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Origin: Shenandoah

DigiTrad:
OH, MY ROLLING RIVER
SHENANDOAH


Related threads:
'Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits (55)
Lyr Add: 'Shenandoah' in the U.S. army (9)
Lyr Add: Shenandoah (32)
Shenandoah Origin (29)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah en francais (7)
Help: Land of Misery (Shenandoah) (10)
Shenandoah (11) (closed)
Shenandoah and free melodies (8)
Origin: Shenandoah (8) (closed)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah (12) (closed)


txon@ticnet.com 04 Mar 98 - 01:52 AM
Jon W. 04 Mar 98 - 10:31 AM
Ireland O'Reilly 04 Mar 98 - 12:45 PM
Jon W. 04 Mar 98 - 12:58 PM
Bruce O. 04 Mar 98 - 01:01 PM
Jon W. 04 Mar 98 - 01:01 PM
Bruce O. 04 Mar 98 - 03:05 PM
Bruce O. 04 Mar 98 - 03:57 PM
Barry Finn 04 Mar 98 - 07:23 PM
05 Mar 98 - 03:14 AM
Bruce O. 06 Mar 98 - 02:26 AM
Eliot Greene - Dallas - txon@ticnet.com 19 Mar 98 - 03:17 PM
Barry Finn 19 Mar 98 - 05:06 PM
wolf 19 Mar 98 - 07:46 PM
Txon 20 Mar 98 - 07:35 PM
moireasdac@aol.com 25 Mar 98 - 08:31 PM
Txon 26 Mar 98 - 10:51 AM
Richard 26 Mar 98 - 11:12 AM
steve t 02 Apr 98 - 11:01 AM
Ole Bull 02 Apr 98 - 10:07 PM
steve t 03 Apr 98 - 02:01 AM
Bruce O. 03 Apr 98 - 08:54 AM
Bruce O. 04 May 98 - 08:36 PM
Martin Ryan. 05 May 98 - 03:06 PM
Allan 05 May 98 - 04:40 PM
Bruce O. 05 May 98 - 04:54 PM
Martin Ryan. 05 May 98 - 07:56 PM
Bruce O. 05 May 98 - 08:23 PM
Ole Bull 05 May 98 - 10:51 PM
Eliot Greene 05 May 98 - 11:48 PM
Martin Ryan. 06 May 98 - 04:36 AM
Bruce O. 06 May 98 - 01:00 PM
Eliot Greene 06 May 98 - 06:54 PM
Richard Wright 18 May 98 - 08:54 PM
Art Thieme 19 May 98 - 10:26 PM
Carolyn Thompson 31 Dec 98 - 02:37 PM
Lesley N. 31 Dec 98 - 05:32 PM
Joe Offer 31 Dec 98 - 08:02 PM
shiloh 07 Feb 99 - 10:31 PM
Barry Finn 07 Feb 99 - 11:34 PM
Lonesome EJ 08 Feb 99 - 01:54 AM
Gene 10 Feb 99 - 09:02 PM
JedMarum 22 Oct 99 - 02:28 PM
paddymac 22 Oct 99 - 06:59 PM
JedMarum 23 Oct 99 - 04:03 PM
paddymac 24 Oct 99 - 07:03 AM
JedMarum 24 Oct 99 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,Eric 05 Aug 00 - 02:09 AM
DougR 05 Aug 00 - 03:34 AM
paddymac 05 Aug 00 - 06:24 AM
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Subject: Song info:
From: txon@ticnet.com
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 01:52 AM

Appreciate any input on the song "Shenandoah". I have been advised that it originated as a sea shanty and indeed that seems correct.

One source names the song as "Shennydore".


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Jon W.
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 10:31 AM

Curious - I know the song is considered a sea shanty - my one recording of it is from "Sailing and Whaling Songs" by Paul Clayton. However, the theme doesn't seem very nautical to me (the courtship of a white trader and an (American) Indian chief's daughter around the Missouri River). What evidence is there that it originated as a sea shanty and not, say, an American frontier song?


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Ireland O'Reilly
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 12:45 PM

The only recordin' I've got of that is also of a non-sea chantey nature. I've got it on a disc called "Western Themes". How do they figure it's a sea chantey? by the way, where did the song come from, originally?


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Jon W.
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 12:58 PM

I also remember this as being on the soundtrack to the early 1960's Hollywood musical "How the West Was Won." Of course once Hollywood touches it all reliable authenticity goes out the window so that's probably not a good source.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 01:01 PM

There are lots of recordings and printings, but not much good information on where it might have originated. It sounds like a fragment of an old ballad, (perhaps something along the lines of "Little Mohea") but none such has turned up as far as I know of. On another thread recently I pointed out an excellent version on an LP by The Boarding Party where it's called "Solid Fas", and this was actually a rather recently collected version.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Jon W.
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 01:01 PM

One more: Hyacinth Bucket, the overbearing heroine of the BBC comedy "Keeping Up Appearances", sang a line or two of this to impress a retired admiral in one episode--so apparently some British comedy writers think it's a sea shantey too.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 03:05 PM

Would anybody buy it as part of an old song by John Rolfe to Pocohantas' father? I know his name wasn't Shendoah, but it wouldn't be an old folksong if it had the right name. In spite of Missouri appearing in it, Sacajawea already had a husband, of sorts, so it can't refer to her. [The song is called a capstan shanty in Colcord's 'Roll and Go/ Songs of American Sailormen', and is said have been used on American ships after the Civil War.]


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 03:57 PM

Colcord notes that Whall (Ships, Sea Songs and Shantys, 1930) gave a different version of the song (Colcord - )'which was the story of how a white trader courted the daughter of the famous Indian chieftain Shenandoah, and bore her away in his canoe', then quotes Whall as: '...Originally it was a song, not a shanty, and had nothing to do with salt water...'.
Just what Whall gives as the song or shanty I don't know.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Barry Finn
Date: 04 Mar 98 - 07:23 PM

I posted this in Jan to rec.music.folk, If I could do that cut & paste I'd do it. Scholars & collectors have yet to nail down it's origins. It's been collected by Lomax, Sandburg, Hugill, Whall, Bullen, Colcord, Doerflinger, Abrahams, Shay, Bone, etc,etc,etc. It's been found aboard ships as The Wide Missouri, The Wild Mizzourye, The World Of Misery-Solid Fas (West Indies, rowing shanty, although collected recently by Abrahams, it may be as old as most other versions), Shenandoah (& it's many spellings), The Oceanida, Rolling River. It's been claimed as a river song a sea shanty, a US Army song & by the cavalry & wagon soldiers, a song of the Caadian & American mountain men, traders, voyageurs & trappers. It's been the name of a few shanties, The Gals Of Dublin Town or The Harp Without The Crown or The Shenandoah, also The Saucy Arabella or The Davy Crockett or The Shenandoah. It's been used on board with the windlass, capstan, & winches for loading cargo. In the West Indian version, it was used at the oars while chasing the whale (Blackfish). Barry


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From:
Date: 05 Mar 98 - 03:14 AM

It is indeed the entry of this ancient into the aural lexicon of the American frontier expansion as seen from today that becomes the point of pursuit. It's Hollywood's back-up American anthem. Ken Burns can't go out of the house without "Shenandoah". Every third-grade dulcimer playing teacher forever MUST have Shenandoah. But why the Western trend? Why does it sound so American Western. I suppose because the song simply dwells on great distance over water. Any distance, any water.

With no doubt at all in it's origination as a chanty, and a flexible, durable one at that, the melody and whatever words laid on top of it over the years made it well past (and perhaps before) the c.1820 printed on a liner sleeve.

It's a song we can make up our own words to and find the product [if a chanty] still faithful:

Pull up the sails, ye strong young laddies Away, Away, let's be away 'Cross the great MacAughney. [for example]

It's when the word "Missouri" got in there that the mystery really gets under way.

At this point in research I can say a few things for sure. 1. Yes, there's no doubt we have a chanty. 2. 'Shenandoah' is MOST likely utterly irrelevant: not a word in the song, a figure nor the title itself bear "Shenandoah" spelled just such. Shen* is not the beloved object of the song, a product of Shen* has the singer's eye.

I look forward to seeing additional info on this at the Mudcat.

Thanks for your tremendous input here, esp Barry Finn. I am getting more info daily and will be happy to share with those of interest. I will post the final "conclusions" when they're sifted.

Greene txon@ticnet.com


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 06 Mar 98 - 02:26 AM

Randolph/ Legman's 'Roll Me in Your Arms' # 94, "The Wide Missouri" has a rare traditional text with tune.

Oh Shen a do ra I love your daughter
Away! you mighty river!
I love the hole where she makes water,
AWAY, we're gone away!
Across the wide Missouri.

Is 'Shenandoah' really the Indian chief or the river as metaphor?

Legman give references to polite texts, but points out that Hugill only printed his polite version in 'Shanties from the Seven Seas', and has a rather different one in his supplement 'Sailing Shanties'.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Eliot Greene - Dallas - txon@ticnet.com
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 03:17 PM

Hey that's great. Thanks Bruce.

The true nature of the song really shows up with what you've found. The fragment reveals yet another take on the word Shenandoah and makes plain the song's original explicitness. It helps to demonstrate the complicated background we are dealing with.

This stanza adds support to an overall evaluation of "Shenandoah". Direct and literal interpretation of the contemporary lyrics, so tempting, doesn't work. The song suggests a romance but close inspection soon washes that away. The song appears wholly metaphorical, in fact, centered on no one actual person or place after all.

Ironically, it may be that the song has little or nothing to do with obvious contemporary associations: Shenandoah as Valley, River or Indian chief. I expect that many simply will not accept that, and I certainly can be wrong, but I just cannot found the word "Shenandoah" onto the original song at this point. I feel that that exact word came into it late. While most easily peg it as a very old song (and therefor of some obscurity) it seems that the idea of the lyrics changing over the years is taboo with Shenandoah. In other postings this idea of a Shenandoah-less "Shenandoah" has been taken as fightin' words. But the well-founded association as a shanty is also dismissed by some. Go figure.

The word Shenandoah et al. is aboriginal and typically phonetic. Historical variations include Gerando, Gerundo, Shendo, Genantua, Sherando. Schin-han-dowi and a host of others may translate into River-Through-the-Woods, Silver-Water, and such. One assumes that whatever phrase Shenandoah may actually represent, it is most likely a place name and associated with water. But again, studying the etymology of the word 'Shenandoah' doesn't clue us much at all to the song by the same name.

I appreciate your example of the bawdy lyrics. No doubt shanties got quite 'robust' as the work crews of men alone sang them. The more "offensive" the better it seems, all to stir their spirit on the job. I have to smile: if only folks knew that that sweet song tinkling in the background is actually so filthy.

I think it important to dwell on just how profane shanty lyrics were as we look at "Shenandoah". Abusive, criminal and lascivious mildly describe the tone of these shanties. The "true words" to any such shanty are not likely easily revealed. The need for re-written, "tamer" versions for the historical record, as it were, must have existed all along. The naieve scholar would assume that these things can ever be nailed down patently.

I do not expect to find the song originating in America from what I've seen so far. Is or was there a Shennydore community in Ireland? Somehow I believe this was an Irish work song that went to sea.

The big mystery to me is where the word "Missouri" got in there, a far murkier quest it seems than ironing out old Shen'.

It is the song's association with Western Expansion, 'crossing the wide Missouri', that most intrigues me, as I've said. The song's transport to the West is of no question, any number of songs were sung in the West, but the current association of Shenandoah as a "western theme" is daunting. I have no background in music whatsoever, my work is in history. Help finding the above mentioned reference volumes, especially Legman's, would be appreciated.

Bruce and everyone, thank you very much for your work on this. Eliot Greene


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Barry Finn
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 05:06 PM

Eliot, check both "Deep The Water, Shallow The Shore" & "Black Jacks-Afro Americans Sailors". I don't believe this to be of only Irish or only Black making, but influenced by both. Both cultures had an extremely strong influence in the creation, spread & rise of the art of the work song at sea. During the Western Expansion the coastal water trades, of the full eastern seaboard & Islands, were dominated by Black Watermen, while the deep water trades by their white counterparts. Both worked the docks, rivers, etc. & traveled westward together or at the same point in time, to the point where the origins (of a good bit of the shanties) are from Brittish Isle/Irish/Afro/American/etc & can't, in some cases, be seperated, because the merger in the influences were so complete, complex & lost. As to words or wording used in shanties, a look into the language of the sea might be of some help. In short, whatever worked, for whatever reason, was used & kept as long as it's function continued. Function could be commands that didn't sound alike in the midst of a storm, short & sweet, clear as to their sound & meaning. We get phrases & words that last well past their usefull origins the bowline, from a once important line for sail handling to a now important knot, 'son of a gun', 'towing the line', 'cat-in the bag', 'freeze the brass balls off a monkey', port instead of the once used larboard. If Shenandoah or Missouri/Misery felt good to the singer or group/community it stayed if something else came by that fitted the scene, or I'd even say personnel preference, it may change. You could be on an endless dig, this could be an endless thread, good luck Barry


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: wolf
Date: 19 Mar 98 - 07:46 PM

i learned this song as a kid and was told that it was sung about the river. still have the words somewhere and will post them when i find them.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Txon
Date: 20 Mar 98 - 07:35 PM

As usual, you guys are fantastically generous with your help on this. Ya'll are what make the Internet great. Well, ya'll and the binarie groups. :)

Barry, I absolutely agree that going further in a search for Shenadoah as a shanty, beyond what has been done, is futile. My idea of Sheenydore, Ireland needs to be lost at sea. It was a shantie and, to a certain degree in the case of this song, a shanty is a shanty, w/no "original version" one could accurately believe in w/o the help of a time travel machine.

I would guess I need to head onto land w/this now.

Tracking down the earliest printed versions of the song may help see where it "goes West". Any idea on archives like that?


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: moireasdac@aol.com
Date: 25 Mar 98 - 08:31 PM

I think it may have gone West in two ways, first it was a shantie or Shanty used on American ships only when sailing home. I have seen references to this at least back to the 1860's and I believe earlier. I have also been told by a gentleman I knew who grew up in N.Y.N.Y. and Gavelston Tx during the last Century ( he went on to his reward back in the early 1980's at the ripe old age of 105,) that the song was known by everyone, if you heard it. That ship was bound for home, a cleaned up version might have been popular as a lot of Sailors jumped ship during the gold rushes in the Old West and they very well could of sung it while doing the back breaking work of mining. Also a Western in the 1960s used it as the theme, which would of given it a strong western identification to a lot of people today. These are logical reasons for the songs somewhat split pesonality today


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Txon
Date: 26 Mar 98 - 10:51 AM

A little bit of web-looking doesn't turn up the TV show "Shenandoah". Not even 40, my TV memories [while jam packed] don't go back that far. Nonetheless I am sure this Shenandoah TV show existed.

I so like this suggestion, it is very likely, and points to a place where this "western" song that is in no real way western became western.

The Hollywood connection.

I could drop it all right now and feel the answer has been found in good ole Hollywood. Still, one has to wonder why Hollywood of the 50's thought Shenandoah so emblematic of the West. Copyrights and royalties not withstanding, pub domain songs have their attractions, but why this song for a typical western. The name of the dang show came from the song as well, it seems, begging the question.

Mor's good work just brings the point more painfully into focus: Why is "Shenandoah" considered a theme of Western Expansion?


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Richard
Date: 26 Mar 98 - 11:12 AM

Here's a thought for the western angle. Having done some rowing it strikes me that this song could set a pace for rowing. So, could the song have travelled from the sea up the Mississippi and Missouri with the keel boats of the fur trade. These boats were, polled, rowed, sailed and towed up river. Likely some of the men were sailors, and no doubt some were Irish. That COULD explain the MIssouri. Then, of course, there are the barges of the eastern waterways and some of those men seem to have come from the canals and "waterman" background of England.One such fellow ended up here in the goldrush of 1862 in B.C. On the English census his water was listed as a "waterman".

Richard


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: steve t
Date: 02 Apr 98 - 11:01 AM

Well, thanks people! A filker sang to me what he claimed was the original version a few years back. I HATED it -- all about a trader taking an Indian chief's daughter and the pair getting tracked down and dying -- and I naively believed it original. Nice to think that the common version is just as authentic. I've also heard something close -- Shallow Brown -- which is definitely a sea song. Right now, the common version of Shenandoah is my number one high volume song, and though I seldom get a chance to sing really high volume, after twenty minutes or so of warm-up, I can get a line or two just right. It's very satisfying.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Ole Bull
Date: 02 Apr 98 - 10:07 PM

Enough mumbo-jumbo. Doesn't any one out there have any facts... published references as to where and when does this song first appear??


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: steve t
Date: 03 Apr 98 - 02:01 AM

Some people want a simple answer to everything. Tough luck, Ole Bull.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 03 Apr 98 - 08:54 AM

Ole Bull, a good place to start would be to ask Joe Hickerson at the Library of Congress Folklore Archive. I used to have his e-mail address there, but seem to have lost it. Try 'Library of Congress' on a search engine, and look around for it. I think that's how I found it originally.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 04 May 98 - 08:36 PM

Saw one of the former 'Boarding Party' las week end and found theat "Solid Fa's" was collected by R. Abrams. Here's a short version collected in England in 1909, in JFSS V (#18) 1914.

SHanadar
O Shanadr I'll have your daughter;
Way - o, you rolling ruin;
I love her as I love the water,
Ha!---
I'm bound away across the wild Missouri

O Shenadar what is the matter?
Way O, you rolling ruin;
Your daughter's here and I am at her,
Ha! ha!
I'm bound away across the wild Missouri


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Martin Ryan.
Date: 05 May 98 - 03:06 PM

Bruce
Your last posting reminded me to go back to the "Whall" reference.

Whall (first publ. 1910) gives it as the first of his collection. He's a cormudgeonly old bastard (reminds me of Conor O'Brien, who sailed around the world in the 1920's - but that's another story) with very definite views on everything. He's worth quoting in full on this one:

"The seaman of today knows nothing of this old song but the tune and one line "O Shannadore (the usual pronunciation by American singers) I love your daughter". There must be some merit in it to have lasted so long even in a debased form.

Originally it was a song, not a shanty and had nothing to do with salt water, for the "wide Missouri" is nowhere near the sea. It is given here as a good specimen of the American sea song, of which there used to be a number. It probably came from the American or Canadian voyageurs, who were great singers; Thomas Moore drew inspiration from them in his "Canadian Boat Song". In the early days of America, rivers and canals were the chief trade and passenger rouites and boatmen were an important class. Shanandoah was a celebrated Indian chief in American history, and several towns in the states are named after him. Besides being sung at sea, this song figured in old Public School collections. When very young, I haeard a Harrow boy sing it. That must be nearly fifty years ago."


Regards


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Allan
Date: 05 May 98 - 04:40 PM

I really like Richard's approach to a history. I also see it as a keelboat song which was passed along as such songs are. This easily explains the addition of the Missouri. As to the title name, certainly there are many variations as Elliot points out. However, as the folks who live in Shenandoah County, Virginia would be quick to point out, their understanding is that it means, "Daughter of the Stars" and refers only to the river which originates nearby.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 05 May 98 - 04:54 PM

I'm with Ole Bull. Where is this early song? Where is the evidence that it was originally a song? [My grandfather's house was near the Missouri river. When it flooded he came 10 miles west to live with us. Almost every evening we'd go where we could see how high the water was on his tall chimney. When the flood receeded it left mud on the floor, but the walls were cleaner than pre-flood. This was called spring housecleaning.]


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Martin Ryan.
Date: 05 May 98 - 07:56 PM

Let's work this out. Whall implies that it was known in public schools in mid-nineteenth century. This suggests (both the timing and the location) a transfer via Christy Minstrels or something of that ilk.

I suspect his "Originally it was a song, not a shanty..." is wishful thinking. He thinks "shanty" implies "sea" and "Missouri" implies "not-sea" so.... . The difficulty is that it implies adoption of a shanty at a very late stage??

Regards


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 05 May 98 - 08:23 PM

Christy Minstrels would seem to fit with notes below

JFSS, II, (#9), 1906.
II Chanties [collected by Annne Geddes Gilchrist]

Shangadore (Pumping Chanty) Sung by Mr. W. Bolton, Southport, Jan., 1906

O' Shang-ga-dore, I love your daughter, [solo
A-ray, ye rolling river! [Cho.
I love my grog.. much more than water, [solo
Ah-ha-ha! I'm bound away, Cross the wide Missouri [cho.

'Mr. Bolton refused to give me the rest of the words! .... Two versions, with variants of the tune, are given in an article by W. J. Alden in 'Harper's Magazine', 1882, and another under the title of "The Wide Missouri" in Tozer's 'Sailor's Songs'; another in a small collection of "Old Sea Chanties," by Messrs. Bradford and Fagge. The tune appears to be of negro origin; it is at least of negro character.....

[Now why wouldn't Mr. Bolton sing the rest of the words?]


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Ole Bull
Date: 05 May 98 - 10:51 PM

Thank you Bruce O. I haven't found any Real evidence of this song before the 20th century. I wish moireasdac- above- gave more specifics. Christy Minstrels? Doubt it. I've been thru lots of C.M. stuff. It's not their style.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Eliot Greene
Date: 05 May 98 - 11:48 PM

Let my gratitude roll out like the waves, crashing upon the shores of those who so generously contribute on this.

Bernard deVoto's "Across The Wide Missouri", a history of the 'mountain men' of the early west, contains an unattributed inclusion in it's frontispiece of the song we know as "Shenandoah", but as "Shennydore".

That began this intrigue as deVoto, a Hahvahd Mahn, did not explain why he put it there.

At the Fort Davis (west Texas) gift shop during a trip to the Big Bend Nat'l Park, I picked up a cassette of "Distant Horns...Territorial Brass" (not in my hands at this second) which included an utterly haunting rendition of the subject song.

Though sung to the contemporary lyrics, the cassette's insert cites "c. 1820" as the date for the song.

Perched in camp above Glenn Springs (raided by Pancho Villa associates), I played the song from that tape over and over. The anathemas of American western history were quite striking to me at the time, this brought on by contemplation of the borderlands. The song played on.

Where the hell does Shenandoah and Missouri cross? What is this dang song? Why is it so appropriate to sitting 'here' in the Big Bend, the ghost of old Chisos glowing up on the mountain, the Rio Grande not far, and Mexico beyond.

Why is this thing so Western? Not because anyone said it should be (though 'they' do), but why did it seem to be the utter theme of the moment while I was there.

A lonely place it was, the absolute ghost town of Glenn Springs. Shenandoah is a great 'lonely' song.

So that's where this started.

Your answers are most appreciated.

Polling up to the Missouri, jumping ship at the goldrush, sloshing down from Canada, all certainly were the transfer of this shanty to land.

Missouri got in there because the melody could take any words. Why did it stick?

Then Hollywood.

A search for the earliest printed versions of the song continues. Bruce, Martin and Allan, (Mrs. Bookay, too) ya'll are great!

Thanks all for sharing in the enigma. If you are a singer to an audience, perhaps our work here will give you a little something to intrigue the crowd, beyond the old "Indian stories", though they could still prove associated, even if I doubt 'Shenandoah' by any various interprets, including the Daughter of The Stars, had a thing to do with it.

I know we'll never get the thing nailed down Solid Fast, but every contribution here is helping.

Greene

PS: Whall's 1910: "Originally it was a song, not a shanty"...and on... is baffling. I accuse the gent of poor scholarship. But, he didn't have the Internet.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Martin Ryan.
Date: 06 May 98 - 04:36 AM

Elliot

Whall was not your average scholar! I quote from his introduction:

"I was intended for the church, not the sea, and during my early years at Oxford I received a fairly thorough musical training under Sir John Stainer, afterwards organist of St. Paul's Cathedral. Going to sea then in 1861, in the old passenger-carrying East Indiamen, those sailor songs and shanties struck me as worthy of preservation. During my eleven years in those ships, I took down the words and music of these songs as they were actually sung by sailors so that what I present here may be relied upon as the real thing.

Since 1872 I have not heard a shanty or song worth the name. Steam spoilt them...."

Regards


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Bruce O.
Date: 06 May 98 - 01:00 PM

Stainer's collection of songbooks passed to W. N. H. Harding of Chicago, but was later purchased by Oxford University and is now in the Bodleian. Anne Geddes Gilchrist was very good on songs and tunes of all the British Isles, and knew a bit about American ones too (See her article on Wearing of the Green = Oswald's The Tulip, and it use in the U.S. for the hymn "We are coming father Abraham" in Southern Folklore Quarterly).


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Eliot Greene
Date: 06 May 98 - 06:54 PM

Martin, I agree. My bewilderment has less to do w/questions of his scholarship than I made it seem. I stand w/you on your comment:

I suspect his "Originally it was a song, not a shanty..." is wishful thinking. He thinks "shanty" implies "sea" and "Missouri" implies "not-sea" so.... . The difficulty is that it implies adoption of a shanty at a very late stage??

and ask the same thing.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Richard Wright
Date: 18 May 98 - 08:54 PM

I still vote for a shanty that came up the river with keelboats, which would also explain DeVoto's mention.

History is never clear and concise, it is written by the winners, the writers and those who take the trouble. I doubt if a keelboatman would have bothered to ask where it came from, or even remember who he learned it from. And if he did know it is unlkely he would or could have written it down.

Richard


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Art Thieme
Date: 19 May 98 - 10:26 PM

FOR YEARS I SANG IT THIS WAY:

Old Bridger loved an Indian maiden, With furs his canoe was laden./

He told the chief, "I love your daughter, We want to cross the sparkling water."/

The chief he made an awful holler, Didn't want the trapper's dollars./

Gave the chief some rotgut whisky, Got him drunk and stole his daughter./

Traveled 'cross the Rocky Mountains, Settled by some crystal fountain./

"My wife, my love, I'll never leave you, My wife, my love, I'll not deceive you." Across the wide Missouri./

Jim Bridger was a part of the Ashley expedition that went up the Missouri River in 1820 (?) He was about 19 or 20. Some say he was the fellow left with Hugh Glass to care for him after the latter was badly mauled by a griz. (He left Glass alone thinking he'd surely die but he recovered miraculously---another legend of that era.)

Bridger became a well known mountain man and, later, the operator of Fort Briger, a famous spot where immigrants heading west could get stuff (which ticked off Brigham Young to no end as Bridger got to sell to 'em before they got to Salt Lake).

Later, when the beaver were gone --& the fashion changed in Europe and nobody wanted beaver hats, Bridger was a scout for the U.S. Army. The young recruits saw him as an archaic old relic of another time and made fun of his tales--many of which were true. So Jim started to embellish his tales & subsequently became a notorious tall tale teller.

As an old man, Jim Bridger went blind and sat on his daughter's porch in Kansas City until he died! Not a single author or reporter came to interview this man who had been present for so much early American western history!

Jim was "married" to a Native-American woman and they had several children. Those children were enrolled at the school run by the missionaries Marcus and Narcissa Whitman called "The Little Log Schoolhouse On The Williamette" in the Oregon country. Those children, along with the Whitmans, were killed in the rebellion by the Indians of that area who had seen their tribe nearly wiped out by the disease infected blankets distributed to them by the whites.---(I'm hopin' this is accurate: it's how I remember it.)

Art


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Carolyn Thompson
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 02:37 PM

I am looking for "The Young Voyageur," a 1700s song about fur traders on the Missouri.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Lesley N.
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 05:32 PM

This is Young Voyageur from the Fireside Book of FolkSongs

From the wilds of the North Comes a young voyageur, With his boyant canoe Well laden with fur

Chorus Gladsome and free, Little cares he For there's joy in the heart Of the young voyageur.

There's a song on the lips, Of the young voyageur, And his voice, sounding far, Sets the forest astir.

Chorus

I have a midi of it here. (Hope I did that right...)


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Joe Offer
Date: 31 Dec 98 - 08:02 PM

Hi - If you want to talk about Voyageurs, go to this thread, which has an appropriate title. thanks.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: shiloh
Date: 07 Feb 99 - 10:31 PM

everyone seems to be spelling the term chanty as shanty. the New Christy Minstrels, in the sixties, claimed to have found it among a broad group of works by american writers and on one of their album liner notes they also said that they found evidence of it in Great Britain while on a tour there.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Barry Finn
Date: 07 Feb 99 - 11:34 PM

Hugill goes into the spelling (& theories on the origin) of shanty on p. 20-21 of his "Shanties Of The Seven Seas". It's been found in G.E.Clark's "Seven Years of a Sailor" as "chanty" & Nordhoff uses "chantyman". E.I.Barra uses shanter, which Doerflinger thinks (& Hugill agrees) was an intermediate form between 'chant' & 'chanty'. In Chamber's Journal in 1869 an artical uses shanty & shanty songs. Whall says, in 1861, shanties. In the 1870' & early 80's shanty was the popular spelling, in the late 80's a number reverted to chanty, after that both spellings were used equally. Later Hugill says that the chant forms became slurred into shant & it's alway pronounced "shanty", no matter the spelling.
I couldn't care, one way or another, how it's spelled as long as they get sung. Barry


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 08 Feb 99 - 01:54 AM

This was the version I learned from my grandfather

Oh Shenandoah,I long to hear you roll away, you rollin river Oh Shenandoah I can't get near you Away,I'm bound to roam Cross the wide Missouri

Oh Shenandoah,I love your daughter roll away,you rollin river But she called me a dirty sailor Away,I'm bound to roam Cross the wide Missouri

My theory on the song is that it was carried west ,much as Richard said,by river boatmen.Because the song described the feeling of loss and sentiment for the softer country of the east, and for loved ones left behind it undoubtedly gained popularity with many of the westward pioneers. Shenandoah referred to the Shenandoah River of Virginia, and "the wide Missouri" not only to the Missouri river,which marked the westernmost expansion of trade for flatboats pre-Civil War,but also to the Missouri Country, the early region comprising Montana, and the Dakotas."Crossing the Missouri" was an Oregon Trail era euphemism for the journey across this forbidding and dangerous country.The sea chanty connection may stem from the crossover of these freshwater sailors to saltwater, or it may be that the tune was simply a "Top 40 hit" of the time, like "Betsy from Pike".....LEJ


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Subject: ADD Version: SHENANDOAH
From: Gene
Date: 10 Feb 99 - 09:02 PM

"SHENANDOAH" - one of America's most popular folk songs, is known as a "short haul chanty" and is said to be the true story of a white trader who courted the daughter of an Indian chieftain.

The song apparently originated among American or Canadian voyageurs on the Missouri River - sometimes called the "Miz-zoo".

SHENANDOAH

The old Miz-zoo has friendly waters
Away! You rolling river
The Indians camp along its border
Away! We're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.

A white man loved an Indian lady
Away! You rolling river
The daughter of Chief Shenandoah
Away! We're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.


Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away! You rolling river
Oh Shenandoah, I long to hear you
Away! We're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.

Oh Shenandoah, I love your daughter
Away! You rolling river
I bring you tools and fire water
Away! We're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.

'Tis seven years since first I knew her
Away! You rolling river
She's in full bloom for a man to woo her
Away! We're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.

Oh Shenandoah, with gifts I'm laden
Away! You rolling river
Give me the hand of this young maiden
Away! We're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.

Then Shenandoah said - Go! Forsake her!
Away! You rolling river
An Indian brave has come to take her
Away! We're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.


Farewell, my love - I'm bound to leave you
Away! You rolling river
Oh Shenandoah, I'll not deceive you
Away! We're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.


I moved this message from another thread, decause it was all by itself.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: JedMarum
Date: 22 Oct 99 - 02:28 PM

This is such a lovely old song and haunting melody. I always thoughts the lyrics I knew were fragmented, and began to suspect it has undergone some serious 'evolution.' It does seem likely that into the modern American era its evolution, once latched onto the fixed images of Shenandoah, and more precisely Missouri (river) the evolution stopped, or slowed. And, in this modern format, its simple story makes sense - but I would love to have heard sung some of the very early versions ... especially the sea chanties which must have differed greatly, growing within the closed, limited horizns of a ship on a transoceanic voyage. It would be a treat to go back in time and collect several verions!

This has been a great, long lived thread!


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: paddymac
Date: 22 Oct 99 - 06:59 PM

There's a barbershop arragement of this song that always seems to bring a standing ovation, no matter how well or poorly done. Beautiful evocative chord progressions! Thomas Jefferson wrote a book during 1780-81 called "Notes on the State of Virginia", which included a section on the rivers of Virginia. Note that the geographic expanse of the colony at that time was substantially different than the present state. Anyhow, his comment on the Shenandoah was limited to a single sentence: "The Shenandoah branch interlocks with James River about the Blue Ridge, and may perhaps in future be opened." (William Peden, Ed., UNC Press, 1982) I suspect that the word "about" might have been "above" originally, as the Shenandoha Drainage and the Jackson Drainage (uppermost James River Drainage)abut each other in "the great interior valley of Virginia" on the eastern slopes of the Alleghaney Mountains (in the Bath, Agusta & Highlands Counties area). In terms of the discussion in this thread, Jefferson's scant attention to the River suggests that he did not consider it of any great importance to commercial navigation, however beautiful the river and its valley might have been.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: JedMarum
Date: 23 Oct 99 - 04:03 PM

I wonder what version of this song Jefferson might have heard. That is, I suspect there would have been a version around in those days, he may have heard the song.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: paddymac
Date: 24 Oct 99 - 07:03 AM

Liam - good question, for which I have no answer. However, if Jefferson followed the folk tradition of shaping a song to fit his own desires, he probably wrapped it around the Ohio. Here is the best line from his description of the Ohio: "The Ohio is the most beautiful river on earth. Its current gentle, waters clear, and bosom smooth and unbroken by rocks and rapids, a single instance only excepted."


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: JedMarum
Date: 24 Oct 99 - 11:33 AM

Paddymac

... nice thoughts from Jefferson. Our modern presidents may not have the same frame of reference, to have deep thoughts about one of this Nations natural resources. If they travel in or around the Ohio, they fly by in plane or car, at 60+MPH. If they notice the Ohio, they do so for moments.

Our modern life has brought us many wonderful things, but one of the costs has been we've lost those occasions to get to know our natural surroundings, in the manner our forefathers did.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: GUEST,Eric
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 02:09 AM

I was reading "Journey of the Bard" by Yvonne Owens today and remembered this thread. She included this quote from "Celtic Heritage: Ancient Tradition in Ireland and Wales." "...the secret well brings to mind the Mysterious Well of Segais, or Connla's Well, which nobody durst visit except Nechtan and his three cup bearers. Like Mirimir's Well at the root of he Scandinavian World Tree, this well was the source of inspirattion and knowledge. Over it grew the nine hazels of wisdom, "out of which were obtained the feats of the sages." The hazel nut dropped into the well and caused bubbles of mystic inspiration to form on the streams that issued from it. Alternatively, the nuts were eaten by salmon in the well, or they passed into the River Boyne. Those designated to partake of the nuts or of the salmon obtained the gifts of the seer and the poet. The location of the well is variously described. It is the source of the Boyne, the source of the Shannon, the source of the seven chief rivers of Ireland, and it has its counterpart in the Land of Promise where the rivers that flow from it are the five senses." I'll take a stab an an explanation although I am not fully qualified to do so; and it might be far fetched. Shenandoah might have originally been Shannon's Door. The Shannon is a river in Ireland. We know that the ancient bards of northern Europe, the spiritual leaders, the artists, the poets, used symbology in their mythology and mysticism. The song was written by a bard on his journey west. I say a bard because the song is obviously an exceptional song and was written by an exceptional person. He or she was of Irish desent and is lonesome for his/her home, literally, and also lonesome for the symbolic place of wisdom and knowledge and inspiration of the bard. Cross culturally, in mythologies, entering this place of knowlege and wisdom is done so through a portal or a door: Shannon's Door. In these mythologies, the west is associated with water and renewal(the realm of Murias). This bard longs for his/her homeland but is on the Missouri River, which is also a symbolic place to gain wisdom and knowledge and inspiration. And the result of his bard work, on that day, is the song that we know of today as Shenandoah. The River Shannon would be the mother(or father), and the Missouri would be the daughter. The song has been handed down to us, as a part of our heritage, through the aural tradition. The aural tradition was the method of the bards. "Rolling ruin" was mentioned in one of the veresions of the song. Runes were the symbolic alphabet that the bards, and others, used for mystical purposes. Eric


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: DougR
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 03:34 AM

In Burl Ives' song book, Copyright 1953, he classifies Shenandoah as a "short haul chanty." No further info, however.

DougR


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: paddymac
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 06:24 AM

The prevailing view seems to be that song beloved by so many began as a chantey, but I have never had the opportunity to hear it performed as a chantey. I have a chantey version in the song book "The New Song Fest", Dick & Edith Best, Eds.,1948, 1955, 12th Prntg, 1962, Crown Publ.; Lib.of Cong. 54-12069. Might have to give it a try. Ives' categorization of it as a "short haul chantey" might reflect the fact that the Shenandoah isn't a major river. As I recall, it's a tributary of the Potomac, and does not connect to the Ohio, which would be necessary to reach the Missouri by river.


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