The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #125922 Message #2849006
Posted By: Tradsinger
24-Feb-10 - 02:37 PM
Thread Name: pretty polly - Cruel Ship's Carpenter?
Subject: RE: pretty polly - Cruel Ship's Carpenter?
I have collected The Cruel Ship' Carpenter from 2 local travellers (gypsies) both of whom are no longer with us. Their versions can be heard on the recordings of the Smith and Brazil families, issued by Musical Traditions. When Danny Brazil sang me his version, he annoucned that he was going to sing "The Seamen Song". I thought this was going to be a bit of English erotica until he started "Our Captain wanted seamen to sail on the sea." All was explained (think about it).
Most English versions go on to the supernatural bit where Polly's ghost kills Willy in revenge for his killing of her and her baby, but most American versions I have heard stop short after he buries the body. I think the English versions have that spooky quality which is missing in the American versions. Mind you, to hear Pretty Polly sung by a good banjo player can be riveting. I have on occasions done the 2 songs together, going from the unaccompanied English version into the American version, with banjo. Of the American versions I have heard, I like Dock Boggs' best, mainly because he sang it in a key I can sing in!