Derby Ram, The

DESCRIPTION: The singer travels to Derby and sees the amazing Derby Ram. Its size and power are described in expansive detail (with the details varying). Most versions end with the slaughter of the ram. "If you had been to Derby, you'd have seen it as well as I"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1827 (Kinloch)
KEYWORDS: animal talltale bawdy bragging humorous lie
FOUND IN: Britain(England(All),Scotland(Aber)) US(All) Australia Ireland Canada(Mar,Newf,Ont) West Indies(Bahamas,Jamaica)
REFERENCES (62 citations):
Reeves-Sharp 26, "The Derby Ram" (2 texts)
Reeves-Circle 31, "The Derby Ram" (1 text)
Williams-Thames, pp. 43-44, "The Ram" (1 text) (also Wiltshire-WSRO Bk 26)
Broadwood/Maitland, pp. 44-47, "The Derby Ram" (3 texts, 4 tunes)
OShaughnessy-Lincolnshire 6, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
Palmer-ECS, #145, "The Derby Tup" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gardham 1, p. 5, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
RoudBishop #106, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
OCroinin-Cronin 48, "Derby Ram" (5 texts, 1 tune)
Belden, pp. 224-225, "The Derby Ram" (1 text)
Randolph 106, "The Derby Ram" (2 texts plus a mixed fragment, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 137-139, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 106A)
Randolph-Legman I, pp. 89-96, "The Darby Ram" (8 texts, 1 tune)
Owens-1ed, pp. 230-231, "Derby's Town" (1 text, 1 tune)
Eddy 81, "The Darby Ram" (1 text)
Gardner/Chickering 190, "The Darby Ram" (2 texts plus an excerpt and mention of 1 more, 2 tunes)
Meredith/Anderson, pp. 112-113, 120-121, "The Derby Ram"; p. 153, "Inky Dinky Derby Town" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
BrownII 176, "The Derby Ram" (1 text plus a fragment)
BrownSchinhanIV 176, "The Derby Ram" (3 excerpts, 3 tunes)
Chappell-FSRA 105, "Ram of Darby" (1 text)
Lunsford31, pp. 8-9, "Darby's Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
JonesLunsford, p. 209, "Darby's Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hudson 127, pp. 273-274, "The Ram of Derby" (1 text)
Fuson, p. 58, "Darby's Sheep" (1 text)
Brewster 75, "The Derby Ram" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Creighton/Senior, pp. 241-242, "Derby Ram" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Colcord, p. 136, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune -- sailors' version; the ram goes to sea but still gets slaughtered)
Hugill, pp. 437-438, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune) [AbEd, pp. 328-329]
Peacock, pp. 10-11, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
Flanders/Brown, pp. 100-101, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
SharpAp 141, "The Derby Ram" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Hubbard, #204, "The Derby Ram" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Lomax-Singing, pp. 104-107, "The Ram of Darby" (1 text, 1 tune)
Friedman, p. 441, "The Derby Ram" (1 text)
Cray, pp. 23-28, "The Derby Ram" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
FSCatskills 151, "The Darby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
ThompsonNewYork, p. 153, "(The Derby Ram)" (1 text)
Fahey-Eureka, pp. 212-213, "The Albury Ram" (1 text, 1 tune, with a chorus borrowed from "Clear Away the Morning Dew")
Paterson/Fahey/Seal, pp. 270-272, "The Albury Ram" (1 text, with the same "Clear Away the Morning Dew" chorus as in Fahey-Eureka)
Greig #14, pp. 1-2, "The Ram of Derby" (1 text)
GreigDuncan3 645, "The Ram o' Dirram" (5 texts, 2 tunes)
HarrisLyleMcAlpineMcLucas, p. 130, "Hech hiegh Durham" (1 fragment)
Kennedy 304, "The Ram Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-SingFam, pp. 38-40, "[The Darby Ram]" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ritchie-Southern, p. 53, "Darby Ram (1 text, 1 tune)
Roberts, #10, "The Old Big Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
Boswell/Wolfe 41, pp. 73-74, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune, although the singer did not call it "The Derby Ram" and the song never mentions Derby)
Chase, pp. 134-136, "The Darby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-NEFolklr, pp. 577-578, "The Derby Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manifold-PASB, p. 97, "The Ram of Dalby" (1 text, 1 tune)
Meredith/Covell/Brown, pp. 139-140, "The Derby Shed Ram" (1 text, 1 tune)
Kinloch-BBook XXVI, pp. 80-81, "The Ram of Diram" (1 text)
Ford-Vagabond, pp. 124-125, "The Ram o' Bervie" (1 text, 1 tune)
Opie-Oxford2 129, "As I was going to Derby" (1 text)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #805, p. 298-300, "(As I was going to Derby)"
Silber-FSWB, p. 404, "The Darby Ram" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: Llewellynn Jewitt, The Ballads and Songs of Derbyshire (London, 1867 ("Digitized by Google")), pp. 115-119, "The Derby Ram" (1 text)
Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Derby Ram" is in Part 1, 7/14/1917.
Martha W Beckwith, "The English Ballad in Jamaica: a Note Upon the Origin of the Ballad Form" in _Publications of the Modern Language Association_ [PMLA], Vol. XXXIXI, No. 2 (Jun 1924 (available online by JSTOR)), #8-#9 p. 478 "The Great Ram of Derby" (2 texts)
Elsie Clews Parsons, "Spirituals and Other Folklore from the Bahamas" in _The Journal of American Folklore_, Vol. 41, No. 162 (Oct-Dec 1928 (made available online by JSTOR)), Toasts and other verses: Watlings p. 469, ("Dere's a ball in from London town") (1 fragment)
Frank J. Gillis, "The Metamorphosis of a Derbyshire Ballad into a New World Jazz Tune,'" article published 1978 in _Disourse in Ethnomusicology: Essays in Honor of George List_; republished on pp. 207-248 of Norm Cohen, editor, _All This for a Song_, Southern Folklife Collection, 2009

Roud #126
Clarence Bennett, "The Derby Ram" (on PeacockCDROM) [one verse only]
Elizabeth Cronin, "Derby Ram" (on IRECronin01)
Warde Ford, "The Derby ram / The Darby ram" (AFS 4214 B1, 1939; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Charles Ingenthron, "The Derby Ram" (AFS; on LC12)
Grandpa Jones w. Delmore Brothers, "Darby's Ram" (King 708, 1948)
Arthur Lennox, "The Ram Song" (on FSB10)
A. L. Lloyd, "The Derby Ram" (on Lloyd4, Lloyd8, Lloyd12)
Bascom Lamar Lunsford, "Darby's Ram" (Brunswick 228, 1928)
Cyril O'Brien, "The Derby Ram" (on NFMLeach); "The Ram" (on MUNFLA/Leach)
Lawrence Older, "Derby Ram" (on LOlder01)
Abigail Hall Ritchie, "Darby Ram" (on Ritchie03)
Pete Seeger, "The Darby Ram" (on PeteSeeger09, PeteSeegerCD02)
Skyland Scotty, "Darby's Ram" (Conqueror 8309, 1934)
Sid Steer, "The Derby Ram" (on Voice07)
Cas Wallin, "Derby Ram" (on OldTrad1, FarMtns4 [as "The Derby Ram"])
Doug Wallin, "The Derby Ram" (on FarMtns3)

cf. "Didn't He Ramble" (lyrics)
cf. "The Grey Goose" (theme)
cf. "The Red Herring" (theme)
cf. "The Sucking Pig" (theme)
cf. "T'Owd Yowe wi' One Horn" (theme)
cf. "Paul Bunyan's Big Ox" (theme)
cf. "The Loft Giant (Song of Marvels)"
cf. "The Wonderful Crocodile" (theme)
Frankfort Town (Greenway-AFP, p. 18)
I Came, an Emerald Freshman (Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, p. 37)
The Beast of Derbytown
The Darby Tup
The Old Tup
The Ram of Derby (Darby)
The Ram Song
The Wattle Flat Ram
The Great Sheep
NOTES [466 words]: This is another of the ballads Child excluded from his ESPB, presumably because the "hero" is an animal. The contemporary bawdy song is descended from English mummer plays, and those, in turn, are perhaps relics of medieval mystery plays.
Randolph-Legman has extensive, if rambling and opinionated, notes on this ballad. - EC
And if it had been trimmed, we'd say "He rambled till that editor cut him down." (Sorry.) -PJS
It's times like these I'm REALLY glad I can blame these notes on somebody else.
Ford reports, without accepting it, that "a prisoner had been condemned to death, in the time of the feudal laws, and was promised free pardon should he succeed in composing a song without a grain of truth in it, and that this was the song he produced." Of course, he could just as well have produced the previous story.... - RBW
The chorus of Beckwith #8, from Jamaica, (collected 1919-1921) is: "He's a ramble, he's a ramble, Said de butcher to de ram, 'Cut it down.'" Is this the only version close to Handy's 1902 "Oh! didn't he ramble, ramble, He rambled 'till the butchers cut him down" [indexed here as "Didn't He Ramble"]? If so, which is the source and which the borrower? Of course, in this song, the ram is frequently slaughtered by a butcher (for example, "The butcher that killed this ram, sir, was up to his thighs in blood") and the "tup" [i.e., ram] was slaughtered by a butcher in the mummers' play (source: Ronald Hutton, The Stations of the Sun, 1996, Oxford University Press, p. 87), but I'm interested in the idea "he rambled till the butchers cut him down."
Beckwith's two texts of "The Great Ram of Darby" show how easily English songs are absorbed into the Jamaican Anansi cante fable form. [E.g. it has happened with Child 1, "Riddles Wisely Expounded," Child 68, "Young Hunting," and Child 95, "The Maid Freed from the Gallows"; see the notes on those songs. - RBW] Often the plot becomes the basis for the tale and speech from the song remains to be sung as part of the cante fable. Beckwith illustrates the extremes. Beckwith #8 is entirely sung. Beckwith #9 is entirely in prose, bracketed with an Anansi introduction and epilog: "There was a great ram; everybody heard about him but could not kill him. Anansi [the trickster] heard about him and took a ride to Darby town to look at the ram. The finest ram that ever is seen! ... The wool that grows on that ram's back seems tall enough to reach the sky. The John-Crow [turkey vulture] build their nest there. ... [The ram is killed] The flood carried away all the young men in Darby town, and all the young women were screaming out for the skin and bone to boil it down to oil to rub the old man's bones. Meanwhile, Anansi had the ram secure in his bag and started for home, leaving the mourning in Darby town." - BS
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File: R106

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