Back in the old country, the town of Bremen has long been associated with a certain group of musicians (a donkey, a dog, a cat, and a rooster, to be exact). But our own town has long had a similar association. In 1889, Brook Bowman’s Enquirer ran this rather fanciful tour of village.
The songs seem to be:
- Johnny, Get Your Gun
- O Why Is My Heart So Sad?
- Do They Think of Me at Home?
- I Doubt It, I do
- He Gets There Just the Same
- Bridget Donahue
- We Won’t Go Home Till Morning
- I Found a Horse-Shoe
- Why Did They Dig Ma’s Grave So Deep?
- Sweet Violets
- Spanish Cavalier
Johnny, Get Your Gun
“Johnny, Get Your Gun” was a Civil War tune that was given a wide variety of lyrics. The title was apparently even put to use as a chorus for an 1886 gospel song about fighting Satan. But the tune mostly survives today as the beginning of George M Cohan’s “Over There,” written in 1917.
Why Is My Heart So Sad?
“Why Is My Heart So Sad” does not seem to have retained any popularity, but the Library of Congress has the sheet music. You could be the first person to put a version on YouTube.
Do They Think of Me at Home?
“Do They Think of Me at Home?” is sadly not available in a piccolo version, and this version seems a bit tongue-in-cheek. The Library of Congress has an earlier recording, but the link is finicky.
I Doubt It, I Do
“I Doubt It, I Do” seems to have been lost to history.
He Gets There Just the Same
“He Gets There Just the Same” could be any of several songs, as similar lyrics appear in songs of various tunes and hinge on the joke that the bedbug, unlike your fancier insects, has no wings at all, but he gets where he’s going anyway. Those lyrics are included in some versions of “It Ain’t Gonna Rain No More”, for example, and these period-appropriate lyrics could be sung to that same tune. The Library of Congress has an entirely different instrumental version you can find here. Here’s the former by Wendell Hall from 1923.
“Bridget Donahue” remains popular with Irish folk singers.
We Won’t Go Home Till Morning
“We Won’t Go Home Till Morning” is a Stephen Foster song that became the basis for “For He’s A Jolly Good Fellow” (not to mention “The Bear Went Over the Mountain”). This one is from the 1920s.
Found a Horse-shoe
“Found a Horse-shoe” is a railroader song that seems to be more-or-less lost, which is not necessarily a bad thing given the terrible lyrics it had. But some people claim to have sung it in school as late as the 1950s. The structure seems similar to the deliberately awful “Oh My Darling, Clementine” (reminder: her sandals are “herring boxes without topses”) but the meter isn’t quite the same.
I found a horseshoe, I found a horseshoe.
I picked it up and nailed it on the door;
And it was rusty and full of nail holes,
Good luck ’twill bring to you forevermore.
Why Did They Did Ma’s Grave So Deep?
“Why Did They Dig Ma’s Grave So Deep?” by R A Saalfield was a jaunty 1880 ditty sung at birthday parties—or so it seems if you watch the break-neck cranking of a roller organ below.
Poor little Nellie is weeping to-night,
Thinking of days that were full of delight,
Lonely she sits by the old kitchen grate,
Sighing for mother, but now ’tis too late.
Under the daisies now covered with snow,
Rests the fond mother, away from life’s woe;
Nellie is left now to murmur and weep,
Why did they dig ma’s grave so deep?
“Sweet Violets” is a genuinely funny 1882 song by J K Emmet (sheet music at the Library of Congress) from a musical called “Fritz Among the Gypsies”. It “censors” each rhyme with an unexpected non-rhyme to tell a silly story. Here is a television version from 1951 with Dorothy Collins.
The Spanish Cavalier
“The Spanish Cavalier” is an 1881 love lament by William Hendrickson (sheet music at the Library of Congress) about a Spanish cavalier leaving his love to go off to war. Here are the Sons of the Pioneers doing it in the 1940s.
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