Son of a Gambolier (I), The

DESCRIPTION: "I'm a rambling rake of poverty, From Tippery town I came. 'Twas poverty compelled me first, To go out in the rain." The singer tells how hard life, (drink), and rambling has turned him old and unattractive. He can't help it; he's "the son of a gambolier"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1870 (sheet music)
KEYWORDS: rambling drink poverty
FOUND IN: US(SE) Ireland
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Sandburg, p. 44, "The Son of a Gambolier" (1 text, 1 tune)
Graham/Holmes 71, "The on of a Gamble-eer" (1 text, 1 tune, heavily modified to mae it Irish)
Shay-Barroom, pp. 59-60, "The Son of a Gambolier" (1 text)
Spaeth-ReadWeep, pp. 78-80, "The Son of a Gambolier" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gilbert, pp. 159-160, "The Song of a Gambolier" (1 text)
Fuld-WFM, pp. 515-516, "Son of a Gun -- (Son of a Gambolier; Dunderbeck; and Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech)"
DT, SONGAMB*
ADDITIONAL: Bill Wannan, _The Australians: Yarns, ballads and legends of the Australian tradition_, 1954 (page references are to the 1988 Penguin edition), p. 74, "The Ramble-eer" (1 text, recognizably this although the first verse has some astronomy references and the son of a gamboleer is made a "son of a gun for beer")
Bill Beatty, _A Treasury of Australian Folk Tales & Traditions_, 1960 (I use the 1969 Walkabout Paperbacks edition), pp. 287-288, "The Ramble-eer" (1 text, much like Wannan's)

ST San044 (Partial)
Roud #2964
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Rambling Soldier (II)" (possible source for this song)
cf. "The Rambling Wreck from Georgia Tech" (tune)
cf. "Dunderbeck" (tune)
cf. "Son of a Gambolier (II)"
cf. "Way Out in Idaho (I)" (tune)
cf. "The Pioneers" (tune)
cf. "According to the Act" (tune)
cf. "The Rakes of Poverty" (tune)
cf. "The Freight Handler's Strike" (tune)
cf. "The Man That Waters the Workers' Beer" (tune)
cf. "Joe Williams (tune)
cf. "The Infantry" (tune)
cf. "Heligoland" (tune)
cf. "The Sergeant, He Is the Worst of All" (tune)
cf. "Louse Song" (tune)
cf. "The Allentown Ambulance" (tune)
SAME TUNE:
Coast Artillery Song (Jerry SIlverman, _Ballads & Songs of WWI_, 1997, pp. 198-199)
The Jolly Sophomore ("When first I went to College, to Columbia's halls I came") (Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, p. 58)
Ye Gallant Sophomore ("There is in sober Itaca A University") (by F. C. Allen, [class of 18]73) (Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, p. 108)
Rambling Rake of Poverty, "A Cornellian's Version" ("Come listen to my ditty, from Itaca town I steer") (Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, p. 113)
Son of a Gambolier/Mary Had a Little Lamb (Henry Randall Waite, _Carmina Collegensia: A Complete Collection of the Songs of the American Colleges_ first edition 1868, expanded edition, Oliver Ditson, 1876, part 3, p. 50)
NOTES: Jonathan Lighter, who has investigated the early versions of this song, gives this information about its history:
"'Son of a Gambolier' (alias 'The Rambling Rake') seems to have been a big deal at Harvard and Princeton in the 1860s. The earliest allusion I have found" is the New Orleans broadside from 1861 cited in the Supplemental Tradition. It "is on the program of the Harvard Senior Class Supper, 1865, where the Senior Class Ode is directed to be sung to the 'Air,--Rambling Rake of Poverty.' (The lyrics of the ode bear no resemblance to those of the "gambolier" song.)
In the "anonymous Fair Harvard: A Story of American College Life (1869), which is set just before the Civil War,[a] Southern student sings, 'Oh, I'm the rambling rake of poverty.'
"In 1869, G.K. Ward. A.B. Kelly, & J. C. Pennington printed the anonymous song and its tune in Carmina Princetonia." This version is entitled "Son of a Gambolier. A Nassau Song."
Lighter concludes, "My guess is that the song began as a vaudeville piece ca1860 and was more than once rewritten for the stage, whence Harvard, Princeton, and (presumably) Yale quickly appropriated it. (The earliest report from Yale seems to be from the1870s. Later reports are from places like Columbia, CCNY, the U. of Michigan, and Stanford. And, much later, Georgia Tech.)" - [RBW]
The Brown text is clearly a prototype of the various "Son of a Gambolier" versions; in it, the lad is forced by poverty to join the army, and does not mention the gambolier. But so much of the rest is the same that it seems absurd to split the songs. - RBW
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File: San044

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