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"Mother" Jones is believed to be the inspiration behind the song lyrics.

"She'll Be Coming 'Round the Mountain", also sometimes called simply "Coming 'Round the Mountain", is an American folk song often categorized as children's music.

Although the first printed version of the song appeared in Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag in 1927, the song is believed to have been written during the late 1800s. The song was based on an old Negro spiritual titled "When the Chariot Comes", which is sung to the same melody. During the 19th century it spread through Appalachia where the lyrics were changed into their current form. The song was later sung by railroad work gangs in the Midwestern United States in the 1890s. The song's style is reminiscent of the call and response structure of many folk songs of the time, where one person would shout the first line and others repeat.

Contents

Lyrics

She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes, (when she comes). She'll be coming 'round the mountain, she'll be coming 'round the mountain , She'll be coming 'round the mountain when she comes. (when she comes).

The same structure is repeated with the following verses:

She'll be ridin' six white horses when she comes, etc.

Oh we'll all come out to meet her when she comes, etc.

We will kill the old red rooster when she comes, etc.

We'll be havin' chicken and dumplings when she comes, etc.

We'll all be shoutin' "Halleluja" when she comes, etc.


Contrast this to the original lyrics of "When the Chariot Comes":

O, who will drive the chariot When she comes? O, who will drive the chariot When she comes? O, who will drive the chariot, O, who will drive the chariot, O, who will drive the chariot When she comes?

King Jesus, he'll be driver when she comes, When she comes . . . .

She'll be loaded with bright Angels When she comes . . . .

She will neither rock nor totter, When she comes . . . .

She will run so level and steady, When she comes . . . .

She will take us to the portals, When she comes . . . .

In the UK, especially with the elderly, it is common for the lyrics "She'll be wearing pink pyjamas when she comes" and "Singing ey, ey, yippee, yippee, ey. Singing ey, ey, yippee, yippee, ey. Singing ey, ey, yippee, ey, ey, yippee, ey, ey, yippee, yippee, ey." to be sung.

Interpretation

While it is not entirely clear who the "she" in the song refers to, there are various plausible interpretations. One interpretation suggests that "she" is the train that will be coming through the tracks that are being laid out by workers.

Carl Sandburg, in The American Songbag, suggests that "she" refers to union organizer Mary Harris "Mother" Jones going to promote formation of labor unions in the Appalachian coal mining camps.

Currently the song is usually sung in collections of children's music with slightly different lyrics. The song has been recorded by musicians ranging from Pete Seeger to Barney the Dinosaur.

Harking back to the original lyrics of "When the Chariot Comes", the song is sometimes referenced in relation to the end of the world, most notably in The Illuminatus! Trilogy and the comic book Promethea.

Alex, Benji, Kelly and Auntie Anabella sang this song in "Wee Sing The Marvelous Musical Mansion".

Variations

At least three soccer chants are sung to the tune of this song:

Well, I'll shoot her with my ray gun when she comes,
Yes, I'll shoot her with my ray gun when she comes,
Yes, I'll shoot her with ray gun, oh, I'll shoot her with my ray gun
Oh, I'll shoot her with my ray gun when she comes
When she comes!
I'll be blasting all the humans in the world,
I'll be blasting all the humans in the world,
I'll be blasting all the humans, I'll be blasting all the humans,
I'll be blasting all the humans in the world,
In the world!
(spoken) ONE MORE TIME!!

The German song "Tante aus Marokko" shares the same melody and some elements from the text. Another German song "Von den blauen bergen kommen wir" shares the melody and no elements from the text except the fact that the German version is related to mountains.

In Taiwan, the melody is known as 伊比呀呀(pronounced yi-bi-ya-ya). The lyrics consists of only 伊比呀呀, and has no particular meaning.

伊比呀呀,伊比伊比呀
伊比呀呀,伊比伊比呀
伊比呀呀,伊比伊比呀呀,伊比伊比呀呀,伊比伊比呀

Or

Yi-bi-ya-ya, yi-bi-yi-bi-ya
Yi-bi-ya-ya, yi-bi-yi-bi-ya
Yi-bi-ya-ya, yi-bi-yi-bi-ya-ya, yi-bi-yi-bi-ya-ya, yi-bi-yi-bi-ya.

Sources

Sandburg, C., The American Songbag. 1st Ed. Harcourt Brace, NY, 1927.

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