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Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)

Gibb Sahib 16 Jan 13 - 10:34 PM
Gibb Sahib 16 Jan 13 - 10:50 PM
GUEST,999 16 Jan 13 - 11:14 PM
GUEST,999 16 Jan 13 - 11:22 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 01:21 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 01:46 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 02:31 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 03:26 AM
Steve Gardham 17 Jan 13 - 04:07 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 07:13 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 07:16 AM
GUEST 17 Jan 13 - 07:45 AM
GUEST,Lighter 17 Jan 13 - 08:52 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 08:54 AM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 09:08 AM
GUEST,Lighter 17 Jan 13 - 10:00 AM
Bob the Postman 17 Jan 13 - 12:50 PM
dick greenhaus 17 Jan 13 - 03:00 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Lighter 17 Jan 13 - 03:54 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 04:01 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 07:03 PM
GUEST,Lighter 17 Jan 13 - 07:36 PM
Gibb Sahib 17 Jan 13 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,Azizi 18 Jan 13 - 05:00 PM
Jeri 18 Jan 13 - 05:17 PM
Gibb Sahib 18 Jan 13 - 05:37 PM
GUEST,Lighter 18 Jan 13 - 05:59 PM
Gibb Sahib 19 Jan 13 - 02:45 AM
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GUEST,Lighter 19 Jan 13 - 08:51 AM
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Azizi 19 Jan 13 - 01:56 PM
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Gibb Sahib 04 Feb 13 - 07:46 PM
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Subject: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 16 Jan 13 - 10:34 PM

Some or other song with a "swing your tail" refrain seems to have spread at one time in the Caribbean/Atlantic maritime world. It was a chanty or other worksong. It's origins seem to have been Afro-Caribbean or African-American, but it was known to sailors of other cultural backgrounds.

I'd like to know more about the song, in general.

There are a few sources of info—which I will list below—but I don't have access to them all.

I'd be pleased if anyone can fill in gaps in data or shed insight.

NOTE: I am distinguishing this from the song with the refrain of "Bulldog goin' bite me," which has been documented in the Bahamas (Lomax), Nevis (Lomax), and St. Vincent/Grenadines (Abrahams) and which is still sung by the Barouallie Whalers group. One of these documented versions has been *labeled* as "Swing Your Tail" by Lomax (who often seemed to title things somewhat arbitrarily), though it uses the phrase as part of solo lyrics rather than as the repeated refrain. It may indeed be quite relevant to compare the songs, however—let's just do it meaningfully.

(Sources follow.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 16 Jan 13 - 10:50 PM

John Middleton of Leith, a sailor who first shipped 1879, sang this for collector J.M. Carpenter in the late 1920s.

There is an audio recording of Middleton singing. Two verses, but it sounds like more or less the same verse repeated.

Carpenter noted the first (solo) line as "O the people in da Souf dey've all got tails."

Due to the dialect spelling, I suppose Carpenter may have wanted to convey it was an African-American song. However, on the recording I don't feel Middleton is singing with such a dialect pronunciation.

The verse sung by Middleton is ~~something like~~:

Oh the people in the South, they've all got tails. [final pitches mi - do]
    Mind how you swing your tail [final pitch re]
Swing your tail when the wind blows free (/with a 1, 2, 3) [final pitches la sol sol]
    Mind how you swing your tail [final pitches re re do]

[The indents are my own, and they presume choral refrains.]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,999
Date: 16 Jan 13 - 11:14 PM

http://www.martinandshan.net/Swing_your_tail_PDF.pdf

Not much help, but there ya go.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,999
Date: 16 Jan 13 - 11:22 PM

The following may be useful to you.

http://www.capstanbars.com/boldly_westward/bftw_lyrics/ka11swing.htm


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 01:21 AM

The song appears in an issue of _The Crisis_ (NAACP publication), vol. 29, 1924. (The piece it occurs in seems to have been republished (?) in a 1969 issue, too.)

I am only able to view a snippet of it on Google Books. (However, I may get access to it, soon.)

What I can see is this (pg 183):

[...] mate stopped them. One of their favorite songs was "What Did the Blackbird Sing?"

What did the blackbird sing to the Crow?
Mah'nd how you swing yo' tail.
If we don't get sunshine, we're sure to get snow
Mah'nd how you swing yo' tail.
Hilo...Hilo


This is followed by a reference to a statement by Stanton H. King (Official Chanteyman of US Merchant Marine).

Chanties containing both "hilo" and blackbirds singing to crows have turned up elsewhere. (Terry's "Hilo Somebody" and Bullen's "Hilo Come Down Below", in addition to Hugill's "Hilo Boys Hilo").


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 01:46 AM

The song was recorded by Canadian folklorist Helen Creighton from the singing of William Smith (1867-1955) of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, in August 1948. Smith started out in fishing schooners, then moved on to larger vessels ca. 1885. He shipped to the Caribbean and South America in the hides, lumber, and sugar/molasses/rum trades. Smith said he'd heard the song both in his home port and in the Caribbean.

The recording of Smith's "Swing Your Tail" is in the Nova Scotia Archives. I have not heard it.

Peter Kasin and Richard Adrianowicz, however, have heard it and incorporated Smith's four verses into their rendition, which they give as follows:

Swing your tail, and a-swing your tail [final pitches sol sol mi]
Chorus: Mind how you swing your tail [final pitches fa mi re]
Swing last night and the night before [final pitch re ti]
Chorus: Mind how you swing your tail [final pitches mi mi do]

One day the blackbird said to the crow
"What makes you love your farmer so?"

"That's my trade since I've been born"
Scratching and a-digging up the farmer's corn"

Swing your tail in the afterhold
Swing last night and the night before

I am assuming that Kasin and Adrianowicz used the tune heard sung on the archival Smith recording for their rendition. (?) So in lieu of the Smith recording and for reference, here is a sample of K&A's rendition:

On _Boldy from the Westward (2005)_


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 02:31 AM

An "anthology of nonsensical and surrealist verse", _Straw in the Hair_ (1938), by Denys Roberts, contains an item labeled as,

"Mind how you Swing your Tail Negro SeaShanty."

I've not been able to see it, just the snippet on Google Books.

I'd guess this might have been drawn from an earlier publication—perhaps the version in The Crisis, since that one's dialect spelling would suggest "Negro" in ways that the two White sailors' recordings (for example) probably wouldn't.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 03:26 AM

A 1969 issue of _Spin_ quotes part of the song. I am only seeing it in snippet view.

[...]
What did de blackbird say to the crow?
    Mahund how you shwing yo' tail:
If yo' don' get sunshine yo' sure to get snow,
    Mahund how yo' shwing yo' tail:
Hilo below, hilo below,
    Mahund how yo' shwing yo' tail.


My instincts tell me that either this text comes from _The Crisis_ or (more likely) they both derive from the same source. (Although one toned-up or toned-down the dialect spelling!)

What was the common source?

I am guessing this Spin article was one of Stan Hugill's.

The Johnson Girls note in their liner notes, to an album on which they sing the song (Kasin/Adriano style), that a text of the song appears in Hugill's _Bosun's Locker_, i.e. the anthology of his _Spin_ articles. And they say Hugill got the verse from Marston and Allen's _Shanties_ (1921), a little 14 pg. booklet which I also don't have! Is this the common source?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 04:07 AM

Gibb,
FWIW I have nothing at all under the following titles in my indexes which are mostly British based, though I haven't checked Roud Indexes yet.

Swing Your Tail
Mind How You ....
The Blackbird and the Crow

Makes the minstrel or African American origin much more likely.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 07:13 AM

Samuel B. Charters recorded songs in the Bahamas which were released on Folkways Records FS 3845, _Music of the Bahamas_, vol. 2 (1959).

In August 1958, Charters recorded John Roberts of Andros island sing "Young Gal, Swing Your Tail." Roberts explained it was used for launching boats (pulling on ropes). (Sponging had formerly been a main employment of the area.) Roberts implies that the 6 verses he sings are about all that was needed to complete the task. Transcription:

Young gal, go swing your tail, [final pitches do la sol]
swing your tail to the South West gale [... ti do re]
Young gal, go swing your tail, [... sol mi do]
swing your tail to the North West gale. [do la sol fa fa me re do]

Everybody gather 'round.
Young gal, go swing your tail,
Everybody get 'round this boat,
Young gal, go swing your tail.

Boys and children get troubled in mind,
etc.

Swing your tail to the North West gale,
etc.

Everybody get converted.
etc.

Swing your tail to the North West gale,
etc.

The tune is in the bluesy style familiar from other Bahamas field recordings. Sample here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 07:16 AM

Thank you, 999 and Steve.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 07:45 AM

Middleton sings as follows, emphatically and with a clear Scots accent (and possibly a Hugill-style vibrato on "tail/ tails" - or is it just the equipment?):

Oh, the people in the South they have got tails.
Mind how you swing your tail!
Swing your tail with a one two three,
Mind how you swing your tail!

Carpenter prompts him to sing it again. The first five or six words were not recorded the first time through.

The tune somewhat resembles "Polly-Wolly-Doodle."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 08:52 AM

That GUEST was me.

Hugill writes in Spin IX, No. 3:

"In the small volume 'Shanties' by Marston and Allen there is a very rare and interesting shanty, which was sung to George Marston by Mr Hopkins, master mariner, who in turn had heard it performed by a Negro crew in his early days at sea:"

The text Gibb sees then follows, with the final line once repeated.

Hugill give "sthwing" rather than "shwing."

He prints the song (no tune) as one example of a rare shanty.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 08:54 AM

The seemingly tangentially-related "Swing your tail" of Lomax's 1935 trip to the Bahamas is notable as another boat launching song. Here are a couple verses just for reference:

Swing your tail like a snapper tail,
    Bulldog goin' bite me,
Them bulldog now barkin' at me,
    Bulldog goin' bite me.

Swing your tail like a grouper tail,
    Bulldog goin' bite me,
Cause this old ship goin' knock your head,
    Bulldog goin' bite me.

From the same set of recordings, the Bahamian men also sing a worksong "O the Last One", in which the leader sings "young gal, come swing your tail." However, this, too, has an appreciably distinct chorus, and suggests that the phrase "swing your tail" was something of a common trope in the songs of this culture.

Come young gal, come swing your tail
    O the last one
Come swing your tail in the waterside
    O the last one

Listen to snippets of both songs here.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 09:08 AM

Thanks for the Spin reference, Lighter.

My "shwing" was a typo!
I wonder (idly, as it really has no bearing) if Hugill changed any of the spellings from Marston and Allen's. If the NAACP periodical also got the text from Marston/Allen (as I tentatively suspect), they chose less dialect-y spellings. (Not related to the topic, just interesting to me.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 10:00 AM

It would appear, from the booklet's publication at Petersfield, that the compiler was the same George Marston (1882 - 1940) who'd had been the official artist with two of Ernest Shackleton's Antarctic expeditions.

The Oxford journal "Music and Letters" printed a brief and snide review of Marston's collection in 1922, suggesting that it was a needless rehash of familiar material.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Bob the Postman
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 12:50 PM

Gibb Sahib, I sent you a PM.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 03:00 PM

Gibb-
You ought to write a book.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 03:49 PM

Ha ha, working on it right now, Dick! (That's why some of these questions are coming up.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 03:54 PM

And don't forget the personal acknowledgments. ;P


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 04:01 PM

You'll be hearing from me personally on those acknowledgements, Jon!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 07:03 PM

Lighter--

Good call on connecting Marston to Shackleton. I have gotten ahold of The Crisis article, which states, in reference to the "chequered crews,"

In this double watch, Shackleton in "Antarctic Days" says that often the men would stop to listen to the Negro crew sing as they added a sort of jig-step to the rhythm of their melodious voices, until the mate stopped them.

Following are the lyrics I quoted earlier.

I suppose the author was referring to _Antarctic Days: Sketches of the Homely Side of Polar Life, by Two of Shackleton's Men_ (1913) by James Murray and George Marston.

Marston was with Shackleton for the Nimrod expedition in 1908. I haven't gotten the book yet, but I'd guess he first quoted this chanty in there, after which reproducing it in _Shanties_.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 07:36 PM

Gibb, you can read Murray & Marston online:

http://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=wu.89062373840;view=1up;seq=266;q1=tail;start=1;size=10;page=search;num=176

There's an interesting chapter called "Chanties," which may be the source of Marston's later booklet. Except for "Swing Your Tail," it all looks pretty familiar - but possibly because *later* writers plagiarized from Marston.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 17 Jan 13 - 08:29 PM

That's excellent! -- and even with a tune provided.

The stuff that looks too familiar is likely the free floating Davis & Tozer influence.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 18 Jan 13 - 05:00 PM

Greetings!

Thanks Gib for starting a very interesting thread.

In your Jan 17th 01:21 AM post you wrote that "The song appears in an issue of _The Crisis_ (NAACP publication), vol. 29, 1924. (The piece it occurs in seems to have been republished (?) in a 1969 issue, too.)"

And in your Jan 17th 03:26 AM post you wrote "A 1969 issue of _Spin_ quotes part of the song. I am only seeing it in snippet view."

Did you mean The Crisis magazine in that latter post? According to its Wikipedia page, Spin music magazine was founded in 1985.

-snip-
Also, inspired by this post, I plan to publish a post on my Pancocojams cultural blog that will feature videos of & lyrics for the R&B song "Shake A Tail Feather". That song was first recorded by the African American group The Five Du-Tones in 1963 as has been convered by lots of singers and featured in several movies. A Hip Hop song with a similar title "Shake Ya TailFeather" was recoded in 2003 & actually won a Grammy [shaking my head in dismay]. I plan to refer to this record song but not showcase it in that post.

I'll include a link to this Mudcat thread in my post as well as two lyric excerpts from your comments as a means of pointing out how long the custom has been to refer to folks "shaking their tails" in songs, although I think it's unlikely that the composers of that 1963 song knew any of the Sea Shanties that are mentioned in this post.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Jeri
Date: 18 Jan 13 - 05:17 PM

There's a recording on YouTube by the Johnson Girls. If you know how to get in touch with any of them, they'll likely have information.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 18 Jan 13 - 05:37 PM

Thanks, Azizi.

The Spin magazine we are talking about is not the Rock magazine that is around nowadays. It was a magazine for Folk music published out of Liverpool, England, I believe. The chantyman-collector Stan Hugill had a number of articles published in it back in the day (none of which I have looked at directly, because _Spin_ is rare in these parts).

Incidentally: The Crisis evidently published their article on chanteys because they were interested in noting the the African-American connections or origins (depending on how you look at it). At that time, these cultural origins were not evident to most people, even if some ex-seamen were aware.

I have not speculated on the meaning of "swing your tail" mainly because I don't tend to do that. If pressed, I would say that if the meaning is not literal, then it may have had something to do with swinging a line...tossing a rope on a boat.

***
To summarize the sources for "Swing Your Tail," from this discussion:

1. 1 verse and tune notation in Marston's _Antarctic Days_ (1913). Marston heard a ship's Black crew members (origins unknown) singing it. Some form of this went into The Crisis, and was also reprinted in Marston's 1921 _Shanties_ collection. Hugill got it from _Shanties_ and republished it in _Spin_ (and Bosun's Lockers).

2. 4 verses on field recording of William Smith of Liverpool, Nova Scotia, recorded by Helen Creighton in 1948. (Through the generosity of a kind stranger I have been able to hear this recording; the "revival" renditions, posted earlier, do follow the melody closely.) Kasin and Adrianowicz and The Johnson Girls have done recent performances based off of this.

3. 1 verse, sung twice, on a field recording of John Middleton of Leith, Scotland, recorded by JM Carpenter in late 1920s.

4. Probably related (I think), but with some notable differences: 6 verses on a field recording of John Roberts of Andros, Bahamas, recorded by S. Charters in 1958.

In addition, there are references to the phrase "swing your tail" in similar singing contexts in other working songs of Bahamas, Nevis, and Barouallie—all boating communities.

All of the versions have appreciably different tunes. In my personal impression, Smith's sounds more typical of a "Caribbean" melody, whereas Middleton's and Marston's crew's is comparatively "American/Afr-American/etc". That is of course just a personal hunch that could mean absolutely nothing. Neither of the White singers sings anything like the "bluesy" melody of the Bahamian Roberts.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 18 Jan 13 - 05:59 PM

Gibb & Azizi: If the "tail" is not meant literally, it could well refer to the tail of a formal "swallowtail" coat being "swung" while dancing.

But individual singers would have imposed their own interpretations anyway.

Gibb: Hugill's "Spin" articles have all been reprinted in a book called "The Bosun's Locker" (Todmorden, Yorks: David Herron, 2006).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 02:45 AM

Lighter,

Your comment about the coat provokes me to wonder whether this might have originated as a Caribbean game or dance song.

[...I mentioned The Bosun's Locker a couple times in the thread already...Now, the fact that I don't yet own a copy is something else... complicated :) ...]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 04:35 AM

Oops, I'm seeing now that re: the Murray/Marston version, the author actually heard it from a captain (how old?) of an ocean liner who had heard the Black sailors crew sing it when he was a greenhorn. So he might have heard it any time in the 1860s-1880s, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 05:12 AM

Alright then! Here's my attempt to sing the three different versions:

Mind How You Swing Your Tail (YouTube)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 08:51 AM

Cool.

And never before attempted.

The melody of Version 2 sounds to me like a second variant of "Polly-Wolly-Doodle." 3 is quite different.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 01:06 PM

"I have not speculated on the meaning of "swing your tail" mainly because I don't tend to do that. If pressed, I would say that if the meaning is not literal, then it may have had something to do with swinging a line...tossing a rope on a boat."
-Gib

Okay.

I suppose it's possible that the phrase "mind how you swing your tail" could have begun as an admonition to shantymen to be careful how they swung ropes (and specifically, the tail ends of ropes). But if so, I think it's likely that that meaning of "tail" eventually (quickly?) changed in renditions of this song [as shanties and as dance songs] to the one in which the word "tail" referred to "buttocks".

I wonder which is the earliest documented use of the word "tail" as "buttock", "butt", "ass"?

In an earlier comment to this thread Lighter wrote that "If the "tail" is not meant literally, it could well refer to the tail of a formal "swallowtail" coat being "swung" while dancing."

That suggestion should be rejected unless it is revised to say that (when it refers to males dancing) if "tail" is not meant literally, it could well refer to the tail of a formal "swallowtail" coat being "swung" while dancing."

My assumption is that females didn't wear that article of clothing. However, there are verses of this song that specifically refer to females and which include females in the general referent for "everybody".

"Everybody gather 'round.
Young gal, go swing your tail,
Everybody get 'round this boat,
Young gal, go swing your tail."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Azizi
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 01:56 PM

Here's my take on the verse:

One day the blackbird said to the crow
"What makes you love your farmer so?"

-snip-
The "blackbird" and "the crow" represent two Black people conversing. Using these characters, the Black composer/s of this song could reflect on the reality of conditions for Black people without getting in trouble. That is particular true since the second line "What makes you love your farmer so" is a later version of the line "What makes White folks hate us so."

That line was also given as "What makes White folks love us so". In that version - and in the version in which the referent "White folks" is replaced by "farmer" - "love" is an ironical, much safer, replacement word for "hate".

Here are some examples of those verses that refer to "white folks" rather that "farmer":

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=99864
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Nashville Students Jubilee Songs
From:Q
Date: 13 Mar 07 - 01:38 PM

Lyr. Add: RAILROAD TRAIN
1.
Says dat blackbird to de crow,
Oh, my! hallelujah!
What makes dese white folks love us so?
Oh, my! hallelujah!
As I went in de valley to pray,
Oh, my! hallelujah!
I met old Satan on de way,
Oh, my! hallelujah!...
With music. Copyright 1884.
P. 13, J. J. Sawyer, arranger, 1885, "Jubilee Songs and Plantation Melodies, Words and Music." H. B. Thearle, Redpath Lyceum Bureau.

-snip-
Referent to the verse
"Oh said the black bird to the crow
makes the White folks hate us so?
Stealing corn has been our trade
Ever since the world was made.

[I quoted this verse as being from "Jim Crack Corn/The Blue Tail Fly" but Q corrected that by writing "From:Q
Date: 14 Mar 07 - 11:04 PM
The verse you quote from "Jim Crack Corn" (from Hippletoe) is from a song in Randolph called "The Crow Song," verses of it or similar songs appear in Odum and Johnson, Perrow, Talley, Cox, Harris and others, stories as well as songs... [in the thread" Lyr Add: Nashville Students Jubilee Songs", 14 Mar 07 - 11:04 PM

-snip-
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/27195/27195-h/27195-h.htm, Thomas W. Talley, Negro Folk Rhymes: Wise & Other Wise, 1922, p. 183


THE HATED BLACKBIRD AND CROW
Dat Blackbird say unto de Crow:
"Dat's why de white folks hate us so;
For ever since old Adam wus born,
It's been our rule to gedder green corn."

Dat Blackbird say unto de Crow:
"If you's not black, den I don't know.
White folks calls you black, but I say not;
Caze de kittle musn' talk about de pot."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Azizi
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 02:07 PM

Correction:

That second example should be

Oh said the black bird to the crow
What makes the White folks hate us so?
Stealing corn has been our trade
Ever since the world was made.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 19 Jan 13 - 02:07 PM

"Tail" has referred to the human posteriors since at least the 14th century, according to Oxford. If "tail" just means buttocks, "long tails" in Middleton's song makes little sense to me.

Bear in mind that the kind of "tail" intended one version is not necessarily identical to that in another. As mentioned, individual singers would have imposed whatever meaning they liked.

No, women didn't wear swallowtail coats. But there's no indication that Middleton's verses were "addressing" women. "With a one two three" certainly suggests dancing.

Other possibilities are that "tail" refers to a pigtail, or (according to Oxford) the bottom edge of a woman's gown.

Or to all of the above.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 Feb 13 - 12:37 PM

I've now had the opportunity to look at Marston & Allen's "Shanties."

Interestingly enough, the song texts are not identical to those in "Antarctic Days."

Here is a list of the songs in the 14 pp. booklet:

Santy Anna [sic]
Blow the Man Down
Storm-Along [sic]
Leave Her Johnny
Good-Bye Fare Ye Well
Paddy Doyle
We're All Bound to Go
Mind How You Swing Your Tail
Shenandoah
The Yankee Ship
Sally Brown
Salt Beef


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Subject: RE: Origins: Swing Your Tail (chanty, worksong)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 04 Feb 13 - 07:46 PM

Thanks for the info, Lighter!

I myself have not looked closely at the _Antarctic Days_ yet. When I get some time, I will be interested to get a better sense of how much might be original vs. what might have been filled in from the published works.


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Mudcat time: 19 June 11:06 AM EDT

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