Monday, March 30, 2009

A Song My Father Taught Me

I was talking on the phone with my daughter Anne, and she asked about a song "Mom taught us," and then started on the "Drink, drink, drink, drink."

"I taught you that one, I said, mentioning I had learned it from my own father. Anne had talked with someone of Dutch heritage, who had mentioned prejudices against the Dutch. She immediately thought of the song. It turns out the the song's title is "The Goddamned Dutch." Wikipedia says, "it first appeared in the book Gentleman About Town, Immortalia in 1927," but I suspect the song is much older, probably dating back to the eighteenth century when the Netherlands rivaled Britain as a maritime power. There are dozens of versions--many of them a lot more offensive than the one I learned from my dad. Here's the version I learned:

Drink, drink, drink, drink,
Drank, drank, drank, drank,
Drunk, drunk, drunk, drunk

Drunk last night. Drunk the night before,
Gonna get drunk tonight like I never got drunk before,
For when I'm drunk I'm as happy as can be;
For I am a member of the Souse family,
For the Souse family is the best family
That ever came over from Old Germany.

Chorus:
Sing Glorious!
Glorious!
One keg of beer for the four of us!
Sing glory be to God that there are no more of us;
For one of us can drink it all alone, damn near.

There's the Highland Dutch, and the Lowland Dutch;
The Rotterdam Dutch, and the God damned Dutch.

Chorus

God made the Irish. He didn't make much;
But a hell of a lot more than the God damned Dutch.

Chorus

By the bar, where I smoked my first cigar
And the nickels and the dimes rolled away (rolled away).
It was there by chance that I tore my Sunday pants.
And now I have to wear them every day, damn near.

Final Chorus

The last stanza, a parody of the hymn, "At the Cross," isn't part of the traditional song, but, in the way of folk songs, found its way into it.

You can find several versions of the song on YouTube, including a cleaned-up version by Mitch Miller, and the University of California version sung after the "Big Game" with Stanford last November. (They sing it very well--I don't think many of them were drunk.)

There won't be a PBS special on "The God Damned Dutch" as there was for "Amazing Grace," but it would be interesting to trace this song back.

11 comments:

Lisa said...

*Standing Ovation* That was great! Now you're making me remember old Irish songs my grandfather and his friend, Mike Dobbins used to sing ;)

Charles Gramlich said...

The more things change...

There's a popular song out now with lines like "I get drunk all night, I get drunk all day."

Olivia said...

Haha! You reminded me of a song we learned at school:

We'll drink a-drink a-drink
To Lily the pink the pink the pink
The saviour of the human ra-aace
For she invented medicinal compound
Most efficacious in every case


And the song goes on in each stanza to describe a ridiculous case that was cured by Lily's concoction.

steve on the slow train said...

Lisa--Thank you.

Charles--Could have been inspired by the G. D. Dutch, but just as likely is independent.

Olivia--I had to look that one up. Apparently it's based on "The Ballad of Lydia Pinkham," and was sung by a British group called The Scaffold, which included Paul McCartney's brother as a member.

Olivia said...

Really! I didn't know that. Thanks for looking it up for me.

Tea N. Crumpet said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tea N. Crumpet said...

My dad used to sing after dinner when I was little and my sisters would provide the chorus. Sometimes when I got older, he'd sing in the car. I sing to my kids all the time and recently bought an ABBA CD.

I remember my dad singing MacNamera's band the most, I was four and I'd bang on the table for the boom-boom! part.

steve on the slow train said...

Tea, I think my dad used to sing "MacNamara's Band," though I best remember "On Top of Old Smokey," "Little Mohee," and I've Been Workin' On the Railroad. I sang "Little Mohee," "On Springfield Mountain," and a lot of other folk songs from the Burl Ives "Wayfaring Stranger" album to my kids.

Elizabeth said...

Hilarious. The one my mother sang to us goes something like this: "Who's that knocking on my door? Who's that a-staggering across the floor? Move on brother cause you can't come in. I'm a whiskey widow and I'm through with men."

Anonymous said...

the one that elizabeth commented on sounds like the song i have been searching for so long, my mother sang it all the time for me, not quite like elizabeth posted but very much on the same track, my mother said it was recorded on a 78rpm record. can anyone please help me find this song as i have looked for so so long for it. please if you can help please please do.

Anonymous said...

the one that elizabeth commented on sounds like the song i have been searching for so long, my mother sang it all the time for me, not quite like elizabeth posted but very much on the same track, my mother said it was recorded on a 78rpm record. can anyone please help me find this song as i have looked for so so long for it. please if you can help please please do.