The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #2894258
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
25-Apr-10 - 07:14 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Adams, cont.

Where Tommy actually proceeded to when he went "a high low" nobody knows, but the fact is related with continual gusto nevertheless: —


My Tommy's gone and I'll go too;
    Hurrah, you high low.
For without Tommy I can't do.
    My Tommy's gone a high low.
My Tommy's gone on the Eastern Shore,

My Tommy's gone to Baltimore,

A person who knows a little of geography can send Tommy around the world according to his own discretion.

The emphases/pulls are missing in the original.
Our recent discussion of "Hilo" underscores that that phrase was *probably* not a place to go to (cf. speculations about Peru, Hawai'i). Whether it originally meant something is unknown, but it did come to be a common nonsense-syllable (?) chorus in slave songs. This may be another case of lost-in-translation. The "going places" theme of the lyrics influenced the later process of making the chorus a propositional statement, "Tommy's gone to 'Hilo'."