Living History & Reenactment Music

Musical Rambles Through History © by Sara L. Johnson

The Landlady of France

Harry R. Stevens of Duke University published a booklet in 1948 called "Folk Music on the Midwestern Frontier 1788-1825, in which he presented a list of popular music he had identified on the Ohio River frontier before 1825, particularly in Cincinnati. I've been tracking down the actual music and lyrics for the last few years, from old song and tune books, and from sheet music in the Library of Congress, and have published part of my finds in this column in Smoke and Fire News and in the tunebook "Popular Music of Cincinnati and the Ohio River Frontier from 1788 to 1825".
In Stevens' list were Landlady of France, The Constitution and the Guerrierre, and Evelyn's Bower. As it turns out, Evelyn's Bower is the name of the tune, and Landlady of France, and The Constitution and the Guerrierre are both songs set to that tune. I found the words to both in "The American Songster", published 1836. Evelyn's Bower was also popularized in Dublin with another comic song, The Pretty Girl of Darby, O!
The Landlady of France, also known as Brandy O or Bandy O, was used for Constitution and Guerrierre because of its references to brandy, to twit the British for their habit of drinking brandy before a battle.... Which they apparently did before Isaac Hull and "Old Ironsides" captured their ship . But we'll save the tune Hull's Victory for another time.
The Landlady and her bandy-legged officer loved each other, and they both loved their brandy. When they came to a tragic parting (due to his transfer), "they kept their spirits up by pouring spirits down". The sheet music with lyrics and MIDI file are on the music page.