Of all his accomplishments, one of which Henry Clay Work might have been proudest was the fact that he popularised the term 'grandfather clock'. That clock used to be called simply a 'longcase clock'. Not only was Work's song about it another platinum hit, but it caused people to refer to the clocks as grandfather clocks. (The smaller longcase clock became a 'grandmother clock'.) The song also inspired urban legends about the 'inspiration' for the song.
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. [Henry Clay Work, 'Grandfather's Clock' , 1876. Bear up and listen. You're almost through. ]
Chances are, you've heard this song somewhere. The tune is catchy, like all Work songs. Unlike most of his lyrics, this one manages not to be sexist, racist, ethnocentric, or socially retrograde. Anthropomorphising inanimateContinued page 11/12