The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2840367
Posted By: John Minear
15-Feb-10 - 05:46 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Gibb, I find your last paragraph above fascinating. You take Hugill's idea of "the shanty mart" a step beyond itself. If I understand you correctly, you are suggesting that at least most of the halyard shanties didn't just "pass through the shanty mart" of the cotton ports, but actually were born there, or thereabouts. Both "Black" and "White" songs were perhaps adopted as work songs and were transformed into what became shanties.

I also find your statement that "in 1853, the concept/definition of "chanty" had to have been much more narrow than it was by the 20th century" intriguing.   You go on to say, "*in my opinion*, a "Black" element was part and parcel to the genre, such that it is *very* difficult to distinguished them as a separate category at that time period!" The category of "shanty/chanty" was not so all inclusive back then and it was by its nature as perhaps a work song deeply influenced by Black culture.

This just might be a clue about how to better focus my lens on the early 1850s. Try looking for - at least halyard - shanties that definitely have a "Black" influence to them, which is closer to the surface.

Charley's note above about Captain Whidden in New Orleans describing how the cotton-screwing songs went to sea and became shanties seems to make sense in the context of what you are saying. And the pumping shanty that he quotes could well be an example of how "Hieland Laddie" became a shanty. And it just might be an earlier version of that shanty. Here is the book by Whidden:

and here is the page:

Hugill gives this as "John, Come Tell Us As We Haul Away" on pages 287-288/'61, which is in my list above.