Hill and Gully
DESCRIPTION: Jamaican patois: chorus "hill an' gully ride-a, hill an' gully" (2x). Each verse line is followed by "hill an' gully." Roughly: bend down low/ hill and gully/ low down best you be down/ hill and gully/ better mind or you tumble down/ hill and gully.
EARLIEST DATE: 1951 (Murray)
KEYWORDS: game nonballad worksong injury Devil
FOUND IN: West Indies(Jamaica)
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Murray, p. 9, "Hill and Gully" (1 text, 1 tune)
ADDITIONAL: Olive Lewin, "Rock It Come Over" - The Folk Music of Jamaica (Barbados: The University of the Westy Indies Press, 2000), p. 82, "Hill an' Gully" (1 text, 1 tune)
Noel Dexter and Godfrey Taylor, _Mango Time - Folk Songs of Jamaica_ (Kingston: Ian Randle Publishers, 2007), p. 52, "Hill and Gully" (1 text, 1 tune)
Jim Morse, _Folk Songs of the Caribbean_ (New York: Bantam Books, 1958), pp. 98-99, "Hill an' Gully" (1 text, 1 tune)
Martha Warren Beckwith and Helen Roberts, _Folk-Games of Jamaica_ (Poughkeepsie: Vassar College, 1922 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")) #32 pp. 39-41, "Hill and Gully Riding" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Edric Connor with the Caribbeans and Earl Inkman, "Hill an' Gully" (on WIEConnor01)
Lord Composer and the Silver Seas Hotel Orchestra, "Hill and Gully Ride[sic]";"Mandeville Road" (before 1956, on Motta MRS DMS 31, before 1956, Motta LP MOTL 103, 2004, "Mento Madness, Motta's Jamaican Mento: 1951-56," V2 Music Ltd CD 63881-27201-2)
The Charms, "Hill and Gully" Island (1964, 45 rpm WI-154 B)
Valerie Walker, "Hill and Gully" (1981, on "John Crow Say... Jamaican Music of Faith, Work & Play," Smithsonian Folkways FE 4228)
NOTES [274 words]: Lewin: "Most Jamaicans know 'Hill an' Gully Rider' as a work song. It, however started life as a rather athletic game played by men and boys in western [hilly] Maroon [free black] towns."
The description follows Murray and Dexter/Taylor. Morse has a similar verse: "an' you fall down, low down/ hill an' gully/ an' de low down Debil glad/ hill an' gully/ an' he laffin' wen you tumble down/ hill an' gully." Lewin's continues along the same line: if you fall you'll break your neck; if you beak your neck you'll go to hell; if you go to hell the devil will laugh. Lord Composer has "bend down low down/.../ and then you dance right round down/.../ and if you broke your neck you gonna hell/..."
Murray has this as a game song. Dexter/Taylor has it as a work song. Lewin has it as "a Maroon [free black] play song: a plantation work song"; she describes the game. Both Walker and Lord Composer have the "if you fall down you'll go to hell" verse and Walker's version clearly seems to be a game ("if you broke it then you go again"). The Charms's ska version -- "careful how you go, mind your back and fore" -- can be read as dance -- "back to back, belly to belly" -- or sex instruction; no fall down or go to hell.
There is a dancehall version by Yellowman which, after the dedications, I cannot translate from Jamaican patois; I'm not surprised that I hear nothing there -- except the chorus -- that sounds like anything I have heard on other records or seen in the books. (Yellowman, "Hill and Gully Rider" (on 1984, "Yellowman - Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt," Greensleeves LP GREL 71).
Also, see the notes to "Go Down Emmanuel Road." - BS
Last updated in version 4.0
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.