The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #4257   Message #4135619
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
06-Feb-22 - 06:28 PM
Thread Name: Origin: Shenandoah
Subject: RE: Origin: Shenandoah

"The author, Captain Robert Chamblet Adams, indicated that he had first heard the song around 1850."

Please tell me where you're getting this from.

Yes, I know these sources. Now you seem just be to copying over Lighter's post from another thread (?)

I'm asking what the value is of Alfred Mason Williams. An editor popped that into Wikipedia. In fact, we can see that it was a Wiki user called "LeadSongDog" on 3 March 2010. It's probable that that editor just wanted to stick in a (random) source that mentioned "Shenandoah." There are countless people who just add "content" to Wikipedia without much/any consideration for the coherence of an article. The Wiki does not account for the MANY sources mentioning "Shenandoah," their relative quality, or their relevance for inclusion against others. To duplicate it only sows confusion.

Williams' book is 19th-century copy-paste without analysis or understanding. I'd guess Williams read something like Adams' text, thought he could say something about "folk-song" (a *very* new concept at the time), but had little comprehension of what he was reading. Adams earlier exemplifies short hauls, e.g. for tacks and sheets, which I suppose one could call "bowline chants." But then he shifts to halyard songs, including "Shenandoah" there. If my guess is right, Williams misread how Adams had categorized the song, i.e. he thought "Shenandoah" was a "bowline chant." Yet, misreading aside, if Williams had any sense of chanties he should have been able to see how "bowline chant" makes no sense, and would not have called it a "good specimen." Even if we're as generous as possible about Williams' knowledge, and pretend he gained some firsthand understanding of "Shenandoah," he should have said it was *odd* that he received the info that it was a "bowline chant," and/or presented a different song altogether as a *representative* example of a "bowline chant."

Adams' *exceptional* attribution of "Shenandoah" to halyard work is something that deserves some discussion.