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sweet molly malone
July 19, 2010 6:58 AM   Subscribe

Molly Malone may have been selling more than cockles and mussels out of that wheel barrow. The Guardian reports on a recently rediscovered bawdier version of the song from about 1790. Google Books has a version from 1816 that looks similar (p. 194).
posted by maurice (26 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite

 
Performed if, like me, you've never heard of this before.
posted by DU at 7:05 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


This is news? I'd just sort of always assumed that Molly Malone was selling more than tasty snacks. But maybe I'm just odd.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 7:21 AM on July 19, 2010


she sells sanctuary by the sea-shore?
posted by The Whelk at 7:24 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


The version that I thought was euphemistic is literal, and there's another version that is too literal for euphemism? Okay then.
posted by cmyk at 7:26 AM on July 19, 2010


I also thought her cry of 'cockles and mussels alive' already implied she was a poetic sex worker describing the quality of her wares.
posted by jardinier at 7:33 AM on July 19, 2010


You know those records with pictures embossed into the grooves? I have one hanging in our bathroom art collection, with a pretty girl pushing a wheelbarrow full of the titular "cockles and mussels," obviously alive, alive-o because of the seaweed. I'm a little worried about her because her eyes seem to be closed, so engrossed is she in the sound of her sweet voice, and she's headed downhill on one of Dublin's cobblestones streets...

I grew up singing this song, but reading the new (old) versions of the song don't do anything to sully Molly's nature. There's nothing about money changing hands for services rendered. Just a normal woman with normal desires..."and his heart was going like mad and yes I said yes I will Yes. "
posted by kozad at 7:33 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yeah, I always thought the traditional version implied that she was a hooker. But that might just be because my high school Shakespeare teacher told us that a "fishmonger" isn't necessarily someone selling the catch o' the day.
posted by oinopaponton at 7:35 AM on July 19, 2010


Must have been one of those "pretty maids all in a row" from Mary Quite Contrary's seaside garden brothel.
posted by Sys Rq at 7:39 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I knew it!
posted by ob at 7:42 AM on July 19, 2010


"Everyone knows that it is hard to believe that such activities, if they took place in Dublin in the late 17th century, were of a mercenary nature. The author admits to having imbibed drink, which is another unusual characteristic for a Dubliner, and so I believe his recollection of his night with Molly may have been clouded by alcohol. I believe that there is no evidence to suggest that Molly was anything other than a lady of virtue, who was smitten by the writer and may have shared her bed with him," he said.

Oh, someone's taking the piss indeed.
posted by FatherDagon at 7:43 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


I think anyone who has seen the statue has come to the same conclusion.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 7:50 AM on July 19, 2010


I love and adore bawdy songs, my dad and his brothers used to make something of a habit of getting drunk and singing a)elizabethan sea shanties and b)songs that'd make most gangster rap look ridiculously tame if only they were sung in words people could understand them these days.

blowzabella, me bouncing doxie
come lets trudge it to Kirkham fair,
there's stout liquor enough to fox me,
and young cullies to buy thy ware
posted by shinybaum at 8:06 AM on July 19, 2010


But that might just be because my high school Shakespeare teacher told us that a "fishmonger" isn't necessarily someone selling the catch o' the day.

Yes, I keep going passed posters for Salt and wondering if it is just advertising the fact Angelina Jolie is in heat.
posted by ninebelow at 8:08 AM on July 19, 2010


Popular song has dirty version. No filmk at 11.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:25 AM on July 19, 2010


I have to fall into the "this is a surprise" category as well. I wonder how many photos one could find on Flickr of people giving Molly the ol' booben-goosen at the bottom of Grafton street?
posted by antifuse at 8:25 AM on July 19, 2010


Wait, what? The "cleaned up", err, old/new version has always been bawdy enough. It's practically dripping in innuendo.

Electronic music artist Matmos did a haunting version of it.
posted by loquacious at 8:28 AM on July 19, 2010


Speaking of haunting versions: Sinead O'Conner
posted by shinybaum at 8:44 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


When I was in Dublin the witty tour guide explained that Molly was a famous celibate. As in, "she'd sell-a-bit here and she'd sell-a-bit there..."
posted by The otter lady at 8:45 AM on July 19, 2010 [1 favorite]


Now I want all my folksinger friends to sing the bawd(ier) version.
posted by immlass at 10:04 AM on July 19, 2010


Do I smell a Mefi Music challenge?!
posted by Static Vagabond at 10:12 AM on July 19, 2010


nope, day-old clams.
posted by The Whelk at 10:33 AM on July 19, 2010 [2 favorites]




I've heard this version sung drunkenly in Irish bars in the past. Er, at least, I think I heard it. I may have been singing it. And it's possible it wasn't this song, but, instead, a song containing a very lewd suggestion to a stranger. And I may not have been singing. And somebody may have been slapping me.
posted by Astro Zombie at 12:57 PM on July 19, 2010 [4 favorites]


Good lord, you have no idea how much this affects me!

This is my go-to "I'm drunk wandering down the street in the middle of the night" song! The fact that there is a bawdy version means I MUST LEARN IT WELL ENOUGH TO SING DRUNK.

thanks for ruining my weekend.
posted by lumpenprole at 4:43 PM on July 19, 2010


I don't see how these are the same song at all. They're not remotely in the same meter, they don't share any...thing. Except the name Molly Malone. Which is a sort of arch-typical Irish name, though made famous by the more well-known ballad.

(But yeah, I've heard Molly Malone performed with a leer many times, the double-entrendre is kind of obvious. Or it can be performed straight, as a tragedy. S'okay either way.)

Frank Magee, chief executive of Dublin Tourism, said this earlier song could be the source of vile speculation that Molly supplied shellfish by day and special services to the students by night.

Um. This is all just a tongue-in-cheek publicity stunt, right? He's not really that dim?
posted by desuetude at 5:00 PM on July 19, 2010


When I was in Dublin the witty tour guide explained that Molly was a famous celibate.

Either this is an extremely common tour guide joke, or we had the same tour guide. Were you on one of the double decker bus tours?
posted by antifuse at 8:10 AM on July 21, 2010


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