Game of Cards (I), The
DESCRIPTION: A young man meets a girl by the highway. They walk together; she would play a game. He wants her to learn "the game of all fours." When the "cards" are "dealt," she takes his "jack." If he will return, she offers to "play the game over and over again."
EARLIEST DATE: before 1830 (broadside, Bodleian Harding B 11(540))
KEYWORDS: cards sex bawdy seduction game
FOUND IN: Britain(England(South,Lond))
REFERENCES (5 citations):
Kennedy-FolksongsOfBritainAndIreland 175, "The Game of Cards" (1 text, 1 tune)
MacColl/Seeger-TravellersSongsFromEnglandAndScotland 36, "All Fours" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Reeves-TheEverlastingCircle 2, "All Fours" (1 text)
Roud/Bishop-NewPenguinBookOfEnglishFolkSongs #24, "The Game of Gards" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sam Larner, "All Fours" (on SLarner02)
Levi Smith, "The Game of Cards" (on Voice11)
Bodleian, Harding B 11(540), "The Cards" ("As I walked out one midsummer morning"), T. Birt (London), 1828-1829; also Harding B 11(1855), Firth b.27(418), "The Cards"; Firth b.34(281), "Game of All Fours"; Firth b.34(120), "Game of All Fours," unknown, n.d.
The Game of All Fours
As I Walked Out
NOTES [144 words]: The actual card-game of "All Fours" is also known, in the USA, as "Seven-Up," "Old Sledge," "High-Low-Jack," and "Pitch" -- but the use of the game as a sexual metaphor did not make it across the ocean. - PJS
W. C. Hazlitt A Dictionary of Faiths & Folklore, entry on "All Fours," notes that the common amusement of having an adult get down on arms and knees and have a child ride on his back is also known as "all fours," which obviously has high potential for sexual undercurrents.
There are other songs entitled "The Game of Cards" -- e.g. Healy-MercierBookOfOldIrishStreetBalladsVol2, pp. 81-83. Some may have distant dependence on this, but most are probably distinct. - RBW
Yates, Musical Traditions site Voice of the People suite "Notes - Volume 11" - 11.9.02: "it should be stressed that this song has nothing, whatsoever, to do with the card game." - BS
Last updated in version 4.1
Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography
The Ballad Index Copyright 2021 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.