Saturday, June 26, 2010


I stopped by the Mudcat discussion board this morning -- as I do early most mornings -- and noticed some talk about 'The Foggy Foggy Dew.' FFD has been in my repertoire for some time; it's a good song to know, a crowd-pleaser, jaunty melody, story line simple and short yet somewhat intriguing. Not surprisingly, I do the Burl Ives version (which is much the same as the Carl Sandburg version). This was the song that got Ives arrested for indecency when he sang it in a town in Utah.

His version is not particularly authentic. But as Burl Ives said in his autobiography (Wayfaring Stranger) : "I would change the words when I knew I had better ones. I would change the tune when I knew it would help the song." I would tend to agree. Leave authenticity to archivists and sing what sounds good.

That is, unless one loses the meaning! There is evidence -- not conclusive but fairly compelling -- that the teller of the story was originally 'saving' his love not from the foggy dew but from the 'bugaboo,' i.e. things that go bump in the night. It makes more sense really. Just how many girls are afraid of the dew? (Though it's a good excuse -- could use it on me.)

But that foggy, foggy dew is ingrained in our folkie ears and brains now so I don't think I'll be changing it in the version I perform. However, there are some very usable verses available that I think I might try working back into the song. And perhaps lose that slightly silly last verse about being a bachelor again and living with his son. Incidentally, I like the fact that in some variants he works at a 'rover's trade,' not the 'weaver's.' Makes the protagonist seem a little less pedestrian!


I have my watermelon uke in my possession now. It sounds good -- better than I had expected or hoped from what I thought might be no more than a novelty. It does have a pretty sweet sound and is definitely usable. Tuned to the soprano ukulele standard, gCEA (high g in the fourth string position), but if I switch to lighter strings (nylon fishing line) I might go up a tone. I basically use the same tuning on my not-quite-a-banjolele (the Banjovie), which has a tenor scale neck and five strings except I go with a low G on the fourth string and I add a high C in the fifth string position. That's using a 'classical' banjo nylon string set. But I'm getting off the subject.

The subject being the Melon. I figured if nothing else it would be a prop if I perform my song 'Watermelon.' And more so if I ever did a video. I do intend to have that song recorded for the long-delayed album so video is a possibility. Don't hold your breath, though.

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