I'm My Own Grandpa

DESCRIPTION: Singer marries a pretty widow; his father marries her red-haired daughter. By tortuous logic, the singer explains that this makes him his own grandfather. Chorus: "I'm my own grandpa...It seems funny, I know/But it really is so/I'm my own grandpa"
AUTHOR: Dwight Latham & Moe Jaffe
EARLIEST DATE: 1948 (recordings, Grandpa Jones, Korn Kobblers); reportedly copyright 1947
KEYWORDS: marriage nonsense paradox family father mother
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (1 citation):
DT, OWNGRNPA
Roud #10444
RECORDINGS:
Grandpa Jones, "I'm My Own Grandpa" (King 694, 1948)
Korn Kobblers, "I'm My Own Grandpaw" (MGM 10136, 1948)
Lonzo & Oscar, "I'm My Own Grandpa" (RCA Victor 20-2563, 1947)

NOTES: This is included because it seems to have begun passing into oral tradition [or at least universal folklore - RBW] -- certainly it appears often enough on the internet (in genealogy sites!) without attribution. The song is based on a short story by Mark Twain. - PJS
To make matters even more complicated, Fiddlin' John Carson's song "Papa's Billy Goat" (a version of what we index by its "urban" name of "Bill Grogan's Goat"), first recorded in 1923, concludes with this verse:
Then I acted an old fool, married me a widow,
And the widow had a daughter and her name was Maude;
Father being a widower married her daughter,
And now my daddy is my own son-in-law.
Obviously that isn't the whole burden of "I'm My Own Grandpa," but it's getting there, and Carson's version was popular enough that he was asked to re-record it twice.
Incidentally, Robert A. Heinlein eventually went this one better, and produced a story in which (by means of time travel and gender surgery) the main character became his own mother. And father. And, hence, grandmother and grandfather and.... (Wouldn't cloning have been easier?)
Not too surprisingly, that story ("All You Zombies," from 1959) mentions this song. It is, in a side note, the next-to-last short story Heinlein ever wrote (the last being "Searchlight," from 1962), and the last not associated with his "Future History" series.
Nor did Heinlein invent the conceit of a time-traveler who was his own parent. In the July 1942 issue of Astounding Science Fiction is a story by Frank Holby entitled "The Strange Case of the Missing Hero." A hero named Elliot Gallant had saved the world, then volunteered to ride a time machine. He was never seen again. A research firm eventually set out to find out his fate. The final sentence: "Elliot Gallant killed himself when he found out, with his great mind power, that he was his own father!"
Believe it or not, there is an actual bit of history which almost resembles this, except that it didn't quite come off. Christopher Allmand, Henry V, University of California Press, 1992, writes :The year 1395 was to witness the first attempt to arrange [a marriage for Henry of Monmouth, the future Henry V]. His prospective bride was to be Marie, daughter of John IV, duke of Brittany, and his duchess, Joan. The plan fell through.... Yet the Breton link was not lost. In 1403 Henry's own father was to marry the duchess Joan,by then widowed. Thus the lady who might have become [Henry's] mother-in-law became his stepmother instead."
Again, not this exact plot -- but one can imagine getting to this plot from that one. - RBW
Last updated in version 2.5
File: DTowngrn

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 2016 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.