Wait for the Wagon

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WAIT FOR THE WAGON. AKA – “On the Wagon,” “Waiting for the Wagon.” American, Song and Dance Tune; English, Country Dance and March. F Major ('A' part) & C Major ('B' part) (Ford): D Major (Callaghan). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB (Ford): AABB (Callaghan). An American black-face minstrel song tune [1] first published in 1850 as a parlor song in New Orleans by William T. Mayo, who credited they lyric to "A Lady," with "music by Wiesenthal") Subsequently, different versions with various lyrics were published, including one in 1851 in Baltimore by F.D. Benteen credited to Virginia music teacher George P. Knaupf (from the singing of English-born minstrel performer R. Bishop Buckley, 1810–1867), and another published in the same city by James E. Boswell, who identified its composer as W. Loftin Hargrave. Oliver Ditson, in Boston, issued a version in 1854. In addition to it's popularity on the minstrel stage, it was rewritten with satirical lyrics, and also adapted to campaign songs for the 1856 and 1860 presidential elections:

Waitforthewagon.jpg

The Union is our wagon, the people are its springs,
And every true American, for Millard Fillmore sings.

It was adopted (tongue-in-cheek) in Britain as a military march by the Royal Corps of Transport. The tune was played by old fiddler William “Jinky” Wells, accompanist for the Bampton Morris Dancers, although it was not a traditional morris tune and is almost never heard played for morris dancing today. "Wait for the Wagon" was recorded from the playing of East Anglia publican (of the Dennington Bell) and melodeon player Dolly Curtis in the 1980’s.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 53. Ford (Traditional Music in America), 1940; p. 119 (lyrics also printed by Ford). Westrop (120 Country Dances ... for the Violin), c. 1862; No. 22 [2].

Recorded sources: Beautiful Jo Records BEJOCD-28, The Mellstock Band – “The Dance at the Phoenix: Village Band Music from Hardy’s Wessex and Beyond.” EFDSSCD13, Old Hat Concert Party – “Hardcore English” (2007. Various artists). Firebird FBR01, Phoenix – “After the Fire.” Old Hat Records OH-1, Old Hat Band – "The Old Hat Concert Party" (1986). Smithsonian Folkways SFW40187_112, Tom Glazer – "A Treasury of Civil War Songs Sung by Tom Glazer" (2011). Veteran VT130CD, Dolly Curtis (et al) – “Who Owns the Game: Traditional Songs and Melodeon Tunes from Central Suffolk” ().

See also listing at:
Jane Keefer's Folk Music Index: An Index to Recorded Sources [3]
Hear/see the tune played by the Skirtlifters on youtube.com [4]
Hear a Missouri-collected field recording version from 1971 at the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection [5]
See the Ballad Index entry [6]




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