USC Digital Folklore Archives / Musical
Musical

Brazilian Toad Song

Ricardo is a 20 year old student at USC. Before USC, he lived in San Paolo, Brazil his entire life. He grew up with little to no American influence. One thing he spoke of were songs that he learned when he was very young from his parents. One song in particular, the toad song goes as follows:

“O sapo não limpa os pés dele, ele não limpa os pés dele porque ele não quer limpar seus pés, ele vive para baixo no lago, ele não limpa os pés dele porque ele não quer limpar seus pés”

In English this means:

“The toad does not clean his feet, he does not clean his feet because he does not want to clean his feet, he lives down on the lake, he does not clean his feet because he does not want to clean his feet”

Ricardo said he loved these lyrics and used to sing this song all the time when he was younger. He said he learned this song when he would go play outside as a kid and would refuse to take a shower, that is when his mom taught it to him. He said many of his friends knew it and they would sing it in school too. I personally think the lyrics are very weird, as there really isn’t a message to it either. It repeats one line for half of the entire song.

Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Hockey pregame song

Tim Marino is a 20 year old engineering student at USC. He was born in Calgary, Alberta and had lived there his entire life. Tim grew up a victim of Canadian stereotypes, playing hockey and eating maple syrup. Because he played hockey, I asked Tim if him or his team had any rituals they would do before games. Tim said before every game they would sing the same song, and it goes as follows:

“There was a dirty bird (repeat), that had a dirty bill (repeat), that sat upon (repeat), my window sill (repeat), so I lured him in (repeat), with a piece of bread (repeat), SO I COULD SMASH (repeat), HIS FUCKING HEAD (repeat)”

Tim said they would sing this repeat after me song before every game as it would get him excited and get his blood boiling. Because it was an aggressive song, and because his entire team would get very into it, he said it would help them have more energy when they entered the game. I personally think the lyrics don’t matter as much as the team environment, with everyone chanting one thing in unison and yelling it as loud as they can. I just wonder why they chose these lyrics to sing.

Festival
Holidays
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Guyfawkes 5th of November celebration in London

Michael is a 23 year old from London, England. Michael grew up In London with an American mom and a British father. He said a lot mainly translated from England to here, except for a few holidays. One holiday he spoke of was the 5th of November.

Song “Remember, remember, the 5th of November, gunpowder treason and plot, I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot”

“He tried the blow up houses of parliament, and guards caught him last minute, and he was hung drawn and courted, hung by neck but not until dead, then cut down, cut his innards out, and got ripped and got spread to all 4 corners of the campus. Every year we build a scarecrow, and build “Guyfawkes” and burn him.

Michael said this was a very defining thing to do, because their country is bound upon parliament, so anyone who attacks it is viewed negatively. He said many people would do this as it was more of ritualistic act. I see this as a form of propaganda almost, that they symbolically burn someone who tried to burn down their parliament, which could almost create an image in their minds at a young age that their parliament should never be questioned. I think this is a cool tradition nonetheless.

Adulthood
Childhood
Customs
Festival
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Dale, Dale, Dale – Piñata Song

Informant: Maria Burguete. 20 years old. Born and raised in Mexico City

Informant: “Mexican parties are very fun. If there is a piñata involved we all sing a specific song while the person hits it with a stick. Once the  song is over, the person stops hitting the piñata”

Original:

“Dale, dale, dale! no pierdas el tino,

Porque si lo pierdes… pierdes el camino;

Ya le diste una!

ya le diste dos!

ya le diste tres!…y tu tiempo se acabo!!”

 

Translation:

“Hit it, hit it, hit it! Don’t loose the aim,

Because if you loose it, you loose the way;

You already hit it once!

You already hit it twice!

You already hit it three! and your time is up!

 

Collector: “Do you recall when you first heard this song?”

Informant: “No, this song has literally been in my life forever. When I was a baby and I could not hit the piñata, my dad would carry me and everyone would sing it. Over time, this song has stayed with me and everyone I know. It is really part of our culture.”

Thoughts: This song is really important in Mexican culture. Whenever there is a piñata at a party, everyone immediately sings. It really has been engraved in the culture forever. Piñatas are an important part of a celebration in Mexico and although it usually involves kids, adults also partake in the activity.

Customs
Holidays
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Posada

Informant: Maria Clara Williamson. My mom who is originally from Colombia but has lived in Mexico City for 25 years.

Informant: “In México we have Posadas. A posada is a celebration to commemorate the story of Jesus. It is the journey that Joseph and Mary took in Bethlehem. Half the people act as the inns and the rest of the people act as pilgrims. Everyone holds candles and sings. At the end of the singing there is a big party. At the party, there are traditional Mexican piñatas. The piñata has colorful peaks representing the Catholic capital sins. The party is decorated very colorfully and it is a great celebration!”

 

Song:

Los Peregrinos…

En el nombre del cielo,

yo os pido posada,

pues no puede andar,

mi esposa amada.

Los Hosteleros… 

Aquí no es mesón,

sigan adelante,

no les puedo abrir,

no vaya a ser un tunante.

……..

TODOS…

Dichosa la casa

Que abriga este día

A la virgen pura

La hermosa María.

Entren Santos Peregrinos,

Reciban este rincón,

que aunque es pobre la morada,

os la doy de corazón.

 

Translation:

The Pilgrims…

In the name of the heavens

I request lodging from you,

Because she cannot walk,

My beloved wife.

The Innkeepers…

This is not an inn,

Go on ahead

I cannot open up for you

In case you’re a crook.

………

Everyone…

Happy is the house

That shelters today

The pure virgin,

The beautiful Mary.

Enter holy pilgrims

Receive this haven

That although it’s a poor dwelling

I offer it to you from the heart.

 

Thoughts: Posadas are very traditional in Mexico. I have not attended one since middle school but I vividly remember the experience. I enjoy this celebration because it combines Joseph and Mary’s journey with a fun party. Posadas are geared more towards families but there are many people in Mexico who do not miss these posadas as it really is part of their tradition and religion.

 

For the full version of the song: “http://www.mamalisa.com/?t=ss&p=2111″

 

Customs
Musical

Deerfield Evensong

Informant: Mamy Mbaye. 20 years old. From Senegal, attended Deerfield Academy (a boarding school in MA) with me. Student at Pomona College.

Collector: “What was your favorite part about Deerfield?”

Informant: “One of my favorite experiences at Deerfield was singing the Deerfield Evensong.

Collector: “Could you explain the experience as if I didn’t attend the school with you?”

 

Informant: “Of course! Okay, so at Deerfield, all the students and faculty gather for a sit down formal dinner every Sunday. We have assigned tables and the table is made up of ten students from every grade as well as one faculty member. Once dinner is over, the dean announces on the microphone to “please rise for the evensong.” A faculty member plays the piano and we all stand-up and sing in unison. The second to last verse is reserved for seniors and all the other students join in for the last verse. Once the song is over we all clap and leave the dinning hall. This song is very meaningful to me because it was part of my life for three formative years. When I was a senior during my last Sunday dinner, I cried while singing the senior verse. This song is so much more than a shared experience. It truly emphasizes my love for Deerfield. I really have such fond memories from there and I will forever cherish that bond.”

Song:

Words by Richard Warren Hatch
Music by Ralph Herrick Oatley

“Far beyond each western mountain
Gleam the fires of dying day;
Softly from each hidden fountain
Flows the river on its way.

All the valley lies in splendor
Hushed before the coming night;
From a hundred ancient windows
Flashes back the sunset’s light.

Now the meadow-wind’s soft whisper
Stirs the old elm’s silhouette,
Bends each leafy tower above us,
Caught in evening’s dusky net.

Now the day is done with striving;
Let the heart hold memory bright;
Soon these halls and fields we’re leaving—
Raise we song before the night.

Senior Verse:

Let the circling night be softened
By the ember’s last faint glow;
In the firelight we will gather
Bound by song before we go.

Deerfield Days are days of glory,
Memory lives in every one;
Let no other name be spoken
Till the even-hour is done.”

Thoughts: Mamy and I graduated from Deerfield at the same time. As she mentions, this song is very meaningful in our lives. I didn’t cry while singing the senior verse, but it was a very emotional experience to sing it one last time. The song is beautifully written and encompasses the shared spirit of pride.

Customs
Initiations
Musical
Rituals, festivals, holidays

Fraternity Song

Informant: Jimmy Lonergan. 21 years old. From Chicago. Student at USC and member of a fraternity.

“When I joined a fraternity this song really spoke to the values I hope to live and abide by. When I came to USC, I really wanted to join a fraternity due to the powerful experience of brotherhood. I come from a big family—five siblings—and I really wanted to have brothers throughout my college career. We sing this song after Monday Dinner and during chapter, all the brothers stand in a circle, lock their arms together, and sing in unison while moving from side to side:

Our strong band can ne’er be broken

Formed in ole Phi Psi

Far surpassing wealth unspoken

Sealed by friendship’s tie

Chorus:

Amici, usque ad aras

(“Friendship, ongoing until death”)

Deep graven on each heart

Shall be found unwav’ring true

When we from life shall part

 

College life at best is passing

Gliding swiftly by

Let us pledge in word and action

Love for old Phi Psi”

 

Thoughts: The lyrics really emphasize the importance of friendship, pledging, brotherhood, and a sacred bond. Truly, a fraternity tries to emulate these values and as Jimmy said it is the brotherhood that drew him to the fraternity. This fraternity song reminds me of the Declaration of Independence. In the Declaration of Independence, it says: “we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” Fraternities are very old American organizations whose founders were inspired by the same values this country was founded upon. Truly, the song encapsulates a similar sentiment that is portrayed in the Declaration of Independence.

Adulthood
Childhood
Initiations
Musical
Protection

An Extra Birthday Candle

Informant: The informant is a twenty-two-year-old named Samantha. She graduated from Providence College last year and is currently working in New York City as an Advertising Sales Assistant for VERANDA Magazine. She lives in Yonkers, New York with her parents and has lived there for her whole life. She is of Italian, English, and Russian descent.

Context of the Performance: We sat next to each other on the living room floor at her house in Yonkers, New York during my spring break from college.

Original Script:

Informant: I learned that you when celebrating someone’s birthday, you always need to have one more candle than necessary on the birthday cake. This candle has to be left unlit. I learned this from her grandma. For kids, this extra candle is one to grow on, so it symbolizes the hope that they will grow big and strong in the following year. On the other hand, for adults, this extra candle is for a long life and luck.

Interviewer: Why do you like this piece of folklore?

Informant: I like it because it’s a family tradition. It reminds me of my childhood because I always had an extra candle on her birthday cakes. Also, this concept always excites children who want to grow and become big and strong. As an adult now, I likes the idea of having this candle to promise a lucky year. I definitely plan to pass this tradition on to my children one day.


Personal Thoughts: This tradition is interesting to me because it highlights the fact that superstitions and traditions in general are not only for children; they are important to adults too. While kids love the idea of growing up to be big and strong, adults do not easily forget such traditions they celebrated growing up. They keep the tradition alive by changing its meaning to something which they want in their lives no matter how old they are- good luck in the next year.

Customs
Holidays
Humor
Musical

There’s No Seder Like our Seder

Informant is grandmother, currently living in Florida having lived most of her life in New Jersey. The following is printed on a series of old, twice-photocopied documents which she stores in a closet in a large bin. These are a familiar sight for the family during Passover, in which the entirety of the song is sung together before beginning with the dinner service.

 

There’s No Seder Like our Seder

(sung to the tune of “There’s no Business like Show business”)

There’s no seder like our seder,

There’s no seder I know.

Everything about it is Halachic

nothing that the Torah won’t allow.

Listen how we read the whole Haggadah

It’s all in Hebrew

‘Cause we know how.

There’s no Seder like our seder,

We tell a tale that is swell:

Moses took the people out into the heat

They baked the matzoh

While on their feet

Now isn’t that a story

That just can’t be beat?

Let’s go on with the show!

 

Of course this song is not traditional jewish canon, as it’s inspired by the song “There’s no Business like Show business.” Somewhere down the line, at a time she does not remember, these papers were copied and it was decided to sing it before opening the Hagaddah (Passover prayerbook read at dinner). I think this song, to her, is a fun family activity which gets all ages singing together and warmed up for the night.

Musical

La Societa dei Magnaccioni

Subject: Folk Song

Informant: Guido was born in Rome, Italy in a traditional Italian family. He currently studies business in California and plays rugby for his college team.

Original Script:

Fatece largo che passamo noi,
sti giovanotti de sta Roma bella,
semo regazzi fatti cor pennello,
e le regazze famo innamorà.
e le regazze famo innamorà.
Ma che ce frega, ma che ce importa,
se l’oste ar vino c’ha messo l’acqua,
e noi je dimo, e noi je famo,
c’hai messo l’acqua, e nun te pagamo, ma però,
noi semo quelli, che ja risponnemo n’coro,
è mejo er vino de li Castelli
che de sta zozza società.

Background information by informant: It’s probably the most popular roman folklore song. The song is primarily about the roman youth and its purity and spontaneity in the eyes of society. Additionally, it glamorizes Rome, establishing its superiority over the north of Italy.

Context of performance: We generally sing it in circumstances of victory, such as winning a rugby game against a team from a different city.

Thoughts: It is interesting to see how even within a country, there are different aspects of folklore that individualize certain regions of the country and exclude those outside of that group. This song is even more prominent in Rome because it is written in the specific roman dialect, causing a greater attatchment to the piece of folklore by locals.

[geolocation]