Putting On the Style

DESCRIPTION: A series of comments on the folly of those who put on false faces. Example: "Young man in a carriage driving like he's mad... He cracks his whip so lively just to see his lady smile, But she knows he's only puttin' on the style."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1917 (Cox)
KEYWORDS: humorous vanity pride
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MA,So)
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Randolph 469, "Putting On the Style" (1 text plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 320-322, "Putting On the Style" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 469A)
High, p. 29, "Putting on the Style" (1 text)
FSCatskills 109, "Puttin' On the Style" (1 text, 1 tune+variant form)
JHCox 184, "Putting On the Style" ( text)
PSeeger-AFB, p. 68, "Putting On The Style" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 24, "Putting On The Style" (1 text)
DT, PUTONSTY PUTONST2*

Roud #3767
RECORDINGS:
Vernon Dalhart, "Putting On Style" (Vocalion 15327, 1926) (Columbia 15082-D, 1926) (Edison 52118, 1927)
Warde Ford, "Putting on the Agony" [with half a verse of, "Our Goodman"] (AFS 4200 B3, 1938; tr.; in AMMEM/Cowell)
Pete Seeger, "Puttin' On the Style" (on PeteSeeger04); "Putting On the Style" (on PeteSeeger11)
[Ernest Stoneman &] The Dixie Mountaineers, "Puttin' on the Style" (Edison, unissued, 1927)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Putting on Airs" (theme)
cf. "Sweet Sixteen" (theme)
cf. "The Truth Twice Told" (subject)
NOTES: Cazden et al have very extensive notes about the origins of this song, which largely boil down to, "Hey, we found this song, and it belongs to us and our informant!" Nonetheless, their notes, and the existence of the several versions in Randolph, demonstrate that the song has become a true folk piece. - RBW
Seeger dates this song from the 1880s, but offers no documentation. - PJS
The version in Cox, collected in 1917, was reported to be from the informant's mother, which makes a nineteenth century date highly likely. Indeed, the first verse begins,
Eighteen hundred seventy one,
January the first,
Thought I'd write a poem,
If I could or durst.
It will be noted, however, that this verse doesn't scan as well as the others. But Randolph's informant Doney Hammontree said it was in "all the popular songbooks" in the 1890s. Still, the biggest single factor in its popularity was probably the Dalhart recording. - RBW
Last updated in version 3.3
File: R469

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The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.