The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220 Message #2894671
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
26-Apr-10 - 12:47 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
CHAMBERS'S JOURNAL 1869, cont.
The above is what we call a hauling shanty. Shanties are of two kinds—those sung at the capstan, and those sung when hauling on a rope: in the former, the metre is longer, and they are generally of a more pathetic nature. To those who have heard it, as the men run round the capstan, bringing up the anchor from the English mud, of a ship outward bound for a two years trip, perhaps never to return, what can be more sad or touching, although sung with a good-will:
To the Liverpool docks we'll bid adieu;
To Suke, and Sall, and Polly too;
The anchor's weighed, the sail's unfurled;
We are bound to cross the watery world.
Hurrah! we 're outward bound ! Hurrah !
we 're outward bound !
OK, so this is actually OUTWARD AND HOMEWARD BOUND. It seems to have been fudged as "Goodbye fare you well" in the 1868 ONCE A WEEK article. Or was it?--most of the 1868 version does scan as "Goodbye Fare You Well." This shanty (Outward and Homeward) was also in the 1858 OBERLIN STUDENT'S MONTHLY article, though with a different verse. But the punctuation in the chorus is the same. It is subtle, and my argument is not very strong, but I believe these discrepancies lend evidence to the case that the author(s) of both 1868 and 1869 were not first-hand knowledgeable.
More stirring is the following :
Steer, boys, steer, for California O;
There's plenty of gold in the land, I 'm told,
On the banks of the Sacramento.
There is an air of romance about California, the Brazils, and Mexico, that has a peculiar charm for Jack; and he has made them the subject of many a favourite shanty, as Rio Grande, Valparaiso, Round the Horn, and Santa Anna. Rio Grande is perhaps the greatest favourite of this description of songs, but all the beauty lies in the mournful air:
To Rio Grande we 're bound away, away to Rio;
Then fare you well, my pretty young girls;
We're bound to the Rio Grande. …
…There are many more capstan shanties, which I can only mention by name, such as Oceanida, Johnny 's Gone, The Black Ball Line, and Slapandergosheka. The last mentioned, with the incomprehensible title (repeated at the end of every line), is addressed to 'All you ladies now on land,' and may seem rather egotistical; it commences—
Have you got, lady, a daughter so fine,
That is fit for a sailor that has crossed the line ?
The preceding is repeated from his (?) 1868 article. But why change Sacramento from "Blow" to "Steer"? Perhaps he thought his readers would not understand "blow"?
I remember once hearing a good shanty on board a Glasgow boat; something like the following was the chorus :
Highland day, and off she goes,
Off she goes with a flying fore-topsail;
Highland day, and off she goes.
It was one of the most spirited things imaginable, when well sung; and when'applied to the topsail halliards, brought the yards up in grand style.
That was also stolen from ATLANTIC MONTHLY, 1858. The "Glasgow boat" is made-up B.S.—probably inspired by the word "Highland"—unless s/he wrote that old article and is now adding more detail.