The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #34080   Message #3078420
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
20-Jan-11 - 01:09 AM
Thread Name: Origins: Blood Red Roses (what's it mean?)
Subject: RE: Origins: Blood Red Roses (what's it mean?)
Hi Abby

Good point in that Burl Ives' version was not necessarily influenced by the film MOBY DICK -- though it still may have been influenced by Lloyd's renditions in 1954 (i.e. during shooting) or earlier (if he had it in his repertoire around and about). Indeed, I does seem Ives copyrighted "Go Down, You Red, Red Roses" in Nov. 1955, if this link is accurate:

Now, this is all interpretation, but FWIW:

1. Hugill's mystery version and Lloyd's version are, in my opinion, just too similar to be a coincidence. Either Hugill was on the scene contributing that version in the early/mid 50s (an idea that Lighter has put forth) or Hugill himself was influenced by the revival version and put it in his 1961 book. The latter is what I lean towards. If that was the case,

2. Lloyd or Ives are likely to have worked up their versions from another source. My best conjecture is that whoever the person was, he read Doerflinger's book. I think the items, texts, and title spellings from Lloyd and Ives' albums show that one or both used Doerflinger's book as a reference for several of his/their songs. I have not done any close analysis of that. I also believe that the tune of Lloyd's "Blood Red" is appreciably similar to that in Doerflinger.

3. If I had to guess Lloyd or Ives as the originator of a revival version, I'd guess Lloyd. No disrespect to Ives, but it does seem that Lloyd and his cohort were leading the sea music trend. Lloyd's solo verses are nothing like Doerflinger's, however they are all stock chanty lines (e.g. from "Handy, My Boys, So Handy") that he could have fitted as per his aesthetic -- an aesthetic which, I would argue, did not favor the "downhome" minstrel-y American couplets. On the other hand, Ive's text resembles Doerflinger's in keeping "come down"/"bunch of", and the solo lines, while different, have that downhome quality. I would think he certainly read Doerflinger's 1951 book. But why does Ives have "red red"? And why O why in the title is it "go down"? The latter smacks of Lloyd's reinterpretation, and the former seems like a toning down of Lloyd's "blood-red."

My GUESS would be that Ives drew from both Doerflinger's book and Lloyd's live performance activities.

If all my guesswork has not entertained you enough :) then here is an anecdote: I was thinking about this today and suddenly remembered that I had recently overheard someone at a coffeeshop saying that he would occasionally get a call from Burl Ives. Apparently, Ives was a friend of his father; the gent had to explain the significance of Ives to whomever he was talking to. So I got this crazy idea that I'd go back to the coffeeshop and ask this guy if he could arrange a call to Ives. I'd ask Ives where he learned the song from. I entertained the idea for about half an hour before I remembered to check if Ives had died...15 or so years back!