the online meeting place for all who love our amphibians and reptiles
Home Page Live Forums Archived Forums Site Search Identify Record Donate Projects Links
Forum Home Forum Home > General > Off-Topic Forum
  New Posts New Posts RSS Feed - Lyric to song "English  Country Garden"
  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Events   Register Register  Login Login

Lyric to song "English Country Garden"

 Post Reply Post Reply
Author
Message
Liz Heard View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Apr 2010
Location: South West
Status: Offline
Points: 1426
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liz Heard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Lyric to song "English Country Garden"
    Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 6:19pm
American cowboy singer Jimmie Rodgers had a big hit in 1962 with a distinctive song which enthusiastically recorded the invertebrates, animals and flowers in garden habitat.
you may well know it.
the fact that it has been covered by scores of recording artists (including Rolf Harris, the Dandys, Fred Wedlock and The Darkness) and has been commonly sung by classrooms of primary school inmates etc ever since is testament to its evergreen greatness.
along with Joni Mitchells (remarkably ahead of its time) classic Big Yellow Taxi ("pay farmers to put away the DDT/give me spots on apples but leave me the birds and the bees. please") it is one of very few chart hits from the 60s that spoke about important issues like the natural world - instead of "i want to hold your hand/baby come back" etc.
however, some of the species that Jimmie logged in his memorable "survey report" have always raised an eyebrow with me.
i havent got much gripe with the 1st verse (the flora) but in the 2nd (invertebrates and other animals) he cheerfully insists "there are snakes, ants that sting and creeping things in an English Country Garden". i wouldnt have thought the former setting of lawns and herbaceous borders etc ideal for adder even in 1962. of course grassies are occasionally found in gardens.
so i previously dismissed this line as exaggerated.
but i just found out that Jimmie only popularised the song. its a folk tune from the 1700s.
that puts a whole new light on it. back then, few gardeners or lyricists would have known that the "snakes" they commonly encountered were in fact, legless lizards. so the words are accurate for the knowledge of the era.

can anybody shed any light on the £rd and final verse of "English Country Garden though please?
im not much of a twitcher but 3 of the UK garden songbird species commonly spotted in an English country garden during the 1700s seem very unfamiliar to me!

Bobolink
Tanager
Cardinal Bluebird

all in the same breath alongside the more expected Thrush and Nightingale.
anybody got an theory or explanation for this?
perhaps these species were common UK migrants or residents when the song was penned and have since become extinct here like the Red-backed Shrike? or maybe these are just now-neglected alternative or local names for Blackbirds and Wrens. like Throstle for Ring Ouzel in Cumbria?

cheers, ben


Back to Top
GemmaJF View Drop Down
Admin Group
Admin Group
Avatar

Joined: 25 Jan 2003
Location: Essex
Status: Offline
Points: 4359
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote GemmaJF Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 6:32pm
Bobolink - would have originally been Blackbird, the Bobolink is the New world equivalent
Tanager -  a colourful American Passeriforme
Cardinal Bluebird - again an American species

It's pretty much accepted that no two versions of the song are actually the same, so no doubt American influence led to a change in lyrics rather than the species representing migrants.

It may well have been in the 1700s that adder actually were quite common in gardens, though I accept at the time anything without legs was probably an adder (well actually a nadder or naedre, naddere, addere etc)

Regarding the natural environment and songs from the '60s try:

What have they done to the earth? 
What have they done to our fair sister? 
Ravaged and plundered and ripped her and bit her 
Stuck her with knives in the side of the dawn 
And tied her with fences and dragged her down 

Jim Morrison, The Doors (The Lizard King, visionary and all round good egg)


Edited by GemmaJF - 20 Sep 2011 at 7:35pm
Back to Top
Suzy View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 06 Apr 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 1447
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 20 Sep 2011 at 10:19pm
I used to live in what is now Cumbria and a throstle was a thrush when I was there Ben.
Suz
Back to Top
Caleb View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 11 Apr 2011
Status: Offline
Points: 660
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Caleb Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Sep 2011 at 9:19am
Originally posted by ben rigsby ben rigsby wrote:


but i just found out that Jimmie only popularised the song. its a folk tune from the 1700s.
that puts a whole new light on it. back then, few gardeners or lyricists would have known that the "snakes" they commonly encountered were in fact, legless lizards. so the words are accurate for the knowledge of the era.


Oddly, I was discussing this not so long ago, with someone who knows a bit about folk music. Apparently the tune is 18th century (or older), but the lyrics are 20th century. Quite possible that Jimmie Rodgers (or his songwriter) was responsible for them, hence the unfamiliar birds...
Back to Top
Liz Heard View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Apr 2010
Location: South West
Status: Offline
Points: 1426
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liz Heard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2011 at 2:55pm
thanks for your thoughts and info. yeah, Doors great band Gemma.
wonder why Jimmie chose to inaccurately change the words then and what the original lines were?

anyway if he can do it so can i....

How many kinds of sweet herpers post
on a British Reptile Forum?
ill tell you now of some that i know
to those ive missed,
sorry ive ignored em
Suzi, Gemma, Baby Sue
Chris, Mark, Kev, Agilis too
Roberts that debate over grass snake scars
then theres Kit, Will, Jim
a pair of Tims
on a British Reptile Forum.


it was my mate Bryn (an ex-gamekeeper from Cumbria) that told me they called Ring Ouzels "Throstles" up there Suz. maybe it varies even within the same county?

cheers, ben




Edited by ben rigsby - 22 Sep 2011 at 5:29pm
Back to Top
Suzy View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 06 Apr 2005
Location: United Kingdom
Status: Offline
Points: 1447
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Suzy Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 22 Sep 2011 at 11:53pm
Yep not saying anyone was wrong, just how I remember throstles. In fact it was lovely as the people called the birds old fashioned local names - golden crested wren for goldcrest, spink or spinks for chaffinch, jemmy crane for heron and more I can't remember now.
When I lived in the Lakes it was Lancashire, now it's Cumbria!
Suz
Back to Top
Liz Heard View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Apr 2010
Location: South West
Status: Offline
Points: 1426
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liz Heard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Aug 2021 at 10:39am
Well, unhappy with the Americanisms, i've corrected it - and added a verse of shamefully overlooked taxa

UK Country Garden

How many kinds of wild flowers grow
In a Gloucester county garden?
I'll tell you now
Of some that i know
And those i miss
You'll surely pardon
Agrostis, Poa, Timothy,
Bittercress, Beech, Hazel tree
Ragwort, Bindweed, Crepis, Willowherb
Ivy up and over walls
Bryophytes where water falls
In a Gloucester county garden

How many insects buzz or crawl below
Through a British backyard garden?
I'll tell you now
Of some that i know
And those i miss
You'll surely pardon
Hoverflies, moths, bumblebees
Woodlice, Earwig, Centipedes
Butterflies that sway
On the lead-polluted breeze
Flower Bugs alight and bite
It's the Midges' turn at night
In our town and country gardens

How many songbirds flit to and fro
Through our Celtic country gardens?
I'll tell you now
Of some that i know
And those i miss
You'll surely pardon
Blackbird, Robin, Nightingale,
Goldfinch, Sparrow, Wren and Quail
A Song Thrush at his anvil
Hammering a snail
Hope is borne by feathered wing
With the signals migrants bring
To our Celtic UK gardens

How many mammals, our nearest, dearest kin
Share our homes, sheds, parks and gardens?
I'll tell you now
Of some that i know
And those i miss
You'll surely pardon
House Mouse, Brown Rat, Fox and Shrew
Sometimes Badgers - just a few
'hogs rustle in the leaves
From the birds the squirrel thieves
Then at dusk the Pipistrelle
From the alcove where it dwells
Raids our backyard outdoor larders

How many herptiles creep to and fro
Through our allotment plots and gardens?
I'll tell you now
That the species range is low
But pet releases
Won't be pardoned
Slow worms are the likeliest
I doubt you'll hear an Adder hiss
Grass Snakes may grow long
But before you blink they're gone
The official stamp of spring
Is when the Common Frogs come sing
From the ponds and puddles of our gardens

Edited - missed a bit out.




Edited by Liz Heard - 21 Aug 2021 at 11:00am
Back to Top
chubsta View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 26 Apr 2013
Location: Folkestone,Kent
Status: Offline
Points: 423
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote chubsta Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 21 Aug 2021 at 8:59pm
Look forward to hearing the demo...
Back to Top
Liz Heard View Drop Down
Senior Member
Senior Member


Joined: 27 Apr 2010
Location: South West
Status: Offline
Points: 1426
Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Liz Heard Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 02 Sep 2021 at 11:17pm
Don’t think it could get that far. I’ve done several of these semi-mimicking corruptions of well known oldies and although I’m quite happy, our guitarist won’t touch any of them.
EG Tony Hatch ‘Messing about on the river’ became a song about alcoholism (Messing about with your liver), an other-end-of-the-social-scale version of ‘Where you you go to my lovely?’ sprang up, the Johnny Cash song ‘Jackson’ got reinvented as a look at the Michael Jackson controversy, ‘I fought the law (and the law won) became an ode to champion buttock clencher Lamarr Chambers - Lamarr fought the law (and Lamarr won), and following a chat about the industry with a care home employee I met, another Clash tune got twisted. ‘Career Opportunities’ dropped a letter - Carer Opportunities.

Anyway, how are the ‘hogs?
Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply
  Share Topic   

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Forum Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 11.06
Copyright ©2001-2016 Web Wiz Ltd.

This page was generated in 0.063 seconds.