Bright Fine Gold
DESCRIPTION: "Spend it in the winter or die in the cold, One a pecker, Tuapecka, bright fine gold." "Some are sons of fortune, And my man came to see" but found no gold. "I'm weary of Otago... Let my man strike it rich, And then we'll go. Bright fine gold...."
EARLIEST DATE: 1957 (Ruth Park, "One a Pecker, Two a Pecker"; see NOTES)
KEYWORDS: gold mining hardtimes travel New Zealand
FOUND IN: New Zealand
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Bailey/Roth-NZ, p. 55, "(Bright Fine Gold)" (1 excerpt)
Colquhoun-NZ, p. 49, "Bright Fine Gold" (1 text, 1 "reconstructed" tune) (p. 29 in the 1972 edition)
Cleveland-NZ, p. 101, "Bright Fine Gold" (1 text, 1 tune)
GarlandFaces-NZ, pp. 36, 69-70, "(Bright Fine Gold)" (1 text and various loose verses)
ST BaRo055A (Partial)
NOTES [192 words]: Usually regarded as a New Zealand folk song, it appears that this is an example of the extremely complex interaction between oral tradition and print. Ruth Park in the 1950s was called upon to write a book about the New Zealand gold fields. This was "One-a-pecker, Two-a-pecker," with the title based on a traditional fragment, usually regarded as the chorus to this piece. Park and her husband wrote a couple of verses and published the book. Her text is on p. 68 of Garland; I've never encountered a case of her words being sung. But after she published, other verses started to show up. Better verses, I would add. It's these that are usually considered to be "the" song "Bright Fine Gold." But the extent to which they are based upon Park is not clear. It is likely that there was a song in existence before she wrote, and there is certainly one in existence now, but I don't think we can prove continuity of existence.
The tune is often said to be "Hot Cross Buns." The "Bright fine gold" line does use that tune (although usually sung so slowly that it's hard to recognize it), but the way I've heard the rest of the song is somewhat different. - RBW
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