Little Brown Dog
DESCRIPTION: "When I was a little boy As fat as I could go, They set me there upon the fence...." The boy fights and defeats a giant, induces his hen to hatch out a hare, acquires a dog with legs ten feet long, and otherwise does the impossible
EARLIEST DATE: 1891 (JAFL 4)
KEYWORDS: talltale animal chickens dog horse sheep humorous nonsense fight
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South),Scotland(Aber),Shetlands) US(MA,NE,So) Canada(Mar,Newf)
REFERENCES (19 citations):
Randolph 357, "When I Was a Little Boy" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
GreigDuncan8 1701, "Speculation" (8 texts, 2 tunes)
Greig #149, p. 1, "Speculation" (1 text)
Reeves-Circle 4, "As I Set Off To Turkey" (1 text)
FSCatskills 145, "The Lofty Giant" (1 text)
Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 101, "When I Was a Little Boy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Wiltshire-WSRO Mi 712, "As I Was Going to Romford" (1 text)
Hudson 129, p. 275, "To London I Did Go" (1 text)
Owens-2ed, pp. 140-141, "When I'se a Little Boy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-Singing, pp. 108-109, "Toll-a-Winker" (1 text, 1 tune)
Peacock, pp. 24-29, "A Tale of Jests" (3 texts, 3 tunes)
Leach-Labrador 111, "The Lying Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Karpeles-Newfoundland 87, "The Liar's Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Ives-NewBrunswick, pp. 103-106, "The Little Bull Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Manny/Wilson 79, "The Little Bull" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 394, "Little Brown Dog" (1 text)
ADDITIONAL: William Wells Newell, "Nursery Rhymes from Maine" in The _Journal of American Folklore_, Vol. IV, No. 14 (Jul-Sep 1891 (available online by JSTOR)), #5 pp. 269-270 "Jack the Giant-Killer" ("When I was a little boy, to London I did go") (2 texts)
Roger deV. Renwick, _Recentering Anglo/American Folksong: Sea Crabs and Wicked Youths_, University Press of Mississippi, 2001, p. 81, "When I Was a Little Boy" (1 text)
George Decker, "A Tale of Jests" (on PeacockCDROM)
cf. "The Derby Ram"
cf. "The Swapping Boy"
cf. "The Seven Wonders"
The Big Jeest
Once I Had
The Lie Song
A Lad's Adventures
NOTES: I've listed this song under a title by which it's well known; as it was extremely popular in the 1960s folk revival. -PJS
Versions of this song may take almost any form, as long as there is enough exaggeration. The piece is recognized by its short lines and stanzas. Here are samples: "When I was a little boy, To London I did go, Upon that banished (?) steeple, My gallantry to show." "I bought me a little hen, I did not take much care; I set her on an oyster shell, And she hatched me out a bear."
Hudson calls this a rhymed version of the story of Jack the Giant Killer. Some versions were doubtless influenced by that, but the song doesn't require killing a giant. - RBW
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