Letter to the Editor - The Origins of Barbershop

Letter to the Editor - The Origins of Barbershop
Type of post: "In Harmony" Newsletter
Sub-type: No sub-type
Posted By: Dick Bushell
Status: Current
Date Posted: Sat, 21 Apr 2018
Origins of Barbershop Music - A Revelation
Another Barbershop Poem by Andrew Wright

1. I’ve now been singing Barbershop for more than 50 years And treasure all the time I’ve spent whilst singing with my peers I thought I knew the origins of this most amazing genre But recent studies done by me must now be thrust uponya.

2. We all agree that Barbershop is very, very old Around the 1860’s is the starting point we’re told It’s said that men would stand around and sing in harmony Whilst waiting for a haircut in Des Moines or Tennessee

3. Americans from every state have claimed the sound, it seems But I have done some digging that will shatter all these dreams I don’t believe this art of ours began with cutting hairs It’s come to light that other folk believe the style is theirs…

4. It all begins south of the States in a country called Bolivia It’s absolutely beautiful – but I wouldn’t want to live ‘ere It’s a land of grandiose mountains with caves all full of bats Where menfolk wear the ponchos and woman – funny hats

5. These friendly folk have simple lives, surviving day to day Tending sheep and ploughing fields and gathering the hay They’ve rugged features, muscles and moustaches to be sure And the menfolk also have these looks – or maybe even more...!

6. But I digress and the time has come to prove my point to you It all starts with a shepherdess dancing in the mountain dew Her name was Barbara Sanchez and she loved to dance all day And she really didn’t worry if the sheep all ran away

7. When she came home each evening she would have a bite to eat Then off she’d go to Pedro’s Bar – the local men to meet They’d sing to her and play guitars and only then, perhaps She’d swirl a great flamenco and then dance upon their laps

8. One day whilst in the mountains she was dancing in the rain When from the bush a wolf ran out and caused horrific pain It bit her leg off at the knee then took off with his prize He was rather disappointed ‘cos he was aiming for her thighs...!

9. Now Barbara was extremely brave and crawled back to her hut Her mother nursed her back to health after stitching up the cut “You’ll never dance again, my Dear”, her mother sadly sighed But Barbara had another view, “Oh, yes I will” she cried…

10. She practised every single day – dancing on one leg She vowed to earn a living and was never going to beg When Barbara was quite ready, off to Pedro’s Bar she pranced The menfolk cheered her good and loud as she began to dance

11. Pedro and the other guys could not believe this sight The shepherdess danced beautifully, so daintily and light They all agreed this lovely lass was once more at the top What do you call this dance they asked – she answered, “Barbara’s Hop”

12. Well, straight away four men began to sing in harmony The chords they sang were wonderful and rang so beautifully The village folk all gathered round as close as they could get To hear the sound that wafted from the “Barbara’s Hop Quartet”

13. Now language is a funny thing and words can get distorted And as their style preceded them their fame was somewhat thwarted From Bolivia to the USA the famous “Barbara’s Hop” Became corrupted quickly into simple “Barbershop”

14. So now the truth has come to light - no bragging rights remain And when you hear a quartet sing some wonderful refrain Just remember Barbara, the one-legged shepherdess Who started this great art of ours – but now I must confess…

15. The information in this rhyme may not be quite exact I’ve used artistic licence here to modify each fact So, let me say, “I’m sorry”’ if you think my views are twisted And I’m sure there’s info on the web where the truth has all been listed

16. I hope you have enjoyed this tale, which I have writ in jest And although the rhymes and meter may not be quite my best I’ve tried to give some food for thought with these unusual views And just like Mister Trump would say, “I think it’s all ‘Fake News’

ALW © 2018