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'Lowlands Away' - origins.

DigiTrad:
LOWLANDS
LOWLANDS (2)
LOWLANDS (3)
LOWLANDS (4)


Related threads:
Lowlands Away Question in Lords (20)
Lyr Req: dollar and a half a day: Percy Grainger (38)
Version of Lowlands (3)
Lyr/Tune Add: Lowlands, Mobile Bay version (1)
Lyr Req: Lowlands (6) (closed)


radriano 24 Aug 00 - 11:42 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Dec 10 - 07:28 AM
greg stephens 08 Dec 10 - 07:40 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Dec 10 - 07:55 AM
greg stephens 08 Dec 10 - 10:30 AM
Richard Bridge 08 Dec 10 - 11:00 AM
GUEST,julia L 08 Dec 10 - 06:08 PM
Tug the Cox 08 Dec 10 - 06:26 PM
Herga Kitty 08 Dec 10 - 07:20 PM
Gibb Sahib 09 Dec 10 - 01:09 AM
Joe Offer 15 Jan 11 - 07:52 PM
Richard Bridge 16 Jan 11 - 04:50 AM
GUEST,Lighter 16 Jan 11 - 09:10 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 21 Jul 11 - 09:11 PM
Jim McLean 22 Jul 11 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,leeneia 22 Jul 11 - 10:26 AM
Keith A of Hertford 22 Jul 11 - 12:05 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Jul 11 - 01:48 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 23 Jul 11 - 03:15 PM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 04:10 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 04:25 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 04:32 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 04:38 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 04:48 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 04:52 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 04:55 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 05:00 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 05:03 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 05:15 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jul 11 - 05:25 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 03:12 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 03:28 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 03:43 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 03:47 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 03:57 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 04:03 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 04:07 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 04:15 AM
Keith A of Hertford 29 Jul 11 - 04:17 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 04:36 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 05:11 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 05:23 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 05:42 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 05:47 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 06:43 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 06:59 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 07:19 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 07:29 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 08:09 AM
doc.tom 29 Jul 11 - 08:34 AM
goatfell 29 Jul 11 - 09:05 AM
GUEST,Lighter 29 Jul 11 - 09:43 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 02:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 03:20 PM
GUEST,Lighter 29 Jul 11 - 03:47 PM
Richard from Liverpool 29 Jul 11 - 03:57 PM
Richard from Liverpool 29 Jul 11 - 03:59 PM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 04:51 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Jul 11 - 05:17 PM
Richard from Liverpool 29 Jul 11 - 05:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 05:53 PM
Charley Noble 29 Jul 11 - 06:05 PM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 06:55 PM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 07:02 PM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jul 11 - 07:49 PM
Gibb Sahib 30 Jul 11 - 05:50 AM
Gibb Sahib 30 Jul 11 - 06:39 AM
GUEST,Lighter 30 Jul 11 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,Lighter 30 Jul 11 - 08:22 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 30 Jul 11 - 01:19 PM
Gibb Sahib 31 Jul 11 - 11:35 PM
Gibb Sahib 01 Aug 11 - 12:18 AM
Gibb Sahib 01 Aug 11 - 12:55 AM
doc.tom 01 Aug 11 - 04:38 AM
Gibb Sahib 01 Aug 11 - 05:04 AM
Keith A of Hertford 01 Aug 11 - 05:29 AM
Charley Noble 01 Aug 11 - 07:54 AM
Charley Noble 01 Aug 11 - 08:46 AM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Aug 11 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Aug 11 - 10:55 AM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Aug 11 - 11:32 AM
Gibb Sahib 01 Aug 11 - 04:03 PM
GUEST,Lighter 01 Aug 11 - 05:42 PM
Charley Noble 01 Aug 11 - 06:06 PM
GUEST,Lighter 02 Aug 11 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,Lighter 02 Aug 11 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,Lighter 03 Aug 11 - 10:23 AM
Gibb Sahib 03 Aug 11 - 04:16 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Aug 11 - 10:28 PM
Gibb Sahib 03 Aug 11 - 11:31 PM
Gibb Sahib 04 Aug 11 - 04:06 AM
Gibb Sahib 04 Aug 11 - 04:37 AM
Gibb Sahib 10 Aug 11 - 10:07 PM
GUEST,Lighter 11 Aug 11 - 08:02 AM
Gibb Sahib 18 Aug 11 - 01:37 AM
Charley Noble 18 Aug 11 - 08:05 AM
Gibb Sahib 16 Jun 12 - 01:54 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 16 Jun 12 - 02:24 PM
Leadfingers 16 Jun 12 - 02:54 PM
ollaimh 16 Jun 12 - 07:10 PM
Gibb Sahib 16 Jun 12 - 09:08 PM
Gibb Sahib 16 Jun 12 - 09:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 17 Jun 12 - 02:14 PM
Charley Noble 17 Jun 12 - 03:43 PM
John Minear 17 Jun 12 - 05:43 PM
GUEST,Lighter 17 Jun 12 - 07:14 PM
Charley Noble 17 Jun 12 - 07:46 PM
GUEST 18 Jun 12 - 08:16 AM
GUEST,Charles Macfarlane 18 Jun 12 - 09:28 AM
GUEST,Lighter 18 Jun 12 - 04:09 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Jun 12 - 04:04 PM
GUEST,Lighter 22 Jun 12 - 04:14 PM
GUEST,Lighter 22 Jun 12 - 04:31 PM
Charley Noble 22 Jun 12 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,Lighter 22 Jun 12 - 04:42 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Jun 12 - 05:40 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Jun 12 - 05:57 PM
John Minear 22 Jun 12 - 06:46 PM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jun 12 - 07:28 AM
Charley Noble 25 Jun 12 - 08:03 AM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jun 12 - 01:13 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jun 12 - 02:30 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Jun 12 - 04:28 PM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Jun 12 - 04:51 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jun 12 - 04:52 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jun 12 - 04:55 PM
ollaimh 26 Jun 12 - 01:43 PM
GUEST,Lighter 26 Jun 12 - 03:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 15 Jul 12 - 06:40 PM
GUEST,Lighter 15 Jul 12 - 07:22 PM
Charley Noble 15 Jul 12 - 07:47 PM
Gibb Sahib 15 Jul 12 - 07:49 PM
GUEST,Lighter 15 Jul 12 - 08:06 PM
Charley Noble 15 Jul 12 - 11:00 PM
GUEST,Lighter 16 Jul 12 - 08:38 AM
Charley Noble 16 Jul 12 - 12:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 04 Aug 14 - 12:17 AM
Lighter 30 May 15 - 09:58 AM
GUEST 30 May 15 - 10:26 AM
Lighter 30 May 15 - 11:33 AM
Gibb Sahib 30 May 15 - 02:05 PM
Lighter 30 May 15 - 03:46 PM
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Subject: Tune Add: LOWLANDS AWAY
From: radriano
Date: 24 Aug 00 - 11:42 AM

In Stan Hugill's book Shanties of the Seven Seas there is a beautiful version of Lowlands in a minor key. Here it is in ABC notation.

X:1
T:LOWLANDS AWAY
M:4/4
L:1/8
C:Traditional
S:Stan Hugill
K:Gm
c4 G4|cd ed c2B2|G6 F2|B3c d2B2|c2B2 F2BA|
G4 F2E2|C6 C2|EF GE FE C2|c4 G4|cd ed c2B2|G4 F2|
B3c d2B2|c2B2 F2BA|G4 F2E2|C2||

Radriano


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Subject: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 07:28 AM

I've had a bit of a rummage and I can't find an "origins" thread for this song. It's in Hugill of course, and in the Penguin book of Folk Songs, and there are several sets of words in the digitrad but what do we know about the origins.

I'd have guessed (maybe making a false connection between "Lowlands" and Holland that the song refers to the Anglo-Dutch Wars - but that covers from 1652 to 1784, quite a range.

Is there anything that would place it earlier or later, and are there any views on the evolution of the variants?

Philipsz (the Turner prize winner) states it to be a Scottish song, and 16th Century - but I am suspicious of her authority on such things.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 07:40 AM

Extensive discussion on a Mudcat thread on the subject of the Dollar and a Half a Day version(and other things)


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 07:55 AM

Thank you Greg. Curious that nothing there indicates an origin prior to the late 1800s - and little on whether it was a forebitter or a shanty.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: greg stephens
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 10:30 AM

But when did the term "forebitter" become fashionable?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 11:00 AM

"Forebitter" been used AFAIK ever since I first heard any discussion of "what is folk" to describe a song sung among sailors not as a work song but as entertainment outside working time, and probably back as far as the revival.

Some seem to say that "Lowlands Away" was a capstan shanty, but I'm damned if I've ever heard it sing with a rhythm disposed to assist in plodding round a capstan (a classic example of which would be "Johnson Girls")


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,julia L
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 06:08 PM

Joanna Colcord has this song in her "Songs of American Sailormen" circa 1924 (She catalogued the songs she heard sung on her father's ships out of Searsport Maine)

She points out the transition between English and American culture
p. 100 ( a chapter on Windlass or capstan shanties)

"Lowlands is another well-known shanty which passed through a similar change. The first shanty version is based on a still earlier English or Scottish ballad. (It has no connection with the better-known ballad of the "Golden Vanity" for which see page 154)"
-----
I dreamed a dream etc
I dreamed I saw etc
She came to me etc
And then I knew etc
--------
she then shows

"Very slowly"

"Lowlands, lowlands away my John
We're bound away to Mobile Bay,
My dollar-and-a-half a day
Was you ever in Mobile bay
Lowlands, lowlands away my John
A-Screwin' cotton all the day
My dollar-and-a-half a day

etc


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Tug the Cox
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 06:26 PM

'Lowlands' refers to the realm of the dead, in this case a drowned sailor. Similarly...the 'Low Road' to Loch Lomomd is taken by those killed in action abroad.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 08 Dec 10 - 07:20 PM

I sang Lowlands at the National (Sutton Bonington) one year when Stan Hugill was in the room, and he said it was generally ok, but not to slow down at the end...
Kitty


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Dec 10 - 01:09 AM

The article (anonymous) called "On Shanties" in the periodical _Once a Week_ from 1868 mentions a capstan chanty by the title of "Lowlands." I believe the author was talking about this chanty. This is the first reference I have found.

Next, in Alden's article "Sailor Songs" in _Harper's Monthly_ of July 1882, "Lowlands Aray" (sic) is given with lyrics and tune. He mentions that "my dollar and a half a day" was the chorus in a variation.

At least a couple authors followed Alden in mentioning "Lowlands" shortly thereafter, but I believe they are derivative of Alden's work.

In 1888, L.A. Smith published a version of it in her chanties collection _Music of the Waters_. She has just copied Alden, from the looks of it. To go one further, she seems to run with Alden's statement about the "dollar" version and sketches out what she thinks it would be like. Hugill's later attestation of a "dollar" version (among others -- I am not going to sort through all the 20th century references now) contradict Smith's mock-up.

So, the chanty is probably at least as old as the 1860s.

In my opinion, the form and style of the song *scream* "chanty." This does not necessarily mean it could not have been a non-chanty, too, but...   I'm not aware of it ever being framed as a forebitter. Definitely a chanty.

It compares well with "Shenandoah," and I would tend to group them in a category. Alden, in fact, gives them right one after another, which may count for something. Both were most certainly capstan chanties. The rhythm is fine, because there was a great range of tempos/styles for capstan, depending on what you were hoisting and what part of the job you were engaged in. When the weight was very heavy, or if, say, the anchor was "stuck," the heaving might be very slow indeed. So slow, in fact, that it was not possible to maintain a steady beat. Like Shenandoah, Lowlands has what I call a "breathing rhythm." It's not that it has no tempo, but it's tempo might vary a bit and, more significantly, it has no set *meter*. Note the fact that every collector who notates these songs is forced to grapple with trying to set them in a meter.

Demonstrations or use of capstans have been so rare in recent decades, and when they are done there is a dimension of artificiality, so that we just don't see examples of that kind of heavy heaving.

As for the ultimate "origins" of "Lowlands": As I've said, I think it is -- as we know it -- a chanty. Which means it probably didn't exist before the 1830s or so. However, I would not be surprised at all to hear that the lyrical theme (the dead lover appearing in a dream) along with or separately from the "Lowlands" phrase, existed previously in other songs and that they provided the inspiration for the chanty. Hasn't someone quoted a Scots poem of this sort somewhere?

I'd consider that to be one of the contributing inspirations to 'Lowlands Away," like "Radcliffe Highway" inspires one version of "Blow the Man Down." However, as far as the origins go, the "ground zero," I'd start off looking in the American South circa 1840s-60s, FWIW.

I'm of the mind that, inspired by the Northern English/Scots tone of some of the common lyrics, many who have encountered the song in "folk music" contexts (Penguin books, etc) have jumped to the idea of the Scottish origins. I mean, how did the Corries pick it up and make it into such a lovely little hearthside chune? I think if they are looking for the lyrical theme independent of the song as we know it, they may well discover such an origin. But considering how chanties flexibly adopted many lyrics and themes, bending them to their structure and forming what are new songs, I think one has to give at least as much weight to other features that make up the identity of the song as it was documented in the 19th century.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Joe Offer
Date: 15 Jan 11 - 07:52 PM

"Lowlands" is the song for January 16 in Jon Boden's A Folk Song a Day project. Seems like a good opportunity to update our information on the song. Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

    Lowlands (My Lowlands Away)

    DESCRIPTION: Sometimes a ballad: The singer is at sea when his love comes to him in a dream. She is dressed in white, and he realizes that his love is dead. Other times a lyric, in which the sailor talks about his travels, his ship, low pay, and/or a bad captain
    AUTHOR: unknown
    EARLIEST DATE: before 1870
    KEYWORDS: shanty sailor sea love death dream ghost
    FOUND IN: US(MA) Canada(Mar,Newf) Ireland
    REFERENCES (14 citations):
    Doerflinger, pp. 80-82, "Lowlands" (3 texts, 1 tune)
    Bone, pp. 124-126, "Lowlands" (1 text plus an excerpt, 1 tune)
    Colcord, p. 100-101, "Lowlands" (2 texts, 2 tunes; the first is the dead lover version, the second the "Dollar and a half" version)
    Harlow pp. 127-128 "Lowlands" (1 text, 1 tune, a "Dollar and a half" version")
    Hugill, pp. 65-70 "Lowlands Away," "Lowlands or My Dollar An' A Half A Day" (4 texts, 2 tunes -- three dead lover versions, one Dollar and a half" version) [AbEd, pp. 61-64]
    Sharp-EFC, XVIII, p. 21, "Lowlands Away" (1 text, 1 tune, a"Dollar and a half" version)
    Mackenzie 109, "A Dollar and a Half a Day" (1 text)
    Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 43-44, "Lowlands" (1 text, 1 tune); pp. 46-47, "Lowlands, II" (1 text); p. 47, "Lowlands, III" (1 fragment)
    PBB 100, "Lowlands Away" (1 text)
    Lomax-FSUSA 43, "Lowlands" (1 text, 1 tune)
    SHenry H469, p. 144, "My Lowlands, Away" (1 text, 1 tune)
    Silber-FSWB, p. 89, "Lowlands" (1 text)
    DT, LOWLNDS LOWLND2 LOWLND3
    ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Johnny Boker" is in Part 1, 7/14/1917. "Lowlands" is in Part 1, 7/14/1917.

    Roud #681
    RECORDINGS:
    Anita Best and Pamela Morgan, "Lowlands Low" (on NFABestPMorgan01)
    Anne Briggs, "Lowlands" (on Briggs1, Briggs3)

    NOTES: This tune pattern ("Lowlands, lowlands away, my John...," with final line either "My lowlands away" or "My dollar and a half a day") has been used for at least three separate plots (which have perhaps cross-fertilized a bit): A dead sailor, a dead sailor's girl, and a more lyric piece about the bad conditions sailors face, the latter often having the "dollar and a half" refrain.
    Shay, who apparently regards the dead sailor version as original, thinks this lyric item a much-decayed version of "The Lowlands of Holland." This is certainly possible, especially thematically, but there is a lot of evolution along the way....
    Bone comments on this subject, "'Lowlands' is a very old song. There are many versions, but it seems to me that the lament in the air establishes it as an adaption of some old ballad....
    "I have heard it sung on many occasions -- as a capstan shanty -- and always there were the three standard lines, repeated, as verses, 'I dreamt a dream the other night.' ... 'I dreamt I saw my own true love.' ... 'And then I knew my love was dead.' With these the chantyman felt that he had held to tradition and then warranted in his own right to hawk his own wares.'"
    Hugill adds that it was "never too popular, as it was too difficult to sing properly" -- which strikes me as true; it feels more like a ballad than a shanty. Most shanties have a very regular rhythm; this has very little.
    Hugill thinks the "'dead lover' theme definitely originated in Scotland or the North of England" (which again feels right, not that that's proof). But he also thinks the tune as "a negro touch about it." That part I'm not so sure about. He adds that it is "the only chanty in which Sailor John allowed 'sob-stuff,'" which he again takes as evidence that it was not originally a shanty or even a sea-song. - RBW
    File: PBB100

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

    The Ballad Index Copyright 2010 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


Roud Index Search (40 entries as of this date)


Reinhard Zierke's page on this song


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 16 Jan 11 - 04:50 AM

Thank you Gibb Sahib and Joe.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 16 Jan 11 - 09:10 AM

I like, perversely, the crazy incongruity of the soaring tune, the dead-lover schmaltz, and the sharp practicality of "my dollar and a half a day."


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 21 Jul 11 - 09:11 PM

LOWLANDS
Halliard Chanty (John Masefield)

1
I dreamt a dream the other night,
Lowlands, Lowlands, hurrah, my John;
I dreamt a dream the other night,
My Lowlands a-ray.
2
I dreamt I saw my own true love,
Lowlands, Lowlands, hurrah, my John
I dreamt I saw my own true love,
My Lowlands a-ray.
3
He was green and wet with weeds so cold,
(Cho.)
He was green and wet with weeds so cold,
(Cho.;)
4
..I am drowned in the Lowland seas," he said,
(Cho.)
..I am drowned in the Lowland seas," he said,
(Cho.)
5
..I shall never kiss you again," he said,
(Cho.;)
..I shall never kiss you again," he said,
(Cho.)
6
I will cut my breasts until they bleed,
(Cho.;)
I will cut my breasts until they bleed,
(Cho.)
7
I will cut away my bonny hair,
(Cho.;)
I will cut away my bonny hair,
(Cho.)
8
No other man shall think me fair,
(Cho.;)
No other man shall think me fair,
(Cho.)
9
O my love lies drowned in the windy Lowlands,
(Cho.;)
O my love lies drowned in the windy Lowlands,
(Cho.)

This song, included in Hugill and others as a chantey, may not have been sung in this form.
It is also mentioned in the thread "Rio Grande."

From John Masefield, 1906, A Sailor's Garland, Chanties. Methuen & Co. Ltd.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Jim McLean
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 10:23 AM

I have just listened to Ann Briggs singing it again and the melody could easily be a variant of Barbara Allan.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 10:26 AM

Radriano, I hope you're still around.

Thanks for posting the abc. I've printed the song (changed to D), and it makes a wonderful addition to my new collection of music for flute.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 12:05 PM

From Sampson's book.(Sea experience 1886-98)
...there are many modern versions, several of which give "My dollar and a half day" as the last line. Although it has a very beautiful air, it was by no means popular at sea, probably because of the difficulty it presented to the Shantyman.
I notice that the late captain Whall states that it is of American origin and comes from the cotton ports of the Southern States. In its debased form it may have done so,but in that case it went out with the prisoners of war after the Monmouth rebellion, and having been adopted by negroes lost its original beauty and imagery.


Lowlands, my Lowlands away my John,
Lowlands away, I hear them say,
Lowlands, my lowlands away.

I dream'd a dream the other night
Lowlands my lowlands away my John,
I saw my true love all in white,
Lowlands my Lowlands away.

I dreamed my love came in my sleep,
And said my dear why do you weep,

I'm drowned in the Lowland sea he said,
And the wet green weeds are all my bed,

Oh my love he's drowned in the lowland seas,
And never again shall I him please,

I'll cut away all my bonny hair,
No other man shall deem me fair,


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Jul 11 - 01:48 PM

Lyr. Add: YOUNG EDWIN IN THE LOWLANDS LOW
Tune- Bushes and Briars.

Come all you young people and listen to my song
While I unfold concerning gold, that guides so many wrong,
Young Emma was a servant maid and lov'd a sailor,
He plough'd the main much gold to gain for his love (as we are told).

Young Emma she did daily mourn since Edwin first did roam,
Now seven years were past and gone when Edwin hail'd his home;
He went unto young Emma's house to her the gold to show,
What he did gain upon the main, and above the low lands low.

Her father kept a public inn- it stood down by the sea-
Said Emma you can enter in and there this night can be
I'll meet you in the morning- don't let my parents know
Your name it is young Edwin, that plough'd the lowlands low.

Young Edwin he sat drinking till time to go to bed
And little was he thinking what sorrow crown'd his head,
Said Emma's cruel father his gold will make a show !
We will send his body sinking down in the lowlands low.

As Emma lay a sleeping she had such frightful dreams
She dreamt her love stood weeping, and blood appear'd in streams;
She started up ere day-break and to her friends did go
Because she loved him dearly that plough'd the lowlands low.

Oh, mother ! where's the stranger came here last night to lay?
He's dead; and so no tales can tell- her father he did say,
Then father, cruel father, you'll die a public show,
For murdering my Edwin thats down in the lowlands low.

Said Emma I will wander down by the stormy wave
Where Edwin he lays under, who once the sea did brave;
The shells that's in the ocean are rolling to and fro,
Reminds me of my Edwin that's down in the lowlands low.

The fishes of the ocean may swim o'er my love's breast,
His body rolls in motion- I hope his soul's at rest;
How cruel were my parents to prove his overthrow,
And take the gold from one so bold that's down in the lowlands low.

So many a day she pass'd away to try to ease her mind
Crying, O my friend and love's gone, and am left behind,
And frantic, broken-hearted, to Bedlam forced to go,
Poor Emma, for her lover down in the lowlands low.

J. Catnach, printer; between 1813-1838, Harding B 11(2031), several copies.
A line or two corrected with "Young Edmund in the Lowlands Low," printer J. Pitts, between 1819-1844, Harding B 11(1433)
(Both in Bodleian Collection).

Posts on the chantey mention this broadside song as a possible source.


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Subject: Lyr. Add: The Lad in His Jacket so Blue
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 23 Jul 11 - 03:15 PM

Lyr. Add: THE LAD IN HIS JACKET SO BLUE
Tune: Bonnets of Blue

As I was a walking one morning in May,
The birds were a singing on ev'ry green spray;
A lovely young maiden she came in my view,
She was mourning the loss of her sailor so true.

I stepp'd up to her, and to her did say,
Oh pardon my freedom, fair damsel I pray,
I beg now your sorrow you'll try to subdue,
And ne'er think on the lad in his jacket so blue.

Cruel were my parents that tore him from me,
And cruel the pressgang that sent him to sea;
Three years he's gone from me, each pleasure adieu !
Till my Henry returns, my young sailor so true.

I said my young damsel, I've houses and land,
A carriage to ride in all at your command,
Servants to wait on you- bid sorrow adieu,
And ne'er think on the lad in his jacket so blue.   

Your house, your lands, and your gold I despise,
There's none but my sailor I ever can prize;
He's the lad that I love, & to him I'll prove true,
And I'll ne'er put a stain on his jacket of blue.

I said my fair maiden, pray don't be surpris'd,
As the tears trickled down from her sparkling eyes,
While I've sail'd on the ocean to me you prov'd true,
I'm your sailor return'd in my jacket of blue.

My uncle has died and left me store of gold,
Twenty thousand bright guineas & houses untold;
A ring from his pocket he instantly drew-
Here's the token you gave when I parted from you.

Their parents consent the next day they obtain'd,
The day of their marriage was instantly named;
Their wedding took place each joy to renew,
She's blest with the lad in his jacket of blue.

Harding B11(2031), between 1813-1838, J. Catnach, printer, 7 Dials.

Paired with "Young Edwin in the Lowlands Low" in the Harding Collection, Bodleian Library.

There are several songs similar to both in collections of that time period, some ending in tragedy, others in happiness.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 04:10 AM

Beginning of a more detailed chronology on this.... I am curious as to where certain 'myths' about this song may have started in the 20th century literature and in the revivals.

The following text is supposed to have been located in a journal kept at sea in the 1860s by Capt. James A. Delap of Nova Scotia. It's the earliest that I can recall seeing. Presented in:

1951        Doerflinger, William Main. _Shantymen and Shantyboys: Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman_. Macmillan: New York.

A bully ship and bully crew,
      Lowlands, lowlands, hurrah, my John,
And a bully mate to put us through,
      My dollar and a half a day.

I wish I was in Liverpool,
With the Liverpool girls I would slip round.

Oh, heave her up and away we'll go
Oh, heave her up from down below.

Oh, a dollar and a half is a shellback's pay,
But a dollar and a half is pretty good pay.

Oh, rise, old woman, and let us in,
For the night is cold and I want some gin.


I don't know the story behind this journal. I presume Doerflinger saw it as part of his fieldwork in Nova Scotia in the 1930s and 40s (?).

Right out the gate -- assuming this is authentic -- one can see the "dollar and a half" chorus.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 04:25 AM

1868 Dallas, E. S., ed. "On Shanties." _Once a Week_ 31 (1 Aug. 1868).

The anonymous author of this article mentions by name what is presumably this chanty.

...There are many more capstan shanties, which I can only mention by name, such as _Lowlands_, _Oceanida_, _Johnny's gone_, _The Black-ball Line_, and _Slapandergosheka_...

The anonymous article that follows this one,

1869        Payn, James, ed. "Sailors' Shanties and Sea Songs." _Chambers's Journal_ 4(311) (11 December 1869): 794-6.

...though it is practically entirely copied (or reworked) from the first, includes a very similar passage but ...mysteriously... omits the title of "Lowlands."

?There are many more capstan shanties, which I can only mention by name, such as Oceanida, Johnny 's Gone, The Black Ball Line, and Slapandergosheka.

The omission is significant because it was the second article, not the first, that would go on to be well-read by later writers. Well, I supposed it's not that significant; it would just mean that the next writer to mention it might think he/she was the first.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 04:32 AM

1882        Alden, W.L. "Sailors' Songs." _Harper's New Monthly Magazine_ (July 1882): 281-6.

Alden set the tone for the description of "Lowlands". This is accompanied by score, for the first time.

Perhaps the wildest, most mournful, of all sailor songs is "Lowlands." The chorus is even more than usually meaningless, but the song is the sighing of the wind and the throbbing of the restless ocean translated into melody.

I dreamt a dream the other night.
Lowlands, Lowlands, Hurrah, my John.
I dreamt I saw my own true love.
My Lowlands aray.

Much care was evidently given to "Lowlands" by the shanty-men. It has often been improved. In its original form the first chorus was shorter and less striking, and the words of the second chorus were, "My dollar and a half a day." It is to be regretted that no true idea can be given on paper of the wonderful shading which shanty-men of real genius sometimes gave to this song by their subtle and delicate variations of time and expression.


Although I don't know where he got the info from, note that he says the "dollar and a half" was the original chorus.
We won't find any "original," but perhaps these first few references will challenge the idea that the "dollar and a half" was some sort of bastardization of later times.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 04:38 AM

1883        Dixon, Robert Brewer. _Fore and Aft: A Story of Actual Sea Life_. Boston: Lee and Shepard.

The way "Lowlands" is described here suggests that the author had read Alden and was using the chanty for effect.

The following morning, Sept. 18, all hands were called at daybreak; and the windlass was manned, and the anchor hove short, to "Lowlands," the wildest and most weird of all sailor-songs, led by the second mate.

The phrase in bold matches Alden's sentiment.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 04:48 AM

1884[Jan]        Unknown. "Minstrelsy on the Sea." _The New York Times_ 27 (Jan. 1884). pg. 10.

It's a general article with waxing romantic touches. Perhaps also influenced by Alden's article.

A very touching sea air is known as "Lowlands Away." The choruses
of this are "Lowlands Away, my John," and "My dollar and a half a day." ...


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 04:52 AM

1888[June 1887]        Smith, Laura Alexandrine. _The Music of the Waters_. London: Kegan, Paul, Trench & Co.

Smith copied Alden's words, and extrapolated some. Thus, her second stanza appears to be contrived.

One of the wildest and most mournful of the sailor songs is "Lowlands." The chorus is even more than usually meaningless, but the song is the sighing of the wind and the throbbing of the restless ocean translated into melody:?

I dreamt a dream the other night:
Lowlands, Lowlands, Hurrah, my John!
I dreamt I saw my own true love:
My Lowlands a-ray!
                  
Much care was evidently given to "Lowlands" by the chanty-men. It has often been improved. In its original form the first chorus was shorter and less striking, and the words of the second chorus were, "My dollar and a half a day."

Solo.?Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John.
Chorus.?My dollar and a half a day.
Solo.?I took up my clothes and I went away.
Chorus.?Lowlands, Lowlands, a-ray.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 04:55 AM

1888        Dickens, Charles, ed. [Unknown] "Sailors' Songs." All the Year Round 1047 (22 Dec. 1888): 592-

The anonymous author has culled all the information and texts from LA Smith.

One of the most beautiful in a musical sense of all the chanties, is that known as "Lowlands Low." The words are nothing, and, as usual, many versions are used; but the air is singularly wild and mournful, and is an immense favourite with Jack It generally begins somewhat like this:

(Solo) I dreamt a dream the other night.
(Chorus) Lowlands, lowlands, hurrah, my John.
(Solo) I dreamt I saw my own true love.
(Chorus) My Lowlands, aray.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 05:00 AM

1900[Oct.]        Lahee, Henry C. "Sailors' Chanteys." The Sea Breeze 13(1) (Oct. 1900): 13-14.

...So far as the tune is concerned, it is perhaps exceeded in quaintness and "atmosphere" by one which went by the name of ''Lowlands," and of which the chorus ended up with "five dollars and a half a day," ? which might just as well be any other price you like to mention, as it was the sailor's dream of the pay which he could get in some other place where he was not. ...
For many years I have not found a sailor who could sing "Lowlands." The old-time deepwater men are scarce. It is not very easy to find men who know any reasonable number of chanteys, except perhaps some of the modern and more frivolous ones. ...


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 05:03 AM

1902 Luce, S. B. _Naval Songs_. Second edition, revised. New York: Wm. A. Pond & Co.

This revised edition add the chanty. Music is given, in minor mode.

I thought I heard the old man say.
Lowlands, lowlands, my Johnny,
That this would be our sailing day,
A dollar and a half a day.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 05:15 AM

1903        Whitmarsh, H. Phelps. "The Chantey-man." Harper's Monthly Magazine 106(632) (Jan. 1903): 319-

...?in listening to the plaintive melodies like "Storm-along" and "The Lowlands," I have at times been reminded of a Gaelic psalm chant, such as is sung by the Scotch Highlander ers and their descendants in Cape Breton...

...And there are many more, some gay and some cheery, like "Santa Anna"; others, like "The Lowlands," mournful as the sighing of the wind in the shrouds.


The same sort of romantic language. "Lowlands" was being invoked regularly along with "Stormalong" to fill a place in the discussion where one talks about "mournful" sounds.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 05:25 AM

1906        Davis and Tozer. 3rd edition?

They added "Lowlands" in this edition. I believe this was made possible by referencing LA Smith's collection (which of course got it from Alden). The first verse is the same as Smith/Alden, except the strange (typo?) "aray" (i.e. "away") or the original is changed to "hooray."

The first verse is followed by the typically literary-sounding verses of this collection.

10. Lowlands

I dreamt a dream the other night,
Lowlands, Lowlands, hooray, my John.

I dreamt I saw my own true love, 
      
My Lowlands, hooray.


I dreamt she stood close by my side,
All dress in white like some fair bride,

She spoke in accents sweet and low,
"How true my love is well you know."

And then she sang in sweetest voice,
A song that made my heart rejoice,

"Oh, Lowland maids are fair to view,
"And Lowland maids have hearts so true,

[etc., 3 more verses]


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:12 AM

1906[Oct.]        Masefield, John, ed. _A Sailor's Garland_. London: Macmillan.

Masefield was keen on connecting 19th century chanties with earlier, British song traditions. He said "Haul on the Bowline" was from the time of Henry VIII; that "A-Roving" was based in "The Rape of Lucrece"; connected the "crabfish" theme in Whiskey Johnny to a 16th century ballad... which is not to necessarily say that all these ideas have no merit, but it speaks to his orientation. The implications of this, I believe, are that when he tweaked or made up some lyrics at the time of publication -- which I believe he did -- he sometimes cast them in the cultural world of English balladry.

I suspect (can't prove) that his presentation of Lowlands was *influenced* by his feeling that it would have been based in an old ballad, and therefore it has something of a Northen English/Scottish cast. Judge for yourself. I will be interested to see what "original" versions of "Lowlands" after this have the full "dead lover" theme -- so far, it has only been Davis' composed (?) set, and these by Masefield.

ALthough Masefield had observed chanties first hand, his credibility is tarnished (in my view) by the fact that the first verse he gives is identical to the one in LA Smith and in Alden. If he actual *knew* this song, why adopt and repeat the likely error (or oddity) of "a-ray" in the chorus?

LOWLANDS 

(Halliard Chanty)

I Dreamt a dream the other night,
   Lowlands, Lowlands, hurrah, my John;

I dreamt a dream the other night, 
      
   My Lowlands a-ray.

I dreamt I saw my own true love,

He was green and wet with weeds so cold,

"I am drowned in the Lowland seas," he said,

"I shall never kiss you again," he said,

I will cut my breasts until they bleed,

I will cut away my bonny hair,

No other man shall think me fair,

O my love lies drowned in the windy Lowlands,


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:28 AM

1908        Broadwood, Lucy E., Percy Grainger, Cecil J. Sharp, Ralph Vaughan Williams, Frank Kidson, J.A. Fuller-Maitland, and A.G. Gilchrist. "[Songs Collected by Percy Grainger]." _Journal of the Folk-Song Society_ 3(12) (May 1908): 170-242.

Couple collected versions of and comments on "Lowlands" here.

Gilchrist noted,

"Storm Along," "Tom's gone to Hilo," and "Lowlands" are all chanties which strike me as negro in character, if not in origin.

She did not say why it struck her so, but often such comments, by this crowd of folklorists, were based on musical analysis.

The first version is noted as a windlass chanty, noted by Percy Grainger on July 24th, 1906. The singer was Charles Rosher, who also "collected" the song. He seems to have been an enthusiast who learned some chanties in amateur capacity.

LOWLANDS. (or: DOLLAR AND A HALF A DAY.)

[w/ score]

A dollar and a half is a poor man's pay.
Lowlands, lowlands away, my John.
A dollar and a half it won't clear my way.
My dollar and a half a day.


Another version. Its melody is unfamiliar from today's perspective. Called a capstan chanty, collected and noted by H. E. Piggott and Percy Grainger on Jan. 18, 1908. Sung by John Perring. Perring was evidently a widely experienced sailor and chantyman.

DOLLAR AND A 'ALF A DAY.

[w/ score]

1. Five dollars a day is a white man's pay.
Way?
Five dollars a day is a white man's pay.
My dollar and a 'alf a day.

2. But a dollar and a half is a nigger's pay. (twice)

3. The nigger works both night and day. (twice)

4. But the white man, he works but a day. (twice)

Mr. Perring said this is a "tipical" Negro chanty, sung by black sailors in the
East Indian trade, in complaint at their being harder worked and lower-waged than
white seamen.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:43 AM

1910        Whall, Captain W.B. _Sea Songs and Shanties_. Brown, Son and Ferguson.

Whall writes from his experience learning chanties in the 1860s and early '70s. His version of "Lowlands" here had previously appeared in some form in a 1806 article in _Yachting Monthly_. The article in my last post actually quoted it from that source (which I haven't seen), and said Whall said he learned it in 1862.

Here are some of his notes, followed by the song text.

It is of American origin and comes from the cotton ports of the old Southern States.
This is, I think, certainly the first time it has been set in the least degree correctly to music. I am aware of two previous attempts, both hopelessly in error. It is also...a windlass shanty: and it was a favourite for pumping ship.

Lowlands.

Lowlands, Lowlands, Away, my John,
O my old mother she wrote to me,
My dollar and a half a day.
She wrote to me to come home from sea,
Lowlands, Lowlands, Away, my John.
She wrote to me to come home from sea.
My dollar and a half a day.

A dollar a day is a Hoosier's pay,
Lowlands, lowlands, a-way, my John,
Yes, a dollar a day is a Hoosier's pay,
My dollar and a half a day.

O was you ever in Mobile Bay,
A screwing cotton by the day ?

These are all the regulation verses; after these the shantyman must improvise.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:47 AM

1910        Clark, Arthur H. _The Clipper Ship Era_. New York and London: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Clark is speaking generically about the clipper ship "era," circa 1840s-60s. He gives Lowlands in this setting.

The anchor is hove up to:

"I wish I was in Slewer's Hall,
Lowlands, lowlands, hurra, my boys,
A-drinking luck to the old Black Ball,
My dollar and a half a day."


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:52 AM

1914        Bullen, Frank. T. and W.F. Arnold. _Songs of Sea Labour_. London: Orpheus Music Publishing.

Bullen was a very experienced chantyman who seems to have learned most of his stuff in the 1870s. His collection contains the following.

13. Lowlands Away.

Lowlands away I heard them say
Lowlands, lowlands away my John
Lowlands away I heard them say,
My dollar an' a half a day.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:57 AM

1914        Sharp, Cecil K. 1914. _English Folk-Chanteys_. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. Ltd.

Collected from Henry Bailey, with an added 4th verse from John Short.

18. Lowlands Away.

Lowlands, lowlands away, my John ;
I'm bound away, I heard him say,
My lowlands away, my John ;
A dollar and a half is a oozer's pay,
A dollar and a half a day.

A dollar and a half won't pay my way ;
A dollar and a half is a white-man's pay.

We're bound away to Mobile Bay ;


What shall we poor matelors do?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 04:03 AM

1914        Unknown. "The Recollections of a West Indiaman, Being the Reminiscences of a Steamship Officer of His Apprenticeship in a Windjammer." _The Master, Mate and Pilot_ 7(2) (July 1914): 38-40, 60.

This anonymous account refers to a voyage in 1865 in a barque from Liverpool to Barbados. The crew were Black men from Baltimore and cotton ports. Mentions only the title of the chanty.

Owing to the trouble that our captain had had at various times with drunkenness amongst English crews he decided in the future to ship only negroes in the forecastle, and for the remaining years of my apprenticeship I sailed with colored crews. Many of them hailed from Baltimore and the cotton ports of the southern United States. They were fine sailors, these men, quiet, strong and respectful: but my pleasantest memory in regard to them was their chanteying. They sang the choruses in weird falsetto notes and with the fascinating pronunciation of the Southern darkey. They sang a chantey for every little job and the way they thundered out such plaintive melodies as "Shenandoah, I Love your Daughter" or "My Lowlands Away" made them a treat to listen to.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 04:07 AM

1915        Meloney, William Brown. "The Chanty-Man Sings." Everybody's Magazine 33(2) (August 1915): 207-217.

Contains a fictitious account that borrows Masefield's version of "Lowlands."

Good as was Long Ned at improvisations, he also knew the chanty classics. One murky morning off the pitch of the Horn he sang "Lowlands," an ancient chanty, as a weather-beaten, storm-racked handful of frozen men hoisted a main uppertopsail. The scene haunts me. The sea was a gray, snarling, snapping monster. Half a gale was howling through the ice-whiskered rigging. The sky was a bleak slab of slate? low and billowing like a circus-tent top. Every now and then under our lee, less than two miles away, "Cape Stiff" reared itself like a huge black gravestone. We were fighting to escape. And thus Long Ned was singing in a wonderful, rich baritone:

I dreamt I saw my own true love, 

Lowlands, Lowlands, hurrah, my John;
I dreamt I saw my own true love, 

My Lowlands a-ray!
"I am drown-ed in the Lowland Seas," he said, 

Lowlands, Lowlands, hurrah, my John;
"I am drown-ed in the Lowland Seas," he said,
My Lowlands a-ray!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 04:15 AM

1917        Robinson, Captain John. "Songs of the Chanty-Man: I." The Bellman 23(574) (14 July 1917): 38-44.

After Alden (1882), this is the first published version I am seeing --in which I have confidence-- to have the "dream." Robinson sailed from the 60s onward. However, he does make this disclaimer about his presentation:

As may well be imagined, I cannot exactly recall all the original verses... In a crude way, however, I have endeavored to carry the spirit and sense of the originals into the words which I have written down.

His "Lowlands":


Lowlands. [w/ score]

Last night I dreamt of my true love.
Lowlands, Lowlands, away my John.
She begged me ne'er again to rove.
my Lowlands away.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 04:17 AM

Blimey!
How do you find it all Gibb?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 04:36 AM

1920        Terry, R.R. "Sailor Shanties (II)." _Music and Letters_ 1(3) (July 1920):256-268.

LOWLANDS. [w/ score]

Lowlands, Lowlands, Away, my John!
Lowlands, away, I heard them say,
My dollar and a half a day.
A dollar and a half a day is a Hoosier's pay.
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John!
A dollar and a half a day is very good pay.
My dollar and a half a day.


The same is given in full, probably with some added verses from multiple sources, in the following work.

1921        Terry, Richard Runciman. _The Shanty Book, Part I_. London: J. Curwen & Sons.

Notes:

?It was well known to every sailor down to the time of the China Clippers. My version is that of Capt. John Runciman, who belonged to that period. I have seldom found it known to sailors who took to the sea after the early seventies. The tune was sung in very free time and with great solemnity?. In North-country ships the shantyman used to make much of the theme of a dead lover appearing in the night. There were seldom any rhymes, and the air was indescribably touching when humoured by a good hand. A 'hoosier,' by the way, is a cotton stevedore. ?

6. Lowlands away

Lowlands, Lowlands,
Away my John,

Lowlands, away,
I heard them say,

My dollar and a half a day.



1. A dollar and a half a day is a Hoosier's pay.

Lowlands, Lowlands,
Away my John.

A dollar and a half a day is very good pay.

My dollar and a half a day.



2. Oh was you ever in Mobile Bay.

Screwing the cotton by the day.


3. All in the night my true love came,

All in the night my true love came.


4. She came to me all in my sleep. (twice)



5. And hr eyes were white my love. (twice)



6. And then I knew my love was dead. (twice)


The first 2 verses have the earmarks of Whall, whose work Terry had consulted (remember, he was creating ideal versions). But then it shifts to the dead lover theme.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:11 AM

Oops, Q had already posted Masefield's version. Sorry for the repetition.

****

1927        Smith, Cicely Fox. _A Book of Shanties_. London: Methuen & Co.

Has "Lowlands Away." I don't have access to this. Anyone care to describe it?

*****

1927        Sampson, John. _The Seven Seas Shanty Book_. London: Boosey.

Keith A of Hertford already described this one recently, above.

I might critique some of Sampson's statements.

...there are many modern versions, several of which give "My dollar and a half day" as the last line.

How did he know what were "modern" versions? I am guessing he is basing this on a belief suggested ONLY so far by Masefield, that the dead lover theme was older/original. The several versions attested from 1860s and 1870s, before Sampson's day (late 1880s-90s), show that the "dollar" chorus was not "modern." I suspect Sampon's thought here relate to this statement,

I notice that the late captain Whall states that it is of American origin and comes from the cotton ports of the Southern States. In its debased form it may have done so, but in that case it went out with the prisoners of war after the Monmouth rebellion, and having been adopted by negroes lost its original beauty and imagery.

Ironic that Whall was one who tended to dismiss African-American-based chanties as low quality, but he actually said what he did -- and now Sampson is creating a narrative of debasement.

Although it has a very beautiful air, it was by no means popular at sea, probably because of the difficulty it presented to the Shantyman.

Perhaps this corroborates (or echoes?) Terry's comment that sailors after the early 70s didn't know it well. IMO opinion he seems to be speculating.

The text owes much to Masefield's version. It looks like some of Masefield's single lines were formed into rhyming couplets:

I dream'd a dream the other night = Masefield
I saw my true love all in white, = rhyme

I'm drowned in the Lowland sea he said,= Masefield
And the wet green weeds are all my bed,= rhyme

I'll cut away all my bonny hair, = Masefield
No other man shall deem me fair, = Masefield


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:23 AM

1928        Thomas, J.E., Lucy E. Broadwood, Frank Howes, and Frank Kidson. "Sea Shanties." _Journal of the Folk-Song Society_ 8(32):96-100.

Noted by J.E. Thomas, February 7th, 1927. Sung by John Farr, Gwithian, Cornwall.

50. Lowlands Away. [w/ score. Melody contains both natural and flatted seventh degree in major mode]

Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John,
I thought I heard our captain say.
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John,
We're sailing straight for Mobile Bay,
My dollar and a half a day.

I thought I heard our captain cry
A dollar and a half is a whiteman's pay.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:42 AM

1938         Colcord, Joanna C. _Songs of American Sailormen_. New York: Norton.

I presume this was in the 1924 edition, too?
Where does she say she got it from? Again, I don't have my copy with me. Apparently she voiced the idea of the "dead lover" theme being earlier, etc. More details, please.

Based on just her lyrics, which I have *second-hand* (warning!) as follows, it looks like she did this: Took the first two verses based on the canonical print version from Alden, and then the other two verses come from Terry's collection.

I dreamed a dream the other night,
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John,
I dreamed a dream the other night,
My Lowlands, away!

I dreamed I saw my own true love,
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John,
I dreamed I saw my own true love,
My Lowlands, away!

She came to me all in my sleep,
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John,
I dreamed I saw my own true love,
My Lowlands, away!

And then I knew my love was dead.
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John,
I dreamed I saw my own true love,
My Lowlands, away!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:47 AM

1951        Doerflinger, William Main. _Shantymen and Shantyboys: Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman_. Macmillan: New York.

From Richard Maitland (1857, NY-1942). Went to sea first at circa 1869/70, began learning chanties immediately.

Two versions.

Lowlands (I)

Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John.
Five dollars a day is a stevedore's pay;
Five dollars and a half a day.

A dollar a day is a nigger's pay.
Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John.
I thought I heard our old man say,
Five dollars and a half a day

That he would give us grog today,
When we are leaving Mobile Bay.

.....

Lowlands (II)

In the Virginia lowlands I was born,
Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John.
I worked all day down in the corn,
My dollar and a half a day.

I packed my bag and I'm going away;
I'll make my way to Mobile Bay.

In Mobile Bay, where they work all day,
A-screwing cotton by the day,

Five dollars a day is a white man's pay,
A dollar and a half is a colored man's pay.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 06:43 AM

From Jon Boden's "A Folk Song a Day":

It does however seems a little mournful...

What's with the word "mournful" and this chanty?

Alden 1882
LA SMith 1888
Dicken, ed. 1888
Whitmarsh 1903
Harlow 1962
Hugill 1961

Well, many chanties have been described as "mournful," but I just thought that was interesting.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 06:59 AM

"Lowlands Away" -- Terry's presentation, I believe -- was recorded commercially in 1926.

1927       Lloyd, Llewelyn. "FOLK-SONGS OF THE SEA Shanties on the Gramophone." _Gramophone_ (March 1927)

...Parlophone have devoted three ten-inch records to sea shanties, the singers being Kenneth Ellis and a male quartet, while the accompaniment is provided by a string quartet and flute, which proves a pleasant change from the usual pianoforte. ... The first record (E.5583) contains Amsterdam (also known as A-roving) and Shenandoah; the second (E.5584) has The Drunken Sailor, Santy Anna and Lowlands Away (the last two fine tunes, not elsewhere recorded)...

If it was Terry's, I wonder how they scanned the "hoosier" lyrics.

***

In June 1908, Percy Grainger published his choral arrangement of "Dollar and a half a day," which was based on bother versions of the song he collected and as published in the article noted above.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 07:19 AM

A note:

The melody for this in Davis and Tozer is exactly that in Alden>LA Smith. Considering the irregularity/variability of this tune, it seems clear that they borrowed it. Combine that fact with how the first verse of Davis corresponds to the same, 1 verse given by those authors. One can see how it is likely he made up the rest of the verses after that. These were musically trained people -- so why would they need someone else's version if they actually knew the chanty for themselves? And why was this not added until the 3rd edition? So again, I believe the Davis/Tozer is fabricated.

If this is true, it will have implications for Harlow's version, which I present following.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 07:29 AM

Putting this up now; need to analyze it later. But thoughts are very welcome!

1962        Harlow, Frederick Pease. _Chanteying Aboard American Ships_. Barre, Mass.: Barre Publishing Co.

[Was this also in the 1928 _Making of a Sailor_?]

1875/1876, Harlow worked on the clipper ship AKBAR, Boston > Java, Australia. "Lowlands" was sung at the capstan. This is his remembered version, noted many years later. I believe that when he did so he created something that was partly based in print versions that he'd referenced. We know that Harlow used print sources to some extent, including Whall's collection. What do people think about the language here?

[w/ score]

Oh, were you ever in Mobile Bay?
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John.
A-screwing cotton all the day,
My dollar and a half a day.

A black man's pay is a dollar a day;
A dollar and a half is a white man's pay.

Oh, were you ever in New Orleans?
That's where you meet the Southern Queens,

I wish I was in Slomes Hall,
A-drinking luck to the old Black Ball.

Oh, my old mother, she said to me,
"Come home my boy and quit the sea."

I dreamed a dream the other night,
I saw my love dressed all in white.

She stood and gazed in one blank stare,
And combed the ringlets of her hair.

Her face was pale and white as snow;
She spoke to me in accents low.

"I'll cut away my bonny hair,
No other man shall think me fair.

"I'll cut my breasts until they bleed,
From you, my love, I'll soon be freed.

"I'll jump into the Lowland Sea,
And drown myself for love of thee.

"With seaweed green about my head,
You'll find me there, but I'll be dead."

I then awoke to hear the cry,
"Hey, you sleepers! Watch ahoy!"

The landsman, no doubt sees nothing in the music of this mournful chantey but a mess of doggerel?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 08:09 AM

Subject: Lyr Add: LOWLANDS (from James M Carpenter)
From: GUEST,Lighter - PM
Date: 25 Aug 04 - 09:31 AM

Sung for Carpenter in 1929 by William Fender of Barry, South Wales:
Not much, but the real stuff:

                           LOWLANDS

                I thought I heard our old man say,
                   Lowlands, Lowlands, awaay my John!
                I thought I heard our old man say,
                   My dollar and a half a day!

                A dollar a day is a poor man's pay,
                   Lowlands, Lowlands, awaay my John!
                A dollar a day is a poor man's pay,
                   My dollar and a half a day!

                So shake her up from down below,
                   Lowlands, Lowlands, awaay my John!
                So shake her up from down below,
                   My dollar and a half a day!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: doc.tom
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 08:34 AM

From John Short - not published:

INTRO: Lowlands, Lowlands hooray my John
VERSE: The dollar a day is a oozier's pay
       Lowlands, Lowlands hooray my John
       The dollar a day is a oozier's pay
       The dollar and a half a day

and    What shall we poor matelos do
       My dollar and a half a day

Sharp ammended the score in his notebook several times over this one, and eventually noted: "I have no doubt but that this is correct." But I'm afraid we'll have to wait until spring 2012 to hear what Jeff Warner makes of it on Short Sharp Shanties vol.3 (vol.2 will be out in September 2011)

TomB


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: goatfell
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 09:05 AM

According to some people it is a sailor's version the ballad called 'the lowlands of Holland'


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 09:43 AM

I doubt that Harlow would call his own creation "doggerel."

Harlow and others intended to preserve the shanties, not to become millionaire singer-singwriters (a job description which didn't exist at the time). I can't believe they were consciously "faking." What Harlow and others may have done frequently is to try to reconstruct something imperfectly remembered from years before. They would innocently refer to printed versions to refresh their memory. After all, if it's in a book, it must be right! (Sarcasm disclaimer.) Like Bishop Percy, some authors of shanty books may have felt it was actually *desirable* to spruce up the words, so as to make a "better" song for readers to remember.

In cases like this, my guess is that what's on the page approximates the theme of what was actually sung. The language does strike me as literary, but there was no more accounting for taste in the 1870s than there is now.

It would be valuable to separate the texts that we *know* were collected in the field and unaltered or scarcely altered (Carpenter, Sharp, Doerflinger, etc.) and compare them with the rest. The results might be startling.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 02:50 PM

Thanks, TomB, for that unpublished text.

I'll bet that Sharp mixed that in to the published version from English Folk-Chanteys. The version there, noted above, was collected from Henry Bailey. However, Sharp notes in general that he sometimes added verses from other individuals. In this specific case, he does say that the "matelot" verse came from Short. He doesn't say the "hoozier" verse came from short, rather he says that SHort explained to him what it meant -- perhaps implying that that verse was from Short, too.

The two singers' tunes would be different, and Sharp being who he was would have put weight on the tune. He'd have said the EFC was from Bailey only if he'd used Bailey's tune.

In sum: The version in Lowlands is most likely that of Bailey with the additional 1 or both manuscript lyrics of Short tacked on.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:20 PM

Lighter--

Thanks for the thoughts!

What you say here is what I'm thinking:

What Harlow and others may have done frequently is to try to reconstruct something imperfectly remembered from years before. They would innocently refer to printed versions to refresh their memory.

And with that, I wonder if we can get a sense of where/what print versions they may have used -- so as not to be misled by the narrative that stuff creates. I am, as you said, hoping to look at the field texts separately. To do that, we should know what are field texts. Well, Sharp, Carp, Doer are obvious, but there is too much valuable info in the chantyman-author texts to throw those out...unless somehow we can separate 'original' from 'derivative' within them. Perhaps not. But I do think that Harlow (we've discussed this before) contains much more that is derivative or "influenced" than is commonly supposed.
So, re: your statement,

In cases like this, my guess is that what's on the page approximates the theme of what was actually sung.

...while I believe that was true in some cases, I may be more skeptical. I will break down Harlow's verses, and see what you think.

I doubt that Harlow would call his own creation "doggerel."

True. I don't think it was his own creation. But more importantly, I don't think this statement is necessarily commenting on everything he'd just presented. Here is where I think he is (unconsciously?) echoing what he'd read.

Writing about chanties took on certain formulae; paradigmatic "slots" seemed to have been needed to be filled by many author each time something was written. One of these seems to have been to talk about hoe some shanties could be "mournful", and perhaps use Lowlands as an example. People who have read this stuff, when it comes time to present the song, would tend to use similar discourse.

I think "Landsman would think chanty texts were doggerel" is another cliche. My guess is that Harlow, not a great writer IMO, has rather clumsily chosen this moment to insert the cliche. The sentiment is sincere, but I don't read deeply into it in connection with his song text.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:47 PM

Gibb, the universal sentiment that the shanty texts were "doggerel" by ordinary standards was universal because it was undoubtedly true, at a time when the "ordinary standards" of the day were quite literary. Words set to music were expected to have some inspiring or moving quality; comic songs, which were relegated to a second or third tier of quality, were expected to be clever. All songs were expected to be more or less polished and certainly coherent, with something like a satisfying conclusion.

The nature of shanties makes it unlikely that many performances ever had all these qualities, unless the lyirics were just taken over from a shore song. And whne we say that some texts sound too "literary," I think we mean in part that men doing backbreaking work would be unlikely to find them either inspiriting, soothing, or humorous: in other words, no help to getting the work done. A good work song is direct in diction and doesn't require much thinking about the lyrics.

I'd think that shanties with sad themes or melodies might have been sung mostly in miserable weather when it was hard to get up much energy for what had to be done. But that's not to say they weren't sung, or that they might not strike us today as absurdly sentimental.

Doesn't Masefield say that hearing "Hanging Johnny" at night in the rain was one of the most melancholy songs he'd ever heard? Surely he wasn't making that up.

I'm still trying to recover from the disillusioning experience of discovering just how much A. L. Lloyd tinkered with his materials. (And the liner notes always made a point of his whaleship experiences in the '30s!) Take away the element of reality (like hearing Carpenter's singers performing the real words they actually sang in 1880), and traditional music losses much of its appeal. To me, anyway. If somebody like Jody Stecher openly admits improving a song, that's fine. If somebody like Lloyd doesn't, while also implying it's the real thing, I feel a little queasy.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:57 PM

Devil's advocate here, but surely folk singing always involves a bit of tinkering as part of the whole process of "take it, sing it in your own voice, and pass it on".

I accept that if you're collecting and publishing something as having been collected from a particular person in a particular place who sang it in that way, then there's a duty to report and be as rigorous as you can about it. And I suppose in some of what he did, Lloyd was a 'collector' in this way. But I think that the problem with saying that something has to be performed with a very particular reality, as it was sung at a particular time, is that it ceases to be folk music, it becomes archival material, ossified and locked down.

My rule of thumb is to hope for clarity, rigour, and honesty from collectors (within the bounds of realism).

But equally, when people are acting as singers, not as collectors, then I allow people who are singing to do what people have done for generations - make it their own, give it new life, and pass it on.

That's certainly what I do - I don't pretend that anything I sing is "as it was in 1880". I'm not a historical reenactor, I'm a singer.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 03:59 PM

(Sincere apologies for going off topic, just got carried away thinking aloud there. I cursed at myself as soon as I hit submit and realised that I was encouraging drift away from what's a very good thread on Lowlands Away... I suspect any further discussion on this should probably move to a different thread.)


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 04:51 PM

Hi, Richard. What you're saying is relevant. Keep it coming.

The issue with Lloyd was that he'd let you think it was something historical. The issue isn't with people singing whatever they want, it's how they present it.

It goes beyond one individual. "Innocent" tinkering -- making *plausible* changes and letting them pass as historical -- begins to pile up as lots of people do that. New narratives form, new ways of seeing the material. Those narratives become very strong with each successive performance. The newness is good if we have a sense that's what it is. But if it gets in the way of knowing history, or contradicts history, for some people that can be very unsatisfying.

One of my beefs with chanty singing today is that people are NOT making up enough new stuff, that what they sing is based TOO much in the past.

But there is a certainly level of satisfaction that comes when the new stuff is based, accurately, in the "spirit" of the past "tradition," as vague as that concept might be. There is a "language" and an orientation and a spirit of the genre. Often, this language/orientation/spirit has been set "off course."

In the case of Lowlands, as a performer today, I feel a sinking feeling that people have pushed the song off course with this mournful dead lover stuff. Even if that existed, I feel like it may have been marginal. I think the whole idea of the dead lover theme places Lowlands into some kind of conceptual/mental "world" that may be somewhat off-base for this song and for chanties generally.

When Hugill says that sailors didn't allow "sob stuff," but that this was an exception, could it really be that it *wasn't* an exception per se, but rather the sentimental atmosphere had been a new narrative built up? I haven't analyzed Hugill's presentation in detail yet, but there is a chance that most of what his impressions were of the song were based in ideas that had already been created before he even started sailing.

The dead lover theme puts an emphasis on Northern England while the dollar theme puts an emphasis on the American South. OK, both could have existed, been influences. But these themes can have far reaching implications for what one believes about shanties and this shanty in particular. And those beliefs shape performances, even ones where one is creating something new.

If I believe the shanty has Northern UK origins I would perform it differently than if I think it is from Alabama. This woman who made the art installation that used "Lowlands" and presented it as some kind of sweet song of fairy sprites in old Scotland (I am being sarcastic) has done something that does not sit well with me. She could only have done it if there were a strong narrative along those lines, and I for one want to understand whether that narrative, which goes against my "FWIW" intuitive sense of the genre, has basis in reality.

Our performances have to have a sense of truth to them. Perhaps not "historical accuracy," but what we believe to be the truth. Great performers, I think, "know" their genre/tradition well, with a very good intuitive sense of what "belongs," and because of that, they are able to create new stuff that really belongs -- i.e. what is satisfying.

My thoughts.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:17 PM

I doubt that the dead lover theme was performed during work, but it may well have been sung off-duty.

I don't like the characterization of "Lowlands Away" as an "Alabama" song. Cotton-screwing, before the demise of slavery, was done by English and Irish sailors (and others, mostly white, attracted by the wages) who could make more money in Mobile (or other cotton port) than ship-board pay.

The song, used as a chantey, would be sung at sea, perhaps on voyages that never included a southern U.S. port.

With Doerflinger, I believe that the song was of British origin.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Richard from Liverpool
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:32 PM


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 05:53 PM

With Doerflinger, I believe that the song was of British origin.

OK, but why? Funny that Doerflinger says there were two themes, and yet all three of the versions he collected were the "dollar" theme. He appears to be buying into what he has *read*, because he quotes Masefield in support of the British "dead lover" theme. Yet Masefield, the English poet, is the one whose work and unsubstantiated, biased ideas I have been questioning.

Or is it the "dollar" version that you'd also call British in origin on the strength of the fact of there being ample British cotton-screwers?

What are the data that are suggesting British origin, and are those from a good source.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 06:05 PM

Gibb-

You asked what C. Fox Smith had to say about this song in , 1927, p. 30-31:

Halliard Shanty

"Lowlands away" is the classic example of one of the outstanding characteristics of the shanty; namely, the way in which the most trivial and indeed meaningless words are wedded to haunting and beautiful melodies.

The more modern words -- not that they are really very modern, since they were already well-known in the 'fifties and practically extinct before the 'eighties, very few of the younger generation of sailing ship men having ever heard the shanty -- are a debased version of a still older song. The horrible material refrain of "A dollar and a half a day," which is so hopelessly out of keeping with the sad, lingering cadence of the melody, and the references to "hoosiers" and such strange waterfowl, are quite obviously later interpolations. The older version is on the familiar theme of the dead lover, so popular with the folk singer, to whom and to whose audiences a thoroughly miserable story was as the breath of life; and the "Lowlands" refrain is found in more than one old song and ballad, like the well-known "Golden Vanitee," and that which tells how "The Lowlands of Holland have twined my Love and me."


Smith definitely made her point of view quite clear!

She provides two versions of the shanty:

Version A

Lowland, lowlands, away my John!
Lowlands away, I heard them say,
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
Lowlands away, I heard them say --
My dollar and a half a day!

A dollar a day is a hoosier's pay --
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
A dollar a day is a hoosier's pay --
My dollar and a half a day!

Oh my old mother wrote to me --
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
She wrote to me to come home from sea
My dollar and a half a day!

Lowlands away, I heard them say,
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
Lowlands away, I heard them say --
My dollar and a half a day!

Version B (same melody)

I dreamed a dream the other night --
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
I dreamed a dream the other night --
My lowlands away!

I thought I saw my own true love --
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
I thought I saw my own true love --
My lowlands away!

I thought my love was drowned and dead --
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
I thought my love was drowned and dead --
My lowlands away!

I believe she preferred Version B.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 06:55 PM

Comments on Harlow's text.

1. Oh, were you ever in Mobile Bay?
A-screwing cotton all the day,


Whall, whom Harlow read, had,

O was you ever in Mobile Bay,
A screwing cotton by the day ?

Yet, Whall says this was a "regulation" verse, and I don't see any reason to question it.

2. A black man's pay is a dollar a day;
A dollar and a half is a white man's pay.


Also sounds like a regulation or typical verse.

3. Oh, were you ever in New Orleans?
That's where you meet the Southern Queens,


Only Harlow has this. Sounds pretty 'folk' to me, and original.

4. I wish I was in Slomes Hall,
A-drinking luck to the old Black Ball.


Here's the first "funny" one. Clark (1910) had,

I wish I was in Slewer's Hall,
A-drinking luck to the old Black Ball,

What is "Slomes Hall"? What is the chance that these were actually two different memories of the same verse by two different fellows? The verse sounds too incidental, to me, to have been common...which points to a borrowing (?)

5. Oh, my old mother, she said to me,
"Come home my boy and quit the sea."


Whall had,

O my old mother she wrote to me,
She wrote to me to come home from sea,

He also says this was a regulation verse, but none of the other versions have it. Harlow may have borrowed it.

6. I dreamed a dream the other night,
I saw my love dressed all in white.


Sampson (1927) had,

I dream'd a dream the other night
I saw my true love all in white

7. She stood and gazed in one blank stare,
And combed the ringlets of her hair.


Literary sounding, but not found elsewhere.

8. Her face was pale and white as snow;
She spoke to me in accents low.


Davis (1906) had,

She spoke in accents sweet and low,
"How true my love is well you know."

9. "I'll cut away my bonny hair,
No other man shall think me fair.


Masefield (1906) had,

I will cut away my bonny hair,
No other man shall think me fair,

And Sampson (1927) had,

I'll cut away all my bonny hair,
No other man shall deem me fair,

Seems like Harlow borrowed this from Masefield.

10. "I'll cut my breasts until they bleed,
From you, my love, I'll soon be freed.


Masefield had,

I will cut my breasts until they bleed,

11. "I'll jump into the Lowland Sea,
And drown myself for love of thee.


Masefield had,
"I am drowned in the Lowland seas," he said,

Sampson had,

I'm drowned in the Lowland sea he said,

12. "With seaweed green about my head,
You'll find me there, but I'll be dead."


Masefield had,

He was green and wet with weeds so cold,

Sampson had,

And the wet green weeds are all my bed,

13. I then awoke to hear the cry,
"Hey, you sleepers! Watch ahoy!"


Davis had,

But then awoke to hear the cry,
"Rouse out the watch, ho, watch, ahoy,"

For me, the verses in the "dead lover" section, starting verse 6, are just too similar to distinctive verses of Davis and Masefield (followed by Sampson) -- the two people to offer that theme. Funny, Davis has the lover male and Masefield has the lover female; both create consistent narratives. But Harlow's mixes verses from the two.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 07:02 PM

Great, Charley!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jul 11 - 07:49 PM

Something to think about re: tunes.

Only Alden (and those who copied him, LA Smith and Tozer) and the weird Luce revised edition (which I think was revised by making use of Smith) give a minor melody.

All the other notated version (i.e. including the field recordings) use the major mode.

But--

Hugill first gives it in minor, in connection with the "away" chorus (i.e. as in Alden's form). He then gives the major mode to accompany the "dollar" chorus form.

The shape of both melodies is the same. The only thing that changes are accidentals -- lowering/raising 3 and/or 7th degree of the scale. Could this have been the result of the perception of blue notes or some other 'neutral' tones, in Alden?

Is Hugill just following suit here? Funny that he is able to provide 2 different tunes, but does not say where they're from.

In his performances, despite what's in the book, he sang the "away" chorus to the major mode melody.

I wonder if the major mode melody wasn't the "correct" (dominant) one, and, as I said, Alden just got confused by the intonation.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 05:50 AM

I think this thread has all the sources of info I've seen for "Lowlands" (*except for Hugill)-- enough at least to try to say some things about it. All my opinion/interpretation, of course, but one can decide for oneself -- the evidence is here. Or else, please bring more evidence!

The field-collected versions, reproduced faithfully, are:

*Charles Rosher, in 1906.

A dollar and a half is a poor man's pay.
A dollar and a half it won't clear my way.

*John Perring, in 1908.

Five dollars a day is a white man's pay.
But a dollar and a half is a nigger's pay.
The nigger works both night and day.
But the white man, he works but a day.

*Henry Bailey, in 1914 or earlier

I'm bound away, I heard him say,
A dollar and a half is a oozer's pay,
A dollar and a half won't pay my way ;
A dollar and a half is a white-man's pay.
We're bound away to Mobile Bay ;

*John Short, in 1914 or earlier

The dollar a day is a oozier's pay
What shall we poor matelos do

*John Farr, in 1927

I thought I heard our captain say.
We're sailing straight for Mobile Bay,
I thought I heard our captain cry
A dollar and a half is a whiteman's pay.

*Richard Maitland (went to sea ca.1869/70), in the 30s or early 40s

Five dollars a day is a stevedore's pay;
A dollar a day is a nigger's pay.
I thought I heard our old man say,
That he would give us grog today,
When we are leaving Mobile Bay.
In the Virginia lowlands I was born,
I worked all day down in the corn,
I packed my bag and I'm going away;
I'll make my way to Mobile Bay.
In Mobile Bay, where they work all day,
A-screwing cotton by the day,
Five dollars a day is a white man's pay,
A dollar and a half is a colored man's pay.

*William Fender, in 1929

I thought I heard our old man say,
A dollar a day is a poor man's pay,
So shake her up from down below,
               
*Capt. James A. Delap, 1860s journal

A bully ship and bully crew,
And a bully mate to put us through,
I wish I was in Liverpool,
With the Liverpool girls I would slip round.
Oh, heave her up and away we'll go
Oh, heave her up from down below.
Oh, a dollar and a half is a shellback's pay,
But a dollar and a half is pretty good pay.
Oh, rise, old woman, and let us in,
For the night is cold and I want some gin.

All of these have the "dollar and a half" chorus. Lyrically, they are non-narrative (like most chanties), and relate to a "working for dollars/Mobile Bay" theme or have typical IMO floating verses.

continued...


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 06:39 AM

Another category of sources includes writings by former chanteymen. Some of these fellows had read books about chanties. Their presentations are meant to represent the chanties as they knew them, but may have been tweaked a bit, either under the influence of prior writing or to spruce them up. ...Actually, in this category I'm only including those about which I (*personal interpretation alert*) specifically feel were probably not influenced in a significant way by prior writing.

*Lahee (1900, in The Sea Breeze)

...the chorus ended up with "five dollars and a half a day," ? which might just as well be any other price you like to mention, as it was the sailor's dream of the pay which he could get in some other place where he was not. ...

*Whall (1910), experience in the 1860s and early '70s. Learned chanty in 1862.

O my old mother she wrote to me,
She wrote to me to come home from sea,
A dollar a day is a Hoosier's pay,
O was you ever in Mobile Bay,
A screwing cotton by the day ?

*Bullen (1914), experience in 1870s

Lowlands away I heard them say

*Robinson (1917), experience in 1860s>

Note the disclaimer:
As may well be imagined, I cannot exactly recall all the original verses... In a crude way, however, I have endeavored to carry the spirit and sense of the originals into the words which I have written down.

Last night I dreamt of my true love.
She begged me ne'er again to rove.

All except for the last (which has "Lowlands Away") have the "dollar" chorus. And Robinson is the only from this set to have the "dream" theme. All of Robinson's material generally looks to be quite original, and only the late-ish date of his publication and his disclaimer bring room for doubt. Unless the language of the brief text, itself, tells anything? This is the one outlier in the bunch, and it would be nice to hear opinions on it.

The remaining presentations (i.e. not yet collated) are by non-chantymen who were not strict collectors and/or by sailors/chantymen who borrowed from previous authors' works. For this reason, it's in the above sources (this post and the one above) that I put the most faith w/ respect to historical accuracy.

cont...


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 08:07 AM

The interesting thing, Charley, is that version B doesn't go into any details, much less poetic details.

Smith's versions of shanties, whatever the romantic content of her comments, look pretty authentic to me.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 08:22 AM

Richard, I think you should sing a song any way you want. My point is that it's deceptive and harmful to an understanding of past culture to present heavily improved versions of traditional songs as the real McCoy.

I don't mean just an inconsequential word or two: I mean rewrites and obvious stylistic improvements. All it would take to fix the problem would be to admit, "This is pretty much how it goes, but I've added a few of my own touches." That's what Martin Carthy does. Not many performers in the '50s or '60s were that straightforward. Millions of people more or less assumed that Peter, Paul, and Mary, for example, were singing authentic American folk songs.

"Presentism" is the assumption that people in the past mostly thought and behaved just as we do. Well, some of them may have, but society had many different norms, people were much less sophisticated in certain ways, the general sense of humor was rather different, etc. And the farther back you go, the greater and more pervasive the differences.

With shanties, we're talking about the tastes - well over a hundred years ago - of tough,(mostly) very poorly educated working men who led extraordinarily hard lives by any standard. Many of them might really have enjoyed singing a tearjerker about a drowned lover nbo and then. Broadside ballads are filled with that sort of thing. They wouldn't be if the themes didn't sell.

But can you imagine even a great ballad singer of the 1850s on American Idol? The mind boggles.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 30 Jul 11 - 01:19 PM

I would never consider a song composed by an English soldier serving in India about an Indian subject to be 'Indian' or Asian; similarly a song sung by English-Irish sailors or cotton screwers who happened to work temporarily in Mobile is not an "Alabama" song.
---------------------

I would agree, most folk songs, including work songs and the kind labeled chanteys, are sung in the styles of today. Except during the "rediscovery" period of the 1950s, their popularity did not extend to a general audience. The 'tearjerkers' of the 19th century either make us cringe or smile, but we no longer share their feeling.

Few of the songs of the early 20th century ( E. g., the volume Heart Songs, "Dear to the American People,") are heard today, let alone those of the mid-19th century.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 31 Jul 11 - 11:35 PM

cont...

The second-hand sources are the next set of evidence. There is a dramatic difference between the form of the song described in these second-hand sources and that found in the field-collected or chantyman-direct ones.

These are:

**Once a Week (1868) (> Chambers's 1869)

Gives title "Lowlands." Capstan.

**Alden (1882)

Unknown how/whence the journalist got this. Windlass.

I dreamt a dream the other night.
Lowlands, Lowlands, Hurrah, my John.
I dreamt I saw my own true love.
My Lowlands aray.


One supposes that "aray" was a typo for "away," but up to this point, strictly speaking (suspending judgement), there is no way to say it was for sure. There hadn't yet been any other testimony that the word "away" was part of the song. Notably, the first chorus had "hurrah," not the "away" of today's popular version.

Also mentions the "dollar" chorus, saying it was the "original" ? yet it's unclear how he'd know this.

**Dixon (1883)

Title, "Lowlands." Heaving anchor by windlass.

**The New York Times (1884)

Anonymous journalist says the choruses were "Lowlands Away, my John," and "My dollar and a half a day."

**Smith (1888)

This is an exact copy of Alden. The "aray" in Alden was parsed into 2 syllables under the musical score, as "a-ray." Smith slavishly copied it in that form, even while as text on its own.

Following Alden, also mentions alternate chorus, "My dollar and a half a day." But when she tries to create a mock-up of this, she puts it as the first chorus:

Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John.
My dollar and a half a day.
I took up my clothes and I went away.
Lowlands, Lowlands, a-ray.

Smith's collection was widely read, but later writers ignored the second version.

**All the Year Round 1888

The anonymous author has culled all the information from LA Smith, whose book was just recently published.

**Luce (1902)

Source in unclear. All of the chanties in this collection's first edition were culled from elsewhere. This revised edition adds some more, some clearly from LA Smith's work. So, the principal was not to do original fieldwork, but rather to compile. However, the version of "Lowlands" is not obviously from a previous print source.

For heaving.

I thought I heard the old man say.
Lowlands, lowlands, my Johnny,
That this would be our sailing day,
A dollar and a half a day.

**Davis and Tozer (3rd edition, 1906)

They added "Lowlands" (for Anchor) in this edition, i.e. after Smith's collection became available. The idiosyncratic tune is exactly the same as in Smith/Alden, telling us that the authors were not really familiar with the song. The first verse is the same as Smith/Alden, too, except instead of guessing that "aray" was typo for "away," they looked to the "hurrah" of the first chorus and guess it should be "hooray." They titled the song "Lowlands" and there is no evidence they had any idea it might be called "Lowlands Away."

I dreamt a dream the other night,
Lowlands, Lowlands, hooray, my John.

I dreamt I saw my own true love, 
      
My Lowlands, hooray.

As I've already said, I think that because they did not know any more of the song beyond one verse, they extrapolated and made up a narrative for the rest of it. In the narrative, the first of its kind in evidence, there is a dead lover who is *female*.

**Masefield 1906

Masefield's presentation was colored by his sensibility as a poet and also his biased view that chanties were British creations by default and that one should look to place their origins in older English texts. One may compare this to Alden (1882), who lived closer to a time when chanties were in use and when people were talking about them as more typically American. Masefield, then, was writing at a time when English folklorists were beginning to couch them as typically English.

Like Davis/Tozer, he also had no inkling that the phrase "Lowlands AWAY" was to be sung. This is in evidence by his slavish replication of Smith's format:

I Dreamt a dream the other night,
   Lowlands, Lowlands, hurrah, my John;

I dreamt a dream the other night, 
      
   My Lowlands a-ray.

Followed by,

I dreamt I saw my own true love,


If he had ever heard it sung, I doubt he would have done that. Masefield's experience as a sailor in more recent times meant he was familiar with some chanties, but evidently this was not one of them. Therefore, I reason that his text after the first verse, a narrative about a dead lover who is *male*, was fabricated.

Whether Masefield's lyrics sound plausible or not (e.g. "too literary", "based in something actually heard"), to me, is a moot point given his evident lack of familiarity with the song.

I have pointed out that Masefield deliberately sought to explain chanty texts in relation to English ballads. In the very same collection he has the ballad of "The Lowlands of Holland", to which he would have been able to make a connection and extrapolate a full text from the suggestion (i.e. in Alden's verse) about dreaming about a lover.

On the other hand/also, Davis' version, the first to contain a dead lover narrative, may have suggested it. Prior to this work, in January of the same year, Masefield came out with an article that contained 13 chanties (later reproduced in Sailor's Garland, which contained 12 more). After that, it seems, Davis's revised (3rd ed.) collection came out with the newly added "Lowlands." And *then*, I believe, Sailor's Garland came, which added Lowlands to Masefield's set of chanties. We know that Masefield referenced both Davis and Smith's collections, for in his earlier article he wrote,

Those who wish to study chanties will find Miss Laura Smith's anthology, "Music of the Waters," of service to them. Other collections of value are Dr. Ferris Tozer's excellent "Forty Sailors' Songs or Chanties"

That was in reference to Davis's 2nd ed. His Sailor's Garland has a similar note, but it is unclear whether he may have seen the 3rd ed. by then ? and I'm not sure exactly when that year the 3rd edition came out.

A last idiosyncrasy to note in Masefield's presentation is that while others have had this as a heaving chanty, he has it for halliards. This can be read two ways. Either it is further evidence of his lack of familiarity with this chanty (I think). Or, those who might rationalize it (being opinionated here!) and say "yeah, but the use of chanties could vary, you never know" might interpret this as evidence of the uniqueness of Masefield's version!


I am going to stop here for a moment. Reviewing the above, I notice a few things.

-        A second chorus of "Lowlands AWAY", up to this point, had not been noted by anyone. While the field sources do not give it at all, these second-hand sources give only the contentious "Lowlands aray", which is only original to Alden (all the other who had it can be seen to have copied it from other writers ? except for Robinson, who wrote a bit later, and who presents a different issue.)
-        All of these second-hand sources, if they supply a tune, use the minor key tune originally provided by Alden ? a tune which does not appear in any of the field collected texts (and which have major key tunes). Exception to this is Luce's, which is also minor key, but if one looks at that tune, one sees that it is quite odd musically, as if perhaps a mistake was made (i.e. the difference is accounted for by mistake in re-writing Alden's tune in a different key signature.)
-        Davis and Masefield are the two authors to provide a dead lover theme. Aden's original one verse might suggest that theme, but there is too little to say this was the theme. Davis and Masefield, at least one of which read the other's work, had demonstrable reasons to "want to" extrapolate the lyrics in such a fashion. There are considerable reasons to doubt that the lyrics they extrapolated were sung, the main one being that both authors seem to have been unfamiliar with the song in real life experience.
-        Additionally, these two authors to present the theme do it differently in that in one the dead lover is male and in the other, female. This is of interest re: the impression that Hugill gives that there were two variations in the theme "out there", as if after extensive analysis of collected version that fact emerged. In reality, at least one of those "variations" appeared somewhere, and in places of dubious authenticity.

Numerous other texts can be found in the 1900s-1920s that re-used either Davis's or Masefield's texts, without citing their source. So, the weighty impression made by these presentations was disproportionate to the scant authentic historical evidence.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 12:18 AM

I was in error in saying that "Lowlands" was added to Davis/Tozer's 3rd edition. I now have evidence that it was added in the 2nd edition (ca.1890). So scratch the above speculation about when exactly in 1906 Masefield got access to Davis' version of the song. He'd already had it when he wrote his Jan 1906 article.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 12:55 AM

Also, FWIW Davis's has nothing about the lover (female) being dead/drowned.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: doc.tom
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 04:38 AM

Hi Gibb
What I posted above was the total of what was in Sharp's (notebooks from Short) - so, yup!, you got it.
TomB


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 05:04 AM

The rest of the second-hand (or unclear derivation) sources come after the influential and stand-out presentations of Davis and Masefield.

**Clark (1910)
He is writing somewhat vaguely (possibly anachronously) when he gives his text, Not sure what the source was. Heaving anchor.

"I wish I was in Slewer's Hall,
Lowlands, lowlands, hurra, my boys,
A-drinking luck to the old Black Ball,
My dollar and a half a day."

**Terry (1921)

Version was based in that of Capt. John Runciman. However, Terry's chanties were composites, which used material from different places in order to create performable versions. Terry had great respect for Whall's writing, and he also referenced Davis/Tozer.

The text switches oddly (perhaps not?!) between a cotton screwing and a dead lover theme. Judge for your self whether you'd think that was likely or, rather )as I suspect) it is evidence of a composite that has been created. The cotton screwing verses are very similar or identical to Whall's, though if these were "regulation" verses, that could also explain it. The dead lover themed verses has the lover as female, as in Davis. About the latter them, Terry makes this statement:

In North-country ships the shantyman used to make much of the theme of a dead lover appearing in the night.

It's impossible to say whether Terry really did an extensive survey of "North-country ships'" sailors, and compared them with others, in order to make this specific statement. However, I feel it was likely he was influenced in this through John Runciman, the literateur's, ideas. Runciman had written some stories set in a North Country cultural milieu, collected in 1885's _Skippers and Shellbacks_. It contains this passage:

A merry sailorman came clattering along the alley in his heavy sea boots; his oilskins and sou'wester poured multitudinous streams from all their crinkles as he walked, and his face shone with the wet. He was singing:
"Says she, 'My love, I'm dead and gone! 
            
Lowlands, lowlands, 

And on my head they've put a stone;
Good-bye, my love, in the lowlands.'"
He sang this sorrowful ditty as if it were quite a comic affair, and he was evidently a high-spirited fellow.


I don't know what this 'ditty' was ? a ballad? I can't scan it as the chanty. If Runciman knew "Lowlands" and he gave it to Terry (w/ the "dollar" chorus), what did he intend to write here?

This all makes it confusing just what Runciman may have given to Terry and how he produce this:

6. Lowlands away

Lowlands, Lowlands,
 Away my John,

Lowlands, away,
 I heard them say,

My dollar and a half a day.



1. A dollar and a half a day is a Hoosier's pay.

Lowlands, Lowlands,
 Away my John.

A dollar and a half a day is very good pay.

My dollar and a half a day.



2. Oh was you ever in Mobile Bay.

Screwing the cotton by the day.


3. All in the night my true love came,

All in the night my true love came.


4. She came to me all in my sleep. (twice)



5. And hr eyes were white my love. (twice)



6. And then I knew my love was dead. (twice)


**Colcord (1924)

Based on just her lyrics, which I have *second-hand* (warning!) as follows, it looks like she did this: Took the first two verses based on the canonical print version from Alden, and then the other two verses come from Terry's collection.

With Colcord the chorus has ~changed~ positively to "Lowlands away". This would have come from Robinson, whose article she referenced.

I dreamed a dream the other night,
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John,
I dreamed a dream the other night,
My Lowlands, away!

I dreamed I saw my own true love,

She came to me all in my sleep,

And then I knew my love was dead.


**CF Smith (1927)

I don't know what she would have said were here sources of knowledge on this, but based on her breakdown and lyrics, Version A looks to be referencing Terry (whose other ideas she also repeats) and maybe Whall.
Version B is like other print versions (Alden trajectory), with the addition of "drowned and dead." The only evidence for this point for "drowned" has been Masefield. Curiously, like Masefield, she also calls it a halliard chanty. Would like to know more about where she would have gotten it. She says,

The older version is on the familiar theme of the dead lover

but there is no way she could have known that (and it contradicts Alden's opinion, FWIW). So that sounds like an assumption of her imagination that could have been influenced by Masefield's ballad-style presentation.
On the other hand, she says

The more modern words -- not that they are really very modern, since they were already well-known in the 'fifties and practically extinct before the 'eighties, very few of the younger generation of sailing ship men having ever heard the shanty -- are a debased version of a still older song.

Sampson also called the "dollar" form "debased." Not sure if his 1927 publication was available first, or vice versa. How Smith knew it was well known in the 50s is a mystery. And what she says about the younger sailors not knowing it echoes what Terry said. So then, did she interview these older men, and they gave her the info?

This may also be the first to reify the distinction between "2 versions." I wonder what tune she used. That would tell us something.

Version A

Lowland, lowlands, away my John!
Lowlands away, I heard them say,
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
Lowlands away, I heard them say --
My dollar and a half a day!

A dollar a day is a hoosier's pay --

Oh my old mother wrote to me --
She wrote to me to come home from sea

Version B

I dreamed a dream the other night --
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John!
I dreamed a dream the other night --
My lowlands away!

I thought I saw my own true love --

I thought my love was drowned and dead --

**Sampson (1927)

As I've already pointed out, a few of his lines must have come from Masefield. Ergo he read Masefield, and that helped influence his idea about the "modern," "debased," dollar forms.

Lowlands, my Lowlands away my John,
Lowlands away, I hear them say,
Lowlands, my lowlands away.

I dream'd a dream the other night
Lowlands my lowlands away my John,
I saw my true love all in white,
Lowlands my Lowlands away.

I dreamed my love came in my sleep,
And said my dear why do you weep,

I'm drowned in the Lowland sea he said,
And the wet green weeds are all my bed,

Oh my love he's drowned in the lowland seas,
And never again shall I him please,

I'll cut away all my bonny hair,
No other man shall deem me fair,


**Harlow (1962)

I believe he created something that was partly based his 1870s memories and partly in print versions that he'd referenced. If my analysis is correct, the latter would have been both Masefield and Davis.

Oh, were you ever in Mobile Bay?
Lowlands, lowlands, away my John.
A-screwing cotton all the day,
My dollar and a half a day.

A black man's pay is a dollar a day;
A dollar and a half is a white man's pay.

Oh, were you ever in New Orleans?
That's where you meet the Southern Queens,

I wish I was in Slomes Hall,
A-drinking luck to the old Black Ball.

Oh, my old mother, she said to me,
"Come home my boy and quit the sea."

I dreamed a dream the other night,
I saw my love dressed all in white.

She stood and gazed in one blank stare,
And combed the ringlets of her hair.

Her face was pale and white as snow;
She spoke to me in accents low.

"I'll cut away my bonny hair,
No other man shall think me fair.

"I'll cut my breasts until they bleed,
From you, my love, I'll soon be freed.

"I'll jump into the Lowland Sea,
And drown myself for love of thee.

"With seaweed green about my head,
You'll find me there, but I'll be dead."

I then awoke to hear the cry,
"Hey, you sleepers! Watch ahoy!"

To summarize my interpretation here:

In the wake of Davis and Masefield's presentations, numerous, subsequent non-scholar writers ran with the powerful and attractive idea that "Lowlands" must have been based original in the ballad theme of a dead lover appearing in a dream. The idea sounded most plausible to people in the early 20th century who had begun to construct a narrative of chanties as old English products ? a notion that can be contrasted with 19th century commenters' characterization of chanties as something more recent and largely American (incl. Afro-American).

Critical review of the writing, however, reveals that the dead lover theme is found in only a few reputable sources, and even those sources are of ambiguous authenticity. Alden's was one. The verse he gave only suggested that a lover appeared in a dream, and not necessarily that a dead lover narrative was to be spun out following. Even he claimed that this was not the original, however, but his opinion was lost in subsequent derivative presentations of the text. The other text worth considering is Robinson's, again only one verse. It, too, does not indicate a *dead* lover necessarily. And, unfortunately, it comes after lots of prior writing, and the author provides less surety that he is giving a sample as actually sung. In my opinion, these two opening verses suggest that a dead lover narrative was plausible, but only because that idea existed in folklore. They don't provide any actual evidence that the song continued on in that way. And the ground zero for full versions of that theme (Davis and Masefield) consists of highly dubious texts. A horizontal study, such as comparison with other sons, may suggest something else. But from my reading of this evidence related to this specific song, its doubtful that a "dead lover" theme existed.

If, for the sake of argument, one imagines that it did exist, then must must still concede that it was quite *uncommon* or that, perhaps, it never really was a chanty. And yet, due to all the copying of suggestive texts, and to their own very suggestive nature ("my bonny hair" just screams Scotland/Northern England!), the impression of the nature and origins (= form in use in chanty days) has been greatly skewed.

Hugill cemented the skewed interpretation when he accepted, uncritically the terms set out by prior non-scholar writers.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 05:29 AM

Re Sampson and Masefield.
We can be sure he did read Masefield and others. He frequently gives quotes about the songs from them, but never admits to relying on them for words.
Remember he states that he sang every song himself at sea and that he has a good memory.
Masefield actually provides a foreword to Sampson's book and comments only that some words were changed but only for decency.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 07:54 AM

C. Fox Smith uses the same tune for both her "A" and "B" versions; I don't read music, however. Smith did interview shantymen while she was in residence in Victoria, BC, from 1911-1913, and back in England after she returned in the fall of 1913 but we (my team of volunteers) haven't recovered any of her notes or diaries. She did correspond with Joanna Colcord when they were both drafting their collections of traditional sea songs, but I've only found one letter from Colcord back to Smith discussing her poem "Rosario"; the rest of the Colcord archives at the Penobscot Maritime Museum are unfortunately in disarray.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 08:46 AM

Frank Shay adds this personal note to the discussion, from An American Sailor's Treasury, 1948/1951, p. 49:

"The writer first heard this capstan chantey in a dense fog off Quarantine: our ship had come up in the night and anchored in the Narrows awaiting the clearing. Tumbling on deck at dawn, unable to see our hands before our faces, let alone the welcome green hills of Staten Island, we tried to find our position with our ears. All we could distinguish was the clanking of an anchor chain on our starboard, the noises unusual in an iron ship, more sonorous because of the fog, and then the doleful voice with a Cockney accent singing the song as a ballard. It was the perfect setting for a dirge."

Shay's first version is the one with the drowned lover. The second is "The Lawlands o' Holland," followed by "My dollar and a half a day," ending with this fragment:

I wish I were in the Dutchman's Hall.
Lowlands, lowlands, hurrah, my boys!
A-drinking luck to the old Black Ball,
My dollar and a half a day!

William Doerflinger, in his Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman, p. 81, has a version which he references to a diary of the 1860's (evidently Capt. James A. Delap's, 1860s journal), with the cotton-stowers' chorus but with seafaring verses:

A bully ship and bully crew,
Lowlands, lowlands, hurrah, my John,
And a bully mate to put us through,
My dollar and a half a day.

I wish I was in Liverpool (town)*...
With the Liverpool girls I would slip around...

Oh, heave her up and away we'll go...
Oh, heave her up from down below...

Oh, a dollar and a half is a shellback's pay...
But a dollar and a half is pretty good pay...

Oh, rise, old woman and let us in...
For the night is cold and I want some gin...

* My correction

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 09:35 AM

Gibb, mo ,atter what the bibliographies say, I believe the undated Third Ed. of Davis & Tozer should actually be dated to about 1890 or so.

As I wrote on another thread, "D & T's publication dates are uncertain. The likely dates (based on the British Library record, information in WorldCat, and D & T's prefaces) seem to be 1886 or '87 for the first edition, 1888 for the second, and some time in the very early '90s for the third."

My estimate of about 1890 (or even 1889) is based on the Preface to the Third Ed., which says:

"The demand for a third edition, within a short time after the appearance of the second, has induced the Authors to add ten more Songs to the previous edition."

They could not have written those words in 1906, eighteen years after the second edition's appearance.

D & T also "offer their sincere thanks to Miss Laura A. Smith...for her kind permission to use some of the airs from her well-known book, 'The Music of the Waters.'"

While looking for something completely different, I recently read in a newspaper of 1888 or '89 that the Second Ed. went out of print in just two or three months. That would explain why it's impossible to find in a library. My hunch is that D & T wanted to expand it further and had the extra songs on hand, and the publishers thought they should put out an expanded edition ASAP while there was still a good deal of public interest.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 10:55 AM

The Third ed. might actually have been inspired by the appearance of Smith's book in 1888.

WorldCat also lists a small pamphlet by Davis called "Fifty Sailor's Songs or Chanties (Words Only)" copyright 1897. These presumably are lyrics from the 3rd ed. It was published in Devonport and may have given material to some real shantymen (like Stanley Slade?) who favored more coherent songs.

I should have made a note of the ref. to D&T's short-lived 2nd ed. I can't recall where I saw it: maybe not in a newspaper after all.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 11:32 AM

D&T's first ed. was reviewed in "The Graphic" (London) on Sept. 9, 1887, in the column headed "New Music."

The 1887 date is also that given by the British Library, so between the two it should probably be taken as authoritative.

The National Maritime Museum in Greenwich dates their copy of the 3rd Ed. to "ca1890."

D&T Mystery solved! (Thank God!) James J. Fuld's "Book of World-Famous Music," 5th ed. (N.Y.: Dover, 2000), p. 206, cites a letter from Boosey & Hawkes informing him that D&T's 2nd ed. was published Feb. 17, 1890, and was "withdrawn Feb. 18, 1890, for a reason not now known." The 3rd ed. was published "in 1891."

SO, FINALLY: D&T ed. 1: Mid-1887.
                ed. 2: Feb. 1890.
                ed. 3: 1891.

The acknowledgement to L. A. Smith in ed. 3 may be a clue as to why ed. 2 disappeared so quickly: D&T may have reprinted something before obtaining her publisher's permission.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 04:03 PM

Thanks for figuring out the dates in the Davis edition, Lighter. The issue is also of the contents of each. What I had done was subtract the known contents of the 1st from the known contents of the 3rd and then...try to deduce what the contents of the 2nd might have been. In any case, I had "Lowlands" in the 3rd, but my publication date of 1906 fror the 3rd did not make sense. Because I found another source from 1895 that did a verbatim copy of DT's Lowlands. And since DT's Lowlands was inspired by Smith, whatever edition it was added to must have come out between 1888 and 1895.

Charley--

Thanks for adding Shay! *If* you get any chance, could you be more specific about the texts in it? When you say that the first text was the drowned lover, I wonder about that since (as I have long-windedly been arguing) my current position is that Masefield introduced the idea. It would be nice to compare them in more detail. Also, in what way is the other text "The Lawlands o' Holland"? That one sounds suspiciously like someone wanted to draw or emphasize a connection.

Keith--

Thanks for that note; helpful to know that Sampson and Masefield were 'friends.'
In my reading of Sampson's lines, I find several that are excatly the same or very similar to Masefield's in a way that I think would be unlikely had Sampson been noting what he'd learned in oral tradition. Therefore, I think that while Sampson may have been experienced with this shanty, in this case he borrowed Masefield's verses to present as something "right"/standard and appropriate to the audience's interest. But it all comes down to individual interpretation.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 05:42 PM

That withdrawal date should read "Feb. 28, 1890."


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Aug 11 - 06:06 PM

Gibb-

Grumble, grumble, more work!!!!

From Shay, p. 50:

Lowlands-1

I dreamed my love came in my sleep,
Lowland, Lowlands, away, my John;
His eyes were wet as he did weep --
My Lowlands, away!

I shall never kiss you again, he said,
Lowland, Lowlands, away, my John;
For I am drowned in the Lowlands seas --
My Lowlands, away!

No other man shall think me fair,
Lowland, Lowlands, away, my John;
My love lies drowned in the windy Lowlands --
My Lowlands, away!

Some of the above verses don't rhyme which irritates me to no end but that's the way they's wrote!

Shay's Notes:

That the chantey derives from an old Scottish coronach, "The Lawlands o' Holland," seems evident, and English Jack handed it with more or less reverence.

The Lawlands o' Holland

The love that I hae chosen,
I'll therewith be content;
The sault sea sall be frozen
Before that I repent;
Repent it sall I never
Until the day I dee;
But the Lawlands o' Holland
Hae twinn'd my love and me.

My love he built a bonny ship,
And set her to the main,
Wi' twenty-four brave mariners
To sail her out and hame;
But the weary wind began to rise,
The sea began to rout,
And my love and his bonny ship
Turned withershins about.

There sall nae mantle cross my back,
Nor kaim gae my hair,
Neither sall coal nor candle light
Shine in my bower mair;
Nor sall I choose anither love
Until the day I dee,
Sin' the Lawlands o' Holland
Hae twinn'd my love and me.

Noo haud your tongue, my daughter dear,
Be still, and bide content;
There's ither lads in Galloway;
Ye needna sair lament;
O, there is nane in Galloway,
There's nane at a' for me;
I never lo'ed a lad but ane,
And he's drown'd in the sea.

More Shay notes:

Lowlands suffered a sea change in crossing the Atlantic. The American sailors cared little enough for dirges; laments, yes, and gripes. In many versions he complained bitterly that he received but a dollar a day while the Negro roustabouts with whom he worked were paid a dollar and a half a day.

Lowlands-2

Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John,
My old mother she wrote to me,
My dollar and a half a day!
She wrote to me to come home from sea,
Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John!
She wrote to me to come home from sea,
My dollar and a half a day!

Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John,
Oh, were you ever in Mobile Bay?
My dollar and a half a day!
A-screwing cotton by the day,
Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John!
A-screwing cotton by the day,
My dollar and a half a day!

Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John,
A dollar a day is a Hoosier's pay,
My dollar and a half a day!
Yes, a dollar a day is a Hoosier's pay,
Lowlands, lowlands, away, my John!
Yes, a dollar a day is a Hoosier's pay,
My dollar and a half a day!

So it goes!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 12:38 PM

"Lowlands" was one of several shanties you might have heard by listening very closely to "Moby Dick, Part I" on the Encore Family Channel last night.

Crazy Elijah - who's Scottish in this version, which may explain his shanty choice - mumbles it to himself weirdly. He sings (as far as I can tell),

"I dreamed a dream the other night...
I dreamed, I dreamed a man was dead."

Because all who sail with Ahab are doomed.

There were also snatches of "Blood-Red Roses," "Blow, Boys, Blow" (discussed on another thread), "The Hog-Eye Man" (in the "railroad navvy" version, understandably) and "Leave Her Johnny." "The Hog-Eye Man" was sung and played on the fiddle at the Spouter Inn (much as was "A-Roving" in the 1956 version), to the merriment of all.

The crew of the Pequod. a handsome topsail schooner this time around, was less merry as they started to sing "Leave Her Johnny" for fun in the forecastle. But they were interrupted.

They sang"Blow, Boys, Blow" as a rowing song, and, IIRC, they sang "Blood-Red Roses" as they started cutting into the first dead whale. So far, no shanties while hoisting, haulong, or heaving.


Part II tonight....

Almost forgot: on SyFy's "The Age of Dragons," the Pequod is a huge, medieval diesel-powered dragon-hunting tank ploted by Ahab's martial-arts proficient daughter, Rachel. She and Ishmael are kind of an item. No shanties, though - I told you it was deisel-powered.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 02 Aug 11 - 02:35 PM

Daggoo also led the singing of "Blow Ye Winds Southerly."


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 10:23 AM

Part II featured another chorus of "Blow Ye Winds Southerly" and "Haul Away, Joe" in the Clancy-Makem version with the awkward "To me" in the chorus. That was sung while they were lashing a dead whael to the side of the ship, and maybe while they were cutting in.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 04:16 PM

...he Clancy-Makem version with the awkward "To me" in the chorus...

Love it!

Thanks for the briefing. It certainly reads as a use of these chanties that's based in contemporary narratives of where they came from, how they should go, etc. Interesting.


Charley--

Thanks for your time. That *does* clarify the situation. Funny that Shay found it necessary to reproduce the ballad to make his point. He loses some credibility with me when he says the White Americans were complaining that the Blacks were getting paid more. It's as is he could only envision Whites singing the song, and then he had to explain why *they'd* be complaining about wages.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 10:28 PM

Thanks, Charley, for reminding me of Shay's book, sitting on my shelves untouched for several years.

Shay loses credibility for something said by sailors? Truly, pc run wild.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 03 Aug 11 - 11:31 PM

Shay loses credibility for something said by sailors? Truly, pc run wild.

What on earth are you talking about?

The sailors aren't saying anything, it's Shay who is. He has reproduced Whall's printed version of the song, not something directly from sailors. That is fine, except for the fact that others would say, based on lyrics in evidence, that the Blacks were complaining their wages were lower. In other situations, I think it's reasonable to say that whoever was singing might complain about their wages in general (not in comparison to another). But there is no evidence to suggest or IMO reason to believe Whites were complaining about lower wages than Blacks, is there? Shay did not know this to be a fact, nor is it even in the text; he is stating his imagination as fact.

In many versions he complained bitterly that he received but a dollar a day while the Negro roustabouts with whom he worked were paid a dollar and a half a day.

What "many versions"? The versions he read in books? He's talking out of his ass. "PC" has nothing to do with my criticism.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 04:06 AM

Here's another field-collected version.

1927        Eckstorm, Fannie Hardy and Mary Winslow Smyth. _Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-songs and Ballads of the Woods and the Coast_. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin.

Sung by Frank Stanley of Cranberry Isles, Maine, Nov. 1925.

Lowlands

I wish I was in Alewers Hall,
Lowlands, Lowlands, hurrah, my boys!
A-drinking luck to the old Black Ball,
My dollar and a half a day.



This is the third occurrence of a similar verse. Yet the "Hall" has been named Slewer's, Slomes, and Alewers! What hall are they talking about here? Some place in NY/Liverpool?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 04 Aug 11 - 04:37 AM

Scratch the last source. It's evident that the song was not sung, but rather "contributed" --presumably in writing. It would have been obtained from Clark's 1910 work. So, "Alewers" is a typo.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Aug 11 - 10:07 PM

Having now looked at Colcord's melody, I can see that it is most likely based in Capt. Robinson's article. There are some very distinctive turns in that melody, different from the other collected versions, and one would be surprised to find that Colcord collected the same as Robinson's independently. Colcord made extensive use of Robinson's article(s) in compiling her collection.

I looked at Shay's melody, quickly, and it also looks like Colcord's.

Recall that none of the strictly field-collected version have a "Lowlands away" second chorus, and of the chantyman collections it is only Robinson who has it (and the "dream" theme). Robinson, I've remembered however, quoted extensively from Meloney...and author that repeated Masefield's stuff without acknowledgement. So though Robinson was an experienced chanty singer with much original information to offer, he did also "adjust" some of his chanties based on what he'd been able to read by 1917.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 11 Aug 11 - 08:02 AM

>Robinson, I've remembered however, quoted extensively from Meloney...and author that repeated Masefield's stuff without acknowledgement. So though Robinson was an experienced chanty singer with much original information to offer, he did also "adjust" some of his chanties based on what he'd been able to read by 1917.

Very dismaying. OTOH, Robinson seems to have had no motive to misrepresent wht he knew. So I'd hope that most of what he repeated from print must have resembled very closely something he'd heard.

I suppose that an unusually nice stanza might be an exception, but are there any like that?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 01:37 AM

1938        Carpenter, J.M. "Chanteys in the Age of Sail." New York Times (30 October 1938). Pg. XX6.

In this article, Carpenter trots out the 'dream' (and 'Scotland') ideas about "Lowlands," followed by verses from Colcord and Terry. However, while it seems at first he is buying that version, he then gives one of his collected versions (we have another up-thread; he doesn't say who sang this one), which has the "dollar" chorus and no "dreamy" atmosphere.

Belonging to this group--at least in its slow pensive tune and dreamy atmosphere--is a curious chantey, "Low-lands." The refrain "low-land," is common to a great many songs. One Scottish song begins.

"Low in the low-lands a wee, wee boy did wander"?

And In the ballad, "The Golden Vanity"?

?Usually in the chantey the refrain seems to have been employed purely for its music and for its atmospheric effect, as shown In the following stanza, quoted from Miss Colcord's collection:

I dreamed a dream the other night,
Low-lands, low-lands, away my John!
I dreamed a dream the other night,
My low-ands, away!

To carry torward the story, stanzas from Sir Richard Terry's collection read:

All in the night my true love came;
She came to me all in my sleep.

And her eyes were white my love.
And then I knew my love was dead.


?But my version, veering away, as usual, from the romance of the
story, moves toward the sailors' world of winds and sails and seas:

One night in Mobile the Yankees knew,
Low-lands, low-lands! Away my John!
The nor'west winds most bitter blew,
My dollar and and a half a day!

Our Captain was a grand old man,
His name it was Jack Tannerand-tan.

He called us aft and to us did say
'Now, my boys, we're bound to sea.'


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Aug 11 - 08:05 AM

Gibb-

You evidently are on to something. So it all goes back to Masefield and others were captured by the elegance of his suggestion, regardless of evidence to the contrary.

Now I don't believe you've explored the minstrel origin of "Lowlands" as in "The Old Virginia Lowlands" or its sister "The Old Louisiana Lowlands":


"In the Louisiana Lowlands" (1859)
Words and Music --- anon.

Boston: Oliver Ditson
[Source: pages 72-73 or
"Minstrel Song, Old and New" (1883)]

1.
Way down in Louisiana,
Not many years ago,
There liv'd a color'd gemblum,
His name was Pompy Snow,
He play'd upon de banjo
And on de tambourine,
And for rattling of the bones he was
The greatest ever seen
In the Louisiana lowlands lowlands low,
In the Louisiana lowlands low.

CHORUS:

In the Louisiana lowlands, lowlands low,
In the Louisiana lowlands low.

2.
One night old Pompy started off,
To play for Ceasar Clum,
But afore he went he fortified,
With a good stout glass of rum;
When on the road he thought he saw
A darkey, tall and grim,
So Pompy laid the banjo down
Tto break the darkey's shin;
In the Louisiana lowlands lowlands low,
In the Louisiana lowlands low.

(CHORUS)

3.
Says he, old chap, just move along
Or else I'll spoil your face,
But dis darkey didn't seem to move
From out his hiding place,
So drawing back, he crooked his head,
And down at him cachunk,
But Pompy made a sad mistake, for
'Twas nothing but a stump,
In the Louisiana lowlands lowlands low,
In the Louisiana lowlands low.

(CHORUS)

4.
The stump it proved a little hard,
Too hard for Pompy's wool,
For when he struck, the hickory knot,
Went thru' the darkey's skull;
They found his banjo by his side,
And Pompy lying dead,

[SPOKEN]---And Ladies and Gentlemen, this is
the first time up a record that it was ever known
of a darkey's ever coming to his death]

By de breaking of his head.
And dey buried him in the lowlands, lowlands low,
In the Louisiana lowlands low.

(CHORUS)

There's also the West Indies "Lowlands" halyard shanty. According to Hugill, this song was learned from Old Smith from the island of Tobago in the West Indies in the 1930's. Halyard shanties are characterized by their brisk pace, facilitating the setting and re-setting of sails in a timely fashion.:

Lowlands Low

Our packet is the Island Lass,
Refrain: Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands, low!
There's a laddie howling at the main topmast,
Refrain: Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands, low!

The Ol' Man hails from Barbados...
He's got the name of Hammertoes...

He gives us bread as hard as brass...
Our junk's as salt as a Portland lass...

The sojer's dressed in the Ol' Man's clothes...
Where he got'em from God only knows...

It's up aloft this yard must go...
It's up aloft from down below...

Lowlands, me boys, an' up she goes...
Git changed, me lads, to yer shore-goin' clothes...

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 01:54 PM

Hello All,

Here's a link to a research paper I wrote related to this subject. It reflects my current opinions and interpretation of the evidence.

Case Study of "Lowlands"


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 02:24 PM

Very interesting paper, thanks for posting it.
I don't entirely agree; along with Charley, I would give more credit to the development of the music hall and minstrel traditions- a combination of English and American roots and American proliferation of this popular type of entertainment, based on Black-influenced rhythms especially those of the work songs of the ports (you have presented this well).

Which raises a question- why did not the agrarians and port workers of Europe and UK develop work songs to go along with their labors?
(To put the question in harmony with chanties nomenclature, why 'forecastle' and recreational songs only?).


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 02:54 PM

100


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: ollaimh
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 07:10 PM

ther ewas version collected in new foundland and recorded by pamela morgan and anita best. best also published a book with the nfld version.

the two recorded it on their album "the colour of amber" an album no folk music fan should miss. it's full of some of the finest singing i have ever heard. so is pamela morgan's solo album "ancestral song" i would put both in my favourite top twenty folk albums, and i encourage everyone to buy them. the two women are great collectors and great singers.pamela may be more famous for her work in the newfoundland band figgy duff. they were a ground breaking folk revival nabd on the east coast of canada. but she's better as a solo for the pure song lover.

"ancestral songs also has a lovely version of true thomas' trip to fairy land" a favourite song of mine. her melody is the best i have ever heard for that wonderfull relic of the pagan times.

the shanty version of lowlands with the recurring refrain is the one that i think was refered to in the first post. a simple and beautiful song


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 09:08 PM

Collected in Newfoundland? Got any reference? Might you have been thinking of Nova Scotia? W. Roy Mackenzie (1928) has it in his volume of Nova Scotia songs, though I've only seen scraps on the Net.

The Pamela Morgan rendition is standard revival fare. Not that there's anything wrong with that, but I'm doubtful it reflects what might have been sung in tradition on Newfoundland.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 16 Jun 12 - 09:14 PM

Thanks, for checking it the paper, Q.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 02:14 PM

Not in Peacock (Songs of the Newfoundland Outports) nor in GEST (Songs of Newfoundland and Labrador, (on line)).

Cannot find a Newfoundland occurrence; can anyone verify the "Traditional Ballad Index" reference to Newfoundland?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 03:43 PM

"Which raises a question- why did not the agrarians and port workers of Europe and UK develop work songs to go along with their labors?
(To put the question in harmony with chanties nomenclature, why 'forecastle' and recreational songs only?)."

I'm convinced that they composed and sang worksongs as well, but no one bothered to document their use. There was probably a full repertoire of worksongs for warping ships in and out of the dock basins with the capstans on the dock, shifting and stowing cargo.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: John Minear
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 05:43 PM

Charlie, surely there would have been a mention somewhere if this was the case.... Does anybody know of such documentation?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 07:14 PM

Very fine paper, Gibb. Surely the best researched paper on shanties to appear in years, and the best history of a single shanty ever.

It's hard to keep track at this point, but I don't believe that *any* text of the British "Lowlands" ballads quoted previously involve the ghost of a dead lover.

Such ghosts do appear in some ballads, but we're talking "Lowlands" here.

I'm not sure of the implications for the history of the shanty, but if true it can't be good for the reputations of the shanty editors.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 17 Jun 12 - 07:46 PM

John-

Unlike the stevedores of the Gulf Ports, South Africa, India, South China, and Australia, I've run across no mention of European stevedores singing work songs. But doesn't it strike you odd that British and other European stevedores wouldn't have had their own stevedore shanties? It seems likely to me that no one was interested in collecting them.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 08:16 AM

>doesn't it strike you odd that British and other European stevedores wouldn't have had their own stevedore shanties?

Not necessarily. Some things just happen almost by accident.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Charles Macfarlane
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 09:28 AM

> From: GUEST,Lighter
>
> Such ghosts do appear in some ballads, but we're talking "Lowlands" here.

Yes, the classic example that has come down to us being "She Moves Through The Fair", for which I have photocopied sheet music from p46-48 of a now unknown old book from some now unknown local UK library ascribing it to "Pdraic Colum - Adapted from an old ballad, Co Donegal" with a reference H6116, and which, interestingly, could perhaps be considered to have a similar tune as the modern "Lowlands Away" (I'm relying totally on aging recollection of both for this thought)?

It seems from the excellent research presented above that actually we may be talking about the modern "folk process" merging two different songs. One was definitely a shanty/work song probably originating in the cotton exporting ports of North America, and which seems to have been called "Lowlands". The other is less certain, but may have been "The Lowlands Of Holland", a derivative of it, or just another similar song.

The trigger for the merging may have been nothing more than the commonality of the word "Lowlands" in the titles of both, leading some, notably Masefield, to suppose a deeper connection than ever existed in fact.

Despite the doubts as to its authenticity, I still like the modern version of "Lowlands Away", as sung by The Corries for an excellent example, but perhaps it should not be described as being a shanty!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 18 Jun 12 - 04:09 PM

8:16 GUEST was me.

To judge from earlier versions called "Out of the Window" and "Our Wedding Day," there was no ghost in "She Moved through the Fair" till Colum put one there in 1909. It would seem that the famous tune was mostly composed by Herbert Hughes.

If the above iformation is in error, I'd appreciate someone correcting me. "She Moved through the Fair" is a great song, trad or otherwise.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 04:04 PM

Hi Charley

I'm responding here to your question on another thread, because it blends in with some other comments relevant to this one.

You probably got a lot of feedback from your lecture at the recent Mystic Sea Music Festival. Would you be willing to summarize the reaction? My friends were very interested in your presentation but were skeptical of your conclusions. Maybe they just needed to review this thread.

Sure, I can summarize. Everyone who spoke directly to me was positive. The people who were most enthusiastic were among the staff/faculty of the Seaport and nearby educational institutions, including younger staff and performers.

(As an aside: I am not sure if people realize how some of the younger people [though not exclusively] are trying to very gradually shift the performance paradigms. Despite a lot of the lip-service paid to the idea of "getting the younger generations involved," that encouragement/involvement is often done within a paradigm that is just not that attractive to "younger people." I can talk about what I think that paradigm is, elsewhere. But my point is that some people have a different vision of chanty performance, and I think some of what I said by way of historical info was ringing true to how they relate to the genre as performers and perhaps as Americans.)

I was told of some others who were skeptical. I was also sort of "warned" beforehand that people might be shaken up, or that I was putting myself in a tough situation, and got similar comments afterward. However, I didn't feel that. Maybe this was *slightly* different for Mystic Seaport, but it is just a paper like one would give at any conference. Just a different type of audience, not a different type of paper and certainly not a controversial one.

Which conclusions were/are they skeptical of?

It's good of them to remain skeptical. I was skeptical, which is what
drove the paper and leaves it an open topic. So it goes back to the
evidence. Unfortunately, in an oral presentation, one cannot present
all the evidence and its analysis in detail. Folks can read the paper
and see the evidence, or bring in more. Then we can discuss the
specific points. The one thing I am not going to answer to are
arguments like "But it *must* be this way, because surely things must
have been how I believe them, yada yada..." That's a faith-based argument, and
it's like arguing with someone about religion! And it's one of those
situations where I *hope* someone proves I am wrong, because that will
be enlightening.


**
Sort of shifting here to address everyone ? Good to hear your comments! Thank you.

The focus of the paper, as I reiterated in the Q&A, was not the
origin/development of chanties in their actual practice. As I explained, the stuff about the origins of chanties in general, as springing from a distinctly African-American/Southern U.S.-Caribbean cultural environment, is a prelude and an assumption from which I precede. This is not a great place to open that broad debate. And I personally am not concerned with postulating that Loch Ness monsters exist and then combing the loch for evidence of them. I would see what is there, first, and then see what perspectives emerge from that. Just my preferred methodology. The "what is there" is the goal of the "Advent and Development" thread, and my perspective, based on each new datum found, is constantly evolving.

The paper was focused on chanties' later folklorization. I never say that the "dead lover"
theme did not exist, only strongly suggest that it may not have. I believe that
it could have been sung, though I've found no reason to believe it
represents the origin of the song. What I am saying positively is that
whether it existed or not, its prominence was blown out of all
proportion by the popular editors, and I demonstrate how and argue why
they did that. The 'how' is simply by selectively copying each other,
by making up verses, through omission, through their labeling, and by how
they framed the song in their intros -- all of which were according to
a vision of chanties that was limited and thus different than the
vision people had during the days of sail. That last part is the
'why.'

I also show the dramatic breakdown in the different 'look' of the
chanty when one considers the body of actual named sources and clearly
eyewitness accounts, versus the body of sources that are opaque and uncited.

So my main conclusion is that the latter sources are to be treated
with caution, and that not doing so has contributed to how "we" now envision chanties. Indeed, while we often talk about how the mid-century folk revivalists changed the game with their guitars and sweaters, I am saying that by the 1920s the chanty genre had already been reconstituted. The folk revivalists, and also later writers like Stan Hugill (as I say in the paper and as Lighter iterates on the other thread) really had little choice but to accept the certain views on chanties that seemed to be established as common knowledge.

I think it is a profound point to consider that by the time Stan Hugill went to sea, chanty singing had already been "revived" as a pastime among lay persons. Terry and Colcord's books, among many others, were already offering performance-ready versions. Commercial recordings had already been made of chanties. Clubs on land were singing them regularly and songs like "Johnny Come Down to Hilo" had been standardized.

By the time Hugill wrote SfSS, the second revival had already started. Not only does Hugill's text provide ample evidence to suggest that his version was synthesized from the many prior available print versions, but also his own performance suggests he was influenced by sources other than the old oral tradition. My interpretation of this evidence is that Hugill may not have learned "Lowlands" from tradition because what he wrote and what he sung has so many of the earmarks of print and recorded sources and at the same time lacks similarities with the chanty as it appears the quality sources and lacks anything truly original?and also lacks a named source!

I did not have the space in the paper to say more about Hugill's actual performed version. What I note is that at least one English Folk Revival recording had been released prior to even Hugill's SfSS. It may not have been the first, but Stan Kelly's recording of 1958 was one that was available. Stan Kelly-Bootle (according to Wiki) was a computer tech guy who did some folk music performing in the 50s. His 3-verse rendition of "Lowlands" corresponds to the 3 verses and the general melody offered in C. Fox Smith's collection. I don't know if he got it directly from CFS, or from an intermediate source, but the point is that it was there. And I don't know if Kelly-Bootle was first to sing it in this fashion, but what is notable about the performance is a particular change in melody from the printed one. This particular melodic figure, on the phrase "the other night," was not presented in any publications I've seen, so I believe it was a variation added by a singer, either Kelly-Bootle or whoever may have come before. The melodic motion, which interpolates "re" (i.e. the second scale degree) is rather uncharacteristic of African-American melody and rather more characteristic of English traditional songs. And we find revival singers changing the melody in those ways (i.e. to the latter) now and again. Even on one of the recordings of Hugill singing "Lowlands" live, if you listen closely, you'll hear that on a different phrase (the ending refrain "lowlands away?"), while Hugill sings the usual sol-fa-MI-do, the audience sings sol-fa-RE-do. In other words they have imposed the sound of music that may be more familiar to them onto this particular song.

So this particular melody figure, though subtle, seems to appear first in Kelly's recording. And now you hear it all over the place. Including in Hugill's sung renditions. If Hugill had learned the chanty in oral tradition, it seems that for whatever reason he decided to adopt material from print and recording to create a new rendition.

Coming back to the issue of whether or not the "dead lover" theme ever existed in connection with this chanty during the days of sail, my main cause of uncertainty is the Alden 1882 source. I tend to think that unless Alden got his info from a prior published source (which is possible), that he experienced the chanties directly. But this is still totally unclear. Who made the music notations, for instance? If Alden did experience these chanties directly, then I think his melody for "Lowlands" is authentic, though what is conveyed is influenced and limited by the medium and what Alden could perceive musically (a separate issue). His presentation of the later "improved" lyric to "Lowlands", with "I dreamt a dream the other night" is the one piece of evidence that has me wondering what might have been there as an alternative OR whether he just got confused as well and drew a connection to another song with the word "lowlands"?or if this one verse had nothing to do with a full "dead lover" theme, but was simply a fragment of a common paradigm in English-language songs (there were lots of "I dreamed a dream" songs in the 19th c, it seems).


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 04:14 PM

For some reason I've just posted a possibly significant note on the other shanty thread rather than here.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 04:31 PM

Interesting for several reasons. Has this already been posted?

Anon., "Recollections of a West Indiaman," The Master, Mate and Pilot, Vol. VII (July, 1914), p. 40:

"Owing to the trouble that our captain had had at various times with drunkenness amongst English crews, he decided in the future to ship only negroes in the forecastle, and for the remaining years of my apprenticeship [which began in 1864] I sailed with colored crews. Many of them hailed from Baltimore and the cotton ports of the Southern United States. They were fine sailors, these men, quiet, strong and respectful: but my pleasantest memory in regard to them was their chanteying. They sang the choruses in weird falsetto notes and with the fascinating pronunciation of the Southern darkey. They sang a chantey for every little job and the way they thundered out such plaintive melodies as 'Shenandoah,I Love Your Daughter' and 'My Lowlands Away' made them a treat to listen to. I once heard a well-known prima donna in Liverpool say that our singing was the finest harmony she had ever heard, and I have seen crowds of people on the dock head there listening to our colored 'jacks' warping out to 'Ladies, fare-ye-well' (an outward bound song), and, as sailors say, 'Their tears were running down into the dock.'"


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 04:39 PM

Gibb-

Thanks for responding to my question in detail. Nothing is ever settled when it comes to shanties/chanties but I think you're on the right track in terms of re-envisioning their origins, and spotlighting the role that revival singers had in the 1920s and again in the 1960s.

One of the nice things about Mystic is that you meet people who actually love to discuss this topic!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 04:42 PM

Frederick William Wallace, "Outward Bound," The Cruiser, Vol V (1910), p. 574:

I dreamt a dream the other night,
Lowlands! Lowlands! Away, my John!
I dreamt I saw my own true love,
My Lowlands! Away!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 05:40 PM

A different topic, more speculative than I wanted to be in the paper, is how one might envision "Lowlands" being performed "back in the day."

I highly doubt that anyone singing "Lowlands" today only learned it from the original oral tradition, unmediated by print and/or revival recordings. These interpretations are inescapable, and it may be hard to envision the song performed in any other than a rather "British" style. Now, I thinks it's reasonable to suppose BOTH 1) that there was a common stylistic ground when it comes to how chanties were sung and 2) there were some general stylistic differences between the way White men and Black men sang them. If, for the sake of argument, we agree that chanties were largely associated with a "Black" way of singing (whatever that may have meant), as Alden so sharply notes, then we might suppose that White men's renditions had some flavor of Black singing style, while at the same time they "could not" or did not want to fully "sound Black." This is all to say that I believe the documented renditions, all sung by White men, would have carried some semblance of the "Black" melody (if in fact it was one), but in the end their style of singing fell sort of what would have been considered "truly" Black, for it was out of character to mime an ethnic group to that degree.

In any case, it seems that Black men did sing "Lowlands", though we have no documents of how they sang. We know from 19th c. descriptions that the way Black men sang chanties was often perceived to have been with peculiar and indescribable tones and flourishes. I read much into Alden's description of "Lowlands" as the most mournful and WILDEST of the chanties. While today we might reconcile "mournful" as in reference to the oh so sad "dead lover" theme, I am inclined to think that "mournful" describes the sound of the singing, as so many earlier instances of Black men singing was called "plaintive" -- the "blues" sound, perhaps? And "wildest" certainly cannot describe the "dead lover" style. C'mon, there has got to be something to it that we could consider really wild.

The documented versions indicate, as a whole, that the melody might have been sung with the third and seventh degrees of the scale both natural and lowered. How can we explain this variability? I think it is most easily explained by the possibility that the intonation of these pitches could not easily be rendered in the notation and/or they were outside the frame of reference of the people who notated them. The ambiguity of "blue notes" is most common on these scale degrees; writers unfamiliar with them would hear, or at least be forced to notate, the pitches as either lowered or natural, rather than the "neutral" pitch being sung.

Here is my attempt to perform "Lowlands" in a way that is informed by the various transcriptions (and the William Fender recording) and my speculation about what "Black" singing (by an attentive White man!) might have sounded like. If I had a chorus, harmonizing in similar style, it would complete the picture to make it really "wild"! I debuted this take on the song at the Mystic Pub Sing Sat. night.

re-re-envisioned "Lowlands"


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 05:57 PM

Brilliant stuff, Gibb. Ignore my ignorance on the other thread. I now have access to your article and will read it in full at my leisure although having just read all through this thread I feel I know where you're coming from. I'm with you and Jonathan all the way. I abhor a lot of the fakelore that exists in the fake-folk world. This misleading stuff has been going on for centuries and indeed it has traditions all of its own.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: John Minear
Date: 22 Jun 12 - 06:46 PM

Gibb, these are some excellent supplements to your paper. Very clear and very precise. Thanks for continuing this very important discussion. I would hope that many will join in and also join the search for more information. I appreciate this work very much.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 07:28 AM

I somehow forgot the drowned lover's ghost in "Young Edwin/Edmund/Edward in the Lowlands."

That might explain reported versions where the ghost is male. Otherwise the similarities are very general.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 08:03 AM

Re-invisioned or not, your rendition of "Lowlands" (link above) will stand on its own merits.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 01:13 PM

Both Alden and Robinson have "dream" texts, and Robinson is not only *not* quoting from Meloney in this case, he also has a mundane and unique second solo ("She begged me ne'er again to rove"). So it seems to me beyond reasonable doubt that such texts are authentic. (Robinson's second chorus line is "My Lowlands away.") The vastly more important point, however, is that, as Gibb has shown, none of the very few evidently authentic "dream" texts have any kind of extended narrative, much less a ghost. The presence of a drowned male ghost in "Young Edwin" might well have suggested lines to some shantymen, and for all anybody knows, "Lowlands" really may have been inspired by "Young Edwin." But that's all conjecture, and there is no evidence that the lyrics were ever particularly "poetic."

It certainly appears, though, that as far as the known history of the song is concerned, the "ghost" was added by Masefield (author of "Sea Fever," of course, and Poet Laureate from 1930). The presence of Alden and Smith's typo "aray" seems to nail the case, since, as Gibb observes, if Masefield had heard a version at sea he'd have no obvious reason to junk the perfectly ordinary "away." And some of Masefield's lines are just too literary to be true.

Here's another early and apparently independent ref. to the song:

"Minstrelsy on the Sea," N.Y. Times (Jan. 27, 1884):

"A very touching sea air is known as 'Lowlands Away.' The choruses of this are 'Lowlands Away, my John' and 'My dollar and a half a day.' Like the others, the shanty is poor in words but rich in music. The listener is carried in fancy to the far-off lowlands where wages are a dollar and a half a day. Few sounds seem more beautiful than the choruses of 'Lowlands away,' when these come floating over the waters of a quiet harbor from a ship which is heaving up her anchor preparatory to putting out to sea. There are a score or more of these shanties in Jack's repertoire, and nearly all of the airs, if not beautiful, are at least attractive."

No romantic ghostly lover here! ("The shanty is poor in words.") And no ancient Scottish connections. The melody, however, must have been quite something (presumably minor or modal), especially since "Lowlands" is the *first* shanty the writer mentions.

The others are H. C. Work's "Marching Through Georgia" (1865), the milkmaid version of "I was bound for the Rio Grande," "Leave her, jollies, leave her," "Hanging Johnny," "Whisky is the life of man," and "We will pay Paddy Doyle for his boots." Unfortunately only a few words of each are given.

"The Dreadnought" is mentioned as "reserved for forecastle use": "The music is very good and the words are quite passable."


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 02:30 PM

I appreciate that, Charley. Thanks.

***

Lighter--

FWIW, i cite both the "Minstrelsy on the Sea" and the "Recollection of a West Indiaman" in my paper. However, they were not in this thread, so you do right to post them. Incidentally, I have found that NYT article notable for being one of very few sources to say that "Marching Through Georgia" was sung as a chanty.

There are some other sources I did not include in the paper because they seemed to repeat the same point or, in the case of Harlow, were just too sticky. Harlow's presentation of this chanty is all jumbled up, but it would take a whole article in itself to explain it!

Robinson's work is problematic, and I had to keep it out of my main narrative and put it in the footnotes. Bullen and Whall's works were two that I feel, though coming from chantymen, were mediated in a way that was objective enough to include them among the "reliable" sources. Importantly, they sang the songs and someone else wrote them down. As a matter of opinion, I don't feel like they messed with the songs in any significant way afterwards.

I doubt Robinson, however. We know he tinkered with the lyrics of songs, although some might suppose this only was in the case of bowdlerizing bawdy lyrics. I think it may have gone further than that. The note is there in my paper about how Robinson says he couldn't remember all the chanties, but he "endeavored to put in the spirit of the originals" or something like that. So where our opinions would differ is that I believe Robinson had heard/sung the chanty long before (and there is some evidence to suggest "Lowlands" had not been sung for a long time), but that recent presentations may have helped to "refresh" his memory on the lyrics. And the verse he gives doesn't sound very chanty-like to me.

As I say above though, I do think "dream" verses may have been sung, and Robinson may be evidence of that. Not the greatest evidence, however, and still only a part of a small body compared to the "dollar" theme.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 04:28 PM

Another possible source of the 'dream' interpolation is the family of songs in the 'Van Diemen's Land'/Banks of Newfoundland' family, particularly the latter as an Atlantic-based sea song.

'I dreamed a dream the other night, I dreamed I was at home,
I dreamed I was with my own true love all snug in Marylebone'

Regarding 'Marching through Georgia'. I would have been very surprised if this song hadn't turned up as a work song. There must have been numerous occasions when a recognised chantyman was not present, and the watch would have had to improvise, in which case any song with a good rhythm that was well-known would have made a fair substitute for the recognised repertoire.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 04:51 PM

And let's not forget,

"I dreamed a dream the other night, when everything was still,
I dreamed I saw Susannah come a-running down the hill.
The buckwheat cake was in her mouth, the tear was in her eye...."


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 04:52 PM

Hi Steve

Another 'FWIW' -- I mention the Van Diemen's Land thing in the notes of my paper, too :) I do like this line of thinking, that whatever "dream" theme may have been extant, it did not necessarily have to do with someone dying or drowning. Although I believe Davis/Tozer spun out their narrative-style lyrics without any basis in how the song was sung, I believe, too, that their narrative came out of something that was there in the cultural consciousness. And what they ended up doing was making a narrative where the female lover appears in a dream, but *is not dead*. I'm vaguely aware that this may have been a device in sailor's songs: see something great in a dream, then wake up and find yourself back in your miserable situation.

Regarding 'Marching through Georgia'. I would have been very surprised if this song hadn't turned up as a work song.

I tend to agree, and this is the usual supposition. However, there is not much evidence that it was *common*. Scanning my notes, I think this was the only source I've seen which mentions the song's use as a chanty. It is quite possible, of course, that while it was used as a chanty, people decided not to mention it because they thought it would be too familiar.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jun 12 - 04:55 PM

Correction re: Marching through Georgia.

I meant it was the only source *prior to* Stan Hugill mentioning it. (I had recorded a rendition of it, because it is mentioned by Hugill, and then looked back to see if it had been noted anywhere prior!)


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: ollaimh
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 01:43 PM

anita best and a co-soeur publiched a book with their version. can't remember the other collector. it was published in new foundland. i have a copy somewhere.

look up the publications of anita best


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Jun 12 - 03:32 PM

"Lowlands" doesn't appear in any version among the shanties recorded from old sailors by Robert Gordon in California in the early '20s, nor among those collected by Ivan Walton from Great Lakes sailors in the '30s.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 06:40 PM

Purely for interest's sake, here is a recent re-interpretation of "Lowlands," from the 2012 TV version of Treasure Island.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Uht5aCuSmAA


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 07:22 PM

To each his own, but I don't think Jamaicans wore dreads or rasta caps in the 18th C.

Styling "Lowlands" like "Song of the Volga Boatmen" is diverting though.

As is the shantyman peeling potatoes.

Well, that's pomo for ya. I blame Xena, Warrior Princess. Seen the 2011 "Age of the Dragons" adaptation of "Moby Dick"?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 07:47 PM

So that's where the line "I had a dream" came from!

Well, I've seen and heard a lot worse singing.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 07:49 PM

I don't think Jamaicans wore dreads or rasta caps in the 18th C.

Hey, dude, it's not a Jamaican thing, it's a pirate thing. Like, Johnny Depp, man.

I'm amused how the officer says something like, "It's a fine night for it, Jim!" Fine night for what? Singing songs around the potato barrel?


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 08:06 PM

So Xena is Jack Sparrow's mom! Who'd'a thunk?!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 15 Jul 12 - 11:00 PM

Gibb-

"It's a fine night for it, Jim!" Fine night for what? Singing songs around the potato barrel?

Well, I thought it was an appealing scene...

Now if the singing had taken place 'round the capstan, it would have been an a-pawling scene...

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 08:38 AM

As Long John Silver used to say when he heard a bad pun:

AAAAAAAARRRRRRRRRGGGGHH!


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Charley Noble
Date: 16 Jul 12 - 12:32 PM

Lighter-

Where's the "AAAARRRRGGGHHH!" button when one wants it? We should send a PM to Max.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 04 Aug 14 - 12:17 AM

An addendum to the discussion of Harlow's text in _Chanteying Aboard American Ships_ (1962).

An early manuscript version of the book, ca. 1928 - when Harlow was also working on his _The Making of a Sailor (1928) - lists "Lowlands" in the bibliography. I have seen this, but unfortunately when I had access I neglected to examine the full text.

_Chanteying Aboard American Ships_ was developed more by Harlow, in which case there is a 1945 manuscript version. It has nearly double the number of texts as the 1928 manuscript. It still had "Lowlands" included. And this I did look at.

After the lyrics that we find in the 1962 published version, Harlow says that there is another version to be found in Masefield's _Sailor's Garland_. He then goes and gives 5 verses?which are actually from Davis/Tozer!

This just confirms that Harlow had made use of Masefield and Davis/Tozer.

These Harlow manuscripts are in the GW Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Lighter
Date: 30 May 15 - 09:58 AM

Here's an important and previously unpublished text.

On September 29, 1917, retired seaman James F. McGinnis, of Brooklyn, N.Y., sent the following text (with tune) to the collector Robert W. Gordon:

"MY LOWLANDS, AWAY."

I dreamt a dream, the other night,
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John.
I dreamt a dream the other night
My Lowlands, away.

[Similarly:]

I dreamt I saw my own dear bride...

And she was dressed in shimmering white....

All dressed in white, like some fair bride....

And then she smiled her sweetest smile....

She sang and made my heart rejoice....

The salt sea weed was in her hair....

It filled my heart with dark despair....

And then I knew that she was dead....

Then I awoke to hear the cry....

"All hands on deck!", "Oh, Watch, Ahoy!"


McGinnis added, "P.S. This version I got from "P.G." and written as he sings it. It was sung mostly in ships running between Liverpool and Australian ports. He learned it [in] the early Eighties. I like it best of all the Lowland versions."

McGinnis sent Gordon a fair number of sea ballads but few shanties.

What makes this "Lowlands" especially interesting is its resemblance, in sentimental diction, to a good many lyrics in Harlow's "Chanteying" book. Harlow sailed in the late '70s.

Hugill's chantey versions essentially reflect the sensibility of the 1920s, when sentimentality was no longer thought "manly." But P.G.'s song, combined with Harlow and some others, concurs with many contemporary sources that sentimentality was an accepted feature of all Victorian pop culture.

Think Davis & Tozer. Indeed, P.G.'s lyrics resemble theirs, but are sufficiently different to show they aren't just a crib. His melody too differs a little.

So either D & T's "Lowlands" is fundamentally authentic, or it seemed perfectly acceptable to the chanteymen of the period.

Which in terms cultural acceptability amounts to almost the same thing.

(Recall that chanteyman Stanley Slade sang D & T's versions when he recorded for the BBC in the 1940s. Perhaps he thought they were good enough.)


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: GUEST
Date: 30 May 15 - 10:26 AM


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Lighter
Date: 30 May 15 - 11:33 AM

That should be "1927," not "1917."


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 30 May 15 - 02:05 PM

What was the publication, Lighter?

1927 is a scary year because, in my estimation, it marked the height of the chanty publishing craze. Everyone was on the bandwagon and indulging in all kinds of fancy.

This source, which I've not examined in detail, ascribes the very same text (and tune? You tell me) to 26 Nov. 1932!

Songs of the People

McGinnis was thanked by Colcord in the intro to her collection.


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Subject: RE: 'Lowlands Away' - origins.
From: Lighter
Date: 30 May 15 - 03:46 PM

Hi, Gibb.

The text and tune are in the original letter from McGinnis to Gordon, which is among Gordon's papers at the Archive of Folk Song. These are available on microfilm.

The microfilm shots are in chronological order. I copied a good many of them some 15 years ago, but have never had an opportunity to "do" anything with them - except scramble them.

The 1927 date is correct, and Henry's melody is identical to McGinnis's but for the timing of one or two notes.

PS, Gibb, could you email me a copy of your forthcoming Mystic paper? One of these years I'll get up there with my report on "The Fireship" and related songs. TMI to compress easily into, what, 30 mins.?


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