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Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow

DigiTrad:
ALL THROUGH THE RAIN AND SQUALLY WEATHER
BLOW, BOYS, BLOW
BLOW, BOYS, BLOW (2)
CONGO RIVER
CONGO RIVER (2)


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Shanties (17)
Congo River: What are Black Sheep? (19)
Meaning: Blow Boys Blow (9)


GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg 02 Feb 11 - 03:34 PM
Geoff the Duck 02 Feb 11 - 05:40 PM
Joe Offer 02 Feb 11 - 06:29 PM
Nick E 02 Feb 11 - 09:37 PM
Gibb Sahib 02 Feb 11 - 10:36 PM
Gibb Sahib 03 Feb 11 - 01:32 AM
Joe Offer 03 Feb 11 - 02:56 AM
Joe Offer 03 Feb 11 - 03:44 AM
Dave Hanson 03 Feb 11 - 03:48 AM
Joe Offer 03 Feb 11 - 04:01 AM
Gibb Sahib 03 Feb 11 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg 03 Feb 11 - 05:37 AM
Geoff the Duck 03 Feb 11 - 06:44 AM
Dave Hanson 03 Feb 11 - 09:20 AM
Dead Horse 03 Feb 11 - 10:10 AM
Lighter 03 Feb 11 - 01:19 PM
GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg 03 Feb 11 - 02:01 PM
Joe Offer 03 Feb 11 - 02:08 PM
GUEST,Nick E 03 Feb 11 - 02:26 PM
Gibb Sahib 03 Feb 11 - 02:45 PM
GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg 03 Feb 11 - 05:26 PM
Gibb Sahib 03 Feb 11 - 06:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Feb 11 - 09:46 PM
Dave Hanson 04 Feb 11 - 02:56 AM
Dead Horse 04 Feb 11 - 06:35 AM
Geoff the Duck 04 Feb 11 - 08:37 AM
Lighter 04 Feb 11 - 08:55 AM
GUEST 04 Feb 11 - 12:59 PM
Dave Hanson 04 Feb 11 - 02:41 PM
josepp 04 Feb 11 - 04:21 PM
GUEST 07 Feb 11 - 04:31 AM
GUEST,Irish Guest 07 Feb 11 - 09:21 AM
Lighter 07 Feb 11 - 10:03 AM
Dave Hanson 07 Feb 11 - 11:03 AM
Lighter 07 Feb 11 - 11:31 AM
josepp 07 Feb 11 - 11:59 AM
Martha Burns 07 Feb 11 - 12:15 PM
Mr Red 07 Feb 11 - 12:15 PM
GUEST,Moby Dick Composer 15 Feb 11 - 03:34 PM
Lighter 15 Feb 11 - 04:06 PM
ChanteyLass 15 Feb 11 - 11:46 PM
GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg 16 Feb 11 - 05:36 AM
Joe Offer 16 Feb 11 - 05:40 AM
Geoff the Duck 16 Feb 11 - 07:05 AM
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Subject: Lyr Req: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty
From: GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 03:34 PM

Hello,

I am a professional translator currently doing Swedish subtitles for a television mini-series version of "Moby Dick", produced in 2010 and starring William Hurt as Captain Ahab and Ethan Hawke as first mate Mr Starbuck. This forum is my last resort. The series features a shanty sung by the crew as they leave the Pequod to hunt down their first whale, and after five days of intense listening and googling I still can't figure out the lyrics.

The shanty begins with the whalers' cry of "A dead whale or a stove boat!", then continues with the refrain "Blow, boys, blow", but this is where it starts getting muddy. There are three more lines of song, each ending with "Blow, boys, blow" or "Blow, my bully boys, blow", but the lyrics don't seem to fit any of the traditional versions of this shanty.

This is what the lyrics sound like to my weary, non-American ears:

A dead whale or a stove boat
Blow, boys, blow
*End the spear and watch them blow
Blow, my bully boys, blow
*Raging through the churning pie
Blow, boys, blow
*** will surely die
Blow, my bully boys, blow

If anyone out there has the faintest idea of what I'm talking about, or might be able to direct me to someone who does, I would be most grateful.

Best regards,
Rickard Sjöberg
translator and subtitler in Stockholm, Sweden


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 05:40 PM

Most likely is that the programme contains verses written to suit the whaling theme, but using a traditional tune and chorus.
I've not seen the programmes so would only guess that "a churning sea" might fit better, although the rhyme may be poor depending on accent and pronunciation of the paired line.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 06:29 PM

Hi, Rickard-
Please stop back a few times over the next couple of weeks to see what responses you get. I ordered a DVD of the movie to get a chance to hear what you're talking about, but the DVD probably won't arrive until the end of next week. By the way, there were shanties in the 1956 movie of "Moby Dick."
Maybe somebody with Netflix can download the movie and make a stab at transcription.

Our Digital Tradition Folk Song Database has five songs related to "Blow Boys Blow," and we have two previous threads on the songs. I've crosslinked the song versions and the threads - you'll see the crosslinks up top.

All the best to you.

-Joe Offer-
joe@mudcat.org


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Nick E
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 09:37 PM

I would love to here more about the TV series, I did not know there was one. Where is it from? When filmed?

Blow Boys Blow was the title of an album by Ewan Macoll & A.L. Loyd and that shanty (or song) was on the album. I dont think it was the same version though. Macoll was the guy responsible for the music in the holywood, Gregory Peck version of Moby Dick.

"was you ever on the Congog River? Dinner was monkey's ass and Donkey's liver. Blow me bully boys blow"


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 02 Feb 11 - 10:36 PM

I think Geoff has nailed it about the verses being written fresh to suit the theme.

"A dead whale or a stove boat" does not at all sound like an historically authentic chanty lyric, in my opinion. If the subsequent lines are based on more typical chanty lyrics, then you've come to the right place, Rickard. There are a good number of us here that are familiar with those typical "stock" or "floating" lines. However, if they are entirely new, then it is merely a very keen American-English-tweaked ear that you need -- Plan B: Joe's seeking the DVD!

Based only on what you have written, the lines that come to my mind are:

"Raise her up for a bulgine pie" (!)

and

"Old man your horse will surely die."

I highly doubt these are the lyrics used for the film, but they are "traditional" lyrics, with a true chanty quality, on which the lines might have been based.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 01:32 AM

I don't see as the program has been broadcast at all yet. It's originally a German production. So no luck finding it on-line.

But if someone would like to send me a clip... ;) I'm great at figuring out lyrics.
gabbahshareef@yahoo.com

Gibb


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 02:56 AM

Uh, oh....the 2010 Moby Dick I ordered is this one, which doesn't sound like the William Hurt / Ethan Hawke miniseries.

Back to the drawing board.

Rickard, if you'd like to send me an MP3 of the song, I'll post it here temporarily and we can work out a transcription together. We do that every once in a while, and we always do remarkable work. There's a trailer for the correct movie here (click). It's scheduled for release in the US in 2011. Perhaps it can't be posted publicly because it hasn't been released yet, but we could share it privately with volunteers.

-Joe-
joe@mudcat.org


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 03:44 AM

Rickard e-mailed me the MP3. I'm going to leave it to you Brits to come up with a transcription, because it's past bedtime for me and Rickard's deadline is Thursday at 1500 hrs, Swedish time. I can't under stand anything more than "Blow Boys Blow," and the melody isn't familiar to me.
Give it your best shot, willya?

-Joe-



Click to play



Rickard, could one line be "cast the spear"?
Oh, and "churning tide," maybe?
"the old fish now will surely die"?


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 03:48 AM

A L Lloyd was the responsible for the shantys in the Gregory Peck version of Moby Dick, not Ewan MacColl, in fact he played the shantyman in the first scenes.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 04:01 AM

Thanks, Dave. It did sound like Lloyd's voice in the clip I heard. Any chance you'd like to attempt transcribing Rickard's MP3? This is urgent, because Rickard's deadline is Thursday at 1500 hrs, Swedish time.
-Joe-

Click to play


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 05:28 AM

Here are some ideas...not a solution, but...

A dead whale or a stove boat
Bend (/Land) the spear and watch him bloat
Raging (/racing) through the churning brine
The old/overtime(??) is surely thine


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 05:37 AM

Gibb,

That is the best solution/suggestion I've seen/heard so far. It even makes sense! :) "The overtime is surely thine" (if that's what they're singing) could be a roundabout way of saying "Your time has come", couldn't it? Also "the churning brine" makes perfect sense to me.

Remember that this will then be converted into Swedish, so a great deal of the original sense will be lost anyway. If noone else comes up with an even better suggestion I'll gladly accept yours. Thank you so much!

Rickard


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 06:44 AM

Listening with Gibb Sahib's words on screen. It definitely fits what I hear.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 09:20 AM

Sorry Joe I can't make head nor tail of it.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Dead Horse
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 10:10 AM

Almost certainly made up for the show and not a genuine shanty.
But I cant wait to see it when it shows over here.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 01:19 PM

I have no doubt at all that the words have been made up for the program. None. Nada.

What some hear as "churning brine" might equally be "turning bright."
"Dash the spear and watch him float" is a possibility, but "dash" sounds odd. (I don't hear anything like "Land.") I think "float" makes more sense than "bloat."

Possibly the final words are "this dory-line," not that it makes much sense. It could even be "The story line"! Or something else. "The overtime is surely thine" sounds impossible to me. It *could* mean (in theory) "You'll surely be paid for your overtime work," but it would be a *very* weird way of saying it, like mixing Shakespeare with Steinbeck.

Maybe the lyrics were adlibbed by somebody who was not quite fluent in either whaling or 19th Century English!


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 02:01 PM

Hi forum,

I can tell you that my deadline has now passed, so I had to settle for an option. I decided to pretend that I knew what they were singing about, using my own and Gibb Sahib's transcriptions and then moulding them into rhyming Swedish. Because of the rhymes I could get away with things that wouldn't have been literal even if I'd had the correct transcription. And no one will probably bother anyway.

But just out of curiosity I've e-mailed the production company asking them to direct me to someone who *does* know what the chanting's all about. If or when I receive an answer I'll let you know.

Rickard


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 02:08 PM

Thanks for visiting us, Rickard. This thread was a lot of fun.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST,Nick E
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 02:26 PM

Sorry for the Loydd mix up.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 02:45 PM

Just for fun--

Here is what I imagine happening. The scene had been filmed and all. Someone decided for the sort of "soundscape" of it that some rowing song need be recorded. The sound designer had no talents in that regard, however, but reasoned that there'd be so much other sound going on that it wouldn't matter what was said.

So one of the sound editing guys scratched down four lines on a piece of paper 3-4 guys huddled around the paper and, without rehearsal, followed the lead of the writer -- who could only awkwardly force the tune of "Ring around the rosie" onto his "composition."

It started with "a dead whale or a stove boat." Then he had to make something rhyme with that, either using "float" or "boat." Keep in mind, he is just the sound editor and doesn't really know anything about the topic, so he calls a harpoon a "spear."

For his third line, he digs *deep* :) into his imagination of what "old" maritime poetry "must have" been like, and comes up with the drivel of "raging through the churning tide/brine." "ugh," he thinks, "this is exhausting -- now to come up with a rhyme to brine." Oh yeah, "thine" sounds like a pretty old word (even if it makes little sense)! "Yeah, wasn't there one of them Quaker guys in it...who talks all funny like that?" Either that or the sound guys are sitting around just rapping about their job: "The overtime [pay] is so divine!"

The end result is recorded in a strange interpretation of "unison" and in an oddly bratty sounding American kid's accent ... with their best attempt at sounding "harsh", but sounding like one of those latter-day "pop punk band" singers from the West Coast...the kind you hear people doing skateboarding tricks to...

Listening to the end result, late at night, it sounded like Satan was living in my computer.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 05:26 PM

Haha, Gibb,

You have a point, although I don't think you're being entirely fair here. No, the scene is actually shot with the actors singing as they're rowing in the whaleboats, so the lyrics must've been made up before they shot the scene. And considering that the rest of the film is quite true to the novel and the language of the time, I think they just took their best stab at creating a shanty that would sound at least plausible.

Sadly I just realized, having watched the trailer that was posted earlier in this thread, that one of these reasons I and everybody else can't hear the lyrics is the shitty sound quality. The sound quality in the trailer was way better than this... But it's just a fact of life that subtitling is not considered the important trade it should be, but rather a necessary evil that mustn't cost any money...


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 06:23 PM

Yes, indeed, Rickard -- I am just playing :) But someone should inform them that shanties are "call and response" form -- not 4 guys all trying to sing the solo part! If only one had sung, then we could have understood the lyrics easily...

But I do know what both things are like: Being behind productions and having to make up music...which is where I get my cynicism from... and also translating (I am currently working on translations from Punjabi to English, including songs, and I am pulling out my hair due to the things I just *can't hear* or figure out)...which is why I stay practical!

Thanks for throwing us a fun challenge and sharing your work with us. I really look forward to watching the film/series!

Now I have to get back to trying to butchering the Swedish pronunciation of a shanty I am learning...it is basically a Swedish version of the American "Oh Susanna!". ... Jag är fodd på gamla Sverges kust där den stolta skutan gär, og den stolta skutan ver min lust från jag b~ sjutton är..or something-- that's all I've memorized so far, ha!

Best wishes,

Gibb


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 09:46 PM

thread 94041 has some versions of Blow, Bully Boys, but nothing like the quoted verse.

Lighter- "made up..." Yes, I think so too.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 02:56 AM

It is difficult to understand why they didn't use a traditional shanty, they're all out of copyright by now.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Dead Horse
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 06:35 AM

Maybe because nobody on the set had heard of Mudcat :-)


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 08:37 AM

Once again, in the "just for fun" Gibb Sahib seems to have a very believable explanation for the lyrics. That said, just for completeness (and I know how Mudcatters love a pedant), in Moby Dick there are both harpoons AND spears (or lance) - see quoted passage below... (Useful thing, Project Gutenberg).

Of all the wondrous devices and dexterities, the sleights of hand and countless subtleties, to which the veteran whaleman is so often forced, none exceed that fine manoeuvre with the lance called pitchpoling. Small sword, or broad sword, in all its exercises boasts nothing like it. It is only indispensable with an inveterate running whale; its grand fact and feature is the wonderful distance to which the long lance is accurately darted from a violently rocking, jerking boat, under extreme headway. Steel and wood included, the entire spear is some ten or twelve feet in length; the staff is much slighter than that of the harpoon, and also of a lighter material--pine. It is furnished with a small rope called a warp, of considerable length, by which it can be hauled back to the hand after darting.

But before going further, it is important to mention here, that though the harpoon may be pitchpoled in the same way with the lance, yet it is seldom done; and when done, is still less frequently successful, on account of the greater weight and inferior length of the harpoon as compared with the lance, which in effect become serious drawbacks. As a general thing, therefore, you must first get fast to a whale, before any pitchpoling comes into play.


Advice for people trying to pick words out of a "busy" sound file. If you can listen to the file using a player which has a multi-band graphic equaliser (VLC Media Player available for most computer platforms has a ten band one. Also available for Windoze PC as VLC Media Player Portable). You can use the equaliser to mute frequencies that are in a different range from the voices. It can also be useful when trying to listen to a particular instrument within a group.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 08:55 AM

I gave it one more listen. I think it's probably "Cast" the spear.

Other than that, nothing new.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 12:59 PM

Dave Hanson - many thanks for the info re the 1956 version of Moby Dick. Orson Welles and Bert Lloyd both in a John Huston film, blimey. What more could ye want me hearties?

(Apart from Laurence Olivier as Ahab instead of G Peck, that is.)


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 02:41 PM

When the Pequod casts off, the camera focus's on the shantyman in the rigging who strikes up with ' Blood Red Roses ' that's Bert Lloyd.

Curiously he gets no credit.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: josepp
Date: 04 Feb 11 - 04:21 PM

I spent several years at sea back in the 80s. I look back on it now and I think I must have been insane to have done it. Sailing a tin can out on the ocean for weeks at a time incessantly rocking port and starboard for days and days with no let up. Sailing right smack dab through storms that tosses your ship around like a cork in a bathtub. Sleeping in a little cubbyhole so small that you can't sit up. Getting woken up seasick at 3:30 in the morning to go take the watch in 15 minutes.

And as insane as that was, it was nothing compared the old days of whaling. Imagine being in this tiny whaleboat and you have to spear this gigantic thrashing mountain of blubber and muscle and let him drag you around until he's tired out and then you have to dig a barb into his ribs to try and pierce his heart and kill him because there's no way you can tow him back to the ship unless he's dead--and the ship is LOOOOOONG out of sight, miles and miles amd miles away somewhere. You'll have row your way back to it stroke by stroke by stroke while towing a 60-ton piece of meat and fat at a whopping mile per hour.

They say some guys threw themselves overboard and tried to swim away because the whale was so huge and powerful they were terrified it would kill them all. Many times, the whale did capsize the boat and you had to lose the whale and get your boat upright and get back inside before the sharks got there. They say piercing the whale for the coup de grace was the worst part. It thrashed and leapt and rolled and slapped its tail while spouting gouts of blood and vomiting up a ton of squid--all of which attracted the sharks. They called this death flurry. You had to get that whale back to the ship before the sharks finished it off. You had to get the sperm oil and blubber and bone--it was the gold of the whaling nations. The more the sharks got, the less money you made.

A whaleman was a sharecropper at sea. He was given a "lay" which was his portion of the take after being at sea 3 or 4 years thousands of miles from home. Usually it was miniscule. Anything he had to use or wear was charged to him and had to be worked off. Needless to say, after the voyage he usually ended up owing and would be obliged to sign up for another voyage. I read about one guy sailing on the same whaler out of Greenland for 55 years!!! I'm not even 55 years old yet!

You had to sleep up front in the hold as a regular sailor. It was dark and dank. In the tropics, it was also hot and sweaty. The only light was provided by glass prisms installed in the weather deck and let in and diffused the light just enough that you could see your rack. If a sail or some gear was laid over it--too bad, you had no light whatsoever.

The food ranged from bad to downright revolting. Megellan reported in his diaries when his crew was searching for the straits that now bear his name that they were sorely in need of taking on stores--that the crew had been reduced eating oatmeal soaked in rat urine and mixed with rat feces. Either that or starve because there was nothing else to eat until they could find stores. And they ate it. I keep picturing an old Dana Carvey dreassed like a sailor yelling, "AND WE LIKED IT!!! WE LIKED IT!!!!!"


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 04:31 AM

Live in Shelburne, Nova Scotia, where parts of the movie were filmed. on set on day taking pics (www.shelburnecountytoday.com/mobydick) I picked up the tech directions for the shanties, which included the lyrics. they are in my office somewhere and i'll try to track them down

t gillespie


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST,Irish Guest
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 09:21 AM

Some of the filming of Huston's "Moby Dick" was done in Youghal, Co.Cork, Ireland. I watched it take place and it was in 1954, not 1956 as some of your posters have mentioned. I actually have some "Home Movie " footage of the sets that were constructed on the quay there and also of the "Rylands" a former Topsail Schooner, that was re-rigged to represent the whaler "Pequod". Every Telephone and Electricity supply pole in the quay area was also "rigged" with crosstree, yards , ratlines and ropes, unforgettable. Dozens of local men and women, and children, were given extra roles and period costumes to suit.
It was a marvellous time in the Youghal area with "Film Stars" such as Gregory Peck, and our own Leo Genn and Noel Purcell swanning about, pursued by hordes of local women and girls and, not a few men also.
It, the film , is shown regularly in a pub named for the movie, every summer and it now has become an archive of the towns people from 1954.
I have , however, to question whether Orson Welles had any involvement ??


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 10:03 AM

Nice post. Orson Welles played Father Mapple.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 11:03 AM

In a remake few years ago Patrick Stewart played Ahab and Gregory Peck played Father Mapple, not as good as the first film.

Dave H


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 11:31 AM

Not nearly.

Did you catch the way they added the episode of the crazy captain at the North Pole. . .from a different novel? (If memory serves, it's the one called "Frankenstein.")


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: josepp
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 11:59 AM

I've been to New Bedford and Nantucket. The building Ishmael calls the Whalemen's Chapel is really called Seaman's Bethel and it is just as Ishmael describes it except for the pulpit shaped like the prow of a ship. But if you go there now, you'll see such a pulpit but it was a latter embellishment done after the movie and it doesn't look like the one in the movie.

In the whaling museum, which is across the street if memory serves, They have an entire half-size whaler that you can actually board. It's very cool. They let you take all the photos you want but the Nantucket museum did not--no photos allowed. I don't know if they have lifted that rule since. While visiting New Bedford, I stayed in nearby Fairhaven which is sort of like a town and neighborhood all in one. Street after street are historic homes of ship masters of the 19th century. People actually live in them but they have to take care of them and aren't allowed to remodel them or anything. They must be maintained as is for the historic value. It's like walking back in time. On Nantucket, people have remodeled the shit out of the homes there.

Fairhaven also has the coolest church you ever saw. A big stone Unitarian church, I think. It's beautiful and massive and looks like something out of Lovecraft (who loved that area--in fact it's only about 25 miles from Providence which I also visited). You expect to see "Esoteric Order of Dagon" in black letter over the entrance and hear the inhuman chants of a debased South Sea cult coming from inside. There's also the Millicent Library. I've seen smaller castles in Bavaria. I stayed at a hotel across from Fairhaven High School--you have to see that baby to believe it.

I was surprised at how untouristy Fairhaven/New Bedford actually is. I mean, they do want tourists to come but it's not like Salem or Nantucket which go out of their way to attract tourists. Fairhaven/New Bedford is still an area that makes its money from fishing and it's still a fishing town, a working town. Largely unadorned.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Martha Burns
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 12:15 PM

Here's the A.L Lloyd bit on YouTube. A. L. Lloyd in Moby Dick
Really great. (An Italian dubbed version of the film, but the singing isn't dubbed.)


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Mr Red
Date: 07 Feb 11 - 12:15 PM

call me cynical but if the lyrics are modern - someone gets the credit and royalties.

Or being kinder - no-one gets to sue the production company.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST,Moby Dick Composer
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 03:34 PM

Dear all

I was the composer on this score which was produced & recorded in England and I also researched the shanties for the show (& I'm so sorry but someone only pointed this link out to me after the event Rickard!)

In the original book by Melville:-

    "What do ye do when ye see a whale, men?"

    "Sing out for him!" was the impulsive rejoinder from a score of clubbed voices.

    "Good!" cried Ahab, with a wild approval in his tones; observing the hearty animation into which his unexpected question had so magnetically thrown them.

    "And what do ye next, men?"

    "Lower away, and after him!"

    "And what tune is it ye pull to, men?"

    "A dead whale or a stove boat!"

Nigel Williams in his adaptation quotes this speech almost word for word ..... so I was honour bound to make a shanty tune work with that famous quote as there's even a statue in New Bedford with a whaleman & the line carved in stone.

As I was asking actors to sing this whilst filming scenes rowing out on the ocean, I thought the well known "Blow boys blow" meter worked well with the meter of the line "A dead whale or a stove boat" ..... also would be something that felt kind of organic with the action ... so set about making my own hybrid .... I wrote this version that we shot (not all ended up in the final cut):-
    A dead whale or a stove boat
    Row boys row
    Aim the spear and make him float
    Blow my bully boys blow

    Race across the churning brine
    Row boys row
    The old whale's heart is surely thine
    Blow my bully boys blow

    A dead whale or a stove boat
    Row boys row
    Aim the spear and make him float
    Blow my bully boys blow

    I see the opening maw of hell
    Row boys row
    Of which the bravest lads do tell
    Blow my bully boys blow

    A dead whale or a stove boat
    Row boys row
    Aim the spear and make him float
    Blow my bully boys blow

    Tight the rope, 'n sharp the blade
    Row boys row
    And may our salty souls be saved
    Blow my bully boys blow

    A dead whale or a stove boat
    Row boys row
    Aim the spear and make him float
    Blow my bully boys blow

    We'll take him deepening down to doom
    Row boys row
    plunging to his watery tomb
    Blow my bully boys blow

    A dead whale or a stove boat
    Row boys row
    Aim the spear and make him float
    Blow my bully boys blow

    Awash with blood the sea will boil
    Row boys row
    And home we'll take the golden oil.
    Blow my bully boys blow

    A dead whale or a stove boat
    Row boys row
    Aim the spear and make him float
    Blow my bully boys blow

    Chase the boy and bring him down
    Row boys row
    Our prize will be his red rose gown
    Blow my bully boys blow

    A dead whale or a stove boat
    Row boys row
    Aim the spear and make him float
    Blow my bully boys blow

As I have done in many movie scores,(particularly a film called A GOOD WOMAN starring Helen Hunt & Scarlett Johhanson) if we need to create a tense or dark atmosphere in the drama, I like working score across source music that I've previously prepared in order to create a kind of ominous feeling. In this case the snatch that you have on an mp3 is used when we - the audience - know that a bunch of guys are rowing away from the Pequod (Ahab's ship) and off into a very dangerous situation .... Moby Dick is "out there" .... !!! Whilst they go off to work .. harpooning whales singing this shanty .... WE KNOW THEY ARE IN MORTAL DANGER ..... hence this weird clip which sounds odd taken out of context.

I spent much time working on all the source music for the film and indeed had the privilege of speaking with the amazing Doctor Stuart Frank - shanty expert second to none at the New Bedford Whaling museum .... I really was attempting to give the shanties total authenticity. He kindly added a huge amount of reference material to my research which I endeavoured to make use of. However .... ..... in reality, it was only feasible for the actors to undergo just one week of training in the various marine skills, and they found it very difficult to work, chant & act. The original sailors worked with these chants for years and I can't tell you the amount of effort that i personally put in to getting the shanties into the film as authentically as possible (and in the correct positions of narrative which related to the voyage)

Sadly there are always so many practicalities involved in mounting a production of this scale, so a list of priorities have to be made and it wasn't always possible to give the shanties the priority we would have all loved. For example whilst we were shooting many of these scenes down in Malta, there were bad storms on many days, giving the actors periods of dreadful sea sickness. This coupled with the amount of scenes that had to be shot every day and continuity of varying seas gave Mike Barker (the director) an almost impossible task ...... for which he should be give some sort of Maritime medal for even coming in with ANY footage under the circumstance!
As well as this production of Moby Dick, Dr Frank also intimated from his various experiences, whenever anyone is musically involved on set with projects of this nature, it is impossible given the incredible lists of requirements of the riggers, lighting guys, camera operators, sound guys, actors ..... uncle Tom Cobbly and all .... to give something such as the sea shanties a high priorty. I as composer, did a huge amount of homework but as the scenes were being shot, the music on set often had to take a back seat to the important business of making the movie narrative work. Some days it was impossible to even get through the pages of dialogue necessary .... availablity of actors on certain days coupled with the weather makes Moby Dick a very arduous production.

Having said all this I think the results work way beyond anyones expectations. The cast and direction is magnificent .... the cinematography stunning and all in all this will I hope be seen to be the definitive MOBY DICK.

I sure hope you guys are happy that the use of shanty works well enough to not impair your enjoyment of this wonderful production .... it's sure been an incredible journey for me.

Many apologies for the dreadful rushed nature of this note but i'm in the middle of a heavy work load but wanted to make this connection with you guys and this terrific website.

Keep up the good work for lovers of sea shanty everywhere!

All best wishes
Richard G Mitchell


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 04:06 PM

Thank you very much, Richard, for the detailed note. It was good of you to take time to fill us in. I am now less cynical about Hollywood. (Well, about the efforts of the *composers* anyway). It's unfortunate that the wind and waves so obscured your lyrics.

Let us know when the movie will appear in the States. Though the '56 version may be my all-time favorite film, I'll certainly go see this one.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: ChanteyLass
Date: 15 Feb 11 - 11:46 PM

I hope to see it, too.


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: GUEST,Rickard Sjöberg
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 05:36 AM

Dear Richard,

Thank you very much for finally clearing the fog for me. Even though my deadline is weeks overdue I've been checking in on this website every now and then just to see if someone could possibly provide an answer. And to tell you the truth I was actually about to send you a personal e-mail about this, but then at the last minute decided not to, because I figured firstly that you had only written the instrumental music and not the shanties, and secondly that you wouldn't want to be bothered with silly questions from over-zealous translators with crappy ears... I now realize that I should have followed my instinct, and I'm very grateful that you took your time to explain things in such detail.

My, or rather our, own guess at the lyrics was not all that far from the truth, so I'm happy to conclude that my Swedish translation for the DVD edition of "Moby Dick" will work rather well. I quite agree that it's a great production on all accounts, and it's sad that I wasn't given more time (and a better script) to make the Swedish translation even better.

Again, many thanks, and all the best to you,

Rickard Sjöberg
translator and now enlightened shanty novice


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Joe Offer
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 05:40 AM

This has certainly been an interesting thread. Thanks to all.
-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Help! - Moby Dick TV series shanty-Blow Boys Blow
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 16 Feb 11 - 07:05 AM

May I echo that Joe.
Thanks to Rickard Sjöberg for posing us an interesting question. Thanks to Richard G Mitchell for giving us a definitive answer.
If Rickard had just sent an e-mail direct, we would not have ever read Richard's explanation.
It's nice to know that someone out there has enough respect for historical song that they actually take the trouble to make their new stuff fit.
I will look forward to seeing the film.
Quack!
GtD.


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