The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #23215 Message #3629212
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
30-May-14 - 03:31 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req/Add: Roller Bowler
Subject: RE: req/ADD: Roller Bowler
The game creators had mainly scoured YouTube for chanties, which explains why you get a mix of the most common ones in popular (even fanciful) renditions along with lesser-known items that just one or two people happen to have posted to YT. In this case, Barry Finn's rendition is the likely source of "Roller Bowler."
That's all great, but what irks me is that while looking for chanties the creators evidently had in mind the idea that the chanties selected must be in line with an English culture of the age of piracy. And since chanties don't date from that time period (nor do most, I would argue, originate with that *culture* per se), they come up with a skewed picture—and alter the rest to fit a pre-conceived idea.
Look at "Roller Bowler". See my post earlier in the thread where a relative of the song comes in an 1840s collection of "the greatest Negro songs." Or see the discussions about "dou-dou," related to an Afro-Caribbean slang. etc. And Barry's rendition, indeed, pays homage to African-American songs and their influence in the development of an "American" singing style.
Assassin's Creed replaces the "dou dou". After that, there is nothing that jumps out in the lyrics as suggesting the song is not plausibly English and so, with the proper singing style, it can be imaged as a "pirate" song of the 17th century. It's a subtle thing, and if you take only this one example it will seem i am making a mountain of a molehill. But if you look at all the songs used in Assassin's Creed you'll find that all traces of African-American stuff have been rejected or wiped away. The same was done for clear references to 19th century America.
Now, if the majority of chanties are African-American in their style or rife with language that shows the origin and/or influence of Black song in American popular culture…and include other earmarks of culture after ca.1840s in America… then what's all this British-accented pirate-voice stuff all about?
The point I'm making is not that I would expect the game's creators to do copious research and discover obscure literature on "Roller Bowler" and every other item. It's that these creators, when scouring YouTube and finding these chanties, would have encountered, time and again, aspects that point to American and particularly Black American culture of the 19th century. There's no escaping it. It's known, for instance, that they used some of my own videos as resources, and I harp on this stuff in them just like I'm harping on it now, haha! So it stands to reason that they deliberately ignored it. They whitewashed the chanty repertoire.
That's what bugs me.