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Origins: Sloop John B.

DigiTrad:
THE WRECK OF THE JOHN B


Related threads:
(origins) Origin: Sloop John B (127)
Lyr Req: Sloop John A ? (2)


c mac 27 Feb 99 - 10:14 PM
Lonesome EJ 27 Feb 99 - 10:24 PM
Bruce O. 28 Feb 99 - 06:11 PM
cmac 28 Feb 99 - 07:14 PM
GUEST,SloopJohnB 26 Jul 01 - 09:56 PM
freightdawg 11 Oct 07 - 10:52 PM
EBarnacle 11 Oct 07 - 11:06 PM
Peace 11 Oct 07 - 11:11 PM
Peace 11 Oct 07 - 11:25 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Oct 07 - 11:28 PM
Barry Finn 11 Oct 07 - 11:56 PM
artbrooks 12 Oct 07 - 08:25 AM
kendall 12 Oct 07 - 08:30 AM
kendall 12 Oct 07 - 08:33 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Oct 07 - 01:45 PM
GUEST,TJ in San Diego 12 Oct 07 - 01:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Oct 07 - 02:40 PM
kendall 12 Oct 07 - 04:15 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Oct 07 - 04:27 PM
Peace 12 Oct 07 - 04:31 PM
Big Jim from Jackson 12 Oct 07 - 07:48 PM
GUEST,Tuco 30 May 13 - 10:35 AM
GUEST,leeneia 30 May 13 - 11:28 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 May 13 - 12:57 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Jun 18 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Jun 18 - 05:51 PM
radriano 13 Jun 18 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 13 Jun 18 - 09:04 PM
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Subject: RE: Want words to
From: c mac
Date: 27 Feb 99 - 10:14 PM

Help! My family has a name that tune over the internet and I can't imagine what this one is. This is all I have to go on: "The poor cook he got the fits and threw away all my grits and then he took and he ate up all of my corn. Why don't they let me go home, Why don't they let me go home, This is the worst trip I've ever been on..." Thank a whole bunch!!


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Subject: RE: Want words to
From: Lonesome EJ
Date: 27 Feb 99 - 10:24 PM

Cmac...it's "Sloop John B". The Beach Boys recorded it (really) but I don't know it's history...LEJ


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Subject: Sloop John B - info
From: Bruce O.
Date: 28 Feb 99 - 06:11 PM

c mac

"The John B. Sails" or "The Sloop John B." has been collected in slightly different versions at least 3 times in the West Indies. The earliest copy is one that I don't know has been printed. It's in Vol. 8, #1887, in the Gordon manuscripts in the Library of Congress Folklore Archive. It was 'Sung by Negros of Bahama Island 1916-1919'. The next is "The John B. Sails" in Sandburg's 'The American Songbag', p. 22, 1927, and the last is of the same title, collected by Alan Lomax , at Nassau, 1935, and given in 'The Folk Songs of North America', p. 530, 1960.


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Subject: RE: Want words to
From: cmac
Date: 28 Feb 99 - 07:14 PM

to: Lonesome EJ and Bruce O. Thanks so much for the information on the "Sloop John B.". Hopefully I'll win this week's contest points!


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Subject: RE: Want words to
From: GUEST,SloopJohnB
Date: 26 Jul 01 - 09:56 PM

This song is The Sloop John B by the Beach Boys


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Subject: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: freightdawg
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 10:52 PM

Okay, maybe this doesn't fit too well in the "origins" category, but here goes...

In the third verse of the song the line goes, (or at least I thought it did) "The poor cook he caught the fits, threw away all my grits." Now, not being Jamaican nor Cajun, I really couldn't figure out how a Jamaican cook could throw away a traditional southern US breakfast food, but mostly I just went with the flow because...well it rhymed anyway. So then I see an alternate verse that says, "The poor cook he caught the fits, threw away all my grips." Now, I'm a mountain goat and no more a sailor than I am Jamaican or Cajun. But it seems more likely that a cook would throw away something called a grip than it would a southern US breakfast food.

So which is it? Or have I completely screwed everything up with one impressive Mondegreen after another.

Love the song, anyway.

Freightdawg.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 11:06 PM

Since the Author is [or was] a West Indian transplanted to Brooklyn, NY, I would hope he knew whereof he wrought. It seems odd to me, too, but I am not the author.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE SLOOP JOHN B.
From: Peace
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 11:11 PM

"The Sloop John B." from the "Sailing Away" CD by Roger Chartier with Leo Dumas

THE SLOOP JOHN B.
trad.

We came on the sloop John B
My grandfather and me
'Round Nassau town we did roam.
Drinking all night,
Had many a fight.
Oh, I feel so broke up, I wanna go home.

CHORUS: So hoist up the John B. sails,
And scrub down all of the rails
Oh, Captain, please come aboard and sail me back home.
The sloop John B.
Will sail the sea, for sure
Next time without me. I wanna go home

The first mate he got drunk, -
He broke open my trunk
Poor seasick me all over the foam,
Oceans are grand,
Just give me the land
I feel so broke up, I wanna go home. CHORUS

Our cook he got the fits -
He ate up all of my grits
Into the soup he put his comb -
A terrible trip -
On a terrible ship, oh yea
I feel so broke up, I wanna go home. CHORUS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: Peace
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 11:25 PM

If the next line reads

And then he took and he ate up all of my corn

then grits looks right, I think.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 11:28 PM

What, again? See thread 32772 for first version (Nassau Bound) and discussions.
Nassau-Sloop


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: Barry Finn
Date: 11 Oct 07 - 11:56 PM

Here's the verse from Carl Sandburg's 'American Songbag' or Songbird's Sandbag (just joking)

The John B Sails

De poor cook he got fits
Tro' 'way all de grits
Den he tookan' he ate up all o' my corn
Lemme go home, I want to go home
Dis is de worst trip since I been born

Learned from John & Evelyn McCutcheon of Treasure Island, West Indies where, Sandburg writes, that "time & usage have given this song almost the dignity of a national anthem around Nassau. The weathered ribs of the historic craft lie imbedded in the sand at Governor's Harbor, whence an expedition, especially sent up for the purpose in 1926, extracted a knee of horseflesh & a ring-bolt. These relies are now preserved & built into the Watch Tower".

Alan Lomax collected & recorded this from Cleveland Simmons group at Old Bight, Cat Island, Bahamas in 1935. His notes go on to say "'The John B was an old sponger boat whose crew were in the habit of getting notoriously merry, whenever they made port", say the notes to an album of Blind Blake, a popular Nassau entertainer who recorded a string band version with the Royal Victor Calypsos in 1952 (the Weaver's also recored this in the early 50's, was our Frank Hamiltion on this?)."

Lomax's version's 3rd verse is different from above it goes as follows;
Grandfather & me
Was standin' on the railroad block
Go send for the captain 'shore
Let me go home
O let me go home
I feel so break up
I want to go home.

From the "Deep River of Song" collection 'Bahamas 1935-chanties & Anthem from Andros & Cat Island' on Rounder.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: artbrooks
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 08:25 AM

Sounds perfectly reasonable to me...cook got the fits (went nuts) and threw away the grits (pitched a food staple). Personally, I've always thought the next line should be and then he went and drank up all of my corn (liquor), but who am I to indulge in textual emendations?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: kendall
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 08:30 AM

I'm with artbrooks here. I like to have lyrics make sense.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: kendall
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 08:33 AM

Gordon Bok sings a version of this that I like more than the original. Some of it goes:

Sail boat go by sail steam boat go by steam, around ??????? we were blown,
Caught in a gale, got we no sail
I feel so breakup I want to go home.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 01:45 PM

Now how did I get Blue Bells? Carelessness, that's what.
The link to 32772 is now at the top under related thread, thanks to the powers that be.
"Nassau Bound" and "Hist Up" were posted in that thread, along with the one from Sandburg. They pretty well cover th main variants.

Now, why wouldn't grits be available in the Bahamas? They are damn near universal. They are in the grocery stores here in western Canada, and are sold almost everywhere under the brand name Quaker Oats, among others. Sold in Europe by Il Riso Beretta. Of course the South Carolina brand "Bubba" is preferable.

In the Caribbean, grits enter into dishes with shrimp, etc.; rice is not the sole choice.
In Toronto, Canada, there is the Caribbean restaurant, Caribbean Roti Palace (on Bathurst just off Bloor); try one of the dishes with grits. I am sure similar restaurants exist in Noo Yawk and Bawstun.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: GUEST,TJ in San Diego
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 01:53 PM

This added verse we heard once in Seattle in 1962. I cannot recall the singer who perpetrated this outrage, but here 'tis:

"The stewardess, she got stewed;
Ran 'round the poop deck nude.
It took nearly half the crew to get her subdued!
Sheriff John Stone,
Why don't you leave her alone,
This is the worst trip,
Since she been born."
(or words to that effect)

She obviously lost her "grip."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 02:40 PM

The following description of Bahamian breakfast is from a Bahamian real estate adv.
"Bahamians eat grits for breakfast, which are usually topped with a "steam" or a "stew". For a steam, onions, garlic, green peppers, celery and tomatoes are sauteed and seasoned with salt, pepper, thyme and the obligatory red pepper and then corned beef or bologna are added and "steam down" to make "Slop Billy" or "Mail Boat Stew.""
http://www.coldwellbankerbahamas.com/index.php?action=page_display&PageID=51

From the Bahamian recipe book "Dis We Ting," a fish recipe:

BOILED FISH AND GRITS

Grouper or mutton fish head and backbone
Grouper or mutton fish filets
Sliced onions
Potatoes
Salt
Bird or goat pepper
Butter
Fresh limes
Black pepper
Yellow corn grits

Cover backbone and head, onion slices, potatoes, salt and pepper with water and cook down into a tasty stock. Remove bones and head. Add fish and desired amount of bird or goat pepper and cook for about five minutes, or until fish is just done. Do not overcook fish or it will lose its flavor. Spike with desired amount of lime. Serve with corn grits. Put out a bowl of fire water (lime mixed with crushed bird pepper). Tip: boil fish tastes even better the next day.

Bird pepper is Capsicum annuum pepper, or chile pequin, or other names. On the plant, they are tiny, pearl-sized berries. Very, very hot! Use Cayenne or Thai pepper instead.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: kendall
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 04:15 PM

I've never seen grits in a Maine store.Never saw them in person 'til I went south.
They remind me of Cream of Wheat,unsweetened. YUK


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 04:27 PM

Maine? too far down East! I guess they still make spoon bread there.
(been a while- may make it this evening- good for cool weather eating.)

I can't stand plain grits either, but combined in fish and shellfish dishes, used like rice, 'tain't bad!
Couscous is another I don't like as a stand-alone.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: Peace
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 04:31 PM

Couscous? Got my attention. I LOVE PASTA!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. Lyric question
From: Big Jim from Jackson
Date: 12 Oct 07 - 07:48 PM

In another thread somewhere on the 'Cat someone posted something like this:
We looked for the Sloop John B
My Grandfather and me.
All 'round Nassau town we did roam
Then a man on the pier
Said that she wasn't here;
We couldn't find her,
And so we just went home


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B. -- Sheriff John Stone
From: GUEST,Tuco
Date: 30 May 13 - 10:35 AM

One curiosity for me has always been the question of whether "Sheriff John Stone" is/was a historical character or simply a made up name for the song. And if he was for real, does/did he do his sheriff duties of NOT leaving deck hand miscreants alone in Nassau or elsewhere?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B.
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 30 May 13 - 11:28 AM

Thanks for the recipe, Q. That's interesting.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 May 13 - 12:57 PM

Mr. Johnstone appears in an old version (1916). The "Sheriff John Stone" is later.

Did the name originate because it rhymed well in the verse? (home, alone)

See related thread 32772, linked above as (origins)Sloop John B.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B.
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Jun 18 - 05:46 PM

See the main Origin: Sloop John B thread for the current body of knowledge.

Short version: Oldest known is 1903 sheet music by Boston, MA based orchestra leader/violinist Eddy Warren Prouty. Sheet music &c prior to Sandurg's Songbag (1927)

New York, NY – 3x
Garden City, NY
Chicago, IL
New Haven, CT – 2x
Nassau, BWI – 2x


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B.
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Jun 18 - 05:51 PM

**Mr./Constable/Sheriff – Johnstone/Johnson &c (both threads.)

Original: The unamed Constable is arresting Mr. Johnstone the Mate. In salty popular speech a “Mister” is a ship's officer. ie: First Mate or Executive (Mr. Roberts, Mr. Spock &c.) It's a wee bit more complicated than that but nevermind.

Covers: In all my time there I never once heard the title of “Sheriff” used. Afaik the Bahamas were not a shrieval county and the Royal Bahamas Police Force always used the standard UK system – Constable up to Chief Superindendent. The courts had Baliffs.

Trivia: Well after the song was written howsomever… Ernest Walton “E.Dubya” Johnston (1884-1996) became the first Sheriff of Flagler County, Florida (1917-1925.) He moved over to County Commissioner; then back to Sheriff (1937-1941) and so was in office for all the WPA recordings. Johnston retired from government as the Flager Co. Judge (1945-1956.)

Small world, the county was named for Henry Morrison Flagler (1830–1913)(Standard Oil &c.) E.W. Prouty (see above) was the musical director for the Flagler hotel system, including Nassau.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B.
From: radriano
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 04:04 PM

Didn't Tom Lewis record a nice version of this on one of his albums?

By the way, there's a really silly parody called "The Sloop John A" out there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Sloop John B.
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 13 Jun 18 - 09:04 PM

“Of all the maritime festivals in all the towns in all the world, he said that in... Chicago. Play it again Tom:

YT: Nassau Bound - 2004 Chicago Maritime Festival

Nassau Bound - Tom Lewis, ft. Tanglefoot, 360 All Points of the Compass, Borealis Records, CD, BCD156, 2003, trk.3 (Traditional)


Best Regards,
Clark, Richards, McCutcheon, Wathall & AUTEC.


PS: Lyr Req/ADD: Sloop John 'A' (Les Barker)


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