Thursday, September 01, 2005

Twinkle, twinkle, little shred bank

And now, this short-but-informative break:

After spending the entire day today (or at least the better part of 10 minutes), we've learned that, indeed, the melody shared by "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star", "The Alphabet Song", and "Baa Baa Black Sheep" is not, in fact, original to any of these Grammy winners.

There's still no proof of a Pink Floyd connection, or even a J. Geils Band connection, but it turns out that "Twinkle et al", "Baa et al", and "Alpha et al" all owe a debt of service to "Ah! Vous Dirai-Je, Maman", a French country song dating back to the mid 18th century. Some 12 variations on the theme were also written by Mozart a couple decades later, but he did not write the first lyrics to the tune, which reportedly are:

Ah! vous dirai-je, maman,
Ce qui cause mon tourment
Depuis que j'ai vu Silvandre
Me regarder d'un air tendre,
Mon coeur dit a tout moment:
Peut-on vivre sans amant?
The first English lyrics to the tune apparently came as part of a composition called "Mark My Alford", written by someone named James Hewitt. We've been unable to locate any of the lyrics, but our best guess is the go like this:
Mark My Alford is this song,
But then again I might be wrong;
This Mark Alford I don't know
But that's how the lyrics go;
Mark My Alford is so trite,
Next time let us get it right.
We think this is the James Hewitt who was an early 19th century composer, and not the one reputed to have had an affair with Princess Diana, or the James Hewitt who wrote a yoga book.

None of these songs has as catchy a title as a popular German children's song with the same melody, "Ist das nicht ein Schnitzelbank?", which Altavista's Babelfish translation service translates to "Isn't that shred bank?", a song whose lyrics we would love to hear.

Heaven help you if you're still interested, but there's even more twinkling material on a website called The Straight Dope.

3 comments:

FriendlyGuy1212 said...

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I have a Cold Sore site/blog. It pretty much covers Cold Sore related stuff.

Come and check it out if you get time :-)

jon said...

I am looking everywhere for comfort shoes and comfort shoes, while doing so I somehow stumbled onto your comfort shoes blog. I am happy to say I learned something and will look into this further...

Thanks for the great posts...

jon

KateGladstone said...

Here are the lyrics to "Mark, My Alford" -- http://books.google.com/books?id=BDsZAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA4-PA24&lpg=RA4-PA24&dq="Mark+my+Alford+all+the+joys,"&source=bl&ots=r0LjGGjIY7&sig=cU3pXTPa837EpMiiQzN28D7dOfg&hl=en&ei=_k-aS876FYL48AaSzrmaDg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=4&ved=0CBEQ6AEwAw#v=onepage&q=%22Mark%20my%20Alford%20all%20the%20joys%2C%22&f=false -- it's a love song.