Piss Upon the Grass
No, this is not a tune of recent composition, as you might perhaps infer from the title!
Credit for fetching this tune from a dusty archive into the public domain must go to members of the former "Dr. Bowser’s Brown Bowel Oil Band" (leader, Steve Bazire). This band operated in the Bristol (England) area, during the period 1976-1986, when Steve was living there. I understand that they extracted this tune from a manuscript tunebook at the British Library, London (England).
Well, it’s maybe not the greatest tune in the world, but I thought it worthwhile posting it in view of its antiquity and "unusual" title.
(I trust that the latter won’t be a victim of Jeremy’s foul language moderation!) … ;-)
I think it’s the best tune in a while here. The familiar play party like opening matures into some really nice music at the end of the A part and the B is really nice. I put some chords to it…
|:"G" G2G G2B|d2B GFG|"Am" A2A A2B |"D" A2B AFD|
"Em" G2G G2B|"G" d2B GAB|"Am" A2G F2E|"D" D3 D3:|
|:"Am" A2G A2B|A2B "D" AFD|"G" G2A B2c|d2e dBG|
"C" c2B c2d| e2f gfe|"D" dcB AGF|"C" G3 "G" G3:|
Nancy Dawson is the ‘common’ title. The p*ss title is in Walsh’s Caledonian Country Dances (published) and Joshua Jackson’s manuscript. There’s a lot more of this kind of information, for those who find it fascinating, in my new edition of William Vickers’ Tune Book.
Well, it’s nice to have some positive feedback - but I don’t think that this type of tune (I see it as an English single jig) will find much favour with many members of this site, who are looking for Irish, or at least Celtic music.
If you ever get to England, look out for an "English" session (much rarer than Irish sessions - even in England!).
You’ll hear many tunes of this type played at such sessions. This kind of "stompy" jig is also very much the staple at English barn dances.
Thanks for posting the alt title - I didn’t know that it had one. You say that "Nancy Dawson" is more common - but which is the earlier title - do you happen to know?
When I gave my source for this tune, I wasn’t of course aware that it had ever been published in printed form.
To my ear, it sounded like a typical English single jig, but inclusion in Walsh’s Caledonian Country Dances would seem to imply a Scottish association.
In the Mix
There are quite a few folks who are members of this site who attend ‘MIXed’ session where a variety of tunes are woven together, including the officially sanctioned ‘Irish’ or polymorphic ‘C****c’ tunes, old and new, and even including those considered ‘English’ by history or association…
Mix and Match
Ceol - I know that’s true.
Nonetheless, I have encountered hositlity in the past regarding non-Celtic material - on this site, and elsewhere.
Some while back I played the Coleraine Jig (at a pub session in England). They all put their instruments down, so I changed to another tune after only one time through.
Afterwards, when I expressed surprise that nobody knew it someone said: "Oh, we know it - but it’s from Northern Ireland!"
That kind of attitude just makes my blood boil …. Grr
Yes, me too…
I think it comes from insecurity, and an unwilling awareness of the fact that the vitality of the Irish scene has been largely responsible for the revival of old English dance music in recent times. Most English fiddlers that I know started playing ‘folk’ because they fell in love with Kevin Burke’s playing in the 70s and 80s, then switched to playing English. One of the most famous English fiddlers hates to admit that he was sent off to the Willie Clancy week years ago (to try and sort his dodgy Irish playing out), and was a complete nut for Irish music until he started getting noticed for his English stuff…
Piss Upon the Grass
The tune is included in; "Alawon John Thomas ~ A fiddler’s tune-book from eighteenth-century Wales" Ed. Cass Meurig
"This tune became well known as ‘Nancy Dawson’, a ballad about a Covent Garden dancer who became famous when she stepped in for the man who danced the hornpipe in the 1759 revival of ‘The Beggar’s Opera’. It was subsequently included in RCD II * (c. 1764) and Bickerstaffe’s ballad opera ‘Love in a Village’ (1763). John Thomas’s title suggests that his version dates from before this period. The first strain of the tune is still sung in the nursery rhyme ‘Here We Go Round the Mulberry Bush’. "
* ’ Rutherford’s Compleat Collection of 200 country Dances, Vol.2’
T:p*ss Upon The Grass
S:A.J.Thomas~fiddler’s tunebook from 18th c. Wales
|:G2G G2c|d2B A2G|A2B A2B|A2G FED|
G2G G3/A/B/c/|d2B G2B|A2G F2E|D6:|
|:A2B A2B|A2B AFD|B2c d2e|d2e dBG|
c2B c2d|e2f gfe|dcB AGF|G6:|
‘I Saw Three Ships’
December 11th 2006 by ceolachan
Piss Upon The Grass
I was caller with the late Dr Bowser’s Brown Bowel Oil Band. Before the band released their second album ‘Not Tobe Sniffed At’, band leader (and melodeon players) Steve Bazier, fiddler player june Smith and myself (dance caller - Tony Slinger) spent several throoughly days at The British Libraray in London researching through 18th century dance manuals looking for dances with either good music, good dance or best of all a combination of both with a title that reflected our part of the world (Bristol/Bath/West Country). We discovered ‘p*ss Upon The Grass’ in Volume 3 of a 7-volume collection titled ‘A Choice Collection of 200 Country Dances … with the proper figures or direction to each tune. For the violin or german flute.’ t was printed for Jno. Johnson in London between 1744 and 1751. How could we ignore such a great title! We even checked with a dictionary of the same period - and yes the word had exactly the same meaning! There are still a couple of the bands inthis area playing the tune.
Re: Piss Upon The Grass
This is the only song associated with pope day celebrations-boys dressed as women would do the nancy dawson dance on pope carts-Boston-see:-Bell, J. L. "Du Simitière’s Sketches of Pope Day in Boston, 1767." The Worlds of Children, 1620-1920 (2002): 209-217.
Piss Upon The Grass, X:4
I found this sweet little jig at the ITMA website (port.itma.ie) in "Eight Original Irish Dances never before printed with Basses for the Piano-Forte & with Proper Figures for Dancing Book 1 & 2"; published in Dublin by Maurice Himes in 1804. It differs slightly from the versions already posted so I want to get it into the site as an alternative. This does not seem to be the same "Nancy Dawson" which appears in the Old Tyme music repertoire.