Rocking a baby that's none of my own
X:0 T: No Score C: The Traditional Tune Archive M: K: x
ROCKING A BABY THAT'S NONE OF MY OWN. AKA - "Oh Dear, Rue the Day," "Rocking the Cradle," "Wee one (The)." AKA and see "Old Man Rocking the Cradle (The)." Irish, Air. Francis O'Neill wrote in Irish Folk Music: A Fascinating Hobby (1910, pp. 80-81):
Few born in Ireland who have not heard of the song named "Rocking the Cradle," or, as it is sometimes called, "Rocking a Baby that's none of my Own." Both song and air are now almost entirely forgotten, and it was a matter of no little difficulty to get a setting of the music. In preference to an unsatisfactory version of my own, we selected a setting found in an American publication of over fifty years ago. A fair version was also printed in Smith's Irish Minstrel, published in 1825 at Edinburgh.
It was quite a trick to play this piece to suit the old Irish standard of excellence, in which the baby's crying had to be imitated on the fiddle. To bring out the tones approaching human expression, the fiddle was lowered much below concert pitch. The performer held firmly between the teeth one end of a long old-fashioned door key with which at appropriate passages the fiddle bridge was touched. This contact of the key produced tones closely imitating a baby's wailing. Miss Ellen Kennedy, who learned the art from her father, a famous fiddler of Ballinamore, County Leitrim, was very expert in the execution of this difficult performance.
The song was said by A.L. Lloyd to have evolved as a parody of a sacred original, "The Christ Child's Lullaby." Nic Jones sang a version called "Oh dear, rue the day":
Well I am a young man from the town of Kiandra
I married my old woman to comfort my home
But now she just leaves me and she cruelly deceives me
And she leaves me with a baby that's none of my own
Oh dear rue the day ever I married
How I wish I was single again
All this weeping and wailing and rocking the cradle
Rocking a baby that's none of my own.
Well while I'm at work then my wife's on the rantan
Well she's out on the rantan with the other young boys
How she just leaves me and she cruelly deceives me
And leaves me with a baby that's none of my own
So all of you young men who are fixing to marry
Take care that you leave all the flash girls alone
Or by the Lord Harry if the one you should marry
She'd leave you with a baby that's none of your own.