“The Cranberry Bogs (Cranberry Song)”

Author: Barney Reynolds?
Earliest date: 1946 (recording, Frances Perry)
Keywords: farming work nonballad moniker
Found in: US(MW)

Description

"Have you ever been down to the cranberry bogs? Some of the houses are hewn out of logs...." Asked to sing, the singer tells stories of the cranberry harvest. The fruit are gathered after most other crops are in, so all sorts of people happily take part

Notes

The only published version of this piece appears to be that recorded by Frances Perry for AAFS. But Perry herself (who thought the song to have been composed around 1900) admitted that "At each marsh every year, new verses are composed about the workers present at that season." (Hence my use of the "moniker" keyword).

Curiously, John Berquist claims to have a Minnesota version, which conforms closely to the outline of the Perry version but has dozens of minor verbal differences, so there has been some folk processing (but starting from the basic Reynold/Perry text). The most substantial change alters the location: "Mather" in Perry becomes "Mercer" in Berquist.

This is a noteworthy change, because there doesn't seem to be a town called Mather. Mercer, however, is in northern Wisconsin, near the border with upper Michigan and about 20 miles south and slightly east of Ironwood. It's a wet region, there is, in fact, a Cranberry Lake not too far south of there.

The Digital Tradition claims that Dillon Buston wrote a tune for this in 1987, taking the text from Peters. However, Perry had a tune back in 1946, and Berquist recorded it in 1981 -- and it's a fine tune that doesn't need any newfangled replacements. - RBW

Recordings

References

  1. DT, CRANBRRY* CRANBRR2*
  2. Roud #5412
  3. BI, RcTcrBo