Other People’s songs: Bob and others perform “Froggie went a courtin”

By Aaron Galbraith (in the US) and Tony Attwood (in the UK)

Aaron: Bob’s 28th studio album Good as I Been to You ended with a cover of this classic children’s song. 

Spectrum Culture included the track on a 2020 list of “Bob Dylan’s 20 Best Songs of the 1990s”

It is a song with as many lyrical variations as there are versions, So I am glad I decided for this series to just use a version that I own and I am aware of.

Tony: OK, it is a children’s song; I think I probably sang and played it to my daughters, although I doubt I got through more than one verse.  But I do have a memory of a young daughter saying, “But a frog can’t marry a person.”  Or something like that.

But one of the best 20 recordings of Dylan in the 1990s?  Well, Dylan only wrote and recorded 16 new songs in the whole of the decade (given that I think songs like the sublime “Well, Well, Well,” were not recorded by Dylan at the time) so I guess the competition is not that great.   And this does go on for a while – and even my children who loved to have the same songs sung to them over and again in childhood didn’t really expect them to last over six minutes.  Mind you that was probably my singing and playing that made them demand something else after thirty seconds.

No, sorry, but I lost focus quite quickly, and also couldn’t really keep up my interest in what happened to the frog.

I’m going to trust my memory to say that this is a 16th-century Scottish folk song – but beyond that I don’t know anything about it.   However I am now going to break the rules of these pieces Aaron and I do, by looking it up, as I am sure there is something odd about this piece….

…. and oh yes there is.   I knew there was something…  It is apparently about François, Duke of Anjou’s attempt to form a liaison (as they say) with Queen Elizabeth in the early 17th century.  And thus perhaps the origin of the pejorative “froggie” meaning French person.

Thanks for that one Aaron.  Let’s see what you have got in store for us next…

Aaron: Bruce Springsteen

Tony: I immediately am more attracted to this by the beat in the first verse and then the variations that come in as instrumentation is added.   The accordion helps enormously – and then although the bass is very simple it is a very effective addition.

It is in fact this range of instrumentation that allows me to stay focussed, and the instrumental break comes in just at the right moment – the fiddles played absolutely to perfection.

And this is what I think we always need in these strophic songs – the ones that go verse, verse, verse.    And now I’ve checked up on the origins of the piece it is much more comprehensible.  Love the second instrumental break too.

Actually, this would be a great piece to do a sort of country and western dance to, especially if you know the softer verse is coming along before the very upbeat instrumental for the coda.  Yes, I like that, and find it much more approachable than Bob’s version.  Sorry about that.

Paul McCartney (unreleased)

I don’t follow the activities of Paul McCartney so I have no idea what his weekly radio programme was all about, but I wonder if it was only available in the US, given that the word “program” on the cover is the American spelling.

The accompaniment has some lovely guitar playing, and actually, I would have preferred to listen to a track of the accompaniment without the singing.

Nick Cave (with the alternative title King Kong Kitchee Kitchee Ki-Mi-O)

Tony: Hmmmm.   Nick Cave always seems to me to be an oddball performer – not one that I am particularly familiar with, but when I do come across his work it seems, well, odd.  My youngest daughter has now settled in Australia where Nick Cave comes from and I must ask her what her opinion of Nick Cave is in Sydney.   Who knows.

Is this entertainment?

One comment

  1. I know what you mean …..

    I caught a talking frog once, who said if I kissed him he’d turn into a beautiful princess …..

    I put the frog in my pocket, and told him,
    ” At my age, I’m happy as hell just to have a talking frog”

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