Catch A Body

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'Comin' Thro' the Rye' is a poem written in 1782 by Robert Burns (1759–1796). The words are put to the melody of the Scottish Minstrel 'Common' Frae The Town'. This is a variant of the tune to which 'Auld Lang Syne' is usually sung—the melodic shape is almost identical, the difference lying in the tempo and rhythm.

Origin and meaning[edit]

The song gets stuck in Caulfield’s head, and later, when he sneaks into his sister’s room, he tells her about it. He has it in his head that the first line goes, “If a body catch a body,” which she corrects him on. “I thought it was ‘if a body catch a body,'” I said. Directed by Jay MartinFind LIVVIA on Socials:Instagram: @LIVVIATwitter: @LIVVIAMUSICFacebook: @LIVVIAMUSICBuy and Stream at My new single 'Catch A Body' is here! Sign up at to get early access to new music and updates!Follow LIVVIA:Website: https://www.livv.

The ford across the Rye Water in Drakemyre, Dalry

G. W. Napier, in an 1876 Notes and Queries, wrote that,

The original words of 'Comin' thro' the rye' cannot be satisfactorily traced. There are many different versions of the song. The version which is now to be found in the Works of Burns is the one given in Johnson's Museum, which passed through the hands of Burns; but the song itself, in some form or other, was known long before Burns.[1]

The protagonist, 'Jenny', is not further identified, but there has been reference to a 'Jenny from Dalry' and a longstanding legend in the Drakemyre suburb of the town of Dalry, North Ayrshire, holds that 'comin thro' the rye' describes crossing a ford through the Rye Water at Drakemyre to the north of the town, downstream from Ryefield House and not far from the confluence of the Rye with the River Garnock.[2][3] When this story appeared in the Glasgow Herald in 1867, it was soon disputed with the assertion that everyone understood the rye to be a field of rye, wet with dew, which also fits better with other stanzas that substitute 'wheat' and 'grain' for 'rye'.[4] An alternative suggestion is that 'the rye' was a long narrow cobblestone paved lane, prone to puddles of water.[2]

While the original poem is already full of sexual imagery, an alternative version makes this more explicit. It has a different chorus, referring to a phallic 'staun o' staunin' graith' (roughly 'an erection of astonishing size'), 'kiss' is replaced by 'fuck', and Jenny's 'thing' in stanza four is identified as her 'cunt'.[5][6][7]

Burns' Lyrics[edit]

Tune for Comin' Thro' the Rye
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O, Jenny's a' weet,[A] poor body,
Jenny's seldom dry:
She draigl't[B] a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!
Comin thro' the rye, poor body,
Comin thro' the rye,
She draigl't a' her petticoatie,
Comin thro' the rye!
Gin[C] a body meet a body
Comin thro' the rye,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body cry?[D]
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the glen
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need the warl'[E] ken?[F]
Gin a body meet a body
Comin thro' the grain;
Gin a body kiss a body,
The thing's a body's ain.[G]

  • A weet – wet
  • B draigl't – draggled
  • C gin – given, in the sense of 'if'
  • D cry – call out [for help]
  • E warl – world
  • F ken – know
  • G ain – own

Lyrics usually sung ('Ilka lassie')[edit]

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Even the 'cleaner' version of the Burns lyrics is quite bawdy, and it is this one, or an 'Anglized' version of it, that is most commonly 'covered'.

Gin a body meet a body
Comin' thro' the rye
Gin a body kiss a body
Need a body cry?
Ilka lassie has her laddie
Nane, they say, hae I
Yet a' the lads they smile at me
When comin' thro' the rye.
Gin a body meet a body
Comin' frae the town
Gin a body kiss a body
Need a body frown?
Gin a body meet a body,
Comin' frae the well,
Gin a body kiss a body,
Need a body tell?
'Mang the train there is a swain
I dearly lo'e myself
But what his name or whaur his hame
I dinna care to tell

The Catcher in the Rye[edit]

The title of the novel The Catcher in the Rye (1951) by J. D. Salinger comes from the poem's name. Holden Caulfield, the protagonist, misinterprets a part of this poem to mean 'if a body catch a body' rather than 'if a body meet a body.' He keeps picturing children playing in a field of rye near the edge of a cliff, and him catching them when they start to fall off.[8]

Cover versions[edit]

  • The first recording of the song was made in 1912 by Marcella Sembrich.[9]
  • The song was covered by Marian Anderson in 1944
  • The song was covered by Bill Haley & His Comets in 1956 as 'Rockin' Through The Rye'. Bill Haley had updated the lyrics to a more 1950's hip slang (included the lyrics, 'All the lassies rock with me when rockin' through the rye'). In Sept 1956, when the record was climbing the UK charts, the single was banned by the BBC from its playlist because they felt the song went against traditional British standards. Nevertheless, the record peaked at No. 3 on the UK charts.
  • The song is covered by Alvin and the Chipmunks for their 1960 album Around the World with The Chipmunks.
  • Bing Crosby included the song in a medley on his album 101 Gang Songs (1961)
  • The song was sung by The Real McKenzies for their 2005 album 10,000 Shots.
  • The song is sung by Ava Gardner in the 1953 John Ford film Mogambo.[10]
  • Jo Stafford covered the song on her album Songs of Scotland.[11]
  • The song was parodied by Allan Sherman on his 1963 album My Son, the Celebrity.
  • The song is sung by Julie London on her 1959 album, Swing Me an Old Song.
  • Eddi Reader, Sings the Songs of Robert Burns (Deluxe Edition), 2009.
  • John C. Reilly sang the song on a special whiskey-themed episode of Bob Dylan's Theme Time Radio Hour in 2020.[12]


  1. ^Napier, G. W. (19 February 1876). 'Notes and Queries'. Notes and Queries (112).
  2. ^ abJohn Cairney (1 January 2011). The Luath Burns Companion. Luath Press Ltd. p. 267. ISBN978-1-906817-85-5.
  3. ^Sheila Douglas (January 1996). 'Burns and the Folksinger'. Burns Conference, Strathclyde University. STELLA. Retrieved 2014-10-28.
  4. ^Robert Burns (1871). The complete poetical works of Robert Burns, arranged in the order of their earliest publication: (With New Annotations, Biographical Notices &c., by Scott Douglas). James M'Kie. p. 11.
  5. ^Damrosch, David (2003). What is world literature?. Princeton University Press. p. 123. ISBN0691049866.
  6. ^'Comin' thro' the rye [alternate version]'. BBC. Retrieved 30 November 2011.
  7. ^Burns, Roberts (1911). The Merry Muses of Caledonia. p. 61.
  8. ^Chen, Lingdi (May 2009). 'An Analysis of the Adolescent Problems in The Catcher in the Rye'. Asian Social Science. 5 (5): 144. doi:10.5539/ass.v5n5p143. Retrieved 2 November 2011.
  9. ^[1] 'Comin' thro' the rye, Marcella Sembrich, Discography of American Historical Recordings, University of California: Santa Barbara Library
  10. ^1 The song sung by Ava Gardner in the 1953 John Ford film Mogambo
  11. ^
  12. ^

External links[edit]

  • Digitised copy of Comin' thro' the rye in James Johnson's Scots Musical Museumpp. 430–431, 'Written for this Work by Robert Burns', printed between 1787 and 1803. Published online by National Library of Scotland. JPEG, PDF, XML versions.
  • Public domain recording (1914) by Alma Gluck
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Everyone goes through a stage, most of the time in his or her late teens and early twenties, where they start questioning life and death, growing old, and what the point of it all is. Some question more than others, but I think everyone ponders over it at least once. I also think that everyone, when they get to be nearing the end of their high school career, or their college career, gets scared of growing up, becoming an adult, losing their innocence, and later dying, whether they’re willing to admit their fear or not. This is why so many people can relate somewhat to the novel Catcher in the Rye, because the narrator, although his feelings are somewhat extreme, is going through this stage in his life. Throughout the entire novel, Holden Caulfield has an underlying fear of death and losing innocence, and there are many signs to show this.

The most obvious sign that Holden is afraid of adulthood and death is in the title of the book itself. It’s taken from a poem by Robert Burns called “Comin Thro’ The Rye.” Part of the poem goes,

“Gin a body meet a body

Comin thro’ the rye,

Gin a body kiss a body,

Need a body cry?” (lines 9-12).

At one point in the novel, Caulfield hears a young boy singing this song while walking on the edge of the curb, taking care to walk in a perfectly straight line while following his parents, who aren’t paying any attention to him. It makes him happy because this child is the picture of innocence. He isn’t aware what he is singing about, he’s just singing for singing’s sake (Salinger 121; ch. 16). The song gets stuck in Caulfield’s head, and later, when he sneaks into his sister’s room, he tells her about it. He has it in his head that the first line goes, “If a body catch a body,” which she corrects him on.

“I thought it was ‘if a body catch a body,'” I said. “Anyway, I keep picturing all these little kids playing some game in this big field of rye and all. Thousands of little kids, and nobody’s around-nobody big, I mean-except me. And I’m standing on the edge of some crazy cliff. What I have to do, I have to catch everybody if they start to go over the cliff-I mean if they’re running and they don’t look where they’re going I have to come out from somewhere and catch them. That’s all I do all day. I’d just be the catcher in the rye and all. I know it’s crazy, but that’s the only thing I’d really like to be. I know it’s crazy.” (Salinger 179; ch. 22)

First of all, there are only children in the rye field, excluding Holden. They’re playing a game, the picture of innocence, but they’re close to a cliff. The rye field symbolizes childhood, innocence and purity, but the cliff represents adulthood, and in Holden’s mind, phoniness, and the bottom of the cliff represents death. Holden’s placement could be a symbol of something as well. He’s on the edge of the cliff, which could symbolize the fact that he’s close to adulthood, but not there yet, because he is unwilling to mature and lose his innocence. Holden wants to save the children from going into adulthood, because he sees adulthood as something that people should be saved from-something bad, or frightening.

Holden has many attributes other than his name that show that he could be scared of growing up. One, for instance, is the fact that he is still a virgin, and toys with the idea of sex, because it’s natural for a boy of his age, but at the same time he can never do it. Even when he gets the chance, he usually doesn’t even try, for example, when he asked for a prostitute to come up to his room. Once the girl, Sunny, came up, he lied to her about just having undergone an operation, and that he wouldn’t be able to (Salinger 101; ch. 13). Virginity symbolizes innocence in the utmost way possible, and part of the reason why people are emotional about losing their virginity is because they’re losing their innocence.

Catch A Body Gang

Also, Holden gets depressed whenever he comes across “fuck you,” scribbled onto a wall. Not only does it sadden him to see the words, but see where the words are written. Both times he encounters the words, he’s in someplace that reminds him of his childhood, the museum and his old school, now his sisters. It’s also interesting that he seems to think some adult came into the school to write that on the wall, when it was most likely one of the students. Holden has an idealistic view of children of purity and innocence, and he can only imagine an adult writing profanity on the wall. The vandalism affects him the way it does because he’s worried about whatever child stumbles upon it. He’s concerned that their innocence will be tainted by seeing the profanity.

Another attribute is his disdain of “phonies,” which is just about every single adult. There’s only a couple of adults that he doesn’t have something bad to say about, one being his brother, Allie, and another being a boy that went to Elkton Hills with Holden, named James Castle. Both of these characters are the only deaths that have been in Holden’s life, and both were traumatic for him. Allie was a huge role model in Holden’s life, and he loved Allie probably more than any other human being. He even ‘prays’ to Allie at one point in the story, when he starts getting scared that he’s going to “disappear.” He repeats to himself, “Allie, don’t let me disappear. Don’t let me disappear,” and then when he doesn’t disappear, he thanks him (Salinger 204; ch. 25).

James Castle, on the other hand, was just a fellow student who Holden barely even knew. He borrowed a turtleneck from Holden, and that was just about all the personal interaction Holden ever had with him. After James Castle mentioned another boy was conceited behind his back, and the boy and his friends confronted James, instead of taking it back or giving in to being beat up, he jumped out the window. Holden mentions he was in the shower when it happened, and he heard the thump outside, which he originally took no notice of. When people started running outside though, he went out to confront James Castle lying on the steps, dead, with his blood and teeth everywhere, in Holden’s turtleneck (Salinger 165; ch. 21).

By having James Castle die in Holden’s turtleneck, I think Salinger was trying to draw some sort of connection between Holden and James. Later, when Holden went to the Antolini’s, Mr. Antolini relays a warning to Holden. He says, “I can very clearly see you dying nobly, one way or another, for some highly unworthy cause,” (Salinger 195; ch. 24). This is exactly what happened to James Castle. He died nobly for an unworthy cause. I think Salinger was trying to show what a potential fate of Holden could have been, and I think Holden somehow related to James, and so it was slightly traumatic for him.

There also might be some correlation between the fact that the two adults that Holden doesn’t consider to be phonies are both dead. Because they are both dead, perhaps Holden subconsciously thinks that the only way to escape becoming his negative picture of an adult is through death. He may be scared of death because he almost sees it as being inevitable if he’s to escape becoming a phony.

Something else to look at is Holden’s hair colour, his red hunting hat, and what he does regarding both. Allie and Phoebe, his brother and sister, both have bright red hair. Holden has black hair with a strange grey patch that gives him a feeling of age. He tries to use his hair colour and show it off when he’s trying to act older or when it will benefit him. For example, when he tries to get into bars or when he’s trying to flirt with older women, he keeps his hat off. The hat is also significant. Holden bought it after he embarrassed himself in front of his entire fencing team, which means he was feeling somewhat alone and vulnerable. The hat is bright red, the same colour as Allie and Phoebe’s hair, and the purpose of the hat is to hunt in.

This means that the hat might make Holden feel close to Allie and Phoebe, two people who he loves and are both children in his mind, and it also might make him feel more empowered and tough because of the purpose of the hat. This is the way the hat makes him feel because of several instances where he puts it on and hides his grey hair. He puts it on when he’s writing about Allies baseball glove, and so he feels closer to Allie by putting it on, and is identifying with him. He also puts it on and is messing around in it with Ackley, who he can sympathize with because neither of them have lost their innocence through losing their virginity.

He feels comfortable enough wearing it in front of Ackley because the hat represents youth and innocence. One can also tell that he’s somewhat self-conscious about it, because whenever he puts it on in New York, it’s when nobody else is around. “I took my old hunting hat out of my pocket while I walked. I knew I wouldn’t meet anybody that knew me, and it was pretty damp out,” (Salinger 128; ch. 16). “That hat I bought had ear-laps in it, and I put them on-I didn’t give a damn how I looked. Nobody was around anyway,” (Salinger 57; ch. 8). All in all, the hat is a symbol for innocence, and we can tell that Holden likes it for that reason.

Catch A Body Fresno Ca

The basic theme of the novel The Catcher in the Rye is Holden Caulfield dealing with his problems, fears, and mulling life over in his mind, whether he’s aware of it or not. He’s trying to figure out his standpoint on life, sort out his worries and learn more about himself. I think the main fear of Holden’s is his fear of losing his innocence, growing up, and dying. Almost everything that happens in the story somehow relates to this fear. You can find support for this idea in the title of the book, and many attributes he has and reactions he has to certain things. At the end of the novel, we get the sense that Holden is starting to realize that maybe becoming an adult isn’t so bad after all, and that although he has a lot of growth ahead of him, he is on the right track towards it.