Posted by Christina on August 09, 2000 at 20:29:10:
In Reply to: Re: another 18th century question...rock and reel? posted by Kate on August 09, 2000 at 18:10:22:
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: : : Okay, you all have helped me with nocake, and bundling cloths. Does anybody know what a rock and a reel would be?
: : : These items are mentioned in a ballad, "Johnny Has Gone For a Soldier," which was originally an Irish tune adapted for the Revolution. (featured on the Mark O'Connor "Liberty" CD). In it, a woman sells her "rock and reel" to buy her lover a sword. Now, I know what a ROD and reel is, but I don't imagine they're talking about fishing equipment. The phrase "rock and reel" was also used in several other Highland and Scottish ballads from the period I've heard, usually it's a woman selling "rock and reel" to run off with a Highland laird or head for America. So what in the world are they talking about????
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: : I am fairly sure that a rock and reel are parts of a spinning wheel - the rock being the part that held the wool or flax before spinning it and the reel being the bobbin that held the thread.
: : I think it was also a type of tartan (plaid) too........but maybe we should shout for Miss Katie O'Arbroath for help on this one!
: : Adele
: Well, I have to admit that I have never heard this phrase used in the context of plaids or tartans, Adele. However, that means diddly ... I HAVE heard of it in the context of spinning wheels though - but as a 'rocking reel' (the rocking of the foot pedal turning the reel) - a term of old Scottish dialectic origin. Could that, perhaps, be what you are hearing in the lyrics, Christina?
Adele and Kate,
once again you've helped!
Seems logical that the phrase has something to do with spinning wheels, since in all these songs I've discovered the next lyrics are usually "She sold her only spinning wheel..." or some equivalent. Kate,in the lyric sheet to the "Johnny..." song they wrote it as "rock and reel" but it's quite possible it was meant to be "rocking reel" in the original form. And in the other recordings I've got that use this phrase, "rocking reel" actually sounds more like it would fit the dialect of the rest of the lyrics. Either way, it fits! THANKS!
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