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Origins: Yangtse River Shanty

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Charley Noble 25 Feb 03 - 02:49 PM
BeauDangles 25 Feb 03 - 03:19 PM
Charley Noble 25 Feb 03 - 03:38 PM
radriano 25 Feb 03 - 07:18 PM
Charley Noble 25 Feb 03 - 08:15 PM
Charley Noble 26 Feb 03 - 08:31 AM
Charley Noble 27 Feb 03 - 12:01 PM
Barry Finn 27 Feb 03 - 09:30 PM
Charley Noble 16 Nov 03 - 06:18 AM
MMario 16 Nov 03 - 09:11 AM
CET 16 Nov 03 - 12:30 PM
Chanteyranger 16 Nov 03 - 04:00 PM
Charley Noble 02 May 04 - 01:03 PM
Charley Noble 07 Sep 04 - 04:50 PM
Shanghaiceltic 08 Sep 04 - 05:28 AM
Charley Noble 08 Sep 04 - 09:05 AM
Shanghaiceltic 09 Sep 04 - 03:12 AM
freda underhill 27 Aug 05 - 12:09 PM
GUEST,Pelrad 27 Aug 05 - 09:48 PM
Bob Bolton 27 Aug 05 - 10:33 PM
JennyO 27 Aug 05 - 11:18 PM
Bill D 27 Aug 05 - 11:28 PM
JennyO 27 Aug 05 - 11:42 PM
Ferrara 28 Aug 05 - 02:03 AM
Sandra in Sydney 28 Aug 05 - 09:52 AM
Charley Noble 18 Oct 05 - 02:48 PM
JudyB 18 Oct 05 - 04:03 PM
Charley Noble 18 Oct 05 - 05:09 PM
JennyO 18 Oct 05 - 10:27 PM
stallion 24 Jun 06 - 05:45 AM
Charley Noble 24 Jun 06 - 08:52 AM
Charley Noble 24 Oct 10 - 11:49 AM
stallion 24 Oct 10 - 11:56 AM
Charley Noble 29 Dec 10 - 08:13 AM
shipcmo 29 Dec 10 - 09:58 AM
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Dead Horse 29 Dec 10 - 10:39 AM
shipcmo 29 Dec 10 - 11:31 AM
Charley Noble 29 Dec 10 - 12:54 PM
shipcmo 29 Dec 10 - 01:15 PM
Charley Noble 30 Dec 10 - 09:30 AM
stallion 30 Dec 10 - 02:59 PM
stallion 30 Dec 10 - 03:04 PM
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Subject: Lyr.Add: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 02:49 PM

In one of the shanty swap threads in 2001 I posted my then current lyrics to this song but failed to post the original lyrics and notes on the composer. Here's the best I can now offer to document the origins of this fine song, and my folk-processed version as recently recorded in 2002 by Roll & Go:

I don't know a lot about Hamish MacLaren, the composer of this song. His parents in northern Scotland sent him at the age of twelve to the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth where he trained to become a "Naval Officer and a Gentleman," and got his hands-on sailing experience aboard a black cutter called the Wideon. He graduated in 1917, in time to serve as a gunnery officer aboard a destroyer in a skirmish with German armoured cruisers. After the war MacLaren continued to serve in the Royal Navy and was sent out to the China Station, where he mustered out in Shanghai during the late 1920's to follow an life of personal adventure, beginning with a White Russian princess. His first novel was The Private Opinions of a British Bluejacket in 1929. His articles appeared in magazines such as The Spectator, The Blue Peter, and The Cornhill Magazine. His sailor's folk opera Sailor with Banjo was published in 1930, and his semi-autobiographic book Cockalorum in 1936. According to a young cousin who was named after him, MacLaren rejoined the Royal Navy in World War II, saw action as a lieutenant commander, and lived to about 1970.

The original words composed for "Yangtse River Shanty" by MacLaren are as follows. Unfortunately, there is no clue to what his tune may have been. He notes that:

"Strictly speaking, this type of song – from the shanty model – is, I suppose, now quite out of date; but personally I like to think that it has some life in it yet, and may note, in support of this whim, that I have myself helped to weigh anchor by hand, tramping round the capstan to music."

YANGTSE RIVER SHANTY
(Words for one more old bold out-of-date air)

O I'll never see my lotus lady more,
Away boys, walk away together!
Since I left her by the shore, the China shore,
Thrice again for luck and better weather!
Sweetest river flower, my Yangtse honey,
Walk away boys, walk away!
She was my good girl, she took my money,
Away boys, lift and walk away!

She spent my shining dollars like a queen,
Away boys, walk away together!
Her eye 'twas blacker than was ever seen,
Twice again for luck and better weather!
Sure I blowed my silver fortune for to win her,
Walk away boys, walk away!
And now there's nothing left but pork for dinner,
Away boys, lift and walk away!

To my beauty I bequeathed a golden comb,
Away boys, walk away together!
But trouble's over now the anchor's home.
Once again for luck and better weather!
We're bound afar and cookie's in the galley,
Walk away boys, walk away!
Fare thee well, young moon of all the Yangtse valley,
Away boys, lift and walk away!

The current words to this song as reworked by myself are as follows (copy and paste in Word/Times/12 for chord placement):


YANGTSE RIVER SHANTY

(By Hamish MacLaren, a seaman in the British Royal Navy, in Sailor with Banjo, © 1930
Capstan shanty adapted by Charlie Ipcar © 2002
Tune: Tommy's Gone to Hilo/Congo River
Recorded on Roll & Go: Outward Bound CD
Key: G)

Chorus:

G----------------Am
A-way-ay, boys, a-way-o!
C------------------------------G
Blow me down this Yang-tse Riv-er,
---------------------D7----G
A-way, boys, lift and walk a-way!


G--------------------C-G
My lo-tus lady, I'll see no more,
--------C---G/Am
A-way, boys, a-way-o!
C-------------------------G
Since I left her on the Chi-na shore,
---------------------D7----G
A-way, boys, lift and walk a-way!


When we first met, she was like a queen,
A-way, boys, a-way-o!
Prettiest little thing I'd ever seen,
A-way, boys, lift and walk a-way! (CHO)

She'd flashing eyes and long black hair,
A-way, boys, a-way-o!
All I could do was stand and stare,
A-way, boys, lift and walk a-way!

I bought her silks and a golden comb,
A-way, boys, a-way-o!
Trouble's over now, the anchor's home,
A-way, boys, lift and walk a-way! (CHO)

I blowed my silver for to win her,
A-way, boys, a-way-o!
Now there's nothing left but donkey's dinner,
A-way, boys, lift and walk a-way!

We're homeward bound, cookie's in the galley,
A-way, boys, a-way-o!
Farewell, Young Moon, of the Yangtse Valley,
A-way, boys, lift and walk a-way! (CHO)(2X)

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: BeauDangles
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 03:19 PM

You don't mean "I'm a Yangste Doodle Shanty" do you?

BeauDangles


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 03:38 PM

For those who are interested in hearing how this song can be sung, with Dick Dufresne leading it on the 2002 Roll & Go:Outward Bound CD, try www.rollandgoseasongs.com

For some reason I can't seem to create a working "blue clicky" link to our website.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: radriano
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 07:18 PM

Here you go:

Roll and Go website
Fixed by the link repair fairies. (Missed closing quotation marks and the "http://") --LRF


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Feb 03 - 08:15 PM

No, Richard, we don't.

I'm not sure why the "clicky" doesn't work for our website but it's a real challenge.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Feb 03 - 08:31 AM

Thanks, LRF, for patching the link.

I do recommend reading Hamish MacLaren's book of semi-autobiographical sketches, Cockalorum. I have a lot of empathy for what happens to artistic people when they attempt to survive in a world which has little to do with their interests or dreams. I secured my copy on the internet from "bookfinder.com" for a relatively modest price. And I should point out that there is a wealth of other songs to mine in Sailor with Banjo, even if the tunes are not available; somewhere there is a trunk...

His initial book, The Private Opinions of a British Bluejacket, is all in lower deck dialect and I find it a major challenge to make my way through it, and few rewards when I do. Other folks may enjoy this kind of puzzle problem and I certainly encourage them to give it a try.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 12:01 PM

Refreshing for a friend!

Barry Finn also sings a fine version of this song. Barry's version, unlike the Roll & Go version, is much closer to the tradition of sea shanty singing, and I'm sure that old Hamish would have enjoyed Barry's take as well.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Barry Finn
Date: 27 Feb 03 - 09:30 PM

Why how sweet of you Charlie. Thank You, Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 Nov 03 - 06:18 AM

Refresh!

Nice notes!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: MMario
Date: 16 Nov 03 - 09:11 AM

An infectious song - a true "ear-worm" in many ways...


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: CET
Date: 16 Nov 03 - 12:30 PM

Charlie:

I am now listening to the MP3s on your website. Good stuff! I really like the way you've adapted the Yangtse River shanty. It would be nice to know what tune McLaren intended the words to be sung to, but your version definitely works.

Edmund


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Chanteyranger
Date: 16 Nov 03 - 04:00 PM

It was also recently recorded by John Roberts's new group "Ye Mariners All" on their CD of the same name.

Chanteyranger


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 May 04 - 01:03 PM

Refreshing for the benefit of Hamish Maclaren's daughter who has recently been in contact with me via Mudcat. Maybe we'll learn the rest of the story!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Sep 04 - 04:50 PM

John Roberts' tune is closer to the way Barry Finn sings this song, and John is gracious enough to credit us both for reviving and adapting Maclaren's song.

I've just noticed that the Roll & Go website no longer features this song. Here's a link to my personal website for a MP3 sample of how I sing it:Click here!

Rumor has it that this song has been song recently at the Seamen's Church Chantey Sings at New York City's South Street Sea Port.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 05:28 AM

To add a bit of historical background to the thread here are some interesting links which have photographs of ships of the period that the shanty was written in.

The China station was srongly defended by both the RN, USN the Imperial German Navy and the French Navy at that time.

Shanghai was a main port for many of the ships which patrolled the Yangtze River. However the Yangtze is not the name given to the river by mainland Chinese. Here it is known as the Chang Jiang, the Long River. It provided (and still does)a route deep inland to Wuhan, Nanjing (Nanking) and Chongqing (Chungking).

There were also naval ports in Qingdao and Weihaiwei in Shandong province.

The origin of so many ports and heavily gunned ships was of course the fight with the Chinese over the import of opium form India, what became known as the Opium Wars.

Hong Kong was granted to the UK after the defeat of the Chinese in the Opium War, they objected to foreigners importing opium and saw it as an illegal trade. Many captians of RN ships also disliked defending traders who were breaking the countries laws but politics prevailed and they did their duty.

Following the collapse of the Imperial throne in 1912 when Sun Yat Sen staged the first revolution to depose imperial rule and the then chaos that followed when his colleagues hijacked the revolution for there own ends China descended into anarchy. War Lords ruled many areas inland and pirates tried to contol trade routes, the foriegn powers increased their military presence to protect their business interests.

So the China station became an important area for the navy to operate in.

French site covering RN ships in China around 1920

RN ships in China. English site

Letter from sailors on the Yangtze

The reference in the song to 'the lotus lady' could be a reference to her having bound feet, a common thing amongst women of the time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Sep 04 - 09:05 AM

Shanhaiceltic-

Thanks for the additional notes. As I recall you are actually our resident Mudcat on the China Station, an awesome responsibility. You should start your own thread of observations!

Hamish Maclaren, as I've mentioned above, served in the Royal Navy in the mid 1920's on the China Station. In his semi-autobiographical sketches in his book Cockalorum (buy a copy on the www used book sites for a treat) he describes his adventures up and down the river after he mustered out of the Navy in pursuit of a White Russian dancer. The details are too ludicrous and painful to be fiction.

I seem to have lost contact with Maclaren's daughter over the summer.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Shanghaiceltic
Date: 09 Sep 04 - 03:12 AM

I will have to get myself a copy of that book. I have always been interested in the local history of Shanghai in relation to the various foreigners who have lived here.

In the period of the foreign powers here it was not the done thing to get married to a Chinese lass. Some did and were ostracized for it, no longer welcome at the club....

Therefore many men kept a Chinese mistress as well as a wife. Naval personnel were mostly confined to ship when not ashore at liesure therefore it was hard to set up a home from home. Additionaly if they were not of independant means they rarely could afford a mistress.

Therefore they often persued the Chinese lasses at the so called Taxi Dances. The Taxi Dancers and Sing Sing girls (rent a sampan sort of job) were later in competition with the many White Russian women who fled the Russia during the revolution and came to Shanghai.

Some of the White Russian women of better upbringing then set themselves up as mistresses of well to do businessmen.

In todays Huai Hai Lu(Formerly Avenue Foche) and the Fuzhou Lu(Fuchow Road) you can still see many of the old buildings which were places of 'nightly' entertainment.

The two places I play in are both in what was the old French Quarter of Shanghai, both are old buildings and would have been there in Hamish Maclaren's time. It was in the French Quarter that many of the White Russians and Jewish exiles lived. They were stateless people and the French were more accomodating that the British and American Quarters.

Not for nothing was Shanghai known as 'The Whore of The East'

Any catters coming this way I am happy to provide free guided tours of the pubs.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: freda underhill
Date: 27 Aug 05 - 12:09 PM

Danny Spooner sang this song tonight at the Loaded Dog folk club in Sydney - its a fantastic song, and the whole room sang along with him. He mentioned you as the writer or arranger, I think!

best wishes (to you and Judy)

freda


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: GUEST,Pelrad
Date: 27 Aug 05 - 09:48 PM

Charlie, thank you for your fine work adapting this chantey! I've loved it since I first heard it several years ago at Mystic. My 6 year-old son discovered it on Ye Mariners All last year and listened to it repeatedly until he had it completely memorized. :-)

Kim


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 27 Aug 05 - 10:33 PM

G'day all and Freda,

I figured it had to be either you or Sandra posting ... The shanty did go over well last night - and Danny was quite pleasantly surprised by the number of the audience that were so familiar with the song he was presenting as a fine new find!

Good stuff Charley ... and John Roberts ... and Danny!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: JennyO
Date: 27 Aug 05 - 11:18 PM

I figured it had to be either you or Sandra posting ...

Well gee, thanks Bob! It coulda been me ya know. I was there too, even if I was stuck out in the cold at the top of the stairs collecting money :-(

Having said that, it was a warm moment to hear that song drifting out through the door!

Later on in the night, he sang another song that reminded me of Mudcatters - "Two Jolly Fishermen", which I have on a CD "Boldly from the Westward - Songs of the Sea", sent to me by Chanteyranger and featuring him and Radriano. I think Danny said he saw/met them at Mystic.

The world is feeling smaller and smaller....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Bill D
Date: 27 Aug 05 - 11:28 PM

The world is indeed feeling smaller...it was just 3 weeks ago that Danny spent a week with us (Maryland, USA) and did a house concert here before his week teaching at the ASgusta Heritage week. He devoured a few books while in my basement, so he might have MORE new stuff to show off soon..*grin* Boy, I wish I could learn songs as fast as he does!

(and SUCH a nice, pleasant guest to have about! Thoughtful and clean...*grin*)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: JennyO
Date: 27 Aug 05 - 11:42 PM

Actually, I think we might have seen some of the new stuff last night - when he got out his guitar and launched into a song which had somewhat of a bluegrass feel about it. Don't remember what it was called, but he did it well. Seems whatever that man turns his hand to, he does well! Such talent, and a nice bloke too!

It was a wonderful night at the Dog. We had a fine representation of Sydney's best singers, who raised the roof with Danny, and with Kate Delaney, who is also a fine singer. I believe it was being recorded too.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Ferrara
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 02:03 AM

"Seems whatever that man [Danny Spooner]turns his hand to, he does well!" Ain't that the truth! The word was that he did some fine renditions of Bo Diddly songs during the late-late-night singing at Augusta Vocal Week. (I didn't hear it myself, I only stayed up for the early late-night stuff....)

Getting back to the Yangste River shanty, I first heard it when Barry Finn sang it at the FSGW Getaway, later heard John Roberts et al sing it at Mystic, and on the "Ye Mariners All" album. With luck we'll be hearing Barry do it again at this year's Getaway, ain't that great?

It is a terrific song in all its various incarnations. Danny does sing Charley's version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 28 Aug 05 - 09:52 AM

Danny was talking about Charley & was surprised when I told him that the reason so many of us knew it was cos Charley had sung at the Dog. I told him I'd send him pics of Charley & Brett @ the Dog. I really must get the pics scanned (I really must get help to get the scanner working)

sandra


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Oct 05 - 02:48 PM

Wow! I missed these August posts while I was off in the Pacific Northwest on the trail of Cicely Fox Smith. It's really nice to know that Danny Spooner is now singing this song.

There is also a rumor that this song is rampaging through Yorkshire, being led by Two Black Sheep and a Stallion.

I sang it this sunday evening at the DC area Getaway and it seemed to be well received.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: JudyB
Date: 18 Oct 05 - 04:03 PM

Sandra -

I'd love to see the pics when you get them scanned! We do still have some photos posted on Charlie's web site at http://home.gwi.net/~ipbar/oz/photos_dog.htm.

The Loaded Dog is such a wonderful place - I do wish it were a bit closer....

JudyB


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Oct 05 - 05:09 PM

Here is an update of my notes on Hamish Maclaren, including some corrections to what I've posted above:

We don't know a lot about Hamish MacLaren, the composer of this song. He was born around 1900. His parents in northern Scotland sent him at the age of twelve to the Osborne and Dartmouth Naval Training College where he trained to become a "Naval Officer and a Gentleman," and received his hands-on sailing experience aboard a black cutter called the Wideon. He graduated in 1917, in time to serve as a gunnery officer aboard a destroyer, which had a skirmish with German armoured cruisers.

After the war MacLaren returned to Scotland, wandered around England for a while, and then rejoined the Royal Navy. He was sent out to the Mediterranean and later the China Station, where he mustered out in Shanghai during the late 1920's to follow a life of personal adventure beginning with an affair with a White Russian dancer. Upon his return to England he supported himself by writing articles and stories for various magazines; his articles and poems appeared in magazines such as The Spectator, The Blue Peter, and The Cornhill Magazine.

During this period he also began his major literary work. His first published novel was THE PRIVATE OPINIONS OF A BRITISH BLUEJACKET in 1929; be warned that this book is written in lower deck dialect with no punctuation. His sailor's folk opera SAILOR WITH BANJO followed soon after in 1930. His semi-autobiographic book COCKALORUM, a collection of personal sketches and short stories, was published in 1936. He did not resume his literary career.

According to a young cousin who was named after him, MacLaren rejoined the Royal Navy again in World War II, saw action as a lieutenant commander. He died in 1987. There is a surviving daughter, Lucillia Maclaren Spillane, who is based in Malta and is currently doing her master's thesis on her father's literary works.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: JennyO
Date: 18 Oct 05 - 10:27 PM

Sandra, if you still haven't been able to scan those photos, I have a nice shiny new scanner you know. If you give me the photos at the Dog on Saturday, I can do it.

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: stallion
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 05:45 AM

Indeed Charley, it is rampaging through Yorkshire, it is very popular and gives any set we do a bit of a lift. we included it in a live set we did for the Local radio Folk show "North Yorkshire folk", you can get this via the internet( the show,not us!). google "Michael Brothwell" is probably the quickest way to find it. The song deserves a wider audience, I suppose, when, and if we record it here, it might get more exposure.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Jun 06 - 08:52 AM

Good to hear that "Yangtse River Shanty" is still working its way though Yorkshire.

We'll see what we can do to spread it along the West Coast of England when we're rambling there from Bristol, Swansea, to Liverpool next October.

We certainly had fun hearing different versions of it at the recent Mystic Sea Music Festival. Barry Finn's version really takes the song back to what sounds like a traditional shanty. In fact I'm sure it won't be long before someone records it as TRAD!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 11:49 AM

Maclaren's daughter Lucilla Maclaren Spillane has recently prepared a new short biography of her father and provided a photo of him as a Royal Navy officer in World War 1. Here's a link to his photo posted to his page at the Oldpoetry Website: click here!

Here's the biography:

Hamish Maclaren (Douglas Hamish Van Lenepp Maclaren, 1901-1987) was born in Tain, Ross-shire, Scotland, on March 7th 1901. He was the fourth of five children and was educated at Osborne and the Royal Naval College, Dartmouth. In 1939 he married Jean Dunn Tringham and they had one child, Lucilla Jean, who was born the following year.
In 1917 he joined the Royal Navy as a Midshipman (or Ensign). His first voyage was to Archangel, during the Russian Revolution, when he was liberally introduced to Vodka by grateful Anti-Bolshevists. In 1918, as the shortest midshipman to hand, he was sent as a deliberate snub to accept the surrender of the Commanding Officer of a German warship. In the post-war years he served in the Mediterranean and trained as a gunnery officer, which presumably accounted for his aversion to loud noises. In 1922 the Navy sent him to the University of Cambridge, before posting him to HMS Hawkins on the China station. In September 1923, he landed in Yokohama with a working party to clear up the debris after the major earthquake. He also served on a river patrol boat, protecting British commercial interests.

During this time he began contributing to various literary magazines and in 1924 he transferred to the Naval Reserve to become a full time writer and literary editor, later being promoted to Lieutenant-Commander. He signed on as mate of a tramp-steamer and sailed the length of the Yangtse and around the China coast. Whilst returning to England, as mate on another tramp-steamer, he was shipwrecked off Cape Horn when the propeller fell off the ship. The variety and breadth of his experiences is reflected in his poetry and writings.

From 1928 onwards he lived at Cobstone Windmill, at Ibstone in Buckinghamshire, which he leased from Merton College, Oxford. Whilst there, he wrote The Private Opinions of a British Bluejacket (1929), written phonetically as the diary of a semi-illiterate seaman. During this time he also penned many of the poems which were to appear in Sailor with Banjo, which he described as "a narrative poem interspersed with lyrics". It was first published in 1929 by Victor Gollancz and then in 1930 by Macmillan in the USA, with extra lyrics. From 1925, he contributed to and edited, the 'Way of the World' column in the Morning Post (now incorporated in the Daily Telegraph) and in 1926 he began to contribute regularly to The Spectator. From 1928 to 1936 he was The Spectator's poetry editor.

In 1936 Peter Davies published Cockalorum, a semi-autobiographical collection of tales based on his experiences and he began collecting material for a third book, but the manuscript was destroyed in a storm whilst he was living in the Windmill. He contributed to a number of literary periodicals and was a member of the Contributors' Club to The Review of Reviews, which in June 1934, made him the subject of a caricature competition.
In September 1939, at the outbreak of WWII, he rejoined the Royal Navy, with the wartime rank of Commander, and in November was recruited to the Press Bureau in London for naval intelligence work. In 1945 he was injured by a German V-bomb which landed near him in Whitehall and, although he largely recovered, it prevented him resuming his literary career. During the 1950s, he was the representative in Scotland for the Laurence Book Company Ltd. and the Trans-Atlantic Book Service Ltd and was later a publishers' commission agent. He was badly affected by his wife's unexpected death in 1966.

His first known published poem is 'The Lake Garden' in The Morning Post of 28th July, 1925. It is set near Loch Awe in Scotland and is the work of an already accomplished poet:

They lie untended:
Only the dark water shows,
When day's ended
How they outshine the rose
When the lilies, the water-lilies,
Break forth in their snows.
They float still and lonely,
Never a gardener draws near:
The pines, only,
Stand sentinel about the darkened mere,
When the lilies, the water-lilies,
Flower year after year.

His last known published poem was 'To Idleness' in The Observer, on 13 August, 1939:

Under the trees -- the very words can make
Cool peace, a haven for my busy heart.
Blow, summer wind, that makes the boughs to shake,
And shivering, whispering foliage play your part.
Conjure up silence through your murmuring voices;
Stillness in sun, at which my heart rejoices.
Spread your low branches in a leafy shade.
Summon the butterflies and serious bees,
That by their tiny stir my heart be made
More conscious of its respite and its ease.
Under the trees, and lulled by wind and sun,
Fain would I dream till all my days are done.

The last two lines of this poem appear on his gravestone in Swaffham Bulbeck churchyard, Cambridgeshire.

Hamish Maclaren's poetry has been published in newspapers and periodicals and in numerous anthologies, but he was reclusive and highly self-critical and a large number of his poems were never submitted for publication. Some of these poems were retrieved from his waste basket by his friend and fellow poet, John Gawsworth, who collected them in a scrapbook. Other poems and writings, from newspapers, periodicals and anthologies, have been researched and collected by his daughter, Lucilla Maclaren Spillane. A hundred and twenty-six poems have been collected, including those in Sailor with Banjo.
He was included in Whose Who in Literature the Literary Yearbook 1933 (p.264), and in Rosalie Murphy and James Vinson's 1970 Contemporary Poets of the English Language (p. 693), and his 1929 poem 'Island Rose' re-appeared in Maurice Lindsay's 1976 Modern Scottish poetry: an anthology of the Scottish Renaissance, 1925-1975 and then in Leslie Duncan and Maurice Lindsay's 2005 The Edinburgh Book of Twentieth-Century Scottish Poetry, published by the University of Edinburgh Press. Under the sponsorship of Victor Bonham Carter he received stipends from the Royal Literary Fund and the Society of Authors.

He spent his final years near Cambridge and died aged 86, on July 25, 1987, in Kidderminster, England.

By Lucilla Maclaren Spillane, September 2010
Used with the kind permission of the Estate of Hamish Maclaren

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: stallion
Date: 24 Oct 10 - 11:56 AM

thanks Charley


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 08:13 AM

And I should mention that Two Black Sheep & a Stallion did a fine job recording "Yangste River Shanty" on their new CD titled Crossing the Pond, along with other favorites such as "Stormy Weather," "Dogger Bank," "On Ratcliffe Highway," "Hard on the Beech Oar," and "Sailor Lad."

I've now revised the way that I'm presenting the song, inspired by what Barry Finn did with it but as a personal tribute to Barry as well.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: shipcmo
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 09:58 AM

Well now, did they record "beech", rather than "beach"?

Personally, I prefer "ash" oars.

Cheers,

Geo


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: stallion
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 10:10 AM

definately Beech Oar but I do like to do a bit on the beach oar ;o), got plenty of CD's left!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 10:23 AM

Shipcmo and Stallion-

I was wondering about the spelling of "beech oar" myself. I've always assumed it was the "beach oar" meaning the oar nearest the river bank. You would want to haul on it if you were getting too close to the river bank.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Dead Horse
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 10:39 AM

I would think that the name of his first ship 'Wideon' is actually a typo for 'Wigeon'.
I am also surprised nobody has mentioned the film Sand Pebbles starring Steve McQueen.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: shipcmo
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 11:31 AM

For those who have travelled down river on Eastern US rivers by bateaux or rafts, the problem is getting to close to the shore, thus losing the current.

Cheers,

Geo


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 12:54 PM

Dead Horse-

I've rechecked the spelling of the black cutter from the Osborne and Dartmouth Naval Training College named above and it should be "Widgeon." So, there was a typo in what I transcribed from his remarks in Cockalorum, p. 43.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: shipcmo
Date: 29 Dec 10 - 01:15 PM

Speaking of spelling, I missed that, it should be "haul" rather than "hard".

Cheers,

Geo


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 09:30 AM

George-

Just to muddy the waters some more, here's a post from Sandy Paton on the origins of "Shawneetown":

At long last, some information for you. Malcolm Dalglish and Grey Larsen recorded "Shawneetown" on their The First of Autumn LP (June Appal JA026). What follows is taken from the booklet that accompanied the album.

We learned "Shawneetown" from a good friend of ours, Dillon Bustin. Dillon learned part of the song when he was young from a year-round fisherman (*) on the White River in Indiana. Since then he has picked up verses from travel logs and novels of the keelboat era. He even made up one of the verses. (**)
Shawneetown is an Ohio River town in southern Illinois just a little south of the Wabash River junction. The town was the first Anglo settlement on the Ohio and before 1830 was the major trade center for Illinois settlers and the Indians. The nearby salt mines provided the town's major commodity.
The most efficient commercial boats in those days were the keelboats. Unlike flatboats and rafts, which only travelled downriver, the keelboats made the difficult trip back as well. In the days before steam power, and before present dams tamed the river's currents, the methods for getting a boat back up river (whether "cordelling" or "bushwacking" ) involved the crew literally pulling the boat against the current. While a downriver trip from Cincinnati to New Orleans took only a few weeks, the return trip took several months. … The use of the beech oar, a long oar that most river craft had to guide the boat as well as to physically maneuver it off mudslicks and snags, was the main work of the downriver course.

Here's the text as Dalglish and Larsen recorded it:

Some rows up, but we floats down,
Way down the Ohio to Shawneetown.

Chorus:
Hard on the beech oar, she moves too slow.
Way down to Shawneetown on the Ohio.

Now the current's got her and we'll take up the slack.
Float her down to Shawneetown and we'll bushwack her back.

The whiskey's in the jug, boys, the wheat is in the sack.
We'll trade 'em down to Shawneetown and we'll bring the rock salt back.

I got a wife in Louisville and one in New Orleans,
And when I get to Shawneetown gonna see my Indian Queen.

The water's might warm, boys, the air is cold and dank,
And the cursed fog it gets so thick you cannot see the bank.

(repeat first verse)

(*) This, as I recall, is the gentleman known as 'Poss Skaggs.
(**) They don't say which one, however.

That's about all I can come up with. It would seem, then, that credit for the song should be given completely to Dillon. He created the song from a fragment.

Sandy (Paton)

So while our discussion may make logical sense, that's not how the lyrics were originally composed by Bustin! Sandy goes on to explain that he was responsible for changing "hard" in the chorus to "haul" so that teenagers in school music programs would be less apt to giggle.

Anyway, this discussion would best be continued on the relevant thread or threads.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: stallion
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 02:59 PM

ooooo ours is very like Sandy's version


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: stallion
Date: 30 Dec 10 - 03:04 PM

Just a note, we used to make charcoal out of beech wood to make gunpowder with, it has a very fine grain and makes the best gunpowder, we used ash poles for the sponges and ram rods because they were bendy and less likely to break in the cannon barrel. Ah Pete those were the days!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Apr 12 - 08:06 AM

Here's an update for the link to Hamish Maclaren's page at Allpoetry (formerly Oldpoetry): click here for PIX and poems!

Not only are there more poems posted there on that website but a handsome photo of the poet as a young Royal Navy officer. There's also an extended biography and bibliography of literary works he authored.

I'm still in e-mail contact with Maclaren's daughter, now resident in Malta. She does hold the copyrights to her father's literary works; Maclaren died in 1987 and the copyrights expire 70 years after that date.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Yangtse River Shanty
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Apr 12 - 08:04 AM

refresh!


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