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Origin: John Cherokee

Abby Sale 03 Jun 07 - 01:56 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Jun 07 - 02:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Jun 07 - 02:58 PM
JWB 03 Jun 07 - 03:42 PM
Charley Noble 03 Jun 07 - 04:08 PM
Gulliver 03 Jun 07 - 10:43 PM
Abby Sale 04 Jun 07 - 12:12 PM
Charley Noble 04 Jun 07 - 12:39 PM
Greg B 04 Jun 07 - 03:26 PM
Gibb Sahib 07 Jun 09 - 10:40 AM
Charley Noble 07 Jun 09 - 11:46 AM
Gibb Sahib 07 Jun 09 - 12:00 PM
GUEST,Lighter 07 Jun 09 - 01:05 PM
Marc Bernier 07 Jun 09 - 01:07 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Lighter 07 Jun 09 - 02:44 PM
Gibb Sahib 07 Jun 09 - 03:02 PM
Gibb Sahib 07 Jun 09 - 03:12 PM
Gibb Sahib 08 Jun 09 - 10:30 PM
GUEST,Lighter 09 Jun 09 - 10:08 AM
Charley Noble 09 Jun 09 - 12:28 PM
Gibb Sahib 09 Jun 09 - 06:10 PM
JWB 10 Jun 09 - 01:48 PM
Gibb Sahib 10 Jun 09 - 04:09 PM
GUEST,Lighter 10 Jun 09 - 04:58 PM
Gibb Sahib 10 Jun 09 - 05:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 10 Jun 09 - 05:33 PM
GUEST,Lighter 10 Jun 09 - 05:40 PM
Gibb Sahib 10 Jun 09 - 07:15 PM
Tug the Cox 10 Jun 09 - 08:17 PM
GUEST,Lighter 11 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM
Gibb Sahib 19 Jun 09 - 09:42 PM
Tug the Cox 20 Jun 09 - 06:46 AM
Charley Noble 20 Jun 09 - 10:54 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jun 09 - 12:43 PM
Charley Noble 22 Jun 09 - 07:54 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Jun 09 - 08:10 PM
vectis 23 Jun 09 - 06:44 PM
Charley Noble 23 Jun 09 - 08:46 PM
GUEST,Lighter 23 Jun 09 - 09:11 PM
Gibb Sahib 23 Jul 12 - 05:33 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Feb 13 - 05:11 PM
JWB 16 Apr 13 - 12:04 PM
GUEST,Rev 16 Apr 13 - 04:17 PM
JWB 16 Apr 13 - 09:22 PM
GUEST,Jon Bartlett 16 Apr 13 - 10:18 PM
GUEST,Jon Bartlett 16 Apr 13 - 10:35 PM
Dead Horse 17 Apr 13 - 08:09 AM
Lighter 17 Apr 13 - 10:28 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 13 - 10:41 AM
Marc Bernier 17 Apr 13 - 11:25 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 13 - 04:28 PM
JWB 17 Apr 13 - 09:07 PM
Marc Bernier 18 Apr 13 - 08:46 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 18 Apr 13 - 12:03 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 13 - 02:59 PM
Marc Bernier 18 Apr 13 - 05:44 PM
JWB 18 Apr 13 - 05:44 PM
Lighter 18 Apr 13 - 06:32 PM
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Subject: John Cherokee
From: Abby Sale
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 01:56 PM

Now, here's another song everybody else knows but I've never heard before two days ago - "John Cherokee." A quick search shows a bit of threading but really, very little on the origins.

Happily, I came across a fine rendition to start with: Geoff Kaufman but haven't found any other clips on the web.

This is the not-Colcord version so I haven't found anything in any of my books on the background - not in "Seven" or Doerflinger or Shea - just a bit of nonsense on the web.

This version appears to be as "As sung by Captain Jesse Schaffer" but I don't find anything beyond that.

Well, if any seasongsavants aren't totally occupied with getting up to Mystic (sigh) I'd appreciate anything more on background or clips (even brief) of other takes on it.

Abby

Threads I've found:

(Non -DT verses)

(Runaway slave ballads)

DigTrad version BTW, note that the words in the Play are different from those in the text. It happens.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 02:49 PM

Notes and lyrics from Hugill don't seem to be in Mudcat.
^^
ALABAMA (John Cherokee)

Here is what Hugill (Seven Seas) wrote:
This is a typical work-song dating back to the days of Negro slavery either in the West Indies or the Southern States. Harding said it was in fairly common use among coloured crowds in the old West Indian Traders. He said it was a hauling song, and it certainly has a good rhythm in the refrains for the two short drags, but Captain Robinson, who gives a slightly different version (in "The Bellman," Minneapolis, 1917), states that it was used at the capstan. It probably was introduced to seamen by way of the cotton hoosiers of Mobile." .....
"Captain Robinson's version has a repeat of the third solo and refrain, with "Way-aye-yah" instead of my 'With a hauly high an' a hauley low!' His tale is much the same but Alabama in his song apparently dies on shore:
   So they bury him by the old gate post,
   And the day he died, you can see his ghost."

Lyr. Add: ALABAMA (John Cherokee)

Oh this is the tale of John Cherokee,
Alabama- John Cher'kee!
The Injun man from Miramashee,
Alabama- John Cher'kee!
With a hauley high an' a hauley low!
Alabama- John Cher'kee!

2.
They made him a slave down in Alabam,
   Alabama- John Cher'kee!
He run away every time he can,
   Alabama- John Cher'kee!
With a hauley high an' a hauley low!
   Alabama- John Cher'kee!

3.
They shipped him aboard of a whaling ship,
Agen an' agen he gave 'em the slip,
With a hauley high an' a hauley low!

4.
But they cotched him agen an' they chained him tight,
Kept him in the dark without any light.

5.
They gave him nuttin' for to eat or drink,
All of his bones began to clink.

6.
An' now his ghost is often seen,
Sittin' on the main-truck- all wet and green.

7.
At the break o' dawn he goes below,
That is where de cocks dey crow.

pp. 329-330, with score. Stan Hugill, 1994 printing, "Shanties from the Seven Seas," Mystic Seaport.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 02:58 PM

Hugill's reference for "Alabama."

Robinson, Captain John, "Songs of the Chantey Man", "The Bellman,"
Minneapolis, MN, 14 July-4 August 1917.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: JWB
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 03:42 PM

Abby,

I checked my library, and found this chantey only in Hugill (under the title "Alabama") and in Colcord's "Roll and Go". I thought it might be in Abrahams's "Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore" but, no.

Colcord got her version (which she says was a capstan chantey)from Captain Robinson's collection "The Bellman"; he states that he heard it used in Nassau during the American Civil War, for loading cotton. Colcord thinks it's of West Indian origins.

Hugill apparently got it from his West Indian source, Harding the Barbarian, who says it was a hauling song "in fairly common use among coloured crowds in old West Indian Traders."

A quick look in my CD collection turns up recorded version by Bob Webb on "Bank Trollers" (a different approach to the song, to say the least, accompanied by the banza), and by Forebitter on "American Sea Chanteys" (volume 11 of the Chasse-Maree series).

One of the things I find fascinating about the song is it's connection to Downeast: Miramichi, where John Cherokee hails from, is a bay and eponymous port in the Canadian Maritime province of New Brunswick. That means John Cherokee was more likely a Passamoquoddy or Micmac.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 04:08 PM

Abby-

Roll & Go recorded this one in our first CD OUTWARD BOUND in 2002, with a slightly different chorus that we borrowed from our friends at Castlebay: we end the chorus "Alabama John!"

As folks have already said, it's relatively rare to find in the nautical song collections.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gulliver
Date: 03 Jun 07 - 10:43 PM

The Black brothers (Michael and Seamus, possibly Martin too) recorded this song.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Abby Sale
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 12:12 PM

Thanks Q & everyone. I'm getting old - I looked under "John" but not under "Alabama." Now it's in "Seven." Wasn't there before.

Charley, where do I get yer CD?


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 12:39 PM

Abby-

Happy to comply with your request (and anyone else's). Here's a link to Roll & Go's website where you can order it: Click here for website

Search for the OUTWARD BOUND CD. Of course, ROLLING DOWN TO SAILORTOWN is also quite nice!

If we meet at Mystic, I'm sure to have some stowed away somewhere. Just flash $15 and tell me that "Jack" sent you.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Greg B
Date: 04 Jun 07 - 03:26 PM

Probably the best song for screwing with a super-eager crowd.

Is it ever sung in a community setting where someone doesn't
get out of sequence and belt out a solo WAYYYYYYYYYYYYYY! only
to find that they're the only one singin' and everyone else is
a-grinnin'?

This condition should have an official name:

Perhaps: "John Cherokee's Revenge"


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 10:40 AM

This is an "Origins" type question, but related to Revival origins of this song.

I have only ever heard performances of "John Cherokee" that are based (ultimately) in --it seems-- the Robinson/Colcord text version. They may borrow verses from Hugill, the other known printed source, but they do not follow Hugill's melody.

My question for the old-timers and other wise-people is: Have you heard anyone do a rendition based on Hugill's book?

My more burning question relates to the fact that Stan Hugill recorded the chantey in 1962. One reason it "burns" so is because they recording is there but I don't have access! :)
Now: What was that performance like, and how did it compare to both his own written version and the version (MUSICALLY, not textually) that people now generally perform.

My imagined scenario -- for whatever its worth -- not having heard Hugill's recording (I wonder how many have??) is that at some point post-1960s a particular performer(s) worked up a rendition based off of Colcord, and that pretty much set the standard. Of course, other performers since have gone back to the texts, mixed lyrics, added new ones, and changed the tune slightly in their own respective renditions. Being that the song is so popular and recorded so many times, simply poking around doesn't give a good sense of who might have been the originators of the modern version -- that's where you smarties can help.

The main thing that would put a crimp in that scenario is if the modern version actually is based in Hugill's recording. But again, if that is the case, his own recording would differ greatly from his print form (itself, something to note).

Opinion time. I want to perform "John Cherokee," but I'm somehow unsatisfied with the available aural versions. Please forgive me for saying, but I find most performances of the song to be quite hokey. Not to say I could make it any less so, but I envision something different? To me, the hokey-ness comes largely from the rhythms. It sounds artificailly jazzed up, as if people try to syncopate it whilst imagining its "West Indian" origins. The assumption is that all Caribbean or Black music has some kind of syncopation. Really, just my opinion, but based on listening to a LOT of Caribbean music while also learning many of the chanteys, is that this syncopation is misplaced. It may work for a dance-song, but not so much for a work-song. (Not to say that dance songs were not sometimes adapted as work songs.)

Take as the main example the place where the words "john cherokee" are sung. The modern version corresponds to NEITHER one of the printed versions. (Now you see why I'd need to hear Hugill's recorded version!) Based on the intuition I'm claiming (!), either one of the printed versions is more acceptable. The rhythm of Hugill's print form is quite acceptable -- though I'm aware he often made mistakes (or, his brother did) when notating rhythms. If it comes to it, I could try to elaborate on what I think "makes sense" in rhythm and why.

My main goal...the main point of all this rambling....is to try to create a rendition that does some justice to Hugill's version in SfSS -- a version that, from the looks of it, I find most satisfying. But that whole attempt would be pointless if Hugill's own performed version turned out to be very different, and what he wrote in his book was erroneous, now wouldn't it?

Thoughts? and thanks

Gibb


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 11:46 AM

Good luck!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 12:00 PM

ha ha ha......thanks Charley! I'm gonna need it


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 01:05 PM

Have just listened to Hugill's performance. Great, of course, and just like his book.

The only interesting difference I can hear is that at least some of the choristers are singing "Alabamy" rather than "Alabama."

"Cherokee" makes three syllables. And there's no syncopation.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 01:07 PM

The rhythm of the chorus in Hugill's book is not what he sang. What Stan used to sing is allot more similar to the version Geoff Kauffman sings. While we were working on the recording/book Songs of the Sailor, I made a very conscious effort to transcribe the songs as each individual sang it on the recording. As a result there are more than a few chanty's in that collection that are notated in print for the 1st time the way people actually sing them. John Cherokee is one of those. Although a very popular chanty today, with more than one popular interpretation, what is sang today does not appear to have been in print previously. I don't recall off hand who did the transcriptions for Stan's book, but more often than not what is notated in Shanties of the Seven Seas is not a functional melody.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 02:16 PM

Digression-
Mention of 'Miramashee' is reminiscent of "Donkey Riding," an unrelated Canadian song perhaps derived from a Channel Islands song ("Sus Man J'valet"), and with a very old melody; similar songs ("Hieland Laddie") known in UK and Ireland. Hugill printed several.

'Miramashee' has a good sound to it; I wonder if it got to Mobile and the Caribbean with the Liverpool sailors who specialized in screwing cotton? [Better pay]
Here are two verses and the chorus of one version of "Donkey Riding," with mention of Miramashee:

Was you ever in Mobile Bay
Screwing the cotton all the day
A dollar a day is Paddy's pay
Riding on a donkey.

Chorus
Wey, hey, and away we go
Donkey riding, donkey riding
Wey, hey, and away we go
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever in Miramashee
Where you tie up to a tree
And the girls sit on your knee
Riding on a donkey.

41062: Donkey Riding

JWB (post above) ties "John Cherokee" to the Miramichi area, but this is doubtful (The name Miramichi exists in Ontario, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and latterly Yukon, applied to a river, townsites, bay, etc.).


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 02:44 PM

Fascinating.

I don't know what Stan "used to sing," but in his 1962 recording, long before anybody else had recorded the song, he (or, to be meticulous, the chorus) did/does not employ the syncopation so clearly audible in Geoff's clip, which incidentally is very much worth listening to.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 03:02 PM

Lighter and Marc, thank you very much for your help!

I really like Geoff (and chorus) 's clip. (Sticking to the chorus), that one does have the syncopation that is characteristic of the modern version.

To put it in lightly more technical/musical terms for comparison:

-Revival/modern version has "KEE" of Cherokee coming on 4th beat.
-Robinson/Colcord has KEE on "and" of 3rd beat.
-Hugill's print version has KEE on 3rd beat

Although "syncopation" is a somewhat subjective term, in the way I am using it, the Revival version and Colcord both have syncopation, though with very different emphases, of course. Incidentally, I think these emphases "set up" different types of movement, work, etc.

Hugill's print version, to my mind, is not syncopated -- and I'm reading Lighter's comment about the 1962 recording the same. Marc's statement does seem to reflect something different -- I very much agree with his comment about "more often than not what is notated in Shanties of the Seven Seas is not a functional melody."

It sounds like Stan may have changed his performance style after time (?) I don't think this would be the only case his modifying one of his chanteys (often the Harding ones?) later on.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Jun 09 - 03:12 PM

Q,

I think you're right that a specific connection with Miramichi (however it's spelled) is doubtful. I have assumed it to just be a cliché rhyming word and, as you say, a piece of flotsam in the chanteyman's memory banks from singing such chanteys as "Hieland Laddie"/"Donkey Riding."

Of course from my point of view (i.e. the John Kanaka discussion) I don't feel much need to reconcile the lack of continuity between Cherokee and Miramichi. If I had to propose a scenario --mind you, completely speculative, I'd say that the song came around in the 1830s during the more publicized incidents of Cherokee struggle, by the Alabama hoosiers, and that the Mirimichi line came into it either from the other cotton songs you name, or later on in its life as a chanteyman's cliché.

Gibb


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 08 Jun 09 - 10:30 PM

Well, I gave it a shot to reproduce Hugill's Harding version from his text. I wonder if it sounds anything at all like his recording? Actually, I tried it two diff. ways. The first is the pretty normal "deepwater sailor" way that I'd probably sing. The second is based in my imagination of how a Caribbean singer's version could sound. It's meant as an alternative interpretation to the Caribbean-ish current renditions, which I allege draw on associated features of a different sort of Caribbean music. Feel free to make fun of the accent, which is Jamaican and the only Caribbean accent that I am able to even attempt.

Link to recording, 2 versions


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Jun 09 - 10:08 AM

Gibb, both your renditions are great. The "Jamaican" one is outstanding.

Hugill's delivery is a little more emphatic, but that may be because he was performing for an audience. On the two occasions when I shantied with the chorus on board the _Conrad_ at Mystic (20 years ago) I was impressed with how unlike a "performance" the real thing was.

The point was, first, to keep the capstan smoothly turning. And next, to hoist the yard up. Not even the shantymen, Stan and Tom Lewis, sounded quite as dramatic as on their records: certainly not as loud, since the acoustics of the open air are entirely different than those indoors. When the mate shouted "Belay!" in the middle of a verse of "Ranzo," we belayed.

Obviously a scratch crew of lubbers at a museum isn't quite the same thing as a crew of sailors on a working ship, but *work* was the focus, not musical sorcery. This is one reason that I think most shantymen were more like J. M. Carpenter's: they didn't ornament much because they thought of themselves more as workers than as musical performers. But as I've said before, we'll never know.

Meanwhile, everybody give a listen to Gibb's shanty clips.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 09 Jun 09 - 12:28 PM

Gibb-

You've really done quite well with both renditions.

I look forward to hearing you leading a few shanties this weekend at Mystic at the after evening sessions.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Jun 09 - 06:10 PM

Thanks Lighter and Charley for such kind comments. It was a satisfying experience to learn a bit more about the chantey from Mudcat and then try it out in practice.

Gibb


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: JWB
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 01:48 PM

I just came across a mention of John Cherokee in one of Stan's 'Bosun's Locker' articles (collected in "The Bosun's Locker", published in 2006 -- these were written originally for Spin magazine). Stan is reviewing the paperback edition of Colcord's "Songs of American Sailormen." Here's the paragraph.

"On page 98 Miss Colcord gives Captain Robinson's John Cherokee, and states that 'Eckstrom and Smyth give a fragment of this song, with the refrain Jan Kanaganaga, too-li-aye.' This is of extreme interest to the reviewer, first because I have a rather different version, in tune, of John Cherokee, and, secondly because this is the only reference I have ever seen in print to my collected John Kanaka-maka[sic] tulai-e. As to one being the refrain of the other, this, of course, is just plain rubbish; the two shanties are entirely unrelated, and I learnt both, many years ago, from a wonderful coloured shantyman called Harding the Barbadian, a man steeped in shanty tradition, and a real seaman who would never have been guilty of making two shanties out of one."

An interesting tidbit, given this thread and the one Gibb started on Caribbean chanteys, with its discussion of John Kanaka. Stan claims in "SFSS" that it was John Kanaka's first time in print, and his "my collected…" from above reiterates that.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 04:09 PM

Jerry,

Great reference -- and thanks for quoting in detail. I hate to say it, but it sounds like Hugill was talking B.S. -- He never does indicate whether HE looked at Eckstrom's version, and seems to be only assuming what Colcord meant. When I read Colcord, I only assume there was some ~similarity~ between Cherokee and Kanaka that may cause them to have gotten easily conflated in the days of purely oral tradition.

The university I used to be a member of has a copy of Eckstorm's book showing as on the shelf in the library right now -- too bad I'm several thousand miles away!!

Gibb


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 04:58 PM

Eckstrom & Smyth, p.240:

A Yankee ship and a Yankee mate,
Jan Kanaganaga to-li-aye.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 05:32 PM

Eckstrom & Smyth, p.240:

Yep, that's the only text I could sneak off the restricted link to that pay-site, too :)


Assuming the rest of the line is, "If you stopped to walk you'd change your gait...", then the plot thickens...because that is a line Stan sung in later recordings.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 05:33 PM

p.s. I mean later recording (Mystic Seaport e.g.) of "John Kanaka," not "Cherokee."


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 05:40 PM

Try again:

Eckstorm & Smyth, p. 240:

Too-Lie-Aye.

A negro chantey....

A Yankee ship and a Yankee crew,
Jan Kanaganaga too-lie-aye.

A Yankee ship with a Yankee mate,
Jan Kanaganaga too-lie-aye.

If you stop to walk he'll change your gait.
Jan Kanaganaga too-lie-aye.


Their informant, a Captain Creighton wrote that the song never failed "to bring down the house when sung by a few old salts that know how to get the funny yodel-like notes that were common in the good old times of the 'down-east square-rigger.'"

So maybe Downeast sailors also yodeled more than many others. (Hence the word "Mainiacs.")

E & S's text may be "fragmentary" in its lack of a "grand chorus," but if the lines were "strung out," it would be about the same length as a great many field-collected shanty texts. And it would also start to resemble "John Cherokee" a little.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 07:15 PM

Lighter,

so...Is there a musical notation in E&S? If not (i.e. no tunes to compare) I'd be stumped for how Colcord may have made a connection to "Cherokee"

I'm not so sure about "grand chorus"-- at least in how I use term, neither Cherokee of Kanaka has one. They do both have that extra (3rd) solo -- the way hey / yodel one, i.e.

Cherokee: Hauley high and a hauely low (Hugill) / Way hey ya (Colcord)
Kanaka: Tu lai aye o tu lai

(The modern versions of "Cherokee" have turned this into a grand chorus of sorts, with everyone singing along on "Way hey ya". Incidentally, this creates the type of "error" noted by Greg B up-thread (and heard clearly in Geoff Kaufmann's live recording) whereby an audience, assuming a 4th phrase, belts out the line.)

Anyway, I'm most surprised that the E&S version doesnt include a yodel/way-hey solo.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 10 Jun 09 - 08:17 PM

Great discussion. Gibb. So where did the 'Way hey ya...Ooh' originate, and why don't youbinclude it in your video clips. Cheers, jeff


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 11 Jun 09 - 10:19 AM

Gibb, no tunes in Eckstorm & Smyth. At all.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Jun 09 - 09:42 PM

Just getting back to this thread...

Jeff:

So where did the 'Way hey ya...Ooh' originate, and why don't youbinclude it in your video clips

Not sure of your exact question..."originally" I dunno, but the Colcord/Robinson text has "Way hey ya" (sp?), so I'd imagine the versions are based in that. As for that "Ooh/unh!!," that is definitely some performer's addition that has become popular within the last couple decades, I think. I am listening to Forebitter's version from early 90s (?? - American Sea Chanteys album), and that doesn't have the "unnh!!", but then the recording by the Mystic Seaport's Chanteymen --mainly the same singers-- from 1997 does have it. So I'd guess it came around in the 1990s (??)

The reason I don't have it in my clip is that I'm following Hugill/Harding's version, which instead has "With a hauley high and a hauley low."

Lighter:

Wow. Now I'm more confused about Colcord's comment. Thanks for that info!

********

Hey, well I just recently realized I had a recording that does follow Hugill's version -- it's a Polish-language version by the group Ryczace Dwudziestki. Fascinatingly, part way through the track they switch to the "modern" way of doing it -- as if to acknowledge both.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 06:46 AM

Thanks Gibb. BTW, appreciate your comments on Exmouth Shantymen youtube clips. jeff


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 10:54 AM

Gibb et al-

I'm wondering if it were the Victory Sings at Sea collective in Washington state that first added the grunt, © 1989 Victory Music; the notes with their CD don't clarify their source for the song. Their version included the upbeat syncopated rendition, that greatly influenced the way Roll & Go recorded this song in 2002. Anyone have an earlier source for the grunt?

Sorting out what we've been doing in the last 20 or 30 years, reviving and adapting traditional sea music, seems an interesting question in addition to trying to read the "grog dregs" of what was actually sung in the 19th or early 20th century.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jun 09 - 12:43 PM

It's a wonder someone isn't singing it with the chorus

musha ringum durum da
whack for the daddy o!

(or some such)


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 07:54 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Jun 09 - 08:10 PM

Sorting out what we've been doing in the last 20 or 30 years, reviving and adapting traditional sea music, seems an interesting question in addition to trying to read the "grog dregs" of what was actually sung in the 19th or early 20th century.

Well, I sure think so. I usually try to remind myself, too, that the in period before year 'X' (say, '1900') these songs did not necessarily remain unchanged, but rather people were shaping their trajectories decade by decade, too (even if the media were different).

Charley, great spot with the Victory Sings example.


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: vectis
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 06:44 PM

I know where Tug The Cox is coming from. I usually hear the version with the chorus including

Alabama, John Cherokeee. Way Hey Yah *grunt*


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 08:46 PM

Vectis-

So it seems as if "Alabama, John Cherokeee. Way Hey Yah *grunt*" came from the Seattle folks, Victory Sings at Sea collective, as I've posted above, unless someone can trace it back earlier than 1989.

I suppose we could e-mail Philip or Teressa Morgan and ask them if they have any memory of who did what when.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 23 Jun 09 - 09:11 PM

It seems to me that the earliest song I can recall that was recorded with a similar grunt was "Pay Me My Money Down."

I could be wrong.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Jul 12 - 05:33 AM

Both this grunt business (and the development of grunts over the years) along with syncopation issues reminds me of something that happened at Mystic this last festival. We were participating in one of the halyard demos and the chantyman -- I forget who -- was leading "Essequibo River." I consider the song to be similar is style to "John Cherokee" -- cut from the same cloth -- so it was to my further surprise when the chantyman was singing it with an odd syncopation in it, that I've never heard before. For the second pull of each response, they delayed half a beat on the word "some-". And we were instructed to pull on that "rest", the silent delay before the word "some."

This was weird for me. How does one pull in silence? Do any halyard chanties have a pull on silence? (Not that I've ever seen, and I think I've seen them "all"). So I felt we needed something to pull on, and started filling that space, each time, with a grunt. I felt like I got some looks as if I were trying to be "cute." But I also felt like some people might think I was adding the grunt to give it that "Now we dung sweatin in de Islands, mon" feel that seems to be projected on "John Cherokee" and "Bully in the Alley"...and I felt embarrassed! Almost worried that it would catch on inadvertently! Yet it was one of those moments were you can see how changes might spontaneously get made. Almost like sound shifts in language, really. The Caribbean nature of the chanty (ot rheir own inclination to jazz-up) inspired the chantyman to syncopate, which caused a chain reaction of me needing to grunt!


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 05:11 PM

An arrangement you'll never forget:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-k4pKxaDtH4

Well, nice sound and pretty pictures, anyway....


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: JWB
Date: 16 Apr 13 - 12:04 PM

Lighter, that's a keeper! A great illustration of where a worksong can go when it's off duty.

Gibb, I think that's what happened to Essequibo River that year at Mystic. I've heard that syncopated delay sung often in sessions, and it could be that the chanteyman got to know the song when it was off work and in its civvy clothes.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Rev
Date: 16 Apr 13 - 04:17 PM

I'm glad this thread has come back up, because I missed it the first time around. I have to agree with the theory that the grunt in "John Cherokee" was added by the Pacific Northwest folks, sometime in the late 1980s. When I moved from Mystic to San Francisco in 1990 I was taken aback by the resounding grunts that accompanied my first performance of that song at the Hyde St. chantey sing. We never did the grunt at Mystic in the 1980s, but it was clearly a well established tradition in SF in 1990. When I asked about it I was told that it was the Victory Sings people who introduced it at one of the SF Festivals of the Sea.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: JWB
Date: 16 Apr 13 - 09:22 PM

Well, Dr. Carr, we must treat this as definitive, I'd say. Thanks for the good info.

I've started replacing the grunt -- which now seems universal -- with what Stan called a "hitch": a combination of a yelp and a yodel. According to many sources, hitches were a hallmark of the true chanteyman (not that I'm claiming to be one at all). That half note on "Ya!" in the Colcord 3rd line just cries out for something extra. One can elide into the hitch without disrespecting the timing.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Jon Bartlett
Date: 16 Apr 13 - 10:18 PM

So what's with the story?

"This is the story of John Cherokee/An Indian man from the Mirimichi"; Indians in New Brunswick (where Mirimichi is) are mostly Miqmaq or Maliseet. Cherokees belong more properly in US South east, inc. Alabama
"Made him a slave down in Alabam'" An Indian slave? possible but unlikely?
"starved him many a day and night" this seems unlikely (perhaps more typical of Caribbean slaveowners)
"Dug his grave by the old gatepost" -WHO precisely dug his grave? Not the owners (who starved him to death). "Gatepost" reminds me of the role of the lychgates in parish churchyards and their associations with corpses and burial.
"To this day he can be seen/sittin' on the hatch all wet and green" -the first mention of anything nautical, but why is he wet and green (as if he had been drowned)?

These verses are not merely throw-togethers - there is a definite story line here, but it doesn't (quite) make sense. Any suggestions?

My 2c

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: GUEST,Jon Bartlett
Date: 16 Apr 13 - 10:35 PM

Whoops!
Just remembered "shipped him aboard of a whaling ship", so 'the hatch" is not the first mention of nautical matters. But it raises another point - whaling ships in Mobile?

Jon Bartlett


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Dead Horse
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 08:09 AM

The first thing to remember Jon was that this is not a true account of one mans life. It is a 'put-it-all-together-and-see-what-comes-out' type of song - which is often the case in shanties with a storyline.
Folks of the time (18??) would not have been unfamiliar with tales of coloureds living among native indians.
He was put on board of a 'whaling ship' because 'timber drogher' 'coal barge' 'three skys'l yarder' and 'bluenose schooner' do not fit the rhyme or the meter.
Mirimichi is where his ship happened to be at some time during the story - not where John came from.
Indian slave - why so unlikely? Many slaves were taken in by indian tribes and were retaken by white slavers.
Starved day & night? Merely an indication of bad treatment. To say that he was fed slops and meat that had past its sell-by date and then subjected to taunts and the occasional clip round the ear is hardly the stuff of old norse sagas.
Gatepost rhymes with ghost - its a natural, no?
Sitting on the hatch/main truck, wet & green. Its the stuff of nightmares. The writer is drawing us a ghastly picture to chill our bones.
The verses are thrown together, but in a narative order. Some verses may be added/left out and still the shanty tells the same story, albeit with a different story teller.
Examination of this style of shanty can be taken too far - it is not intended to be taken literally. For a prime example of a song which is clearly based on total rubbish, yet has been passed into common acceptance you need look no further than 'The Lion Sleeps Tonight' where it is stated that the lion sleeps in the jungle, the mighty jungle. Lions do not live in the jungle - they are to be found on the plains.
Wimoweh to you all :-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 10:28 AM

Whoever created the first stanzas was presumably more familiar with Mirimichi than with the Cherokee. But, very significantly, the two words do rhyme.

Persons of mixed black and Indian ancestry were considered black. Possibly the shanty arose while the "Trail of Tears" was still topical.

As Hugill once said at Mystic (concerning "The Indian Maid"), "They were sailors, not bloody ethnologists!"


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 10:41 AM

The issues you bring up, Jon Bartlett, mainly pertain to the lyrics presented by Stan Hugill. The earlier published version (Robinson 1917) is more coherent and realistic.

I'll leave you to speculate why this is so....!


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 11:25 AM

Gibb; as to your "pull on the Rest" during Essequibo River question...
I seem to recall Tim Reilly(Mystic Seaport)being the first person I ever heard doing this. As a matter of fact he invested a considerable amount of time explaining to me how it worked. AS to whether or not he originated it I don't know, but I'v been present on at least 3 occasions when he did it on the Morgan whilst Stan was there, and he got no correction from Stan. And Stan was not bashful about telling someone they're doing it wrong.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 04:28 PM

That's great info about Tim Reilly, Marc! Thanks.

I'm not sure what you're meaning to say, however, about Stan Hugill being there and not saying anything. Does this suggest something to you...is it evidence of something? One can only assume you are suggesting that this style of doing it got tacit "approval" from Hugill (< a seal of quality and/or authenticity??). But that would contradict a lot of other things, so I don't get it.

I also don't know what you mean by Tim "invested a considerable amount of time explaining to me how it worked." Do you mean how to pull to it? How much time would that take? Did he say you should pull during the silence (which is what people were doing)? Why would there be a need to explain—aren't halyard chanties pretty self-explanatory? I can't think of any at the moment that have the crew pulling on a "rest." And is the need to take lots of time to explain it indicative of something...perhaps that it *was* unorthodox? How does this fit in with the "Stan didn't correct it" observation?


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: JWB
Date: 17 Apr 13 - 09:07 PM

The reference to a northeastern area of the continent (Mirimichi/Miramashee) makes me think that a Downeast -- Maine -- or Bluenose -- Nova Scotia -- chanteyman was responsible for that verse, at least. And it does rhyme with "Cherokee".

I wouldn't think too hard about meaning, Jon: there's a good chance the singer from whom the collectors gathered the song spent a long voyage with a particular chanteyman whose version imprinted itself upon his young mind. Chances are that chanteyman was, indeed, no ethnologist but had a keen ear for an entertaining story and solid rhymes.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 18 Apr 13 - 08:46 AM

"considerable amount of time" Have you ever had a conversation with Tim Reilly? It wasn't like it took him hours to explain it to me, but he can take a circuitous route to make a point. When I started working at the Seaport my back ground in 19th century music was primarily through my experience in Fife and Drum. I played marches, and I approached singing chanteys just like I was playing a march. Still do I suppose? So that hesitation in the melody with a pull on the rest felt awkward to me. Later that day while having a beverage, I asked… "What were you doing, where does that come from"? To paraphrase his response," these are African rhythms not European not every action needs to fall on a word; don't you march to syncopated Rhythms?" It didn't feel natural to me those 25-30 years ago, but I guess I'v gotten used to it.

As for Stan's "tacit approval". That's exactly what I interpreted. I've seen Tim do that chantey a few times whilst Stan was on board, with never a raise of an eyebrow. I'v seen Stan stop folks in the middle of their performance to tell them they weren't doing it right, or those aren't the right words. As if there are right words. Maybe he had already had that talk with Tim or maybe he just liked him, but he did not critique his choice of rhythm. I don't recall hearing Stan sing it himself though.

As for John Cherokee, I don't remember ever hearing Stan sing it. But it's been my perception that most Europeans tend to sing the more square rhythm, with the 1st syllable of Cher-o-kee landing on the 2nd beat. While most American tend to sing it with that Syllable starting on the 2nd half of the 2nd beat, or the and of 2. And I would also agree with the other observations that the grunt appears to have started in the Pacific North West.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 18 Apr 13 - 12:03 PM

Shipbuilding started in the Miramichi Bay area in 1773, and continued until steel-hulled ships took over. It was also an inportant shipping point for lumber and salmon. Timber for the British Navy (masts, etc.,) was obtained there.

Many 19th C. seamen would have heard the name.

The modern town of Miramichi was formed from former Newcastle and Chatham. The name in old songs referred to the River and Bay.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 13 - 02:59 PM

Considering that the only source for "Miramichi" is Hugill..whose method of presentation was to give any verses he wanted, including many he obviously composed at the time of writing, it hardly seems like a significant detail. Moreover, Hugill seems to have had certain "pet" subjects that he reiterates, like, say, drinking pisco. Why? Probably because these things were simply of interest to him (and interesting for the reader, I think). I'd guess Miramichi was one.

If his informant, Harding, was the one who sang "Miramichi," that is pretty interesting! But besides the point noted, above, that it is simply a convenient rhyming word: One of the cotton-stowing versions of "Hieland Laddie" documented in 19th c. includes references to both Alabama (Mobile) and Miramichi—perhaps setting a precedent for them to be combined in the song.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Marc Bernier
Date: 18 Apr 13 - 05:44 PM

Interesting! My post of 4 years ago has me remembering Stan singing this, and now I have no recollection of that. I hope this doesn't continue to happen. I'm not smart enough to forget too much.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: JWB
Date: 18 Apr 13 - 05:44 PM

At the risk of thread-creep, I learned a couple of verses to Donkey Riding from Stan's singing, and both are NE North America-related, Mirimichi and Quebec being right around the corner from each other, nautically:

Was ye ever in Quebec, launching timber on the deck, where you break your bleeding neck, riding on a donkey?

Was ye ever in Mirimichi, where ye ties up to a tree, and the skeeters do bite we, riding...?

So Stan did seem to have a proclivity for the word/place.


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Subject: RE: Origin: John Cherokee
From: Lighter
Date: 18 Apr 13 - 06:32 PM

You mean he never sang the "unprintable" words to that one?

Disappointing.


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