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Little Bo Peep

Little Bo Peep

has a tune.
I know "Little Bo Peep" best as a song.
I know "Little Bo Peep" best without a tune.
does not have a tune.
Something else to be explained in comments.

Little Bo Peep has lost her sheep and doesn't know where to find them. Leave them alone, and they'll come home....

dragging their tails behind them.
wagging their tails behind them.
Something else to be explained in comments.

Last week in guitar class, it was news to me that "Little Bo Peep" had any tune at all. The other students were mildly astonished; they'd never known it without one.


( 29 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 13th, 2013 11:54 pm (UTC)
My mother used to sing it to me, and I could reproduce it at need - but it's still a nursery rhyme first, for all that it comes with a tune. It ain't a song. There is apparently a clear difference in my head.
Aug. 14th, 2013 12:01 am (UTC)
I only learned last week it had any tune at all. It made learning guitar chords to go along with the tune extra-challenging, when I didn't know the tune it was going along with.

Interesting about the tune vs song distinction, even with words. Hmm.
Aug. 14th, 2013 12:09 am (UTC)
Thinking on it further - damn you for your questioning ways! - it occurs to me that there was at least conversation if not controversy when I was a kid, about whether it was "dragging" or "wagging". I'm fairly sure that "dragging" was the ur-text, at least for me; "wagging" may have come with the song. Or it may have made better sense to us, because lambs certainly do wag their tails, while no sheep of my acquaintance had anything big enough to drag (the notion of fat-tailed sheep was utterly unknown to us, an undiscovered country etc). Even so, I do now and I think I would then have stood by "dragging" as the proper version.
Aug. 14th, 2013 02:13 am (UTC)
Me too, from Texas but in a house full of English children's lit books.
Aug. 15th, 2013 04:02 am (UTC)
Mine too. Except I can't remember the first five notes!
Aug. 15th, 2013 04:21 am (UTC)
F, I think. All f-f-f-f-five of 'em.
Aug. 15th, 2013 04:25 am (UTC)
If it had been a straightforward C, I would have remembered! And now I sing five fs and lo, the tune follows.
Aug. 14th, 2013 12:15 am (UTC)
"Bringing their tails", I think. It's been a while...
Aug. 14th, 2013 05:06 am (UTC)
Now I think about it, I've heard that version too. Just not 'wagging'.
Aug. 14th, 2013 05:32 am (UTC)
I went totally blank on it at first, but yes, "bringing".
Aug. 14th, 2013 08:18 pm (UTC)
Another vote for "bringing".
Aug. 14th, 2013 07:44 am (UTC)
Yes, bringing. Or possibly 'keeping'. Haven't heard dragging or wagging.
Aug. 14th, 2013 08:25 am (UTC)
Yep, I know 'keeping', although I only remembered after reading the comments.
Aug. 14th, 2013 01:46 pm (UTC)
Yes, now you mention it, I'm pretty sure "bringing their tails" was the Listen With Mother version I learned as a child.
Aug. 14th, 2013 05:04 am (UTC)
To be more precise, "I've never heard the tune." Most nursery rhymes have been set to music at various points in the past. I've just not heard this one.
Aug. 14th, 2013 05:31 am (UTC)
In the cases that I know about, the tune came first and the words were put to it. A very large proportion come from the 18th century and are a good window into 18th century popular music
Aug. 14th, 2013 09:11 am (UTC)
That was my gut feeling too - Ride a cock horse is pretty much Lilibulero, after all. And some nursery rhymes started out as satire - The Grand Old Duke of York, for example.
Aug. 14th, 2013 09:18 am (UTC)
Apparently none of them started off as being for children; they were just songs that people knew that they sang to children, and this developed into a tradition even when the contemporary allusions were forgotten
Aug. 15th, 2013 04:03 am (UTC)
I shall remember this for next time I read Tristram Shandy.
Aug. 14th, 2013 05:36 am (UTC)
It's not exactly a tune to my ears, more of a singsongy rhythm.
Aug. 14th, 2013 07:53 am (UTC)
While I'm pretty sure it was 'wagging their tails...' in the version I learned, as a tiny I found it very confusing. I assumed the 'behind them' meant that the tails were no longer attached and were being dragged in a bag (or something.)

I guess as a very literal-minded child I was confused by the implication that the tails were something separate and not actually an integral part of them!
Aug. 14th, 2013 09:08 am (UTC)
Yes, it has a tune which is very firmly stuck in my head. I think sometimes they come home bringing their tails behind them.

Most nursery rhymes have tunes. Even if "Ride a cock horse" is pretty much "Lilibulero".
Aug. 14th, 2013 09:09 am (UTC)
Yes, bringing their tails, I remember. Always had a tune. Possibly something to do with the docking of lambs' tails? I think this is now banned in the UK but was certainly common practice where I grew up.

Edited at 2013-08-14 09:10 am (UTC)
Aug. 14th, 2013 01:49 pm (UTC)
Lambs tails are still docked in most parts of the UK, apart from parts of Wales where the little native Welsh sheep have always kept their tails because they provide extra warmth in the winter. It's the docking of dogs' tails that is now illegal, apart from some exceptions for working dogs.
Aug. 14th, 2013 11:07 am (UTC)
The only tune I know in connection with it is Spike Jones' "Little Bo-Peep Has lost Her Jeep."
Aug. 14th, 2013 03:56 pm (UTC)
You know...I don't know whether I grew up learning it with a tune or not. My memory has been subsumed by listening to English nursery rhyme songs with Ciaran, wherein it definitely DOES have a tune.
Aug. 14th, 2013 05:14 pm (UTC)
I've answered "wagging" but I've also realised that it's the one word in the rhyme where I'm not certain of the wording - so I may well have met different words at different times.

And I wouldn't be surprised to find that there is an English/American (and possibly also a generational) divide about whether Little Bo Peep has a tune or not. From memory, on Listen with Mother, there was a nursery rhyme each day which was invariably (at least in the late '50s/early '60s) sung to a piano accompaniment by one of the presenters - and Little Bo Peep was one of the more common choices.
Aug. 21st, 2013 08:24 pm (UTC)
I sort of vaguely felt like I had heard a tune once so I put best known to me without singing.

I could not remember the last half of the rhyme so I can't remember if I have heard it more as dragging or wagging or something else. I think I share with some other respondents the sense that when I heard the rhyme I imagined the tails being somehow separated from the lambs (strange macabre rhyme).
Aug. 21st, 2013 09:42 pm (UTC)
It's amazing how diverse nursery rhymes can become in different areas.

While I'm aware of Little Bo Peep as a straight nursery rhyme, I definitely hear it in my head with a tune. Interestingly, though, having seen the two options you offered for the final line, I struggled to remember which one I'd use unprompted, as I've heard both. I'm pretty confident I got it after a few moments' thought, though.
( 29 comments — Leave a comment )