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German Clockmender, The

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Performer: Parsons, Dick
Place Collected: Shurdington
Date collected: 1975 (27 Sep)
Collector: Davies, Gwilym
Roud Number: 241

The humorous double entendre of “clock-winding” combines here with three Anglo-German cultural motifs. The most obvious is the stereotypical oom-pah-pah rhythm of the refrain. The second is the idea that Germans have ridiculous names (like “Herman von Urine,” “Peter von Gherkin,” or “Benjamin Fuchs”). The third is the association of Germans with clocks, Black Forest cuckoo clocks in particular.  And from a different perspective, cuckoos are etymologically connected with cuckolds. No broadsides seem to exist, but the song must have been written before 1914, when Germans ceased to seem so funny.  Some sixty years later, Germans were funny again, and the song entered the “revival” repertoire mainly from a version sung by Charlie Wills of Dorset for the BBC.

Curiously, in Mr Parsons’ version, it is the German who is cuckolded, not the cuckolder.

Notes by Jon Lighter

Media & Downloads

Hear the song/tune as collected (mp3 stream):

See the song/tune as collected (PDF file)
Hear the song/tune (midi file)
Version to sing (PDF file)
Hear a version to sing (midi file)

Modern recording performed by: Green Willow

Song/tune as collected (abc file)
Version to sing (abc file)