The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #34   Message #4194383
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
28-Dec-23 - 05:51 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
Wow, thanks for that info, Bob!

The only reason this came to my attention (off topic) was that I was trying to get a sense of what might actually be known about (another song, another thread) "Donkey Riding."

Interestingly, Gerald Doyle's book's second edition had the song "A Great Big Sea Hove In Long Beach." That brought to mind the Canadian Maritimes 1990s folky-rocky music outfit Great Big Sea (led by Newfie Alan Doyle... I dare not guess how many Doyles there are in the Newfoundland phonebook).

I always took Great Big Sea to be a pretty direct product of the "everyone knows [certain] songs," in part due to these books—especially noting their take on maritime music as (ahem) *Maritimes* music... being rather deliberate in making sure their material stayed focused on Canadian stuff. At least that is my hasty allegation, with the model for that idea being especially "Donkey Riding," the Canadian schoolhouse classic and sometimes chanty (though the extent to which it was really known and sung "as a chanty" is the question I was trying to answer for myself).

I thought Great Big Sea rather studiously avoided certain common verses that overlap with its sibling "Highland Laddie"; if I can *pretend* to speak for most modern chanty singers, "Donkey Riding" and "Highland Laddie" are thought of as basically interchangeable songs. With that in mind, avoidance of very typical chanty couplets about Mobile Bay (stowing cotton), New York, etc. would seem almost to erase the US-American part of the picture in favor of Canadian and colonial tropes (Quebec, Miramachi, London). Perhaps more likely, that process had already been executed in the Canadian collections that were the band's source/heritage before they ever got to it. I read that Peacock was bothered that Doyle (in his opinion) painted a picture of Newfie songs as rather too concentratedly about local stuff... It seems true, at least, that a rather large number of G. Doyle's are parodies of "Banks of Newfoundland" (or "Van Dieman's Land") or else are ballads that could be spliced to the same melody.

I still am inclined to think that "chanty" has been acquired in [insert qualification here] Canadian circles as rather Canadian and ~Commonwealth to the exclusion of US-American emphases/influences that might taint that picture were they introduced. As in, What could those people in the US South—god forbid, in Alabama—possibly know about chanties?