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Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version


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Max 14 Nov 08 - 10:43 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Nov 08 - 04:10 PM
Joe Offer 14 Nov 08 - 04:29 PM
masato sakurai 14 Nov 08 - 05:34 PM
Richie 14 Nov 08 - 06:49 PM
Max 14 Nov 08 - 07:13 PM
Joe Offer 14 Nov 08 - 07:42 PM
Richie 14 Nov 08 - 09:55 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Nov 08 - 10:24 PM
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Subject: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: Max
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 10:43 AM

I fell in love with this song when I heard it from Dan Zanes (who does records for kids, a lot of Trad), and perform it myself. I never heard this version before, though the liner notes said it was Trad. Upon further research, I found that it came from a Carl Sandburg collection. Has anyone ever heard anyone perform this version or know anything more about it?


The rich folks decided to take a trip
Bm                      A       D
On the finest ship that was ever built.
The captain persuaded the people to think
Bm                   A       D
That the Titanic too safe to sink

Out on the o-o-o-ocean        
                     A D
The great wide o-o-o-ocean
The Titanic, out on the ocean,
G7       D
Sinking down!

The ship left the harbor at a rapid speed,
Carrying everything that people need.
She sailed six-hundred miles away,
Met an iceberg in her way.


The ship left the harbor, was running fast.It was her first trip and her last.
Way out on that ocean wide
An iceberg ripped her in the side.


Up comes Bill from the bottom floor
Said the water was running in the boiler door.
Go back Bill, and shut your mouth,
We got forty-eight pumps to keep the water out!


Just about then the captain looked around,
He saw the Titanic was sinking down.
He gave orders to the men around:
"Get your life-boats and let them down"


The men standing around like heroes brave,
Nothing but the women and the children to save;
The women and the children are wiping their eyes,
Kissing their husbands and friends good-bye.


On the fifteenth day of May nineteen-twelve,
The ship wrecked by an iceberg ocean dwelled.
The people were thinking of Jesus of Nazarene,
While the band played "Nearer My God to Thee."


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 04:10 PM

In The American Songbag, 1927, Carl Sandburg, the song is titled "De Titanic," with score, pp. 254-256.
In the notes: "The arrangement here is based on the singing of Miss Bessie Zaban, formerly of Georgia and now of Chicago; a number of verses were sent to her by C. H. Currie of Atlanta, Georgia. ....
Negro troops sang the song crossing the submarine zone and in the trenches overseas." ..... The arrangement in Sandburg is by L. S., probably Leo Sowerby. Listed as Titanic (II) in Trad. Ballad Index.

I don't know of it in recorded form.

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Subject: RE: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 04:29 PM

I just discovered the Dan Zanes Parades and Panoramas CD at the library a few weeks ago. I had known his children's recordings before, but this is a collection of 25 songs from Carl Sandburg's 1927 American Songbag songbook. The Zanes CD is a darn nice recording.

I added this thread to our huge cross-index list of Titanic songs and threads. As far as I can tell, this version has not been posted at Mudcat, and I don't know of any other recordings. I wonder how it got missed. It's a great song.

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry for this song (no recordings shown):

Titanic (II), The ("The Titanic, Out on that Ocean") (Titanic #2)

DESCRIPTION: "The rich folks 'cided to take a trip On the finest ship was ever built. The cap'n persuaded these people to think This Titanic too safe to sink. Cho: Out on that ocean, The great wide ocean, The Titanic, out on that ocean, sinking down!"
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1927 (Sandburg)
KEYWORDS: ship wreck family disaster death
April 14/15, 1912 - Shortly before midnight, ship's time, the Titanic strikes an iceberg and begins to sink. Only 711 survivors are found of 2224 people believed to have been aboard.
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Sandburg, pp. 254-255, "De Titanic" (1 text, 1 tune)
Roud #4172
cf. all the other Titanic songs (plot)
Notes: Despite this song (and other folklore), the band on the Titanic did NOT play "Nearer My God to Thee" as the ship sank. Instead, they played light music to prevent panic.
This song is item dI26 in Laws's Appendix II.
For an extensive history of the Titanic, with detailed examination of the truth (or lack thereof) of quotes in the Titanic songs, see the notes to "The Titanic (XV)" ("On the tenth day of April 1912") (Titanic #15) - RBW
File: San254

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Bibiography
Go to the Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

Roud lists only the American Songbag as a source for this song, and shows Sandburg's source as singer Miss Bessie Zaban. So, neither Roud nor the Traditional Ballad Index report any recordings for this version. Maybe Dan Zanes is the first, but it sure seems that somebody should have recorded ALL of the songs in American Songbag.


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: masato sakurai
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 05:34 PM

Sandburg's The American Songbag (1927) is available at Internet Archive.

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Subject: RE: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: Richie
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 06:49 PM


It's great that more an more books are being put on-line. Here's a funny story about the song which was a huge country hit for Columbia and Ernest Stoneman:

"Ernest learned some of his songs in the mountains, but others, like "John Hardy," he learned from published folk song books. He claimed his biggest hit, "The Titanic" was written from a *poem he found in a newspaper. Ernest and his daughter Donna once checked into who the copyright of his biggest selling song was at the copyright office.

They found that someone copyrighted the song in Maine [probably New York] named, "E.V. Body." At the time I don't think they realized who that was! In fact Carson Robison, copyrighted it. Carson knew it as a public domain "folk" song and copyrighted all traditional songs in the 1920s as composed by E. V. Body (everybody). I have Carson's 1929 songbook with many songs by E.V. Body in it. "The Titanic" was a huge hit at the time and reportedly sold more than 500,000 discs [Joseph Murrells included it in his "Million Selling Records" book]."


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: Max
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 07:13 PM

Richie, that is a great story. I can't wait to tell it as an introduction to the song.

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Subject: RE: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 07:42 PM

Richie, I'm not sure I'm understanding correctly. Did Carson Robison or Ernest Stoneman record this version of "Titanic"? The Stoneman recording I found was the familiar "It Was Sad" song, and I didn't find one by Robison.
But it's been a long day, and my brain is foggy.


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: Richie
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 09:55 PM


Carson Robison published a sheet music version and it was registered at the copyright office. He didn't claim authorship but it was registered as E.V. Body.

Actually neither of them knew the Sandburg version as far as I know.


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Carl Sandburg Version
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Nov 08 - 10:24 PM

"De Titanic" seems to be separate from other versions, Sandburg the sole source of this African-American version.

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