The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #2892815
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
23-Apr-10 - 11:53 AM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties

Their songs are usually wild and indescribable, seeming to be mere snatches of song rather than any long continuous effort, but with an often recurring chorus, in which all join with a depth and clearness of lungs truly wonderful.

OK, this description is now typical. But if shanties were by then well known...and if shanties share some of the qualities just described...I wonder why these songs of African-Americans are still being described in such terms of otherness. It may just be that landsmen weren't familiar with chanties, either.

the wildest and most striking negro song we think we ever listened to, we heard while on board an Alabama river steamboat. We were steaming up from Mobile on a lovely day in the early winter, and came in sight of Montgomery...

The connection from inland, down to Mobile Bay.

As we began to near the wharf, the negro boatmen collected in a squad on the bow of the boat, and one dusky fellow, twirling his wool hat above his head, took the lead in singing, improvising as he sang, all except the chorus, in which the whole crew joined with enthusiasm.

I'm intrigued by this sort of parting song/singing that happens each time.