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Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)

Charley Noble 04 Dec 09 - 11:51 AM
GUEST,Henryp 04 Dec 09 - 12:21 PM
Charley Noble 04 Dec 09 - 12:40 PM
Charley Noble 06 Dec 09 - 04:31 PM
GUEST,Henryp 06 Dec 09 - 05:02 PM
Charley Noble 06 Dec 09 - 07:19 PM
Charley Noble 01 May 12 - 07:47 AM
GUEST,leeneia 01 May 12 - 03:37 PM
Charley Noble 01 May 12 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,leeneia 01 May 12 - 08:55 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 11:51 AM

I've been posting some nautical and dockside poems by Australian Edwin Brady on another thread: Click here for thread!

Brady was working on the Sydney docks as a time-clerk near the end of the 1890's and had a good understanding of the work process involved with loading and unloading ships, and the vernacular of the stevedores. Here's the first of several Brady poems that I've adapted for singing (copy and paste into WORD/TIMES/12 to line up chords):

By Edwin J. Brady
From THE WAYS OF MANY WATERS, by Edwin J. Brady, published by The Bulletin Newspaper Co., Sydney, Australia, © 1899, pp. 40-44.
Adapted for singing by Charles Ipcar 11/30/09
Tune: after Ramblin' Rover

Laying on the Screw


C----G---C------------------G--C-----------------------------------F
You can dunnage casks o' tal-low; you can handle hides an' horn;
-------------------------C-------------------Dm--------------F
You can carry frozen mutton; you can lumber sacks o' corn;
----------C--------------F-C-------------------------------------F
But the queerest kind o' cargo that you've got to haul an' pull
-------------------------C-----------------G7---------------C
Is Australia's "staple product" -- her God-for-saken wool;
---------Am-------------C-------------------Am--------------C
For it's greasy and it's stinkin', an' them awkward, ugly bales
-----------Am-------------------C------------D------------------G
Must be jammed as close as herring in a ship before she sails --

Chorus:

---------C-----------------F---C
So you yakker, yakker, yak-ker,
-----G-----C-------------G--C
For your drop o' beer an' bacca,
F---G--F----------------------C---------------Dm--------------F
For to earn your bloomin' clobber an' the bit o' tuck you eat,
---------------C--------------F/C
When you're layin' on the screw,
----------------------------F
With the boss a-cursin' you,
------------------------------C-----------------G7-----------------C
An' the sweat runs like a river, an' you're chokin' with the heat.


Now "someone's got to do it," I've often heard them say,
But it means a lot o' graftin' for a very little pay;
And I ain't a bit "contented with me bloomin' earthly lot,"
And I'd take an easy billet -- hell, I'd jump it on the spot;
For in the summer, under hatches, I'm getting pretty full
Of this everlastin' sweatin' over blarsted bales o' wool --(CHO)

With the trollies all unloadin', an' the press upon the go,
You can bet they keep us at it like the devil down below;
You can take your affidavy that the foreman at the hatch,
When the tally clerk is busy, makes the talent toe the scratch;
When the double dumps are comin', an' the winch begins to grind,
They'll raise a chanty forrard of the stevedorin' kind -- (CHO)

Oh, they say that Labour's noble but I'd rather be a toff;
Then I'd wear a double-breaster, and I'd never take it off;
I can do me pint o' tangle, and a pipe before the bar,
But I wouldn't sniff at sherry or a bloomin' fine cigar;
Costs me just a sprat for dinner -- meat an' tea an' spuds for that;
But I'd prefer some turkey, nicely browned, an' stuffed an' fat! CHO)

If Australia's "staple product" is her glory an' her pride,
An' "the makin' of her future," and a lot more things beside,
Then I reckon I'm assistin' for to build the nation up,
When I'm graftin' on the product for me bloomin' bite and sup;
Now I'd strike for 'igher wages if I thought I 'ad a show --
I'd down me hook this minnit, and it's up the hatch I'd go. (CHO)

So it's "Re-a Ri-a Rally!" -- lay another tier o' bales --
For the glory of Old England, an' the good of New South Wales;
Now they're stinkin' an' they're heavy, an' they're awkward for to lift,
An' the place you've got to stow 'em -- why, there isn't room to shift;
But you're "broadenin' out the channels of our great an' growin' trade,"
An' you're "helpin' make our progress" though it isn't yours when made --

Final Chorus:

So it's yakker, yakker, yakker,
For your drop o' beer an' bacca,
For the little bit o' silver that you spend on meat and bread --
When you're layin' on the screw,
When you're haulin' on the screw,
Till your blessed 'eart is broken an' your faith an' 'ope is dead.


ORIGINAL POEM

By Edwin J. Brady
From THE WAYS OF MANY WATERS, by Edwin J. Brady, published by The Bulletin Newspaper Co., Sydney, Australia, © 1899, pp. 40-44.

Laying On The Screw

YOU can dunnage casks o' tallow; you can handle hides an' horn;
You can carry frozen mutton; you can lumber sacks o' corn;
But the queerest kind o' cargo that you've got to haul an' pull
Is Australia's "staple product" -- is her God-abandoned wool.
For it's greasy an' it's stinkin', an' them awkward, ugly bales
Must be jammed as close as herrings in a ship afore she sails.

So you yakker, yakker, yakker,
For the drop o' beer an' bacca,
For to earn your bloomin' clobber an' the bit o' tuck you eat,
When you're layin' on the screw,
With the boss a-cursin' you,
An' the sweat runs like a river, an' you're chokin' with the heat.

See "there 's someone got to do it," as I've often heard 'em say,
But it means a lot o' graftin' for a very little pay,
An' I ain't a bit "contented with my bloomin' earthly lot,"
An' I'd take an easy billet -- oh, I'd jump it on the spot.
For it's greasy an' it's stinkin', an' I'm getting pretty full
Of this everlastin' sweatin' over blarsted bales o' wool.

An' they stow 'em close together,
An' they never ask you whether
There is room enough to stand in, or a blessed breath o' air --
When you're layin' on the screw,
When you're haulin' on the screw,
And the skipper starts performin' and the boss begins to swear.

With the trollies all unloadin', an' the press upon the go,
You can bet they keep us at it like the devil down below.
You can take your affidavy that the foreman at the hatch,
When the tally clerk is busy, makes the talent toe the scratch.
When the double dumps are comin', an' the winch begins to grind,
They will raise a chanty forrard of the stevedorin' kind:

''I'm goin' down to Tennessee,
Oh, take my love and come with me;"
Or, it's "Cheer up, Mrs. Riley," or "Blow, my Bully Boys, Blow" --
When you're layin' on the screw,
When you're haulin' on the screw,
In the fluffy, dirty darkness of them anchored hells below.

Oh! they say that Labour's noble; but I 'd rather be a toff,
An' I'd wear a double-breaster, an' I'd never take it off.
I can do me pint o' tangle, an' a pipe afore the bar,
But I would n't sniff at sherry an' a bloomin' fine cigar.
Costs me just a sprat for dinner -- meat an' tea an' spuds for that;
I'd prefer a taste o' turkey, nicely browned, O Lord! an' fat!

For it's twist the screw and turn it,
And the bit you get you earn it;
You can take the tip from me, sir, that it's anything but play --
When you're layin' on the screw,
When you're draggin' on the screw,
In the summer, under hatches, in the middle o' the day.

If Australia's "staple product" is her glory, an' her pride,
An' "the makin' of her future," an' a lot o' things beside,
Then I reckon I'm assistin' for to build the nation up,
When I'm graftin' on the product for me bloomin' bite and sup.
An' I'd strike for 'igher wages if I thought I 'ad a show;
I would down me hook this minnit, an' I'd up the hatch an' go.

But there's plenty of 'em prayin'
For a chance to graft, an' sayin'
That the times is somethin' dreadful; an' they stand a-lookin' on --
When you're layin' on the screw,
When you're toilin' on the screw,
An' they'd jump the job an' keep it soon as ever you was gone.

So it's "re-a-ri-a-rally," an' another tier o' bales
For the glory of the empire, an' the good of New South Wales;
But they're stinkin' an' they're heavy, an' they're awkward for to lift,
An' the place you've got to stow 'em -- w'y, there isn't room to shift.
But you're "broadenin' out the channels of our great an' growin' trade,"
An' you're "helpin' make our progress" though it isn't yours when made.

So it's yakker, yakker, yakker,
For the drop o' beer an' bacca,
For the little bit o' silver that you spend in meat and bread,
When you're layin' on the screw,
When you're haulin' on the screw,
Till yer blessed 'eart is broken an' yer faith an' 'ope is dead.

Notes:

"Yakker" is slang for "work"

"Graftin'" is slang for "effort"

"Clobber" is "clothing"

"Screw" is a reference to the jack-screw press that a four-man team uses to cram the bales of wool into a ship's hold

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: GUEST,Henryp
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 12:21 PM

Expressive lyrics! Cotton is another staple product. They used to screw cotton bales too.

Oh, away down south where I was born
Chorus: Oh! Roll the cotton down
Oh, away down south around Cape Horn
Chorus: Oh! Roll the cotton down

Oh, a dollar a day is hoosier's pay
So bring yer screws and hooks this way

We'll floor her off from fore to aft
Five thousand bales for this 'ere craft

Oh, in Alabama where I was born
Oh, a-screwin' cotton of a summer's morn


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Dec 09 - 12:40 PM

Henry-

You're correct, screwing bales of cotton and screwing bales of wool were a similar process. Here's a great photo of stevedore gangs screwing bales of cotton into a ship's hold in Galveston, Texas: Click here for website!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 04:31 PM

Well, the chords have shifted a little more but I think the song has stabilized enough to record: click here for lyrics and MP3 Sample!

I haven't tried to record the other verses; there are too many tongue-twisters in the lyrics and I think I want to try to delete at least one verse so the song doesn't run 6 minutes.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: GUEST,Henryp
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 05:02 PM

The style reminds me of Kipling's Barrackroom Ballads.

Cheer up, Mrs. Riley, also known as When McGuinness Gets a Job.

We still have clobber and hard graft in England.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Dec 09 - 07:19 PM

Henryp-

I did have to look up all the slang terms to make sense of the poem; several such as "yakker," "graft" and "clobber" were new to me.

Every poet at the time was looking over his shoulder at Kipling.

Brady does a good job of it and he had a lot of contact with the stevedores on the dock where he worked as a time-keeper. The poem is really kind of a time machine.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 May 12 - 07:47 AM

This song will be featured on my forthcoming CD titled Songs from an Old Sea Chest due out late May, 2012. Here's a sneak preview of how it sounds: click here for lyrics and MP3!

There's a nice vintage photo of a ship at Circular Quay in Sydney Harbour, Australia, preparing to load bales of wool.

Roll & Go is now working it up for concert presentation and I've gotten a good response from folks who join in on the chorus at the Press Room monthly sea music sessions.

I find Brady's original poem still quite fascinating in detail but the pared down version I sing is much more manageable.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 May 12 - 03:37 PM

Good job on preserving the poetry, Charley.

My husband, who is a great reader of history, tells me that in the olden days many ships were lost at sea because they screwed the cotton so tightly, then when the cotton absorbed water from leaks, it swelled and literally broke the ships apart. They disappeared at sea and nobody understood why.

Do any of you know what they did to solve that problem?

I feel real sympathy for the men who had the nasty job of stowing that wool in a hot, stuffy hold.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 May 12 - 04:39 PM

Leeneia-

I think the only way that the problem was minimized was after they designed ships that no longer leaked. Steel and Iron hulls were a lot better than any wooden hull when it came to leaking.

I've got a few photos of the screw-jack crews at work and it certainly looks like hard work; one is linked up above.

Brady was also editor of the leftwing newspaper on the waterfront and I find a lot of his poems of interest. He was also a long-time friend of Henry Lawson.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Laying on the Screw (Brady)
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 01 May 12 - 08:55 PM

Yes, that makes sense - a steel or iron hull.


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