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Encyclopedia > Pop Goes the Weasel

"Pop Goes the Weasel" is a jig, often sung as a nursery rhyme, that dates back to 17th century England, and was spread across the Empire by colonists. The tune or melody is as follows, or a variation: Pop Goes the Weasel is the best-selling single from hip hop duo 3rd Bass; it appeared on their third album, Derelicts of Dialect. ... The jig (sometimes seen in its French language or Italian language forms gigue or giga) is a folk dance type as well as the accompanying dance tune type, popular in Ireland and Scotland. ... A nursery rhyme is a traditional song or poem taught to young children, originally in the nursery. ... Motto (French) God and my right Anthem No official anthem specific to England — the anthem of the United Kingdom is God Save the Queen. See also Proposed English National Anthems. ... The British Empire in 1897, marked in pink, the traditional colour for Imperial British dominions on maps. ... This article refers to a colony in politics and history. ... Tune can refer to: a melody. ... Look up melody in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... In music, variation is a formal technique where material is altered during repetition; reiteration with changes. ...


Image File history File links Download high resolution version (852x186, 7 KB)Pop Goes the Weasel melody Created by Hyacinth using Sibelius and Paint. ...


Lyrics

There are many different versions of the lyrics to the song. Most share the basic verse: Lyrics are the words in songs. ... The structures or musical forms of songs in popular music are typically sectional forms, such as strophic form. ...

Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
All around the Mulberry Bush,
The monkey chased the weasel.
The monkey stopped to pull up his sock,
Pop! goes the weasel.
Half a pound of tuppenny rice,
Half a pound of treacle.
Mix it up and make it nice,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Or the alternative verses:

Up and down the city road, (also seen as 'Up and down the King's Highway')
In and out the Eagle,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.
For you may try to sew and sew,
But you'll never make anything regal,
That’s the way the money goes,
Pop! goes the weasel.

Origins and interpretation

The Eagle pub in City Road, with the rhyme on the wall

Due to the obscure slang and cryptic reference "pop goes the weasel", there is considerable dispute over the rhyme's meaning. Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1920x2560, 1453 KB) Description: The Eagle pub, City Road, London, mentioned in nursery rhyme Pop goes the weasel Photographer: User:Justinc File links The following pages link to this file: City Road Pop Goes the Weasel Metadata This file contains additional... Image File history File linksMetadata Download high resolution version (1920x2560, 1453 KB) Description: The Eagle pub, City Road, London, mentioned in nursery rhyme Pop goes the weasel Photographer: User:Justinc File links The following pages link to this file: City Road Pop Goes the Weasel Metadata This file contains additional...


The original theme seems to have been a darkly humorous vignette of the cycle of poverty among workers in the East End of London. The "weasel" may refer to a spinner's weasel, a mechanical yarn measuring device consisting of a spoked wheel with an internal ratcheting mechanism that clicks every two revolutions and makes a "pop" sound after the desired length of yarn is measured. "Pop goes the weasel", in this meaning, describes the repetitive sound of a machine governing the tedious work of textile workers toiling for subsistence wages. In the context of the rhyme then the first three lines of each verse describe various ways of spending one's meager wages, with "pop goes the weasel" indicating a return to unpleasant labour. The term East End is most commonly used to refer to the East End of London. ... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... Spinners weasel (left) and spinning wheel (right) Spinners weasel is a mechanical yarn measuring device consisting of a spoked wheel with an internal ratcheting mechanism that clicks every two revolutions and makes a pop sound after the desired length of yarn is measured. ...


Alternatively (and, which is perhaps more likely for a poem from the East End of London), if "pop goes the weasel" is taken as Cockney rhyming slang, the "weasel" that goes "pop" is an item of value that the worker pawns, probably after spending the week's wages (always given on a Saturday). The "serious" Cockney uses "pop" to mean pawning or the redeeming of a pawned item, while the word "weasel" means "coat" (derived from "weasel and stoat"). Another possibility is that "weasel" is a corruption of "whistle" and means "suit" (in this case being derived from "whistle and flute"). In either interpretation, the rhyme describes the pawning of the worker's only valuable items - the "Sunday best" clothing - after exhausting the week's wages on the food items such as rice and treacle, which, though cheap, were and are fundamentally useless to anyone if the buyer is poor and has nothing to eat them with. It is thought, however, that early "quack" doctors would have prescribed treacle as a sort of medicine, and gullible purchasing workers that were prone to illness due to exposure would doubtless have spent their savings on trying to maintain their and their children's health. Cockney rhyming slang (sometimes initialized as CRS) is a form of English slang which originated in the East End of London. ... A pawnbroker offers monetary loans in exchange for an item of value to the given pawn broker. ... St Mary-le-Bow The term cockney refers to working-class inhabitants of London, particularly east London, and the slang used by these people. ...


"The Eagle" in the poem is more readily identifiable as a Public house on the City Road in London. It stands on the site of the former Royal Eagle Tavern Music hall and pleasure grounds. Needless to say, it too is a means by which money is lost. This article or section is not written in the formal tone expected of an encyclopedia article. ... City Road is a road in central London, usually referred to by Londoners as the City Road. At its western extremity it starts at the Angel, Islington, as the continuation of Pentonville Road and continues roughly south-east till it passes Moorfields Eye Hospital, when it bears closer to south... This article is about the capital of England and the United Kingdom. ... Music Hall is a form of British theatrical entertainment which reached its peak of popularity between 1850 and 1960. ...


"Monkey" is believed to be a nineteenth century term for a public house drinking vessel. A "stick" is a shot of alcohol, while "knock it off" is to drink it. Therefore, this is a description of drinking in the pub. The later reference in the song to the monkey chasing people around the workplace might well describe longing for a drink while working, or perhaps while penniless right before payday. Alternatively, it could be simply to miss the point of the presence of other "animals" such as weasels and eagles within the rhyme, and that whoever added the "monkey" was simply trying to make it more nonsensical. Nevertheless, within the little-sung verse that goes:

Every time when I come home
The monkey's on the table,
Cracking nuts and eating spice
Pop goes the weasel

If taken literally, it too is a means by which one would doubtless lose money. However, if the monkey does indeed represent the alcohol, or the container for it, then its "eating" nuts and spice could be seen as its dominating the narrator's life and therefore taking the place of staple food. In either case, it demonstrates a somewhat expensive lifestyle, if the narrator is indeed to be recognised as poor working class.


References in fiction

The Railway Series

The Railway Series by the Revd W. Awdry is not known for its songs, but the books' author chose to use the well-known rhyme format for a version that was probably a hidden lesson about boasting. Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: The Railway Series The Railway Series is a set of story books about a fictional railway system located on the fictional Island of Sodor and the engines that lived on it. ... Wilbert Vere Awdry, OBE, (June 15, 1911 – March 21, 1997), better known as the Reverend W. Awdry, was a clergyman, railway enthusiast and childrens author. ...


In Duck and the Diesel Engine (vol 13 of the series), the visiting engine Diesel hauls a rake of condemned vans from a siding by mistake, and lurches forward ('pops') when a rusty coupling breaks. While Diesel clears up the mess he hears the trucks making fun of him with this song:[1] This article does not cite any references or sources. ... // This article profiles the significant characters of The Railway Series by Rev. ...

Trucks are waiting in the Yard;
Tackling them with ease'll,
"Show the world what I can do,"
Gaily boasts the Diesel.
In and out he creeps about,
Like a big black weasel.
When he pulls the wrong trucks out –
Pop goes the Diesel!

Some years later, Awdry reprised the song with another version in Oliver the Western Engine (vol 24). This time, the steam engine Oliver ends up bunker-down in the well of a turntable (hence the reference at the end of the song) when his ballast train runs out of control. After Oliver returns from repair, more trucks, led by S.C.Ruffey, tease him with this song:[2] This article does not cite any references or sources. ... // This article profiles the significant characters of The Railway Series by Rev. ... A small turntable at the Orange Empire Railway Museum in Perris, CA. In rail terminology, a turntable is a device used to turn railroad rolling stock. ... // The Railway Series by Reverend W.V. Awdry and Christopher Awdry has many characters within its stories. ...

Oliver's no use at all;
Thinks he's very clever.
Says that he can manage us;
That's the best joke ever!
When he orders us about,
With the greatest folly,
We just push him down the well –
Pop - goes old Ollie!

When the stories were filmed for the Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends TV series, re-using the songs was an obvious move, with the Troublesome Trucks leading the singing. (NB - for the re-dubbed American version, some of the wording was changed - eg 'trucks' replaced by 'cars'). Thomas & Friends (formerly Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends, also known as Thomas the Tank Engine) is a British childrens television series which was first broadcast in 1984. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into Rolling stock (Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends). ...


The Prisoner

"Pop Goes the Weasel" is also prominently featured in the 1960s television series The Prisoner. An instrumental version is part of the soundtrack of several episodes (most notably the premiere episode "Arrival"), and in "Once Upon a Time" the lead character Number Six, whose mind has been reverted to childhood, begins singing the song, but is goaded by his nemesis, Number Two, who turns the word "Pop" into an acronym for "Protect Other People", leading the two to yell "Why POP?" at each other. The Prisoner is a 1967 UK allegorical science fiction television series starring Patrick McGoohan. ... Number Six // Number Six is the central fictional character in the 1960s television series The Prisoner, played by Patrick McGoohan. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Backronym and Apronym (Discuss) Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations, such as NATO, laser, and ABC, written as the initial letter or letters of words, and pronounced on the basis of this abbreviated written form. ...


References

  1. ^ Awdry, Rev. W. (1958). Duck and the Diesel Engine. Edmund Ward, p32. ISBN 0 7182 1050 6. 
  2. ^ Awdry, Rev. W. (1969). Oliver the Western Engine. Kaye & Ward, p32. ISBN 0 7182 0051 9. 

Wilbert Vere Awdry, OBE, (June 15, 1911 – March 21, 1997), better known as the Reverend W. Awdry, was a clergyman, railway enthusiast and childrens author. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ... Wilbert Vere Awdry, OBE, (June 15, 1911 – March 21, 1997), better known as the Reverend W. Awdry, was a clergyman, railway enthusiast and childrens author. ... This article does not cite any references or sources. ...

External links


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