518, Ernest Stoneman - "Serenade in the Mountains."

See also listing at :
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [1]
Hear the Leake County Revelers' 1928 recording at the Internet Archive [2], Slippery Hill [3] and [4]

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