“For I’m to Be Queen of the May, Mother, I’m to Be Queen of the May”

Commentary

Evidently certain folks like to entertain themselves by writing “funny” lyrics to well-known folk and popular tunes.

This works very well as private amusement, I suppose, but isn’t it a bother when you find yourself faced with eight or ten stanzas supposedly “Sung to the Tune of the ‘Haircrofters’ Ball'”? Or some other ditty that the amateur lyricist remembers from a piano-book of his youth, but which is now lost to time.

That is annoying enough, but it’s even worse when you are given an alternate name for the tune, one with which you are unfamiliar. You may not be too befuddled when you see “Over Hill Over Dale” named as the tune to words that clearly have the meter of “The Caisson Song.” And you probably know that “O Maryland My Maryland” has approximately the same melody as “O Tannenbaum.”

But what are you to do when someone is thinking of “Little Brown Jug” but tells you sing to the tune of “Ha! Ha! Ha!”?

In my childhood there was a popular song about a Red Indian maiden, recorded by many a dance band, to which we had the sheet music in our piano bench. As I recall, its correct name was “Red Wing.” But recently, in our weekly newspaper, there were lyrics that seemed to have a similar cadence but which we were advised were written for the music of the song, “The Happy Farmer Returning from Work.”

My researchers tell me that “Red Wing” was a popular adaptation of that earlier work. But who in this day and age would know that?

Less forgivable, I feel, is the wordsmith who sent me a couple of stanzas that she insisted were to be sung to the tune of “There Once Was a Union Maid Who Never Was Afraid.”

 

Author: “Uncle Bill” Cobbett

Old as dirt and twice as jolly.

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