Horse v. mule

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Tue Nov 29 04:09:59 UTC 2005

I don't know if there's a direct connection, but you're probably thinking of the once very well-known ballad that goes by the innocuous title of "Our Goodman" in F. J. Child's still-standard 1890s collection, but is now more often referred to as "Seven Drunken Nights" after a '60s hit by the Irish group, The Dubliners. (They only sang about the first five nights, however.)

  On the first night, the drunken cuckold comes home and wants to know, "What's this horse a-doing here where my old horse should be?" Or words to that effect.  His wife tells him he's drunk as drunk could be. It's nothing but a milking cow that her mother sent. "Miles have I traveled, a thousand miles or more, / But a saddle on a milk cow I never have seen before!"

  Coley Jones recorded a short but punchy version for Columbia in 1929 which he called "Drunkard's Special."  IIRC, that one features a Model T in the garage, not a horse.

  This site shows you how excruciatingly dull it all can be made to seem:


Wilson Gray <hwgray at GMAIL.COM> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: Wilson Gray
Subject: Horse v. mule

I've been wondering about this a while. In blues songs, there often occurs =
line referring to mules kicking in stalls.

Hear my telephone ringin'
Soun' like a long-distant[sic] call
When I picked up my receivo[sic]
The party said,
_"Another mule kickin' in yo' stall"_

Well, a long way from home
And can't sleep at all
You know
_Another mule is kickin' in yo' stall_
That's evole[sic]

I have an extremely vague memory of reading somewhere or other that there's
a similar motif, but of a horse, rather than a mule, kicking in someone
else's stall,
in British folk music. IOW, this motif originated in the British Isles and
was borrowed
by bluesmen (and -women, since are there blues sung by women with lines
like, "Back
yo' mule up out of my stall.") Does this ring a bell with anyone?
-Wilson Gray

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