Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: Bark Gay Head

DigiTrad:
ROOT HOG OR DIE
ROOT HOG OR DIE (SOUTHERN)
ROOT HOG OR DIE 5
ROOT, ABE, OR DIE
ROOT, HOG, OR DIE
THE BARK GAY HEAD


Artful Codger 22 Jan 10 - 05:24 PM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 22 Jan 10 - 06:15 PM
Reinhard 23 Jan 10 - 03:22 AM
Joe Offer 23 Jan 10 - 04:02 AM
Joe Offer 23 Jan 10 - 04:13 AM
Artful Codger 23 Jan 10 - 05:45 AM
Joe Offer 23 Jan 10 - 10:42 PM
Anglo 23 Jan 10 - 11:22 PM
Artful Codger 24 Jan 10 - 01:29 AM
Lighter 24 Jan 10 - 11:32 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Artful Codger
Date: 22 Jan 10 - 05:24 PM

The DT entry for "The Bark Gay Head" says that it was "Collected from the journal of Stella, 1860" and that the tune is "Root, Hog or Die." Did Huntington (in Songs the Whalemen Sang) mention the tune, and whether it was indicated in the log? Had the text been in actual circulation as a song before MacColl took it up, or was the text/tune pairing made by MacColl? Have any other versions of this song been collected, from the sailing rather than revivalist age?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 22 Jan 10 - 06:15 PM

If it's any help, Huntington is the only entry for the song in the Roud index.

Mick


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Reinhard
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 03:22 AM

Huntingdon's comments to the song were:

“This documentary song sings to the tune of "Root Hog or Die". It is interesting as it identifies the members of the various boats' crews. Almost all the names of these men are still to be found in the Buzzards Bay area.

There were two different whaling vessels named the Gay Head. I think that this must be the earlier one. Mattapoisett was noted for the whale ships that were built there.”


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 04:02 AM

The tune given in the Digital Tradition for The Bark Gay Head is the one printed in Gale Huntington's Songs the Whalemen Sang.
There are recordings of the song by MacColl/
Seeger, and by Starboard List. To my ear the tune sung on the two recordings sounds closer to the tune for this version of "Root Hog or Die."

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: DT Correction: Bark Gay Head
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 04:13 AM

As long as I have Huntington open, I might as well post corrections to the Digital Tradition text:

THE BARK GAY HEAD

Come all you young Americans
And listen to my ditty
It's all about a whaling bark
That left New Bedford City
The bark Gay Head it is her name
She's known both far and near
Her rules and regulations
They are most awful queer

CHORUS
Cheer boys cheer for the Gay Head and crew
For growling and soldiering when there are things to do;
We never will, we never will, we never can be high
We want three thousand barrels of oil, root hog or die.

The place this noble bark was built
Was Mattapoisett town
The workmen worked for a dollar a day
The boss was Jonathan Brown
She was launched upon July the tenth
At eight o'clock P.M.
And numerous crowds assembled round
To see them dump her down.

The Captain's name was Jenny
From Mattapoisett town
He walks upon the quarter-deck
And there you'll see him frown
He is the meanest captain
That ever you did see
He's crossed the Atlantic several times
From New Bedford to Africee

We'll cheer my noble hearties
For the larboard boat and crew
Mr. Hazzard's their boat leader
He's a gentleman good and true
There's Hussy John and Taylor Dick
And a boatsteerer named Couch
And when they lower in their boat
They know what they're about

And we will cheer my hearties
For the starboard boat and crew
For the blowing of their pulling
Which is something they can do
When they lower in their boat
They do the best they can
Ryder he's the biggest blower
And he's the smallest man.

We have the noble waist boat
Whose crew are very good
Their boatheader is a Dartmouth man
His name is Mr. Wood.
And when they lower in their boat
They don't make any noise
But when you talk of pulling
They are the very boys.

We have another boat now
It's called the bow boat.
She's one of the jolliest crafts
That ever yet did float
Hiller pulls the bow oar
And Blankenship the stroke
Dexter pulls harpooner
And Jenny heads the boat.

From Songs the Whalemen Sang, Huntington
Collected from the journal of Stella, 1860
@whaling @sailor
tune is Root Hog or Die
filename[ BRKGAYHD
TUNE FILE: BRKGAYHD
CLICK TO PLAY
RG


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Artful Codger
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 05:45 AM

Does Huntington use the phrase "This song sings to" for other songs, and if so, does he mean "was in fact sung" or "might be sung"? I have to assume that Hungtington decided to present this poem as a song without any corroborative evidence that it either was ever sung or was widely known, and the pairing with "Root, Hog or Die" was his own devising.

Are there indications, judging from the way Huntington treated other songs/poems, that the tune may in fact have been mentioned in the Stella's journal? For instance, does he suggest possible tunes for other songs which have only been collected in written form (such as "Wings of a Goney"), or is he more likely to state outright, "No tune found"? Does he stick to facts or gild the lily (à la Bert Lloyd)?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 10:42 PM

Hi, Artful Codger-
I get the impression that Huntington assigned tunes as he saw fit, and got no tunes from his sources (which seem mostly to have been written sources). Since this song contains the very distinctive phrase "Root, Hog or Die," the reason for Huntington's assignment of this tune seems obvious. Here are Huntington's notes for the song:
    This documentary song sings to the tune of "Root Hog or Die." It is interesting as it identifies the members of the various boats' crews. Almost all of the names of these men are still to be found in the Buzzards Bay area.
    There were two different whaling vessels named the Gay Head. I think that this must be the earlier one. Mattapoisett was noted for the whale ships that were built there.

Mattapoisett, Buzzards Bay, and New Bedford are on the Long Island Sound (southwest) side of Cape Cod - near Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket, but on the mainland. It's a beautiful, quiet part of the Massachusetts coast.

-Joe-

Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Anglo
Date: 23 Jan 10 - 11:22 PM

AFAIK, all Gale's sources for this book were whalers' log books. So I would take his statement "this song sings to" as a suggestion as how it might be done, rather than as an assertion as to how it was done.

Gale Huntington was a very interesting man; he was a singer, and an amateur folkloric historian. Many of his songs came from his wife's family; her father was (I believe) Welcome Tilton, sailor and singer, and Gale published a selection of his songs in an early edition of Northeast Folklore. Unfortunately for me, I can't seem to find my copy, but it includes a version of the Flying Cloud which Helen Schneyer (and I) recorded, as well as the now fairly-well-known New England version of Rolling Home.

My singing partner Tony and I met them a few times, once on Martha's Vineyard where they lived, and another when we shared the stage at a whale convention, 30+ years ago.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Artful Codger
Date: 24 Jan 10 - 01:29 AM

Joe: It's certainly suggestive that the chorus ends with "root, hog or die" and that the metrical structure (though exceedingly common) does match that tune. But the phrase was popular before the song was written, and most derivitives share two characteristics this text does not: they end every verse with that phrase, and they have no chorus. In other respects, the derivatives bear little resemblance to the original, so not much more can be inferred.

John: Thanks for the information on Huntington.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: Bark Gay Head
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Jan 10 - 11:32 AM

"Root, Hog, or Die" had many parodies, which means that it was well known and the tune itself was popular. The presence of the phrase in the "Gay Head" song is as close to proof of its intended melody as we're likely to get.

Huntington admits that he supplied all the tunes:

"The melodies in this book have no scholarly interest or value. However, each and every one of them is a melody that was actually used with a version of the song it accompanies....One could wish that the whalemen had included music for their songs, but they didn't."

He also makes the interesting point that he'd never found shanty words in a log book, "because the whalemen, like all seamen, did not think of the chanties as songs at all."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 21 July 6:52 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.