harpoon and harmonica

Discuss word origins and meanings.

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Bob » Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:06 pm

In the song, "Me & Bobby Mcgee", written by Kris Kristofferson in about 1969 the lyrics are,

"Took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandana
And was blowin’ sad while Bobby sang the blues,"

It seems that when he uses the word "harpoon" he is referring to a harmonica. I have checked and found a few uses of the word
"harpoon", to mean harmonica, but could not date when it was first used or why.

Could someone tell me how "harpoon" became slang for harmonica and when it was first used to mean harmonica?

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Oct 12, 2005 6:46 pm

If another Bob can have the temerity to join in... Harpoon also gets shortened to harp, (mouth-harp, blues-harp)I would be delighted to know how that came about.
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Bobinwales » Sat Oct 15, 2005 10:04 am

Any ideas on this one folks? There are two Bobs here looking for help.

I don't suppose anyone is interested, but I once played in a band called Florin because it had two Bobs in it.

(Translation: Bob - Old British shilling. Florin - Old british coin worth two shillings)
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Erik_Kowal » Sat Oct 15, 2005 10:14 am

I hope it was a money-spinner, Bob. (That pounding beat...)
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harpoon and harmonica

Post by dalehileman » Sat Oct 15, 2005 3:55 pm

If I might add, two Bobs and a Dale. Especially I am eager to learn when the usage originated--Thanks to all

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Bob » Sun Oct 16, 2005 3:17 pm

From one Bob to another, thanks for explaining the origin of the band name Florin. Being from the USA I would never have understood the meaning, I've heard of an English bob, but I would never have related it to florin. Years from now, when someone questions how the band Florin got it's name they will be able to find your explaination.

The explaination as to why a Harmonica is also called a Harpoon is probably just as obscure, but the answer is out
there, I just have not looked in the right place for it. I've continued to search for the answer and have found many references to Harmonica/Harpoon, both in music and nicknames of harmonica playing musicians, but have yet to find the answer to why or when the usage first occurred.

I'll continue checking Wordwizard in hopes that someone wiser than I will find the answer. And THANK YOU ALL for trying to find the answer to my question.

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Edwin Ashworth » Mon Oct 17, 2005 7:26 am

Adding some rag and tag to this Bob-tale: one hears that Lee Jaffe occasionally manned the harmonica for Bob Marley and the Whalers.
I'd like to say that it's great to have a few Bobs on the side. You must decide on the accuracy of the expression "Two Eds are better than one".

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Erik_Kowal » Mon Oct 17, 2005 8:25 am

Charles Dickens found Edwin to be ultimately mysterious. Incidentally, Bob, Marley and travailers figured in his Christmas Carol; though they both harped and wailed in that play, they did so without harpoons, as I recollect.
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harpoon and harmonica

Post by Ken Greenwald » Wed Oct 19, 2005 6:11 am

Bobs, Ah “Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose.” As the goose bumps settle down after listening to my copy of Janis Joplin’s 1971 posthumous hit ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ – what a flood of memories – I thought that it might be of interest to look at the history of the harmonica and and at the same time place the appearance of its various monikers (or is it monicas? or is it Lewinskys?) (>:)

HARMONICA was originally an all-purpose term, which referred to several different instruments. In 1762 Ben Franklin made and patented a Rube-Goldberg-like instrument consisting of a row of rotating hemispheric glass bowls which were dipped into a trough of water and played by the application of one’s finger to the rims (see quotes below). This was an improvement on the earlier and less high-tech ‘musical glasses.’ It was also referred to as the ‘glass harmonica,’ which bears no resemblance whatsoever to what we call a ‘harmonica’ today, and which Franklin dubbed the ARMONICA (1762, from Italian, feminine of ‘armonico,’ harmonious, from Latin ‘harmonicus,’ harmonic). Others decided to call his invention a HARMONICA and that name describing Franklin’s brainchild appeared in print in 1778 (see quote).

Some other instruments that used the name but which would not normally be associated with the harmonica that we know and love include the glockenspiel (1825), which was originally called the ‘metal harmonica,’ and the ‘harmonica de bois,’ which was the original French name for the xylophone, and other instrument similar to a xylophone known only as the ‘harmonica,’ consisting of tuned strips of metal or glass fixed to a frame and struck with a hammer.

In 1821 a German clockmaker, Christian Buschmann, patented a primitive version of the first modern harmonica and called it an AURA, later changing its name to MUNDAEOLINE, which might be translated as ‘mouth organ.’ In 1826 a Bohemian instrument maker named Richter made advancements in allowing for both blow (for exhaling) and draw (for inhaling) reed plates and this instrument was also referred to as the MUNDHARMONIKA. An 1830 ‘harmonica’ instruction booklet entitled “German Aeolian Tutor” published in England by a company which imported and manufactured the instruments refers to them as AEOLIANS (also known as ‘aeolinas’) and I would hazard to guess that this is the earliest English language name of what we now refer to as the harmonica. The booklet goes on to say that the instrument was first brought to England in 1827 and lists the 32 different models offered (e.g. single octave aeolian, the trumpet aeolian, the two-octave chromatic aeolian, the Pandean aeolian, the chromatic Pandean aeolian, . . . )

One of the most popular early English names of the harmonica was the MOUTH ORGAN. This name, however, dates back to 1670 when it referred to a small wind instrument consisting of a row of small, short pipes of graduated lengths (also known as a ‘panpipe’ from Greek and Roman depictions of Pan playing one), which many of us owned as children. The use of the words ‘mouth organ’ for panpipes continued into the 19th century, so it is sometimes difficult in deciphering quotes to tell which instrument is meant, but the OED did a good job of separating out the two

The expression MOUTH ORGAN first appeared in print as referring to a harmonica in 1866 and this expression is still popular today, although it is considered colloquial. Mass production of what we would call the ‘mouth organ’ or ‘harmonica’ began decades earlier in Vienna in 1829 and soon spread to neighboring countries. Starting in 1827 German clockmakers Messner and Weiss began moonlighting making mouth organs and turned it into a profitable business. Weiss, to the dismay of his partner showed a curious young clockmaker, Matthias Hohner (founder of the Hohner harmonica empire), his manufacturing process and Hohner began producing his own mouth organs on the side and finally in 1857 began manufacturing them full time. Hohner was technically adept as well as being a good businessman, and by 1862 was exporting mouth organs to North America, and by 1867 was producing 22,000 mouth organs a year, which would become a million a year 20 years later.

The harmonica was looked down upon by many musicians who refused to refer to it as a serious musical instrument, but instead called it a ‘toy instrument’ (see 1880 quote). German Physicist Hermann Helmholtz (1821-94) in his classic work "On The Sensations of Tone" (1870; English 1875), which I actually plowed through from cover to cover may moons ago in my youthful quest to understand the physics and perception of music – never did help my guitar playing much! (>:) – referred to the harmonica as the ‘HARMONICON’ and characterized them as "cheap mouth harmonicons." The name HARMONICON was also used for a time to describe the common harmonica (see 1880 quote below) as well as the above-mentioned Franklin invention (see 1842 quote).

In spite of all my above scrounging around, however, I could not determine exactly when the word HARMONICA was first applied to what was earlier being generally referred to as the MOUTH ORGAN (as well as many other specialized names created by individual manufacturers – I encountered literally dozens of names in old advertisements). The Barnhart Concise Dictionary of Etymology provides a date for the first appearance in print of the modern ‘harmonica’ as 1873 and the earliest quote I came up with myself was 1871 (see below). Note that as late as 1876 the Globe Encyclopedia (see quote below) was still defining ‘harmonica’ in terms of the Franklin instrument with no mention of the newer mouth organ invention. So although some may have been aware of the name ‘harmonica’ by the 1870s, I don’t thing that name was really that well-known and widely used until the last few decades of the century when harmonicas became so well-known that we see them being hawked in the Montgomery Ward Catalogue (see 1895 quote)
<1670 “Pan also plays on his MOUTH-ORGAN tuneably.”—“Lassels’s Voyage to Italy” (1698) by S. Wilson, II. page 199>

<1762 “In honor of your [[the Italians]] musical language, I have borrowed from it the name of this instrument, calling it the ARMONICA.”—Letters, ‘Works’ (1887) of Ben Franklin, III. page 204>

<1778 “The invention of the musical glasses, now improved into the ‘HARMONICA.’”—‘Philosophical Survey of Southern Ireland,’ page 453>

<1842 “The pressure of the performer's finger [[on the musical glasses]] . . . is the great charm of such instruments as the HARMONICON [etc.].”—“Mechanic’s Magazine,” XXXVII. page 70>

<1866 “He Wuz . . . playin ‘Hail to the Chief!’ on a MOUTH ORGAN.”—‘Daily Toledo Blade,’ 6 September, page 2/4>

<1867 “Since ‘the young ladies were invited to [enjoy] themselves in whatever manner they pleased,’ perhaps they might have come with tin-horns, MOUTH-ORGANS, or even accompanied by . . . .”—‘New York Times,’ 17 February, page 5>

<1871 “There were toys that made a noise, and those which did not. Drums, trumpets, horns, HARMONICAS, jew’s-harps, whistles, were in the former class, and dolls were not.”—in ‘New York Times,’ ‘A Visit to a Toy-Store,’ 3 December, page 3>

<1873 “A Danbury boy of ten winters . . . stole a HARMONICA Friday to serenade his girl with.”—‘Life in Danbury’ by Bailey, page 237>

<1875 “‘As it was a wonderfully warm, soft air, the suggestion of a dance on the ice received universal approbation. Soon we were dancing merrily on the white snow, while the boatman, wrapped in a reindeer’s skin, played the new HARMONICA with an artist’s hand.”— ‘The German Arctic Expedition’ [[of 1869-70]] in “Appleton’s Journal.’ Vol. 13, No. 304, page 67>

<1876-79 “HARMONICA, the name given to several different musical instruments. In all, the tones are produced by the friction of the finger or the striking of a hammer on glass. The HARMONICA invented by Dr. Franklin consisted of bell-shaped glasses, tuned in semitones, which revolved round a spindle and were touched by the moistened fingers.”—‘The Globe Encyclopedia of Universal Information,’ page 348>

<1880 “HARMONICON, a toy instrument which consists of free reeds inclosed in a box in such a way that inspiration produces one set of sounds, respiration another.”—‘A Dictionary of Musical Terms’ by Stainer & Barrett>

<1887 “The MOUTH ORGAN, or harmonica, is a familiar example of a simple reed instrument.”—‘Scientific American,’19 February, page120/3>

<1893 “Of all musical instruments, but two, the fiddle and the banjo, hold warm place in the old-time darkey’s heart, though the rising generation take kindly to others, especially the HARMONICA or MOUTH-HARP.”—‘Los Angeles Times,’ 20 August, page 18>

<1895 “Concert HARMONICA, 10 double holes, 40 reeds, brass reed plates, celluloid covers, absolutely perfect in tone.”—‘Montgomery Ward Catalogue,’ page 241/1>

<1897 “‘A feller kin dance without them noisy fiddles and things, if he knows his bizness, and I guess I know mine, eh boys?’ is his oft-repeated remark in reply to a suggestion that a HARMONICA or jew’s harp might help him out.”—‘New York Times,’ 12 October, page 3>

<1923 “So William was going to have a bicycle and a MOUTH-ORGAN and pocket-compass.”—‘William Again’ by R. Crompton, vi.>

<1932 “Joe St. Marie could make a MOUTH ORGAN sob and whimper, or imitate a herd of steers or a railway train.”—“Collier’s.” 9 January, page 44/3>

<1943 “The MOUTH ORGAN, or HARMONICA, has been a great comfort to U.S. soldiers in past wars.”—‘Time Magazine,’ 31 May>

<1975 “A trio of musicians—Jerry Murad’s HARMONICATS of Chicago— entertained the crowd . . . . The instruments used ranged from a one-inch MOUTH ORGAN to a two-footer.”—‘New York Times.’ 1 September, page 9>

<2001 “In performances that spanned several decades, Mr. Adler brought dignity to the HARMONICA, which was previously regarded as either a toy or an instrument for amateurs, he not only introduced the ‘MOUTH ORGAN,’ as he called it, into the concert hall . . . “—‘New York Times.’ 8 August, page A15>
Now that I’ve solidly established that I don’t know exactly when the English term MOUTH ORGAN (1866) became the common HARMONICA (?1870s) (<:) or if, indeed, the English term ‘mouth organ’ even preceded the English term ‘harmonica’ (let’s face it, 1866 versus 1870-something is just too close to call in the world of word origins), let’s move on to the next popular name for the harmonica – HARP, which, like ‘mouth organ,’ is today also considered colloquial. The earliest appearance in print I found for the word HARP for harmonica was 1887 and, according to the Dictionary of Regional English (DARE), this name was popular in the U.S. Midland South.
<1887 “She displayed a flimsy red silk handkerchief and a child's HARP. . . He Caught Bulah’s hand just in time to prevent the HARP and handkerchief going into the Black River.”—“Scribner’s Magazine,” October, page 481>

<1896 “HARP: mouth organ.”—‘Dialect Notes,’ page 418/1>

<1938 “We got the Potter boys over with the banjo, fiddle, HARP, and guitar.”—‘Dark Hills’ by Stuart, page 262>

<1942 “He puts a HARP in his mouth and plays it.”—‘Blue Ridge Country’ by Thomas, page 320>

<1963 “ ‘HARP’ or ‘MOUTH HARP’ ‘harmonica.’”—‘American Speech, XXXVIII, page 246>

<1965 “For the best blues sound you have to . .. play the HARP in a transposed manner.”—‘Melody Maker,’ b19 July, page 12/6>

<1982 “A response is made by any instrument, ‘HARP’ or guitar.”—‘Dictionary of Pop/Rock’ by Shaw, page 66>

<1993 “He used to follow all these HARP blowers, mandoleen [[sic]] and guitar players.”—‘Where blues Began’ by A. Lomax, page 14>
The next (or another) harmonica nickname to come on the scene was MOUTH HARP, which is also considered to be colloquial. It first appeared in print in 1892, some think in imitation of the wording of “Jew’s harp.” [Note: the Jew’s harp, which is held between the teeth and plucked on, is an instrument that dates form the 16th century and which is not a form of harmonica, although in the late 19th century and up to the present some in the U.S. refer to it as a ‘mouth organ’]. I believe that the Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang statement that ‘harp’ was formed as a shortening of ‘mouth harp’ is debatable since the purported child would have preceded the purported parent into print by 5 years, but 5 years is, of course, a drop in the bucket in the world of dating first appearances in print - so I’d say that nothing can be concluded here.
<1892 “Close by was the sound of a MOUTH-HARP, a circle of interested spectators.”—‘Century Magazine,’ September, page 762/2>

<1895 “MOUTH HARPS—at 10c, 15c, 20c, 25c, 50c, and upward.”—in ‘Chicago Tribune,’ classified ad, 22 December, page 32>

<1896 “While he was able to sit up he would play on his MOUTH HARP or hack away at his window sills with his jackknife.”—in ‘Overland Monthly,’ On the Divide’ by Willa Cather, 27, page 67/2>

<1903 “I'd walked from Loueyville over to Terry Hut with a nigger that played the MOUTH HARP.”—‘In Babel’ by Ade, page 40>

<1954 “He is drafted after a pitched battle on Tobacco Road and in the barracks blows doleful music on his MOUTH HARP to the tune Mother Ain't Dead, She's Only Sleeping.”—‘Time Magazine,’ 4 October>

<1963 “ ‘HARP’ or ‘MOUTH HARP’ ‘harmonica.’”—‘American Speech,' XXXVIII, page 246>

<1968 “The lack of familiarity with the musical instrument probably accounts for the decline of JUICE HARP and JEW’S HARP and the student's [[mistaken]] use of MOUTH HARP [[to describe it]].”—‘Publications of the American Dialect Society,’ XLIX. pager 15> [[a note of ‘political correctness’ may have also played a role]]
FRENCH HARP, which incidentally is not listed in the OED, is a bit younger and less common (more regional) colloquial term for harmonica than its relatives, originating in and largely peculiar to the U.S. Midland South. The earliest occurrence in print that I found was from 1891 (see quote). My guess for the ‘French’ is that the French-American harp players of Louisiana might have had something to do with it.
<1891 “A slice of worter-melon’s like a FRENCHHARP in theyr hands.”—“The Swimimin’-Hole” by Riley, page 11>

<1905 “FRENCH HARP . . . Harmonica. Common.”—‘Dialect Notes,’ Vol. 3, page 80>

<circa 1940 “I was told of an accomplished player . . . known as ‘FRENCH HARP’ Slim, who . . . has made some phonograph records.”—Hall College>

<1958 “And from his jumper pocket he would draw a battered old FRENCH-HARP. . . and sound a chord.”—‘Home from the Hill’ by Humphrey, page 51>

<1962 “Harmonica: corn-on-the-cob, mouth Steinway, FRENCH HARP”—‘American Thesaurus of Slang’ by Berrey>

<1973 “(as of circa 1950) MOUTH HARP . . . dominates the Midwest speech area
except for the extreme southeastern sector, where South Midland speech is typical and where the accepted form is FRENCH HARP.”—‘Linguistic Atlas of the Upper Midwest’ by Allen, Vol. 1, page 207>

<2000 “. . . the musical instrument played by blowing across a series of holes isn’t only a HARMONICA; it’s a ‘MOUTH ORGAN in much of the country (especially the Inland North, Central Atlantic, South Atlantic and Southwest), a MOUTH HARP (particularly in the South Atlantic, North Central and Western areas) and a ‘FRENCH HARP as well (especially in the West Midland, Texas and the Central part of the country).”—in ‘New York Times,’ On Language, ‘Bumfuzzled?’ by Frederic G. Cassidy & Joan Houston Hall (editors of the Dictionary of American Regional English), 6 August, page SM22>

So, finally, where does HARPOON fit into all this? It doesn’t fit very well. It is pretty clear that ‘harpoon’ didn’t get shortened to ‘harp’ and that what probably happened was exactly the reverse – 'harp' got lengthened to ‘harpoon.’ HARP for harmonica clearly dates back to the late 19th century, but HARPOON for harmonica, as far as I could determine, only dates back to 1969 when it first appeared in print in Kristofferson’s (he actually co-wrote it with Fred Foster) ‘Me and Bobby McGee’ (hitting the big time with Janis Joplin's 1971 recording). I could find absolutely no record of ‘harpoon’ for ‘harmonica’ being used before that and not a heck of a lot of usage afterward. As a musician (and I use that word loosely) of many years and one steeped in the blues, folk, jazz, rock, etc., I didn't recall hearing this expression before this posting (and I guess the harpoon in 'Me and Bobby McGee,' for some reason, never registered). After doing a fairly massive search through magazines, newspapers, journals, slang sources, novels, etc., all I found for 'harpoon' meaning harmonica was 1) ~ 1700 fairly recent Google hits referring to 'Me and Bobby' (lyrics, etc.), 2) some hits referring to the 1996 Greg Taylor CD ‘Harpoon Man,’ (i.e. 'harmonica player man'), and 3) one mention in a slang dictionary (see quote). This tells me that although the term does exist, it is so obscure that it hasn’t even made it into dictionaries that discuss musical slang. So what gives here?
<1994 “HARMONICA noun: mouth organ, harp, HARPOON.”—‘Thesaurus of Slang’ by Lewin & Lewin>
It is not uncommon in music to take a basic name of an instrument and play with it by subtracting or tacking something on or such, as when the guitar becomes a ‘gitbox,’ or ‘gitfiddle,’ or ‘jazzbox’ (jazz guitar); the banjo becomes a ‘banjer’; the piano becomes a ‘joanna’ as rhyming slang for piano (pianna), the trombone becomes a ‘bone,’ ‘sliphorn.’ ‘slide horn,’ ‘tailgate horn’; the clarinet becomes a licorice stick; the alto horn or tuba becomes ‘a peck horn’ (from pecking sounds of parts it often plays; the violin becomes a ‘squeak box’ and the accordion a ‘squeeze box’; the drums becoming ‘skins’ or ‘tubs’; etc., etc.

It is my guess that either 1) Kristofferson or Foster coined the expression HARPOON for ‘harp / mouth harp / mouth organ / harmonica’ or 2) Krisotofferson or Foster picked it up somewhere as a very localized expression – Foster possibly from his youth in North Carolina or his record producing years in Washington, D.C., or Kristofferson from the Texas, California, etc. of his youth or in his very extensive travels thereafter – Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, masters degree in English literature, U.S. Army helicopter pilot in Germany, songwriter in Nashville. ‘Me and Bobby McGee' was written in 1969 when Kristofferson was 33 and Foster was 38, both old and traveled enough to have picked it up or made it up along the way.

There has been some suggestion that the ‘harpoon’ here refers to a hypodermic syringe (wrapped in the bandanna which could be used as a tourniquet when shooting up) as it did for drug addicts in the 1930s and later American service men standing in the ‘harpoon line’ to receive their immunization inoculations. However, I just can’t buy that one in light of what the lyrics say:
<“I took my harpoon out of my dirty red bandanna, / And was blowing sad while Bobby sang the blues / With them windshield wipers slappin' time, Bobby clappin' hands, / We finally sang up every song that driver knew.”>
But, one never knows!

The Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) does not include HARPOON for harmonica, which is a bad sign because their expertise is in digging up regional slang such as this might be. They included ‘harp,’ ‘mouth harp,’ ‘mouth organ,’ and ‘French harp’ – but no ‘harpoon.’ I emailed Joan Houston Hall, editor of DARE, to see if she might have something tucked away in her files on this one. She answered that, “We asked that question [alternate names for a harmonica] in the DARE fieldwork, but we didn't get "harpoon" as a response,’ but she said she would try to do some further digging when she got the chance. I’ll keep you posted.

(Oxford English Dictionary, Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE), Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, Merriam-Webster’s and Random House Unabridged Dictionaries, Barnhart Concise Dictionary or Etyomology)

Ken G – October 18, 2005

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Erik_Kowal » Wed Oct 19, 2005 7:03 am

I suppose Kristofferson, Foster or their associates and/or families might still be able to shed some light on their contribution, if any, to this usage.

Speaking of nostalgia for the good ol' bad ol' days, we must not forget to marvel at Harmonica Lewinsky's facility on the mouth organ. I believe this was partly due to her superior double-tonguing technique. At one time, her handbills too were much sought after by an elect few.
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harpoon and harmonica

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Oct 19, 2005 8:29 am

Thank you Ken, it does seem reasonable that harpoon might have been used because of the extra syllable, “I took my old harp from my dirty red bandanna” doesn’t really scan.

Incidentally I was always led to believe that “Jew’s Harp” was actually “Jaw’s Harp” at it’s outset, or have I started something else?
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Phil White » Wed Oct 19, 2005 9:18 am

I wondered what you'd been doing over the past few days, Ken! I never fail to be astounded at the thoroughness of your research.
Signature: Phil White
Non sum felix lepus

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Shelley » Wed Oct 19, 2005 12:02 pm

I looked up the lyrics on a Janis Joplin site, and they read "I PULLED my harpoon . . ." which I think is much more poetic and alliterative than "took my harpoon", so will everyone please follow along? It could be that Joplin improvised and therefore improved the lyric.
Mindful of the musical references in the verse, I nevertheless think Ken Greenwald has discovered another meaning to it: the drug reference is new to me, and it's possible Kris and Fred meant to be ambiguous. Harpoon is hypo -- not harp, and it's cool that we don't know for sure. The rest of the verse takes on a new dimension.
Also, thanks Ken -- again, for the gift of your meticulous analysis.

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Bobinwales » Wed Oct 19, 2005 2:48 pm

It looks as though it was Janis who decided that it should be "pulled"; the Kristofferson sites I have looked at all give "took". It's amazing how everyone almost attributes the song to Joplin, even though it was Roger Miller of all people who first recorded it, and Kristofferson's own version has always seemed to me the way it should be sung.
Signature: All those years gone to waist!
Bob in Wales

harpoon and harmonica

Post by Shelley » Wed Oct 19, 2005 3:34 pm

Bobinwales, it's annoying when people give song-writing credit to the recording artist who happened to be the one to put the song on the charts. Sorry, I didn't mean to imply that Joplin wrote it: I just remembered mishearing the lyric for years as "I POOLED my harpoon and my dirty red bandana" and figured Me and Bobby hocked what little stuff they had to get by (although the profit from a harpoon and a dirty red bandana remained a mystery to me)! Thanks for clarifying the point: the lyric is "TOOK"; Janis sang "PULLED"; and scuse me, while I kiss this guy.
As for Roger Miller -- of all people, indeed! I learned recently that his was the voice behind "England swings like a pendulum do . . ." I will look forward to hearing his recording of Me and Bobby McGee.

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