The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #135160   Message #3081009
Posted By: Lighter
23-Jan-11 - 06:19 PM
Thread Name: A Little-Known Shanty Collection
Subject: RE: A Little-Known Shanty Collection
I wouldn't read too much into "Words by..." in Harlow. Literally it would mean that Buryeson was the author - and well he may have been. But Harlow's ms was apparently unfinished at his death in 1952, so the phtase may simply mean that this was Buryeson's version. B. gives no indication that he may have been behind "Maid of Amsterdam" or any of his other texts. If he did compose "MOA", he presumably did so at sea. And it would be just as plausible for someone else to have done so.

Either way, B's version is both unique and pretty much "folk" by definition.(How "trad" it was is another story: obviously not very or we'd have seen some or all of it elsewhere. And perhaps B told H at some point that he was the lyricist.)

Harlow places "MOA" in the middle of his Akbar shanties, after his expurgated version of the words shantyman Brooks presumably sang in 1876. But it comes after a paragraph observing "A-Roving's" resemblance to the song in Heywood, and he's careful to attribute the words to B. He does not suggest in any way that he heard B's words on Akbar.

Something similar goes for B's "Heave Away, Lads." H. simply says that there were various sets of words to the tune, then prints B's with due credit. (The fact that he says "As sung by" rather than something else is another hint that Harlow may have known B personally.)

Most of "Stormalong John II" is from Buryeson. B's words begin with stz. 4 and go to the end. Interestingly, the words are not all identical. B calls the song a "windlass" shanty, while H has it for halliards. Also, H's choruses are not B's! As before, H prints this version as an alternative, not as one he heard in 1876. I wonder if H heard B sing this one too, to a different pattern than indicated by the 1909 article.

Only two lines of "Johnny Bowker" are from Buryeson: "Our arms are sore and aching" and "Our hearts are near to breaking." (B gives "nigh to breaking.")

So, except for these two lines, H. never mixes up his 1876 shanties with B's.

One wonders if H might have met B long before 1909....

Steve, "Dreadnought" coming up.