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The Advent and Development of Chanties

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Lighter 14 Apr 10 - 06:52 PM
Lighter 14 Apr 10 - 07:17 PM
John Minear 14 Apr 10 - 07:54 PM
Lighter 15 Apr 10 - 09:10 AM
John Minear 15 Apr 10 - 09:28 AM
Lighter 15 Apr 10 - 09:43 AM
Gibb Sahib 15 Apr 10 - 12:17 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Apr 10 - 06:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 16 Apr 10 - 11:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 16 Apr 10 - 11:36 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 12:51 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 04:07 AM
John Minear 17 Apr 10 - 07:54 AM
Lighter 17 Apr 10 - 10:37 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 12:15 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 01:17 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Apr 10 - 01:41 PM
John Minear 17 Apr 10 - 02:32 PM
Steve Gardham 17 Apr 10 - 02:51 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 02:57 PM
John Minear 17 Apr 10 - 04:07 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 04:42 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 04:44 PM
John Minear 17 Apr 10 - 05:42 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 05:52 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 09:35 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 10:00 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 10:17 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 10:28 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Apr 10 - 11:03 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 12:12 AM
John Minear 18 Apr 10 - 09:01 AM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 02:34 PM
John Minear 18 Apr 10 - 04:19 PM
shipcmo 18 Apr 10 - 04:41 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 08:03 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 08:31 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 09:05 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 09:43 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 10:35 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 10:48 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Apr 10 - 11:18 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Apr 10 - 03:33 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Apr 10 - 04:03 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Apr 10 - 04:17 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Apr 10 - 04:36 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Apr 10 - 05:46 PM
Steve Gardham 19 Apr 10 - 06:31 PM
Gibb Sahib 20 Apr 10 - 01:12 PM
Gibb Sahib 20 Apr 10 - 01:30 PM
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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Apr 10 - 06:52 PM

Gibb beat me to it. The "diary" is also here:

"Based on" is the tip-off.

From Basil Lubbock's "The Blackwall Frigates" (1922):

A hundred years is a very long time,
Oh-ho! Yes ! oh-ho !
A hundred years is a very long time,
A hundred years ago.

They hung a man for making steam,
Oh-ho ! Yes ! oh-ho !
They cast his body in the stream,
A hundred years ago. (OLD CHANTY.)

Note the identical, somewhat unusual spelling of "Oho!" in both sources. Lubbock's book, not coincidentally, also includes a skeletal "log" kept by a midshipman on _Agincourt_ in 1848. (I have not compared the accounts any more closely.)

Hugill gives both stanzas, though not consecutively or quite identically.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 14 Apr 10 - 07:17 PM

That's good suggestion, Steve. I suggest we use Hugill's titles as our starting point, to be adjusted if necessary.

His books have been the most influential over the past fifty years.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 14 Apr 10 - 07:54 PM

So...Gibb & Lighter, do you think the reference to "A hundred years ago" is legitimate or not? I was not exactly clear from your discussion. Do we know the owner of the original "diary"?

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Apr 10 - 09:10 AM

There's no reason to believe, from the online _Agincourt_ "diary," that the "1848 text" or even the title of "A Hundred Years Ago" was recorded by anyone who was present on the voyage or even alive in 1848.

The online writer seems to have taken the shanty from Lubbock's book to flesh out the story of the voyage, assuming that Lubbock's "Old Chanty" "must have been" sung by the _Agincourt_ crew.

Lubbock doesn't print the original "midshipman's log" he refers to. He quotes a few lines, but mostly paraphrases and expands the information in the logbook.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 15 Apr 10 - 09:28 AM

Thanks, Lighter.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Apr 10 - 09:43 AM

I wish I didn't have to be so negative so often, but the reliability of so many shanty sources tends to be questionable or at best indeterminate.

Davis and Tozer is my top nominee in this category.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 15 Apr 10 - 12:17 PM


I'm presuming we are looking mainly for influences rather than origins.

My stated interest in looking to see the "emergence" of shanties nicely (!) confounds "influences" and "origins." While influences are indeed a more realistic thing to document and while it's undoubtably true that shanties are a composite of various influences (i.e. like most things) personal working hypothesis (which I'm willing to abandon at any time BTW) is that, with respect to being *shipboard* songs, "chanties" were *introduced*, and relatively suddenly at that. So my pet interest does include a lean towards the concept of "origins." That being said, I hope the evidence can do its own speaking; the rest is each person's interpretation.

I fully agree that the information will have to be organized in other ways; there is a zooming in / zooming out process involved. On the big "Sydney" thread, John Minear has followed the trajectories of individual chanteys. What I want to eventually do here is create the complimentary warp to that weft. I've begun -- and I think this is what you're suggesting? -- to create a timeline with the shanty "sightings" in each year. It's a lot of info to round up, but I'll post it once I have it, and people can re-format it as they like. The process definitely requires several phases of digestion. The trick is having it condensed enought to glance over, but with enough detail so the significance is not lost. For example, it might be misleading to group all songs mentioning "Sally Brown" with that tag. Anyways, it will be a start.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Apr 10 - 06:32 PM

Sally Brown,
Agreed, but any song actually called 'Sally Brown' sung aboard we would presume was the well-known chanty unless evidence to the contrary arose. Most chanties appear to be titled in accordance with refrains which is helpful.
'Relatively suddenly' Again agreed but roughly what sort of a period do we consider, 10 years from say 1840 to 1850? I think once you've got a working list of references obviously this will become clearer.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 11:32 PM

In my next post, I am going to put up my "TIMELINE" of attested 19th c. maritime work-songs. It currently goes through the 1840s. The format may not be to everyone's taste. But it is a working model; feel free to make your own modifications. And I have not nitpicked the editing...nor do I feel like taking the time now to create the HTML marks needed for Mudcat. (If someone knows a way to automatically "convert" a Word document into HTML code, please let me know.)

I have tried to be as brief as possible with each "entry." If one needs the full context and info on a reference, one can do a control-F search on the thread for the Author/Title-date, e.g. "Nordhoff" or "1855", and soon find the post(s) where the reference was discussed.

Since the songs don't have standard names, and the lyrics are so variable, I give the ""chorus lyric."" If there is no lyric at all, I give the essential phrase that describes what was seen/heard. After the lyric, where applicable, I give a standard [TITLE], for comparison. Then comes brief info on place (and vessel, when applicable) followed by the activity the song accompanied. Last comes the ((Published reference)).

Lastly, the references amassed have not explored every avenue. For example, some feel the songs of the French voyageurs had some influence, and that has not been researched so far. My personal reason for not having done so is because I think that, while such genres may well have contributed some repertoire, my hunch is that they were not very significant in developing the genre as a whole.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 16 Apr 10 - 11:36 PM

"TIMELINE", 1770s-1840s


- singing their plaintive African songs, in cadence with the oars, Georgetown, SC/Blacks rowing (Watson 1856)


- "gnyaam gnyaam row" Demerara River, Georgetown, Guyana/Blacks rowing (Pinckard 1806).


- canoe-rowing songs, partly traditionary, partly improvised Charleston, SC/Blacks rowing (as per Grayson)


- "Cheerly men" [CHEERLY] (conjecture based on comment of "time out of mind," in UNITED SERVICES JOURNAL 1834)

c.1803[or earlier]

- a sort of Song pronounced by one of the number, Europeans/spoke windlass (Falconer 1806)


- eight stout negroes, who sing in chorus all the way, Surinam/Blacks rowing (Sack 1810)


- "Aye, aye/ Yoe, yoe" Savannah River, Georgia/Blacks rowing (Lambert 1810)


- a common sailors' chant in character, having a sort of 'Sally Brown, oh, ho,' chorus; and requiring the action of pulling a rope, London stage (Clason 1826)


- "Grog time of day" [GROG TIME] Jamaica/stevedores at capstan (Hay 1953)

- "Oh, huro, my boys/Oh, huro boys O" Jamaica/stevedores at capstan (Hay 1953)

[1812-1815 : War of 1812]


- "Grog time a day" [GROG TIME] Antigua/Blacks rowing (SERVICE AFLOAT, 1833)

- "Heigh me know, bombye me takey" Virgin Islands/Blacks rowing (SERVICE AFLOAT, 1833)

- the drums and fifes merrily play, Round the capstan we dance; We soon hear the song,
"Heave, heave, my brave boys, and in sight." Poem/capstan (1825)

[1816: Start of the Blackball Line]


- the negroes' song while stowing away the cotton, Savannah, GA/cotton-stowing (Harris 1821)


- "It's oh! as I was a walking out, One morning in July, I met a maid, who ax'd my trade" [NEW YORK GIRLS?] and "All the way to Shawnee town/Pull away - pull away!"
Ohio River, Parkersburg,VA/rowing (Hall 1821)

1822[or earlier]

- "Fine time o' day" Saint Thomas/Blacks rowing (Wentworth 1834).

1825, July

- the sailor sent forth his long and slow-toned "yeo— heave — oh!" Brig leaving Quebec/windlass (Finan 1825).

- "Oh, yeo, cheerly" [CHEERLY]" Brig leaving Quebec/topsail halliards (Finan 1825)


- "Haul way, yeo ho, boys!" London/Navy sailors in a pub ("Waldie's select circulating library", 1833)

1828, March

- a wild sort of song, Alatamaha River, Georgia/Black rowing (Hall)


- they began their song, one of them striking up, seemingly with the first idea that entered his imagination, while the others caught at his words, and repeated them to a kind of Chinese melody; the whole at length uniting their voices into one chant, which, though evidently the outpouring of a jovial spirit, had, from its unvaried tone and constant echo of the same expression, a half-wild, half-melancholy effect upon the ear. …It had begun with "Yah! yah! here's a full ship for the captain, and a full pannikin for Peytie Pevterson, la— la—lalla—la—leh; but this sentence, after many repetitions, was changed for others of briefer duration and more expressive import, as they coursed after each other with intoxicating rapidity… Fictional whaleship/capstan ("Tales of a Voyager to the Arctic Ocean", 1829)


- "Sally was a fine girl, ho! Sally, ho!" Cape Fear River, North Carolina/Blacks rowing (Cecelski 2001)


- "De neger like the bottley oh!" [BOTTLE O] and "Velly well, yankee, velly well oh" Guyana/Blacks rowing (Alexander, 1833)

[1832: Invention of Dobinson's pump windlass]

1832[or earlier]

- "Pull away now, my Nancy, O!" and/with "To the Greenland sea/ Black although she be" East India Company ship/capstan (THE QUID 1832)


- the wild song of the negro fire-men, Ohio River/steamboat firemen (Latrobe 1835)


- "'Tis grog time o' day!" [GROG TIME] rowing on ocean ("Waldie's Select Circulating Library," Dec. 1833)

1834, Aug-1836

- "singing out" at the ropes in their hoarse and peculiar strains, brig PILGRIM

- "Heave, to the girls!" and "Nancy oh!" and "Jack Cross-tree," brig PILGRIM/ songs for capstans and falls

- "Heave round hearty!" and "Captain gone ashore!" and "Time for us to go!" and "Round the corner, Sally" [ROUND THE CORNER] and "Hurrah! hurrah! my hearty bullies!" brig PILGRIM, California coast/driving in the hides (pull)

- the loud cry of "Yo heave ho! Heave and pawl! Heave hearty ho!" brig PILGRIM/spoke windlass

- Sailors, when heaving at a windlass, in order that they may heave together, always have one to sing out; which is done in a peculiar, high and long-drawn note, varying with the motion of the windlass

- "Cheerily, men!" [CHEERLY] brig PILGRIM/catting anchor

- lightening their labors in the boats by their songs, Italians rowing (Dana 1840ff)


- A line was sung by a leader, then all joined in a short chorus; then came another solo line, and another short chorus, followed by a longer chorus, Jacksonville, FL/Blacks rowing (Kennard 1845)

1835, September

- "Ho! cheerly" [CHEERLY] US ship PEACOCK, the Gulf of Mazeira [coast of Arabia]/ as they marched round the capstan, or hauled in the hawser by hand (Howland 1840)

- "Bonny laddie, Highland laddie" [HIGHLAND] capstan (Howland 1840)

1837, April

- "Hi de good boat Neely/Ho yoi!" Charleston, SC/Blacks rowing (Gillman 1852)

- "Oh! Sally Brown" (peculiarly musical, although not refined) [SALLY BROWN] Ship QUEBEC, Portsmouth >New York/pump windlass (Marryat)


- "Jenny gone away" [TOMMY'S GONE?] and "Fare you well, and good-by, oh, oh!" Altamaha River, Georgia/Blacks rowing (Kemble 1864)

1838, December

- "Fire the ringo, fire away!" [MARINGO] Mobile/cotton-screwing (Gosse 1859)

1839, Sept.

- "Fire down below!" [SAILOR FIREMAN] Dramatic scene in a steamboat/Black fireman (BENTLEY'S MISCELLANY 1839)

- "So early in the morning the Sailor loves his bottle oh," [BOTTLE O] and "Round the corner, Sally" [ROUND THE CORNER] and "Tally Ho, you know" [TALLY] & a dozen others, Tahiti/local women singing sailor songs (Reynolds and Philbrick)


- "grog time o' day." [GROG TIME] Clipper-brig CURLEW, New York >Hamburg/ halliards (Rice 1850)

1840, Feb.

- The usual cry is " Ho! Ho! Hoi!' or "Ho! Ho! Heavo!" whaler, New London > Pacific/hauling (Olmsted 1841).

- "Ho! Ho! and up she rises/Ear-ly in the morn-ing" [DRUNKEN SAILOR] and "Nancy Fanana, she married a barber/Heave her away, and heave her away [HAUL 'ER AWAY]

- "O! hurrah my hearties O!" short haul to extract whale tooth


- "Grog time o' day/Oh, hoist away" [GROG TIME] New Orleans/stevedores loading a steamboat (THE ART OF BALLET 1915)

1842, February

- casting huge sticks of wood into the mouths of the row of yawning furnaces beneath the serried boilers,accompanying their labor by a loud and not unmusical song, steamboat, Ohio River/Black fireman (THE BALTIMORE PHOENIX AND BUDGET 1842)

1842, April

- "Cheerily, oh cheerily," [CHEERLY] Ship HUNTRESS, New York > China/ hoisting guns from hold (Lowrie 1849)

1842, Sept.

- "O ee roll & go/O ho roll & go" [SALLY BROWN?] whaleship TASKAR/song in diary (Creighton 1995)

1842, October

- "Heave him up! O he yo!" Canary Islands/spoke windlass (Browne 1846).


- "Oh, Jenny gone away" [TOMMY'S GONE?] Virginia/corn-shucking ("The Family Magazine" 1843)


- "Oh, the captain's gone ashore/Hie bonnie laddie, and we'll all go ashore" [GROG TIME?] Mobile Bay/cotton-stowing (Hill 1893).

- "Cheerily men, ho!" [CHEERLY] Port Adelaide/remembering a ship's song (Lloyd 1846)

1844, August

- "Round the corner, Sally!" [ROUND THE CORNER] Society Islands/local imitation of sailor's song (Lucett)


- The crew was made up of the hardest kind of men; they were called "hoosiers,"
working in New Orleans or Mobile during the winter at stowing ships with cotton, and in the summer sailing in the packet ships. They were all good chantey men; that is, they could all sing at their…we could reef and hoist all three topsails at once, with a different song for each one, Packet ship TORONTO, NY > London/re: cotton-stowing (Low 1906)

- "Roll and go for that white pitcher, roll and go," London/unloading cargo w/ capstan

1845, Feb.

"Ho, O, heave O" heaving anchor ("American Journal of Music and Musical Vistor"1845)

- "Row, Billy, row," American sailor returned from Mediterranean/rowing

1845, Sept.

- "Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie" [HIGHLAND] and "Fire, maringo, fire away" [MARINGO] Ship CHARLES CAROL, New Orleans/cotton-stowing (Erskine 1896)


- "Carry him along, boys, carry him along/ Carry him to the burying-ground" [WALK HIM ALONG] and "Hurrah, see—man—do/Oh, Captain, pay me dollar" and "Fire, maringo, fire away" [MARINGO] and "Bonnie laddie, highland laddie" [HIGHLAND] many of the screw-gangs have an endless collection of songs, Mobile Bay/cotton-stowing (Nordhoff 1855)


- "O! bullies, O!/A hundred years ago!" [HUNDRED YEARS] and "storm along, stormy!" [STORMY] Hawai'i/non-working, whaling territory (Perkins 1854)

- "Storm along Stormy" [STORMY] minstrel song collection (White1854) It looks like this minstrel version was inspired by the cotton-stowers' "traditional" song.

[1848-1855: California Gold Rush]

1849, March

- "O, yes, O!/ A hundred years ago" [HUNDRED YEARS] Steamer OREGON, Panama > San Francisco/ at the capstan and windlass (Thurston1851)

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 12:51 AM

A few reflections on the timeline:

Generally, it is interesting to see examples of how certain songs or at least song-formats were passed between different types of work. "Grog Time o' Day" is a shining example of this, as it seems to have been used for just about every task. (Incidentally, I wonder why it did not survive down to the present, or in the works of collectors -- or has it?) And though our contemporary sensibilities tell us that certain songs could have been (and were) used for more than one type of *shipboard* task, nonetheless I am slightly surprised by some of the cross-use in this period. I was expecting a bit more of a distinction. On the other hand, the references are often unclear what the task was; it may just be vagueness or carelessness that makes it seem so.

There are some "key" references I'd like to pull out.

1825 - "Cheerly" is being used for topsail halyards. This is the earliest evidence (from this list) to show that intermittent hauls were being done at the halyards. I am contrasting this with what I suppose were earlier methods: stamp and go, hand over hand, and "willy-nilly" -- all being techniques being better suited to larger crews, and all requiring a different sort of song. Although "Cheerly" was in its verse not quite like later halyard chanties, it shares with them the intermittent haul, i.e. it shares the same general work method, even if not the poetic form.

1835 - "Highland" at the capstan. This suggests that when we see "Highland" in use by cotton-stowers later, it may well have been brought to them via sailors. It makes a bit more sense that Euro-American sailors marching round the capstan would have used the Scots march first, rather than (presumably?) African-American cotton-stowers adapting it first. This means that although (IMO at least) cotton-stower's original songs seem to have made a great impact on sailors' songs, sailors had also brought their songs to cotton-stowing. It also suggests a correspondence between capstan songs and the cotton songs. That connection is later underscored by Nordhoff. And though I *want* to imagine cotton songs as more like halyard shanties, I can't ignore this evidence. One *possible* way of reconciling that is to propose that, *at this point*, the halyard chanties as a body had not fully emerged.

1837 - "Sally Brown" at the pump windlass. The device, brand new at the time, suggested a new form of song, I think. And this "Sally Brown" bears good similarity to later chanties.

1840s - "Grog Time" at the halliards. Not *quite*, but basically a typical halyard chanty form of later days.

1844/45 - talk of "hoosiers" on a packet ship, hoisting topsail yards, and how there was "a different song for each one." This stands in contrast to what seems to have been the case earlier, where there were a few stock songs only ("Cheerly") or the cries were too incidental to be identified as song-units. With this and the example of "Grog Time," above, I feel there is good evidence that halyard chanties "as we know them" had developed in/by the mid 40s.

1845-1851? - Nordhoff's statement that the screw-gangs have an endless collection of songs. This again suggests that it was by the mid 40s when the repertoire had grown, and that such a large body of songs was now available for borrowing (in both directions?) between cotton-stowers and sailors.

In all the other trades, we have examples of songs that also made it aboard ship. However, I don't know how that happened. I tend to doubt, for example, that White men being rowed in boats decided to pick up those African-American songs. No, it would more likely be that: 1) Blacks working aboard ship introduced the songs as part of the routine -- especially since, as is over and over stated, Blacks "could/would not work without singing"; 2) Contact between White sailors and Black stevedores, OR Whites working along side Blacks in stevedoring (incl. cotton-stowing), after a certain point in history, induced the borrowing.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 04:07 AM

1) and 2) of my last paragraph was meant as an either/or thing.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 07:54 AM

Excellent summary of a lot of materials and good analysis of what they might mean for the advent and development of chanties. Good work, Gibb.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 10:37 AM

Great timeline, Gibb! A critical scrutiny of shanty sources is something long overdue!

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 12:15 PM

I forgot a reference in the above "timeline":


- "Oh sailors where are you bound to/Across the briny ocean" Packet ship, Liverpool > Philadelphia/ pump windlass (Nordhoff 1855)

By a close, close reading of the text, I imagine the date could be made more precise.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 01:17 PM

Roll, 1850s, Roll!

I want to start re-viewing the sources attributing chanties to the 1850s. This means digging them out of places elsewhere on Mudcat and seeing what they say about the nature and context of maritime work-singing at those times. In addition to the MANY references in the "Sydney/SF" thread, I have some more bookmarked away!

The practice of chantying seems to explode in the 1850s. I will be interested to see the qualitative differences between the 40s and the 50s.

In John D. Whidden's OCEAN LIFE IN THE OLD SAILING SHIP DAYS (copyright 1908), he quotes his friend Captain George Meacom, of Beverly Mass. Who wrote about the chanties he remembered from circa 1850s New Orleans. The testimony includes reference to 3 familiar songs, as pumping chanties: "Mobile Bay," "Fire Down Below," and "One More Day." It is impossible to say if these were 1850s songs though. Chantying is ascribed to more or less every shipboard task, indicating that, if the dating is accurate, chanty-singing was absolutely ubiquitous by the 1850s. It all falls within a rich passage that includes a description of cotton-stowing. Here we go:

I left the "Tirrell " in Boston, and having had enough of western ocean winter voyages, I signed the articles of the ship "Emperor," Captain Knott Pedrick, as third mate, bound to New Orleans. The "Emperor" was a ship of seven hundred tons burthen, having fine accommodations for cabin passengers. Sailing from Boston in ballast, we arrived safely, and loaded cotton for Havre, France.

New Orleans, at this time, was the great shipping port of the South for exporting cotton to Europe, although Mobile, Savannah and Charleston also shipped great quantities.
In the winter months, all along the levees at New Orleans lay tiers of shipping of all nationalities, loading cotton for the northern ports of the United States, as well as the various ports of Europe. The river front is shaped like a crescent, and from this fact New Orleans takes its name of the "Crescent City." For miles along the banks, or levees, extends the shipping, lying in tiers, loading cotton, staves, or tobacco, but principally cotton. The bales were rolled from the levee by the stevedores' gangs, generally roustabout darkies, up the staging, and tumbled on deck and down the hold, where they were received by gangs of cotton-screwers, there being as many gangs in the ship's hold as could work to advantage. The bales were placed in tiers, and when they would apparently hold no more, with the aid of planks and powerful cotton-screws, several bales would be driven in where it would appear to a novice impossible to put one.

Four men to a screw constituted a gang, and it was a point of honor to screw as many bales in a ship's hold as could possibly be crammed in, and in some cases even springing the decks upwards, such a power was given by the screw. All this work was accompanied by a song, often improvised and sung by the "chantie" man, the chorus being taken up by the rest of the gang. Each gang possessed a good "chantie" singer, with a fine voice. The chorus would come in with a vim, and every pound in the muscles of the gang would be thrown into the handle-bars of the cotton-screws, and a bale of cotton would be driven in where there appeared to be but a few inches of space.

The songs or "chanties" from hundreds of these gangs of cotton-screwers could be heard all along the river front, day after day, making the levees of New Orleans a lively spot. As the business of cotton-screwing was dull during the summer months, the majority of the gangs, all being good sailors, shipped on some vessel that was bound to some port in Europe to pass the heated term and escape the "yellow Jack," which was prevalent at that season. When they returned in the fall they could command high wages at cotton-screwing on shipboard. Some would go to northern ports, but generally the autumn found them all back, ready for their winter's work.

"Chantie" singing was not confined to the gangs of cotton screwers. In the days of the old sailing ships almost all the work on shipboard was accompanied by a song or "chantie." My old friend Captain George Meacom, of Beverly, nephew of my old commander, Captain Edward Meacom of the ship " Brutus," in an able article in the Boston Transcript, says in regard to the old time chantie songs:

"Fifty years ago, in my early sea life, when the American merchant marine was at its zenith, and the deep-water clipper sailing ship carried the broom at its masthead, no first-class well-appointed sailing ship would think of shipping its crew without having at least one good 'chantie man' among them. For with the oldstyle hand-brake windlass for getting the anchors, the heavy, single topsails and courses to handle, it was necessary, in order to secure the combined power of the men, that unison of effort should be made, especially while heaving up the anchor, mastheading the topsails, getting the tacks of the courses aboard and the sheets aft, or pumping ship, and this could better be well done by the assistance of a good 'chantie' song. With twenty-five or thirty men's efforts worked as a unit, this great, combined power would be sure to bring desired results in all heavy work. Noticing an article recently published, the writer said, 'I have passed many miserable hours pumping out leaks from wooden ships, but I was never so fortunate as to hear a pumping chantie.'

"In my early days of sea life ships were driven hard, and sail carried on the vessel to the utmost limit, that quick passages might be made, with the result that the vessel often being strained, — it not being uncommon for the whole body structure of the ship to quiver, — would leak considerably, and in order to keep her cargo from being damaged, it would be necessary to pump the water out of the vessel at stated periods, and at these times the pumping 'chantie' song came in place and served its purpose admirably. Among these songs were the following:

"'Mobile Bay

"' Were you ever down in Mobile Bay,
    Johnnie, come tell us and pump away. 

A-screwing cotton by the day,
    Johnnie, come tell us and pump away, 

Aye, aye, pump away, 

    Johnnie, come tell us and pump away,' etc.

"' Fire Down Below

"' Fire in the galley, fire in the house, 
Fire in the beef kid, scorching scouse; 
Fire, fire, fire down below: fetch a bucket of water. 
Fire down below,' etc.

"' One More Day For Johnnie

"' Only one more day for Johnnie,
    Only one more day: 

Oh, rock and roll me over,
    Only one more day,' etc.

" All of the named ' chanties' the writer of this once took pride in singing as a chantie man when before the mast as a sailor, and, in later years, after becoming an officer and captain, he found that the early acquisition was valuable as a critic of good 'chantie' singing, and although more than one half of a century has passed, yet the old 'chantie' song will start the blood tingling with the vim of the days of yore."

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 01:41 PM

Excellent stuff, Gibb.
Today I received an email from 'Billy Weekes' who is lurking. He tells me that somewhere in the thread you have assumed that the Chatham Theatre is in London (where Wallack performed his theatrical chanty). NYC stands for New York City. Although he was claiming to be an ex RN lieutenant he was performing in New York and actually managed this theatre.

Like many aspects of traditional music where cross-overs occur from one genre to another, or one place to another, the traffic is almost always a 2-way affair if not equally so.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 02:32 PM

&cdHere are some references to the 1850's. Not all of these references are to actual chanties. But there may be a connection to the later development of a particular chanty. I'm moving these over from the "San Francisco to Sydney" thread.

From SHE WAS A SISTER SAILOR: THE WHALING JOURNALS OF MARY BREWSTER, 1845-1851, there is a reference (from a snippet) to "Tally hi o you know". I can't tell what the year is from this but someone probably has this book.

From an article entitled "News From Our Digger" an account from 1852, in TAIT'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE, VOLUME 19, we have reference to "Cheerymen" and "Storm along, my Stormy".,+hi-ho,+cheerymen.%22&lr=&cd=1#v=onepage&q=%22Polly%20

From a story called "The Boy of Chickamauga" by Edmund Kirke, in OUR YOUNG FOLKS, VOL. 1, there is a line supposedly from 1853 that may refer to "Clear the track, let the bullgine run."

We have three minstrel songs from Christy and White's ETHIOPIAN MELODIES, 1854. Various versions and editions and sections of this were published here and there at other times, and there may be some earlier publication dates out there. We have "Storm along, Stormy":

And then there is "Fire Down Below":

And finally, "Whoop, Jamboree":,+Jam-bo-ree%22&lr=&cd=1#v=onepage&q=%22Whoop%2C%20Jam-bo-r

From MELBOURNE, AND THE CHINCHA ISLANDS, by George Washington Peck, we have a reference from 1854 to "Haul the bowline" and four different melodies without words.

And then a reference from Solomon Northup's TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE, 1855, perhaps talking about events in 1853 or earlier. He mentions some fiddle tunes and "patting juba" songs, among which are "Old Hog Eye!" and "Jim Along, Josie."

From a story by Edgar S. Farnsworth called "The Yarn of the Watch" in BALLOU'S MONTHLY MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, 1855, we have "Storm along, Stormy":

From Charles Dickens' HOUSEHOLD WORDS, 1855-56, we have what may be a reference to "Drunken Sailor":

From John Stirling Fisher's A BUILDER OF THE WEST, we have "Storm Along," "All on the Plains of Mexico", and "Aha, we're bound away, on the wild Missouri", from the memoirs of General William Jackson Palmer, in 1856:

From THE KNICKERBOCKER, VOLUME 54, we have an article entitled "The Life of a Midshipman", 1857, with "Row, bullies, row!"

From THE MERCANTILE MARINE, by E. Keble Chatterton, we have a quote from Sir William B. Forwood's REMINISCENCES OF A LIVERPOOL SHIPOWNER, 1857, which mentions "Paddy works upon the railway" and "Whiskey, Johnny."

From THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY, Vol. II, 1858, we have "Pay me the money down!", "O long storm, storm along stormy", and "Highland day and off she goes":,+storm+along.%22&lr=&cd=2#v=onepage&q=%22O%20Long%20St

From an article in the OBERLIN STUDENT'S MONTHLY, VOL 1, Issue 1, from 1858, we have mention of "We're a bully ship and a bully crew", "O! haulee, heigho, cheeryman!" and "Storm along, my stormies". There is also mention of "Jim along, Josey" as a rowing song.

Here is "Sally Brown" from Hercules Robinson's SEA DRIFT, from 1858:,+Sally+Brown+Oh%22&cd=1#v=onepage&q=%22Oh%20Sally%20

From THE REAL EXPERIENCES OF AN EMIGRANT, by Ward, Lock, & Tyler, we have a reference to "Whiskey for Johnny!" that may be from 1859:

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 02:51 PM

Just one glance at this and we surely have our burgeoning of chanty singing in the 1850s. There are about 20 titles mentioned in there.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 02:57 PM

Thanks, John. Does that set represent a distillation (more or less) of the 1850s references from that thread, or just some of the recent ones?

Steve -- NYC it is!

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 04:07 PM

Gibb, this was my attempt to pull it all together. I may have missed something but I don't think so. The dating in some cases may be open to debate. I put them into the 1850's not because that's when they were published but because that was, *as near as I could tell*, their original reference point. Here are the links to the other thread. You will see that I dropped two references that I either had second thoughts on or Lighter corrected me on.



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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 04:42 PM

Perfect, John!!

Now to digest them, bit by bit.


This one is great; unfortunately I don't have the book, either.

From SHE WAS A SISTER SAILOR: THE WHALING JOURNALS OF MARY BREWSTER, 1845-1851, there is a reference (from a snippet) to "Tally hi o you know".

The only thing I'll add is that [TALLY] was said to have been sung while weighing anchor. However, without more info, I don't know which device was used: capstan, spoke windlass (e.g. as in the Moby Dick film), or the pump/brake windlass (e.g. as on the CHARLES W. MORGAN).

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 04:44 PM

P.S. I'd like to try that Chinese root beer.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 05:42 PM

Here are a couple of references I missed, but I think you've covered two of them.

{1850s} W Craig , ADVENTURES IN THE AUSTRALIAN GOLD FIELDS, 1903 "Two shanty fragments as sung on the sailing ships bringing gold seekers to Sydney. (From Warren Fahey's website).

"Oh fare you well, my own Mary Anne" [pumping]
" When first we went a-waggoning" [anchor hauling]

{1850s} OCEAN LIFE IN THE OLD SAILING SHIP DAYS, John D. Whidden. Whidden's source is his "old friend, Captain George Meacom, of Beverly [Mass.]." Meacom refers to his own recollection of the 1850s, and his testimony seems to be reliable. (See Gibb's note above)

"Mobile Bay" /"Johnnie Come Tell Us As We Haul Away"
"Fire Down Below"
"One More Day For Johnnie"

{1853} A JOURNEY IN THE SEABOARD SLAVE STATES Frederick Law Olmsted, 1861

"Oahoiohieu" / "The Sailor Fireman" ("Lindy Lowe") [riverboat]
"Oh, John, come down in de holler" [riverboat]

(scroll down):

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 05:52 PM

From an article entitled "News From Our Digger" an account from 1852, in TAIT'S EDINBURGH MAGAZINE, VOLUME 19, we have reference to "Cheerymen" and "Storm along, my Stormy".

So this is a trip in Australia's Gold Rush days, in a packet ship, CHALMERS, which left Aug. 1852 from Gravesend (on the Thames) and bound for Melbourne. Published 1853. The author, a gold-seeking passenger, writes:

Songs Afloat.—There is one thing in particular which is sure to attract the attention of a landsman when he first sets his foot on board ship, and this is the songs sung by the seamen whilst performing their various duties. These songs, which often, as regards words, are made impromptu, are most enlivening and spirited; and a good singing crow, with a clever leader, may, in my opinion, be looked upon in the light of a blessing on board any ship. In a little schooner in which I made a voyage up the Mediterranean, we had some excellent singers; and scarcely was a rope touched, sail set, or other heavy work done, without a song : and this may, in some measure, be accounted for by the encouragement given them by our captain, who would often promise all hands a tot of rum, if they did their work in a seamanlike manner, and sang well. The good effect of this was very visible on the men, who evidently pulled the ropes more cheerfully and with double vigour. The following are specimens:—

On Hauling up Topsail Yards, after Reefing.

Polly Racket, hi-ho, cheerymen—(pull),
Pawned my jacket, hi-ho, cheerymen—(pull),
And sold the ticket, hi-ho, cheerymen—(pull);
Ho, hawly, hi-ho, cheerymen—(pull).

Eouse him up, hi-ho, cheerymen—(pull),
Pull up the devil, hi-ho, cheerymen—(pull);
And make him civil, hi-ho, cheerymen—(pull),
Oh, hawly, hi-ho, cheerymen—(pull).

I wish I was old Stormy's son,
Hurra, and storm along :
I'd give the sailors lots of rum,
Storm along, my Stormy.
Chorus—Hurra!—hurra!—hurra!—storm along,
    Storm along, my roving blades,
    Storm along, my Stormy.


This is the first *shipboard* appearance of STORMY that I am seeing. The text's layout makes it confusing as to whether Stormy was also used for halliards. Well, it is listed as if it were, however, the full chorus is not characteristic of what we now associate with halyard chanties. (In Hugill's version, for example, this chorus seems to be chopped off.) The passenger may have noted this song, but not properly distinguished the task. If we consider that "Stormy" may have been borrowed from the cotton-stowers' repertoire...and as those "chants" were earlier (i.e. Nordhoff) compared to capstan songs, we'd expect this Stormy to be for a heaving task. On the other hand, if it was in fact used for halyards, that means cotton chants were adapted to halliards, too. Either way it is significant, but I'm not sure which way!

Interesting to see how CHEERLY persisted into this time, as a halliard chantey. In this example, there is a clear 4-phrase stanza-like form -- as it appears in Hugill. In other words, it wasn't just "say a line, then pull at the end," but rather the melodic cadences and the "hawly" phrase caused sets of 4 lines to be grouped.

Also interesting how the passenger attests hearing chanties for all work on a schooner. That statement may have to be qualified by something we are unaware of. However, it seems to contradict the idea that chanties weren't used on schooners "because they weren't needed." Perhaps the "need" for chanties on packet ships is what spurned the development, and once they became ubiquitous there, they became popular on lighter fore/aft rigged vessels, too.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 09:35 PM

THE WESTERN WILDS OF AMERICA, by John Regan (2nd. edition, 1859), mentions a riverboat trip in the Mississippi Valley (Galena River, Illinois) that he took circa 1843-1846. No specific song is mentioned, but he does describe his impression of the singing of African-American firemen:

About dark a steamer from Galena going down, called at the landing-place to take in grain, and we got on board to vary the journey and ease our limbs. The night was exceedingly hot and oppressive, and we stretched ourselves upon deck, hard by the windlass. The fires, as is usual, were upon this lower deck, served by negroes. As we lay with our hats drawn over our faces in a half doze, the firemen struck up one of those singularly wild and impressive glees which negroes alone can sing effectively. By turns the singer would break out into measured tones of laughter, followed by an outburst of musical salvoes, very singular and very commanding, coming as they did from the lungs of half a dozen or more. This would be succeeded by a sharp, piercing, "desolate howl," and this again by the full chorus of negro voices, aided by the black cook, who, captivated by the strains, would lean his breast up against his galley door, and grin out his satisfaction in true character, To describe in writing, however, the singular effect of this strange medley of sounds, would be impossible.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 10:00 PM

In "Notes and Queries" for August 1851, a contributer (T.W.) mentions an earlier published firemen's song. Here is what he/she says:

In the 231st number of that excellent New York periodical, The Literary World, published on the 5th of July, there is an article on "Steamboats and Steamboating in the South West," in which I find the following passage: —

"I mentioned the refrain of the firemen. Now as a particular one is almost invariably sung by Negroes when they have anything to do with or about a fire; whether it be while working at a New Orleans fire-engine, or crowding wood into the furnaces of a steamboat; whether they desire to make an extra racket at leaving, or evince their joy at returning to a port, it may be worth recording; and here it is:

Fire on the quarter-deck,
Fire on the bow,
Fire on the gun-deck,
Fire down below !'

The last line is given by all hands with great vim (sic) and volume; and as for the chorus itself, you will never meet or pass a boat, you will never behold the departure or arrival of one, and you will never witness a New Orleans fire, without hearing it."

The writer says nothing about the origin of this Negro melody, and therefore he is, I presume, unaware of it. But many of your readers will at once recognise the spirited lines, which when once they are read in Walter Scott's Pirate, have somehow a strange pertinacity in ringing in one's ears, and creep into a nook of the memory, from which they ever and anon insist on emerging to the lips. The passage occurs at the end of the fifth chapter of the third volume, where the pirates recapture their runaway captain : —

" They gained their boat in safety, and jumped into it, carrying along with them Cleveland, to whom circumstances seemed to offer no other refuge, and pushed off for their vessel, singing in chorus to their oars an old ditty, of which the natives of Kirkwall could only hear the first stanza :

'Thus said the Rover
   To his gallant crew,
Up with the black flag,
   Down with the blue!
Fire on the main-top,
   Fire on the bow.
Fire on the gun-deck,
   Fire down below !'"

How did the song get from Walter Scott to 1840s era Black Americans? I am supposing that the song was earlier prevalent as a song in British ships. Fascinating, then, that it would have become ubiquitous among African-Americans in certain trades. Incidentally, this reminds me that, though we've touched upon it slightly elsewhere on Mudcat (e.g. in reference to "bulgine"), we've yet to bring in the possible influence of fire-fighter's songs here.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 10:17 PM

Here's one to file back with the African-American rowing descriptions of the 1830s.

THE PLANTER, by David Brown, 1853. The narrator is on the St. Johns River, Florida. It is Feb. 1834.

What most surprised us in the negroes,—strangers till then to their peculiarities—was their remarkable talent of improvisation. Their extemporaneous songs at the oar, suited to various scenes and occasions and circumstances present, induced the natural feeling that our boatmen were a set of rare geniuses, selected by our generous friend for the purpose of giving us additional pleasure and surprise. It was afterwards found that extemporaneous singing was not uncommon among them.

The negro boatman of the South seems inspired by the improvising muse whenever he seizes the oar; and especially if it be to row a company of agreeable people on a party of pleasure. If there be young ladies of the number, they may be quite sure to be introduced by the muse, and to receive not only compliments, but admonitions.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 10:28 PM

From a story by Edgar S. Farnsworth called "The Yarn of the Watch" in BALLOU'S MONTHLY MAGAZINE, VOL. 2, [August] 1855, we have "Storm along, Stormy"

It's a general reference to how a crew might sing that song. No specific occasion mentioned.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Apr 10 - 11:03 PM

PUTNAM'S MONTHLY for Jan. 1855 had an article entitled "Negro Minstrelsy - Ancient and Modern". It contains the following passage, which includes lyrics to two songs that relate to the maritime repertoire (in an imagined Georgia):

And now, faintly heard far over the water, I distinguish the soft thump of oars in the rowlock of an approaching boat. I listen with attentive ears—for I know by experience the gratification in store for me—and soon catch the distant tones of the human voice— now more faintly heard, and now entirely lost. A few minutes pass, and the breeze once more wafts to me the swelling notes of the chorus half buried in the measured cadeuce of the oars. The wind dies away, and my straining ears again hear nothing but the measured beat of the rowers, and the plashing of the restless sea. But now, anew, I hear the sound of those manly negro voices swelling up upon the evening gale. Nearer and nearer conies the boat, higher and higher rises the melody, till it overpowers and subdues the noise of the oars, which in their turn become subservient to the song, and mark its time with harmonious beating. And now the boat is so near, that every word and every tone comes to my ear, over the water, with perfect distinctness, and I recognize the grand old triumphal chorus of the stirring patriotic melody of " Gen'el Jackson":

"Gen'el Jackson, mighty man—
Whaw, my kingdom, fire away;
He fight on iea, and he fight on land,
Whaw, my kingdom, fire away.

Gen'el Jackson gain de day—
Whaw, my kingdom, fire away,
Be gain de day in Floraday,
Whaw, my kingdom, flre away.

Gen'el Jackson fine de trail,
Whaw, my kingdom, flre away,
He full um fote wid cotton bale,
Whaw, my kingdom, fire away."

But the boat touches the beach; the negroes with a wild cry quit their singing, tumble out into the shallow water, drag their dug-out up high and dry upon the sand, and I am left once more with the evening breeze and the quieter harmony of nature.

The song, a part of which I have just quoted, is fresh from the sable mint in which it was coined. Its originality and genuineness every one familiar with plantation life will at once perceive; while some Georgians may even be able to point to the very river on which the dusky troubadours still chant it. I am well aware that in depriving the words of their appropriate music, I rob it of much of its attractiveness, and still it is no bad sample of what may be called the Historic Plantation Ballad. The particular naval battle in which Old Hickory was engaged, I have not been able to discover; but the allusion to the bales of cotton in the third stanza may not be without its effect in settling one of the vexed questions relating to the defence of New Orleans; and it adds another to the many examples of the superiority of oral tradition over contemporaneous written history.

It is not alone, however, on the water that these quaint songs are produced. The annual corn-shucking season has its own peculiar class of songs, never heard but on that festival; their rhythmical structure or caesural pauses not being adapted to the measured cadence of the oars. Standing at a little distance from the corn heap, on some dark and quiet night, watching the sable forms of the gang, illuminated at intervals by the flashes of the lightwood knot, and listening to the wild high notes of their harvest songs, it is easy to imagine ourselves unseen spectators of some secret aboriginal rite or savage festival. Snatches of one or two songs which on such occasions I have heard, recur to me. Could I in the following specimen give you any idea of the wild grandeur and stirring music of the refrain, I should need no apology for presenting it to my readers.

"De ladies in de parlor.
Hey, come a rollln' down—
A drinking tea and coffee;
Good morning ladies all.

"De gemmen in de kitchen,
Hey come a rollln' down—
A drinking brandy toddy ;
Good morning, ladies all."

More clues to the origin of "Fire Maringo" -- The 2nd Seminole War in Florida (1835-1842), perhaps? -- and an example of its use for rowing (i.e. not just cotton-stowing). "Good morning, ladies all" may not be the same song as the chantey, though it does have a chantey form, and it is being used for "work."

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 12:12 AM

GENTLEMEN'S MAGAZINE for Oct. 1839 contains a story supposedly based on the logs of the USS CONSTITUTION in action during the War of 1812. Outside of any context, the article quotes the words to the chantey, FIRE DOWN BELOW.

"Fire! in the main-top,
Fire! in the bow.
Fire! on the gun-deck,
Fire! down below."

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 09:01 AM

This looks like it might be a reference to a Gold Rush voyage to San Francisco in 1856. It is from LIFE BY LAND AND SEA, by Prentice Mulford, originally published in 1889. He is on board the "Wizard", and there is a lot of pumping going on. He says,

"For the first six weeks all the "shanty songs" known on the sea had been sung. Regularly at each pumping exercise we had "Santy Anna," "Bully in the Alley," "Miranda Lee," "Storm Along, John," and other operatic maritime gems, some of which might have a place in our modern operas of "The Pinafore" school. There's a good deal of rough melody when these airs are rolled out, by twenty or thirty strong lungs to the accompaniment of a windlass' clank and the wild, shrill sweep of the winds in the rigging above." (p. 24    Here:

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 02:34 PM

Just to add to John's last entry, Mulford 1889:

The WIZARD described was a clipper ship, bound NY > San Francisco. 1856 is also my best guess -- the author makes the time period very confusing. Though he refers to a windlass in the context of shanties, that is a general reference; the songs specifically mentioned are not necessarily ascribed to that task. Each is being ascribed to pumping. They must have been using the "Downton pump" (i.e. not the brake-lever style, whose action is much like a windlass) because later he says they fitted it with "bell ropes." That means that some guys were doing a hauling action.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: John Minear
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 04:19 PM

I can't find a thing on "Miranda Lee". I wonder what this song was about.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: shipcmo
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 04:41 PM

Don't suppose it had anything to do with "Liza Lee"?
Hoist one!

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 08:03 PM

Here is the relevant passage in A JOURNEY IN THE SEABOARD SLAVE STATES by Frederick Law Olmsted, copyright 1856.

It is 1853. He is traveling on a steamboat on the Red River to Shrevport, LA.

We backed out, winded round head up, and as we began to breast the current, a dozen of the negro boat-hands, standing on the freight, piled up on the low forecastle, began to sing, waving hats and handkerchiefs, and shirts lashed to poles, towards the people who stood on the sterns of the steam-boats at the levee. After losing a few lines, I copied literally into my note-book:

"Ye see dem boat way dah ahead.
De San Charles is arter 'em, dey mus go behine.

So stir up dah, my livelies, stir her up; (pointing to the furnaces).
Dey's burnin' not'n but fat and rosum.

Oh, we is gwine up de Red River, oh!
Oh, we mus part from you dah asho'.

Give my lub to Dinah, oh!
For we is gwine up de Red River.

Yes, we is gwine up de Red River.
Oh we must part from you dah oh.

[The wit introduced into these songs has, I suspect, been rather over-estimated. On another occasion I took down the following:

" John come down in de holler,
   Oh, work and talk and holler,
   Oh, John, come down in de ho ler,
Ime gwine away to-morrow.
Oh, John, &c.

Ime gwine away to marry,
Oh, John, &c.

Get my cloves in order,
Oh. John, &c.

I'se gwine away to-morrow,
Oh, John, &c.

Oh, work and talk and holler,
Oh, John, &c.

Massa guv me dollar,
Oh, John, &c.

Don't cry yer eyes out, honey,
Oh, John, &c.

I'm gwine to get some money,
Oh, John, &c.

But I'll come back to-morrow,
Oh, John, &c.

So work and talk and holler,
Oh, John, &c.

Work all day and Sunday,
Oh, John, &c.

Massa get de money,
Oh, John, &c.

After the conclusion of this song, and after the negroes had left the bows, and were coming aft along the guards, we passed two or three colored nurses, walking with children on the river bank; as we did so the singers jumped on some cotton bales, bowed very low to them, took off their hats, and swung and waved them, and renewed their song :

God bless yon all, dah ! ladies !
Oh, John come down in de holler,

Farwell, de Lord be wid you, honey,
    Oh, John, come down, &c.

Done cry yerself to def,
    Oh, John. &c.

I'm gwine down to New Orleans,
    Oh, John. &c

I'll come back, dough, bime-by,
    Oh, John, &c,

So far-you-well, my honey,
    Oh, John, &c.

Far-you-well, all you dah, shore,
    Oh, John, &c.

And save your cotton for de Dalmo!
Oh, John, &c]

The Black boat-hands singing are not working. However, one might presume (?) the songs would be the same ones they would use working -- for fireman duties. The first one, THE SAILOR FIREMAN, is attested elsewhere as a work-song, as is the famous JOHNNY COME DOWN TO HILO.

It may be notable that although Olmsted gave the work-songs on a whaling voyage in 1840 (above), he does not compare these songs to those (which were the old DRUNKEN SAILOR and "Nancy Fanana"/"Haul 'er Away").

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 08:31 PM

From John Stirling Fisher's A BUILDER OF THE WEST, we have "[Hi yi, yi, yi,Mister Storm roll on, Storm Along,] Storm Along," "All on the Plains of Mexico", and "Aha, we're bound away, on the wild Missouri", from the memoirs of General William Jackson Palmer, in 1856

Unfortunately, the specific context of these songs is not noted. The passenger heard them on a packet ship from Liverpool to New York.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 09:05 PM

Courtesy of John Minear:

Here is a version of "Row, Bullies Row" from 1857. It is in THE KNICKERBOCKER, VOL L., 1857, in an article entitled "The Life of a Midshipmen", by "John Jenkins" (?). He is at the Brooklyn Naval Yard and is being rowed out to his first assignment on board the US Frigate "Shenandoah". It is presented as a rowing song:

[As the launch (which, to my surprise, proved to be nothing more than a large boat) was heavily laden, and the tide running strong against us, the pull to the ship was a very heavy one ; so, to lighten their labors, the midshipman in charge of the boat, gave permission to ' the men ' to sing; upon which they regaled our ears with at least a dozen of the most popular sea-songs of the day, concluding with one, (which I afterward found to be a great favorite among seamen,) where the singers are two — the one (taking for his theme whatever comes uppermost in his mind) making some statement; the other asking a question in relation to it, to which the first replies — the whole boat's crew joining in the chorus. In the present instance it was as follows:]

'Oh! I do love that good, old bottle!
   Row, bullies, row!
Oh! I do love that good, old bottle!
   Row, my bullies, row!
Why do yo love that good, old bottle?
   Row, my bullies, row!
I love it 'cause it suits my throttle!
    Row, my bullies, row!
I love it 'cause it suits my throttle!
    Row, my bullies, row!

   After singing five more verses in the same elegant strain, we happened to pass a bum-boat, in which were seated a fat, old white woman and a negro boy, whereupon the singers roared out with great glee, and in a higher key than before:

'Yonder sits a dear old lady!
    Row, my bullies, row!
Yonder sits a dear old lady!
   Row, my bullies, row!
How do you know she is a lady?
    Row, my bullies, row!
How do you know she is a lady?
    Row, my bullies, row!
I know her by her nigger baby!
    Row, my bullies, row!
I know her by her nigger baby!"   
    Row, my bullies, row!            

I wonder about the time period. I don't find any Frigate SHENANDOAH around in 1857 (?). I wonder if this account is from quite a bit earlier. It is much like the song in The American Journal of Music and Musical Vistor, 1845 (above), and it may well have been the same song as what we now know as BLOW BOYS BLOW.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 09:43 PM

From John M.:

Here is a reference to ""Whiskey, Johnny" from 1857. In his book, THE MERCANTILE MARINE, E. Keble Chatterton [2009] prints a long quote from a "recently published" book by Sir Wiliam B. Forwood entitled REMINISCENCES OF A LIVERPOOL SHIPOWNER [1920]. Forwood is recollecting a voyage on the "Red Jacket" in 1857. Forwood says, "On the morning of 20th November, 1857...I embarked by a tender from the Liverpool pierhead." The anchor is heaved [via windlass] "to a merry chantie" which is "In 1847 Paddy Murphy went to Heaven".

[In 1847 Paddy Murphy went to Heaven
To work on the railway, the railway, the railway
Oh, poor Paddy works on the railway]

The next morning, they were off Holy head and the order came "loose the headsails." (pp. 158-159):

"Now then, my men, lead your topsail halyards fore and aft, and up with them'. And the crew walk along with the halyards, and then with a long pull and a pull all together the topsail yards are mastheaded to the chantie:

       "Then up the yard must go,
                Whiskey for my Johnny,
       Oh, whiskey for the life of man,
                Whiskey, Johnny.'"

So, PADDY ON THE RAILWAY at the brake windlass...and WHISKEY JOHNNY at the halyards. It sounds like they may have been doing a stamp 'n' go maneuver at the halyards, but I don't see how that would work for the chanty. Reading it closer, I think the crew was perhaps just walking the slack, after which, in positions, they did a pull in place. What do others think?

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 10:35 PM

THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY for July 1858 contains an article on "Songs of the Sea."

Here are some passages about work-songs.

The sailor does not lack for singing. He sings at certain parts of his work;—indeed, he must sing, if he would work. On vessels of war, the drum and fife or boatswain's whistle furnish the necessary movement regulator. There, where the strength of one or two hundred men can be applied to one and the same effort, the labor is not intermittent, but continuous. The men form on either side of the rope to be hauled, and walk away with it like firemen inarching with their engine. When the headmost pair bring up at the stern or bow, they part, and the two streams flow back to the starting-point, outside the following files. Thus in this perpetual " follow-my-leader " way the work is done, with more precision and steadiness than in the merchant-service. Merchantmen are invariably manned with the least possible number, and often go to sea shorthanded, even according to the parsimonious calculations of their owners. The only way the heavier work can be done at all is by each man doing his utmost at the same moment. This is regulated by the song. And here is the true singing of the deep sea. It is not recreation; it is an essential part of the work. It mastheads the topsail-yards, on making tail; it starts the anchor from the domestic or foreign mud; it " rides down the main tack with a will"; it breaks out and takes on board cargo; it keeps the pumps (the ship's,—not the sailor's) going. A good voice and a new and stirring chorus are worth an extra man. And there is plenty of need of both.

What a great statement on the difference of work in a Navy versus a merchant vessel. It provides perfect evidence for the argument that merchant vessels "needed" chanties.

I remember well one black night in the mid-Atlantic, when we were beating up
against a stiff breeze, coming on deck near midnight, just as the ship was put about. When a ship is tacking, the tacks and sheets (ropes which confine the clews or lower corners of the sails) are let run, in order that the yards may be swung round to meet the altered position of the ship. They must then be hauled taut again, and belayed, or secured, in order to keep the sails in their place and to prevent them from shaking. When the ship's head comes up in the wind, the sail is for a moment or two edgewise to it, and then is the nice moment, as soon as the head-sails fairly fill, when the main-yard and the yards above it can be swung readily, and the tacks and sheets hauled in. If the crew are too few in number, or too slow at their work, and the sails get fairly filled on the new tack, it is a fatiguing piece of work enough to " board " the tacks and sheets, as it is called. You are pulling at one end of the rope,—but the gale is tugging at the other. The advantages of lungs are all against you, and perhaps the only thing to be done is to put the helm down a little, and set the sails shaking' again before they can be trimmed properly.—It was just at such a time that I came on deck, as above mentioned. Being near eight bells, the watch on deck had been not over spry ; and the consequence was that our big main-course was slatting and flying out overhead with a might that shook the ship from stem to stern. The flaps of the mad canvas were like successive thumps of a giant's fist upon a mighty drum. The sheets were jerking at the belaying-pins, the blocks rattling in sharp snappings like castanets. You could hear the hiss and seething of the sea alongside, and see it flash by in sudden white patches of phosphorescent foam, while all overhead was black with the flying scud. The English second-mate was stamping with vexation, and, with all his Hs misplaced, storming at the men:— "'An'somely the weather main-brace,— 'an'somely, I tell you!—'Alf a dozen of you clap on to the main sheet here,— down with 'im!—D'ysee 'ore's hall like a midshipman's bag,—heverythink huppermost and nothing 'andy.—'Aul 'im in, Hi say!"—But the sail wouldn't come, though. All the most forcible expressions of the Commination-Service were liberally bestowed on the watch. " Give us the song, men!" sang out the mate, at last,— " pull with a will!—together, men!—haltogether now! "—And then a cracked, melancholy voice struck up this chant:

"Oh, the bowline, bully bully bowline,
Oh, the bowline, bowline, HAUL!"

At the last word every man threw his whole strength into the pull,—all singing it in chorus, with a quick, explosive sound. And so, jump by jump, the sheet was at last hauled taut.—I dare say this will seem very much spun out to a seafarer, but landsmen like to hear of the sea and its ways; and as more landsmen than seamen, probably, read the " Atlantic Monthly," I have told them of one genuine sea-song, and its time and place.

The classic sheet shanty.

Then there are pumping-songs. "The dismal sound of the pumps is heard," says Mr. Webster's Plymouth-Rock Oration ; but being a part of the daily morning duty of a well-disciplined merchant vessel,—just a few minutes' spell to keep the vessel free and cargo unharmed by bilge-water,—it is not a dismal sound at all, but rather a lively one. It was a favorite amusement with us passengers on board the --- to go forward about
pumping-time to the break of the deck and listen. Any quick tune to which you might work a fire-engine will serve for the music, and the words were varied with every fancy.
"Pay me the money down," was one favorite chorus, and the verse ran thus:—

Solo. " Your money, young man, is no object to me.
Chorus. Pay me the money down!
Sola. Half a crown's no great amount.
Chorus. Pay me the money down!
Solo and Chorus. (Bis.) Money down, money down, pay me the money down! "

Not much sense in all this, but it served to man and move the brakes merrily. Then there were other choruses, which, were heard from time to time, —" And the young gals goes a
weepin',"—" O long storm, storm along stormy"; but the favorite tune was "Money down," at least with our crew. They were not an avaricious set, either; for their parting ceremony, on embarking, was to pitch the last half-dollars of their advance on to the wharf, to be scrambled for by the land-sharks. But " Money down " was the standing chorus. I once heard, though not on board that ship, the lively chorus of " Off she goes, and off she must go,"—

" Highland day and off she goes,
Off she goes with a flying fore-topsail,
Highland day and off she goes."

It is one of the most spirited things imaginable, when well sung, and, when applied to the topsail-halyards, brings the yards up in grand style.

So PAY ME THE MONEY DOWN is used for pumping (brake style), along with (implied) ACROSS THE WESTERN OCEAN and STORMALONG. Is the last one HIGHLAND LADDIE? Or is it perhaps something related to Hugill's "Hilonday"?

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 10:48 PM

BTW, is this perhaps the first article devoted to Sea Songs?

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Apr 10 - 11:18 PM

Another question: Why does the author in 1858 not use the term "chanty"?

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 03:33 PM

As for minstrel songs -- those especially of the late 1830s thru 1850s -- influencing chanties, the fact is well known. But because this thread's subject is more about seeing the emergence of chanteying (i.e. maritime work-singing) as a whole, and not the individual trajectories of songs, I've not been inclined to note all the minstrel songs from those years (i.e. outside of maritime and working context).

Some deserve special note, however. We talked about STORMY appearing in WHITE'S NEW ILLUSTRATED MELODEON of 1848 -- a collection, which means the songs were popular on stage even a few years earlier, perhaps. One could make a good case that STORMY was borrowed into the minstrel repertoire from the cotton-stowing context.

So I want to mention two other songs that I think one could argue were also taken from work-songs.

The same collection has THE SAILOR FIREMAN. It had been documented before this date as a "stoker's chaunt" in 1839. And after this, it appears among steamboat hands in Olmsted's account. In other words, the song was linked to the steamboat fireman's profession. heres how it appears in the 1848 collection:


I'll fire dis trip, but I'll fire no more
    Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh! Oh!
Oh, pay me my money , and I'll go on shore
    Fire down below.

Miss Fanny Bell, oh, fare you well
I'm gwine away, p'r'aps to [Hell]

A bully boat, and a bully crew
An' a bully ragin' captain, too

De possum jump, and de panther roar
I woke dis mornin' at half-past four

I crept out safely from my five
An took a dram at half-past five

Says I, "ole boat, let's have no tricks"
Her biler bust at half-past six

So now we trabbel under sail
'Kase Jonah's de man dat swallowed de whale

I'll fire dis trip but I'll fire no more
Pay me my money, an I'll go on shore

Hugill included this in his collection; he'd taken it from a Swedish chantey collection. The verses are so similar, that it seems to be this minstrel version misheard/folk-processed. Here's a rendition. Still, I believe this song's existence was not dependent on the popular stage.

The other song of note in White collection is the "other" "Fire Down Below" song. This is the whose framework may (my conjecture) go back to British Navy days, but which had become ubiquitous among African-American laborers.


Composed and sung by the Pet of Minstrels, Cool White, and received nightly with thunders of applause, at the Head Quarters of all Serenaders and Minstrels, the Melodeon, 53 Bowery, New-York.

I left de husking party late,
   I began to grow quite tire,
But 'fore I got to massa's gate,
I heard de cry ob fire
Chorui: Fire, fire, fire, fire, fire, fire,
      An I am bound to go,
    Yes, I am bound to go;
    Den tote dat bucket ob water, [boys?]
    Dar's fire down below

De fireman rushes to de spot,
What shriek is dat I hear!
De widow hab de child forgot,
Twill perish yet I fear.
Fire, fire, fire, fire, &c.

De fireman hears dat dreadful cry,
   I golly, dat's enough ;
De smoke an fire, he both defy,
His skin am thick an tough.
Fire, fire, fire, fire, &c.

Dat shout again, 'tis one ob joy,
De hero now appears,
De widow takes her darling boy,
She thanks him wid her tears.
          Fire, fire, fire, fire, &c.

It corresponds --I say-- to this strain of song, as in Hugill's Version "D'.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 04:03 PM

Gibb, 'I don't see how that would work for the chanty. Reading it closer, I think the crew was perhaps just walking the slack, after which, in positions, they did a pull in place. What do others think?

I read the same as you here.

Why does the author in 1858 not use the term "chanty"?
I didn't think the term was in wide universal use until later. Not everyone would be familiar with it. The writer is also speaking as a very observant outsider, not someone actively involved. He was simply observing, not talking to the crew.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 04:17 PM

Fire! Fire! Fire!
printed by the Glasgow Poet's Box 23rd November, 1867

Versions were also printed by Fortey of London and Sanderson of Edinburgh at about the same time.

As I went out de oder night
To take a little walk,
I ran again a fireman,
And to him I did talk.
He asked me what I wanted,
Or what I did require,
And just as he was saying dis
A nigger called out "Fire!"

Chorus--Fire! fire! fire!
Now I's bound to go;
       Can't you give us a bucket of water,
Dere's a fire down below.

Away we ran for de old engine,
To old Aunt Sally's dwelling;
Aunt Sally came to meet de flames,
To help dem I was willing
Aunt Sally jumped on de coachman's box,
I thought I should expire,
To see her grin on de old engine,
As we went to de fire.

When we got to de house on fire,
We off de engine hopped;
Aunt Sally up de ladder flew,
All for to reach de top.
Her heel did slip, and down she fell,
Instead of going higher;
She fell up to her neck in water,
And declared she was in de fire.

Aunt Sally kicked, Aunt Sally screamed,
And declared she was burnt to death;
De splashing ob de water
Soon put de flames to rest.
I caught hold of Aunt Sally's arms,
I thought she would expire;
She does declare to dis berry day,
She set de water on fire.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 04:36 PM

Printed by Such of London at about the same time as the Glasgow one.

Fire! Down Below.

Oh, I am a simple country lad,
From London just come down,
To tell you the scrapes and narrow escapes
I had when last in town;
Twas market day, I'd sold my hay,
And stood things to admire,
When all at once a chap bawl'd oot,
Hey Master, mind the fire.
Fire! fire! fire!
   Fire down below;
Let us hope that we shall never see,
   A fire down below.,

I turned me round to ask a lass,
The cause of all this stir,
And if she'd a mind to be so kind,
As to tell me where it were;
Says she, "young man, yes that I can,
Do all that you require,
Just come with me and you shall see,
I'll take you where there's fire."

With that she linked her arm in mine,
And down the steeet we steered
To some back slum she called her home,
But still no fire appeared.
For a house we peep'd, upstairs we creep'd,
Three story's(sic) high or higher,
In a room we popp'd, all night we stopp'd.
But I couldn't find out the fire.

(I think I know where this is going!)

In the morning when I waken'd up,
My lady-bird had flown,
Not only lass, but all my brass.
And watch and clothes were gone;
Bare legg'd and feet, I ran in street,
My shirt my sole attire,
The women laughed, and the men they chaff'd,
While I kept bawling, "Fire!"

By some good chance I reached my home,
Half dead with shame and fright,
And all that saw me and all that knew me,
Said, "Spoony, served him right."
But the worst wasn't past, oh, it came at last,
I thought I should expire,
Say what you will I was very ill,
And the doctor said 'twas fire!

So all you good gentlemen,
Who a courting have not been,
Be advised by me, don't foolish be,
By all I have done and seen.
Don't miss your ways on market days,
Or stand things to admire,
But avoid back slums, and female chums,
And don't go catching fire.

A well-written tight little parody. Hope it gets sung again some time.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 05:46 PM

In the OBERLIN STUDENT'S MONTHLY for Dec. 1858, an I. Allen has written the second (?) article devoted to "Songs of the Sailor." It is remarkably reflective. Here are excerpts.

And then, on the still morning air, there comes floating to you, mellowed by the distance, the sailor's work song, keeping time to the monotonous "click, click'' of the windlass pawls, as the anchor comes slowly up:

"We've a bully slop and a bully crew,
      Heigho, heave and go;
We've a bully mate and a captain too;
      Heigho, heave and go.''

That monotonous chorus is just as essential to the proper working of the ship as the ropes and windlass. The anchor sticks as if it had grown to the bottom, and nothing but a song can get it up....

The brake windlass song has a typical verse. The chorus seems transmutable with "roll & go," i.e a Sally Brown sort of song.

The topsails are down for reefing, and the ship strains and pitches over the "seas," while the wind over head howls and whistles the chorus of triumphant storm-fiends; but the song rises:

"Oh haulee, heigho, cheeryman !
O ! pull like brothers, heigho, cheeryman,
And not like lubbers, heigho, cheeryman;
O ! haulee, heigho, cheeryman."

And up goes the topsail: the laboring ship feels it, and plunges off like a racehorse, and the enraged wind follows whistling and howling astern.

The continued use of CHEERLY for topsail halyards. Notable perhaps that the form is "cheeryman," as in the 1852 "News from our Digger."

There was one ditty often used at the windlass, that frequently gave rise to a train of reverie in my mind, especially when combined with surrounding circumstances. The forest-crowned hills, the waving palms and cocoas, the peculiar fragrance borne to us on the landbreeze, the solemn roar of the distant surf, the red, blue and white dresses of the men, as bare-armed and footed, they worked at the windlass and elsewhere, the hundreds of swarthy forms on deck and in canoes dancing over the blue waves, all combined to give force to the idea, that you were in a foreign land. And then, amid the barbarous jargon of tongues, the crew at the windlass strike up:

"I wish I were a stormy's son;
Hurrah, storm along!
I'd storm 'em up and storm 'em down;
Storm along my stormies.
Hurrah! John Rowley,
John, storm along—
We'll storm 'em up and storm 'em down,
Storm along, my stormies.
We'll make them hear our thundering guns,
Storm along my stormies."

And then it proceeds pathetically to inform us that "Old Rowley is dead and gone," and that "they lowered him down with a golden chain," and that they'll proceed to storm somebody or other...


...There stuck the anchor till the captain came aboard and another row, and water as a result. Then the anchor came up and we sailed away to the tune of—

"And now our prize we'll take in tow,
And tor old England we will go ;
Our pockets all well lined with brass,
We'll drink a health to our favorite lass!
Hurrah! we're homeward bou-ou-ound!
Hurrah ! we're homeward bound."

Hugill has this one under the title of OUTWARD AND HOMEWARD BOUND. Claims it was originally an old (late 18th century) ballad.

But strange as it may seem, however varied the appearance and nationality of the ship and its crew, be they from Archangel's icebound coast, or India's coral strand, Saxon or Celt, Frenchman or Turk, Russian or African, we invariably find that the strain of the sailor's worksong has the same plaintive minor key, strongly reminding one of their similarity in this respect to the sad-toned melodies of the negro race....

Ooooh, "plaintive" and "minor" again.

One evening as we were thus seated on deck, among the eager listeners to the usual songs and ghost stories, there was a young colored man who was working his passage home. "Come Pete," said one of the men, "it's your turn now; give us a song." "Can't massar only savy (know) my country song." " Oh well, let's have one of them." After considerable parleying, a dirge-like whine issued from Pete's corner, which no one suspected was intended for a song. At last one, getting impatient, cried out, "That's enough tuning up; let's have the song." Another, " What are you crying about ? We only asked for a song." "Dat my country song I" retorted the indignant Pete; and the roar with which this announcement was greeted upsetting the nerves of poor Pete, we soon found there was a slight difference between his singing and crying. Along the African coast you will hear that dirge-like strain in all their songs, as at work or paddling their canoes to and from shore, they keep time to the music. On the southern plantations you will hear it also, and in the negro melodies every where, plaintive and melodious, sad and earnest. It seems like the dirge of national degradation, the wail of a race, stricken and crushed, familiar with tyranny, submission and unrequited labor.

Wow, the author is drawing a pretty strong connection between sailors' songs and slave songs. I wonder what the abolitionist undertones may have been. Hey, it's a far cry from this 1858 statement to Cecil Sharp's 1914 statements on "the vexed question of negro influence."

And here I cannot help noticing tho similarity existing between the working chorus of the sailors and the dirge-like negro melody, to which my attention was specially directed by an incident I witnessed or rather heard.

One day we had anchored off a small town, and soon the canoe fleet of the natives was seen coming off to trade. Suddenly a well known strain of music comes floating to us on the land breeze. "Where's that singing?" cries one, " can't be that yon ship is weighing anchor ?" " Why, it's the darkies I" shouts another of the listeners; and, sure enough, there were five or six hundred of them coming off singing in two parts and keeping time with their paddles to

"Heigh Jim along, Jim along Josey, Heigh Jim along, Jim along Jo!"

They had made an advance in the scale of civilization and taken their place in the world of harmony. Then the conclusions of my speculation on the probable cause of this evident similarity between the chorus melodies of the sailor and the negro were something like these—First, the similarity of the object; that is, the unifying of effort in labor, and thus to secure simultaneous action, as in rowing, pulling, hoeing, &c., &c., by the measured and rythmical occurrence of vowel sounds.

Was not "Jim along Jo" recognized as a minstrel tune then? I'm not sure. Perhaps, again, minstrelsy took it from the folk tradition -- and that tradition may have been of (or shared with) a work-song. There is the idea (not here) that "Jim along Jo" is the same framework as "Haul Away Joe." Their prosody matches exactly. Interesting, too, that Cecil Sharp later uses "Haul Away Joe" as an example to argue why not many chanty tunes are of African-American origin. Well, he might be right. The tune might be of an Irish character, say. Of course, my take on this is that to say African-American means to imply a culture that had already absorbed influences from English, Irish, etc. African-Americans' songs are not expected to have come from Africa (just as the language is a dialect of English); what is relevant is who was singing these melodies/songs during the time under question.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 10 - 06:31 PM

Jim along Josey was written by Edward Harper in 1840 in a play called 'The Free Nigger of New York'. It was printed by early nineteenth century printers such as John Pitts of London. (Pitts died in 1844 so he must have printed it between 1840-44. The Pitts copy is on the Bodleian website, Harding B11 (1787).

It's an interesting point. Were the African Americans singing minstrel songs or were the minstrel writers basing their songs on what the slaves were singing? Probably both.

The sensational Jump Jim Crow was said to have been based on actual observation of an African American.

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 01:12 PM

Thank you, Steve. That's useful information about "Jim Along."

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Subject: RE: The Advent and Development of Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Apr 10 - 01:30 PM

MELBOURNE, AND THE CHINCHA ISLANDS, by George Washington Peck, 1854, has the following. It pertains to a trip in the ship PLYMOUTH ROCK from Boston to Melbourne (via Cape Horn) in early 1854. The passenger-narrator writes:

We experienced some very heavy weather in the South Pacific, and as the voyage lengthened, the tempers of many of our gold-hunters, most of whom had come from shops and farms, and had few resources for amusement, began to be sorely tried. To contribute my part to preserve them in order, I used to make catches out of sea-songs, and we got up a little glee club, whose performances were much admired. Almost every New Englander who has aught of a taste for music, has been to a " Singing School," and can read psalmody. But we had no psalm tunes for men's voices. To remedy this deficiency, I composed some for every Sunday, the last few weeks, which we sung to hymns appropriate to our situation. Annexed are some specimens of sea-songs, which may amuse our musical readers; the list might be extended indefinitely. What the first was manufactured out of, it is not easy to imagine. The second is a scrap of something familiar. Perhaps the third may be some Dutch melody. The last is the universal favorite. It goes to the words " Haul the bowline, the Black Star bowline, haul the bowline, the bowline HAUL!" The last word is only the cry in which all join, at the pull; the rest is sung by one alone.

He does not describe the working context; BOWLINE is being used for entertainment here. However, he does describe the form. Note that the chorus came only on the last word, not the entire last phrase ("haul the bowline, the bowline HAUL!") as is typically performed today. We can assume it was a sheet shanty. The melody is given, in major key. As for the other three melodies without words, I don't believe them to have been shanties.

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