Dolly, My Crumpled-Horn Cow
DESCRIPTION: "Oh, what a joy I have in the grazing field, When the sun goes own all aglow, For I love my Doll and the milk she yields WIth her croon ochone so low." The cow likes him, and is beautiful, and he always enjoys being with her
AUTHOR: Words: Edward Harrigan / Music: David Braham
EARLIEST DATE: 1889 ("The Lorgaire")
KEYWORDS: animal nonballad food
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Finson-Edward-Harrigan-David-Braham, vol. II, #150, pp. 232-234, "Dolly, My Crumpled-Horn Cow" (1 text, 1 tune)
NOTES [464 words]: For background on Harrigan and Braham, see the notes to "The Babies on Our Block."
This song really has no place in the Index; is certainly has no place in tradition, and it hasn't even been printed very often. But more than a dozen Harrigan/Braham songs did manage to become traditional, making them a very important source -- and this is the song that David Braham said was his favorite melody of all. I've put it in the Index on that admittedly somewhat peculiar basis.
It comes from the play "The Lorgaire," which "gave Braham the opportunity to produce seven new songs, including his personal favorite, 'Dolly, My Crumpled-Horn Cow," an old-style folk ballad of Mozartian simplicity and grace about a farmer's devotion to his cow" (Franceschina, p. 190).
"The Lorgaire" was one of Edward Harrigan's few dramatic flops (date seemingly uncertain; Moody, p. 82, dates it to February 18, 1878, but Francheschina, p. 234, to 1889, which is also the date on the sheet music in the Levy Collection at Johns Hopkins; Finson-Edward-Harrigan-David-Braham, p. 366, says December 10, 1888. Presumably the 1879 date is of the first production, with the play re-introduced in the 1880s, but it's not clear when this song went into it).
Moody, p. 82, explains the play, which sounds interesting despite its failure; it "was an extraordinarily long play, three acts and multiple scenes, laid in and around a fishing village in County Galway on the west coast of Ireland. In Gaelic a lorgaire is a searcher or pursuer. Harrigan's lorgaire was a detective from Scotland Yard....
"Harrigan's detective, Cornelius Dempsey, appears alternately as a peddler, a blind piper, and a schoolmaster. His disguises never fool the audience but utterly confound the other characters. Many friends slipped into the theatre regularly just to observe him thrashing about in the academic world: 'I am Dyonesius Kavanaugh, Professor of the Learned Languages, also a Homo Factus Ad Ungeum, and teacher of bookkeeping, geometry, trogonometry, stereometry, mensuration, navigation, galvanism, ventilation, explosion, and cholera morphus. Quas Enumerare Longum Est.
"Harrigan often remarked that The Lorgaire was one of the best plays he ever wrote, a claim that rested on his pride in having matched, some say beat, [Dion] Boucicault at his own game."
Moody, p. 155: "In 1891 a reported asked Braham how many songs he'd composed and which were his favorites. Probably around one hundred eighty had been published, another twenty were still in manuscript, and he had the most recent ones in his pocket. The public seemed to favor 'Babies on Our Block,' "Widow Dunn,' 'The Mulligan Guard,' and 'Charleston Blues.' He would never dispute them, although he was proudest of 'Mollie [sic.] My Crumpled Horn Cow.'" - RBW
Last updated in version 5.2
- Franceschina: John Franceschina, David Braham: The American Offenbach, Routledge, 2003
- Moody: Richard Moody, Ned Harrigan: From Corlear's Hook to Herald Square, Nelson Hall, 1980
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