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Lyr Req: Ben Backstay

lohouse8 02 Mar 99 - 09:58 PM
Bruce O. 02 Mar 99 - 11:36 PM
bigJ 03 Mar 99 - 05:44 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Aug 06 - 12:33 AM
GUEST,padgett 08 Aug 06 - 03:43 AM
Artful Codger 08 Aug 06 - 03:51 AM
GUEST,padgett 08 Aug 06 - 05:09 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Aug 06 - 12:39 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Aug 06 - 01:18 PM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Aug 06 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Gary Keep 08 Aug 06 - 04:35 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Aug 06 - 07:24 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Aug 06 - 02:11 PM
Artful Codger 09 Aug 06 - 02:42 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Aug 06 - 03:00 PM
Joe Offer 09 Aug 06 - 03:32 PM
Joe Offer 09 Aug 06 - 04:23 PM
nutty 09 Aug 06 - 05:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 09 Aug 06 - 06:06 PM
Artful Codger 09 Aug 06 - 08:29 PM
Joe Offer 10 Aug 06 - 02:13 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 10 Aug 06 - 12:57 PM
Joe Offer 10 Aug 06 - 02:32 PM
Artful Codger 10 Aug 06 - 05:48 PM
Malcolm Douglas 10 Aug 06 - 09:09 PM
GUEST,chris 11 Aug 06 - 04:19 AM
Artful Codger 11 Aug 06 - 04:55 AM
Jim Dixon 15 Aug 06 - 11:26 PM
GUEST 10 Jul 14 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Guestful Codger 11 Jul 14 - 02:15 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
From: lohouse8
Date: 02 Mar 99 - 09:58 PM

Looking for words to " Ben Backstay" a song which appeared on a Burl Ives record of sea songs .. way back. I can remember some lines such as "Ben Backstay was a bosun he was a jolly boy .. And, none as he so merrily could pipe all hands ahoy." Anyone got the rest?? Thanks


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
From: Bruce O.
Date: 02 Mar 99 - 11:36 PM

It's by C. Dibdin, and is in 'The Universal Songster', II, p. 276, 1826.


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Subject: ADD Version: Ben Backstay
From: bigJ
Date: 03 Mar 99 - 05:44 PM

BEN BACKSTAY

Ben Backstay was a bosun, he was a jolly boy,
And none like he so merrilly, could pipe all hands ahoy,
Could pipe all hands ahoy, could pipe all hands ahoy.

While sailing with a captain who was a jolly dog,
Our Ben and all his shipmates got a double share of grog,
A double........

Now Ben he got tipsy all to his heart's content
And leaning oe'r the starboard side, right overboard he went
Right ........

A shark was on the starboard side, and sharks no man can stand,
For They do gobble up everything, just like the sharks on land,
Just ..........

We threw to him some tackling to give his life some hope,
But since the shark bit off his head he could not see the rope,
He...........


For recordings see:-
Burl Ives 'Down to the Sea in Ships' Brunswick LAT 8142 (c1956).
Jim Mageean 'Of Ships....And Men' Greenwich Village GVR203 (1978).
Cyril Tawney 'Little Boy Billee' Neptune NEP006 (1992)

I think Cyril's recording - a cassette - is the one most likely to be available - drop him a line at 521 Meanwood Road, Leeds, England LS6 4AW


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Subject: Lyr Add: BEN THE BOATSWAIN (Dibdin jun.)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 12:33 AM

BEN THE BOATSWAIN
Charles Dibdin Jun.

Ben Backstay was our boatswain, a very merry boy,
For no one half so merrily could pipe all hands a-hoy;
And when it chanc'd his summons we didn't well attend,
No lad than he more merrily could handle a rope's end.

With a chip, chow, fol de rol, &c.

While sailing once, our captain, who was a jolly dog,
One day sarv'd out to ev'ry mess a double share of grog;
Ben Backstay he got tipsy, all to his heart's content,
And, being half-seas over, why overboard he went.
With a chip, &c.

A shark was on the starboard- sharks don't for manners stand,
But grapple all that they come near, like lawyer sharks on land;-
We threw out Ben some tackling, of saving him in hopes,
But the shark had bit his head off, so he could not see the ropes.
With a chip, &c.

Without a head his ghost appear'd, all on the briny lake;
He pip'd all hands ahoy, and cried, "Lads, warning by me take!
By drinking grog I lost my life; so, lest my fate you meet,
Why, never mix your liquor, lads, but always drink it neat!"
With a chip &c.

T. Dibdin, Collector, "Songs of Charles Dibdin," 1875, pp. 265-266, Admiralty Edition, George Bell and Sons, London.

Also published as "Ben Backstay," pp. 46-47, XXXII, Christopher Stone, 1906, "Sea Songs and Ballads," Oxford.
Chorus rendered more fully as-

Singing Chip cho, cherry cho,
Fol de riddle ido. (bis.)

MORE Ben Backstay to come!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
From: GUEST,padgett
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 03:43 AM

I am sorry to have to say that Cyril died a while ago and had also moved away from Leeds a few years before

Rosemary his widow may still be contactable and be able to supply Cyrils cassettes etc

Ray

I will look for an up to date address via Google


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
From: Artful Codger
Date: 08 Aug 06 - 03:51 AM

Check the Contemplator site (http://www.contemplator.com/), where you can find two radically different Ben Backstays (the name is about all they have in common), both credited to Dibdin. There is a MIDI for each.
  • Ben Backstay I
  • Ben Backstay 2

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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: GUEST,padgett
    Date: 08 Aug 06 - 05:09 AM

    Orders and enquiries:

    Contact

    Rosemary Tawney 10 Sivell Place, Heavitree, Exeter, EX2 5ET. England

    Tel. 01392 426 055

    Email

    tawney@britishlibrary.net

    [this is after Cyril's death so should be ok] Ray


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 08 Aug 06 - 12:39 PM

    Artful Codger- note the 'jun.' following Dibdin in my post. Many have confused the songs and poems of the Dibdin's- Charles, Charles jun., and Thomas.
    Moreover, some titles varied in the different editions.

    The poem "Ben the Boatswain," later published as "Ben Backstay," was not by Charles Dibdin, 1745-1814, but by Charles jr. In many reprints, the author is labeled 'Dibdin', without indication of which one composed it.


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    Subject: LYR. ADD: BEN BACKSTAY (Lov'd Gentle Anna)
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 08 Aug 06 - 01:18 PM

    BEN BACKSTAY (Loved the Gentle Anna)
    (Charles Dibdin Sr., 1745-1814)

    Ben Backstay loved the gentle Anna,
    Constant as purity was she,
    Her honey words, like succ'ring manna
    Cheer'd him each voyage he made to ---.
    One fatal morning saw them parting,
    While each the other's sorrow dried,
    They by the tear that then was starting,
    Vow'd to be constant till they died.

    At distance from his Anna's beauty
    While howling winds the sky deform,
    Ben sighs, and well prorms his duty,
    And braves, for love, the frightful storm.
    Alas, in vain! The vessel batter'd,
    On a rock splitting, open'd wide;
    While lacerated, torn, and shatter'd,
    Ben thought of Anna, sigh'd, and died.

    The semblance of each charming feature
    That Ben had worn around his neck,
    Where art stood substitute for nature,
    A tar, his friend, saved from the wreck.
    In fervent hope, while Anna, burning,
    Blush'd as she wish'd to be a bride,
    The portrait came- joy turn'd to mourning-
    She saw, grew pale, sunk down and died.


    Pages 37-38; the index gives the first line as the title, the song itself is titled "Ben Backstay.", T. Dibdin, coll., Songs of Charles Dibdin. With a Memoir. 1875, Admiralty Edition, with illus. by George Cruikshank, George Bell and Sons, London.

    Charles Dibdin had three sons,the youngest died at sea in 1794; the eldest, Charles, many years a proprietor of Sadlers' Wells Theatre, author of operas, songs and pantomines, died in 1831. He also had a married daughter (name?) and son Thomas, who compiled the book from which this song is taken.
    Appended to the songs of Charles (Sr.) in the book are songs by Charles jun. and Thomas.

    Charles Dibdin wrote 1800 songs- only a portion have been published. His sons Charles jun. and Thomas wrote almost double that number.
    Some of the characters, like Ben, appeared in the songs of the sons, creating confusion for uncareful citers of their works.

    More Ben to come!


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: GUEST,Lighter
    Date: 08 Aug 06 - 02:16 PM

    The song Q posted at 12:33 was one of very few Dibdin songs to gain popularity with real sailors. IIC, Stan Hugill includes his version in his 1977 book, "Songs of the Sea."


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    Subject: ADD Version: Ben Backstay
    From: GUEST,Gary Keep
    Date: 08 Aug 06 - 04:35 PM

    Hello,

    here is my favorite version, learned from an old friend Skip Henderson.

    BEN BACKSTAY

    Ben Backstay was our Bosun, and a very merry boy
    And none then he so merrily could pipe all hands ahoy
    And when it chanced his summons, we didn't well attend
    Well none but he so merrily could handle the ropes end

    CHORUS:
    With a chip chop cherry chop, fol de rol de riddy rop…

    While sailing once our captain, who was a jolly dog
    One day he gave to every mess a double share of grog
    Ben Backstay he got tipsEy, all to his hearts content
    And being half sees over, why overboard he went

    A shark was on the starboard, sharks don't on manners stand
    But grapples all they comes athwart, just like those sharks on land
    We threw Ben out some taykling, of saving him some hopes
    But the shark had bit his head off, so he couldn't see the ropes

    His headless ghost appeared that night all on the briny lake
    He piped all hands aloft and said, "lads warning by me take"
    In drinking grog I lost me life, so lest my fate yea meet
    Why never mix your liquors lads, but always take it neat


    Skip recorded it on his CD, Billy Bones and Other Ditties.

    Its a fun song and would be interesting to knoW what it sounded like performed in the period it was written.

    Good Luck,
    Gary


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 08 Aug 06 - 07:24 PM

    In 1906, Admiral Cyprian A. G. Bridge said this about the lack of popularity of Charles Dibdin's songs:
    "By the middle of the 19th c, when the old Fore-bitter had still a vigorous existence, C. Dibdin's songs were very rarely sung on board ship. It could not have been age that made them so little in favour; because older songs were often heard. The fine piece, 'Farewell, and adieu to you, Spanish Ladies!'... is a century older than many of Dibdin's, yet even to this day it has not quite lost its vogue. It is, probably, more often sung now by the midshipmen than by the blue-jackets; but the latter, especially in the Channel Fleet, will always hear it with pleasure. The fact is that Dibdin is quite obsolete in more ways than one.
    "Most of the technical nautical phraseology introduced into his lines is now quite out of date. Many of its terms would be unintelligible to the man-of-war's-man of the twentieth century. Out of date and even repulsive to the seamen of our day is his presentation of the sailor of his own. Social advancement is almost necessarily accompanied by sensitiveness; and it is frequently disagreeable to be reminded of origin. We may be ready to accept the position of inheritors of the martial glory won by Dibdin's tars, but we wish it to be understood that socially we stand on a higher level than they did. This state of mind is not peculiar to sea-faring folk. Repeated reminders that they used to live in Hoxton or Clapton and to have high tea would probably be distasteful to recently enriched families settling in Mayfair".

    Introduction by Admiral Bridge to Christopher Stone,1906. "Sea Songs and Ballads," Oxford.


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    Subject: ADD Version: BEN BACKSTAY (with music)
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 09 Aug 06 - 02:11 PM

    BEN BACKSTAY
    (Charles Dibdin jun., unk. arranger)

    Ben Backstay was a bos'n,
    He was a jolly boy,
    And none as he so merrily
    could pipe all hands a-hoy;
    Could pipe all hands a-hoy,
    could pipe all hands a-hoy.

    CHORUS:
    With a chip, chop! cherry chop!
    Fol-de-rol, riddle rop!
    Chip chop! Cherry chop!
    Fol-de-rol ray!
    With a chip, chop! cherry chop!
    Fol-de-rol, riddle rop!
    Chip, chop! cherry chop!
    Fol-de-rol ray!

    Once sailing with a captain,
    Who was a jolly dog,
    Our Ben and all his messmates got
    A double share of grog.
    CHORUS

    So Benny he got tipsy
    Quite to his heart's content,
    And leaning o'er the starboard side
    Right overboard he went.
    CHORUS

    A shark was on the *starboard side,
    And sharks no man can stand,
    For they do gobble up everything
    Just like the sharks on land.
    CHORUS

    They threw him out some tackling
    To give his life a hope,
    But as the shark bit off his head
    He couldn't see the rope.
    CHORUS

    At twelve o'clock his ghost appeared
    Upon the quarter deck,
    "Ho, pipe all hands ahoy!" it cried,
    "From me a warning take."
    CHORUS

    "Through drinking grog I lost my life,
    The same fate you may meet;
    So never mix your grog too strong,
    But always take it neat."
    CHORUS


    *Larboard in a couple of printings I found.

    With music, p. 129, "Scottish Students' Song Book," 3rd. ed., 1892, 358 pages.
    The Company, "eight shareholders, each a member of one of the Scottish Universities." No title page bound in; date and title in MS.
    According to entries in Abebooks, it was published by Bayley and Ferguson, London and Glasgow.

    I have scanned a copy to Joe Offer. If he has time, he may produce a midi for Gary Keep and others who may wish to sing the song.

    The light-hearted approach is typical of the songs of Charles Dibdin jun.

    Click to play (joeweb)


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Artful Codger
    Date: 09 Aug 06 - 02:42 PM

    Is the tune/arrangment different from the Contemplator MIDI?


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 09 Aug 06 - 03:00 PM

    The Contemplator midi sounds like a dirge. I have sent the music (unk. arranger) to Joe. Hope he has time to do a midi.
    Contemplator credits the song to Dibdin Sr, which seems to be in error since Thomas Dibdin's compilation clearly assigns it to Dibdin jun.
    Backstay 2 (Anna) in Contemplator is by the father.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 09 Aug 06 - 03:32 PM

    The MIDI will be up shortly. Not much on this song at the Traditional Ballad Index:

    Ben Backstay

    DESCRIPTION: "Ben Backstay was our boatswain, A very merry boy." The captain serves out double grog. Ben gets drunk and falls overboard. They throw ropes to him, but he can't return because a "shark had bit his head off." Ben's ghost warns against mixing liquor
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1948 (Shay)
    KEYWORDS: sailor death humorous ghost drink
    FOUND IN:
    REFERENCES (1 citation):
    Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 98-101, "Ben Backstay" (1 text)
    ST ShSea098 (Partial)
    File: ShSea098

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

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2006 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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    Subject: ADD Version: Ben Backstay
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 09 Aug 06 - 04:23 PM

    Here's the version from Frank Shay, American Sea Songs and Chanteys, 1948. Shay doesn't include a tune. Skip Henderson's tune is a bit different from the MIDI I transcribed from Q's scan from "Scottish Students' Song Book," but he follows those lyrics quite closely. Anyhow, here's the Shay version:

    Ben Backstay

    Ben Backstay was our boatswain, a very merry boy,
    For no one half so merrily could pipe all hands ahoy,
    And when unto his summons we did not well attend,
    No lad than he more merrily, could handle the rope's end.

    Singing chip chow, cherry chow,
    Fol de riddle ido.
    Singing chip chow, cherry chow,
    Fol de riddle ido.

    While sailing once, our captain, who was a jolly dog,
    Served out to all the company, a double share of grog.
    Ben Backstay he got tipsy, all to his heart's content,
    And he being half seas over, why overboard he went.
    Singing chip chow, cherry chow,
    Fol de riddle ido.
    Singing chip chow, cherry chow,
    Fol de riddle ido.

    A shark was on the larboard bow, sharks don't on manners stand,
    But grapple all that they come near, just like your sharks on land.
    We heaved Ben out some tackling, of saving him some hope's,
    But the shark had bit his head off, so he couldn't see the ropes.
    Singing chip chow, cherry chow,
    Fol de riddle ido.
    Singing chip chow, cherry chow,
    Fol de riddle ido.

    Without his head his ghost appeared all on the briny lake;
    He piped all hands ahoy, and cried: "Lads, warning by me take,
    By drinking grog I lost my life, so, lest my fate you meet,
    Why, never mix your liquors, lads, but always take them neat."
    Singing chip chow, cherry chow,
    Fol de riddle ido.
    Singing chip chow, cherry chow,
    Fol de riddle ido.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: nutty
    Date: 09 Aug 06 - 05:43 PM

    Sheet music for 'Ben Backstay loved the gentle Anna' can be seen here in the Levy Collection

    CLICK HERE


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 09 Aug 06 - 06:06 PM

    Nutty, I wonder if Dibdin composed the music?

    Joe, much better than the Contemplator midi. Many Thanks!


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Artful Codger
    Date: 09 Aug 06 - 08:29 PM

    Q: Er, thanks for your opinion. The Contemplator MIDI is only a bit slower than the new MIDI (thanks, Joe!), and includes full harmony (which some shanty-cleers eschew, but that's a separate debate.) Most folk songs, including sea songs, were traditionally sung rather slower (particularly after a few steins) than is the modern wont, with our flash-and-glitz three-minute mentality. The sustained, hymn-like chords just prior to the likety-split chorus provide a nice contrast, though I agree that in solo performance the tempo might drag at this point.

    Also, as the chorus is apparently notated at double the clip of the verses, the Contemplator tempo at least renders the chorus singable by men rather than chipmunks. However, I strongly suspect what was intended (and practiced) was just a marked tempo shift between the two sections, not literally 2:1. So, one might sing the verses at the "Q" tempo and the chorus at the "C" tempo (or even a tad slower.)


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 10 Aug 06 - 02:13 AM

    I think I'd agree, Codger. The sheet music from the Scottish Students' Song Book has the whole song marked allegro, so I set a quarter note at 140 beats per minute. That's a bit slow for the verses, but it's breakneck speed for the chorus (if sung as written). I think I'd sing the chorus quickly, but not THAT quickly.

    And yes, I've often noticed that the authentic chantey singers sing a lot slower than them college-educated city boys that show up at chantey sings on the weekends....

    -Joe-


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Q (Frank Staplin)
    Date: 10 Aug 06 - 12:57 PM

    Authentic chantey singers? Fol-de-rol riddle rop!
    I'm in my 4th decade and I think they were all dead by the time I was born.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Joe Offer
    Date: 10 Aug 06 - 02:32 PM

    Hey, Q, there ARE some field recordings of the authentic ones...


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Artful Codger
    Date: 10 Aug 06 - 05:48 PM

    4th decade? Is that supposed to qualify as aged?? "I remember, when I was a kid, we had to walk all the way to the bus stop to go to school. It was 40 yards, uphill both ways. We were too poor for a Princess phone, only had a rotary dial. They didn't have microwaves back then, we had to cook our TV dinners in the oven..." :-}


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Malcolm Douglas
    Date: 10 Aug 06 - 09:09 PM

    Was this song ever used as a shanty? I very much doubt it. Dibdin's "sea" songs (he wrote his own music as a rule) were written for the stage, mostly, and designed to inspire patriotic sentiment and a sort of fellow-feeling with the nation's sailors. No doubt some sailors liked them, and sang them; but they were really landsmen's "sea-songs", so how shanties may or may not have been sung at the time is rather beside the point.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: GUEST,chris
    Date: 11 Aug 06 - 04:19 AM

    I think Strawhead used to sing this song


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req Ben Backstay
    From: Artful Codger
    Date: 11 Aug 06 - 04:55 AM

    As a shanty, rather than a forebitter? I also very much doubt it. But commentaries mention that THIS song actually did enter the seafaring tradition, unlike most other composed "sea-songs". And if this song survived mostly among seamen, how they sang it would be rather TO the point.

    On the other hand, I personally believe sailors harmonized on forebitters just as much as other folks tended to harmonize, and my comments on tempo were not specific to seafaring tradition. In short, to the point, yes; different, no (at least in these two ways.)


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    Subject: ADD Version: BEN BACKSTAY
    From: Jim Dixon
    Date: 15 Aug 06 - 11:26 PM

    Here's my transcription of the 1-page sheet music image at Levy. (See nutty's link above.) I have modernized the punctuation. Also, since the sheet music shows that line 7 of the first verse is repeated, I have assumed the corresponding lines in verses 2 and 3 also repeat.

    BEN BACKSTAY
    A Favorite NEW SONG Composed by Mr. DIBDIN
    Philadelphia sold by H. & P. Rice No. 50 Market St. between Front & Second Streets

    1. Ben Backstay loved the gentle Anna.
    Constant as purity was she.
    Her honey words, like succ'ring manna,
    Cheered him each voyage he made to sea.
    One fatal morning saw them parting
    While each the other's sorrow dried.
    They by the tear that then was starting,
    They by the tear that then was starting,
    Vowed they'd be constant till they died.

    2. At distance from his Anna's beauty,
    While roaring winds the sea deform,
    Ben sings and well performs his duty,
    And braves for love the frightful storm.
    Alas, in vain! the vessel battered
    On a rock, splitting, opened wide;
    While, lacerated, torn, and shattered,
    While, lacerated, torn, and shattered,
    Ben thought of Anna, sighed, and died.

    3. The semblance of each lovely feature
    That Ben had worn around his neck,
    Where art stood substitute for nature,
    A tar, his friend, saved from the wreck,
    In fervent hope, while Anna, burning,
    Blushed, as she wished to be a bride.
    The portrait came. Joy turned to mourning.
    The portrait came. Joy turned to mourning.
    She saw, grew pale, sunk down, and died.


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ben Backstay
    From: GUEST
    Date: 10 Jul 14 - 11:47 AM

    Hello,

    I'm looking for the music sheet for Ben Backstay (funny version) and it seems impossible. I leave in France and I can't even find the song in any book...Anyone has a clue?

    Thank you,

    Ana


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    Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ben Backstay
    From: GUEST,Guestful Codger
    Date: 11 Jul 14 - 02:15 AM

    Failing all else, you can import the MIDIs to an ABC software suite, like the free, cross-platform EasyABC program, then print out a score from there, optionally transposed to the key you desire.

    Warning: since there's a pickup beat, the barlines, ties, etc. may be off by a beat in the generated score, but I the program may have a facility to pre-specify this case, so that everything lines up properly.

    The Contemplator site is good about referencing sources for songs. But I doubt the source will be available online in scanned form.


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