The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2847767
Posted By: Charley Noble
23-Feb-10 - 12:15 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
John-

Lord knows I have enough C. Fox Smith books within arm's reach to keep this room warm for the rest of the winter!

The relevant quote you ask for from Smith, A BOOK OF SHANTIES, p. 8:

"Everywhere one goes nowadays (1927) one hears shanties -- or, as it appears to be, for some inexplicable reason, customary to call them 'sea shanties.' I have yet to hear a land shanty; and as for the air shanty, it is still on the knees of the gods, and like, 'pace' Mr. Kipling in 'With the Night Mail,' to remain there."

What is more curious to me is why in Smith's discussion of the origin of the term shanty/chantie she adamantly ignores the Gulf Coast stevedore experience. It's even more curious because one of the shanties she collected was "Roll the Cotton Down" and she certainly knew what port it was associated with. The answer, sadly, may have more to do with her ardent dismissal of what she described as "negro" or "nigger" origin theories for shanties. With the exception of some individual Black sailors that she personally knew and respected, Smith's attitude toward Blacks in general was thoroughly racist. Her attitude about Asians was the same.

Charley Noble