An in-depth examination of the music of the 78 era.
17 August, 2010
"Dog and Gun (An Old English Ballad)" - Bradley Kincaid
Set Four: The "Lost" Volume; Disc One; Track Two: "Dog and Gun (An Old English Ballad)" performed by Bradley Kincaid. "Vocal and guitar." Recorded in New York on September 14, 1933.
Born on July 13, 1895 in Point Level, Gerrard County, Kentucky, William Bradley Kincaid was a song collector, composer, and radio entertainer. Although born in the south, Kincaid found success working at radio stations in Chicago and Boston.
In 1928, Kincaid published My Favorite Mountain Ballads, a songbook which sold more than 100,000 copies. He recorded primarily for Gennett Records, including (presumably) this recording of "Dog and Gun (An Old English Ballad)."
In 1935, Kincaid went to work at WBZ-AM in Boston, Massachusetts, where he performed with a 22-year old fellow-Kentuckian named Marshall Jones, who would later become a star on the Grand Ole Opry. Noting Jones' bad attitude during early morning broadcasts, Kincaid took to calling Jones "Grandpa," a nickname that stuck and was later used by Jones while performing at the Grand Ole Opry.
In 1945, Kincaid moved to Nashville, Tennessee, where he made appearances on the Grand Ole Opry alongside his former band-mate.
Kincaid retired from music in 1950, making only occasional appearances at festivals. In 1971, he was inducted into the Nashville Songwriter's Hall of Fame.
Kincaid died on September 23, 1989 in Springfield, Ohio.
"Dog and Gun" is, as the subtitle suggests, a ballad of English origin. It was collected by George Malcolm Laws and was assigned the number "N20." Laws ballads with the "N" designation are "ballads of lovers' disguises and tricks."
There was a young squire who lived o'er the way. He courted a rich lady so fair and so gay. To marry this lady it was his intent. Their friends and relations all gave their consent.
The time was appointed the wedding to see. The squire chose a farmer his waiter to be. No sooner had the lady the waiter espied, He inflamed her true heart. "Oh my true heart!" She cried.
Instead of getting married she went to her bed. The thought of the farmer still ran through her head. The thought of the farmer still went through her mind, And how to gain him she was quickly to find.
A coat, vest and pants did the lady put on. Away she went hunting with dog and with gun. She hunted all around where the farmer did dwell, Because in her true heart she loved him so well.
Often she fired, but nothing she killed. At length the young farmer came into the field. To talk with him there it became her intent. With her dog and her gun on to meet him she went.
"I thought you'd have been to the wedding," she cried, "To give to the squire his beautiful bride." "Oh, no," said the farmer, "The truth to you I'll tell. I couldn't give her to him 'cause I love her so well."
It pleased the young lady to see him so bold. She gave him her glove that was flowered with gold. Saying, "Take this, I found it as I did come along. I found it while hunting with dog and with gun."
The lady went home with a heart full of love, And gave out the news that she had lost her glove. "And the one that will find it and bring it to me, The one that will find it, his bride I will be."
It pleased the young farmer to hear of the news. Straight 'way with the glove to the lady he goes. Saying, "Here, honored lady, I've just found your glove. Will you be so kind as to grant me your love?"
"My love, it is granted." The lady replied. "I love the sweet breath of the farmer!" She cried. "I'll be mistress of dairy and milking of cow, While my jolly young farmer goes whistling to plow."
And when they were married she told of the fun. How she courted the farmer with dog and with gun. "And now that I have him so close in my snare, I love him forever and vow I don't care."
Had Smith included "Dog and Gun" on the original three volume Anthology, it would have been part of the first volume, "Ballads." "Dog and Gun" is different from the ballads included on the first volume, however. While many of the ballads compiled by Smith had female protagonists, none of them had the female character end well. Either the women are murderesses ("Henry Lee,""Fatal Flower Garden"), shrews ("Old Lady and the Devil"), unfaithful wives ("Drunkard's Special,""The House Carpenter"), or victims ("The Butcher's Boy,""The Wagoner's Lad"). Never are the women in these songs masters (or mistresses) of their own destinies. In that regard, "Dog and Gun" stands alone. The lady in this song not only chooses her mate (preferring the young farmer over the squire), but she actively seeks him out, using deception to bypass the social restrictions that would ordinarily prevent a farmer from marrying a rich lady (interestingly, the lady announces that she will be "mistress of dairy and milking of cow," suggesting that she gives up her wealth and social status, rather than having the farmer ascend to her level).
This recording also fits in with the apparent theme of this volume, mentioned in the last entry, of having the music point to the present and future of the music, rather than its past. Kincaid, while he was a recording artist, was primarily known as a radio entertainer. The popularity of radio during the Depression led to a decline in popularity of phonograph records, which would not be fully reversed until after the war. Indeed, many people saw the radio as supplanting the phonograph. After all, the radio required only a one-time purchase. After that, the programming was free and offered variety. A phonograph, however, required the purchase of more and more records, something that Americans during the Depression could ill afford.
Bradley Kincaid, therefore, represented a new medium, even as he performed "an old English ballad."
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