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Lyr/Chords Add: The Erie Canal (E-Ri-E)

DigiTrad:
E-RI-E CANAL
ERIE CANAL (MULE NAMED SAL)
FROM BUFFALO TO TROY
OH, THAT LOW BRIDGE
THE ERIE CANAL


Related threads:
Lyr Req: From Buffalo to Troy (canal song) (24)
(origins) Origins: Got a Mule & Her Name is Sal/Erie Canal? (47)
Irish-American Railroad or Erie Canal Song? (4)


GUEST,Norton1 17 Feb 01 - 02:34 PM
Uncle_DaveO 17 Feb 01 - 04:49 PM
Joe Offer 17 Feb 01 - 05:04 PM
GUEST,Norton1 17 Feb 01 - 05:20 PM
Arkie 19 Feb 01 - 01:18 AM
georgeward 20 Feb 01 - 01:10 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jul 08 - 04:38 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jul 08 - 05:02 AM
Joe Offer 24 Jul 08 - 06:05 AM
Don Firth 02 Dec 10 - 07:52 PM
tritoneman 03 Dec 10 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,Doug Olsen 08 Dec 10 - 09:41 PM
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Subject: ADD Version: The Erie Canal
From: GUEST,Norton1
Date: 17 Feb 01 - 02:34 PM

THE ERIE CANAL

(G)We were forty miles from Albany and
(C)Forget it I (D)never (G)shall
What a (C)terrible (D)storm we (G)had that (C)night
On the (G)Er-i(D)-e (G)Canal
On The Er-i(D)-e (G)Canal

Our Captain he came up on deck
With a spyglass in his hand
And the fog it was so tarnald thick
That he could not spy the land
That he could not spy the land

chorus
(G)Oh the Erie was a risin' and the
(C)Gin was a (D)gettin' (G)low
And I (C) did not (D)think we'd (G)get a (C)drink
Till we (G)got to (D)Buffa(G)lo ho ho
Till we got to (D)Buffa(G)lo

We were loaded down with Barley
We were chock up full of Rye
And the Captain he looked down at me
With his dirty wicked eye
With his dirty wicked eye

Two days out of Syracuse
Our vessel struck a shoal
And we all like to been foundered
On a chunk of Lackawanna Coal
On a chunk of Lackawanna coal

Chorus

We hollared to the Captain
On the towpath treadin dirt
He jumped on board and stopped that leak
With his old red flannel shirt
With his old red flannel shirt

Our cook she was a grand old gal
She wore a ragged dress
We hoisted her upon a pole
As a signal of distress
As a signal of distress

chorus

When we got to Syracuse
The off mule he was dead
The nigh mule had blind staggers
So we cracked him on the head
And we cracked him on the head

Oh the girls are in the Police Gazette
And the crew is all in jail
And I'm the only Sea Cook's son
That is left to tell the tale
That's left to tell the tale

chorus

I play it quite briskly but have only my own imagination as to the credibility of the Key and chord progression. I know I heard it somewhere 30+ years ago so the tune is valid. Enjoy :-) Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: The Erie Canal
From: Uncle_DaveO
Date: 17 Feb 01 - 04:49 PM

You give a couple verses that Burl Ives didn't have--or at least didn't record. Some trifling differences in wording here and there. I'm surprised if this isn't already in the DT.

Dave Oesterreich


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Subject: Erie Canal Songs
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Feb 01 - 05:04 PM

I found the song in the Digital Tradition by searching for [miles from Albany] because I figured there would be no variation in spelling in that phrase. The version in the database (click) is almost the same, but it doesn't have the great verse Steve posted about the fog. A search for Eriecan* (based on the file name at the end of the song) brings up more, like this one (click) - same song, but different. This one (click) is interesting, too.
Forgive me for making a commercial announcement, but our friends at Folk-Legacy Records have a new CD from George Ward called Oh, That Low Bridge! - Songs of the Erie Canal. Good stuff.
-Joe Offer-

Here's the entry on this song from the Traditional Ballad Index:

    E-ri-e, The

    DESCRIPTION: About a "terrible storm" on the Erie Canal. "Oh, the E-ri-e was a-rising And the gin was a-getting low, And I scarcely think we'll get a little drink Till we get to Buffalo." Humorous anecdotes of a highly hazardous voyage
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Sandburg)
    KEYWORDS: canal humorous cook animal wreck
    HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
    1825 - Erie Canal opens (construction began in 1817)
    FOUND IN: US(MW) Canada(Mar)
    REFERENCES (9 citations):
    Creighton-Maritime, p. 144, "It's Let Go Your Bowline" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Sandburg, p. 180, "The E-ri-e" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Lomax-FSUSA 45, "The E-ri-e" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Lomax-ABFS, pp. 470-471, "The E-ri-e" (1 text, 1 tune); see also pp. 455-457, "Ballad of the Erie Canal" (1 text, composite and probably containing stanzaswhich belong here); pp. 459-463, "The Erie Canal Ballad" (8 texts, some fragmentary, the fourth of which appears to belong here)
    Darling-NAS, pp. 333-335, "The Erie Canal" (1 text)
    Arnett, p. 56, "The Erie Canal" (1 text, 1 tune)
    PSeeger-AFB, p. 87, "Erie Canal" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 43, "E-ri-e" (1 text)
    DT, ERICANL1 ERIECNL3*

    Roud #6599
    RECORDINGS:
    Pete Seeger, "Erie Canal" (on PeteSeeger07, PeteSeeger07a)
    CROSS-REFERENCES:
    cf. "The Raging Canal (I)" (plot)
    cf. "A Trip on the Erie (Haul in Your Bowline)" (plot)
    cf. "The Erie Canal"
    cf. "The Calabar" (theme)
    cf. "Stormy Weather Boys" (subject)
    cf. "The Farmington Canal Song" (theme)
    cf. ""The Wreck of the Mary Jane"" (theme)
    cf. "The Wreck of the Varty" (theme)
    cf. "On Board the Bugaboo" (theme)
    cf. "Changing Berth" (theme)
    cf. "The Wreck of the Gwendoline" (theme)
    cf. "The Fish and Chip Ship" (theme)
    Notes: The Erie Canal, as originally constructed, was a completely flat, shallow waterway. The barges were drawn along by mules. Thus, apart from getting wet, storms posed little danger, and the only way one could run aground was to run into trash that had fallen into the canal.
    As for needing a distress signal ("We h'isted (the cook) upon the pole
    As a signal of distress"), one could always step off onto dry land....
    The Lomaxes, in American Ballad and Folk Songs, thoroughly mingled many texts of the Erie Canal songs (in fairness, some of this may have been the work of their informants -- but in any case the Lomaxes did not help the problem). One should check all the Erie Canal songs for related stanzas. - RBW
    File: LxU045

    Go to the Ballad Search form
    Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
    Go to the Bibliography
    Go to the Discography

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: The Erie Canal
From: GUEST,Norton1
Date: 17 Feb 01 - 05:20 PM

I searched the database and apparently was to narrow in my search. I didn't find it! Burl Ives did indeed sing it but I heard it from an old timer up on the South Fork of the Salmon River in 1974-5. He told a story of one of his ancestors teaching it to him - George Fritzer, the guy I learned it from, was a character and I would guess his family may have been involved in the canal's use. He was in his 80s at the time I knew him. If you look on a topo map of Idaho, find the South Fork of the Salmon River and then between Pidgeoun creek and Bear Creek is Fritzer Creek. He lived there until his death in the early 80s. I lived on Pidgeon Creek for a time. Glad to be able to repay you all for some of the songs I've received here! Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: The Erie Canal
From: Arkie
Date: 19 Feb 01 - 01:18 AM

I read a few nights ago that one of the reasons the Erie Canal was constructed was to transport salt from the mines near Syracuse and that the canal was nicknamed "the ditch that salt built". Anyone know anything to verify this?


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: The Erie Canal
From: georgeward
Date: 20 Feb 01 - 01:10 AM

Arkie, salt was certainly a prime canal cargo. The village of Salina preceded the city of Syracuse and was named for the salt (which was not exactly mined, but dissolved in water pumped below ground and then back to the surface; The resulting brine was then evaporated to reclaim the salt - if my memory of 7th grade science is still worth anything, this is called the solvay process). But many more factors went into the decision to build the canal, not least the need to bind together politically a sprawling country still vulnerable to the colonial ambitions of European powers, regional conflicts and its own limited lines of communication. Salt alone would not have done it. It certainly would not have justified building the canal all the way from the Hudson river to Lake Erie. -George ::-.--O


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Subject: ADD Version: The E-Ri-E (Sandburg & Lomax)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 04:38 AM

Not much in Sandburg or Lomax & Lomax:

The E-RI-E
(no songwriter attribution)

We were forty miles from Albany,
Forget it I never shall,
What a terrible storm we had one night
On the E-ri-e Canal.

Refrain:
Oh, the E-ri-e was a-rising,
The gin * was getting low,
And I scarcely think
We'll get a drink
Till we get to Buffalo,
Till we get to Buffalo.

We were loaded down with barley,
We were chock-up full of rye;
And the captain he looked down at me
With his goddam wicked eye.
REFRAIN

Oh, the girls are in the Police Gazette,
The crew are all in jail;
I'm the only living sea cook's son
That's left to tell the tale.
REFRAIN


from Carl Sandburg's The American Songbag (1927), pp. 180-181. Sandburg says, "We have this text and tune from Robert Wolfe and Oliver R. Barnett of Chicago."

*In Walter D. Edmonds's Rome Haul, "strap."

The Sandburg text also appears in American Ballads & Folk Songs, John A. & Allan Lomax (1934), pp. 470-471


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Subject: ADD Version: The E-Ri-E (Lomax)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 05:02 AM

This is #45 in Best Loved American Folk Songs (Folk Song U.S.A.), by John & Alan Lomax (1947), page 146-147.


THE E-RI-E

We were forty miles from Albany,
Forget it, I never shall,
What a terrible storm we had one night
On the E-RI-E Canal

We were loaded down with barley,
We were chock-up full of rye;
And the Captain he looked down on me
With a gol-durn wicked eye.

CHORUS
O the E-RI-E was a-risin'
And the gin was a-gittin' low,
And I scarcely think we'll get a drink
Till we get to Buffalo-o-o
Till we get to Buffalo

Two days out from Syracuse
The vessel struck a shoal
And we like to all been foundered
On a chunk o' Lackawanna coal.

We hollered to the captain
On the towpath, treadin' dirt
He jumped on board and stopped the leak
With his old red flannel shirt.

CHORUS

The cook she was a kind old soul,
She had a ragged dress,
We heisted her upon a pole
As a signal of distress.

The winds began to whistle
And the waves began to roll
And we had to reef our royals
On the raging Canawl

CHORUS

When we got to Syracuse
The off-mule he was dead
The nigh mule got blind staggers
And we cracked him on the head

The captain, he got married,
The cook, she went to jail
And I'm the only son-of-a-gun
That's left to tell the tale.

CHORUS

(It is customary to sing the chorus every other stanza)


I checked the New American Songster, by Charles W. Darling (1992). It has a version of the song from the recording Frontier Ballads (Folkways FP 5003). It's the same as this Lomax version, except that "the cook she was a grand old gal." Pete Seeger's American Favorite Ballads (Oak, 1961), page 87; and Silber & Silber's Folksinger's Wordbook, page 43, have the same version as Darling.


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Subject: DT Correction: Ballad of the Erie Canal (Lomax)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 24 Jul 08 - 06:05 AM

The Digital Tradition has two versions of the song. One is E-RI-E CANAL [ERIECNL3] - the source of this version is not shown. It's similar to the version in Best Loved American Folk Songs and other books, posted in the message just above.

The Second Digital Tradition version, THE ERIE CANAL [ERICANL1] is very strange. It's from American Ballads & Folk Songs, John A. & Allan Lomax (1934), pp. 455-457). Apparently, it's a Lomax compilation of verses collected in six different states. The DT version needs a few formatting corrections, so I'll post a corrected transcription here. There's no tune in the 1934 Lomax book.

THE BALLAD OF THE ERIE CANAL
(no songwriter attribution)

I am all the way from Buffalo,
Upon the good boat Danger,
A long, long trip we had, my boys,
I feel just like a stranger.
Petty fogs, artful storms,
Forget them I never shall;
I am every inch a sailor, boys,
On the Erie Canal.

Chorus:
So haul in yer bowlines,
Stand by the saddle mule;
Low bridge, boys, dodge yer head,
Don't stand up like a fool.
For the Erie is a-risin,
An' the whisky's gittin' low;
I hardly think we'll get a drink
Till we git to Buffalo.

We left Albany harbor
About the break of day;
If rightly I remember,
'Twas the second day of May.
We trusted to our driver;
Although he was but small,
Yet he knew all the windings
Of that raging Canawl.

Early every morning
Ye can hear the flunkies call,
Come aft and git your lime juice,
Come aft, one and all;
Come aft and git your lime juice,
And don't bring any back,
Before you git to Syracuse
Ye's goin' to get the sack.

Three days out from Albany
A pirate we did spy;
The black flag with the skull and bones
Was a-wavin' up on high;
We signaled to the driver
To h'ist the flag o' truce,
When we found it was the Mary Jane
Just out o' Syracuse.

Two days out from Syracuse
The vessel struck a shoal,
And we like to all been foundered
On a chunk of Lackawanna coal.
We hollered to the captain
On the towpath treadin' dirt;
He jumped on board and stopped the leak
With his old red flannel shirt.

The cook she was a kind soul
She had a ragged dress.
We h'isted her upon a pole
As a signal of distress;
The winds began to whistle
And the waves began to roll,
And we had to reef our royal
On the raging Canawl.

When we got to Syracuse
The off mule he was dead,
The nigh mule got blind staggers
And we cracked him on the head;
The captain he got married,
The cook she went to jail,
And I was the only son of a bitch
That's left to tell the tale.

Four long days we sailed the Hudson,
Sal and I and Hank,
We greased ourselves with tallow fat
And slid out on a plank;
The crew are in the poorhouse,
The captain he's in jail,
And I'm the sole survivin' man
That's left to tell the tale.

From American Ballads and Folk Songs, Lomax
@canal @sailor @work
filename[ ERICANL1
RG

There are two other related songs in the Digital Tradition, From Buffalo to Troy and The Raging Canal. They have many similar elements, but I don't know that I'd say that they're the same song as the E-RI-E ones.
So far, the earliest version I've found is Sandburg (1927). Sandburg's source is Robert Wolfe and Oliver R. Barnett of Chicago - no idea who they are.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: The Erie Canal (E-Ri-E)
From: Don Firth
Date: 02 Dec 10 - 07:52 PM

??

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: The Erie Canal (E-Ri-E)
From: tritoneman
Date: 03 Dec 10 - 06:52 PM

The first time I heard The Erie Canal it was sung by Pete Seeger on an extended two part programme he did on the old BBC Third programme radio station -later Radio 3.

I think Bruce Springsteen breathed new life into the song on his Seeger Sessions album.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Add: The Erie Canal (E-Ri-E)
From: GUEST,Doug Olsen
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 09:41 PM

For no apparent reason the song popped into my head, and I realized I was taught to sing it in 8th grade, about 1962. Can you imagine an 8th grade music teacher today having his kids sing "And the gin was a-gettin' low" ?


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