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Old Joe Whip

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Performer: Booth, Jackie
Place Collected: Stroud
Date collected: 1979 (28 Oct)
Collector: Davies, Gwilym

By 1918, the American vaudeville team Newton and Seibert’s “Casey Jones, the Brave Engineer” (1909) was a transatlantic hit.  So it’s impossible to say in which army this soldier parody originated. In 1924 William A. Prescott of Syracuse, N.Y., submitted his army version of “Casey Jones” to the American Legion Weekly. It consists of only one stanza and the refrain. At the end of the refrain, Casey is “pushin’ daisies out in No Man’s Land.”

Prescott’s and Booth’s versions seem to be the only ones ever reported.

The English surname Whip, Whipp, or Whippe dates back to the 13th century. Old Joe may have been real, or – perhaps more likely, given the nature of the song – he may have been a character in a behind-the-lines skit.

A “Mills bomb” is a make of British hand grenade, used in WWI and a “Whizzbang” is an onomatopoeic name for a small high-velocity German shell used in WWI.

Notes by Jon Lighter