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Origins: Candlelight Fisherman

DigiTrad:
CANDLELIGHT FISHERMAN


In Mudcat MIDIs:
The Candlelight Fisherman (Singer: Phil Hamond. From Peter Kennedy's Folksongs of Britain & Ireland, #219)


Stower 14 Nov 09 - 08:27 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 14 Nov 09 - 09:18 AM
Stower 14 Nov 09 - 10:36 AM
GUEST,Tunesmith 14 Nov 09 - 10:38 AM
Tug the Cox 14 Nov 09 - 11:05 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 14 Nov 09 - 11:38 AM
GUEST,nick hamond 15 Dec 10 - 03:48 AM
Steve Gardham 15 Dec 10 - 05:21 PM
Gervase 16 Dec 10 - 11:35 AM
The Sandman 16 Dec 10 - 01:20 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 16 Dec 10 - 02:09 PM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 10 - 02:54 AM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 10 - 02:57 AM
Joe Offer 17 Dec 10 - 03:39 AM
GUEST,Muzza 20 Feb 11 - 01:56 AM
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Subject: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Stower
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 08:27 AM

Who wrote The Candlelight Fisherman, in the DT here? The song is about a fisherman looking for excuses not to get out of bed. If the wind is strong enough to blow his candle out, then it's too rough to go to sea. If it's not strong enough to blow his candle out, it won't fill his sails and he can't go to sea.

Major Phil Hammond of Morston, Norfolk, was recorded by Peter Kennedy singing The Candlelight Fisherman for the BBC's folk song collection in 1952. That recording appears on Kennedy's compilation LP series of traditional singers, Folk Songs of Britain; this one on volume 3, Jack Of All Trades. The only other recording of this by a traditional singer known to me is Bob Roberts, recorded in 1977 in Ryde, Isle of Wight, by Tony Engle, for Bob's Topic LP, Songs of the Sailing Barges. The BBC school publication, Singing Together, states that "the words and the music were partly composed by Major Hammond", though this is always credited to 'traditional'.

Can anyone verify whether Phil Hammond claimed to have written it? If he says he did, and there are no previous collected versions, then I'd say we should believe him, but did he make such a claim (in which case the attribution 'traditional' is wrong)?

Any information would be greatly appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 09:18 AM

Stower - My copy of the Roud index lists those two as the only sources for the song. Neither Palmer's publication of Bob Roberts' version nor Kennedy's publication of Phil Hammond's version add anything to what you have. Kennedy quotes Hammond on the subject of the song - more or less your 3rd sentence above - and also adds that the same story is told by fishermen of Mevagissey in Cornwall. Kennedy doesn't say the Hammond wrote it (or claimed to), and I would have expected him to mention it in his notes if he had.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Stower
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 10:36 AM

Thanks, Mick. I wonder where Singing Together got their idea from? It does seem an odd claim when Kennedy never reported it as such. And I don't think it's far fetched to suggest that a song can be traditional and only be collected once or twice. There are other examples. Queen Of Hearts, for example, was collected from a living person only once in 1894 by Revd. Sabine Baring Gould (who published it without giving the singer's name), our only other source being broadsides from the 1830s.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: GUEST,Tunesmith
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 10:38 AM

I associate this song with John Foreman. I saw him at the folk club in the Liverpool area in 1967 and he gave out a handout to the audience with the words to this song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 11:05 AM

I learned ot from an old Topic record, sang by an old boy who accompanied himself on squeeze box. I think it was from East Anglia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 14 Nov 09 - 11:38 AM

Topic released two records with Bob Roberts singing it:

  Topic 12TS 361 Songs from the Sailing Barges and
  Topic TSCD 600 Hidden English

They also released Phil Hammond's version:
  Topic 12T 159 Jack of All Trades (also Caedmon TC 1144).

Hammond's version was also released on:

  BBC recording 18703
  Folktracks 60-021 Jack of all Trades

(I don't know if this is the same record as the Topic one of the same name).

The Singing Together version (with the notes) is on the Folkinfo site: Candlelight Fisherman, where the pamphlet notes also say that the chorus was a recent addition by Peter (Kennedy, I presume).

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: GUEST,nick hamond
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 03:48 AM

major philip hamond (1 m) was my grandfather. He did not write the candlelight fisherman but it is unknown where he got it from. He spent a lot of his life on the north norfolk coast but also spent time in the essex blackwaters.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Dec 10 - 05:21 PM

The song is a very simple one, what the technical people call a 'catalogue song'. I have adapted my own version as I'm sure others have. As a guess I'd say it's probably the nearest thing we have in English folk song to an example of communal composition, i.e., someone thought of the basic idea and others chipped in with verses. It appeals to me because of its simple structure, adaptablility and an easy tune on the melodeon. My version probably arose from Bob Roberts' singing and the Foreman broadside which I have a copy of somewhere. Tony Hall also is well-known for singing it. It well suits his laid-back style, and I'm just basically lazy.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Gervase
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 11:35 AM

I've heard the Bob Roberts' version and Tony Hall's, and always assumed it was 'anon/trad'. John Goodluck also did an excellent version.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 01:20 PM

It is traditional.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 16 Dec 10 - 02:09 PM

As a guess I'd say it's probably the nearest thing we have in English folk song to an example of communal composition, i.e., someone thought of the basic idea and others chipped in with verses

Isn't that the way with all folk songs? The essence of the Folk Process being a creative one as these things get passed around and customised accordingly.

I got Candlelight Fisherman from the Topic Bob Roberts album (Songs from the Sailing Barges) although when I played it to my mother once she said it was one of the songs my late father used to sing (Bell Bottomed Trousers being another). I've no idea how he came by them though I guess his love of all things maritime had something to do with it. I've got a different tune for it which I can't readily account for.


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Subject: ADD Version: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 02:54 AM

Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

    Candlelight Fisherman, The

    DESCRIPTION: Singer, a fisherman, tells how his father taught him to test the wind at night by sticking a candle lantern outside: "Open the pane and pop out the flame/To see how the wind do blow". He tells how he does it, and advises listeners to do the same
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: 1952 (recorded from Phil Hammond)
    KEYWORDS: fishing technology work humorous nonballad father wife worker
    FOUND IN: Britain(England(South))
    REFERENCES (2 citations):
    Kennedy 219, "The Candlelight Fisherman" (1 text, 1 tune)
    DT, CANDLEBLO*

    Roud #1852
    RECORDINGS:
    Phil Hammond, "The Candlelight Fisherman" (on FSB3)
    Bob Roberts, "The Candlelight Fisherman" (on BRoberts01, HiddenE)

    NOTES: The joke is that while one is testing the wind with the lantern, its light attracts fish. Doing this, of course, is against the law. - PJS
    Kennedy adds another joke along the lines of the "Arkansas Traveller": If the wind blows out the candle, it's blowing too hard to go out; if the wind doesn't blow out the candle, there isn't enough wind to sail. - RBW
    File: K219

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

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2009 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Roud Index Search


Below is the version from Bob Roberts in Roy Palmer's Oxford Book of Sea Songs (1986).
The word "snug" and the verse in brackets are from my transcription of the Bob Roberts recording from his Songs from the Sailing Barges CD. I can't catch all the words on the "south wind" verse, so I'd appreciate corrections and suggestions. Except for that one word and the "south wind" verse, the Roberts recording is almost identical to what's in the Oxford Book of Sea Songs

CANDLELIGHT FISHERMAN

My dad was a fisherman bold
And he lived till he grew old,
Till he opened the pane and popped out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

He often said to me:
'You'll be wise before you go,
Do you open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow?'

When the north wind roughly blow
Then I lay right down [snug] below
And I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the wind comes from the west
It will blow hard at the best,
So I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

Now a wind that's from the east,
Is no good to man nor beast
So I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

[When the south wind softly blow
It's not enough for you to go.
But I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.]

My wife she said to me:
'We shall starve if you don't go,'
So I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

So all you fishermen bold,
If you'd live till you grow old,
Do you open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.


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Subject: ADD Version: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 02:57 AM

John Roberts did a nice recording of this song on his Sea Fever CD, and he has the lyrics on his Website. I hope he doesn't mind my posting his version, which he says he got from Bob Roberts.

CANDLELIGHT FISHERMAN

Now my dad was a fisherman bold
And he lived till he grew old
For he'd open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

And he'd oftentimes tell to me
You be sure before you go
Do you open the pane and pop out the flame.
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the north wind roughly blow
Then I lie snug below
But I open the pane and pop out the flame.
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the wind comes in from the east
It's no good for man nor beast
But I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the wind back into the west
It'll blow in hard at best,
But I open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

But when the south wind softly blow
It's then I love to go
But I open the pane and pop out the flame
And there's not enough wind to go.

Now my wife she says to me
We shall starve if you don't go
So I open the pane and I pops out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

So come all you fishermen bold
If you'd live till you grow old
Do you open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.


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Subject: ADD Version: Candlelight Fisherman
From: Joe Offer
Date: 17 Dec 10 - 03:39 AM

Now, the version in Peter Kennedy's Folksongs of Britain & Ireland (1975), song #219, is quite different - and it has a chorus. Kennedy's source is Phil Hamond, Morston, Holt, Norfolk. Kennedy recorded him in 1952.

THE CANDLELIGHT FISHERMAN

O me dad was a fisherman bold
And he lived till he grew old
For he opens the pane and he pops out the flame.
Just to see how the wind do blow.
    If the flame don't flicker he'd know
    That there's not enough wind do blow
    But if that silly old flame blow out
    Then there's too much wind to go.


And often he'd say to me.
You'd be wise before you go
Do you open the pane and pop out the flame.
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the north wind rough did blow
Then I lay right snug below
But I opens the pane and I pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the wind come out of the east,
You'll be looking for snow and sleet,
But I opens the pane and I pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the wind back into the west.
That'll come a rough in at best,
But I opens the pane and I pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

When the south wind soft do blow,
It's then I love to go
And I opens the pane and I pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

And my poor wife say to me,
We shall starve if you don't go,
So I opens the pane and I pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.

Now all you fishermen bold,
If you live till you grow old,
Do you open the pane and pop out the flame
Just to see how the wind do blow.


Kennedy's notes:
    This is the story of the self-employed sea fisherman who can suit himself. As Phil Hamond explained: "He got to turn out of bed in the mornin' - he light the candle - he put it out the window. If the flame blow out there's too much wind for him to go; and if it don't blow out, there ain't wind enough, so go go back to bed again."
    This same story is also told of fishermen at Mevagissey in Cornwall.


This is almost the same as the version in the Digital Tradition, but the DT has no chorus. There are other slight differences.

Click to play


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Subject: RE: Origins: Candlelight Fisherman
From: GUEST,Muzza
Date: 20 Feb 11 - 01:56 AM

Here's the song and tune.......with dangerous Pyrotechnics
http://www.youtube.com/user/NForest82#p/a/u/1/gVebsfupYb8


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