The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #140533   Message #3231992
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
30-Sep-11 - 09:18 PM
Thread Name: New evidence for 'shanty' origins?
Subject: RE: New evidence for 'shanty' origins?
Here's a 19th century reference to lumbermen's songs as "shanty song" -- but not a work song of course. The purpose for my posting is just to show an instance of the lumbermen's ballads referred to by that phrase, "shanty song."

1893. Hill, Arthur. "Life in a Logging Camp." Scribner's 8(6) (June 1893).

Referring to a logging camp in Michigan.

When evening comes, ranged along these seats, and lounging, if over-weary, in the bunks, the crew becomes, in fact, a social club. Then jokes and sometimes gibes go round, and tales, often curiously like those of Canterbury. Cards are sometimes played, though in most camps prohibited. And if there is a fiddler in the camp there is sure to be a jig-dancer, and there is the boisterous "Stag Quadrille" and the spirited "French Four."

But surer than all these is a song— the shanty song—whether comic, heroic, or sentimental—to win the crew's attention and applause. As with all uncultivated men, they exhibit in taste and feeling natural and wholesome tendencies. Like boys, they are not schooled to restraint of feelings nor jaded with sensational fads. It is from the gallery always that virtue triumphant is heartily cheered, be it ever so awkward, and from box and parquette that vice, if artistic and "natural," gets kid-glove applause. And so with these shanty songs, the rules of music and of metre are as nothing to the sentiment they carry, and the voice of the singer to please must come not from an educated thorax, but from the heart. Honest love, and words which tell of toil and trials and adventure, make the chief burden of their verses. Here is a characteristic song,

The one that loved the farmer's son, these words I heard her say,
The reason why I love him is at home with me he'll stay;
He'll stay at home all winter, to the woods he will not go,
And when the springtime comes again, his lands he'll plow and sow.... [etc.]