The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #110621   Message #2336186
Posted By: GUEST,Lighter
08-May-08 - 09:33 PM
Thread Name: Bertsongs? (songs of A. L. 'Bert' Lloyd)
Subject: RE: Bertsongs?
"Wings of a Goney" is indeed in Huntington, who unearthed it from the log of the Ocean Rover, 1859. "Wings of a Gull" - revised and Briticized - isn't. Nor do I believe that it was ever "collected" by anyone but Lloyd.

In fact, there's no particular reason to assume that "Wings of a Goney" was anything more than one whaler's poem. It appears in Huntington without a melody.

An example of the alterations:

Huntington :

For a man must be foolish to venture so far
On the broad blue expanse catching whales
When he knows that his life is in danger at times
Or his head being smashed by their tails


For a man must be mad or want money bad
To venture chasing whales;
For he may be drowned when the fish turns around
Or his head smashed in by its tail.

Note the added internal rhymes. The 1859 "Dutch grocery shop" becomes, in Lloyd's song, "a Deptford pub." The unpoetic "crackers and cheese" of the original disappear. And so forth. The spirit of the poem is unchanged. But it's hard for me to ignore the fact that verses not known to have been sung by anybody have been consciously improved, set to a tune, the cultural references (like "one red cent") altered for no obvious reason from American to English, and turned into a song by a professional 20th C. writer.

Not only that, but the new creation is asserted to be "traditional," by implication known and sung by many British whalers, perhaps for generations.

There's seems to be no evidence at all that it was.

Is the tune identifiable ?