Sunday, May 10, 2015

"Billy Boy" song lyrics

Billy Boy
The first European settlers in America arrived in the early 1600s. Most of them were English speaking. They brought their language, their customs and their skills. They also brought their songs. Billy Boy is one of these songs.

In the New World, as in the Old World, a woman’s work was essential for their family’s survival. For the first two hundred years of American life, almost everything that the family ate or wore was produced at home. Women helped to plow the fields, plant seeds and pick crops. They made wheat or corn into flour and made the flour into bread. Women made their own cloth and made the cloth into shirts and trousers and dresses. A girl who learned to cook and sew well became a valuable wife.
In this song, Billy’s mother questions him about the girl he plans to marry. Like a mother in any country, she wants her son to find a wife who is polite (Did she ask you to come in?), attractive (How tall is she?), skillful at housekeeping (Can she bake a cherry pie? Can she make a feather bed?) and young (How old is she?). In answering his mother, Billy exaggerates all the qualities of the girl he wants to marry; he is joking in a good-natured way.

*Words and expressions you may not recognize:*
Billy = the diminutive form of Bill, a nickname for William. Usually only a young boy is called “Billy”.
young thing – The use of thing, rather than girl or woman, suggests a youthful, innocent quality in the wife-to-be.
dimple = a small natural indentation in the flesh. In English-speaking countries, a dimple in the chin or cheek is considered very attractive. Is this true in your culture as well?
quick as you can wink an eye – A more common form of this cliché is “as quick as a wink” (a wink is a rapid closing and opening of one eye).
sixty times [x] eleven (+) twenty-eight and forty-seven – How old does this make her? Do you believe that she is really this old?
There are many comparisons with as…as which have become clichés (phrases which have lost their freshness because they are used so commonly).
as American as apple pie (typically American)
as easy as pie (very easy to do)
as fast as greased lighting (very rapid)
as mad as a wet hen (very angry)
as good as gold (said of a child to mean “very well behaved”)
as white as a sheet (pale with fright)
Can you think of situations in which someone might use one of these expressions?

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