Go Tell Aunt Nancy

Album: Sounds Of The South (1773)
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Songfacts®:

  • According to The 111 Best American Ballads: Folk Song USA, "Go Tell Aunt Nancy" is "possibly the best-known American folk song." Like all the songs in the Sixth Printing of this book, which was published in 1960, it was collected by the father and son team of John and Alan Lomax. The version published therein was adapted by Lomax and Lomax, and arranged for piano by the husband and wife team of Charles and Ruth Seeger.
  • "Go Tell Aunt Nancy" has also been rendered as "Go Tell Aunt Rhody" and "Go Tell Aunt Sally." In spite of its renown it has rarely been recorded. >>
    Suggestion credit:
    Alexander Baron - London, England, for above 2
  • The song is a morbid one: it tells the tale of an old gray goose dying and the gander grieving over his loss.
  • The tune originated as a folk dance in the 1752 opera Le devin du village (The Village Soothsayer) by Jean-Jacques Rousseau. The Aunt Rhody version started appearing in American traditional song anthologies in the next century, and is still often found in children's song collections.

    The Genevan philosopher and writer Jean-Jacques Rousseau wrote various arias and songs as well as prose. In 1752, he determined to compose an opera about people with dirty hands-the working class. Le devin du village, which premiered on October 18, 1752, attracted much admiration from King Louis XV and remained popular in Paris until the mid-1800s. Mozart parodied it in his one-act comic opera Bastien and Bastienne. (Source The Encyclopedia Of Trivia).
  • Canadian-American singer-songwriter Martha Wainwright's first memory is of her mother, folk singer Kate McGarrigle, singing "Go Tell Aunt Nancy" to her. "I was very little," she recalled to The Guardian. "I remember her hand softly caressing my arm while she sang it to me. It's a lovely memory. It's a sad song, even a scary one. But it was comforting."

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