The Story of Rumpelstiltskin and Fun Songs to Sing was the sixth release of the storybook and fable collection under the Kid Stuff Records label and given the catalog number of KS013. As I mentioned in previous entries, it made quite a bit of sense for the burgeoning record company to go after stories and songs that were in the public domain. Their ability to tackle franchises like The Transformers, Super Powers, and even Pac-Man wouldn’t come until much later. This album once again features the Kid Stuff Records Repertory Company of performers and while as usual there is sadly very little information available – we do at least know what was on The Story of Rumpelstiltskin itself.
- The Story of Rumplestiltskin
- Over The Hill & Far Away
- There Was A Crooked Man
- This Old Man
- Green Gravel
Judging from the past Kid Stuff Records offerings it would appear that The Story of Rumpelstiltskin was much longer than previous fairy tale stories as it is the only track listed on the first side of the album – with the four songs presented on the B side. And at the risk of sounding like… a broken record… I do look forward to being able to reach a point where I can share some of the records themselves with you. At the very least I can tell you that once more the artist responsible for the cover artwork was Bill Gow – who apparently provided a few pieces of cover art for both Kid Stuff Records as well as Peter Pan Records. Doing a little research online however I can’t locate an actual bio for the artist so perhaps this is a pseudonym?
Furthermore, much like with the previous release of Mother Goose Rhymes this release features a folk song that I have somehow never heard before. That would be the last song on the B side entitled Green Gravel which might be better known as All Around the Green Gravel – and I have found multiple versions of it. For example on Mama Lisa’s World – they cite The Annotated Mother Goose which claims:
“This rhyme would seem to refer to the ‘promenade’ of marriageable maidens… such a ‘promenade’ usually took place after church on a Sunday. The ‘marriageable maidens’ strolled while the young bloods of the town looked them over with an eye to selecting a future wife.”
In fact the site provides the lyrics for All Around the Green Gravel that read:
“Around the green gravel the grass grows green, And all the pretty maids are plain to be seen; Wash them with milk, and clothe them with silk, And write their names with a pen and ink. And the first to go down shall be married.”
Although on the Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music site, they include an excerpt from the 1893 English County Songs book by Lucy E. Broadwood and J.A. Fuller Maitland which states:
“This game is played by girls only, all joining hands and dancing in a ring. One, called the ‘mother’, who by the way does not stand in the middle, but in the ring, names the girls in any order she pleases. As each girl is named, she turns her back on on the ring and covers her face with her hands or pinafore; the game then goes on without her.
This dismal little game, which has been found in many parts of the country, is obviously a dramatic representation of mourning, and the suggested explanation of ‘green gravel’ as a corruption of ‘green grave’ is almost undoubtedly the right one. In the Scottish lowlands, about a hundred years ago [i.e. c.1790], the attendants on a corpse newly laid out went out of the death-chamber, returning to it backwards. Is there possibly a reference to this or a similar custom in the words ‘turn round your head’ in this game?”
So I found that incredibly fascinating, friends – one appears to be more suited to a children’s playground rhyme with the alternate take being that of a more mournful song with lyrics mentioning the death of a young maiden’s true love.
Having said that I’m pretty sure that the 1977 The Story of Rumpelstiltskin features the more child friendly version of the song. And while I will continue to admit that I wish I could share with you some of the deeper info on those who were responsible for the record itself – I would be dishonest if I didn’t admit I am enjoying these dives into the fascinating history of these folk songs.
As always if you happen to have owned The Story of Rumpelstiltskin or have had the pleasure of listening to the 1977 album, please feel free to share it in the comments.