The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #128220   Message #3102377
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
24-Feb-11 - 11:52 PM
Thread Name: The Advent and Development of Chanties
Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
1917        Robinson, Captain John. "Songs of the Chanty-Man: II." _The Bellman_ 23(575) (21 July 1917): 66-72.

In this section Robinson states that he was a "half-century at sea." He retired circa 1909. The following additional details by Lighter have been lifted from elsewhere on the 'Cat:

Robinson, an Englishman, went to sea in 1859 at the age of 14. He was over 80 when his five-part article appeared in "The Bellman." Robinson writes that he learned a number of shanties on his first voyage, aboard the brigantine "Emily" to Catania in Sicily. His prime source was an old seaman named Will Halpin, "who had sailed the seas for sixty years, to all parts of the known globe." Halpin had sailed "on the Australian sailing ships during the gold rush, and again during the California rush....[H]e never missed an opportunity to sing his chanties."

Unfortunately Robinson doesn't say precisely which shanties he learned from Halpin.


In this section, Robinson takes a universalist approach in his speculations about chanty origins. He says that Henry V build ships in 1414 and there may have been chanties. He randomly notes The Soveriegn of the Seas, built in 1637, and wonders whether one of Shakespeare's song was sung aboard her. He is planting an idea that was not there in the comments of much earlier writers.

On tunes:
//
In some cases I recall two or more entirely different airs which were used for the same song, and I have given some of these variant versions of the music. More often, the music remained pretty much unchanged—so far as the particular chanty-man was able to sing it,—while the words underwent all sorts of variations.
//

SACRAMENTO:
//
Sacramento [w/ score]

A bully ship and a bully crew,
With a Hooda, and a Dooda!
A bully mate, and a captain, too,
With a Hooda Dooda Day!
Then Blow, my lads, Heigh Ho!
For California Ho!
There's plenty of gold, as I've been told,
On the banks of Sacramento.
//

SHENANDOAH:
//
Shenandoah! [w/score]

Shenandoah! I long to hear you—
Hurrah! you rolling river.
Oh, Shenandoah! I long to hear you—
And hurrah! we're bound away!
On the wide Missouri!

Shenandoah is an American chanty. Additional verses are:
"I love the murmuring of your waters,
I love the beauty of your daughters.

"Seven long years since I lost Dinah;
I've searched seven years. I cannot find her.

"'Twas down in Shenandoah's sweet valley 

Where first I met and courted Sally.

"To Shenandoah I am returning.

My heart for thee is ever burning.

"When wide Missouri's call is over, 

I will go back and stay forever."
//

BLACKBALL LINE. Funny that halliards are not mentioned for its use:
//
I served my time in the Blackball line.
To my way…Hurrah yah!
In the Blackball line I served my time;
Hurrah! for the Blackball line.

The "Blackball Line" was a great favorite among the sailors and very well known. It was used on the windlass or capstan. Here are some additional verses:
"I've crossed the line full many a time, 

And have seen the line both rise and shine.

"You will surely find a rich gold mine, 

Just take a trip in the Blackball Line.

"The ships are fast, they make good time. 

With clean long runs and entrance fine.

"I've sailed the seas full many a mile
In wintry cold and sultry clime.

"A few more pulls, and that will do.
A few more pulls to pull her through."
//

CHEERLY:
//
One of the earliest chanties in my memory is "Catting the Anchor,"…A few verses of this old and popular melody were sufficient to bring the anchor to the cathead….

Catting the Anchor. [w/ score]

Pull one and all.
Hoy, Hoy, Cheery men!
On this cat fall!
Hoy! Hoy! Cheery men!
Answer the call!
Hoy, Hoy! Cheery men!
[still chorus:] Hoy, Haulee, Hoy! Hoy! Cheery men!

Verses besides the one given with the music are:

"To the cathead
We'll raise the dead,
As we have said.

"Now once again,
With might and main
Pay out more chain.

"Ring stopper bring,
Pass through the ring,
Still haul and sing.

"'Vast there, avast!
Make the fall fast,
Make it well fast."
//
I recall the last verse from learning Hugill's "Cheer'ly," and remembering how it was hard to fit in meter. I guess he tacked it on to the end.

This is perhaps different from other versions in that the "hoy hoy" begins the chorus. Other notations indicate that the chorus starts on "cheerly."

The meter of the "Cheer'ly" verses reminds us how distinct it was from presumably later songs/chanties. It really was in its own class.

SALLY BROWN. "First Setting":
//
Sally Brown. [w/score]

Sally Brown's a bright-eyed beauty.
Way… roll and go.
Oh Sally is sweet and pretty.
I'll spend my money on Sally Brown.
//

"Second Setting." This corresponds to what RC Adams had mentioned as a stevedore chanty and what Hugill also collected, WALKALONG SALLY. The tune is memorable for its resemblance to "Shenandoah."
//
Sally Brown's a bright Mulatto,
Way, yah!
Oh Sally Brown's a bright Mulatto--
Oh walk along, you Sally Brown.
//

REUBEN RANZO:
//
It was a very good hoisting song. The words were repeated by the chanty-man in order to spin out the song long enough for its purpose:…

Reuben Ranso. [w/ score]

Oh! poor Reuben Ranso,
        Ranso, boys, Ranso!
Oh, poor Reuben Ranso;
        Ranso, boys, Ranso!

"Oh, poor Reuben Ranso,
Ranso was no sailor.
He shipped on board a whaler,
He could not do his duty.
They took him to the gangway,
And gave him five and forty.
//


DEAD HORSE:
//
…a good hoisting chanty; after the four verses were sung, the chanty-man would improvise until the work was finished:…

Poor Old Man. [w/ score]

As I was walking down the street,
And they say so and they hope so,
A poor old man I chanced to meet,
Oh poor old man.

"The old man heaved a mighty sigh
When I told him that his horse would die.

"If he dies it will be my loss,
But if he lives, he is still my hoss.

"If he dies, I shall have his skin,
But if he lives, I can ride him again."
//

RIO GRANDE
//
The anchor is up and we're sailing away,
Way you Rio
And the wind it is fair to sail out of the bay.
for we're bound for the Rio Grande!
        And away you Rio! Oh! you Rio!
        Then fare you well, my bonny young girl,
        for we're bound for the Rio Grande!
//

BOTTLE O
//
Sailors Like the Bottle o'! [w/ score]

When you get to Baltimore,
Give my love to Suzanna, my dear.
[solo still] So early in the morning.
Sailors like the bottle o'.
[cho.] Bottle o'! Bottle o'!
Bottle of very good Brandy o.
So early in the morning.
Sailors like the bottle o'!
//

//
Haul away, Joe! [w/ score]

Once I had a yellow girl,
She grew fat and lazy.
Way, Haul away.
Haul away Joe!
//

//
"Hanging Johnny." [w/score]

They call me Hanging Johnny
Oh! way aye
They say I hang for money
Oh! Hang, Boys hang!
//

//
Highland Laddie. [w/ score]

Where have you been all the day?
Bonny laddie! Highland laddie!
Where have you been all the day?
My bonny Highland laddie!
Oh! Oh! my heart is sair,
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie!
Oh! Oh! my heart is sair,
My bonny Highland laddie!
//