The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2833329
Posted By: John Minear
08-Feb-10 - 04:53 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Q, Lighter and Charlie, thanks for all of your information. Q is certainly documenting my first category of "songs sung on board the whaling ship, which aren't shanties".   Lighter, thanks for the heads up on "The Cold Coast of Greenland". It had not shown up in any of my searches. Charlie, I'll be looking further at some of the songs you mention.

In my third category of whale related songs, I am looking at songs about and presumably sung by whalers that were probably used as shanties on both whaling and non-whaling ships. Harlow gives the two classics: "Tis Advertised in Boston" and "The Greenland Whale". He says that "Tis Advertised in Boston" (pp. 211-213) was used as a "windless" shanty. He gives a different chorus for this:

        "Cheer up my lively lads, in spite of stormy weather,
        Cheer up my lively lads, we'll all get drunk together."

Hugill, on page 221-222/'61, gives much the same version and says that it was used at the capstan and pumps. However, his version makes no reference to whaling! He then gives "the whaler version", which he says is unique to Colcord, "who obtained it from an old logbook in the New Bedford Public Library." (p. 233) Her version is found in SONGS OF AMERICAN SAILORMEN (Oak, 1964), pp. 187-188. How can the "whaler version" be given only by Colcord when Harlow obviously has one? Huntington also has this song (pp. 42-46), from the "Elizabeth Swift" journal of 1859, and he says this song was "often used as a chantey"(!). [I was wrong in what I said about him never mentioning shanties in my previous note.] Is this the same source as Colcord?

The other whaling song used as a shanty, according to Harlow, is "The Greenland Whale". Harlow says it was used as a capstan shanty (p. 225), and that it was sung by a Negro sailor named Richard Duncan. (p. 243) Colcord gives it as a "forecastle song" (pp.147-148) Huntington has a version (pp.11-13) from the "Bengal" in 1833. Neither Colcord nor Huntington say anything about it being used as a shanty. Hugill does not mention this song in his SHANTIES FROM THE SEVEN SEAS. He does mention both of these songs in SHANTIES AND SAILORS SONGS, but not as shanties.

Hugill says (on page 581/'61) about the forebitter "We'll Go To Sea No More", which in some versions talks about a sailor being shanghied, by old "Shanghai Brown" himself and shipped aboard a whaler bound for the Arctic Seas, that "most of my old shipmates seem to think that it *was* used as a shanty at both capstan and pumps." No one else makes this claim, although the song shows up in other collections.

I have been unable to find any other historical examples of whaling songs being used as shanties. There are a number of contemporary examples, such as some of those mentioned by Charley above.