Friday, July 2, 2010

Folklife Fridays: Skip to my Lou


Remember the old songs?



We sang "Skip to my Lou" when I was a child. If we didn't know or forgot the words, we just made up our own. We sang it as we joined hands in circles and marched around.




Here's one version of the lyrics:



I lost my partner,What'll I do?I lost my partner,What'll I do?I lost my partner,What'll I do?Skip to my lou, my darlin'.



Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.



I'll find another onePrettier than you,I'll find another onePrettier than you,I'll find another onePrettier than you,Skip to my Lou, my darlin'


Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Skip to my Lou, my darling.



Fly's in the buttermilk,Shoo, fly, shoo,Fly's in the buttermilk,Shoo, fly, shoo,Fly's in the buttermilk,Shoo, fly, shoo,Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.


Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.


Cow's in the buttermilk,Moo, moo, moo Cow's in the buttermilk,Moo, moo, moo Cow's in the buttermilk,Moo, moo, moo Skip to my Lou, my darlin'.



Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Skip to my Lou, my darling.


A little red wagon,Painted blue.A little red wagon,Painted blue.A little red wagon,Painted blue.Skip to my Lou, my darling.



Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Skip to my Lou, my darling.



I lost my partner,What'll I do?I lost my partner,What'll I do?I lost my partner,What'll I do?Skip to my lou, my darlin'.


Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Lou, Lou, skip to my Lou,Skip to my Lou, my darlin'. Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,Skip, skip, skip to my Lou,Skip to my Lou, my darling.





In early America, respectable folk in Protestant
communities have always regarded the fiddle as the devil’s instrument and dancing as downright sinful. Faced with such a religious prejudice for
socializing, young people of the frontier developed the “play-party,” in which all the objectionable features of a square dance were removed or masked so that their grave elders could approve. No instruments
were permitted - the dancers sang and clapped their own music. In time, the play-party acquired a life of its own. It became an ideal amusement for teenagers and young married couples. In many a frontier community, the bear hunters, Indian fighters, the rough keelboat men and the wild cowboys could be seen dancing innocently with their gals, like so many children at a Sunday school picnic. “Skip to My Lou” is a simple game of
stealing partners. It begins with any number of couples hand in hand,
skipping around in a ring. A lone boy in the center of the moving circle of
couple sings, “Lost my partner what’ll I do?” as the girls whirl past him.
The young man in the center hesitates while he decides which girl to choose, singing, “I'll get another one prettier than you.” When he grasps the hand of his chosen one, her partner then takes his place in the center of the ring and the game continues.
It's an ice-breaker, a good dance to get a group acquainted to one another and to get everyone in the mood for swinging around. It's interesting to note that “loo” is the Scottish word for “love.” The spelling change from “loo” to “lou” probably happened as our Anglo ancestors, and the song, became Americanized.
Source: The Folk Songs of North America, by Alan Lomax,
Doubleday.Recordings on File by:
Carter Family, Lead Belly, Mike & Peggy
Seeger, Pete Seeger.




We didn't know anything about fiddle music, or any kind of formal dancing. We just sang it because it was fun.

What was your favorite song from childhood?