Henry's Songbook

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Villikins And His Dinah

  • (John Parry)

    There was a rich merchant in London did dwell
    He had but one daughter, an uncommon fine young girl
    Her name it was Dinah, just fourteen years old
    With a very rich fortune in silver and gold
    With a too-ra-li-oo-ra-li-oo-ra-li-a

    As Dinah was walking in the garden one day
    Her father came to her and to her did say
    Go dress yourself Dinah in gorgeous array
    For I've brought you a suitor both galliant and gay

    Oh father dear father, the maiden replied
    I don't feel inclined for to be marry-ied
    And all my rich fortune I'd gladly give o'er
    If I could but remain single for a year or two more

    Oh Dinah now Dinah, the merchant did scold
    You must give up young Villikins as you've often been told
    Or I'll give all your fortune to your next of kin
    And you won't feel loved better without not one single pin

    As Villikins was walking the garden around
    He spied his poor Dinah stretched out on the ground
    With a cup of cold poison poured down by her side
    And a billet-doux that said it was for love of Villikins she died

    Now all you young lovers so careless and gay
    Remember the story I tell you today
    It's better by far for to die and grow cold
    But to marry a suitor for silver and gold

    And all of you parents both miserable and grey
    Beware of my warning, take heed what I say
    Don't never try to wed your daughter off to one she never clapped her eyes on
    Think of Villikins and Dinah, not forgetting the cold poison

    (as sung by The Spinners)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1951:] A moral song of the early Victorian era. To be sung with a whining Cockney dialect. (PSB 157)

  • [1982:] George Leybourne (1842-84) was born Joe Sanders, and was originally a Birmingham factory worker. [...] He made his name with [singing] Villikins and His Dinah, which was a parody of the older folk style. (Lee, Folksong 93f)

  • [1982:] In its early days the music hall relied heavily on folksongs and their tunes, and many early performers made a speciality of folksong parodies - some of which have lasted better than the originals. [...] Among them was Villikins and His Dinah (Toorali oorali oorali ay) by the Cockney comedian Sam Cowell. This had started life as a broadside based on the murder of Maria Marten in 1827, William and Maria, which, Stephen Sedley has written, 'was so awful in itself that the text barely had to be changed to achieve a handsome send- up'. But Villikins and Dinah went on to live its own broadside life, and it is in this form that the song is known today. [...]

    There are fewer folksong tunes than there are sets of words, the tunes having been used and reused with minor variations or with none at all. Villikins and Dinah, for example, must have been sung to hundreds of different sets of words. (Pollard, Folksong 9ff)

  • [1999:] According to Peter Davidson in 'Songs Of The British Music Hall' the song originated in the 1840s sung by Frederick Robson at the Grecian Saloon (adjoining The Eagle Tavern of 'Pop Goes The Weasel' fame) and was later taken up by Sam Cowell.

    Robson was 'a master of lightning changes from side-splitting comedy to heart-rending pathos'. and Davidson expounds at some length the intercut of comedy and pathos in the song and its performance. ('... demands of an audience something of that Elizabethan capacity for multiconscious enjoyment described by S. L. Bethell in 'Shakespeare And The Popular Dramatic Condition'. 'It is easy and not unnatural to see Villikins and songs like it as demanding simple guying. But there is here, in an extremely bold form, the relationship of comic and pathetic which is used so skilfully by Albert Chevalier and which is to be found in some of Vesta Victoria's and Gus Elen's songs.').

    Stephen Sedley in 'The Seeds of Love' says of the song that it derived from 'a serious street ballad called William and Dinah which was so awful in itself that the text barely had to be changed to achieve a handsome comic send-up'. (Mick Pearce,, 27 Sep: )

Quelle: England

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aktualisiert am 21.09.2000