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Mystery Chanty (1917)

Charley Noble 25 Jul 12 - 11:46 AM
Steve Gardham 25 Jul 12 - 12:19 PM
Charley Noble 26 Jul 12 - 09:26 AM
GUEST 26 Jul 12 - 09:42 AM
GUEST 26 Jul 12 - 09:43 AM
Dead Horse 26 Jul 12 - 12:27 PM
Hesk 26 Jul 12 - 12:52 PM
Gibb Sahib 26 Jul 12 - 01:54 PM
Charley Noble 26 Jul 12 - 06:16 PM
Gibb Sahib 26 Jul 12 - 08:22 PM
Dead Horse 27 Jul 12 - 04:34 AM
Charley Noble 27 Jul 12 - 09:01 AM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 12 - 05:03 PM
Charley Noble 27 Jul 12 - 06:26 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 12 - 06:50 PM
Charley Noble 27 Jul 12 - 10:29 PM
Dead Horse 28 Jul 12 - 08:58 AM
Charley Noble 28 Jul 12 - 09:09 AM
GUEST,Lighter 28 Jul 12 - 09:49 AM
GUEST,Lighter 28 Jul 12 - 09:51 AM
Charley Noble 28 Jul 12 - 11:26 AM
Steve Gardham 28 Jul 12 - 02:45 PM
Charley Noble 28 Jul 12 - 07:41 PM
Dead Horse 29 Jul 12 - 06:50 AM
Charley Noble 29 Jul 12 - 08:44 AM
Charley Noble 30 Jul 12 - 08:14 AM
Snuffy 30 Jul 12 - 04:13 PM
Charley Noble 30 Jul 12 - 05:26 PM
GUEST,Joe T 23 Oct 12 - 07:36 AM
Charley Noble 23 Oct 12 - 02:10 PM
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Subject: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 11:46 AM

Here's a fragment that I've never run across before, in another fascinating nautical biography, composed by a real shantyman. I've not a clue what the tune might have been unless it was added to one of the "old standbys."

Collected by Alfred B. Palmer with his notes below
From The Pirate of Tobruk: a Sailor's Life on the Seven Seas, 1916-1948, by Alfred B. Palmer, Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, MD, © 1994, p. 22

Untitled Swede Chanty

With a rollicking rhythm, the Swede played chanties that dealt with sailors' activities ashore, as well as the old standbys, "Sally Brown," "Homeward Bound," Southward Ho," and "Rio Grande." He managed to get some hefty verbal jabs at the captain:

Here comes the Old Man looped to the gills,
His hands in his pockets and a mouth full of pills;
He's acussin' an' hollerin' from dawn to dusk,
"Get a move on, you ham-handed louts!"

Interpretation: the captain is drunk; the hands in his pockets signify he is tight-fisted with pay allowances, the pills are chewing tobacco that he rolls into small balls, and ham-handed is being awkward or careless.


Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Jul 12 - 12:19 PM

HI Charley, apart from the ill-fitting last line it goes very well to 'Strike the Bell'


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 09:26 AM

Steve-

Good idea.

We can work on that last line. All shanties are an evolving art form.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 09:42 AM

ham handed means heavy handed or rough ,mean


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 09:43 AM

possibly "one more day"


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Dead Horse
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 12:27 PM

Charley Noble wrote: Good idea.
We can work on that last line. All shanties are an evolving art form.

Are you seriously suggesting that it is OK to take a fragment of a genuine shanty and muck about with it until it fits your own criteria?

To further muddy the waters that this genre is almost drowning in makes me despair of modern collectors.
They evolved, certainly. But to turn work songs into 'an art form' that merits invention saddens me beyond telling.


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Hesk
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 12:52 PM

"Randy Dandy O!" fits, especially if "now" is added as the first word of the last line, or "Get" is elongated and emphasised.


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 01:54 PM

When were these words written down -- 1994? After 1948, at least. I don't know what definition of "chanties" they are using. If the Swede "played" chanties, then obviously they are not being used as work-songs. And while some "forebitter" type songs were found used as chanties, "Sally Brown" seems to have been a "pure" chanty. The fact that someone is now "playing" it sounds like we have exited the era when chanties had a work function and we are into the era of singing them for fun.

Is there more context to this that I am not getting?

The song has no chorus -- it can't be a chanty. Unless the rationale is that he'd just give solo lines and the chorus would be assumed (??). I don't think it's a chanty. Some other kind of song, ad-libbed.

The bigger mystery *to me* is: what chanty is "Southward Ho"?


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 06:16 PM

Gibb-

Alfred Palmer was an apprentice in the 4-masted sailing barque Burrowa in 1917 when he collected this "chanty" fragment. And he does note in other parts of this book that shanties were still being used aboard at the time for coordinating the work, especially when the sailors were in good spirits.

Yes, it's odd that he considers all the songs the sailors sang aboard "chanties," whether they were songs used for coordinating work or songs for entertainment. But Capt. Palmer was not an ethnomusicologist. He was a sailor and was quite well respected for his ability.

Dead Horse-

"Are you seriously suggesting that it is OK to take a fragment of a genuine shanty and muck about with it until it fits your own criteria?"

I didn't say "muck about with" but is that your attitude toward anyone now making changes in a collected shanty?

My attitude is that there was no one form for any traditional shanty with the exception of its first verse and chorus. Everything else was ad lib. I think it's fallacious to assume that any collected six or more verse shanty is the true version of the shanty. That being said, we should all know where our shanty verses come from, and admit when we are making changes in words or melody.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 26 Jul 12 - 08:22 PM

But Capt. Palmer was not an ethnomusicologist. He was a sailor and was quite well respected for his ability.

You seem to imply that I was questioning the author's knowledge or credentials. On the contrary, I am asking when this was written (not when he heard it) to establish how the word "chanties" might have been used at that time. After a certain point, the word did come to be used by lots of people to convey any sailor song. If they actually called the songs chanties in 1917 is a whole lot different than somebody, in hindsight from the 1990s, referring to chanties. That's all I meant.

The issue is still unanswered, then, as to whether these songs were what would be considered chanties at that time and, if they were... just what they considered to be chanties at that time. I see lots of room for doubt that this was a chanty. Which doesn't matter for any reason except that one need not limit one's search to chanties.

I would also like to be able to establish if the author means "worksongs" when he says chanties because it would let me add "Southward Ho" to my list of chanty repertoire :)


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Dead Horse
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 04:34 AM

"I didn't say "muck about with" but is that your attitude toward anyone now making changes in a collected shanty?"
No, you didnt say 'muck about with' but that is certainly the implication.
If you intend to 'work on that last line' of an unconnected four line verse to make it fit any one of a hundred existing shanties, then that IS my attitude.
If any of you lubbers try to get away with 'finding a lost verse' of any well known shanty I shall hunt you down and nail your hides to the lamproom door, you see if I dont :-)


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 09:01 AM

Well, I'm not going to "Flog a Dead Horse" any more about this. I do love a good puzzle.

Capt. Palmer's memoir was first published in a different form in Australia in 1981. Unfortunately he died before seeing the final republication.

An interesting footnote to his book was finding an illustration by Stan Hugill, from when they were both in the same POW camp in Germany during World War 2. Here's a link to this scurrilous sketch: click here!

Gibb-

I'm also curious about "Southward Ho!." From the context, one can assume that it was a working shanty but there are no other details.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 05:03 PM

Hooraw for the sketch! And thanks for the info, Charley.

I'm still not satisfied with the amount of context of a Swede "playing" shanties (grumble, grumble)... What is he playing? A melodeon? A tuba? A diddly-wang? And where is he, and when, and why?

To my way of thinking, if there's no work and there's no functional chorus, then there's no shanty.

Bet you never though you'd hear so much bitching on this thread, eh? :)

But seriously, thanks for sharing your finding with us.


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 06:26 PM

Gibb-

We'll never know for sure but that's the charm of reading some of these old nautical memoirs; it stirs things up a bit and leads to more questions.

I'm now wondering if Stan Hugill ever published his memoirs of his prisoner of war experiences. I'm thinking that I once ran across such a file on his website. Maybe I need to revisit it. Or maybe it was somewhere else?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 06:50 PM

We'll never know for sure...

But we will know the context that precedes the passage you quoted...if you tell us! Geez.


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 27 Jul 12 - 10:29 PM

Gibb-

No, that was the only paragraph that focused on chanties.

Previously they'd battled their way around Cape Horn without any chanties, survived a pamperos, and outsailed the German commerce raider the Seeadler. Then they were stuck in the Doldrums. Once they caught the Northeast Trades and were on their final leg of homeward bound, "chanties" came to mind. It does sound as if they were used more for recreation than for work.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Dead Horse
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 08:58 AM

I am wondering if shanties were originally meant to be accompanied by the brass section of the ships orchestra.
Battling the Horn, Running Down to Tuba, Accordion to the Act (how did that one get in here?)


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 09:09 AM

Dead Horse-

You may be on to something. I've heard a lot in my long years ashore about how the deep-water sailors were put to work polishing brass, and I always wondered what "brass" they were polishing.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 09:49 AM

Not only does the stanza fit the tune of "Strike the Bell," the words themselves suggest it.

I agree with Gibb: "playing" shanties must mean a musical accompaniment and, unless used for heaving, "Strike the Bell" isn't a shanty.

I also agree with Charley. If you want to turn a shanty fragment into a new song, go ahead. That's what happened to "Hullabaloo Belay," whose rousing tune would have been completely forgotten otherwise.
The newly refurbished song will inevitably be accepted and represented by others as the real thing straight from the fo'c's'le. Like "Hullabaloo Belay" and some others.

But maybe keeping the facts straight will provide 22nd-century scholars with something to do.


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 09:51 AM

I inadvertently deleted a sentence saying that I also agree with Dead Horse about the risks and historical undesirability of "faking it."


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 11:26 AM

Here comes the Old Man looped to the gills,
His hands in his pockets and a mouth full of pills;
He's a-cussin' an' hollerin', surely raisin' hell,
We wish the mate would hurry up and strike, strike the bell!

Hugill called this a pump shanty in the Bosun's Locker, p. 38.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 02:45 PM

Cheers, Charley. Well found.


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Jul 12 - 07:41 PM

Steve-

Here comes the Old Man looped to the gills,
His hands in his pockets and a mouth full of pills;
He's a-cussin' an' hollerin'; boys, he's raisin' hell,
We wish the mate would hurry up and strike, strike the bell!

This sounds better to me, no offense to "surely" intended.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Dead Horse
Date: 29 Jul 12 - 06:50 AM

omg.
Why would there be a second verse that mentions the Old Man?

Aft on the quarter deck our gallant captain stands,
Lookin' out to windward with a spyglass in his hand,
What he is a-thinkin' of we know very well,
He's thinkin' more of shortenin' sail than strikin' the bell.

Pick another shanty (almost ANY other shanty) and 'muck about' with the lines you have found and you will get them to fit.
And how long before this invention becomes accepted as genuine by the masses?
I fear you are hunting a white whale here.
"You are in dangerous waters Mr Starbuck. Helm hard over. Come about"
and as Capt Boomer said "I'll not sail with 'e sir"


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Jul 12 - 08:44 AM

Dead Horse-

We could ask the Swede who composed the verse. However, he no longer walks the decks. I find the answer to be obvious: because he had something else to say about the Old Man. It's true that one verse for the captain is entirely adequate. Consider the one above an alternative verse.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 08:14 AM

Hesk-

Yes, adding "Now" to the last line permits us to keep the rest of that line with a number of traditional nautical settings such as "Liverpool Judies/Row Bullies Row":

Here comes the Old Man looped to the gills,
His hands in his pockets and a mouth full of pills;
He's cussin' an' hollerin' from dawn to the dusk,
"Now get a move on, you ham-handed louts!"

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Snuffy
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 04:13 PM

How about "Oh dear, what can the matter be?"

X:1
T:Mystery Chanty (1917)
T:Oh Dear, What Can the Matter Be
M:6/8
L:1/8
K:G
dBc dBc|dBg dBG|
w:Here comes the Old Man, he's looped to the gills, with his
cAB cAB/B/|cAB cBA|
w:hands in his pock-ets and a mouth full of pills. He's a
dBc dBc|dBg dBG|
w:cuss-in' an' holl-rin' from dawn un-to dusk, "Get a
AcB AGF|G3 z2z ||
w:move on, you ham-hand-ed louts!"


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Jul 12 - 05:26 PM

Snuffy-

Now I'm with Dead Horse. OMG!

I much prefer to use traditional sea music tunes than shore tunes for projects such as this.

I think that's more likely what the Swede did when he sang it.

Maybe if we all hold hands in a circle we can channel the real tune!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: GUEST,Joe T
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 07:36 AM

This may have nothing to do with it, but this novel entitled 'Southward Ho"' has this at the end of the first chapter:

And we sang together the old chant of the Venetian, done in English:

"As the waves flow, as the winds blow,
Spread free the sunny sail, let us go, brothers, go!
Southward Ho! Southward Ho!"

from Google books
Southward Ho! a Spell of Sunshine by William Simms, 1854


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Subject: RE: Mystery Chanty (1917)
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Oct 12 - 02:10 PM

Got to love them old books.

Charley Noble


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