Annotation:Old Man can't Keep His Wife at Home (The)

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X:1 T:Old Man can't Keep His Wife at Home, The M:6/8 L:1/8 R:Air and Country Dance B:Baring-Gould - Songs of the West (1892, No. 118, p. 240) Z:AK/Fiddler's Companion K:G E/F/|G2 G G2G|A2A A2F|B2^G E2G|B2^G E2 E/F/| G2 G G2 G A2 A A2c|B2c B2^G|E3-E2B| d2d d2d|d3-G2G|e2e c2e|(B3 B2) Bc| d2d d2d|d3 c2c|B2c B2^G|E3-E2|| EF|G2G G2G|A2A A2F|B2^G E2G|B2^G E2 E/F/| G2 G G2 G|A2A A2c|B2c B2^G|E3- E2z:|

OLD MAN CAN'T KEEP HIS WIFE AT HOME, THE. Baring-Gould (1892, notes on songs p. 31) gives the following note:

The curious rugged melody was taken down from a very old fiddler named William Andrew, at Sheepstor, by Mr. Bussell. The old fellow did not recall all the words, but remembered the story. According to his account this was a dance tune to which the performers sang in accompaniment to the music and tramp of feet.

I have had to re-compose the ballad from the fragment and the story. It bears a family resemblance to "The Old Couple" given in The Garland of Country Song (p. 100). In the story the old man locks his wife out. She threatens to drown herself, and throws a sting into the well. The old man, when he hears the splash, descends, opens the door, and goes forth to see whether is wife ally has drowned herself. At once she slips in at the open door and locks him out. The story is very ancient. It occurred in the Sanscrit book of tales of which Persian and Arabic and Turkish versions exist, and which filtered into Europe through Greek and Latina and Hebrew translations. The story come to Dolopathos and the Seven Wise Masters. The French and Latin versions were made in the 13th century. But the story had already got to Europe through the converted Jew, Peter Alphonsus, who inserted it in his Disciplina Clericalis, written in 1062. From this it got into some of the versions of the Gesta Romanorum, and finally into Boccaccio's Decameron, seventh day, tale 4...The tune ic clearly a bagpipe air with drone.

Additional notes

Printed sources : - Baring Gould (Songs of the West), 1892; No. 118, pp. 240-241.

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