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Lyr Req: The Island Unknown (Eck Robertson)

GUEST 07 Jan 09 - 03:59 PM
Amos 07 Jan 09 - 04:07 PM
GUEST 07 Jan 09 - 05:00 PM
GUEST 07 Jan 09 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,Guest - MW 16 Dec 09 - 05:39 PM
GUEST,MW 25 Feb 13 - 04:28 PM
GUEST,MW 25 Feb 13 - 05:06 PM
GUEST,tracy schwarz and Ginny Hawker 26 Feb 13 - 02:17 PM
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Subject: LYRICS OF THE ISLAND UNKNOWN WANTED
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 03:59 PM

Does anyone know the lyrics of the beautiful tune "The Island Unknown", as sung by Eck Robertson and Family on "Man of Constant Sorrow and Other Timeless Ballads" Yazoo Records 3001, 2002) - for some reason the song encompasses the last 2 tracks on the CD which are labelled "The Island Unknown Part 1" and "The Island Unknown Part 2",although the 2nd clearly follows the 1st. I can make out some of the lyrics but a lot are hard to make out (Google doesn't come up with anything useful). I seem to remember reading somewhere that the lyrics don't make sense, although those that I can deciper seem sensible enough. It seems to be about a (presumably) young man who goes off to sea and is shipwrecked.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics of "The Island Unknown" wanted
From: Amos
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 04:07 PM

Download available for both parts here.

A


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Subject: RE: Lyrics of
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 05:00 PM

Thanks for the quick response, but as I already have both parts on CD, it is the lyrics I was looking for. However since posting, I have listened to a copy of it on audio cassette tape (which is perhaps easier than pausing the CD and at least manages to avoid damaging the original) and managed to get the majority of it, though probably with some errors; if anyone is familiar with it they may be able to spot some errors and omissions and if so I would be grateful if they could post them here asap (as I am hoping to show them to someone tomorrow evening); I was glad however to see that "Skiff" is a small boat so my guess seems to be correct.

I certainly can say that the words are not nonsense!

Come all you kind friends, both fair, young and old
A story I'll tell, of a poor man named Joe(l)
He left his dear parents and strayed off from home
He's lost, I've been told, on the Island Unknown

My history of life has never been read
A reckless hard-hearted life I have lived
A reckless hard-hearted life I have left
-----------------------------------------

It was early one morning, in the fair month of May
Onto my dear parents these words I did say
Oh father and mother, please weep not for me
I've joined the Jolly Band to go 'cross the wide sea

My captain and comrades are all dressed in Blue
Tomorrow we'll start with the Red White and Blue
Tomorrow I'll -----------------------------shore
--------------------rise and then anchor no more

I left my dear parents to weep and to mourn
My friends and relations, my own native home
I left my true love with a sad broken heart
The time has now come for us to all part

It was late in the evening on a clear swirling stream
I left my true love in sorrow and pain
I left my true love to weep and to sigh
I hope we'll all meet in the Sweet By and By

Three weeks had just passed since I left our own shore
The night was so dark and the high waves did roar
The lightning was flashing from the east to the west
I thought of my friends back home at their rest

I thought of that night, on the clear swirling stream
The girl I had left in sorrow and pain
The girl I had left with a sad broken heart
The time has now come for us to all part

A dark cloud had rolled, and the storm winds were high
And lightning flashed through the dark cloudy sky
The ship was all wrecked and scattered in fright
No-one will ever now what happened that night

I clung to a skiff and floated ashore
I found that no other had ever been there before
I found that my country was far behind me
I found that no other had been there but me

On evening I rambled through the island unknown
I thought of my friends and relations at home
I thought of the girl I'd left far behind
I thought that my body had gave me my time

I came to a place out on the sea sand
In a book from my pocket, with pencil in hand
I wrote of my life and the country back home
I wrote a true history of the Island Unknown

Upon some green grass and amongst some wild flowers
I studied my troubles and wrote there for hours
I thought of my parents I'd left all at home
I thought that their prayers might bring me back home

Farewell to the Stars and Stripes up on high
The Death Hour now has come, it's true I must die
Down by a primrose I make my death bed
No-one had come forth, this song is now dead

Farewell to America, I bid you adieu
Likewise to the Flag, the Red, White and Blue
Farewell to my friends and loved ones at home
Farewell is my Prayer to the Island Unknown.

COMMENTS:

(1) The man's name sounds like Joel, but could be Joe.
(2) Skiff is a type of small boat to which the man clung to reach the island.
(3) -------------, etc, means that part of or a whole line is indecipherable.


However the 2nd verse could be left out without destroying the flow or sense of the song, which basically concerns a young man who leaves home (perhaps to sail from England to America and/or join the Army/Navy, is shipwrecked, and dies before he could be rescued, but manages to leave a journal which tells his story. It sounds like the song (as well as the man) may have made the journey from the British Isles across the Atlantic to the U.S.A. It is certainly a lovely tune which is worthy of being revived.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics of
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Jan 09 - 07:15 PM

Spent some more time and corrected some of the omissions and mistakes, etc (latest version shown below), however the 3rd line of the 4th verse is proving very difficult. Unfortunately this verse is slightly pivotal to the story (in that the young man joins the Navy, etc) so leaving it out is undesirable; perhaps I (or someone else) can think of something to put in instead of the missing words.

I am also not sure about (a) The last few words in Line 4 of Verse 2 (b) The last few words of line 3 in Verse 10, also whether "Clear Swirling Stream is right, and 1 or 2 other words, etc. However if I could get Line 3 in Verse 4, I would be reasonably happy. If anyone wants to listen to the links given above and make suggestions based on what they hear, I would be grateful.


1. Come all you kind friends, both fair, young and old
A story I'll tell, of a poor man named Joel
He left his dear parents and strayed off from home
He's lost, I've been told, on the Island Unknown

2. My history of life has never been read
A reckless hard-hearted life I have lived
A reckless hard-hearted life I have left
Till the hour of death came to me as it will

3. It was early one morning, in the fair month of May
Unto my dear parents these words I did say
Oh father and mother, please weep not for me
I've joined the Jolly Band to go 'cross the wide sea

4. My captain and comrades are all dressed in Blue
Tomorrow we'll start with the Red, White and Blue
Tomorrow I'll build -----------------------------shore
We'll start at sunrise and then anchor no more

5. I left my dear parents to weep and to mourn
My friends and relations, my own native home
I left my true love with a sad broken heart
The time has now come for us to all part

6. It was late in the evening on a clear swirling stream
I left my true love in sorrow and pain
I left my true love to weep and to sigh
I hope we'll all meet in the Sweet By and By

7. Three weeks had just passed since I left our own shore
The night was so dark and the high waves did roar
The lightning was flashing from the east to the west
I thought of my friends back home at their rest

8. I thought of that night, on the clear swirling stream
The girl I had left in sorrow and pain
The girl I had left with a sad broken heart
The time has now come for us to all part

9. A dark cloud had rolled, and the storm winds were high
And lightning flashed through the dark cloudy sky
The ship was all wrecked and scattered in fright
No-one will ever know what happened that night

10. I clung to a skiff and floated ashore
I found that no other had ever been there before
I found that my country was far behind me
I found that no other had been there but me

11. One evening I ran through the island unknown
I thought of my friends and relations at home
I thought of the girl I'd left far behind
I thought that my body some day they might find

12. I came to a place out on the sea sand
In a book from my pocket, with pencil in hand
I wrote of my life and the country back home
I wrote a true history of the Island Unknown

13. Upon some green grass and amongst some wild flowers
I studied my troubles for hours and for hours
I thought of my parents I'd left all alone
I thought that their prayers might bring me back home

14. Farewell to the Stars and Stripes up on high
The Death Hour has come, it's true I must die
Down by a primrose I make my death bed
No-one had come forth, this song is now dead

15. Farewell to America, I bid you adieu
Likewise to the Flag, the Red, White and Blue
Farewell to my friends and loved ones at home
Farewell is my Prayer to the Island Unknown.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Island Unknown (Eck Robertson)
From: GUEST,Guest - MW
Date: 16 Dec 09 - 05:39 PM

Hi Guest-

Thanks for all the close listening! I have been trying to figure out these words too, so here are some additions to what you already have as it sounds to me, with unclear parts in parentheses:

V1 L2 - A story I'll tell of a poor rambling soul

V2 L2 - ...life I have led [sounds like he says "led" she says "lived"]

V4 L3 - Tomorrow our vessel it now lies at shore [!!! I really think this is it]

V6 L1 - [I agree, it doesn't sound like swirling, but the closest I could get is curling or clerding, which isn't a word.]
    L2 - I left my true love in trouble and pain [she maybe says "trouble" he says "sorrow"?]

V7 L1 - ...since I left her on shore
    L2 - The night was so dark as a high ways ashore

V10 L3 - I found that my country was five miles by three
      L4 - I found that no other had ever been there but me

V11 L1 - One evening I rambled...

V13 L1 - Upon some green grass there among some wild flowers
      L2 - I studied my troubles all o'er there for hours

V14 L4 - The one that's gone hope, this song is now dead [sounds more like]
       OR The one that's done wrote this song is now dead [makes more sense]

That's about as much as I can figure out for now, maybe "clear curling stream" will make more sense after a while.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE ISLAND UNKNOWN (Eck Robertson)
From: GUEST,MW
Date: 25 Feb 13 - 04:28 PM

THE ISLAND UNKNOWN
(Eck Robertson)

1. Come all you kind friends, both fair, young and old
A story I'll tell, of a poor rambling soul
He left his dear parents and strayed off from home
He's lost, I've been told, on the Island Unknown

2. My history of life has never been read
A reckless hard-hearted life I have led
A reckless hard-hearted life I have left
Till the hour of death came to me [as it will]

3. It was early one morning, in the fair month of May
Unto my dear parents these words I did say
Oh father and mother, please weep not for me
I've joined the Jolly Band to go 'cross the wide sea

4. My captain and comrades are all dressed in Blue
Tomorrow we'll start with the Red, White and Blue
Tomorrow our vessel it now lies at shore
We'll start at sunrise and lay anchor no more

5. I left my dear parents to weep and to mourn
My friends and relations, my own native home
I left my true love with a sad broken heart
The time has now come for us to all part

6. It was late in the evening on a clear purling stream
I left my true love in sorrow and pain
I left my true love to weep and to sigh
I hope we'll all meet in the Sweet By and By

7. Three weeks had just passed since I left her on shore
The night was so dark as the high waves splashed o'er
The lightning was flashing from the east to the west
I thought of my friends back home at their rest

8. I thought of that night, on the clear purling stream
The girl I had left in sorrow and pain
The girl I had left with a sad broken heart
The time has now come for us to all part

9. A dark cloud had rolled, and the storm winds were high
And lightning flashed through the dark clouded sky
The ship was all wrecked and scattered in fright
No-one will ever know what happened that night

10. I clung to a skiff and floated ashore
I found that no other had ever been there before
I found that my country was five miles by three
I found that no other had ever been there but me

11. One evening I rambled through the Island Unknown
I thought of my friends and relations at home
I thought of the girl I'd left far behind
I thought that my body some day they might find

12. I came to a place out on the sea sand
In a book from my pocket, with pencil in hand
I wrote of my life and the country back home
I wrote a true history of the Island Unknown

13. Upon some green grass there among some wild flowers
I studied my troubles [all o'er there] for hours
I thought of my parents I'd left all alone
I thought that their prayers might bring me back home

14. Farewell to the Stars and Stripes up on high
The Death Hour has come, it's true I must die
Down by a primrose I make my death bed
The one that composed this song is now dead

15. Farewell to America, I bid you adieu
Likewise to the Flag, the Red, White and Blue
Farewell to my friends and loved ones at home
Farewell is my Prayer to the Island Unknown.

This is a transcription from listening to the recording: Victor V-40166; Oct 1929 Dallas, Texas.
I have been unable to find any written source for these lyrics and although it seems likely, can't verify whether Eck Robertson composed it or not.
The few phrases that I couldn't quite make out are in square brackets.
-MW


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Island Unknown (Eck Robertson)
From: GUEST,MW
Date: 25 Feb 13 - 05:06 PM

It might also be worth noting that the song was released in two parts due to the recording time available on one side of a standard 10 inch 78 rpm record being about three minutes. One part of the song was on each side of the 78, with part 2 beginning at verse 9.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Island Unknown (Eck Robertson)
From: GUEST,tracy schwarz and Ginny Hawker
Date: 26 Feb 13 - 02:17 PM

In March 1963 John Cohen and I visited Eck Robertson at his home/repair shop in Amarillo TX. We spent more than 12 hours with him that day. At one point he sang "The Island Unknown" but I'm not sure of the verses, and it's possible he wasn't able to complete the song due to being overcome with emotion - he was 75 at that point and missed the old days intensely. I remember him saying his brother wrote "The Island Unknown." Whether it was a case of filling in missing words here and there or completely composing it I don't know, but the high quality of the recorded version certainly establishes his brother as an excellent song writer that had earned his brother Eck's admiration. If there are any record collectors out there they might be able to correct me if I'm wrong but I think the song /ballad was so long it appeared as part A and part B (front and back), due to the limited length of 78 rpm records.
Good to see this discussion!


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