The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #49340   Message #744498
Posted By: Joe Offer
08-Jul-02 - 02:47 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Req: Red Iron Ore / Derry down, down
Subject: ZDTStudy: Red Iron Ore / Derry down, down
There doesn't seem to be a lot of information on this song, so maybe we can make this thread into an unedited DTStudy. I'll post the DT lyrics and the Traditional Ballad Index entry. Are there alternate versions of the lyrics or tune, or related songs?

-Joe Offer-


Come all you bold sailors that follow the Lakes
On an iron ore vessel your living to make.
I shipped in Chicago, bid adieu to the shore,
Bound away to Escanaba for red iron ore.
Derry down, down, down derry down.

In the month of September, the seventeenth day,
Two dollars and a quarter is all they would pay,
And on Monday morning the Bridgeport did take
The E. C. Roberts out in the Lake.
Derry down, down, down derry down.

The wind from the southard sprang up a fresh breeze,
And away through Lake Michigan the Roberts did sneeze
Down through Lake Michigan the Roberts did roar,
And on Friday morning we passed through death's door.
   Derry down, down, down derry down.

This packet she showled across the mouth of Green Bay,
And before her cutwater she dashed the white spray,
We rounded the snad point, and anchor let go,
We furled in our canvas and the watch went below
   Derry down, down, down derry down.

Next morning we have alongside the Exile
And soon was made fast to an iron ore pile,
They lowered their chutes and like thunder did roar,
They spouted into us that red iron ore.
   Derry down, down, down derry down.

Some sailors took shovels while others got spades,
And some took wheelbarrows, each man to his trade.
We looked like red devils, our fingers got sore.
We cursed Escanaba and that damned iron ore.
   Derry down, down, down derry down.

The tug Escanaba she towed out the Minch
The Roberts she thought she had left in a pinch
And as she passed by us she bid us good-bye
Saying, "We'll meet you in Cleveland next Fourth of July."
Derry down, down, down derry down.

Through Louse Island it blew a fresh breeze,
We made the Foxes, the Beavers, the Skillageles;
We flew by the Minch for to show her the way
And she ne'er hove in sight till we were off Thunder Bay.
Derry down, down, down derry down.

Across Saginaw Bay the Roberts did ride
With the dark and deep water rolling over her side.
And now for Port Huron the Roberts must go,
Where the tug Kate Williams she took us in tow,
   Derry down, down, down derry down.

We went through North Passage---O Lord, how it blew!
And all 'round the Dummy a large fleet there came too
The night being dark, Old Nick it would scare
We hove up next morning and for Cleveland did steer.
Derry down, down, down derry down.

Now the Roberts is in Cleveland, made fast stem and stern
And over the bottle we'll spin a big yarn.
But Captain Harvey Shannon had ought to stand treat
For getting into Cleveland ahead of the fleet.
   Derry down down, down derry down.

Now my song it is ended, I hope you won't laugh.
Our dunnage is packed and all hands are paid off.
Here's a health to the Roberts, she's staunch, strong and true,
Nor forgotten the bold boys that comprise her crew.
Derry down, down, down derry down.

from Folk Songs Out of Wisconsin, Peters
DT #612
Laws D9
@sailor @lake @work
filename[ REDIRON
Tune file : DERRYDWN

Sung by M. C. Dean, Virginia , Minneso
used the same tune and refrain as is oft@
Bulls. Death's Door is the treacherous @
of Door County and Washington Isl:
justifiably) feared by Great Lakes
nineteenth century.

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Red Iron Ore [Laws D9]

DESCRIPTION: A sailor tells of a trip he took on the E.C. Roberts. They set out from Escanaba with a load of ore, and at last wind up in Cleveland. Life aboard an ore boat was not pleasant, but the sailor is proud of the good time the ship made
AUTHOR: unknown
KEYWORDS: ship travel
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Laws D9, "Red Iron Ore"
Sandburg, pp. 176-178, "Red Iron Ore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 477-479, "Red Iron Ore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FSNA 63, "Red Iron Ore" (1 text, 1 tune)
Darling-NAS, pp. 183-184, "Red Iron Ore" (1 text)
Silber-FSWB, p. 95, "Red Iron Ore" (1 text)

Art Thieme, "Red Iron Ore" (on Thieme02) (on Thieme06)
cf. "Iron Ore by 'Fifty-Four" (tune)
File: LD09

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In The Folk Songs of North America, Alan Lomax uses an edited version of the rickaby text, taken from Rickaby's Ballads and Songs of the Shanty Boy. The Lomax book refers to "Old Louise Island," instead of "Louse Island."
I have marked the parts of the DT text that I have questions about - it seems to be an exact transcription of Folk Songs Out of Wisconsin except for one incorrect spelling of "Cleveland."
The text from Carl Sandburg's American Songbag (1927) is the same as the Rickaby text - as far as I can tell, Sandburg does not identify his sources. There are a few notable differences in the Sandburg text, and they make more sense than what we have in the DT-Rickaby text. In verse 4, Sandburg has "the wind howled" (instead of "showled") and "rounded the sand point (nstead of "snad"). Verse 5 has "next morning we hove (instead of "have").