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Origins: 'Hilo'

Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 11 - 04:18 AM
Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 11 - 04:25 AM
Keith A of Hertford 22 Mar 11 - 04:25 AM
Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 11 - 04:38 AM
Charley Noble 22 Mar 11 - 08:10 AM
Steve Gardham 22 Mar 11 - 02:43 PM
Lighter 22 Mar 11 - 03:49 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 11 - 05:00 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 11 - 05:28 PM
Charley Noble 22 Mar 11 - 08:20 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 11 - 09:25 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Mar 11 - 09:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 23 Mar 11 - 04:28 AM
Darowyn 23 Mar 11 - 04:49 AM
Gibb Sahib 23 Mar 11 - 04:53 AM
Gibb Sahib 23 Mar 11 - 05:12 AM
Gibb Sahib 23 Mar 11 - 05:27 AM
Gibb Sahib 23 Mar 11 - 05:45 AM
Gibb Sahib 23 Mar 11 - 06:08 AM
Charley Noble 23 Mar 11 - 07:54 AM
Lighter 23 Mar 11 - 08:02 AM
Charley Noble 23 Mar 11 - 10:27 AM
Dead Horse 23 Mar 11 - 10:36 AM
JWB 23 Mar 11 - 11:35 AM
Lighter 23 Mar 11 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,SteveG 23 Mar 11 - 04:09 PM
JWB 23 Mar 11 - 05:30 PM
Lighter 23 Mar 11 - 06:29 PM
Snuffy 23 Mar 11 - 06:33 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 11 - 03:20 AM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 11 - 03:33 AM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 11 - 04:18 AM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 11 - 05:15 AM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 11 - 05:46 AM
Charley Noble 24 Mar 11 - 08:15 AM
Wilfried Schaum 24 Mar 11 - 10:53 AM
Lighter 24 Mar 11 - 11:23 AM
Snuffy 24 Mar 11 - 12:00 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Mar 11 - 12:12 PM
Lighter 24 Mar 11 - 12:54 PM
Dead Horse 24 Mar 11 - 01:44 PM
Snuffy 24 Mar 11 - 02:22 PM
Gibb Sahib 24 Mar 11 - 04:24 PM
Lighter 24 Mar 11 - 04:44 PM
Lighter 24 Mar 11 - 04:45 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Mar 11 - 06:08 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Mar 11 - 02:16 AM
Gibb Sahib 24 Jul 11 - 11:45 PM
Keith A of Hertford 25 Jul 11 - 09:25 AM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jul 11 - 04:42 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jul 11 - 04:48 PM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jul 11 - 10:08 PM
Keith A of Hertford 26 Jul 11 - 02:58 PM
Gibb Sahib 09 Aug 11 - 06:58 PM
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Subject: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 04:18 AM

There has been scattered discussion of the phrase "HI LO" in the chorus of songs, in chanties in particular. My aim is to compile some of the evidence and ideas here, and see what comes out of it. I am particularly interested, at least in the beginning, to look at the 19th century evidence. That is, to look at that if possible before jumping to the statements of the 20th century song-collectors, many of whom did not have a deep historical perspective when they made their speculations.

My general impression, to begin with, is that "hi-lo" was a common phrase in 19th century African-American songs, perhaps in work-songs in particular. I'll expect to see possibly related forms like "hollow" or "holler." "Shallow" might come into the mix, along with "Ohio" and others. My impression is also that "Hilo" as a place is one of those folklorist speculations that doesn't hold much water. However, all these impressions are from a fairly casual observation. I am only stating them to suggest possible directions.

I'll start it off with Alden's playful introduction to the phrase, which occurs as he is introducing text from the chanty sometimes called "Hilo, Me Ranzo, Way":

In the following song not only is the mysterious Randso mentioned, but a word of fathomless meaning and of very frequent recurrence in sailor songs is introduced. Perhaps Max Müller could attach some meaning to "hilo," but in that case he would do more than any sailor ever did. It will not do to suggest that it is really two words--"high" and "low." It occurs in too many other songs as an active verb to leave us any room to doubt that to "hilo" was to be, to do, or to suffer something. It can not be gathered from the insufficient data at our command whether or not the act of "hiloing" was commendable in a sailor, but from the frequency with which the fair sex was exhorted in song to ''hilo," it is evident that it was held to be a peculiarly graceful act when executed by a young girl. The syllable "yah" which appears in the first chorus of this song is not necessarily the negro "yah." The best nautical pronunciation gave it a long sound, something like "yaw," whereas the negro, who is popularly believed to remark "yah! yah!" whenever he is amused, really says "yoh! yoh!"

I've just come down from the wildgoose nation.
To me way hay E O yah.
I've left my wife on a big plantatlon.
And sing hilo, me Randso, way.


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


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 04:25 AM

1850        Bryant, William Cullen. _Letters of a Traveller._ London: Richard Bentley.

It refers to 29 March, 1843, at a corn-shucking in South Carolina. This is one of the references to a song with a phrase related to "Johnny Come Down to/with a Hilo."

The light-wood-fire was made, and the negroes dropped in from the neighboring plantations, singing as they came. The driver of the plantation, a colored man, brought out baskets of corn in the husk, and piled it in a heap; and the negroes began to strip the husks from the ears, singing with great glee as they worked, keeping time to the music, and now and then throwing in a joke and an extravagant burst of laughter. The songs were generally of a comic character; but one of them was set to a singularly wild and plaintive air, which some of our musicians would do well to reduce to notation. These are the words:

Johnny come down de hollow.
             Oh hollow!
Johnny come down de hollow.
             Oh hollow !
De nigger-trader got me.
             Oh hollow!
De speculator bought me.
             Oh hollow !
I'm sold for silver dollars,
             Oh hollow !
Boys, go catch the pony.
             Oh hollow!
Bring him round the corner.
             Oh hollow!
I'm goln' away to Georgia.
             Oh hollow!
Boys, good-by forever!
             Oh hollow!

The song of "Jenny gone away," was also given, ...


Mention of the last song suggests a possible antecedent to "Tommy's Gone Away" or "Tom's Gone to Hilo."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 04:25 AM

Some versions of Tom's Gone refer to Hilo in Peru.
There is a port town of Ilo but why it should be so prominent in song is not clear.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 04:38 AM

Hi Keith--

One of my interests will be to see where the Peru "thread" started. I can't remember off-hand if it appeared in any of the historical documentations or if, rather, later on, after someone tried to make sense of "hilo" and ascribed it to the Peruvian port, made up that verse.

If the "hilo" in "Tom's Gone" is the same as the one in "Johnny come down," then the Peruvian port idea seems highly unlikely. The question is whether shantymen or folksingers first took up the idea.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 08:10 AM

Gibb-

I'm convinced from the literary references that "Hilo" came from the fields songs and then went out to sea and began to surface in shanties. I think I was the first one to dig up the oldest literary reference. It's buried somewhere in the threads.

I also have no doubt that some shantymen associated the word with the Peruvian port known as "Ilo" and that is certainly the case with Hugill.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 02:43 PM

What's the problem with the port 'Hilo'? Why couldn't they just be sailing to/from Hilo? Plenty of other ports named in shanties.

If you're looking for origins of hi/hy/high/ low/lo you're going to have an awful lot to go at. I can't find any in nautical slang dictionaries but 'high-lows' were laced boots c1801 onwards. High and Low separately have an awful lot of synonyms.

I'm sure your right that it came from the field hollers in some cases but it could quite easily have 2 usages.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 03:49 PM

The once popular card game of "pitch" includes the triumphant phrase, "high, low, jack, and the game!" Rather like "Gin!" in gin rummy.

Not enough to account for "Hilo" in the shanties, but maybe enough to give it an extra boost in the minds of some American seamen.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 05:00 PM

Good! Let's share our ideas and assumptions....and then test them!

I remember reading a field holler reference, too, Charlie. Let's see the scope of "hi-lo", i.e. if it's in songs, hollers, work songs, dance songs, etc.

Let's see what geographic regions. Coastal or inland? Northern or Southern?
What time range?-- Does it seem to emerge at a certain time? Was it a style or fad only for a number of years?

I am skeptical of Hugill's fascination with "Hilo" the port, and I suspect that he has biased our casual perceptions in one direction. But need to get in the nitty-gritties to show just how that may have happened.

It looks like the "Oh hollow" reference above is the earliest *by date of publication* that I have in my current bibliography. As I work through, there may be later publications referencing earlier times. Granted, the bibliography is focused mainly on sea music, so in focusing on "hi-lo" specifically, some more evidence might come out.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 05:28 PM

My next Hi-lo reference is as follows:

1857        Long, John Dixon. _Pictures of Slavery in Church and State._ Third edition. Philadelphia: John Dixon Long.

This is an abolitionist text. Reverend Long (b. 1817) grew up and spent most of his life in Maryland, and his father was a slave-holder, so his experiences probably come from there. Exact time unknown, as he is speaking in generalities.

The songs of a slave are word-pictures of every thing he sees, or hears, or feels. The tunes once fixed in his memory, words descriptive of any and every thing are applied to them, as occasion requires. Here is a specimen, combining the sarcastic and the pathetic. Imagine a colored man seated on the front part of an ox-cart, in an old field, unobserved by any white man, and in a clear loud voice, ringing out these words, which wake up sad thoughts in the minds of his fellowslaves :

"William Rino sold Henry Silvers;
            Hilo! Hilo!
Sold him to de Gorgy trader;
            Hilo! Hilo!
His wife she cried, and children bawled,
            Hilo ! Hilo !
Sold him to de Gorgy trader;
          Hilo! Hilo!


So this is the first I have to actually use the rendering /hilo/. If one compares it to the "Johnny Come Down de hollow," one finds similar solo lyric ideas, i.e. about being sold off to Georgia. Those ideas also turn up in other songs strains which may or may not be related (e.g. Shallow Brown). I find it notable here that the very first two Hi-lo reference both have them.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 08:20 PM

Gibb-

Here's the verse and notes I cited some time ago in another thread:

And I can't resist a note on "Hilo" which in some shanties is a reference to a favorite port in Western South America but this version is unrelated to that seaport town being transcribed by one curious observor much earlier from a plantation field song:

Oh, this is the day to roll and go,
Hill-up, boys, hilo;
Oh, this is the day to roll and go,
Hill-up, boys, hilo!

It's also of interest that such "nautical" phrases as "roll and go" and "rock and roll" first appeared in the plantation field songs.


Now I just have to relocate the literary reference. Gibb, you are a slave driver!

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 09:25 PM

Ha ha, sounds good, Charlie! But don't kill yourself looking. I'm sure it will come out in the wash eventually.

***

The next one in my chronology --possibly related-- does not have "hi-lo", but it is a similar "Sold to Georgia" song. It has a simple chorus of "Oho!" which *may* suggest, for the time being at least, that "hilo" and other nonsense Oooo's were more or less interchangeable. If that is the case, then "hilo" didn't really mean anything per se. However, if that that is the case it is still interesting that those particular sounds, at a particular place and time, would be common vocables.

1859        Hungerford, James. _The Old Plantation._ New York: Harper & Brothers.

The following is an observation of a slave's song the author heard whilst visiting a relative's plantation in southern Maryland in 1832. The people are on a boat on a creek.

...Charley struck up a song; the other oarsmen answered in chorus, all timing the strokes of their oars to the measure. The song was not by any means enlivening, however, either in words or tune—as the reader will perceive. I have entitled it

SOLD OFF TO GEORGY [Chorus parts are in parentheses]

1. Farewell fellow servants, (O-ho! O-ho!)
I'm gwine way to leabe you (O-ho! O-ho!)
I'm gwine to leave de ole county (O-ho! O-ho!)
I'm sold off to Georgy! (O-ho! O-ho!)

2. Farewell, ole plantation, (Oho! Oho!)
Farewell, de ole quarter, (Oho ! Oho!)
Un daddy, un mammy, (Oho! Oho !)
Un marster, un missus! (Oho ! Oho!)

8. My dear wife un one chile, (Oho! Oho!)
My poor heart is breaking; (Oho ! Oho!)
No more shall I see you, (Oho ! Oho !)
Oh! no more foreber! (Oho! Oho!)


I will be interested to see if "hi-lo" turns up in any/much minstrel material, or if it remained a feature of authentic Black music.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Mar 11 - 09:32 PM

Kemble noted a similar song for around a similar time. This again does not contain "hi-lo", but it is otherwise comparable.

1863        Kemble, Frances, Anne. _Journal of a Residence on a Georgia Plantation in 1838-1839._ New York: Harper and Brothers.

So it's circa 1838-39. The setting is a boat trip across the Altamaha River from the Georgia coast to the St. Simon's island.

…and as the boat pushed off, and the steersman took her into the stream, the men at the oars set up a chorus, which they continued to chant in unison with each other, and in time with their stroke,...To one, an extremely pretty, plaintive, and original air, there was but one line, which was repeated with a sort of wailing chorus—

"Oh! my massa told me, there's no grass in Georgia."

Upon inquiring the meaning of which, I was told it was supposed to be the lamentation of a slave from one of the more northerly states, Virginia or Carolina, where the labor of hoeing the weeds, or grass as they call it, is not nearly so severe as here, in the rice and cotton lands of Georgia. Another very pretty and pathetic tune began with words that seemed to promise something sentimental—
   
"Fare you well, and good-by, oh, oh!
I'm goin' away to leave you, oh, oh!"


"Jenny gone away" is also mentioned here, putting that possible antecedent to "Tom's Gone to Hilo" in the same cultural context and repertory.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 04:28 AM

Yet another example similar to the last (again, without the word "hi-lo", but worth mentioning) comes in Allen's well known "Slave Songs" collection.

1867        Allen, William Francis. _Slave Songs of the United States._ New York: A. Simpson & Co.

The example here is not tied to any particular date, but the collection was complete by 1865, so it was around before then. The song is called a "Mississippi River Boat Song"..."A very good specimen, so far as notes can give one, of the strange barbaric songs that one hears upon the Western steamboats."

I'm gwine to Alabamy
    Oh....
For to see my mammy
    Ah....
[etc.]


It really doesn't add much to the hi-lo discussion, BUT it gives a sense, for whatever it's worth, that these "going away" songs were found with boat rowing, on steamboats, during corn-shucking, and for general use.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Darowyn
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 04:49 AM

All the above assumes that 'hilo' or whatever it's origins or derivatives are, is a word.
I'd suggest that it is actually a meaningless vocable.
Think about the vowel sounds that are easy to produce in a loud shout.
Nobody shouts "EEEE stop thief!" or "OOOO there!"
One of the best set of frequency formants for producing a loud, well projected sound is the one that lies between those for "o" and either "i" or "a".
So we shout "OI! PACK IT IN!" and football crowds sing "WAYO". The banana boat song gives us "DAYO", and very close to all of these comes
"HELLO" and "HILO".
I think that you should look for 'hilo' not in literature, but in the physiology of human speech. Everything after this is post-hoc rationalisation.
Cheers
Dave


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 04:53 AM

The next contains a reference to the chanty "Hilo, Boys, Hilo." Although it is a work of fiction, the chanties in this seem based on real ones.

1869        Kellogg, Rev. Elijah. _The Ark of Elm Island._ Boston: Lee and Shepard

According to the research of Charlie Ipcar, Kellogg was born in Portland ME and went to sea roughly between 1828 and 1835.

In this and at least one other work, Kellogg sketches scenes that seem to credibly evoke the West Indies trade of the 1830s.

In the following excerpt, the crew are hauling topgallant halyards.

But it was most amusing to watch the effect of the song upon Flour, who was plucking some chickens at the galley for a stew. His body swayed back and forth, and he pulled out the feathers to the time of the tune, tearing the skin in all directions...
At length he could contain himself no longer, and, having put his chicken in the pot, rushed among his black friends, and gave vent to his emotions in song.

FLOUR'S SONG.

"De blue-bird robbed de cherry-bird's nest,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
He robbed her nest, and brake her rest,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
Cherry-bird chirp, and cherry-bird cry,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
Cherry-bird mourn, cherry-bird die,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
De black cat eat de blue-bird now,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
He catch him sittin' on de bough,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
He nip his head, he tear his breast,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
Pay him for de cherry-bird's nest,
      Hilo, boys, a hilo.
De gard'ner shoot de ole black cat,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
Den rJat make it tit for tat,
       Hilo, boys, a bilo.
De gard'ner pull him down de tree,
       Hilo, boys, a hilo.
Den dat square de yards, you see,
    Hilo, boys, a hilo."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 05:12 AM

Dave--

All the above assumes that 'hilo' or whatever it's origins or derivatives are, is a word.

No, it doesn't assume that.

See my note, above:

It has a simple chorus of "Oho!" which *may* suggest, for the time being at least, that "hilo" and other nonsense Oooo's were more or less interchangeable. If that is the case, then "hilo" didn't really mean anything per se. However, if that that is the case it is still interesting that those particular sounds, at a particular place and time, would be common vocables.

I'd suggest that it is actually a meaningless vocable.

I personally agree that this is a likely possibility. But I am delaying drawing a conclusion. I personally am not trying to rationalize "hi-lo" as a (meaningful) word. HOWEVER, as a vocable it is yet a *distinct* vocable that seems to have been attached to a particular cultural sphere and repertory. "yeo ho" is also an effective vocable combo, but that is associated with English maritime work chants. "oh" and "oi" are perhaps too common to track. "o-hi-o," to cite another example, is one I've seen crop up with river songs a lot. "hi-lo," I think, is appreciably distinct. It was evidently common enough within a certain repertoire of songs or among certain people that it became more fixed as something one would use in the chorus of songs.

"hi-lo" did become, eventually, rationalized as a word, even if it did not originate so. So the discovery of that is also part of this process.

I wouldn't know how to go about the sort of universal , physical/acoustic analysis you suggest. And I am afraid that would not offer any meaningful historical or cultural revelations. Help me if I misunderstand!


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 05:27 AM

"Hilo, boys" is mentioned again here. Unfortunately the context in which it is set in this fictional account seems pretty shady. The author may be just transposing a known chorus to a fanciful setting.

1876        Unknown. "The Arab Wife." _Chambers's Journal_ 4(675) (2 Dec. 1876).

In the excerpt, the narrator, an Englishman coming from Calcutta, has somehow found himself in a boat off Malaysia with some Papuans. There is some sort of boat race.

So whilst Abou was arranging the oars, I got a lot of Papuans, and began to teach them a medley. I could not for the life of me remember the words, but the chorus went: 'Hilo boys, hil-lo !' The rest of it is unimportant, and can be supplied with any gibberish ; so I filled in with Papuan, and taught them to pull strong and slow to the words 'Hilo boys, hil-lo!' ...
We were last, singing our ' Hilo boys, hil-lo !' keeping about a hundred feet in rear of old Tamula, and going so beautifully that Abou was in raptures, and whispered to me that we could win....


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 05:45 AM

I believe Adams made the first mention of the chanty "Tom's Gone to Hilo."

1879        Adams, Captain R.C. _On Board the Rocket._ Boston: D. Lothrop & Co.
PDF and TEXT FILE

It's ca.1865-1869 on the barque "Rocket." Adams is speaking in general about chanties though.

Where Tommy actually proceeded to when he went "a high low" nobody knows, but the fact is related with continual gusto nevertheless: —

TOMMY'S GONE, A HIGH LOW

My Tommy's gone and I'll go too;
    Hurrah, you high low.
For without Tommy I can't do.
    My Tommy's gone a high low.
My Tommy's gone on the Eastern Shore,
    Chorus. 

My Tommy's gone to Baltimore,
    Chorus.

A person who knows a little of geography can send Tommy around the world according to his own discretion.


Notice that the phrase is "A high low," not "TO high low."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 06:08 AM

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

Alden mentions the first (?) "Shallow Brown":

Come get my clothes in order
Shallow, Shallow, Brown.
The packet sails tomorrow.
Shallow, Shallow, Brown.


And what Hugill later called "Hilonday" -- whether this actually contains a "hi-lo" or if it was just scanned that way, is highly debatable. Other possibilities are "Highland" and, I think, "Island Day":

O Boney was a warrior.
(Cho) Ah hilonday.
O sigh her up, my yaller gals, a hi, hilonday


And lastly are Alden's general comments on "hi-lo," in relation to "Hilo, my Ranzo way," and which I already mentioned in this thread:

In the following song not only is the mysterious Randso mentioned, but a word of fathomless meaning and of very frequent recurrence in sailor songs is introduced. Perhaps Max Müller could attach some meaning to "hilo," but in that case he would do more than any sailor ever did. It will not do to suggest that it is really two words--"high" and "low." It occurs in too many other songs as an active verb to leave us any room to doubt that to "hilo" was to be, to do, or to suffer something. It can not be gathered from the insufficient data at our command whether or not the act of "hiloing" was commendable in a sailor, but from the frequency with which the fair sex was exhorted in song to ''hilo," it is evident that it was held to be a peculiarly graceful act when executed by a young girl.

So, whether originally a nonsense vocable, "hi-lo" had evidently begun to become part of grammatical constructions. Alden speaks as if he was familiar with several songs containing the phrase, even though he does not mention them specifically.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 07:54 AM

Gibb-

Found it! The literary reference to:

Oh, this is the day to roll and go,
Hill-up, boys, hilo;
Oh, this is the day to roll and go,
Hill-up, boys, hilo!


is from THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICANS, Eileen Southern, W. W. Norton, New York, © 1971, p. 153.

The introduction to this illustrative verse, p. 153 above, makes clear that the verse is a plantation work song:

"Singing accompanied all kinds of work, whether it consisted of picking cotton, threshing rice, stripping tobacco, harvesting sugar cane, or doing the endless small jobs on the plantation, such as clearing away underbrush or repairing fences."

It's not clear from which of numerous source books such as memoirs of slaveholders, or narratives from former slaves, this verse came from but a dozen or so are mentioned earlier in the chapter.

To sum it up, so much for the fallacious claim that "hi-lo" or "roll and go" were terms which originated at sea. They both originated on the plantation at least as far back as the early 1800's.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 08:02 AM

Charley, what about "rock and roll"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 10:27 AM

Lighter-

I haven't tracked that phrase back to the old plantation but it certainly was in use by shantymen as in "Rock and roll her easy..."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Dead Horse
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 10:36 AM

Funny you should mention Rock and Roll as I was just thinking about the word Zydeco which is a corruption of Les haricots, and how such words come into being.
I find it unlikely to have been the port of Hilo which makes this name occur so frequently in song, as the gulf ports were visited far more often and yet relatively rarely appear in song.
High-brown and Low-brown were common references to depth of colour among slaves, a fact not yet mentioned.
I am not drawing any conclusions here, merely muddying the waters that you seem to take such delight in wading into. :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: JWB
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 11:35 AM

Not an old reference, but I'll throw this in as chum: in Roger Abraham's "Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore" he gives one verse of the shanty "Johnny Come Down With a Hilo" --

Solo
The poor old man he sick in bed
He want somebody to 'noint his head.

Chorus
Oh, Johnny come down with a hilo,
A poor old man.

A variant of the familiar chantey, but with "a" replacing "to" in the title.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 12:21 PM

Presumably because "hilo" didn't make any sense to the singer to begin with.

"With a hilo" might suggest some kind of greeting. At least to the singer.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 04:09 PM

A little lateral thinking that may have some significance.

Why is the aspirant always present? Presumably it is either very pronounced by the singers, or the collectors instinctly recognised it as a well-known word, otherwise wouldn't at least half of them have printed/noted down 'Ilo'?

Darowyn makes a very valid point, and your answer is equally valid, Gibb.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: JWB
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 05:30 PM

Leafing through Hugill in pursuit of Hilos, I see that he starts his Part Three with "The Hilo Group". His intro to this section mentions the two ports of that name (Hawaii and Peru), and also points out that "sometimes the word was a substitute for a 'do', a 'jamboree', or even a 'dance'. In some cases the word was used as a verb…", though he goes on to write that its origin is mysterious. Hugill also writes, "…since shanties were not composed in the normal manner, by putting them down, it is on paper quite possible many these 'hilos' are nothing more than 'high-low', as Miss Colcord has it in her version of We'll Ranzo Ray. Take your pick!"

Good advice.

Later on in the section, he writes, "The place name 'Hilo' – whether in Hawaii or Peru – is pronounced with a soft 'i', but seamen always pronounced these soft 'i's' – in songs – as 'eye', e.g. Rio – 'Rye-O', California – 'Californye-O', etc. Therefore 'Hilo' was sung 'High-low', that is in the second refrain and in the solos, but in the first refrain I feel that I am right in saying that the soft sound was used – 'hee-lo-o-o', in this case it being a sort of yodel aimed at by good singers of shanties. Whall spells this first refrain 'Hilo" as 'Hee-lo', in the same way I do…Bone, a good authority, states that Sailor John often sang 'Tome's gone to Hell-O..." Hugill does include the chantey "Hello, Somebody" in this section, clearly seeing it as related, and states that he got it from Harding (the Barbadian), who told him it was "very popular in ships with coloured crews."

But then Hugill asserts, "I believe the word 'hello' was not in use much before the seventies." Gibb's research has turned up mid-19th-century examples of "hilo", but does anyone know if the word "hello" was not popular before the 1870s?

Hilo appears in verb form in the chantey "Can't Ye Hilo" in Hugill, in lines like, "Young girls can't you Hilo?" and "Let's all go on a big Hilo!" Stan doesn't say why he capitalizes the word in this case.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Lighter
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 06:29 PM

"Hello" was certainly in use before the '70s, at least in America.

There is popular belief that Thomas Edison "invented" it as a telephone greeting, but the truth is that he only recommended a word that was already common.

In older use its meaning often was closer to "Hey there!" than to "Good day!"


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Snuffy
Date: 23 Mar 11 - 06:33 PM

SteveG - there are some versions where "Ilo" appears unaspirated. For instance, William Fender sang it for Carpenter as "Eye-low"

However, another of Carpenter's sources, J S Scott of London, does aspirate it, but varies the vowel sound, singing both High-low and Hee-low in the same line:

Tommy's gone to Liverpool
Highlow, Heelo
Tommy's gone to Liverpool
Tom's gone to Heelo


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 03:20 AM

Ooh, now we're cookin'!

Steve--
I think your and Dave's call for lateral thinking is very wise. To elaborate my thought (*so far*): I think the physicality of pronouncing "hi-lo" may have indeed been a/the essential determining factor of its origin. Once it was created, it then would have become something culturally specific.

We do know that at some point it was rationalized (in more than one way) as a meaningful word -- even if that was "a word whose meaning is unknown." But at what stage and by whom?

There are no examples attested before the 1840s. There are a lot of reasons why it may have been around a long time before that and yet was not documented. But I tend to feel that this is a distinct enough phenomenon (the "h" pointed out by Steve, along with the "l") and that such phenomena have times when they started. I think it's safe to imagine "hi-lo" as something that became popular around a certain time.

If it sprang from the physically-likely, meaningless vocables that worked well in song, then at this "certain time" it was starting to become conventional.

Let's assume it was meaningless vocables to begin with. The early reference to "Johnny come down de hollow," then, must be read as a rationalization. By whom? Did the listener rationalize it, or had the singers already done so? It *seems* like "hollow" really was intended -- it makes grammatical sense. This example makes it seem as if maybe "hi-lo" was *not* nonsense vocables, but rather a hearing or transformation of hollow/holler. Either that, or the vocables had already been rationalized by the (presumed) "cultural insiders". Another possibility is that there were hollow/holler songs and there was hilo and that sometimes they got crossed.

I really don't know how to explain it, but I am comfortable with a category of word that is both vocable and has a sort of connotative meaning at the same time. The way I am seeing "hi-lo" used, both as a shouted chorus and as part of otherwise meaningful phrases makes sense intuitively. Perhaps it does sort of occupy the same linguistic category as "hello"/"hallo". I supposed we'd call that a "vocative." Compare the ejaculation "Oh!" with the vocative "O"!! So despite trying to reason out some of this stuff, I feel it doesn't necessarily need any reasoning. Still, I am curious about it.

I like Jerry's example from the Caribbean singers, "Johnny come down with a hilo". And I agree on one level with Lighter's comment that it was "Presumably because "hilo" didn't make any sense to the singer to begin with." On another, probably subjective, level, I feel like the Caribbean rendering does truly make more sense. The Barrouallie (sp) Whalers sing it like that, and it's my pet preference to sing it like that, too, when I'm singing to myself (say, while shaving in the morning). I suppose I like it because it negates the popular "TO Hilo", which makes it sound like Hilo is a place (and which I think is the least likely scenario). The literary "down de hollow" is yet another variation that belies the notion of Hilo as a place-name, as does the early chanty reference "gone A [hilo]".

I am intrigued by Steve's question
Why is the aspirant always present? Presumably it is either very pronounced by the singers, or the collectors instinctly recognised it as a well-known word, otherwise wouldn't at least half of them have printed/noted down 'Ilo'?

I am unclear why you think at least half would write "Ilo." Is this because of the tendency of many UK English speaks to "drop" the "h"? Or does it relate to Spanish silent pronunciation of "h" (if we are dealing with the Peru idea), or...? In any case, I think once all the references are posted it will be more clear. It may be that not that many individuals, operating independently, documented the song. I am going to guess that most of them read earlier authors, and so the idea of "hilo" as an established form was there.

I am about to look at Davis and Tozer, who were first to offer an h-less form.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 03:33 AM

I neglected to post this reference earlier in the chronology.

1856        Olmsted, Frederick Law. _A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States._ New York: Dix and Edwards.

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

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

"Ye see dem boat way dah ahead.
Chorus.—Oahoiohieu.
De San Charles is arter 'em, dey mus go behine.
Cho.—Oahoiohieu.
[etc]


This is a very good example of another cross between vocables and a meaningful word. "Oahoiohieu", I feel, was meant to be pronounced as if the river "Ohio", as "Ohi-Ohio." Lots of river songs had "Ohio" in the chorus, but its hard to say whether this was only because this was a main river they traveled on or if it was also because the sound of the vowels was just so wonderful and perfect for chorusing.

The passage continues...

On another occasion I took down the following:

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

Get my cloves in order,
Oh. John, &c.
I'se gwine away to-morrow,
Oh, John, &c.
Oh, work and talk and holler,
Oh, John, &c.
Massa guv me dollar,
Oh, John, &c.
Don't cry yer eyes out, honey,
Oh, John, &c.
I'm gwine to get some money,
Oh, John, &c.
But I'll come back to-morrow,
Oh, John, &c.
So work and talk and holler,
Oh, John, &c.
Work all day and Sunday,
Oh, John, &c.
Massa get de money,
Oh, John, &c.

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

God bless yon all, dah ! ladies !
Oh, John come down in de holler,
Farwell, de Lord be wid you, honey,
            Oh, John, come down, &c.
Done cry yerself to def,
            Oh, John. &c.
I'm gwine down to New Orleans,
            Oh, John. &c
I'll come back, dough, bime-by,
            Oh, John, &c,
So far-you-well, my honey,
            Oh, John, &c.
Far-you-well, all you dah, shore,
            Oh, John, &c.
And save your cotton for de Dalmo!
Oh, John, &c


So, the "going away"/Shallow Brown type theme was there again. This one is confusing because "holler" is used both to mean a place (hollow) and to shout. Unless it was neither and Olmsted rationalized it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 04:18 AM

I think sufficient references have been given to establish that "hilo" was a phrase that was initially particular to Black songs. Moreover, it was common in a subgenre (?) of songs that had the sentiment of "going away to leave you."

I think it is fair to say, then, that White sailors adopted these songs or phrases in their chanties.

The references to chanties in this vein begin with the title "Johnny's gone" in

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

Recall that "Jenny's Gone" was observed earlier among Black rowers and steamboatmen.

Then Adams mentioned "My Tommy's gone a high low" in memory of his late 1860s voyages, at least one of which was in a ship with an all Black crew.

Meanwhile, Kellogg's 1869 fictional account included a Black crew at halyards singing "Hilo, boys, a hilo."

This is supported by a text in reference to experiences acquired on a barque from Cuba to London in 1858:

1896        Bloomfield, J.H. _A Cuban Expedition._ London: Downey and Co.

The " shantie" sung this morning on getting under weigh and setting the topsails, we often heard on the passage to England, and is a good specimen of sailors' " shanties;" the men have breathing time to collect their strength and prepare themselves for the pull, while the " shantie man" is giving out the verse. At every repetition of the word "Hilo" in the chorus the men all pull together with a jerk, hoisting the heavy yard and sail several inches at every pull. " Give us ' Hilo,' Chips," the men said to the carpenter, and he began. The preliminary "Oh" long drawn out at the beginning of each verse was to gain time to improvise the verse :

Oh-o, up aloft this yard must go,
   Chorus by all hands : Hilo, boys, hilo !
I heard our bully mate say so.
   Hilo, boys, hilo !
Oh-o, hilo, bullies, and away we go,
    Hilo, boys, hilo !
Hilo, boys, let her roll, o-he-yho.
   Hilo, boys, hilo !
Oh-o, I knocked at the yellow girl's door last night,
   Hilo, boys, hilo!
She opened the door and let me in.
   Hilo, boys, hilo !
Oh-o, I opened the door with a silver key,
   Hilo, boys, hilo!
The yellow girl a-livo-lick-alimbo-lee.
   Hilo, boys, hilo !
Oh-o, watchman, watchman, don't take me !
   Hilo, boys, hilo !
For I have a wife and a large familee.
   Hilo, boys, hilo!
Oh-o, two behind, and one before,
   Hilo, boys, hilo I
And they marched me off to the watchhouse door.
   Hilo, boys, hilo!
Oh-o, where's the man that bewitched the tureen ?
   Hilo, boys, hilo!
Look in the galley and there you'll see him.
   Hilo, boys, hilo!
Oh-o, the mate's on foc'sle, and the skipper's on the poop.
   Hilo, boys, hilo!
And the cook's in the galley, playing with the soup.
Hilo, boys, hilo !
Oh-o, the geese like the gander and the ducks like the drake,
   Hilo, boys, hilo !
And sweet Judy Callaghan, I'd die for your sake.
    Hilo, boys, hilo !


Next, Alden's 1882 article on chanties had "And sing hilo, me Randso, way," along with the implication that there were several other chanties that used "hilo" in various ways.

English collector Smith, in dialogue with Alden, wrote the following:

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

I have a song amongst my collection entitled "Tommy's gone to 'Hilo,'" which again upsets the theory that "hilo" was an active verb; at least, in this instance, it rises to the dignity of a proper noun :—

Here is her version:


The next song, "Tommy's gone to Hilo," is one of the mournful style of chanties, with a very long dragging chorus. [w/ score]

Solo.--Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Chorus.—Hurrah, Hilo.
Solo.—Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Chorus.—Tom's gone to Hilo.
Solo.—To Liverpool, that noted school,
To Liverpool, that noted school,
Tommy's gone to Quebec town,
Tommy's gone to Quebec town,
There's pretty Sall and Jenny Brown, ,
There's pretty Sall and Jenny Brown,
A-dancing on that stony ground,
A-dancing on that stony ground,
Tommy's gone to Baltimore,
A-rolling on the sandy floor,
Tommy's gone to Mobille Bay,
To roll down cotton all the day,
He's gone away to Dixie's Land,
Where there's roses red and violets blue,
Up aloft that yard must go,
I thought I heard the skipper say,
That he would put her through to-day,
Shake her up, and let her go,
Stretch her leech and shew her clew,
One pull more, and that will do,
Chorus.—Hurrah, Hilo.
Solo.—One pull more, and that will do,
Chorus.—Tom's gone to Hilo.
BELAY!

Like most chanties, the lines of "Tommy's gone to Hilo" are repeated every time, the chorus being the same for the first repetition, and changing a little at the second. The pull is made on the word "Hilo."


About the same time as Smith's collection came Davis and Tozer's.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 05:15 AM

The next "Tom's Gone to Hilo" form comes in Davis and Tozer's highly edited collection.

1887[Aug]        Davis, J. and Ferris Tozer. _Sailor Songs or 'Chanties'._ London: Boosey & Co.

It appeared in the first edition, however I am reading from a later, expanded edition. Also note that though this was published slightly before LA Smith's collection, she would not have been able to see this. Later editions of Davis actually borrowed from Smith. But that is not relevant here.

Davis did not put descriptive notes with his chanties. Also, each text bears the marks of some sort of tampering. One should be skeptical of all the lyrics.

They have this chanty as

TOM'S GONE TO ILO

1. Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Ho heigh; heigh ho!
Tommy's gone, And I'll go too,
Tom's gone to Ilo.

2. I wish my Tom was back again,
Instead of sailing o'er the main,

3. Oh! I love Tom and he loves me,
He thinks of me when on the sea,

4. My Tom is young, my Tom is kind
A truer man you could not find,

5. Oh! Tommy this to me did say,
"Think of me when I'm away,"

6. [repeat of verse 1.]


I have a bit of a hard time swallowing all but the 1st verse. They *could* be authentic, but they sound out of character. It also seems odd that other versions of this would focus on non-sequiturs about various places, whereas this attempts to stick to one subject.

Anyway, Tozer does add one curious note -- a footnote to "Ilo." It says, "A port in Peru." You can judge for yourself whether that is a sudden rationalization. The previous versions (with which I don't think Tozer was in dialogue at all) did not mention Peru or anywhere near there. I have to think that this is a leap that he made. Is this the start of the "Peru" narrative?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 05:46 AM

Writing in 1906, Masefield is another author who played hanky-panky (or hong ki kong?) with his chanties.

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

TOMMY'S GONE TO HILO 
         
(halliards)

Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Tommy's gone to Hilo;
Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Tommy's gone to Hilo.

Hilo town is in Peru,

He never kissed his girl good-bye,

He signed for three pound ten a month,


"Hilo town is in Peru"? The problem I have with this is that Masefield made large use of Davis and Tozer -- which he says explicitly.

Shortly after, versions of the song were collected by Percy Grainger in

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.

TOM'S GONE TO ILO.
(PUMPING CHANTY.)
Noted by Percy Grainger, April 3rd, 1907.
COLLECTED AND SUNG BY MR. CHARLES ROSHER.

[w/ score]

1. Tom has gone, and I'll go too.
Away, haul e Ilo.
O Tom has gone and I'll go too.
Tom's gone to Ilo.

(2) Tom he was my dearest friend. (twice)

(3) Tom has gone to Dixie's land. (twice)

Mr. Rosher says that the verses from "Storm Along," "We'll dig his grave, etc.," and "We'll lower him down, etc.," often got worked into this chanty.

TOM'S GONE TO ILO.
(CAPSTAN CHANTY.)
SECOND VERSION.
Collected and noted by H. E. Piggott and Percy Grainger.
SUNG BY MR. JOHN PERRING, AT DARTMOUTH, JANUARY 18TH, 1908.

[w/ score]

(1) Tom is gane (gone) and I'll go too. (twice)

(2) Tom is gane, what shall I do? (twice)

(3) He's gane away across the sea. (twice)

(4) When he comes back he'll marry me. (twice)

(5) And he'll no longer go to sea,
    But stay at home along with me.

This is one of the most interesting and characteristic variants I have seen, and strikes me as distinctly negro in flavour. The avoidance of the leading-note is worth noting. Gapped scales-with one or sometimes two notes missing-are noticeable amongst other negro melodies, such as the plantation-hymns of the Jubilee singers. This fact has led to the assumption that such negro tunes are of Scottish extraction. -A. G. G.[Gilchrist]


Hmm. The first has the interesting Dixie's land (also in Smith 1888) and the second is similar to Davis and Tozer's.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 08:15 AM

Gibb-

I think you're on the right track with this one.

So clear it away and let 'er run!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Wilfried Schaum
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 10:53 AM

I just remember the 1st verse of a shanty:

I never see the like since I've been born,
when a big buck nigger with the sea boots on
says: Johnny, come down to Hilo, poor old man.
Oh wake her, o shake her,
oh wake that girl with the blue dress on,
for Johnny is gone to Hilo, poor old man.

Hilo [pron. Eelo] is the the once famous Peruvian salpetre port.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 11:23 AM

Relatively few English-speaking sailors were likely to have pronounced the Peruvian "Hilo" as "Eelo."

People were much less fastidious about foreign pronunciations back then. If it looked like "High-low" in English, that's what it became.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Snuffy
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 12:00 PM

Would it have been the ordinary deckhands or the afterguard who mangled the pronunciation of foreign names? Is there any evidence of literacy rates in the 19th century merchant service?

Officers would need some letters to be able to read charts, but the ordinary sailor might well have neither the need nor the opportunity to read until quite late on in the century.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 12:12 PM

Gibb
Aspirants. Just to clarify my point, I was not referring to any Spanish pronunciations, but to the simple point, the vast majority of seamen would have been from humble backgrounds and not known for the niceties of pronunciation. I suppose I can only speak for the vast majority of English working people who generally did not and indeed do not pronounce the aspirant unless there is a really good reason. Of course this isn't cut and dried, pronouncing the aspirant is very relative, one can do it heavily or imperceptably or not at all. It is more likely to be pronounced following a strong vowel sound, but even then it's not guaranteed. I perhaps wrongly assumed the same applied to ordinary people all over the English-speaking world.

On the other hand those noting down the shanties were by and large middle class educated people. In my opinion they would have noted it down as sung, unless they were aware that the word meant something. The later collectors can be dismissed as they would have been aware of other published collections and would imitate spellings they had seen. The earliest references are therefore the most important in giving us clues as to meaning if any.

FWIW I also think the slave origin is most likely.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 12:54 PM

Snuffy, anglicization was the rule rather than the exception. Education had little to do with it.

Byron famously rhymed "Don Juan" with "ruin."

Consider too the formerly customary "Don Quick-soat" and the completely anglicized pronunciations of Latin legal phrases.

If it was in an English sentence, it was pronounced as English.

BTW, I can remember when "Hiroshima" was correctly pronounced (in English) with the stress on the third syllable. Now it's usually on the second syllable because it sounds (marginally) more Japanese.

There's also "Kay-ro" for "Cairo" in "The Bold Princess Royal."

Cairo, Illinois, is to this day pronounced "Kay-ro."

"Hamburg" in the U.S. usually sounds like the first two syllables of the derivative "hamburger" rather than the old-fashioned hat.

The state of Arkanasas is pronounced with a final "-aw," as in the original French (adapted from a native word), but the Arkansas River
sounds like an anglicized "Are Kansas" as it courses through the states of Kansas and Colorado.

So "Hilo," in English, was presumably pronounced "High-low" by all but the most pretentious.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Dead Horse
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 01:44 PM

"...it's my pet preference to sing it like that, too, when I'm singing to myself (say, while shaving in the morning).)
I think it is necessary to know whether this shaving is of the traditional 'cut throat', safety razor or donkey engine variety.
Also which part of the anatomy is being shaved, as this would necessarily alter the metre. A quick scrape is indicated when using Johnny Come Down To Hilo, but a slow deliberate 'we all shave under the CHIN' might be more appropriate to avoid nicks.
The term Hee-lo (yodelled) is called for when applying after shave :-)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Snuffy
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 02:22 PM

Jon, I think that's the point I was trying to make: for most ordinary sailors it would be somebody else's anglicisation that they adopted. In the first place someone (anyone) who could read would pronounce it as spelled, and the unlettered souls around him would accept and repeat what they heard.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 04:24 PM

There is something to be said for each of these perspectives on pronunciation. I'm not yet convinced that we can know for certain what would have been the case.

But here is another angle. I think this pronunciation issue pertains (mainly at least) to the Peruvian port. I don't know how it was spelled back then, but nowadays it is evidently spelled "Ilo." Yet even if the idea of the port did become significant (I'm not yet seeing that it was necessarily conceived as such by sailors), it originally was not. Clearly, all in the African-American world of song pronounced "high low." Even "hollow" is very similar. In Southern U.S. (inclusive of Black) pronunciation, the dipthong "ai" (as in /hai/) sounds like "ah" (like /haa/). When we listen to speech in context, ir is obvious the Southern speaker is saying "high," but out of context and objectively it sounds like /haa/.

Anyway, the Black singers lerned this orally as "high-low". The sailors did, too. the American Adams even spells it "high low." Alden and Smith gave no indication they thought it was anything else. Even if Smith, who collected in England, heard it as "'igh-low", she had access to print materials to "correct" that.

But then comes Davis and Tozer. I doubt they looked at any print materials about shanties. Quite likely, Davis and his mates were English speakers wot dropped their H's. If that was the case, they'd have been singing "Igh-low"/"eye-low." This loss of the H would have contributed to the idea that the name of the port was being sung (along with, of course, the develop grammar that contained the preposition "to").

"Ilo" did not scan for Tozer as anything other than the nitrate port. A question would be whether the Peru idea was his own -- compelled by the needs of publishing to put down something that "made sense," OR if some White sailors, unfamiliar with the original use/pronunciation, had already started thinking about it as he Peru thing.

I think the texts will give us a pretty good idea that even though some sailor might have started thinking of it as Ilo, Peru, that perhaps most did not.

And whatever the case, they pronounced it as High-low/'Igh-low, depending on dialect (American/UK vernacular).

Whall's version of this however, adds more confusion. That this contemporary (could we call him that?) of Davis does not bring in any "Peru" angle supports the idea thatit was a fancy of the latter. But Whall also throws the curveball of a "Heelo" pronunciation.

Elephant in the room is Hugill's statements, which are very confusing. I think they are based on his reading however, and will get cleared up after we read what he did.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 04:44 PM

> Quite likely, Davis and his mates were English speakers wot dropped their H's.

I'm not sure that this would have been true in the mid 19th C., when Davis was learning English. H-dropping has been around for a long time, but it grew and grew during the last century and more. We don't know anything about Davis's prnunciation.

Do we know where Davis was from? He was obviously educated. Did *he* make the suggestion that "Hilo" was really "Ilo...in Peru" because it

a) was not impossible
b) was an interesting idea, and
c) he personally pronounced the word as "eye-low" because linking it to "Ilo" made more sense than assuming it meant nothing?

Of course, somebody did, and whether that somebody was Davis or Tozer or an anonymous shantyman may be beyond our knowing.

At any rate, an initial pronunciation of "Ilo" (if that's how it appeared on maps) as "eye-low" could just as easily be turned into "high-low" as a printed "Hilo" could become "eye-low" through h-dropping.

Sonme singers were likely thinking thinking "Ilo," some "Hilo," some "High-low," and most probably had no idea what it was supposed to mean.

I don't think we'll ever know.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 04:45 PM

Snuffy, sorry for the misapprehension.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Mar 11 - 06:08 PM

You could be searching I and lo and come up with nothing more.
As a nonsense vocable it still is used in pop songs 'Hi lily, hi lily, hi lo. (Tom Jones)
And occurs in old ballads. Earl Brand Child's first version has a chorus line 'Ay lally, o lilly lally' which I have heard sung as
'Hey lilly o lilly hi-lo'
The Cruel brother contains refrains such as
oh lily oh, Lily o, sweet hi o.
With the high and the lily oh.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Mar 11 - 02:16 AM

Harlow's chanties were based in his experiences as a sailor in American ships in the mid/late 1870s. However, he also read: Dana, Smith, Masefield, Whall, Lubbock (Around the Horn), Luce, Clark (The Clipper Ship Era), Terry, Colcord, Buryeson. These may have influenced his presentation of the following.

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

At main topgallant halyards,

TOMMY'S GONE TO HILO.

Oh, Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Away-y, Hilo-o.
Tommy's gone and I'll go too.
Tommy's gone to Hilo.

To Hilo town, we'll see her through,
For Tommy's gone with a ruling crew.

Oh, Tommy's gone from down below,
And up aloft this yard must go.

Oh, Tommy's gone, we'll ne'er say nay,
Until the mate sings out, "Belay!"

I think I heard the old man say
We'll get our grog three times a day.

Oh, one more pull and that will do,
So let her roll and wet us through.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 11:45 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 09:25 AM

Gibb,
"If the "hilo" in "Tom's Gone" is the same as the one in "Johnny come down," then the Peruvian port idea seems highly unlikely. The question is whether shantymen or folksingers first took up the idea."
Sampson gives both shanties.
He says of "John's Gone..."
This is the most beautiful of all the halliard shanties-unfortunately, if sung in proper time, it is not looked upon with favour by the afterguard, as it takes too long to masthead the yard, and when you are making sail on a ship, the utilitarian value of a shanty rather than the aesthetic, is the one that finds most favour with the powers that be.

His verses use one line repeated for each.

Oh johnnie's gone, what shall I do

Hilo town's in old Peru

He never kissed his love goodbye

Which broke my heart and made me cry

He signed for two pounds ten a month

Oh Johnnie's gone for evermore

First v repeat.

Of "When Johnny Comes Down..." he says,
This shanty in common with "Let The Bullgine Run" is of purely negro origin and was very rarely sung by white sailors, at any rate in English ships.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 04:42 PM

Hi Keith,

Thanks for this additional reference.

I've not studied Sampson's book myself. Where do his shanties come from?

Based on just this reading, I suspect Sampson used Masefield's article, above, as a source/model. Compare Masefield's:

Tommy's gone, what shall I do?

Hilo town is in Peru,

He never kissed his girl good-bye,

He signed for three pound ten a month,

I'd be surprised if someone collected an original version that had just those verses in the same order.

(FWIW, RR Terry, in his 1921 collection, had the verse about "gone for evermore."

***

So far in this thread it has been seen that, despite the probable origins of the shanty "hilo" in pre-Civil War African-American songs, the idea of Hilo as a port city creeped into the discourse. The first evidence of that was Davis/Tozer's footnote that "Ilo" was a port in Peru. However, none of the verses say anything about that, and I strongly suspect that it was a rationalization, to explain the unexplainable. After all, actual verses were talking about going to *places.* And Davis, so it seems, had little awareness of African-American genres.

None of the other early documented version say anything about Peru. It is Masefield, who in 1906, first gave a lyric that said "Hilo town is in Peru", which to me just sounds silly. We know that he read and put stock in Davis/Tozer's work, which was one of the only accessible chanty "collections" at the time. I feel that he read the footnote in that work and ran with it.

The recent reference from Sampson's presentation, which I believe to have been based in Masefield (i.e. rather than oral tradition/fieldwork), shows the spread of the idea of the Peruvian port.

Still looking for evidence that shantymen themselves -- uninfluenced by reading -- may have thought "hilo" referred to Peru.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 04:48 PM

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

Terry's shanties were based on collected or remembered versions, from growing up around sailor relatives and fieldwork in NE England. However, his final versions are composites that mix verses and search for ideal forms. For his "Tom's gone to Hilo, he gives the source that informed the "core" of the version.

…I have chosen the version sung to me by Mr. George Vickers, although in the first chorus it differs somewhat from the version I learnt as a boy:…
I give Mr. Vickers's verses about 'The Victory' and 'Trafalgar,' as I had never heard them sung by any other seaman. I have omitted the endless couplets containing the names of places to which Tommy is supposed to have travelled.


24. Tom's gone to Hilo

1. Tommy's gone and I'll go too,

Away down Hilo.

Oh, Tommy's gone and I'll go too.

Tom's gone to Hilo.

2. Tommy's gone to Liverpool,


3. Tommy's gone to Mobile Bay.



4. Tommy's gone, what shall I do?


5. Tommy fought at Tráfalgár.

6. The old Victory led the way.
The brave old Victory led the way.



7. Tommy's gone for evermore.

Oh, Tommy's gone for evermore.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 10:08 PM

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

Here is Doerflinger's presentation of "Tommy's Gone."

His remark on "Ilo" seems to have no purpose -- unless he is drawing a connection between that and the nitrate trade. However, it is also unclear why he says it is a chanty of the nitrate trade in the first place. Did Richard Maitland, the singer, say something about this? That seems somewhat doubtful, and, as we've seen, the song certainly was not limited to that trade. Could it be that, through circular logic (Ilo = Peru = nitates = Ilo) he convinced himself that the statement about the nitrate trade was reasonable to make without citing a source?

From the nitrate trade around Cape Horn to the West Coast of South America came "Tommy's Gone to Hilo" (pronounced "high-lo"). Ilo, as the inhabitants call it, is the port in southern Peru. The name of any port could be worked into Tommy's travels by a resourceful shantyman.

Tommy's Gone To Hilo

(From the singing of Richard Maitland, Sailors' Snug Harbor, NY)

1. My Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Away, Hilo!
My Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Tommy's gone to Hilo!

2. My Tommy's gone to Liverpool,
My Tommy's gone to Liverpool,

3. Now, Tommy's gone and I'll go too,
My Tommy's gone and I'll go too.

4. Now, pull away and show her clew.
We'll h'ist her up and show her clew.

5. One more pull and that will do.

6. Tommy's gone to Baltimore
And where they carry the cotton shore.

7. Now, pull away, my bully boys,
Oh, pull away and make some noise.

8. Now, Tommy's gone to Mobile Bay.
Tommy's gone to Mobile Bay.

9. A-screwing cotton by the day.

10. My Tommy's gone, they sat to Bombay.
Tommy's gone, they say to Bombay.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 26 Jul 11 - 02:58 PM

Gibb, re Sampson.
He was commissioned by fellow members of the Seven Seas Club to prepare a standardised version of some of the more popular shanties.
"There are a number of Shanty books already on the market but... they were not considered adequate by the sailing ship members of the club."
"....I had actually sung every shanty and song in this book at sea in sailing ships (1886-1898);and I am fortunate in possessing a reliable memory."
He acknowledges that "The words used at sea varied considerably, far more so than the tunes,.." and gives the reasons.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'Hilo'
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Aug 11 - 06:58 PM

1924        Frothingham, Robert, ed. _Songs of the Sea and Sailors' Chanteys_. Boston: Houghton Mifflin.

I think this source furthers the narrative of "Hilo" as a reference to the Peruvian city.

The text given appears -- so say I -- to be something put together, partially newly-composed. I think it was based in Davis and Tozer's printed version. One of the verses (4th) is identical, whereas others look like Frothingham took the idea of the verse and rewrote it to make it *less* literary sounding. It runs with the idea of Hilo as something Peruvian, so the verses relate to that theme. See what you think!

Tom's Gone to Ilo

Tommy's gone, what shall I do?
Heigh-ya to Ilo!
Tom is gone, and I'll go too.
Tom's gone to Ilo.

He's gone away to Ilo Bay,
To Ilo Bay I heard him say,

Way 'round to Callao,
Those Spanish girls he'll see, I know,

Oh, I love Tom and he loves me,
He thinks of me, when out at sea,

Tommy's gone forever more,
I'll never see my Tom no more,


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