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Origins: Lindy Lowe

Gibb Sahib 17 Feb 10 - 09:13 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jun 10 - 02:06 AM
Charley Noble 25 Jun 10 - 08:20 AM
John Minear 25 Jun 10 - 09:41 AM
Charley Noble 25 Jun 10 - 11:29 AM
Mick Pearce (MCP) 25 Jun 10 - 11:32 AM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jun 10 - 12:25 PM
Charley Noble 25 Jun 10 - 04:49 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jun 10 - 05:55 PM
Charley Noble 25 Jun 10 - 08:07 PM
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Subject: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Feb 10 - 09:13 PM

What do people know about the origin of the song "Lindy Lowe"? It is best known, I'd guess, in maritime music circles. Forebitter and Joe Stead are among those "chanty" performers who have recorded it.

It appears in FB Harlow's CHANTEYING ABOARD AMERICAN SHIPS in the current edition, but not in his unique, early section about chanteying aboard the AKBAR. Rather, it appears in the end section where he seems to have culled material from all sorts of places. That part is very poorly cited, and gives a bit of an illusion that it his material he knew first hand.

He calls "Lindy Lowe" a " 'Badian hand over hand" chanty, but there's no indication where he would have got it from.

A similar version of "Lindy Lowe" appeared in GIDEON'S BAND: A TALE OF THE MISSISSIPPI by George W. Cable, 1914. The setting is a riverboat in the 1850s-60s.

Gideon's Band

Gideon's has a lot more verses -- good news for people who sing "Lindy" and would like to add something. Nonetheless, it looks to me like Harlow may have grabbed it from there. The sort of "orthography" of the music notation (a concept I might be making up!) is just too similar,I think.

I had been recently looking at the way both Colcord and Harlow culled the song"Boston" (aka "Boston Harbour") from Whall's sea music collection -- neither reproduced it exactly (though both name the source). Harlow took more liberties, as if he felt like improving it somehow. With both versions in print, it again gives the illusion that they are collected variations of a song...which I am uncomfortable with :) My point is that, after seeing what Harlow did to Whall's "Boston," I have no difficulty imagining him "sprucing up" "Lindy Lowe" from GIDEON'S.

On the other hand, in GIDEON'S, the song is talked about like it may have been famous at a certain time. Might it have been a minstrel song? (The name "Lindy Lou" sounds like it could be one of the archetypal damsels in that genre.)

It is described as a capstan chantey in GIDEON'S; dunno where Hatrlow got the "hand over hand" bit from.

A guess a general question would be where Harlow lifted all those end-section chanties from. For instance, I am fairly convinced that he took the preceding chanty, "Gwine to get a Home" from Bullen's 1914 collection.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 02:06 AM

bump


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 08:20 AM

Gibb-

Richard Adrianowicz and Peter Kasin do a nice job on the longer riverboat version of this song on their newly released CD With Shipmates All Around. Did you hear them sing it at the recent Mystic Sea Music Festival?

I've also been curious about its origins.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: John Minear
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 09:41 AM

I'm surprised that this song doesn't turn up in any other collection of riverboat songs or so far in any other collection of southern regional songs. The 1914 publication date for Cable's novel seems late for establishing this as an early riverboat song and that may be why it doesn't show up anywhere else. I haven't been able to come up with any riverboats named "Lindy Lowe" yet, either. Is there anything in the blackface minstrel collections that resembles this song? I keep getting hits for "My Lindy Lou" which is a different song altogether and quite late. From your note, Gibb, I am assuming that this song doesn't show up in any other sea song collections besides Harlow. Charley, I'm expecting my copy of "With Shipmates All Around" to arrive in the mail any day and I'm looking forward to that after reading your comments here and elsewhere.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 11:29 AM

John-

There's nothing in my copy of CHRISTY'S PANORAMA SONGSTER that resembles Lindy Lowe but I also expect there is a minstrel version.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 11:32 AM

John - the Roud index lists Harlow as the only source for the song.

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 12:25 PM

Charley,

Perusing Richard and Peter's CD is what inspired me to bump this! Though I am not sure what you mean by the "longer riverboat version." They appear to say they learned it from Harlow...which as I am proposing, came from the riverboat source of Cable....i.e. it's really the *only* version that we know of.

Cable indeed offers a much longer text (more verses), but to my knowledge no one has revived that yet. I think Harlow cut down that text.

I kept it short, too, like Harlow's :)

I guess the main things I am suggesting are:
1) Harlow may very well have gotten this from the Cable's story
2) If so, he really fudge some of the details and the way he presented it, which I think offers a lesson for interpreting other songs in the later part of his book.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 04:49 PM

Gibb-

I sit corrected. I was thinking that what Richard and Peter were singing was based on Cable longer version rather than Harlow but I wasn't reviewing any notes.

In general it's a good idea to shorten songs to the "essential verses" so that they run no longer than 3 to 4 minutes. Richard and Peter managed to record their rendition in an amzing 2:03 minutes, consulting their CD jacket!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 05:55 PM

Ha! You're right, Charley, short and sweet!

On the other hand, one could have a marathon singing competition of who could sing Lindy Lowe the longest....while seeing how many things they could think up that rhyme with "low"!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Lindy Lowe
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jun 10 - 08:07 PM

Of course if you're actually doing work to a shanty such as raising the anchor, it was useful to have enough verses to fill out an hour or two!

However, if the shantyman repeated himself, even once, the work gang would stop instantly and that was the end of "outward bound" for the day. Many a mate was known to jump up and down on his cheese-cutter cap in frustration.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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