Pete Seeger - Froggie Went A-Courtin'

First performance: 31/05/2006


Bruce recorded the song with The Seeger Sessions Band for his 2006 album We Shall Overcome:  The album was recorded over the course of nine years at Thrill Hill East, Springsteen's home studio in Colts Neck, NJ: During these sessions, all of the album's songs were cut live in the living room of Springsteen's farmhouse – they were not rehearsed and all arrangements were conducted by Springsteen as he and the band played them. "We were doing trapeze without a safety net," Sam Barfeld told Backstreets magazine. "He plays the song for you once, a couple of arrangement ideas. Have enough time to scrawl out a chord chart, and then boom! You record."
'Froggy went a-courtin' ' was recorded during the second session  
First Session : 02/11/1997 
  • Soon after the conclusion of Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band's short Vote For Change Tour, Springsteen was liaising with manager Jon Landau regarding material for a potential future second volume of the Tracks boxed set. Some of the leftover material from the 02 Nov 1997 session was being evaluated and out of those discussions came the idea of releasing this session material as a stand-alone album project. "Thanks to Jon Landau for another one of his 'I think we've got something here...' phone calls," Springsteen later wrote in the liner notes of the 2006 album.  
Second Session: 19/03/2005  
There were not enough songs recorded on 02 Nov 1997 to fill an album, so the original 1997 musicians were contacted again and an additional recording session took place on 19 Mar 2005, just prior to Springsteen embarking on his Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour. Nine songs were recorded during the second session: ERIE CANAL, JOHN HENRY, O MARY DON'T YOU WEEP,  PAY ME MY MONEY DOWN, OLD DAN TUCKER, FROGGIE WENT A COURTIN', SHENANDOAH, MRS. MCGRATH, and MICHAEL ROW YOUR BOAT ASHORE. Eight of the songs recorded during this second session ended up on the album. 
Third Session: 14/01/2006
Springsteen undertook a third and final studio session following the Devils & Dust Solo Acoustic Tour. There were eight songs recorded during the third session: JACOB'S LADDER, BUFFALO GALS, EYES ON THE PRIZE, HOW CAN I KEEP FROM SINGING?, AMERICAN LAND, BRING 'EM HOME, IF I HAD A HAMMER (THE HAMMER SONG), and 
" What do you got there, my friend? (a kid in the audience has a toy frog)….I guess I got a request from this man down here, I don´t know, that´s….we´ve never played this one, I don´t know if we know this one….how old´s this gentleman? how old are you, my man?….six? seven, alright….let´s do it….let´s get wild, let´s get crazy out here in Indianapolis….alright, this may be the oldest song out of all the old songs….I think this was, uh….tracked back to Scotland around 1549, which makes it a little bit older than seven, my friend .oh yeah, we got it, everybody got it? .. yes, I love that false confidence from the band, it´s my favorite thing: false confidence from the band….alright, this is for, what´s your name? ….Kevin?….River - oh, I had another one for you (laughs)…."
Bruce performed the song 6 times:
2006-11-14 Hallam FM Arena, Sheffield, England
2006-11-11 Wembley Arena, London, England
2006-11-09 NEC Arena, Birmingham, England
2006-10-25 Pabellón Deportivo, Santander, Spain
2006-06-06 Sleep Train Pavilion, Concord, CA
2006-05-31 Verizon Wireless Music Center, Noblesville, IN 


"Frog Went a-Courtin'" ( see alternative titles) is an English-language folk song. Its first known appearance is in Wedderburn's Complaynt of Scotland (1548) under the name "The Frog cam to the Myl dur", though this is in Scots rather than English. There is a reference in the London Company of Stationers' Register of 1580 to "A Moste Strange Weddinge of the Frogge and the Mouse." There are many texts of the ballad; however the oldest known musical version is in Thomas Ravenscroft's Melismata in 1611. 
Spaeth has a note claiming that the original version of this was supposed to refer to François, Duke of Anjou's wooing of Elizabeth I of England; however, this was in 1579 and the original Scottish version was already published. If the second known version (1611, in Melismata, also reprinted in Chappell) were the oldest, this might be possible — there are seeming political references to "Gib, our cat" and "Dick, our Drake." But the Wedderburn text, which at least anticipates the song, predates the reign of Queen Elizabeth by nine years, and Queen Mary by four. If it refers to any queen at all, it would seemingly have to be Mary Stuart. Evelyn K. Wells, however, in the liner notes to the LP Brave Boys; New England traditions in folk music (New World Records 239, 1977), suggests that the original may have been satirically altered in 1580 when it was recorded in the register of the London Company of Stationers, as this would have been at the height of the unpopular courtship. According to Albert Jack in his book "Pop Goes the Weasel, The Secret Meanings of Nursery Rhymes" (pp. 33–37, copyright 2008), the earliest known version of the song was published in 1549 as "The Frog Came to the Myl Dur" in Robert Wedderburn's "Complaynt of Scotland". He states that in 1547 the Scottish Queen Consort, Mary of Guise, under attack from Henry VIII, sought to marry her daughter Princess Mary (later Mary Queen of Scots), "Miss Mouse" to the three-year old French Prince Louis, the "frog". The song resurfaced a few years later, with changes, when another French (frog) wooing caused concern—that of the Duke of Anjou and Queen Elizabeth I in 1579. Elizabeth even nicknamed Anjou, her favorite suitor, "the frog". 
Pete Seeger has recorded different versions of Froggie went a courtin' .

Bruce on the artist

In 2006, Bruce released  the album ' We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions' . The album contains Springsteen's interpretation of thirteen folk music songs associated with Pete Seeger. The project began in late 1997 when Springsteen agreed to contribute a recording for an upcoming Pete Seeger tribute album on Appleseed Recordings. "Growing up a rock n' roll kid I didn't know a lot about Pete's music or the depth of his influence," Springsteen later wrote in the liner notes of his 2006 album. He headed to the record store, came back with an armful of Pete Seeger records, and proceeded to investigate and listen to his music.
More info on Springsteenlyrics

"As Pete and I traveled to Washington for President Obama's Inaugural Celebration, he told me the entire story of "We Shall Overcome". How it moved from a labor movement song and with Pete's inspiration had been adapted by the civil rights movement. That day as we sang "This Land Is Your Land" I looked at Pete, the first black president of the United States was seated to his right, and I thought of the incredible journey that Pete had taken. My own growing up in the sixties in towns scarred by race rioting made that moment nearly unbelievable and Pete had thirty extra years of struggle and real activism on his belt. He was ao happy that day, it was like, Pete, you outlasted the bastards, man!...It was so nice. At rehearsals the day before, it was freezing, like fifteen degrees and Pete was there; he had his flannel shirt on. I said, man, you better wear something besides that flannel shirt! He says, yeah, I got my longjohns on under this thing. And I asked him how he wanted to approach "This Land Is Your Land". It would be near the end of the show and all he said was, "Well, I know I want to sing all the verses, I want to sing all the ones that Woody wrote, especially the two that get left out, about private property and the relief office." I thought, of course, that's what Pete's done his whole life. He sings all the verses all the time, especially the ones that we'd like to leave out of our history as a people. At some point Pete Seeger decided he'd be a walking, singing reminder of all of America's history. He'd be a living archive of America's music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along, to push American events towards more humane and justified ends. He would have the audacity and the courage to sing in the voice of the people, and despite Pete's somewhat benign, grandfatherly appearance, he is a creature of a stubborn, defiant, and nasty optimism. Inside him he carries a steely toughness that belies that grandfatherly facade and it won't let him take a step back from the things he believes in. At 90, he remains a stealth dagger through the heart of our country's illusions about itself. Pete Seeger still sings all the verses all the time, and he reminds us of our immense failures as well as shining a light toward our better angels and the horizon where the country we've imagined and hold dear we hope awaits us. Now on top of it, he never wears it on his sleeve. He has become comfortable and casual in this immense role. He's funny and very eccentric. I'm gonna bring Tommy out, and the song Tommy Morello and I are about to sing I wrote in the mid-nineties and it started as a conversation I was having with myself. It was an attempt to regain my own moorings. Its last verse is the beautiful speech that Tom Joad whispers to his mother at the end of The Grapes of Wrath."

'Wherever there's a cop beatin' a guy
Wherever a hungry newborn baby cries
Where there's a fight 'gainst the blood and hatred in the air
Look for me Mom I'll be there'

"Well, Pete has always been there. For me that speech is always aspirational. For Pete, it's simply been a way of life. The singer in my song is in search of the ghost of Tom Joad. The spirit who has the guts and toughness to carry forth, to fight for and live their ideals. I'm happy to report that spirit, the very ghost of Tom Joad is with us in the flesh tonight. He'll be on this stage momentarily, he's gonna look an awful lot like your granddad who wears flannel shirts and funny hats. He's gonna look like your granddad if your granddad could kick your ass. ..

This is for Pete... "


Mr Froggy went a-courtin' and he did ride, uh-huh
Mr Froggy went a-courtin' and he did ride, uh-huh
Froggy went a-courtin' and he did ride
A sword and pistol by his side, uh- huh, uh-huh, uh-huh

He went down to Miss Mousie's door, uh-huh
He went down to Miss Mousie's door, uh-huh
He went down to Miss Mousie's door
Where he had often been before, uh huh, uh-huh, uh-huh

He took Miss Mousie up on his knee, uh-huh
Said "Miss Mousie will you marry me?" uh huh
"Without my Uncle Rat's consent
I wouldn't marry the President," uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh


Well Uncle Rat he gave his consent, uh-huh
Hey Uncle Rat he gave his consent, uh-huh
Now Uncle Rat he gave his consent
And the weasel wrote the publishment, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh

Well now where will the wedding supper be? Uh-huh
Where will the wedding supper be? Uh-huh
Well where will the wedding supper be?
Way down yonder in a hollow tree, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh

Come on Soozie!


Yeah the first come in was a flying moth, uh-huh
First come in was a flying moth, uh-huh
First come in was a flying moth
Who laid out the tablecloth, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh

Well the next to come in was a junie bug, uh-huh
The next to come in was a junie bug, uh-huh
Next to come in was a junie bug
She brought the whiskey in a water jug, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh


Next come in was a big black snake, uh-huh
Next come in was a big black snake, uh-huh
Next come in was a big black snake
Chased them all into the lake, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh

Little piece of cornbread laying on a shelf, uh-huh
Little piece of cornbread laying on a shelf, uh-huh
Little piece of cornbread laying on a shelf
If you want any more, you can sing it yourself, uh-huh, uh-huh, uh-huh

Yip, go!