King Alcohol

King Alcohol


King Alcohol has many forms by which he catches men,
He is a beast of many horns and ever thus has been.
For there’s rum, and gin, and beer, and wine,
And brandy of logwood hue.
And hock, and port, and flip combine
To make a man turn blue.
He says he’s merry, for here’s good sherry,
And Tom and Jerry, champagne and Perry
And spirits of every hue,
O are these not a fiendish crew
As ever a mortal knew?

King Alcohol is very sly, a liar from the first,
He’ll make you drink because you’re dry, then drink because you thirst,
For there’s rum, and gin, and beer, and wine….

King Alcohol has had his day, his kingdom’s crumbling fast,
His votaries are heard to day, “Our tumbling days are past.”
For there’s no rum, nor gin, nor beer, nor wine,
Nor brandy of any hue,
Nor hock, nor port, nor flip combined
To make a man turn blue.
And now they’re merry without their sherry,
Or Tom and Jerry, champagne and Perry,
Or spirits of any hue
And now they are a temperate crew
As every a mortal knew;
And now they are a temperate crew
As have given the devil his due.*

The shout of Washingtonians is heard on every gale,
They’re charting now the victory o’er cider, beer, and ale,
For there’s no rum, nor gin, nor beer, nor wine….

* To sing the full chorus on the last two verses, repeat the last two phrases of the standard chorus, or use the “full” melody given below.

(Click here for a PDF version of the music) * (Click here to hear an MP3 Recording)

Hutchinson Family Singers

Hutchinson Family Singers (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Another song from the Hutchinson Family, for whom see the notes to “Uncle Sam’s Farm” in the PDF songbook. This is perhaps their favorite temperance song (that is, song devoted to banning the sale and consumption of alcoholic beverages). It was songs like this that encouraged the passing of Prohibition in the 1920s — but that was long after the Hutchinsons had left the stage, so they did not know how ineffective the campaign would be.

Source: I found the words for this in The American Bicentennial Songbook, by William R. Ward. But the tune posed a tricky problem. Ward states that the Hutchinsons took the tune for a song called “King Andrew” as the basis for this piece.

“King Andrew,” though probably the Hutchinsons’ direct source, is not the original song. It is a vigorous anti-Andrew Jackson song. (The Whigs called Jackson “King Andrew,” and printed cartoons of him with crown and scepter and royal robes, because he assumed so many powers.) The first verse runs:

King Andrew had five trusty squires, whom he held his bid to do,
He also had three pilot fish, to give the sharks their cue.
There was Lou, and Ben, and Lev, and Bill,
And Roger of Tawney hue,
And Blair, the Book, and Kendall, chief cook,
And Isaac surnamed the True.
And Blair pushed Lewis, and Ben touch’d Billy,
And Ike jogged Levi, and Cass touched Amos,
And Roger of Tawney hue,
Now was not this a medley crew
As ever a mortal knew? [repeat last two lines]

The literary dependence will be obvious.

“Lou” is probably Lewis Cass, who held many cabinet posts, including Secretary of War under Jackson from 1831, and eventually became a Democratic presidential nominee (he lost to Zachary Taylor of Santy Anno fame). “Ben” is Benjamin F. Butler, Jackson’s Attorney General after 1833. “Lev(i)” is Levi Woodbury, secretary of the Navy from 1833. “Bill” is postmaster William Taylor Berry. “Roger of Tawney Hue” was Roger B. Taney, he who would later manage the Dred Scott Decision; he was Jackson’s Attorney General from 1831, then took over the Treasury in 1833 (helping Jackson suppress the Bank of the United States), then Chief Justice. “Blair” was newspaper publisher Francis P. Blair, head of a political dynasty that was still influential as late as the Civil War. “Kendall” was Amos Kendall, a journalist who supported the administration. “Isaac” was Senator Isaac Hill, a close Jackson ally.

The difficulty with “King Andrew” is that it was published as a three-part “glee” (the sheet music is in Lawrence, pp. 248-249). The problem is, the song loses a lot of its effectiveness if only a single part is taken. It wasn’t a problem for the Hutchinson Family; they had plenty of singers to cover all the parts. It’s not so easy today. Here is what the sheet music looks like if we reduce it to take only one part (always the highest part being sung at a particular time):

KingAndrew

 

(Click here for a PDF version of the music)

However, the sheet music itself states that the tune is “Dame Durden.” This is a terrific old English tune, slightly racy — a typical text is as follows:

Dame Durden kept five servant girls
To carry the milking pail;
She also kept five lab’ring men
To use the spade and flail.
‘Twas Moll and Bet and Doll and Kit,
And Dolly to drag her tail;
‘Twas Tom and Dick and Joe and Jack,
And Humphrey with his flail.
And Tom kissed Molly, and Dick kissed Betty,
And Joe kissed Dolly, and Jack kissed Kitty,
And Humphrey with his flail;
And Kitty she was the charming girl
To carry the milking pail.

Dame Durden in the morning so soon
She did begin to call;
To rouse her servant maids and men,
She did begin to bawl.
‘Twas Moll and Bet and Doll and Kit….

‘Twas on the morn of Valentine
When birds began to prate,
Dame Durden and her maids and men
They all together meet.
‘Twas Moll and Bet and Doll and Kit,
And Dolly to drag her tail;
‘Twas Tom and Dick and Joe and Jack,
And Humphrey with his flail.
And Tom kissed Molly, and Dick kissed Betty,
And Joe kissed Dolly, and Jack kissed Kitty,
And Humphrey with his flail;
Kissed Dorothy draggle-tail,
And Kitty she was the charming girl
To carry the milking pail.

The music at the top of the page, therefore, is “Dame Durden,” not the Hutchinson family tune.

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