She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain

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"She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain" (also sometimes called simply "Coming 'Round the Mountain") is a traditional folk song often categorized as children's music.

The song is derived from a Christian song known as "When the Chariot Comes". The song's style is reminiscent of the call and response structure of many folk songs. Songs of similar verse-structure, with variant melodies, can be traced back to 17th-century British radical protestants and later commonly appeared in ballads as well as religious songs: examples include "What Wondrous Love Is This", "Brave Benbow", "The Ballad of Captain Kidd", "Sam Hall"[1] and "Ye Jacobites by Name".

Old spiritual[edit]

Although the first printed version of the song appeared in Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag in 1927, it is believed to have originated during the late 1800s, based on an old spiritual titled "When the Chariot Comes" sung to the same melody, which during the 19th century spread through Appalachia, where the lyrics were changed into their current form.

The song ostensibly refers to the Second Coming of Christ and subsequent Rapture, with the she referring to the chariot the returning Christ is imagined as driving. Like most spirituals originating in the African-American community, however, this was probably a coded anthem for the Underground Railroad.

O, who will drive the chariot
When she comes?
O, who will drive the chariot
When she comes?
O, who will drive the chariot,
O, who will drive the chariot,
O, who will drive the chariot
When she comes?

King Jesus, he'll be driver when she comes,
When she comes . . . .

She'll be loaded with bright Angels
When she comes . . . .

She will neither rock nor totter,
When she comes . . . .

She will run so level and steady,
When she comes . . . .

She will take us to the portals,
When she comes . . . .

Children's song[edit]

The secularized version was sung by railroad work gangs in the Midwestern United States in the 1890s.

Lyrics[edit]

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes,(when she comes).
She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes,(when she comes).
She'll be coming 'round the mountain, she'll be coming 'round the mountain,
She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes,("toot toot").

She'll be driving six white horses when she comes, etc.

She'll be wearing red pajamas when she comes, etc.

Oh we'll all come out to meet her when she comes, etc.

She'll be carrying three white puppies when she comes etc.

We will kill the old red rooster when she comes, etc.

We will all have chicken and dumplings when she comes, etc.

We'll all be shouting' "Hallelujah" when she comes, etc.

She'll be comin' down a road that's five miles long, etc.

Currently the song is usually sung in collections of children's music with slightly different lyrics. The song has been recorded by musicians ranging from Tommy Tucker Time (78'inch) to Pete Seeger or Barney the Dinosaur.

Harking back to the original lyrics of "When the Chariot Comes", the song is sometimes referenced in relation to the end of the world, most notably in The Illuminatus! Trilogy and the comic book Promethea.

Variations[edit]

  • In the UK, especially with the elderly, it is common for the lyrics "She'll be wearing pink pyjamas when she comes" and "Singing ey, ey, yippee, yippee, ey. Singing ey, ey, yippee, yippee, ey. Singing ey, ey, yippee, ey, ey, yippee, ey, ey, yippee, yippee, ey." to be sung.
  • A Famous Studios Screen Song, "Comin' Round the Mountain" was released based on this song, and is the featured sing-along song of the cartoon.
  • Often, the verse "We will kill the old red rooster when she comes" is omitted, and "chicken and dumplings" is replaced with "cake and ice cream".
  • A Scots version of the song called "O Ye Cannae Shuive Yer Grannie Aff the Bus" to this tune features the lyrics:
O ye cannae shuive yer grannie aff the bus
O ye cannae shuive yer grannie aff the bus
O ye cannae shuive yer grannie, 'cause she's yer mammie's mammie,
O ye cannae shuive yer grannie aff the bus!
Additional verses:
Ye can shuive yer ither grannie aff the bus... 'cause she's yer daddy's mammie...
Ye can shuive yer drunken uncle aff the bus... for he needs anither bottle...
Ye can shuive yer ougly cuisin aff the bus... for she's drank the ither dizzen...
Ye can shuive yer babbie brither aff the bus... to make room for anither...
We'll be safe inside our fortress when they come.
We'll be safe from creeps and killers when they come.
Unless they have a blow-torch
Or a poison gas injector,
Then I don't know what will happen when they come!
  • The German Songs "Tante aus Marokko" and "Von den blauen Bergen kommen wir" as well as the Dutch song "Tante uit Marokko" share the same melody and some elements from the text.
  • The Danish song "Du må få min sofacykel" has the same melody, but the lyrics of the song are about someone giving away their "sofa bike", a bike with a back rest. The lyrics are:
Du må få min sofacykel, når jeg dør (når jeg dør)
Du må få min sofacykel, når jeg dør (når jeg dør)
Du skal ikke være bange, der er bade dæk og slange.
Du må få min sofacykel, når jeg dør.
  • In Wizards of Waverly Place episode "Monster Hunter", Harper Finkle creates a "spell song" for Alex Russo to remember the spells.
  • In 1967 Bob Dylan and The Band recorded the song, released on their album The Bootleg Series Vol. 11: The Basement Tapes Complete.
  • In a Cyberchase episode called "Cool It", when the cryoxide tank is under a malfunction despite Inez's and Matt's first attempt to cure the virus, Motherboard sings slowly, "She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes..." and then vocalizes a high A♭.
  • In 2012 Neil Young together with Crazy Horse recorded an almost six minutes long version on their album Americana with the title "Jesus Chariot".
  • Indonesian singer, "Didi Kempot" uses the melody (with slight alteration) in his song titled "Cucakrowo".
  • The Malaysian Scout song, "Lai Chi Kan", uses the tune.
  • The song is part of the Songs of the Sea Soundtrack abstracted from the Singapore attraction Songs of the Sea in Sentosa.
  • There is an Esperanto song Ju-pi-ja [1] with similar text and same melody.
  • Greek song of the post-war era also titled Ju pi -ja or "Tinos einai vre gynaika ta paidia" with same melody and satirical content related to the passage of Nazi, Italian and British armies through Greece during the war.
  • In the Reader's Digest Children's Songbook, the song is rewritten with new words by Dan Fox and his son Paul and tells of the things that "she" will do in increasing number up to ten (e.g.: "She'll be ridin' on a camel," "She'll be tuggin' on two turtles," "She'll be carvin' three thick thistles," "She'll be pluckin' four fat pheasants," etc.).[2]
  • The Italian Boy Scouts used to sing the song with very approximate English lyrics or unrelated Italian ones up until the 'Eighties. It was called "Singhingaia" from the refrain.
  • A funk version of the song appears on the album Hardcore Jollies from Funkadelic.
  • A bawdy version is widely sung, using "comes" in the sense of reaching orgasm, with lyrics such as "she'll be coming like a fountain".
  • In a Thomas & Friends episode: "Faulty Whistles", Headmaster Mr. Hastings plays the organ while Duncan goes around the mountain.
  • the song appears in at least two Coen brothers movies, The Hudsucker Proxy and Raising Arizona.
  • Some sports fans at the University of Cambridge use this tune to sing "we would rather be at Oxford than St John's".[3]
  • A song titled "Supergrass" (and a number of variant titles) is attested with a similar tune, though it has a lyrical structure with verses and a chorus.[4] The song is a political satire on the Troubles; its narrator is a cowardly informant who is fleeing from the men he allegedly betrayed. It has been recorded by bands including The Irish Brigade and Athenrye.

Actor Roberts Blossom is seen whistling the melody of "She'll Be Coming Around the Mountain," as he waits with other strangers on a hair pin curve of a road way pass outside of Muncie, Indiana, responding to a collective psychic calling to witness the arrival of a contingent of UFO's as depicted in Steven Spielberg's science fiction epic, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. 1978.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bertrand Harris Bronson, The Ballad as Song, University of California Press, 1969, Chapter Two
  2. ^ Simon, William L. (editor). The Reader's Digest Children's Songbook. Readers Digest Association, Pleasantville. p. 178. ISBN 0-89577-214-0 Retrieved on 21 September 2012.
  3. ^ Let's Go London, Oxford & Cambridge: The Student Travel Guide. ISBN 1612370292. 
  4. ^ "Lyr Add: SUPERGRASS". Retrieved 23 June 2016. 

Further Reading[edit]

  • Sandburg, C., The American Songbag. 1st ed. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1927. p. 372
  • Studwell, William E. Lest We Worget: a chronological historical survey of some of the most notable songs of the first half of the 20th century. Bloomington, Indiana: Many Musician Memories, 2001. Print.