Monday, June 30, 2008

Warsaw/Wausau/Wha Saw? - Song #20

Mack reminded me of another song I can't believe I forgot, as most of the ones falling into that category are ones I never particularly liked. But "Wausau the 42nd" (as I recall it) was an old workhorse of a round, a dependable, lively and easily sung tune.

As I sang it, the words were:

Wausau the 42nd
Wausau gone to war
Wausau the 42nd
Marching through the bramble briar

Zoom diddy boom diddy
boots and stockings
Zoom diddy boom diddy
Lay et twa
Zoom diddy boom diddy
boots and stockings
matching through the bramble briar

I was never sure if it was supposed to be "Warsaw" or "Wausau" or some other place; what war; and the second verse doesn't make any sense - is "lay et twa" French? Or did I have the words wrong? Etc.

So my first look into this turns up not a lot, but it did turn up these Scottish lyrics:

Wha saw the forty-second,/ Wha saw them gang awa',/ Wha saw the forty-second,/ Mairchin' doon the Broomielaw. / Some o' them had buits an' stockins,/ some o' them had nane at a',/ Some o' them had umberellas [4 syllables!]/ Mairchin' doon the Broomielaw

I like that; makes a litle more sense and evokes a vivid picture. And who doesn't like a Scottish brogue?

(PS - I have added a post with a recording of "Wha Saw" that I made at a summer camp; you can see it here)

63 comments:

Anonymous said...

T'wa is supposed to stand for "To Wear" the way I learned it.

Joe said...

Thanks, could be, but what do the lyrics mean in that interpretation? To war makes more sense for a marching song and "the 42nd." Please chime in...

Anonymous said...

Was looking for the words to this song as the 1st 2 lines have been running through my head lately, and found your posts. Surprised to see the Scottish lyrics. Here is an accurate translation of the Scots dialect. The 42nd regiment is also known as the Black Watch. The Broomielaw is a road/quay at Glasgow harbour. Wha = Who

Who saw the 42nd,
Who saw them go away,
Who saw the 42nd,
Marching down the Broomielaw.

Some of them had boots and stockings,
Some of them had none at all,
Some of them had umbrellas, Marching down the Broomielaw.

My Scottish father-in-law remembers singing this when he was young and living in Glasgow. They sang 'Sailing from the Broomielaw'.

Joe said...

Anonymous, thanks for the information. Out of curiosity, how old is your father in law, i. e., when was he singing this as a lad in Glasgow?

Lisa said...

Joe .. My Grandad used to sing this song (usually after coming back from the pub) when I was a kid. I don't know much about where he got it from but he did have a blackwatch kilt from when he was in the cadetts (I think)
He was Glasweigen I should say. So in answer to your question , I guess he would have learned this around the 1920's

Joe said...

Hi Lisa, thanks for the comment. Interesting... you don't happen to have a recording of your grandfather singing, do you - wouldn't that be great to have online?

Anonymous said...

Anonymous again. My father-in-law was born in 1920, so he learned it around the same time as Lisa's grandfather. Scottish folk singers Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor sing this song on youtube.

Joe said...

Thanks, Anonymous. I will post those videos to the main page if I can find them.

Anonymous said...

My dad taught me this song. He was from edinburgh, born in 1912.

I know it as
'Wha saw the 42nd
Wha saw them gaen awa'
Wha saw the 42nd
Marching down the canal ro'

The 42nd black watch were the munro clan and my dad was a munro.

Joe said...

Thanks, Anonymous, we now have two people with a relative from Glasgow and yours from Edinburgh.

Anonymous said...

My Grandfather was a WWI Highlander from Canada and used to sing this tune when taking his daily walk/march around the neighborhood. He was Buchanan; by Grandmother a MacDonald from Glasgow. Found the full lyrics on cityofoaks webpage.

Joe said...

Thanks, that makes 3 for Glasgow, 1 for Edinburgh.

Anonymous said...

I thought the lyrics were:

We saw the 42nd
We saw them going away
We saw the 42nd
Marching through the brambles raw

Some of them had boots and stockings
Some of them had neither one
Some of them had boots and stockings
Marching through the brambles raw...

But sung:

Wau Saw the 42nd
Wau Saw them goin awa
Wau Saw the 42nd
Marchin thro the brambles raw

Zoom bah them got boots n stockins
Zoom bah them got nane a wau
Zoom bah them got boots n stockins
Marchin thro the brambles raw...

Joe said...

Thanks, Anonymous, for the two versions, both of which make sense. Can you tell us how and where you learned the song?

Anonymous said...

I'm grateful to a guest who posted what she remembered as a Girl Scout in 1950s She was taught that "zumdeba" meant "some of them."

Here's what I remember from the 1970s as a Girl Scout:

Warsaw the 42nd, Warsaw goin' to war
Warsaw the 42nd marching through the bramble braw.

Zumdebay hae boots and stockings,
Zumdebay lay et twa
Zumdeba hae boots and stockings, marching through the bramble and braw.

Joe said...

Thanks for posting. Out of curiosity, where were you a Girl Scout? Your version is pretty close to the one we sing/sang at Camp Ajawah in Minnesota.

Anonymous said...

Joe,

Yes indeed, and a fellow Midwesterner. I was a Girl Scout in the 1970s and went to Camp Cedar Ledge in Missouri. I'm not sure exactly where, but it seemed more southern and rural to a city kid.

Anonymous said...

Hi -- Missouri Anonymous again. Actually, I used some of the older woman's words for the refrain.The refrain we had (undoubted bowdlerized) was:

Boodliya (long a) hae boots and stockings
Boodliya hae nae a twa
Boodliya hae boots and stockings
Marching through the bramble and braw.

Joe said...

Missouri - still close to "my" version:

Zoomdidi Boomdidi boots and stockings
zoomdidi boomdidi lay a twa
zoomdidi boomdidi boots and stockings
marching through the bramble briar

No doubt all versions are mutations of the original Scottish dialect.

D. Barber said...

I learned this in Girl Scout camp in Georgia in the late '60s. We sang a harmony part first...

Zoom, zoom, zoom , zoom (all Do)
Zoom, Zoom, (Sol) zoom, zoom, zoom) (back to Do)

Warsaw the 42nd, Warsaw going to war.
Warsaw the 42nd marching through the brambles raw.
Some of them have boots and stockings
Some of them have nae to wear
Some of them have boots and stockings
Marching through the brambles raw.

We actually sang Zoom instead of Some, since the harmony part was usually fun and louder than the rest. We also started it very softly and then got louder as they marched into the village, then softer as they marched into the distance.

Joe said...

D Barber, thanks for sharing. You don't have an audio or video file of it being sung this way, do you? Any idea if it is still being sung at that camp?

Anonymous said...

This string is fascinating--that it has a Scottish origin. I sang this as a Girl Scout at summer camp near Austin, TX in the late 1950s. These were the lyrics I thought I learned:

Warsaw the 42nd
Warsaw gone to war
Warsaw the 42nd
Marching through the brambles war.

Zoom-ba-doom more boots and stockings,
Zoom-ba-doom mornay no more.
Zoom-ba-doom more boots and stockings,
Marching through the brambles war.

Joe said...

Your Austin lyrics are pretty close to our in Minnesota. Makes sense, variations on words that don't make a lot of sense at face value when being sung at a summer camp, rather than in a Scottish regiment.

zigsma said...

Had a part of this song running thru my head this morning and went searching to try and clear up old, fuzzy memories. Great thread!

The version I learned at girl scout camp in the 1960s (Skylark Ranch in Pescadero, on the California coast less than an hour south of San Francisco) goes like this:

Wha saw the 42nd
Wha saw went to war
Wha saw the 42nd
Marching thru the brambles braw.

Zoom-ba-dim-kock boots and stockings
Zoom-ba-dim-kock nay no more
Zoom-ba-dim-kock boots and stockings
Marching thru the brambles braw.

It's easy to see that what I thought were nonsense syllables (the zoom-ba-dim-kock) could very well be "some of them got." It's good to see it all written out as an adult and see that it does make sense... esp. with the Scottish connection (which I really like since my grandfather was a Graham from Edinburgh).

hilinda said...

I have known this song forever, and thought maybe I was the last one who did.
I am loving reading the comments where people have tried to write out what they only remember phonetically, when apparently, they never really knew the words at all, and/or jumbled versions have been passed down. With the combination of a heavy Scottish Brogue and an unfamiliar subject, it's a tough one to figure out without anyone explaining the words.
I'm a little surprised, and a little sad, that no one has mentioned what I always found to be the charm of the song- that sung in a round, it is designed to sound like bagpipes.

Warsaw the 42nd
Warsaw, the gain of war
Warsaw the 42nd
Marching through the brambles raw
Some of them wore boots and stockings
Some of them wore none at all
Some of them wore boots and stockings
Marching through the brambles raw
Zoom, zoom, zoom, zoom

"Some of them" is pronounced more like "zoom a dem" and "none at all" sounds like "nain at all"
The repetitive "zoom" sets up the drone for the bagpipes.

Joe said...

Hello Hilinda,

Thanks for sharing your version of the words. Where did you learn the song? Regarding it's being sung as a round and evocative of bagpipes, I did discuss this in my next post (the 2nd of 3 about this song): http://whenwesing.blogspot.com/2008/07/more-wha-saw.html.

DonQ said...

This song often gets stuck in my head, its great to finally see some sense made from it. We sang this at a Boy Scout camp not far from Yosemite when I was growing up in the 80s, but it never made sense to me. Our version was something like;

Wha saw the 42nd
Wha saw them gone to war
Wha saw the 42nd
Marching through the brambles raw

Zoom-bi-day got boots an stockings
Zoom-bi-day got none to-wa
Zoom-bi-day got boots an stockings
Marching through the brambles raw

Zoom, Zoom, Zoom, Zoom


It would start very loud, but each time you got to the line of 'Zooms' it would get taken down a notch before starting from top at the new volume, until eventually you'd all be whispering it. It was a fun yet strangely moving tune, and easy to pick up on.

DonQ said...

And the 'to war' was usually sung as 'to-wa' to match the 2nd verse, and better rhyme with 'raw'.

Joe said...

DonQ, thanks for the info. Your version is fairly close to Camp Ajawah's, though we sang it as a round. Your method of progressively lowering the volume is something we did with another song, "John Jacob Jingleheimer Schmidt." Though at the end of each time through we would sing "da da da da da da da da" at top volume; the last time through the song was simply mouthing the words until exploding with a final "DA DA DA DA DA DA DA DA!"

Anonymous said...

I sang this song alot at summer camps growing up and knew the lyrics as:

Wha saw the 42nd
Wha saw has gone to war
Wha saw the 42nd
Marching thru the brambles raw.

Zoom- We got no boots no stockings
Zoom- WE got none at all
Zoom-We got no boots no stockings
Marching thru the brambles raw.

zoom zoom zoom zoom

Joe said...

Thanks - just out of curiosity, what part of the country were you in?

Anonymous said...

This is how I remember the version that I learned about 1964 in south central Minnesota:

Warsau the 42nd
Warsau we've gone to war
Warsau the 42nd
Marching through the bramble briar

Zoom ba dum hey boots and stockings
Zoom ba dum we wear them tall
Zoom ba dum hey boots and stockings
Marching through the bramble briar

Joe said...

Thanks, Anonymous. South Central Minnesota is where I learned the song as well - Camp Ajawah, just north of the Twin Cities. Your version is pretty similar.

Another note; it is amazing and pleasing to see how this song has by far the most comments of any on my blog. Not sure why, but I'll take it!

Anonymous said...

i thought it was

one saw the 42nd
one saw the game of war
one saw the 42nd
marching through the brambles brarl
zoom of them wore boots and stockings
zoom of them wore nay at all
zoom of them wore boots and stockings
marching through the brambles brarl

Joe said...

Anonymous, thanks for sharing your version. Where did you learn the song? As we have seen, there are no "correct" lyrics to the song. part of what makes the folk tradition in music so vital is how songs evolve in many directions and versions over time and place.

Dancinlizzy said...

What a great site! When I was hiking in the Cascade Mountains last week I remembered that us Girl Scouts used to sing it while hiking. The version posted by Anonymous on March 30, 2011 is closest to what we sang. I was a girl scout from 1955 through 1966 here in Washington State.

Joe said...

Thanks, DancinLizzy, for the kind words and the info on when and where you sang the song.

Anonymous said...

I learned it as

Warsaw the 42nd
Warsaw has gone to war
Warsaw the 42nd
Marching through the brambles raw

Zoom we 'aint got boots nor stockings
Zoom we 'ain't got none at all
Zoom we 'aint got boots nor stockings
Marching through the brambles raw

Anonymous said...

My mother used to sing this song to me when I was a baby she would sing-
Wha saw the Higgies scratchers
Wha saw them gang awa'
She told me Higgies was a factory on the Clyde near Oatlands Glasgow, where we lived. I have often wondered if this referred to a "pals battalion" from WW1.

Joe said...

Thank you, two previous anonymous commenters. The first of you sings the words fairly close to the version I know. The second poster has an interesting variation - I appreciate the explanation of "Higgies." Do you think this lyric was your mother's doing or just the way she'd learned it?

Anonymous said...

I always thought it was my mother's own version, but now I'm not so sure

cubkate@hotmail.com said...

Yesterday I taught "my" version of this to my Cub Scout den (2nd grade, Wolves), as well as "Marching to Pretoria", while we were on a short hike. I learned both of them at Hidden Lake Girl Scout Camp in upstate New York, the summers of 1964 and 1965. It was such fun to find this website! I'll be telling them the history of both songs -- and more accurate lyrics -- and I hope readers take pleasure in knowing that two such marching songs are still alive and well. And, by the way, they are as useful as they ever were: singing them helped relieve the tedium, and helped to rein in a few rogue wolf cubs. --Kate (cubkate @ hotmail.com)

Joe said...

Kate, thank you so much for the kind words (and for keeping those two excellent songs alive with your cubs)!

Unknown said...

I learned this NYC in the early '60s from a Scottish-American classmate whose father had learned it in WW2 or earlier. As I remember it:

Saw ye the 42nd?
Saw ye them march awa?
Saw ye the 42nd,
Marching doon the Broomielaw?

Some o' them had tartan troosers.
Some o' the had nane ava.
Some o' them had umberellas
For keep the rain awa.


Joe said...

I continue to be pleasantly surprised that of all the songs I have posted about, this one is far and away the most commented upon. Perhaps that is because there is not much else available online? In any event, thank you, Unknown, for posting another interesting variation of the lyrics - the tartan troosers and umbrellas are fun additions.

L Smith said...

I am Scottish, and first language Scots, second language English. It's fascinating to see how people across the pond have turned the lyrics they misheard/couldn't make sense of into nonsense words which fitted the tune. "wha saw" literally translates as 'who saw' and the song is basically about a regiment marching through the city of Glasgow towards the docks (at the Broomielaw) to embark on ships and sail to a foreign war. There is some speculation about whether it would be the crimean war or an earlier one. There are several verses, and the tune comes from much earlier folk songs.

Joe said...

L. Smith, it's always great to hear from a Scotsman/woman and I appreciate your background info on the song. Did you sing it as a round, as we do? Do you have any of the additional verses' lyrics you can share? Thanks.

Anonymous said...

Geesus! I'm posting a link to lyrics and a partial explanation as well as a u tube link. Stop bastardizing my language PLEASE! It's "Wha saw the 42nd, not warsaw/wassau whatever: http://www.educationscotland.gov.uk/scotlandssongs/primary/whasawthe42nd.asp ................... and the u tube:.........http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CJS_8kRX_ig

Joe said...

Hey Anonymous, you are perpetuating the stereotype of the angry Scotsman (or Scotswoman)! If you took the time to read the post itself and not just the title - as well as the many excellent comments from people sharing their variations of the lyrics - you would have seen that I admit I didn't know the correct words and then I found them. Not to mention that folk songs by their nature evolve and then exist in many alternative wordings. That said, I do appreciate your sharing links that do add value to the discussion here.

Garrett Sheets said...

I work at a Boy Scout camp in Alaska and we have a very similar song. That is sung in a round. The story is that it comes from the Dutch Boer War. The first part is sung all together then it splits off.

Wa saw the 42nd
Wa saw went to war.
Wa saw the 42nd
Wa saw marching through the brambles all.

Group One
Some of us have boots and britches
Some of us have none at all
Some of us have boots and britches
Marching through the brambles all

Group two
Zoom zoom zoom (repeated till group one is done)

Supposedly the "zoom" is supposed to mimic the sound of bag pipes used by the British. The 42nd Company of Foot, also called The Black Watch is a Scottish brigade that fought in the Boer War, so it would make sense that these are the same songs corrupted over time and distance.

Joe said...

Thanks, Garrett, for the info. I'm glad to hear that there are other summer camps where "Wha' Saw" is still sung.

Yokidoke said...

https://youtu.be/CJS_8kRX_ig

Yokidoke said...

ZOOM, yes. How does one make a bagpipe sound with his/her mouth? For me this was a big clue for a Scottish origin. My learning the song was in Boy Scouts, Old Baldy Council in Southern California.

Yokidoke said...

In my junior leader training in 1974, we learned in an open air classroom that Lord Baden Powell (Brit), the founder of Scouting had an episode in his life involving the Boer Wars that they had against the Dutch Afrikaans. Maybe this is a clue to the origin?

Yokidoke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yokidoke said...

Maybe "Zoom diddy boom diddy" , "Boodliya" , "boomdidi" and "Zoom-ba-dim-kock" are vocalizations of the percussion that always accompanies the bagpipes.

Yokidoke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yokidoke said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Yokidoke said...

California. Hmmm was it at Circle B Scout Ranch? Yours is closest to the version I learned at that camp in the early 1970s. This was Old Baldy Council.

Yokidoke said...

California. Hmmm was it at Circle B Scout Ranch? Yours is closest to the version I learned at that camp in the early 1970s. This was Old Baldy Council.

Joe said...

Yokidoke, thank you for the link and the comments. It's always good to hear from more people about their connections to "Wha' Saw."

Anonymous said...

I learned this song in the late 60's/early 70's at Girl Scout camps in Tennessee. Here is the version I learned and my understanding of the lyrics
Wha saw the 42nd? (who saw the 42nd?)
Wha saw them march to war? (who saw them march to war?)
Wha saw the 42nd? (same as first line)
Marching down the Broomielaw?

Zoom of them had boots and stockings (some of them had boots and stockings)
Zoom of them had nane a' twa (some of them had none at all)
Zoom of them had boots and stockings
Marching down the Broomielaw


My camp cohort wrote new lyrics to this tune for out camp song!

Joe said...

Thanks, Anonymous. Do you know if your cohort's new lyrics stuck around thereafter and/or if the song is still sung at that camp?