My Grandfather's Clock

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My Grandfather's Clock

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"My Grandfather's Clock" is a song written in 1876 by Henry Clay Work, the author of "Marching Through Georgia". It is a standard of British brass bands and colliery bands, and is also popular in bluegrass music.

1876 sheet music for "Grand-Father's Clock"

Most accounts give the origin of the song as a wayfarers' inn in Piercebridge on the border of Yorkshire and County Durham called the George Hotel. The hotel was owned and operated by two brothers called Jenkins, and in the lobby was an upright longcase clock. The clock kept perfect time until one of the brothers died, after which it lost time at an increasing rate, despite the best efforts of the hotel staff and local clockmakers to repair it. When the other brother died, the clock stopped, never to go again. It is said that in 1875 Henry Clay Work visited the hotel and based "My Grandfather's Clock" on the stories he heard there. It is said that the song is responsible for the common name "grandfather clock" for what are properly called "longcase clocks".

The "Grandfather's Clock" song is known to many people who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s. The version often played in Britain on Children's Favourites during that period was recorded by the Radio Revellers. In the United States, a version, without the last stanza of lyrics, was on an extended-play 45-RPM record on the Peter Pan label (the other song on that side was "Syncopated Clock", and the flip side had "Arkansas Traveler" and "Red River Valley"). Other versions became popular in other countries. It is well known to many generations in Japan. In 2002 a Ken Hirai recording of this song rose quite high in the Japanese popularity charts.

The song was recorded by Boyz II Men in 2004 and the song was the inspiration for The Twilight Zone episode "Ninety Years Without Slumbering". In the music for American Mcgee's Alice, and the accompanying soundtrack, a music box version of the chorus is included in one of the songs.

A popular clock toy, marketed by Fisher-Price in 1968, had a dial on it that, when turned, caused the toy to play the song along with clock-like ticking and moving hands on the face of the clock. An updated version of the toy (which is completely made of plastic and with other activities like a clicking plastic mouse on the side) has been manufactured by Fisher-Price since 1994. Imitations of the toy made by various companies exist and are sold in various countries worldwide.

An Australian one hit wonder band "The Creaky Buttocks" had their moment of fame when an a cappella version of "My Grandfather's Clock" went to number 9 in Indy Charts.[citation needed]

[edit] Lyrics

My grandfather's clock
Was too large for the shelf,
So it stood ninety years on the floor;
It was taller by half
Than the old man himself,
Though it weighed not a pennyweight more.
It was bought on the morn
Of the day that he was born,
And was always his treasure and pride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

Ninety years without slumbering,

Tick, tock, tick, tock,
His life seconds numbering,
Tick, tock, tick, tock,
It stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

In watching its pendulum

Swing to and fro,
Many hours had he spent while a boy;
And in childhood and manhood
The clock seemed to know,
And to share both his grief and his joy.
For it struck twenty-four
When he entered at the door,
With a blooming and beautiful bride;
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

My grandfather said

That of those he could hire,
Not a servant so faithful he found;
For it wasted no time,
And had but one desire,
At the close of each week to be wound.
And it kept in its place,
Not a frown upon its face,
And its hand never hung by its side.
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

It rang an alarm

In the dead of the night,
An alarm that for years had been dumb;
And we knew that his spirit
Was pluming for flight,
That his hour of departure had come.
Still the clock kept the time,
With a soft and muffled chime,
As we silently stood by his side.
But it stopped short
Never to go again,
When the old man died.

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