The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #3100770
Posted By: GUEST,Lighter
22-Feb-11 - 08:39 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
In 1922-23, Robert W. Gordon recorded a number of shanties and forebitters from retired sailors in the San Francisco Bay area. His understanding was that all the singers had formed their repertoires before 1880. That makes the list of titles all the more interesting: they must be fairly representative the American shanty and sea song repertoire in the last quarter of the 19th Century. Most of the canonical favorites are here (though two collected versions of the rarely reported "London Julie" come as a surprise).

The American Folklife Center at the Library of Congress transferred the wax cylinders to tape in the 1970s.

I've indicated the number of variant texts when there are more than one.


Banks of the Sacramento (2)
The Black Ball Line
Blow, Boys, Blow
Blow the Man Down (3)
Boney (2)
Do My Johnny Boker
Drunken Sailor
Fire Down Below
Hanging Johnny (2)
Haul Away the Bowline (2)
Haul Away, Joe (3)
Haul the Woodpile Down
Homeward Bound ("Goodbye, Fare You Well") (2)
Leave Her, Johnny (3)
London Julie (2)
A Long Time Ago (3)
The Maid of Amsterdam (4)
Old Horse
Paddy Doyle
Paddy Get Back
Poor Paddy Works on the Railway
Randy, Me Boys ("Handy, Me Boys")
Reuben Ranzo (2)
Rio Grande (3)
Rolling Home
Roll the Cotton Down (2)
Roll the Old Chariot Along
Sally Brown (4)
Santy Anna (2)
Shallow Brown
South Australia
We're All Bound to Go ("Heave Away, My Johnnies") (3)
Whisky, Johnny (2)


According to the Act
The Banks of Newfoundland
The Cumberland's Crew
The Dark-Eyed Sailor
The Dreadnought
The Dying Shellback ("The Sailor Cut Down in His Prime")
A Fast-Going Clipper ("Cruising Round Yarmouth")
The Flash Frigate
Go to Sea Once More
The Lowlands Low
The Sailor's Alphabet
Ten Thousand Miles Away
The Whale ("Greenland Whale Fishery")

Like Carpenter's and Colcord's, few of Gordon's shanties consist of more than three stanzas. Most of the verses are either familiar or pedestrian. None, I'd say, sound "literary."

My sincere thanks to Judith Gray of the American Folklife Center, who kindly supplied the complete list of titles.