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29 January 2009 @ 06:31 pm
A burning question  

Something I've never understood and have always wondered about. Well, ever since I heard tell of it, anyway. Can anybody tell me why Willie killed pretty Peggy?

Current Mood: curiouscurious
skzbrustskzbrust on January 30th, 2009 12:45 am (UTC)
He had to, it was in the song.
(Deleted comment)
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on January 31st, 2009 11:24 pm (UTC)
Yeah. Ruins the whole day, it does.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on January 31st, 2009 11:23 pm (UTC)
Really? Couldn't he of refused to do it on account of, you know, cause he hated cats or somethin?
Gen IIthe_leewit on April 19th, 2009 04:53 pm (UTC)
Polly was a *cat*? Okay, now that song is officially *weird*, and I am never going to look at Judy Collins in quite the same light again.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on April 19th, 2009 09:50 pm (UTC)

Ah. Oh. Okay. Right.

No, Polly wasn't a cat. Nor, to the best of my knowledge and recollection, was she a parrot [or a snake (oh. wait. The snake was named "Monty". That's right. Now I remember. Nevermind…)].

Um … ah … my comment was one of those awful, awful things I try to avoid—an "in" reference which doesn't quite make sense and isn't at all funny if you don't know the referent. See, Unca Steve does this song called "Railroad Bill" which he says was brought to the Twin Cities and to his attention by Andy Breckman (I think; I mean, his name is very much like that if not that itself) and it … the song, that is … is … ah … mmmm … it kinda goes like … er … well, the point of it is … ah … hmm … I guess I'll have to locate a tape of Steve doing it and play it for you some time or email it to you or something like that. Or if you run into him (Steve, that is) at a convention, you can ask him to play it for you. (He avers that he won't play it unless there's at least one person in the room who's never heard it before.) And then it will be all clear. Probably. I think.

Sorry, that.

Gen IIthe_leewit on January 30th, 2009 01:09 am (UTC)
When he killed pretty Polly, it was because she had sex with him the week before they were to be married, and thus she was immoral. Buyer's remorse?
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on January 31st, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)

Mmmmm. Like the whole Madonna/Whore Syndrome thing? I guess that makes a kind of sense. But I don't recall any sexual encounter being mentioned in the song—just the stabbin' and bleedin' and buryin' and stuff. Although I guess that makes a kind of sense too—society being all polite and respectable and all, it's always been much more acceptable to sing about murder and mayhem than about sex.

Carbonelcarbonel on January 30th, 2009 03:31 am (UTC)
Which song do you have in mind? In all the versions of "Fyvie-O" or "Fennario" that I know of Sweet William dies for love of Peggy.

Not to be confused with pretty Polly, who kills her serial killer lover because he turns his back while she removes her dress, so she pushes him into the sea instead of the other way around.

I tried to find the thread on Making Light about the things one learns from ballads and fairy tales, but I failed. And the ML site appears to be down at the moment in any case.
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on February 1st, 2009 12:15 am (UTC)

Sorry. It’s my brain’s darn file-rats. Send ’em off for a female name starting with “P” and what do they do? They grab the first darned file they brush against in the “P” file drawer, that’s what they do. They don’t care whether it’s Persephone or Parker or Pennelope or, as in this case, Peggy … when what I really wanted was “Polly.” Which is really stupid. I mean, the song’s named after her and everything: “Pretty Polly” they call it. (Not to be confused with “Petty Poly,” which is a song of a whole different sort.)

As far as I know you’re entirely right about Sweet William and Peggy. I hear he’s buried somewhere in Louisiana.

I have heard that other song you mention too—the one where the protagonist pushes the creep into the ocean—but I don’t recall having heard her name. “Polly” you say? Good to hear that at least one of them has some brains and gumption. In all the other songs she just gets herself stabbed, bleeds copious amounts of blood, and dies. Then, just to top it all off, her body gets shoved into a shallow grave with no one to cry over her bones.

Things one learns from ballads and fairy tales? Lots of useful stuff, yeah. Like, yeah, when Willy drops by and offers to take you for a stroll in the woods, slam the door in his face and call the police. And, when you show up at granny’s and she has new dentures that are not at all like her old set but are all big and shiny and a lot like Norm Coleman's new choppers, run like heck. As well as the little things, like don’t boast about the beauty of your daughter within earshot of the gods. Stuff like that.

Matthew B. Tepper: Don Martin's Mona Lisaasimovberlioz on January 31st, 2009 04:02 am (UTC)
In the pantry, with an allen wrench?
Fred A Levy Haskell: Fredcritter eyes onlyfredcritter on February 1st, 2009 12:17 am (UTC)
Good try. Close. But wrong. It was in the forest with a knife. Next to a shallow grave fresh-dug just the night before. Presumably without a clue.