Thursday, February 19, 2009

The Burglar Beau

For years I've been trying to find information on the origin of a song Grancy sang to us when we were children. From time to time I would search online with no luck. Then suddenly a couple of days ago I googled it again and got a hit. I found the song by the title of "The Burglar Man" in the Max Hunter Folk Song Collection, which is housed at Missouri State University in Springfield.

Hunter was a traveling salesman who recorded songs in the hills and backwoods of the Arkansas and Missouri Ozarks from 1956-1976. Here is one version of "The Burglar Man." You might want to click the links at the bottom of this page for three more versions.

Although Grancy's words were slightly different, the gist of the story is the same. And frankly, I think her version has a smoother rhythm. Here is Grancy's version of "The Burglar Beau" as she sang it to her 21 grandchildren.

The Burglar Beau

I'll tell you a story of a burglar beau
Who tried to rob a house.
He crept in the window and under the bed
As quietly as a mouse.

About 9:30 an old maid came.
"I am so tired," she said.
And thinking things to be all right,
She forgot to look under the bed.

She took out her teeth, her one glass eye.
Her hair fell off her head.
The burglar had about ninety-nine fits
As he came from under the bed.

The old maid wasn't 'fraid at all,
And this is what she said,
"Young man, if you don't marry me,
I'll blow off the top of your head.

The burglar looked all around the room
And found no place to scoot.
And thinking of the teeth and the one glass eye,
He said, "By golly, shoot!"

I wonder where Max Hunter and his tape recorder were when my sister Margie performed this for her folklore class at the University of Arkansas in 1973.


momma said...

what a funny song!!

darnold23 said...

I love the new picture! This song sure sounds familiar. I'll have to ask my sister and cousins if they remember it.

KBeau said...

It seems to be an Arkansas thing. All of the recordings on the website I found were made in Arkansas.

Sue said...

Hi...thanks for stopping by my blog today, glad you liked my state plates...I think it's cool that you collect just from your must have a hard time finding different ones...I hope you stop by often....Sue.

Sue said...

Hi is my e-mail address. send me your e-mail so I can tell you about Paris...what to do the day you arrive and how to get easily around the city...I am so jealous!!

laurie @ bargain hunting said...

Kathy, this song is a riot! Thank you for sharing that. Love your new header on your blog. laurie

Malvie said...

Not quite Arkansas, but what my Grannie used to sing for me (covered famously by Tex Ritter, but many others):

There's a lamp burning bright in a cabin
In a window it's shining for me
And I know that my mother is praying
For her boy she is longing to see

When it's lamp lighting time in the valley
Then in dreams I go back to my home
I can see that old light in the window
It will guide me wherever I roam

In the lamplight each night I can see her
As she rocks in her chair to and fro
Though she prays that I'll come back to see her
Still I know that I never can go

When it's lamplighting time in the valley
Then in dreams I go back to my home
But I've sinned against my home and my loved ones
And now I must evermore roam

So she lights up the lamp and keeps waiting
For she knows not the crime I have done
But I'll change all my ways and I'll meet her
Up in Heaven when life's race is run

When it's lamp lighting time in the valley
Then in dreams I go back to my home
I can see that old light in the window
It will guide me wherever I roam

char72 said...

Interesting song. My mother had a lot of songs that she used to sing when I was a child. One that really made an impression on me was called The Lightning Express. I found the words online but they were a little different than the ones she sang.