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Lyr Req: The Gum Tree Canoe (Steele/Winnemore)

DigiTrad:
GUMTREE CANOE
THE GUM TREE CANOE


In Mudcat MIDIs:
Gum Tree Canoe
Gum Tree Canoe (tune collected by Warren Fahey from Jim Cargill in 1973 )
Gum Tree Canoe (the tune sung by Freddie Bolton ... and the accepted tune in folk circles )
Tombigbee River (Gum Tree Canoe)


Joe Offer 11 Mar 18 - 01:29 AM
GUEST,Twisted Bough 25 Nov 16 - 08:23 PM
GUEST,lem sheppard 06 May 16 - 05:10 PM
stevewise 21 Nov 15 - 03:57 PM
stevewise 10 Nov 15 - 10:57 AM
babypix 04 Jul 15 - 12:43 PM
Sandra in Sydney 03 Jul 15 - 09:32 PM
GUEST,Mark Gregory 03 Jul 15 - 04:33 AM
Bob Bolton 14 Oct 13 - 11:18 PM
GUEST,MG 14 Oct 13 - 06:37 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Oct 13 - 02:22 PM
Jim Dixon 12 Oct 13 - 12:48 AM
Bob Bolton 09 Oct 13 - 07:47 PM
GUEST,Gerry 09 Oct 13 - 06:27 PM
GUEST,Dani 09 Oct 13 - 06:33 AM
Bob Bolton 08 Oct 13 - 09:11 PM
Bob Bolton 08 Oct 13 - 08:49 PM
TwistedBough 07 Feb 13 - 01:00 AM
TwistedBough 06 Feb 13 - 08:42 PM
GUEST,warren fahey 05 Feb 13 - 02:41 AM
Ebbie 04 Feb 13 - 11:11 AM
GUEST,leeneia 04 Feb 13 - 10:02 AM
Bob Bolton 03 Feb 13 - 06:14 PM
TwistedBough 01 Feb 13 - 01:58 AM
Rowan 19 Nov 08 - 04:49 PM
GUEST 19 Nov 08 - 10:46 AM
Ross Campbell 19 Nov 08 - 05:12 AM
GUEST 18 Nov 08 - 11:30 PM
Joe Offer 14 Mar 05 - 04:40 AM
Bob Bolton 09 Mar 05 - 07:57 AM
Dug 09 Mar 05 - 05:08 AM
denise:^) 08 Mar 05 - 06:44 PM
Bob Bolton 08 Mar 05 - 06:39 PM
Dug 08 Mar 05 - 06:27 PM
Bob Bolton 08 Mar 05 - 07:40 AM
Bob Bolton 08 Mar 05 - 04:23 AM
Bob Bolton 07 Mar 05 - 07:55 PM
Dug 07 Mar 05 - 05:48 PM
Dug 07 Mar 05 - 11:19 AM
Warsaw Ed 17 Mar 04 - 08:11 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Mar 04 - 08:20 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Mar 04 - 07:20 PM
Stewie 07 Mar 04 - 05:26 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Mar 04 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Debbie Porter 07 Mar 04 - 03:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Mar 04 - 01:54 PM
Willie-O 07 Mar 04 - 12:15 PM
sed 07 Mar 04 - 08:39 AM
Bob Bolton 22 Feb 04 - 09:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 22 Feb 04 - 08:00 PM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Gum Tree Canoe (Steele/Winnemore)
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Mar 18 - 01:29 AM

I'm having a hard time learning this song because the John Hartford version is quite different from other versions. This performance seems to use the more usual version of the tune, with references to Hartford's version:

Can anyone point me to a video with a performance of a "definitive" and non-Hartford rendition of this song?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Gum Tree Canoe (Steele/Winnemore)
From: GUEST,Twisted Bough
Date: 25 Nov 16 - 08:23 PM

Regarding the theory that the "flag of true blue" in the penultimate line of the song is the "Bonnie Blue Flag" of the Confederacy, those lyrics were apparently first published in 1847, while (according to Wikipedia and other historical sites) the "Bonnie Blue Flag" was not used by the Confederacy until the early months of 1861. So maybe there's still hope for the two folks in the gumtree canoe. Of course, they were still in slave country, unless the song harks back to before the War of 1812 and they had floated all the way down to the Spanish territory of coastal Alabama.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: The Gum Tree Canoe (Steele/Winnemore)
From: GUEST,lem sheppard
Date: 06 May 16 - 05:10 PM

I learned the song as Gum Tree Canoe from Eva Jessye in about 1979 she was around 86 years old at that time and told me she learned it from her father who was from Tennessee.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: stevewise
Date: 21 Nov 15 - 03:57 PM

With reference to the discussion about the meaning of the last verse. I always wondered whether the reference to the 'flag of true blue' was a reference to either the confederacy or the union. Then I stumbled across a song called the Bonnie Blue Flag which is about the 'bonnie blue flag that bears a single star' - and which from the text of the song is clearly the confederate flag. So if this is true the two slaves are taken back to 'safety' by the slave-owning south!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: stevewise
Date: 10 Nov 15 - 10:57 AM

This seems to be the thread which refuses to die! I recently found the version of this recorded by Warren Fahey and the Larrikins on 'Limejuice and Vinegar' - available from here:

http://australianfolk.blogspot.co.uk/2009/02/warren-fahey-larrikins-limejuice-and.html

The lyrics are as follows

By ?? bonny river, in a hut I was born,
Made out of thorns and wild yellow corn,
Was there I met Julia, so fair and so true,
And we went for a row in my gum-tree canoe.

CHORUS:
We will row, yes, we'll row
Over the waters so blue
Like a feather I'm a-floating
My gum-tree canoe.

With me hand on the banjo, me toe on the oar,
I'll sing to my Julia, I'll sing as I row
And the stars they shone down on my Julia, so true,
On the night we rowed out in my Gum-tree canoe.

Was for three solid days we sailed out on the bay,
We could not get back, we were forced there to stay.
Then we spied a large ship, flying the flag of true blue,
And she took us in tow, in my gum-tree canoe.

The liner notes say the following
In 1973 Jim Cargill wrote me a letter asking me to visit him in his Randwick home – he had a song for my collection. Apparently Jim had heard a version of Gumtree Canoe sung by Shirley Jacobs on an ABC radio programme. Jim had learnt the song as a young man and he could recall additional verses to the song. Thanks to Jim Cargill we now have a complete text and traditional tune. Jim Cargill's original version can be heard on Bush Traditions (Larrikin Record LRF007)

This raises a few questions
1. The words here are not quite the same in verses 1-3 as those in this thread from the Jim Cargill version, although most of the changes are slight. BTW - I cannot make out the second word - to me it sounds like 'On ron bonny river'
2. This version misses out verse 4 of the Cargill version.
3. If this version has additional verses to the Shirley Jacobs version - what did she sing?
4. I haven't found any reference to a recording of this by Shirley Jacobs although I haven't found track listings for all her recordings - did she record a version?
5. Does anyone have the actual Jim cargill recording referred to in these notes?

steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: babypix
Date: 04 Jul 15 - 12:43 PM

1847 version recorded by American Songster: Larry Hanks and Deborah Robins in their first duo album, "No Hiding Place".

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/hanksrobins


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 03 Jul 15 - 09:32 PM

another great find on TROVE


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: GUEST,Mark Gregory
Date: 03 Jul 15 - 04:33 AM

The earliest mention I have found of the song in Australian newspapers appeared in an advertisement for a concert in Sydney in 1851

The Sydney Morning Herald Monday 15 September 1851 p. 1.

see http://nla.gov.au/nla.news-article12930347

part of which reads

....
Gum-tree Canoe............. Mr. Nash
….
Admission 2s.
Tickets to be obtained at the Royal Hotel ;
Masonic Hall, York - street ; Music Store,
of Mr. Henry Marsh, 490½, George - street ;
and at the door on the evening of performance.
Doors open at a quarter-post 7 ; commence
at 8 o'clock.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 14 Oct 13 - 11:18 PM

Hmmm...


Looking at my additional posting of 12 Oct 13 - 12:48 AM, I note that I ought to have "translated" another "Australianism" : "cocky"
(as below ...)

I once left the river, went on the land,
To set myself up as a cocky so grand,
But the life didn't suit me, the way it was then,
So it's back to the Murray river, boys, and my life there again.

In this usage cocky is short for "cow-cocky" ... or, less alliteratively, "sheep cocky" ... is what we would call a property-owning farmer of, cattle ( ... cows ...) or sheep. In earlier days the expression was more likely for small landholders ... " selectors" who had taken up smaller parcels of land released by governments and councils - hoping to 'develop' their local areas.

It was a joking reference to the suggestion that their only substantially crop or yield would be 'cockies' - predatory cockatoos raiding their crop seeds ... just ahead of the even more predatory rabbits that some English fool had imported in order to keep his hunting eye in fine fettle~!

Regards!

Bob


--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: GUEST,MG
Date: 14 Oct 13 - 06:37 AM

nearly 20 years ago I set up Australian Folk Songs, based on a Hypercard collection I had made, and I came across Digital Tradition and gave them permission to use the song I had put online thus the initial MG! I did a search to remind me which ones they were and found this

cheers Mark

0.7967 - OH FOR ME GROG (2)
0.7967 - LIME JUICE TUB
0.7967 - LACHLAN TIGERS
0.7967 - KELLYS, BYRNE AND HART
0.7967 - INDICATING ROCK
0.7967 - GUMTREE CANOE
0.7967 - GIRLS OF THE SHAMROCK SHORE
0.7967 - FRANK GARDINER
0.7967 - EUGOWRA ROCKS
0.7967 - BULLOCKIE'S SONG
0.7967 - BEN HALL
0.7742 - DROVER'S DREAM
0.7742 - MARYBOROUGH MINER
0.7742 - WITH MY SWAG UPON MY SHOULDER
0.7742 - WALLABY STEW
0.7742 - WIDGEGOWEERA JOE
0.7742 - STREETS OF FORBES
0.7742 - OLD KEG OF RUM
0.7742 - INGLEWOOD COCKY
0.7742 - HE'S GONE AWAY
0.7742 - DENNIS O'REILLY
0.7742 - DALBY RAM
0.7742 - CYPRUS BRIG
0.7742 - CONVICT MAID
0.7742 - COCKIES OF BUNGAREE 2
0.7742 - COCKIES OF BUNGAREE
0.7742 - CATALPA
0.7742 - CANE CUTTER'S LAMENT
0.7742 - BUMP ME INTO PARLIAMENT
0.7742 - BULLS OF THE SPEEWAH
0.7742 - BULLOCKY OH
0.7742 - BULLOCKIES' BALL
0.7742 - BROKEN-DOWN SQUATTER
0.7742 - BOTANY BAY (3)
0.7742 - BOLD JACK DONOHUE (2)
0.7742 - BLUEY BRINK
0.7742 - ANOTHER FALL OF RAIN
0.7742 - A THOUSAND MILE AWAY


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Oct 13 - 02:22 PM

The American "Gum Tree Canoe," 1847, as posted by Jim Dixon (22 Feb 04), is called "Tom-Big-Bee River" in some later song books:

G. C. Noble, 1911, "The Most Popular Plantation Songs," Hinds, Noble and Eldridge, NYC (with musical score).

A. E. Wier (edit.), 1929, "Songs of the Sunny South," D. Appleton and Co., NYC and London.


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Subject: Lyr Add: GUM TREE CANOE (from M Wyndham-Read)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 12 Oct 13 - 12:48 AM

Here's another Australian version:


GUM TREE CANOE
As recorded by Martyn Wyndham-Read on "Starlit Skies"

I'll sing you a few lines, short little song,
Won't take a moment; I'll not keep you long.
I will sing of the days when our hearts they were young,
And we'd sail on the Murray river, boys, as the days passed along.

CHORUS: We'd row, we'd row through the water so blue.
Like a feather we would float along in our gum-tree canoe.

My hand on the banjo, my toe on the oar,
I'd work all the day and I'd sing as I'd go,
And at night-time alow, with my Julia so fair,
We would sail on the Murray river, boys, and our dreams we would share.

I once left the river, went on the land,
To set myself up as a cocky so grand,
But the life didn't suit me, the way it was then,
So it's back to the Murray river, boys, and my life there again.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 09 Oct 13 - 07:47 PM

G'day Gerry,

Yeah ... I must have grabbed that, as it was, off Mark Gregory's site ... and not 'proofread' sufficiently.

The TROVE scans are generated automatically ... and posted without really careful scrutiny. Mark does pick up some errors ... and fix what can be checked back to the original printed text ... but I do find minor points in my gathering and 'tidying up' to make workable session sheets.

The best thing is to go back through Greg's site ... to the TROVE OCR ... and compare withthe image of the newsprint.

Interestingly, about the first of Mark's postings I saw was the apparent first (1891) printing of what is now our "Click Go The Shears" ... and the newspaper printing consistently has ("... the BARE BELLED EWE.) instead of "... the BARE BELLIED EWE- where the fact that the old shearer snagged a ewe with scarce belly wool ... is integral to him being able to beat 'the ringer' (the best shearer in that shed) to finish the first sheep ... an 'honour' among the shearers ... but of no particular material profit!

Regards,

BobB


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: GUEST,Gerry
Date: 09 Oct 13 - 06:27 PM

Bob, thanks for posting those lyrics. There's a word missing at the end of the third line of the next-to-last stanza, "Where he'll prance and he'll snort all alone in his". "Tree" would scan and rhyme and be grammatically correct, but I don't think you'd find a wild horse prancing in one, not even in Australia. "Glee", maybe?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: GUEST,Dani
Date: 09 Oct 13 - 06:33 AM

Thanks so much for refreshing this!

Someone (whose name I did not catch) did a very sweet rendition of this at last week's Getaway, and wondered about it. Small world : )

Dani


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Oct 13 - 09:11 PM

Errr ... G'ay again ...

... "Tombigbee" ... get it right Bolton ...!

(Maybe I should have let more morning coffee seep into the spaces between the remaining brain cells ... before rashly striking "Submit Message"!)

Anyway, under whatever spellings and versions, the song seems to have been popular in its various national permutations in both America and Australia.

Regard(les)s,

BobB


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE DEAR NATIVE GIRL
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Oct 13 - 08:49 PM

G'day again,

I had reason to wander back through this thread, the other day ... and since then I have been looking at some great searching done by our Mark Gregory ... using web searches of newly posted OCR scans from the National Library of Australia's TROVE site. This means we are often finding the first recorded published for of songs that have spent the last century, or so, in oral transmission ... and, sometimes, subject to "creative" resurrection!

This is an Australian song based on the form and tune of The Gum Tree Canoe ... but ashore from said canoe - in either Tombidgee Gum ... or Australian Eucalypt (our vast range of "gum trees"). The American tune was well-known ... and popular for many different song settings.

(from Mark's posting:

THE DEAR NATIVE GIRL
Air.-"Gum-tree Canoe."

Australia, dear land of my childhood, and birth,
I think of you still amidst beauty and mirth;
Your forests, your mountains their charms have for me,
And the dear native girl who will share it with me.
Chorus:
Then give me a hut in my own native land.
Or a tent in the bush with the mountains so grand ;
With the scenes of my childhood contented I'll be,
And the dear native girl who will share it with me.

I love far to roam where the emu does stray,
Where the wild native dog cries aloud for his prey,
Where the kangaroo, wallaroo and wombat so rare
Are found with the scrub turkey and native bear.

How pleasant to rise at the dawn of the day,
And chase the wild horse o'er the hills far away,
Where he'll prance and he'll snort all alone in his
Until he's run down by hearts bold and free.

When winter winds whistle and blast the sweet flowers,
How happy and cheerful we'll then pass the hours
With the friends of our youth in song or in glee,
And the dear native girl who will share it with me.

-"Queenslander."

Notes
This song was first published in the Queenslander 8 September 1894, with the note: (From versions supplied by "Colonial Boy," St. Lawrence, and R.C.H., Cloncurry.)

This version is from the Victorian newspaper the Oakleigh Leader 29 September 1894 p. 7.

This version has been 'naturalised' with several Australia terms and 'species', apart from the 'Gum Tree (canoe)':

Native: In this song means 'native-born' - an Australian of European ancestry but local birth,

Emu: Our struthioform bird ... somewhere in size between the African ostrich and the South America rhea (... or 'emas' ... Hispanic language source of our name ...)

Native Dog: The dingo ... pretty close to the oldest recognised forms of wild dog ...

Kangaroo: ... Ubiquitously ...,

Wallaroo: Smaller macropod ... somewhere between kangaroo and wallaby ...

Wombat: Hefty burrowing herbivorous marsupial. (Interestingly, it is now considered that our koala is a "re-arborialised wombat" - indicated by the koala' reversed pouch ... necessary for the baby wombat's comfort during mother's burrowing - but superfluous back up in the trees!

Scrub Turkey: No relation to the American Turkey ... but similar size, black body plumage, red ( ... or sometimes yellow ...) wattles. Builds an immense mound to protect and warm its eggs. (I was intrigued ... last Summer ... to see one Scrub Turkey at Taronga Zoo, building its nest / mound ... hard up against the outer fence of the Tigers' enclosure!)

Native Bear: Our Koala ... certainly no bear - but the early settlers were no naturalists!

Regards,

BobB


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: TwistedBough
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 01:00 AM

... and thanks for the welcome, Ebbie!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: TwistedBough
Date: 06 Feb 13 - 08:42 PM

Bob and leeneia,

Thanks for your thoughtful responses.

So true, Bob, about history and oral transmission.

Leeneia, indeed, I may be worrying too much! Still, our American minstrel humor was often at the expense of black people, which I would not want to propagate. However, their humor appears to have been broad, to say the least, and if this last verse is a sick joke, it's pretty subtle and likely would have been lost on much of the audience. A "playful ending to an innocent song" fits with the fact that the term "true blue" also occurs in the second verse, "I'd catch her a bird with a wing of true blue". Mr. S.S. Steele sure liked that alliteration!

In any event some good folks (eg. John Hartford; Tom, Brad & Alice) have sung this without it sticking in their craw; maybe it oughtn't stick in mine.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: GUEST,warren fahey
Date: 05 Feb 13 - 02:41 AM

the version I collected (in 1973) from Jimmy Cargill in Sydney is available on my 2012 album - The Australian Bush Orchestra....... it has Jimmy singing from the original tapes. It can be sampled at iTunes.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Ebbie
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 11:11 AM

(Welcome to the Mudcat, TwistedBough!)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 10:02 AM

Twisted Bough, I think you are worrying too much. They wouldn't have called the flag 'true blue' if it was bad luck the encounter it. And if the ship's officers had captured escapees, they wouldn't have left them in the canoe, they would have put them in irons.

No, it's just a playful ending to an innocent song.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 03 Feb 13 - 06:14 PM

G'day "Twisted Bough",

Your observation and possible interpretation of that enigmatic last verse of your original song and its native variants illustrate just how much history can underlie the oral transmission of songs!

The ponderings on the different meaning(s) and interpretation(s) of the folk on different sides of the racial divides has a resonance with something I was told about the popularity of "Black-Face Minstel" songs and music in the Australian 'Gold Rush' era of mid - late 19th century.

I have heard it suggested that the style of music that grew up among real-born "Black-face" musicians, when it became widely popular, in its Americam 'home', was restricted ... in "professional performance" to whites - with "black" make-up and assumed costume.

The music that spread out here, in our Australian 'Gold Rush' era, was, apparently, perfomed here by truly African-descended musicians and singers, as well as American performers 'blacked-up'

I have heard that many of the African-descended perfomers did so well, over here, that they stayed here and, often, prospered. One researcher suggested that those who did well included several who went on to be buy hotels .. and become wealthy publicans!

I really need to track back and try to pick up the threads of that particular intriguing possibilty from the glorious free-for-all of the Gold-Rush era, the demise of the convict system and the gaining of democracy ... if not quite to the degree we need still to pursue!

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: TwistedBough
Date: 01 Feb 13 - 01:58 AM

I recently learned this song, The Gum Tree Canoe (the American, pre-civil war SS Steele 1847 song, sans minstrel dialect, aka "Tombigbee River") from Tom, Brad & Alice's album, "Been There Still", and enjoyed singing it despite a nagging curiosity about the last verse, which seems to leave the characters in mid-adventure with their fate unresolved:

       One day the old river took us so far away
            That we couldn't get back, so we just thought we'd stay.
            Then we spied a tall ship with a flag of true blue,
            And she took us in tow in the gumtree canoe.

[Entire lyrics can be found in previous postings on this thread.]

I think it's safe to assume that the characters in the song are slaves. I wondered about that blue flag, and what became of the two lovers who were taken in tow. Where did they end up? It seemed to cry out for at least one more verse to wrap up the story.

In the course of researching the Tombigbee River I found a note on Joel Bresler's website, www.followthedrinkinggourd.org, which points out that not all escaping slaves headed north to the "underground railroad". Some tried to blend in with the free slave populations of the large cities, or headed to the Caribbean. In any event, the Tombigbee River flows south to the Alabama River, forming the Mobile River, which flows into the Gulf at Mobile. I posed my question to Mr. Bresler about the characters of this song being taken in tow by a tall ship with a blue flag. He helpfully forwarded my question to some of his academic contacts, one of whom suggested that this last verse may describe an attempted escape that ended in recapture, since the ship's flag could have been the "Bonnie Blue Flag" of the short-lived (1810) Republic of West Florida. If so, this otherwise sweet and carefree old minstrel song ends on a cruel note.

This possibility has dulled my enjoyment of the song, but I cling to the hope of an alternative explanation. Perhaps the "flag of true blue" was the jack of a U.S. ship, although the jack was flown at the bow while anchored or docked. Perhaps .......? More relevant is the question of how this song would have been presented by the blackface minstrels, and how minstrel show audiences understood it, with its abrupt and puzzling ending.

Any ideas or leads would be appreciated.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Rowan
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 04:49 PM

The American tree is not related to the gums of Australia, Eucalyptus (several species).

It was the "several species" that got me.

When I started as a practising botanist (early 60s in SE Oz) there were at least 450 species (according to the "lumpers" among taxonomists) or as many as 650 species (according to the "splitters", ditto), and that's not counting hybrids or the proliferation of PhD candidates wanting to leave their mark. More recently, the whole genus has been split so that what nonspecialists call "eucalypts" (as the common and garden generic term) is misleading; many are no longer in the genus Eucalyptus.

Enough thread drift. But, at the risk of confusing searchers of the DT, which includes both "Gum tree" and "Gumtree" it is rare in Oz to see the two words conflated into only one when referring to anything arboreal; even the hyphenated version legitimately and properly quoted by Bob would probably, now, be regarded as archaic usage.

Cheers, Rowan


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 10:46 AM

The Great John Hartford


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 19 Nov 08 - 05:12 AM

Brad Leftwich sings a lovely version of "Gum Tree Canoe" on the "Been There Still" CD (Copper Creek CCCD-0164) by Tom, Brad & Alice.

Ross


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: GUEST
Date: 18 Nov 08 - 11:30 PM

I live in Columbia, SC.
I don't know about the song but I can tell you that the sweet gum trees are a bug problem around here. The useless fruit (gum balls we call them) drop everwhere. They multiply like crazy. The roots will badly damage any pavement, garages, or sidewaks. You can cut them down and they pop up all around the stump and are very hard to rid yourself of just one.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Gum Tree Canoe
From: Joe Offer
Date: 14 Mar 05 - 04:40 AM

Bob Bolton sent me MIDI files for the lyrics he posted above, and I put links to the tunes with the lyrics. Here's what he said about the tunes:
    I don't know if you glanced at the resurrected (ancient ... thread # 1397 - 26 April 1997!) MudCat thread on The Gum Tree Canoe ... but a query from DUG (Doug Jenner, of Buckley's Chance in London) - about collecting and attribution of the two distinct Australian versions, which I fielded, led me to post corrections.

    The words quoted in all cases as those collected, in 1957, ultimately sourced to Freddie Bolton of St Arnaud, Victoria, Australia ... turn out to really be those collected by Warren Fahey from Jim Cargill of Randwick, New South Wales, Australia in 1973 - but associated with Freddie Bolton's, not Jim Cargill's, tune!

    I've posted both sets of words ... and both tunes - in Alan Foster's unsupported MIDItext format (hey! It does include an ABC rendition that somebody must be able to read … and convert to a MIDI!). I have attached the MIDIs for these two different tunes and CC:ed to MMario. The MIDI GumTreeB is the tune sung by Freddie Bolton ... and the accepted tune in folk circles - and the DT (collecting/publishing path: Freddie Bolton - Mrs Wilson - Frank Nichols - Billabong Band - Bush Music Club/Singabout ... !) and the GumTreeC MIDI is the tune collected by Warren Fahey from Jim Cargill in 1973.

    It would be nice if the DigiTrad could be corrected: perhaps one entry each for the two quite different sets of words - each linked to their own tune.

    Please get back to me (PM - or at this address) if anything else needs explaining or translating.

    Regards,

    Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 07:57 AM

G'day Dug,

I just ended up with too many other committments ... and the heat is really getting to me these days - Gulgong has been too hot to face for years, but I did make the previous two. I would have loved to have been at the Paterson - Lawson stoush - good reports all round.

BTW: There were quite a few of the Bolton tribe there - younger brother Brian and his wife Lyn and son Llewellyn ... and, I think, older brother Eric, all of whom now live in Dubbo to the west of Gulgong.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Dug
Date: 09 Mar 05 - 05:08 AM

Thanks Bob! Sorry I couldn't catch up with you on our recent jaunt home. Thought I may have seen you at Gulgong. The Paterson/Lawson workshop went well - thanks for your interest.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: denise:^)
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 06:44 PM

Just an 'FYI--'
"Gum Tree Canoe" is included in "The Laura Ingalls Wilder Songbook," because she mentions it & includes part of the lyrics in her books.

Many libraries have copies of this now-out-of-print book.
(The LIW Songbook that is now in print is a paperback picture book, intended for small children, rather than the hardcover, more "sheet-music-like" book I'm referring to.)

It was published by Harper & edited by Eugenia Garson--
they have copies at Alibris.com.

Denise :^)


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 06:39 PM

G'day Dug,

... In this case - Yes! If you wade through all the text / MIDItext / notes in my posting of 08 Mar 05 - 04:23 AM, you will see that it is clear that the only Australian-collected version of this song, before Warren's 4-stanza version, collected in 1973, was the 2 stanzas of the Freddie Bolton text, which permeated its way through the Billabong Band - to be first published in Singabout in 1957.

What Warren collected was a totally different version - like all Jim Cargill's songs, rather closer to the (American) original - but including a clearly Australian last verse. As far as I can see, it is this text that has been the popular one since its publication in Eureka ... but it is almost exclusively sung to Freddie Bolton's tune! I haven't heard Warren sing it - so I don't know if he would use the Cargill tune ... but there is clearly no plagiarism on his part.

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Dug
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 06:27 PM

Thanks Bob. I too have the Eureka book. In it Fahey does not acknowledge any previous collections or version of the song. He just says "collected by Warren Fahey..."

I am put in mind of Denis Kevans' parody which was aimed squarely at Fahey:

I collect from all collectors with collections on the shelf
Collect from all collectors and collect em all meself,
with archie ive and kath alogue I really am au fahey
and I warrant I'll be richer when the grant's announced today...

Or am I being too harsh?


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 07:40 AM

Argh ... I'm back again ... !

I had to break for our Backblocks Musicians session - but I got back to check the other point that nagged me: I suspected - and have confirmed - that the various source were using the Jim Cargill (4 stanza) words ... but posting the Freddie Bolton tune. Jim's is completely different ... if you can decipher MIDItext - or ABC format - you'll see that from the two tunes I have posted.

(BTW: I should have mentioned that I transposed the Jim Cargill tune one tone ... from the collected F up to G ... to match with, and allow direct comparison to, the Freddie Bolton tune.)

Joe: Can you correctly ascribe the words in the DT to 'collected from Jim Cargill by Warren Fahey, 1973' and give it the correct tune and, perhaps, add in the Freddie Bolton-sourced words - against the MIDI of his tune that you already have?

Regards,

Bob


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE GUM-TREE CANOE (Australian version)
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 08 Mar 05 - 04:23 AM

G'day again Dug (and Joe Offer ... since this changes a few things I accepted above!),

I should not rely on what I laughingly call my memory! Warren's actual book: Eureka The Songs That Made Australia, Omnibus Press, Sydney, 1984 is actually quite polychromatic!

As well, the version Warren collected ... the one universally (and incorrectly) attributed above ... and in the DigiTrad ... as that collected by the Billabong band (ultimately from Freddie Bolton, St Arnaud, Victoria) is actually collected from Jim Cargill, Randwick, New South Wales - in 1973.

This has the words (from Eureka The Songs That Made Australia):

THE GUM-TREE CANOE

On a thorn bonny river, in a hut I was born,
Built of thorns and wild yellow corn,
Its there, I first met with Julia, so true,
And we went for a row in the gum-tree canoe.

CHORUS: We will row, yes, we'll row over the waters so blue
Like a feather I'm afloat in my gum-tree canoe.

With my thumb on the banjo, my toe on the oar,
I'll sing to my Julia, I'll sing as I row
And the stars shone down on Julia, so true,
On the night we rowed out in my Gum-tree canoe.

'Twas for three solid days we sailed out in the bay,
We could not get back, we were forced to stay.
Then we spied a large ship, flying the flag of true blue,
And she took us in tow, in my gum-tree canoe.

I once left the river, and went on the land
To set myself up as a cocky, so grand,
But the life didn't suit me, it made my heart sore,
So, back to the bonny river, boys, and Julia once more.

and the tune - there is ABC at the end!):


Click to play

ABC format:

X:1
T:
M:3/4
Q:1/4=128
K:C
D5G|B4GA|G^F3DD|E2G3A|G6|G4Bd|d4d2|e2dB3|
A4G2|G2B2d2|d4d2|e2d2B2|A4d3/2c/2|B4AB|GE3D2|
E2G3A|G4GA|d4GB|d4dd|e2d2B2|A4GA|Bd3BA|GE3D2|
E2G3A|G13/4||


Now!: The Freddie Bolton words are really:

A Gum Tree Canoe

I'll sing you a ditty, a sweet little song,
It will just take a moment, it won't keep you long,
I will sing of the days when our love was so new,
And we sailed down the Murray River, boys, in a gum tree canoe.

CHORUS: We rowed, we rowed, o'er the water so blue,
Like a feather we would float along, in a gum tree canoe,

My hand on my banjo, my toe on my oar,
I work all the day and I sing as I go,
And at night-time I turn to my Julia so true,
And we sail down the Murray River, boys, in a gum tree canoe.


Given to Frank Nickels 1957 by Mrs. J. Wilson, formerly of St. Arnaud, Vic.

and the tune (completely different) is:


Click to play

ABC format:

X:1
T:
M:3/4
Q:1/4=128
K:C
B6|D2D3E|D2D3E|D2G2A2|B4BB|A2A2A2|A2G2A2|
B2G2E2|E4GE|D2D3E|D2D3E|D2G2A2|B4GB|d2dedB|
AGE4|-E4^FE|D2B3A|G4B2|d4B2|d4BB|B2A2G2|A4GB|
d2dedB|AGE4|E4^FE|D2B3A|G19/4||


OK:

Apologies to Warren (that really is a different (Australian) version - although clearly drawing on the American original)

Sorry Joe: All the attributions in DT are wrong! (Well ... sort of).

I hope this all makes sense .. wil get back if needed!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 07:55 PM

G'day Dug,

07 Mar 05 - 11:19 AM to 07 Mar 05 - 05:48 PM ... Bob?

Hey! That's only 6hr 29 minutes (during most of which I was sleeping - it runs 3:19 AM to 9:48 AM Sydney time) ... I do have a life, mate!

I'll look it up when I get home ... which songbook are you citing - Warren's large white one from the '80s ... the name of which escapes me? Anyway, when I queried a number of items that I knew were collected earlier (often by the Bush Music Club collectors who had supplied Warren with contact lists for his collecting trip in the late '70s / early '80s - from the same people) ... Warren defended his notes on the grounds that he was publishing the specific versions that he had collected ... Hmmm!

There is, nowadays, considered to be value in re-collecting from known informants - since it may turn up different versions or additional verses. However, when the version collected is substantially the same as collected by someone a decade, or two, before ... well, I would be a bit more informative about the earlier collection!

Regard(les)s,

Bob


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Dug
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 05:48 PM

Bob?


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Dug
Date: 07 Mar 05 - 11:19 AM

Why does Warren Fahey in his songbook claim to have collected this song? It's obvious from this thread that he didn't.

Bob Bolton will be able to help here, I feel sure. You out there oh wise one?


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Warsaw Ed
Date: 17 Mar 04 - 08:11 PM

Someone mentioned that John Hartford recorded the Tombigbee version. It is available for Real Audio download [complete] at The Record Lady's All-Time Country Favorites. Ed


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 08:20 PM

The Gum Tree Canoe," sung by Frank Crumit as posted above by Frank Maher, is identical to the version in Randolph, Ozark Folksongs, vol. 4, p. 302 (new ed.), # 787.
There are two versions in the Max Hunter Collection.

The song was printed in "Heart Songs, 1909, p. 250, as "Tom-Big-Bee River," by S. S. Steele, four verses and chorus ("Singing row away, row..."). The song is printed in minstrel dialect.

The version posted by Bill at the start of the thread has had the dialect of the early versions removed, so its blackface origin is not as apparent.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 07:20 PM

There is sheet music at American Memory, published in Boston in 1847 by G. P. Reed:
"The Gum Tree Canoe," by S. S. Steele, arranger A. F. Winnemore, sung by A. F. Winnemore, and his band of Virginia Serenaders.
Three broadsides, undated, by De Masran, Thomas G. Doyle, and Andrews (NY).

A later printing of sheet music is labeled "The Gum Tree Canoe," by A. F. Winnemore, published by Brainard & Sons, 1885.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Stewie
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 05:26 PM

Curiously, Meade's reference for this song differs. He gives 'George Reed w&m, 1847/S.S. Steele wds'. His earliest songbook citation is to 'Dime Song Book No. 3 [1859]'. ['Country Music Sources' p 462].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 04:01 PM

The original by Steele and Winnimore was posted near the start of this thread. Do you have a variant? Please post; it is always good to see how a song is interpreted by various singers. The Barton-Para verses would be welcome.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: GUEST,Debbie Porter
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 03:53 PM

The tune is called Tombigbee River. I have the lyrics if you like. It has been recorded by Cathy Barton and Dave Para as well as several others. Great song.

Deb


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 01:54 PM

As I pointed out, the southern sweet gum (red gum) is Liquidambar styraciflua, which is not a member of the poplar family. It grows to 100-150 feet and has been used for lumber.
Family Hamamelidaceae.

Locally sweet gum was popular for canoes; look at the other choices in the region- pine (not the good white of the north), poplar, and the heavier woods like oak and hardwoods- the latter good for cabinetry but harder to work as well as heavy). Linden is present on the east coast, but I don't think it would like the soils in the Tombigbee River area. Nowadays, however, the genus Plastica has taken over even here in the land of the birchbark canoe.

There are many poplars, genus Populus, Family Salicaceae. Poplar woods are mostly soft, formerly much used in North America in making boxes and toys.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Willie-O
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 12:15 PM

No, they don't at all. You have to make the canoe yourself.

I'm currently carving a dugout canoe from an eastern white cedar log, which is going OK. I don't know anything about the properties of the sweetgum tree, which doesn't grow this far north. Many dugouts were made out of basswood, poplar and white pine, though, because they grew to a good size and are easy to carve.

Must have been some reason they used the gum tree for canoe-making though. I personally wouldn't try it with a log with such poor resistance to rot and insects as any of the poplar family. Specially in a southern climate.


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: sed
Date: 07 Mar 04 - 08:39 AM

Does anyone know if the gum tree species which grow along the Tombigbee River in Alabama and Mississippi actually make decent canoes?


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 22 Feb 04 - 09:23 PM

G'day Q,

That's why I used the term "feral".

Almost any foreign organisn ... especially if introduced by some homesick settler seeking to make a new environment "more like home" - or even worse: imported by some 'get-rich-quick schemer, as with eucalypts into California - will bring a host of unforeseen problems ... and grow in quite different ways from those in its balanced native habitat.

Australia has suffered particularly badly from such ill-considered releases as it was largely settled in the decades of Victorian imperialistic arrogance - and because the native flora and fauna were so totally different ... adapted with a fine (but not understood) degree of precision to a very different land.

A "weed" is any plant in the wrong place!

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Lyrics: Gum Tree Canoe?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 22 Feb 04 - 08:00 PM

Bob, perhaps just as destructive to native vegetation as the bloody eucalyptus in California.


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