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Q: Song/recording ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   1 Comment )
Subject: Song/recording
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Music
Asked by: ashville-ga
List Price: $10.00
Posted: 10 Jul 2004 19:14 PDT
Expires: 09 Aug 2004 19:14 PDT
Question ID: 372518
Can you find a recording of the song, Grandmother's Chair published in
1880 and it starts,"My grandmother she at the age of sixty-three One
day in May was taken illand died....." Written by Joh Read
Subject: Re: Song/recording
Answered By: pinkfreud-ga on 10 Jul 2004 20:28 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
The song you're looking for is also known by the name "The Old Armchair."

You'll find two different versions of the song on a CD called "Ballads
& Songs of Tradition." One is sung a capella by Lee Monroe Presnell,
and the other is sung with guitar accompaniment by Grant Rogers:

"The CD is a geographical mix of singers and styles from Aberdeen,
Scotland to New Brunswick, Canada and calling in at Middle Grove and
Walton, NY. Reese and Beach Mountain, NC. and Fayetteville, AR. The
songs are all variants, remnants or reworked material that still have
links to the 'Ballads and Songs' of the British Isles... the CD ends
with two versions of 'The Old Armchair', first from Lee Monroe
Presnell and the second from Grant Rodgers [sic]."

Living Tradition: Ballads & Songs of Tradition

The CD can be ordered from any of these online stores:

For Your Entertainment;jsessionid=H5AZWE3MTLKMCCIIAADAACAJBAAAMAIA?itemId=10513214

CD Universe

Here's an audio clip of the Grant Rogers recording:

All Music

Here you'll find information on other recordings of the song (note
that the Lee Monroe Presnell recording is mentioned):

"MY GRANDMOTHER'S OLD ARMCHAIR - "My grandmother, she, at the age of
83" - Ch: "How they tittered, how they chaffed" - comp John Reed &
popularised by Frank Crummitt (?) - ROUD#1195 - Bss incl SBG 2:#92 -
GREIG-DUNCAN 3 1987 #705 - WILLIAMS #658 (w/o) - Essex Review #51 July
1942 p122 Alfred Hills (c) 1v/ch (w/o)/ #60 April 1951 pp90-91 C V
Chiswell (c): Great Easton, Essex 1906 ch only (w/o) "The Old
Armchair" - OCCOMORE-SPRATLEY BB 1979 p18 Mrs Horsnell, Harlow, Essex
- FMJ 5:3 1987 pp342-3 Ian Russell: Frank Hinchcliffe, Sheffield,
Yorksh 1970 "Grandmother's Chair" --- SPAETH WSM 1927 pp204-6 "The Arm
Chair" - COHEN FS for Camp 1966 p120 - WARNER TAFS 1984 #100 pp246-8
Lee Monroe Presnell, Beech Mountain, NC 1951 (says claimed by
composers in NY & Boston but Anne thinks it English) "My Grandmother's
Chair" -- Fred JORDAN of Diddlebury, Shropshire rec by PK, London
1962: 130 - Bob DAVENPORT & MARSDEN RATTLERS: LEADER LER- 3008 1971 -
TROTTO: FOREST TRACKS FT-6003 1973/ FREE REED FRR- 005 1976 - Ned
WHEELER, Lower Swell, Glos rec by Peter Duddridge 1961: SAYDISC
SDL-300 1979 cassette "Granny's Old Armchair" --- Lena Bourne FISH rec
by Frank & Anne Warner, East Jaffrey, NH USA 1940: 922 (1v & ch) - Lee
Monroe PRESNELL rec Warners 1951: 923 with talk"

Folktrax: Titles

My strategy in tracking this down for you began with a visit to the
Mudcat Cafe, a wonderful website devoted to old music. There I found
this thread, in which a question about the song was answered:

"Do you know a song which contains the phrase 'Granny only left to me
the old armchair.'?

'Granny's Old Arm Chair' is included in two versions on Folk-Legacy's
new CD Ballads and Songs of Tradition (CD-125). The first version was
collected from a superb old ballad singer on Beech Mountain in North
Carolina, Lee Monroe Presnell. He sings it unaccompanied, as he sang
every song we collected from him. The second version I recorded from a
retired stone quarry worker, fiddler, and songmaker in the Catskill
mountains of New York state. He did it with guitar accompaniment,
strongly influenced by Bradley Kincaid, I think. Interesting to
compare the two 'traditional' American approaches to a late 19th
century English Music Hall song."

The Mudcat Cafe

More about the song from The Mudcat Cafe:

The Mudcat Cafe

And here are the lyrics to the song:

"Grandmother's Chair" (1880)
As Sung with great applause by Tony Pastor.
Written, Composed and sung by John Read.
Arranged by Dr. W. J. Wetmore.

My grandmother she at the age of eighty-three
One day in May was taken ill and died;
And after she was dead, the will of course was read,
By a lawyer as we all stood by his side;
To my brother it was found, she had left a hundred pounds,
The same unto my sister I declare,
But when it came to me, the lawyer said, "I see,
She has left to you her Old arm chair."

And how they titter'd! how they chaff'd!
How my brother and sister laugh'd,
When they heard the lawyer declare,
Granny had only left to me her Old arm chair.

I tho't it hardly fair, still I said I did not care,
And in the ev'ning took the chair away;
The neighbors they me chaff'd my brother at me laugh'd
And said "It will be useful John some day;
When you settle down in life, find some girl to be your wife,
You'll find it very handy I declare,
On a cold and frosty night, when the fire is burning bright,
You can then sit in your old arm chair."


What my brother said was true, for in a year or two,
Strange to say I settl'd down in married life;
I first a girl did court, and then the ring I bought,
Took her to church and when she was my wife;
The old girl and me, were as happy as could be,
For when my work was over I declare,
I ne'er abroad would roam, but each night would stay home,
And be seated in my old arm chair.


One night the chair fell down, when I pick'd it up I found,
The seat had fallen out up[-]on the floor;
And there to my surprise I saw before my eyes,
A lot of notes, two thousand pounds or more;
When my brother heard of this, the fellow I confess,
Went nearly mad with rage, and tore his hair,
But I only laugh'd at him, then said unto him
"Jem, Don't you wish you had the old arm chair?"


PD Music

I hope this helps! If anything is unclear, or if a link does not
function, please request clarification; I'll be glad to offer further
assistance before you rate my answer.

Best wishes,

Clarification of Answer by pinkfreud-ga on 10 Jul 2004 20:43 PDT
I've found another source for your song. The CD is "Goodtime George,"
by George Melly:

ArtistDirect: Goodtime George,,1547862,00.html

Here's an audio clip:

ArtistDirect: Grandmother's Old Armchair by George Melly,,1547862-3842658,00.html
ashville-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $3.00
Fantastic! Very thorough!  Great Job!!!!

Subject: Re: Song/recording
From: pinkfreud-ga on 11 Jul 2004 10:04 PDT
Thank you very much for the five-star rating and the nice tip!


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