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Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle

Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 11 - 05:16 AM
Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 11 - 05:22 AM
Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 11 - 05:59 AM
Noreen 19 Mar 11 - 06:15 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Mar 11 - 07:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 11 - 08:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 11 - 09:07 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Mar 11 - 09:34 PM
Gibb Sahib 20 Mar 11 - 01:21 AM
GUEST,Charles Biada 20 Mar 11 - 01:31 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 Mar 11 - 01:56 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 Mar 11 - 01:57 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 Mar 11 - 02:34 AM
shipcmo 20 Mar 11 - 02:59 AM
Gibb Sahib 20 Mar 11 - 03:57 AM
Steve Gardham 20 Mar 11 - 07:30 PM
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Subject: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:16 AM

Here are some of the sources/info I have on this chanty.

1833        Alexander, Capt. James Edward. _Transatlantic Sketches._ Vol. 1. London: Richard Bentley.

A river trip in Guyana in 1831 is described. There is a boat rowing song which is a variation of what is now known as "The Sailor Likes His Bottle O".

The negroes merrily plied the paddles, and we brushed past the overhanging trees to their favourite song of "Velly well, yankee, velly well oh!"

    De bottley oh! de bottley oh!
    De neger like the bottley oh!
Right early in the marning, de neger like the bottley oh!
    A bottle o'rum, loaf a bread,
    Make de neger dandy oh!
Right early in de marning, de neger like de bottley oh!


1893        Barra, E.I. _A Tale of Two Oceans._ San Francisco: Eastman & Co.

"An Account of a Voyage from Philadelphia to San Francisco, Around Cape Horn, Years 1849-50, calling at Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and at Juan Fernandez, In the South Pacific."

The narrator is on the packet ship "Samson" out of Philadelphia (Oct '49). The ship had been in the cotton trade. In Dec. 1849, they were anchored off Rio de Janeiro. They hoist a boat to this song:

We furled the sails, and then rigged the tackles to hoist the longboat, as she was large and heavy. When everything was ready, the mate sang out, ''Hoist away!" As the tackles were drawn taut, the men called to Stanwood: "Give a shanter, old boy!" And he sang the following hoisting song, which was chorused by the men:

"The ladies like Madeira wine, 

The gents they like their brandy oh! 

So early in the morning— 

The sailor likes his bottle oh! 

His bottle oh! his bottle oh! 

The sailor likes his bottle oh!
CHORUS.
So early in the morning—

The sailor likes his bottle oh!"

The longboat was lowered into the water…


ca.1890-1903?        Davis, J. and Ferris Tozer. _Sailor Songs or 'Chanties'._ London: Boosey & Co.

The second or third edition of this collection added "The Sailor Loves." The lyrics, as all the ones by this author, sound quite artificial.

[w/ score]

The maiden, oh, the maiden, oh,
The sailor loves the maiden, oh!
So early in the morning,
The sailor loves the maiden, oh!
[cho.] A maid that is young, a maid that is fair,
A maid that is kind and pleasant, oh
So early in the morning, the sailor loves the maiden, oh!


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

Collected from John Short.

THE SAILOR LIKES HIS BOTTLE O. [w/ score]

So early in the morning
The sailor likes his bottle O.
A bottle of rum and a bottle of gin,
And a bottle of old Jamaica Ho!
[cho.] So early in the morning
The sailor likes his bottle O.



1917        Robinson, Captain John. "Songs of the Chanty-Man: II." _The Bellman_ 23(575) (21 July 1917): 66-72.

Robinson went to sea in 1859 and retired circa 1909. It is not clear when he would have sang/heard/learned the following:

Sailors Like the Bottle o'! [w/ score]

When you get to Baltimore,
Give my love to Suzanna, my dear.
[solo still] So early in the morning.
Sailors like the bottle o'.
[cho.] Bottle o'! Bottle o'!
Bottle of very good Brandy o.
So early in the morning.
Sailors like the bottle o'!


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

Contains "The Sailor Likes His Bottle." I have not seen this text yet, so I cannot comment more.

1924        Colcord, Joanna C. _Roll and Go._ London: Heath Cranton.

I'm not sure if this was definitely in the 1924 version, but it was in her 1938 Expanded Version as "Bottle O!" I don't presently have my copy of the book with me, and I am unsure of the text. She did reproduce several texts from Robinson (above).

2004        Reynolds, William, Nathaniel Philbrick, and Thomas Philbrick. _The Private Journal of William Reynolds: United States Exploring Expedition, 1838-1842._ Penguin.

From a log in Sept. 1839, noting Tahitian women singing sailor songs they'd learned.

Many of the girls at Point Venus [Tahiti] have learned the chorus songs common with sailors in heaving up the Anchor & other work...Their voices were good, and the ditties of "So early in the morning the Sailor loves his bottle oh," "Round the corner, Sally," "Tally Ho, you know" & a dozen others were often heard along the beach for half the night.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:22 AM

I forgot to mention the following source, as I've also been separated from my copy of this:

1926        Terry, R.R. _The Shanty Book, Part II._ London.

Hugill I have purposefully not yet mentioned.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 05:59 AM

1961        Hugill, Stan. _Shanties from the Seven Seas: Shipboard Work-Songs from the Great Days of Sail._ London.

Hugill offers three versions of the song.

The first is a "Liverpool-Irish one." He mentions an informant, but does not name him. It's tune corresponds to the one by Short in Sharp's collection. 11 verses are offered, with the first being:

Soo! early in the mornin', the sailor likes his bottle-O!
The mate wuz drunk an' he went below to take a swig at his bottle-O,
[cho.] So! early in the mornin', the sailor likes his bottle-O!


The second version comes from Ezra Cobb, a Nova Scotian seaman. Its tune compares with the one in Davis/Tozer.

The bottle-O, the bottle-O, the sailor loves the bottle-O,
[cho.] So early in the morning the sailor loves his bottle-O!
A bottle o' rum, a bottle o' beer, a bottle o' Red-eye whisky-O!
[cho.] So early in the morning the sailor likes his bottle-O!


The third version Hugill says was "usually heard aboard ships in the West Indian trade," but he doesn't say how he knows this. The tune compares to the one in Robinson's article.

When we gits to Bristol Town,
Drink a health to them chowlahs me boys,
[cho.] So early in the mornin', sailors love the bottle-O!
Bottle-O! Bottle-O!
Bottle of very good whisky-O!
So early in the mornin',
Sailors like the bottle-O!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Noreen
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 06:15 AM

Recorded by Lynne Heraud and Keith Kendrick on their excellent CD 'Stars in my Crown' [2000]

The 'sleeve' notes don't mention where they got their version from, but they both look in here every so often...


(Good to see and hear you again last night, Lynne!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 07:50 PM

Isn't it one of Dibdin's? I'll have a look.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 08:50 PM

That would be interesting, Steve. Thanks!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 09:07 PM

About the chanty in his collection, R.R. Terry wrote:

"Although I have know this shanty almost as long as I can remember, I have never heard it aboard ship..."

So one presumes he heard it sung as just sort of an entertainment (?), perhaps from his dad. It's not simply that he "collected" it from an informant who sang it out of context. Because he also says that he has plans to ask some old sailors he knew about how it should be performed (i.e. in relation to work). One assumes that if he had collected it deliberately from some "old seaman," he would have already asked that. Therefore, I conclude that Terry got it from his "surroundings."


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Mar 11 - 09:34 PM

A recording of the song (the earliest commercial recording, I suppose -- there is a Carpenter field recording) was made based on Terry's arrangement:

1928 HMV B2381 John Goss and the Cathedral Male-Voice Quartet.

"The Sailor likes his bottle O" (with "Whisky Johnny" "Clear the track, let the bullgine run." "Sally Brown" "Hanging Johnny").


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 01:21 AM

A cylinder recording in the Carpenter Collection, attributed to James Wright, is listed as "A Bottle of Gin, a Bottle of Rum and a Bottle of Irish Whiskey         O."

http://www.hrionline.ac.uk/carpenter/ginit.jsp?src=box1pac4.xml&id=p03408.1a


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: GUEST,Charles Biada
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 01:31 AM

Gibb,

I flipped through a 1924 edition of Colcord's book and didn't find the song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 01:56 AM

Thanks, Charles, I appreciate that.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 01:57 AM

1853        Markham, Clement Robert. _Franklin's Footsteps: A Sketch of Greenland, along the Shores of which his Expedition Passed._ London: Chapman and Hall.

The author was a part of an expedition in 1850-51 that went in search of the lost Sir John Franklin, who of course had sought a Northwest Passage through the Arctic Regions (1845). Markham's description of the lands along Franklin's routes ends with a little dramatic sketch, involving benevolent and malevolent spirits clashing in the Arctic. At one point there is a stage direction, without much context but presumably to provide atmosphere, which says:

Men sing "The sailor loves his bottle, oh!" at first in a low tone, then gradually increasing as they pass over the stage.


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 02:34 AM

1860[July 1859]        Whitecar, William B., Jr. _Four Years Aboard the Whaleship._ Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott.

The author was part of the crew of an American whaling barque PACIFIC out of New Bedford. The voyage took place 1855-1859. In October 1856, the crew was on liberty in Albany, Western Australia. One of the crew was too drunk to make it back to the barque at night, and this scene follows:

The next day one of the crew found him, with a bottle of grog, close by a small dam on the outskirts of the town. After being thoroughly awakened by a hearty shaking he took up his line of march, which, by the way, was a very crooked one, for the beach, singing, with great energy —

"The sailor loves his bottle, O!"


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: shipcmo
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 02:59 AM

Cicely says: "There is a version in Mr Sharp's collection and another in Ferris and Tozer, both different slightly from that given here."

Oh the mate got drunk and he went below__
To take a swig at his Bottle oh!

So early in the morning
The sailor likes his bottle oh!


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 03:57 AM

Now that most (probably) of the references are up, I am thinking about the trajectory of this song.

Two features of the song's history make this interesting:
1) Appearances in both working and non-working scenarios.
2) The very earliest appearance (i.e. so far) is in an African-American working context.

As to the first point, this is interesting because *typically* these contexts were not shifted much. True worksongs/shanties, as is well known, were not often sung outside their working context. From the other direction, yes indeed we know that many songs sung otherwise (e.g. for entertainment) were used as shanties. HOWEVER, in surveying 19th century references to shanties, I have not seen that happen *that* much -- not at least until later. Chanties were developed from or adapted from popular/traditional songs, but you don't find all that often that one and the same song (in the same form) traveled between contexts. Put another way, chanties seemed to have been well "marked" as chanties -- worksongs.

Was "Bottle O" a popular song prior to being (hypothetically) adopted as a chanty? If so, the evidence is not there yet. Two references, from ca. late 1840s-late 1850s era, suggest the song may have been sung as a popular ditty -- but only by seamen, who of course may have had it from their shantying.

As to the second point, the 1831 reference among New World Africans rowing challenges us to say whether the song was a creation of that culture or an adaptation by it (i.e. that just happens to be the earliest reference). Was the theme originally about what the "neger" likes, or the "sailor"?

African-Americans clearly "owned" the boat-rowing song genre at that time. If the song existed earlier in a different cultural context, then these men probably adapted it--not only to suit the cultural context but also to suit this working context.

While we can't say with certainty where this *particular* song came from, the evidence on chanties as a whole tells us that in 1831, shanties (by which I mean deepwater worksongs) seem to have been hardly developed by then. The number of actual songs seems to have been few. "Bottle O" certainly might have been one of them. If it was, that would be all the more interesting so far as we could call it one of the earliest chanties.

Several of the other earliest chanties --i.e. noted by Dana a few years later-- have demonstrable connections to African-American work songs in other contexts. It would fit a pattern if the trajectory of "Bottle O" moved from a Black rowing song to an Anglo-American deepwater chanty. But there is no way to prove that. The Black oarsmen may have been performing a parody.

Also, by 1839 Tahitians had learned it from sailors, who used it as a chanty. This might be considered too quick for the song to move from Black longshore workers to deepwater crews (reworked for "sailor") to Tahitians. But then again, if this was the direction of movement, it had probably already started earlier. The scenario reminds me of the "Grog Time o' Day" song.

Although the song did survive in the memory of some 20th century folks (unlike "Grog Time"), I also get the feeling that the song had lost its popularity long before. Most likely, it circulated in a specific category of vessels, e.g. in British ships crewed by the successors of men who had been in the West Indies trade.

The essence of my curiosity about the origins of this chanty is this:

Should we consider it one of many loans, from the African-American work-song repertoire, into what would develop as modern chanties?

Or, should we consider it one of those very early "English" chanties that, perhaps for a couple decades, slipped under the radar until modern chanties really began to grow in repertoire?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Sailor Likes His Bottle
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 20 Mar 11 - 07:30 PM

Okay, not Dibdin as far as I can see.
Stuart M Frank's latest book Jolly Sailors Bold, p457 has it being sung by American sailors as part of a concert party aboard in 1842.

So my latest thoughts, there are several Minstrel songs that include the line 'So early in the morning,' but your 1831/1839 references go against this. The minstrels exploded onto the scene as groups in 1840.
BUT negro delineation was a common solo act as early as the middle of the 18thc still using the silly dialect.

If we compare it with the other similar minstrel songs I come up with a possibility of an original :-

'So earlie in de mornin' de master like his bottle-o!' Pure conjecture. Alternatively it could easily have been a genuine slave song on similar lines.


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