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Lyr Add: Larry Maher's Big Five Gallon Jar

Q (Frank Staplin) 19 Jul 09 - 10:03 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 20 Jul 09 - 12:11 AM
Liam's Brother 30 Oct 09 - 02:03 PM
Charley Noble 30 Oct 09 - 02:11 PM
EBarnacle 31 Oct 09 - 12:13 PM
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From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 19 Jul 09 - 10:03 PM

Lyr. Add: Larry Maher's Big Five-Gallon Jar
Tune- Irish Jaunting Car
Come, all you jolly sailors bold, that lives both near and far;
I'll sing you a short ditty concerning Larry Maher;
He keeps a slap-up boarding house, and sells rot-gut to the tars,
And the pride of New York City is.. his big five-gallon jar.

So if you want chain lightning, step into Larry Maher's,
And he will serve you with abundance from.. his big five-gallon jar.

When first I came to New York, I came here on a spree,
And hearing tell of Larry Maher, I went the sights to see;
Some drunken shells in the corner lay, more swilling at the bar,
And Larry was supplying them from.. his big five-gallon jar.
Now, one glass of Larry's beverage will make your heart to ache,
And, when you get keeled over, your cash he'll surely take;
But when you wake next morning, you'll be far outside the bar,
Removed away to Liverpool by.. gallus Larry Maher.
You may talk about Jamaica rum, and Monongahela too,
Or all the poteen whiskey made from Cork to Killaloo;
For it's a mere cypher, and far below the par,
For it can't come up to Larry and.. his big five-gallon jar.
Now, this jar is inexhaustable; for, when it is all done,
Larry can replenish it in the snapping of a gun;
Some camphene and laudanum, alum-water and coal-tar,
Composes this good beverage of.. gallus Larry Maher.
I took one glass of Larry's rot-gut, and my heart was up for fight
When an M. P. run at me and knocked me higher than a kite;
He slipped the darbies on me, and the Tombs not being far-
So I bid farewell to Larry and.. his big five-gallon jar.

H. De Masran song sheet, NY; mid-19th c., at American Memory (The Traditional Ballad Index gives it a date of c. 1860-1865). This song sheet may be the origin of the chantey.

There is a chantey in Hugill called Larry Marr; he has a fair amount of hearsay about the song and mentions a possible Irish origin but says a forebitter version indicates an American origin.

A version in the DT (The Big Stone Jar) sets Larry Marr's in San Francisco (from Doerflinger?) but the ballad probably was given locations at the whim of the singer or reciter.
Hugill's capstan chantey was posted in thread 80070:
Larry Marr

Dan Milner sings a pirate ballad called "Larry Maher," I think of his own composition.

I am the proud possessor of two five-gallon stoneware jars, Nineteenth C., one from a Canadian distiller and the other possibly American. A son-in-law from England has one with an English distiller's name.
Perhaps someone can tell me why some liquor was shipped in these large stoneware jars and not casks or barrels.

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From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 20 Jul 09 - 12:11 AM

Lyr. Add: Big Five Gallon Jar

^^ 1
The first time I came to Liverpool*,
I got upon a spree;
'Twas up to old Jack Jenning's,
Such gallant sights to see.
There were drunkards in every corner
And bummers at the bar;
And old Cal'line was whacking it out (Caroline)
Of a big five gallon jar.

In the old Virginia Lowlands, Lowlands, low;
In the old Virginia Lowlands, Lowlands, low.

And when the jar is empty,
And the whisky it is dry,
Old Cal'line will renew it again
With the snapping of her eye.
With a little alum water
And some old **Stockholm tar,
Old Cal'line will renew it again,
That big five gallon jar.
Old Jackie said to old Cal'line;
I'll tell you what we'll do;
The Sophia is at McClearn's wharf,
And I guess she wants a crew.
We'll go down to Front and Water Street,
Pick up some drunken tar,
And we'll shanghai him away, out of Liverpool Bay*
With a big five gallon jar.

* Liverpool and Liverpool Bay, Nova Scotia.
**Stockholm tar was a high-grade pine tar, shipped by a Swedish company which held a monopoly.
Lyrics only.
Edith Fowke, ed., 1981, "Sea Songs and Ballads from Nineteenth Century Nova Scotia: The William H. Smith and Fenwick Hatt Manuscripts," p. 16-17.

Sophia may refer to a 225 ton ship built at Liverpool, N. S., 1869.
Doerflinger in his book "Shantymen and Shantyboys" said Jack Jennings ran a grog shop in Liverpool, N. S.; his wife's name was Caroline.
William Smith said he heard it from old sailors. There may have been more verses. It was said that the Jennings House was used as a hideout by sailors deserting their ship.

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Larry Maher's Big Five Gallon Jar
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 02:03 PM


The words to "Larry Maher's Big 5-Gallon Jar" I sing on Irish Pirate Ballads are directly from the De Marsan broadside. I composed the melody. Also on that recording are Mick Moloney, Robbie O'Connell, Tim Collins of the Kilfenora Ceili Band and Bob Conroy. You can hear a sample at the Smithsonian Folkways website...

...and, if you want, even read the 40-page booklet.

In his book, Sailortown, Stan Hugill warned against confusing the San Francisco Marr with the New York Maher.

All the best,
Dan Milner

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Larry Maher's Big Five Gallon Jar
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Oct 09 - 02:11 PM


The "H. De Masran song sheet" is certainly a major find.

That song radiates "experience"!

Charley Noble

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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Larry Maher's Big Five Gallon Jar
From: EBarnacle
Date: 31 Oct 09 - 12:13 PM

There was one of these jugs on Antiques Roadshow this week and the comment was that the salt glazed jugs were less reactive than anything else. They were eventually driven off the market by glassware.

Considering the contents, perhaps Larry was simply protecting the container from the contents.

Why use stoneware instead of wood? Perhaps the distiller felt that the contents had aged as much as they wanted them to age.

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