Bow Wow Wow

DESCRIPTION: Primarily as tune used for various broadsides and late folk songs, recognized monotonal measures followed by arpeggios on a pentatonic scale. Chorus something like "Bow wow wow, all the dog did say to them was, Bow wow wow."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1859 (Chappell); before 1770 (according to Kidson; see note)
KEYWORDS: dancetune nonballad animal
FOUND IN: Britain
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Chappell/Wooldridge II, p. 183, "The Barking Barber" (1 tune)
cf. "Guy Fawkes" (tune)
cf. "Jog Along Till Shearing" (tune)
cf. "Row-Dow-Dow" (tune)
cf. "The Carrier's Song" (tune)
cf. "Joseph Tuck" (tune)
cf. "The Voyage to Australia" (tune, some lyrics)
cf. "Kumara Volunteers' Song" (tune)
Guy Fawkes (File: LPnd084)
Jog Along Till Shearing (File: MA086)
Row-Dow-Dow (File: K354)
The Carrier's Song (File: FaE104)
Joseph Tuck (File: OpOx087)
Kumara Volunteers' Song (File: BaRo072)
That's What's the Matter #3 ("New York is quite a little town") (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 155)
The War Is Over Now ("The Cruel war is over; Peace has come again, sirs") (WolfAmericanSongSheets, p. 168)
The Voyage to Australia (File: AnSo029)
Gombo Chaff (song about a character created by Thomas D. Rice; see the notes to "Jump Jim Crow")
NOTES [316 words]: I've yet to find a complete text of this piece, which makes it hard to write a proper description. I'm not sure Bow Wow Wow, as a song in its own right, exists in tradition. But it was used for so many traditional songs (see the cross-references) that it clearly belongs here.
With regard to the date, Conrad Bladey sends me this useful material from Frank Kidson (I think; the references Conrad sent me required a user ID which I of course did not have):
"[W]e may take the famous "Bow, wow, wow" as a typical example. The original song was a feeble production that first came into notice about 1760 or 1770. In a rather lame manner it showed in doggerel verse (no pun meant), how every class of humanity might be likened to the canine race. A barking chorus of "Bow, wow, wow!" with some "fol-diddle-dols" to fill up, gave every one a chance to join in. This is a specimen verse out of at least a dozen, all equally bad:
A swindler he's a sorry dog, he's always cheating;
A Frenchman he's a nimble dog, he runs from every beating;
The soldier he's a noble dog, in every rank and station,
And a sailor he's a hearty dog, as any in the nation.
Bow, wow, wow, etc.
Nevertheless the tune is good and it quickly took the public's fancy. The words underwent revision and were frequently sung. Then ,as a natural consequence, came "mew,mew, mew," in which with equal banality, the human race was compared to cats; this was publicly sung in 1788....
Dogs and cats banished, a classical flavour was imparted by a song written and sung by Collins in a table entertainment, about 1790. This was a sort of moral comic, ditty which dealt in scholastic fashion with the misfortunes of Belisarius its title was "Date obolum Belisario," and it was even worse than the original of the dogs. Then the tune changed a little, to fit more neatly other songs, which included "The Barking Barber" and others...." - RBW
Last updated in version 4.3
File: ChWII183

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2018 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.