Pop Goes the Weasel
DESCRIPTION: Words can be anything, as long as they have the phrase "Pop goes the weasel." The 1853 text talks of a weasel in a henhouse, temperance issues, and relations between Uncle Sam and John Bull
EARLIEST DATE: 1853 (sheet music published by Berry & Gordon of New York)
KEYWORDS: animal technology nonballad nonsense humorous political
FOUND IN: US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So)
REFERENCES (15 citations):
Wolford, pp. 83-84=WolfordRev, pp. 231-232, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 text, 1 tune)
Randolph 556, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Randolph/Cohen, pp. 408-409, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 text, 1 tune -- Randolph's 556A)
BrownIII 93, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 fragment)
Linscott, pp. 107-108, "Pop! Goes the Weasel" (1 tune plus dance instructions)
RJackson-19CPop, pp. 176-179, "Pop Goes de Weasel" (1 text, 1 tune)
Baring-Gould-MotherGoose #872, p. 325, "(Up and down the city road)"
Opie-Game 47, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (4 texts, 1 tune)
Montgomerie-ScottishNR 108, "(Round about the porridge pot)" (1 text)
Jack, p. 158, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 text)
Dolby, p. 107, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 text)
Arnett, p. 40, "Pop Goes the Weasel" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 34, "Pop Goes The Weasel" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 440-441+, "Pop Goes the Weasel"
DT, WEASLPOP* POPWEAS2*
ST R556 (Full)
Murray, Mu23-y1:060, "Pop Goes the Weasel," James Lindsay (Glasgow), 19C, possibly a parody on another version of the piece
NLScotland, L.C.178.A.2(032), "Pop Goes the Weael", James Lindsay (Glasgow), 1852-1859
cf. "A Ripping Trip" (tune)
cf. "The D & H Canal" (tune)
Pop Goes the Coachman ("Mr. Boker's very blue, cause his daughter poached, man") (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 128)
Pop Goes the Question "(Matrimony is a nut") (WolfAmericanSongSheets p. 128)
Pop Goes the Weasel (square dance call) (Welsch, pp. 112-113)
NOTES [263 words]: The history of this piece is obscure. The earliest datable printings (British and American versions from 1853) have the tune; the American version also includes the phrase "Pop goes the weasel," but has little resemblance to the modern texts such as "All around the cobbler's bench The monkey chased the weasel" (this text does not appear until the twentieth century).
Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 193, 210, claims a political subtext to the 1853 American version; "The main body... concerns the issues of 1853. The second stanza is devoted exclusively to the various defects of Great Britain, beginning with English criticism of American slavery... the lyrics also warn Great Britain against supporting Spain on the question of Cuba." There is also a reference to Franklin Pierce, who was president from 1853-1857 and (despite being praised in the song) was a lightweight whose activities did much to bring on the Civil War. The third verse of this version goes after the temperance movement.
The English printing (the NLScotland broadside cited) is a dance tune with no text; it hints that the music is traditional. Interestingly, printer Lindsay has another version (the Murray broadside) which does have a text -- but it appears rewritten, since it refers to "Albert and the Queen" dancing to the tune, and girls being ruined by its melody.
It is generally agreed that, in the earliest versions, the "weasel" is the tool used by hatmakers, and to "pop" it is to pawn it. - RBW
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