Annotation:O Tommy Come Tickle Me

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O TOMMY COME TICKLE ME. AKA and see "Campbells are Coming (1) (The)," "Hob or Nob." American, Jig. USA, southwestern Pa. E Flat Major. Standard tuning (fiddle). ABB. The tune has "a worn-down and altered second part--perhaps an entirely different strain from the usual second half of this exceedingly well-known tune" (Bayard, 1981). It takes its name from its associated rhyme:

O Tommy come tickle me, I'll tell you where:
Just under my navel there's a big bunch of hair.

The rhyme may be the start of what was a risque song (if so, apparently lost), or is a risque "floating" couplet. However the phrase "Tommy Come Tickle Me" is quite old as the name of a card game, whose rules were described in Eliza Leslie's American Girl's Book: Or, Occupation for Play Hours (1831).

The whole pack having been dealt out, Mary, the leader, plays any card she pleases (for instance, a king,) saying, as she lays him down, "Here's a very good king for me." Lucy then plays another king, and says, "Here's another, as good as he;" Jane plays a third king, saying, "Here's the best of all the three;" and Anne, who plays the fourth king, says, "And here's Tommy come tickle me"...She who plays the fourth card, or "Tommy come tickle me," takes up the trick, as it is called, and lays it beside her. It is then her turn to play the next. The first one out is the winner.

There are references to the game as early as 1785 [see A Theologico-controversistical Conference Held at the Hague, vol. 2, 1785]. See also the similarly titled country dance tune "Tom come tickle me."

Source for notated version: Hiram White (Pa., 1930's) [Bayard].

Printed sources: Bayard (Dance to the Fiddle), 1981; No. 539C, p. 479.

Recorded sources:

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