The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152346   Message #4055672
Posted By: Lighter
28-May-20 - 02:12 PM
Thread Name: 'Obscenity' in Chanties/Shanties
Subject: RE: 'Obscenity' in Chanties/Shanties
Sir Richard Runciman Terry, "Sailor Shanties," Music and Letters II, 1920, p. 267. Though some chanteys (like "Boney "and "Reuben Ranzo") had various stereotyped verses, Terry's first sentence is largely correct:

"Each shanty had one or two stereotyped verses, after which the shantyman extemporised on any topics he chose. There was no need for any connection or relevancy between one verse and another, nor were rhymes required. The main thing that mattered was that the rhythm should be preserved, and that the words should be such as would keep the workers merry. Great license was taken in this respect, and the intimacy of the shantyman's topics was such as to make his extemporised verses unprintable. As Capt. Whall says—no seaman in a cargo-carrying ship ever heard a “decent* shanty, and in passenger vessels the shantyman was given the option of “decent words or no shanty.” He mentions the notorious “Hog's-eye man’’ (to which I refer later) as a case in point. It is curious that some of the loveliest melodies were those to which the lewdest kind of words were usually fitted."