Sing Books with Emily, the Blog

Goin’ to Boston, a Singable Picture Book

Posted on: October 1, 2013

A lovely melody in this one and it’s uses and origins diverse.  I’ve seen this song called an Appalachian Folk Song.  I’ve read that it comes from and was used as a sea-shanty to help sailors work together hauling rope.  I’ve also noted that it is used as a tune for square dancing.  Whatever it’s origins and whatever it’s uses, sure makes a fun song to sing.

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goin to boston margolin lbolan
Goin’ to Boston (An Exuberant Journey in Song)
Traditional Words and Tune
Words Adapted by H. Ellen Margolin
Illustrated by Emily Bolam

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Author’s Note says,

“Going to Boston” is an old Appalachian song that is about the Common in either Boston, MA or Boston in the East Midlands of England.  No one is sure which of the parks is being celebrated…The Boston Common is America’s oldest public park.  John Winthrop and his Puritan followers first encamped there in 1630…The Puritans were accustomed to having “common land” set aside for everyone to use…”

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Ms. Margolin’s destination for the procession of people and animals (and different from the traditional words for the song’s chorus) is the park called Boston Common which is mentioned in her chorus for the song:

GOIN’ TO BOSTON (An Exuberant Journey in Song)
Traditional Words and Tune
Words Adapted by H. Ellen Margolin

Chorus:
Won’t we look pretty on the Common,
Won’t we look pretty on the Common,
Won’t we look pretty on the Common,
Ear-lye in the morning.

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PDF of full lyrics adapted by H. Ellen Margolin, here:
http://www.cantonmusic.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/Goin-to-Boston-2nd-gr-12-14-12.pdf

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As with every old folk song, song origins and lyrics and meanings change from place to place and time period to time period.

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Interesting Program Note with song history from:
http://folksongcompanion.org/resources/CLR932_Notes%2BTexts.pdf

“An old melody from the Revolutionary War era, similar to “Yankee Doodle” which comes from the same period, “Goin’ to Boston” offers a beat that made it useful to sing while on the march. And why go to Boston? Besides the word’s snappy contribution to the meter, Boston, the largest city in New England, exercised a powerful pull to the surrounding countryside from colonial days onward because of its wealth as a trading port and its fame as the cradle of the American Revolution, the place where the Boston Tea Party and the Boston Massacre took place. The tune derives from a famous sea song that made its way inland — “What Do We Do with a Drunken Sailor?” Sailors marched around the giant pulley called the capstan as they raised or lowered the heavy sails or one of the ship’s anchors, stamping their feet in time to the song.”

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GOING TO BOSTON
Traditional Words and Tune

Goodbye girls, I’m going to Boston,
Goodbye girls, I’m going to Boston,
Goodbye girls, I’m going to Boston,
Ear-lye in the morning.

Won’t we look pretty in the ballroom?
Won’t we look pretty in the ballroom?
Won’t we look pretty in the ballroom?
Ear-lye in the morning.

Saddle up, girls, and let’s go with him
Saddle up, girls, and let’s go with him
Saddle up, girls, and let’s go with him
Ear-lye in the morning.

Out of the way, you’ll get run over
Out of the way, you’ll get run over
Out of the way, you’ll get run over
Ear-lye in the morning.

Swing your partner all the way to Boston
Swing your partner all the way to Boston
Swing your partner all the way to Boston
Ear-lye in the morning.

Johnny, oh Johnny, gonna tell your pappy
Johnny, oh Johnny, gonna tell your pappy
Johnny, oh Johnny, gonna tell your pappy
Ear-lye in the morning.

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Pete Seeger sings:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=5q0D_PYjqR4

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Dulcimer from Jean Ritchie Songbook:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=PDzzBd7iBKM

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Choir performance:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=F6QgFs6thqU

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Wonderful bluegrassy Mountain Music insturments:

www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBFx4OU9GH0

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Interesting wiki about GOODBYE GIRLS I’M GOIN’ TO BOSTON:
http://tunearch.org/wiki/Annotation:Goodbye_Girls_I’m_Going_to_Boston

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Addendum 10/3/2013

I sang this song with my son.  When we got to the last two-page spread of pictures, my son said, “That reminds me of that picture by the guy who paints with the dots.” Sure enough!

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goin' to boston sunday in the park 2goin' to boston sunday in the park 1
Goin’ to Boston (An Exuberant Journey in Song)
Traditional Words and Tune
Words Adapted by H. Ellen Margolin
Illustrated by Emily Bolam

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seurat sunday in the park

Georges Seurat
French, 1859-1891
Un dimanche après-midi à l’Île de la Grande Jatte – 1884
A Sunday afternoon on the Island of la Grande Jatte – 1884
In the permanent collection of The Art Institute of Chicago
More info about this painting, here:
http://www.artic.edu/aic/collections/artwork/27992?search_no=5&index=0
Wiki about the painting:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Sunday_Afternoon_on_the_Island_of_La_Grande_Jatte

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Related Posts

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ART YOU CAN SING: SINGABLE ART GALLERY
https://singbookswithemily.wordpress.com/2014/09/22/the-sing-books-with-emily-singable-art-gallery/

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