Monday, June 9, 2014

At the Music Hall: My Old Dutch, 1892

Albert Chevalier
I've got a pal, 
A reg'lar out an' outer, 
She's a dear good old gal, 
I'll tell yer all about 'er. 
It's many years since fust we met, 
'Er 'air was then as black as jet, 
It's whiter now, but she don't fret, 
Not my old gal.
We've been together now for forty years, 
An' it don't seem a day too much, 
There ain't a lady livin' in the land 
As I'd "swop" for my dear old Dutch.

Written and performed by Music Hall and Vaudeville star, Albert Chevalier (with music by his brother, using the name Charles Ingle), “My Old Dutch,” was actually meant as a tribute to Chevalier’s wife, Florrie.

The title for the song has been explained n a variety of ways, most of which refer back to a Cockney rhyming slang phrase for companion or friend, or, even for wife. The Cockney slang for mate was, “Dutch plate.” Meanwhile the Cockney slang for “wife” was “Duchess of Fife.” Both phrases were shorted to “Dutch.” Chevalier also stated that the song title comes from a nickname he had for Florrie because he said her face was as smooth and white as the face of a Dutch porcelain clock.

The song was quite popular for its wholesome themes of domestic harmony and purity and eas regularly applauded by both the common man and the most famed celebrity. Chevalier would perform the song in the guise of an elderly gentleman who was separated from his wife of forty years upon being sent to the work house. This sentimental presentation never failed to move the audience.

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