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Songs and Verses That Invade Your Mind

Updated on December 2, 2020
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John is a movie and music lover. He is especially interested in classic movies, cinema and music and related trivia.

The Mind Works in Mysterious Ways

Sometimes...no, often..my brain amazes me. Not by the brilliant ideas it comes up with, or by solving the most difficult problems on some Mensa test so I can boast an IQ of 130 (I wish), or something equally outlandish, but simply by what rises to the top of my memory for no apparent reason.

It could be some long thought forgotten childhood memory that some event or conversation seems to reignite in the mind. In this particular instance I am writing about songs, poems or verses that I heard as a child and that keep resurfacing requiring me to sing along or recite out loud, often to the surprise and embarrassment of my family and friends (and myself, because I am the world's worst singer).

I have only chosen the songs that are so vivid in my memory that I can actually remember most of the words. It is usually a struggle for me to remember just one verse or the chorus of a song (even if I like it). I know these songs really age me, but they are from among my very first musical memories. A few of you may be old enough to remember a couple of them as well, but I don't expect you to admit it :)

Source

The Marvelous Toy

I have no idea when or where I first heard or read this song, just that I was a child at the time and it appealed to me. I kept imagining my father arriving home from a business trip or training course and present me with such a toy (he usually brought my mother and I a gift of some sort when he'd been away.. me usually a book).

When I started writing the article I was going to ask if anyone recognised this or knew where it originated to please let me know in comments. However, before I did that I thought I should do a Google search first.

Well, voila! I found out that the song was made popular by none other than Peter, Paul and Mary who also sang one of my other favourite childhood songs "Puff the Magic Dragon". John Denver also did a great version and I had trouble choosing who's version to include Here. I decided to find out who wrote the song and post that version.

The fact that I knew John Denver had actually written "Leaving on a Jet Plane" which Peter, Paul and Mary had a major hit with had me suspecting that maybe he had written "the Marvelous Toy" as well. However, my searching soon uncovered the truth! The song, was written and first performed by a guy called Tom Paxton. I think it only fair I include his version here.

Thomas Richard "Tom" Paxton (born October 31, 1937) is an American folk singer-songwriter whose music career spans more than fifty years. In 2009, Tom Paxton received a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award.

Paxton's songs have enduring appeal, including modern standards such as "The Last Thing on My Mind", "Bottle of Wine", "Whose Garden Was This", "The Marvelous Toy", and "Ramblin' Boy". Paxton's songs have been recorded by some of the music industry's most accomplished singers including: Pete Seeger, Bob Dylan, Simon and Garfunkel, Johnny Cash, Judy Collins, Joan Baez, Doc Watson, Harry Belafonte, Peter, Paul and Mary, The Seekers, Marianne Faithfull, The Kingston Trio, John Denver, Dolly Parton and Porter Wagoner, Willie Nelson, Flatt & Scruggs, Val Doonican, Daniel O'Donnell, Pat Boone, Ann Murray, Chris de Burgh, Nora Jones, Neil Diamond, Charlie Pride, and the list is almost endless.

He has performed thousands of concerts around the world and is still performing.

(for more of Tom Paxton's amazing career please see: https://en.wikipedia.org/Tom_Paxton)

The Marvelous Toy

by Tom Paxton

When I was just a wee little lad,
Full of health and joy,
My father homeward came one night
And gave to me a toy.
A wonder to behold it was
With many colors bright
And the moment I laid eyes on it,
It became my heart's delight.

Refrain:
It went "Zip" when it moved, and "Bop" when it stopped,
And "Whirrr" when it stood still.
I never knew just what it was and I guess I never will.

The first time that I picked it up
I had a big surprise
Cause right on the bottom were two big buttons
That looked like big green eyes
I first pushed one and then the other,
Then I twisted it's lid
And when I set it down again, here is what it did:

(Refrain)

It first marched left, and then marched right
And then marched under a chair
And when I looked where it had gone
It wasn't even there
I started to cry, but my daddy laughed
'Cause he knew that I would find,
When I turned around my marvelous toy
Would be chugging from behind.

(Refrain)

The years have gone by too quickly it seems,
I have my own little boy
And yesterday I gave to him
My marvelous little toy:
His eyes nearly popped right out of his head
And he gave a squeal of glee!
Neither one of us knows just what it is
But he loves it just like me!

It still goes... (refrain)

Source

I think I first heard this song being sung by my mother as a form of lullaby to put me to sleep, and it stuck with me. The first version I heard performed by a professional singer was by "The Seekers".

The Gypsy Rover

by Leo Maguire

Whistling Gypsy came over the hill
Down thru the valley so shady
He whistled and he sang
Till the greenwood rang
And he won the heart of a lady

A dee do a dee do die day
A dee do a dee day-o
He whistled and he sang
Till the greenwood rang
And he won the heart of a lady

She left her father's castle gate
She left her fair young lover
She left her servants
And her estate
To follow the gypsy rover

A dee do a dee do die day
A dee do a dee day-o
She left her servants
And her estate
To follow the gypsy rover.


(These next four stanzas are new to me or I had forgotten)

She left behind her velvet gown
And shoes of Spanish leather
They whistled and they sang
Till the greenwood rang
As they rode off together

A dee do a dee do die day
A dee do a dee day-o
They whistled and they sang
Till the greenwood rang
As they rode off together

Last night she slept on a goose feather bed
With silken sheets for cover
Tonight she sleeps
On the cold cold ground
Beside her gypsy lover

A dee do a dee do die day
A dee do a dee day-o
Tonight she sleeps
On the cold cold ground
Beside her gypsy lover

History of the Gypsy Rover

The Gypsy Rover, or The Whistling Gypsy is a well-known ballad of unknown origin but composed and copyrighted by Dublin songwriter Leo Maguire in the 1950s.

There are a number of similar traditional songs about a genteel woman's encounter with Gypsies dating back at least as far as the early 19th century. The story-line usually revolves around a woman leaving her home to run off with a Gypsy or Gypsies, only to be pursued by her husband.

Dorothy Scarborough's 1937 book A Song Catcher In Southern Mountains: American Folk Songs of British Ancestry includes a lullaby called "Gypsy Davy", and has a similar construction to Maguire's song, both in some of the lyrics in the verses and in the "ah dee do" chorus. The difference in Maguire's song is that the lady is pursued by her father.

Apart from The Seekers the song has been recorded by numerous artists, including The Clancy Brothers, The Kingston Trio, The Highwaymen Glenn Yarbrough, Foster & Allen, and The Wiggles, and Gypsy Davy by Bob Dylan. (source: Wikipedia)

Source

Her father saddled up his fastest steed
And roamed the valleys all over
Sought his daughter
At great speed
And the whistling gypsy rover

A dee do a dee do die day
A dee do a dee day-o
Sought his daughter
At great speed
And the whistling gypsy rover

He came at last to a mansion fine
Down by the river Claydee
And there was music
And there was wine
For the gypsy and his lady

A dee do a dee do die day
A dee do a dee day-o
And there was music
And there was wine
For the gypsy and his lady

"He is no gypsy my father" she said
"But lord of these lands all over
And I shall stay
'til my dying day
With my whistling gypsy rover"

A dee do a dee do die day
A dee do a dee day-o
And I shall stay
'til my dying day
With my whistling gypsy rover"

The next on my list of songs and verses that invaded my mind is the well known folk song "Tom Dooley". I can't even remember when I first heard this, and it isn't even a pleasant theme as it is based on a murder and hanging. I must admit that the tune is catchy though.

Thomas Caleb Tom Dooley Dula (June 22, 1845 – May 1, 1868)
Thomas Caleb Tom Dooley Dula (June 22, 1845 – May 1, 1868) | Source

History of Tom Dooley

The song is based on the 1866 murder of a woman named Laura Foster in Wilkes County, North Carolina, purportedly by Tom Dula, a former Confederate soldier.

It is best known today because of a hit version recorded in 1958 by The Kingston Trio which reached No.1 in both the Billboard and the Billboard R&B listing. It was also listed in the Cashbox Country Music Top 20. It fits within the wider genre of Appalachian "sweetheart murder ballads".

The song was selected as one of the American Songs of the Century by the Recording Industry Association of America(RIAA), and the Western Writers of America chose it as one of the Top 100 Western songs of all time.It was first sung by G. B. Grayson and Henry Whitter and has since been covered by a host of artists including Neil Young, Lonnie Donegan, and Doc Watson. (source: Wikipedia)

Tom Dooley

by Thomas Land

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die
I met her on the mountain
There I took her life
Met her on the mountain
Stabbed her with my knife

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

This time tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Hadn't a-been for Grayson
I'd a-been in Tennessee

Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Hang down your head and cry
Hang down your head, Tom Dooley
Poor boy, you're bound to die

(repeat chorus)

This time tomorrow
Reckon where I'll be
Down in some lonesome valley
Hangin' from a white oak tree

(repeat chorus twice)

Drovers on the Brinkworth cattle drive
Drovers on the Brinkworth cattle drive | Source

History of Queensland Overlander

The final song that has stuck in my mind for many years, despite rarely ever hearing it since my school days is "Queensland Overlander (The Overlander)". It was included in one of our songbooks as part of our music classes in about 5th grade. Myself and two friends chose this song to perform as a trio at a school concert (the only way my singing is passable is as part of a group). The tune still pops into my head, unexplained, to this day.

The songs and music that has come from people's experiences of living and surviving in the Australian bush has become known in Australia as 'bush music'. Bush songs have been devised by ordinary everyday people and are a record of the colourful slang of bush life.

The convict songs of the early days of the Australian colonies became the foundation of Australia's bush music. Bush ballads recorded the harsh way of the life and contemporary events and experiences; the lives and loves of bushrangers, swagmen, drovers, and shearers.

After the gold rushes, shearers and drovers composed ballads and songs which became part of the oral tradition of Australian bush music. Stockmen and drovers, known as 'overlanders', were proud of the skills required to drive sheep and cattle over long distances and this is expressed in many of their ballads and songs

The Overlanders has been in circulation in a number of versions for over 100 years. The earliest surviving one was around in the 1840s and published in the Queensland Camp Fire Song Book in 1865. (source: www.australia.gov.au)

Drovers (overlanders) camping under some trees at Hughenden, Queensland. Boxes, buckets and other gear are spread out upon the ground. Dogs shelter under the loaded dray.
Drovers (overlanders) camping under some trees at Hughenden, Queensland. Boxes, buckets and other gear are spread out upon the ground. Dogs shelter under the loaded dray. | Source

Queensland Overlander

by Phillip "Remos" Somer

There's a trade you all know well,
It's bringing cattle over.
On ev'ry track,
To the Gulf and back,
Men know the Queensland drover.

CHORUS:
Pass the billy 'round boys!
Don't let the pint-pot stand there!
For tonight we drink the health
Of every overlander.

I come from the northern plains
Where the girls and grass are scanty;
Where the creeks run dry
Or ten foot high
And it's either drought or plenty.

There are men from every land,
From Spain and France and Flanders;
They're a well-mixed pack,
Both white and black,
The Queensland overlanders.:

When we've earned a spree in town
We live like pigs in clover;
And the whole year's cheque
Pours down the neck
Of many a Queensland drover.

As I pass along the roads,
The children raise my dander
Crying "Mother dear,
Take in the clothes,
Here comes the overlander!":

Now I'm bound for home once more,
On a prad that's quite a goer;
I can find a job
With a crawling mob
On the banks of the Maranoa.

© 2015 John Hansen

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