I Know a Boarding-House
DESCRIPTION: "I know a boarding-house Not far away Where they have ham and eggs Three times a day." "Lord, how those boarders shout..." "Lord, how those boarders yell When they hear that dinner-bell!"
EARLIEST DATE: 1938 (recording, Uncle Dave Macon)
KEYWORDS: food home humorous nonballad derivative
FOUND IN: US(MW,So)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Randolph 479, "I Know a Boarding-House" (1 text)
Pankake-PHCFSB, "At the Boarding House Where I Live" (1 text, tune referenced); also p. 190, "While The Organ Pealed Potatoes" (1 text, tune referenced)
DT, BORDHOUS* (HAPYLND2*)
ADDITIONAL: _Sing Out_ magazine, Volume 42, #2 (1997), p, 120, "Country Ham and Red Gravy" (1 text, 1 tune, a slightly cleaned-up transcription of the Dave Macon version)
Uncle Dave Macon, "Country Ham and Red Gravy" (Bluebird 7951, 1938)
cf. "There Is a Happy Land" (tune, form)
cf. "The Barefoot Boy with Boots On" (floating lyrics)
NOTES: This is one of those composite songs -- the key element is humorous verses to the tune of "Silver Threads." The most common verse -- shared with "The Barefoot Boy" -- is "while the organ pealed potatoes"; my father learned this from a substitute teacher in Detroit around 1941.
Dave Macon copyrighted his "Country Ham and Red Gravy" version of this song, which does indeed seem to be a rewrite (rather racist), but it's clearly from the same roots. Though he may have supplied the tune, also known as "New Five Cents."
Laura Ingalls Wilder printed a stanza of this in By the Shores of Silver Lake, chapter 4. If she actually heard it then, it would date the song from 1879. But, of course, she was writing half a century later, and her work is much fictionalized anyway, so that's not a very trustworthy date. - RBW
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