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Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers

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Lyr Add: Chanteys in Greig-Duncan (20)


Lighter 01 Jun 15 - 07:01 PM
Gibb Sahib 01 Jun 15 - 07:34 PM
Lighter 01 Jun 15 - 08:15 PM
Gibb Sahib 01 Jun 15 - 09:28 PM
GUEST,Dave Ruch 01 Jun 15 - 09:29 PM
Lighter 02 Jun 15 - 07:45 AM
Lighter 02 Jun 15 - 07:55 AM
Gibb Sahib 02 Jun 15 - 11:31 PM
Lighter 03 Jun 15 - 07:27 AM
Lighter 03 Jun 15 - 07:48 AM
Lighter 03 Jun 15 - 09:25 AM
Lighter 03 Jun 15 - 10:00 AM
Lighter 04 Jun 15 - 07:22 AM
Lighter 04 Jun 15 - 07:35 AM
Lighter 05 Jun 15 - 08:01 AM
Lighter 06 Jun 15 - 03:46 AM
John Minear 06 Jun 15 - 08:27 AM
Lighter 06 Jun 15 - 09:13 AM
Lighter 06 Jun 15 - 09:50 AM
Lighter 07 Jun 15 - 09:19 AM
Lighter 08 Jun 15 - 09:45 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 07:01 PM

Correspondence of the important American collector Robert W. Gordon is filed away, largely unpublished, in the Archive of Folk Culture (formerly "of Folk Song") at the U.S. Library of Congress.

I had the opportunity to examine these many years ago.

From about 1922-24 Gordon collected a good many sea songs, including chanteys, from old sailors in the San Francisco Bay area. According to his notes, most of them had been at sea in the 1870s and '80s.

Most of Gordon's chantey texts date from this period. Few if have been published complete. Gordon recorded on wax cylinders, many of which are now inaudible or broken. There are, unfortunately, almost no tunes among his correspondence.

Perhaps transcribed from one of his recordings, this chantey is also a Child ballad.


A LONG TIME AGO

(Topsail halliard)

(Also sung to the tune of "Blow the man down")

There was an old farmer in London did dwell,
Chorus: A long time, a long time.
There was an old farmer in London did dwell,
Chorus: Oh, a long, long time ago.

[Similarly:]

He'd a scolding old wife and he wished her in hell....

The devil came to him one day at the plow....

Said farmer I've come for your old woman now....

The devil he bundled her into a sack....

And like a gay peddler he peddled his pack....

He carried her down to the gates of hell....

And all the little devils let out such a yell....

One little devil he started to cry....

Then she lifted her fist and blackened his eye....

The devil he bundled her back in the sack....

And to the old farmer he carried her back....

Mr farmer to you the truth I will tell....

This woman would raise mutiny in hell....

Come all you young fellows and take my advice....

Never you take an old maid for a wife....

For she's sure to torment you the rest of your life....



Besides "A Long Time Ago" and "Blow the Man Down," versions of "The Farmer's Curst Wife" were also sung to "Good-bye, Fare Ye Well" - and presumably any other chantey tune it could be fitted to.

More to come.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 07:34 PM

Thanks, Lighter!

So are there no details as to whom this text came from? Was Gordon mainly interested in the texts "themselves"?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 08:15 PM

No further details, Gibb. Gordon was interested in both texts and tunes, but he seems to have transcribed no tunes from his recordings and only a few texts. He received more material a few years later from various readers when he was conducting a column in the pulp "Adventure" magazine called "Old Songs that Men Have Sung."

As far as I can tell, "Adventure" is available only on microfilm from the L of C. I've seen a handful of Gordon's columns. He includes no tunes.

Instead of asserting that "many" of the cylinders are broken or inaudible, I should have double-checked and said "some." Acc. to an inventory made by the Archive in the '70s (I think), most of the cylinders are at least in "fair" condition, and some are "very good" and a few are "excellent." (Rather like Carpenter's, I guess.)

I haven't heard these cylinders.

Gordon wrote a series of articles on chanteys for the N.Y. Times years later. I need to look at these again to see exactly what's in them.

Gordon's complete collection is enormous: http://www.loc.gov/folklife/Gordon/Manuscript.html

The U. of Oregon also holds some of his material.

Surely someone is editing it?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 09:28 PM

I have the NY Times articles if you need them. I probably posted my notes from them in the "Advent of Chanties" thread.

Yes, text and tunes. I meant texts/tunes but not who sang them. Textual analysis. As if it was all just abstract/raw material that, when combined/collated, would offer info about the songs themselves and not about the people who made them or how the genres or cultures they belong to are "put together."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: GUEST,Dave Ruch
Date: 01 Jun 15 - 09:29 PM

Brian Miller has done some work with the Gordon papers and recordings at the LoC, and uncovered (among other things) lots of correspondence with Joseph McGinnis, who supplied songs to Colcord and was very eager to share what he knew with Gordon. I can put you in touch with Brian or you can find him with a Google search under Minnesota Lumberjack songs.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Jun 15 - 07:45 AM

> As if it was all just abstract/raw material that, when combined/collated, would offer info about the songs themselves

That, of course, was the exclusive interest of most early collectors here and in Britain. Remember we're mainly talking about pedants. And in their defense, the trad repertoire was so huge and unknown that they focused their attention on the material rather than on what the singers might have thought of it. (I do recall that one of Mackenzie's elderly Canadian singers really got emotionally caught up in what many of us would consider a second-rate melodramatic broadside - and he had sung it many times.)

Gordon fretted continually about which songs were truly "folk" and how they differed from those that were (as he called them) "author." His often-stated goal was, by sifting mountains of evidence, to discover the essence of folk song creation and "just what folk songs *are*."

He seemed to have an encyclopedic memory. But the chief result of his actual analyses was a privately printed essay on "Hinky Dinky Parlez-Vous" which, I'm sorry to say, includes some rather dubious though exuberant assertions. It's valuable for its texts and tunes, however. (I've been able to push the story back much farther, but I may be too busy to say much that is readable about it.)

Thanks, Dave. I may drop Brian a line.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 02 Jun 15 - 07:55 AM

Recorded in California about 1923:

BLOW BOYS BLOW
(Topsail Halliards)

Oh blow my boys for I love to hear you,
Chorus: Blow, boys, blow,
Oh blow my boys for I long to hear you,
Chorus: Blow my bully boys blow.

[Similarly:]

Oh, a Yankee ship droppin' down the river.

Yes, a Yankee ship droppin' down the river.

Now how do you know she's a Yankee clipper?

Her spars and decks they shine like silver.

Who do you think was the chief mate of her?

Skysail Taylor the Frisco slugger.

And who do you think was the chief cook of her?

Big Black Sam the Baltimore nigger.

And what do you think we had for dinner?

Mosquit's legs and a monkey's liver.

And what do you think we had for supper?

The starboard side of an old sou'wester.



I've corrected the punctuation. I left "mosquit" alone because it may be what Gordon heard. "Love" alternates with "long" in stanza 1.

This seems to be one of the chanteys, like "Reuben Ranzo," that had at least one relatively standard form - much of the time anyway.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 02 Jun 15 - 11:31 PM

Indeed, Lighter, but my expectations are not so high as to think Gordon would, say, ask singers what they thought of the songs. I just meant that we're missing even the basic information of who sang these—basic information that other folklorists did provide. "Some (presumably) sailor in Frisco Bay" doesn't help much with interpreting where this was coming from. I know that Gordon does make these notes, elsewhere, but it's frustrating in the case of the Oakland sailors batch.

What was their race, nationality, level of education, highest rank achieved, etc? How did Gordon prompt them, and what his manner of selection of material? (I am just asking these things rhetorically.) What what *I* have casually observed, Gordon may have *liked* to find renditions of chanties that contained narratives from English ballads. I don't think the wider corpus of documented chanties, especially when one throws out the fancy of certain editors, suggests that English ballad narratives were particularly common. I suspect this phenomenon has been given undue weight. But I wish I could mark it some how -- for example, if we knew such texts tended to be from high falutin' White officers (I'm not saying that they were), then we could say "English ballad narratives adapted to chanties was something that high falutin' White officers sometimes sang" rather than tossing it into the common pot and coming to a conclusion that "chantey-singers" (at large) were preoccupied with "The Farmer's Cursed Wife". I'm exaggerating, of course, for effect :-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 07:27 AM

> English ballad narratives were particularly common.

But I've never had this impression. Interestingly, when Gordon asked for all versions of "The Farmer's Curst Wife" in his column, he may have received more from his readers than of any other song! (The number might not have been statistically significant - but he got plenty!)

Surely "Our Goodman" must have been "chanteyized" on occasion as well. But without a sprightly tune, the average ballad would have been too heavy-going for use as a work song. As you know, "The Golden Vanity" was sometimes used at the capstan, but its tunes are catchy and the song is about seafaring.

My impression is that "Blow the Man Down" became so popular that various other lyrics were sometimes fit to it.

> I just meant that we're missing even the basic information of who sang these

Debora Kodish's dissertation-bio of Gordon (available online) lists "ex-sea captains" Jack Schickel, Andy Turner, and (wait for it) Leighton Robinson as being among his sources in Berkeley in 1923-24.

Gordon's transcribed lyrics (at least the ones I've seen) are all in standard orthography rather than in any attempt at African-American dialect, which even John Lomax and (IIRC) Carl Sandburg employ.

> Gordon may have *liked* to find renditions of chanties that contained narratives from English ballads.

Undoubtedly he'd have loved it, but "The Devil's Curst Wife" looks like the only one he discovered!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 07:48 AM

Speaking of "Blow the Man Down":

BLOW THE MAN DOWN.

(Topsail Halliard)

Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down,
(Chorus) To me way, hay, blow the man down,
We'll blow the man down right down to the ground,
(Chorus) Oh, give us some time to blow the man down.

Now as I was a-walking on Paradise Street,
(Chorus) To me way, hay, blow the man down,
Yes, as I was a-walking on Paradise Street,
(Chorus) Oh, give us some time to blow the man down.

[Similarly:]

There [was] an old skipper I happened for to meet....

I said, Captain Hutchins have you shipped your crew?...

He said, no I haven't, nor I wouldn't ship you....

I can see you're a bucko from the cut of your hair....

And I know you're a hard-case from the coat that you wear....

I can see that you've been into some Dutchman's bag....

And I know you've not left the poor beggar a rag....

I said, Captain Hutchins, you're accusin' me wrong....

I'm a flyin' fish sailor just home from Hong Kong....

Now I thought that I heard the chief mate just say....

A long pull, a strong pull, and then we'll belay....

(As always, I've improved spelling and punctuation.) Gordon adds the following note:

"The first verse usually stands as it is, although sometimes the third line runs, 'Heave 'er up full, lads, we're bound for Che Foo.' Each succeeding verse is sung as the second verse is written here, that is, with the first and third lines the same....As this makes rather tedious reading, it is better to incorporate two lines into one verse....

"The rhythm of the chorus is of such a nature as to make the two long pulls on the halliard which occur as it is sung, come naturally, thus causing the task of setting the tops'l to seem less irksome. The first pull occurs on the word 'way' and the second on the word 'blow' in the second line, and on the words 'give' and 'blow' in the fourth line. It is often said that a chantry is worth ten men."

The nature of the note and the popularity of "Blow the Man Down" suggest that this was one of the first chanteys Gordon heard. It's clearly based on the common "Irish policeman" version.

Chefoo (now Yantai) is on the coast of north central China. It seems to have become an important port for Westerners in the 1860s and '70s.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 09:25 AM

THE BOWLINE HAUL,
(Sheet and tack)

Away, haul away, haul away, my Rosie,
Away, haul away, haul away, Joe.

I wish I was in Ireland a-diggin' turf and 'taters,
Away, haul away, haul away, Joe.

[Similarly:]

But now I'm on a Yankee ship, a-pullin' sheets and braces....

Once I loved an Irish gal, and she was double-jointed....

I thought she had a double (word deleted) but I was disappointed....

Away, haul away, the old man he's a-growlin'....

Away, haul away, our old cook's growin' mouldy....


Minimal imagination shows this to be one of Gordon's "bawdiest" chanteys, even though the bawdry is restricted to only one or two lines. That would have been enough for old sailors to casually describe the whole thing as "unprintable."

Carpenter also collected the "double-jointed" couplet, and it appears as well in one of Randolph-Legman's Ozark songs. It must have been well known.

In today's version, of course, "lips" grow mouldy for lack of "kissing." It would be a mistake to assume, though, that the euphemisms necessarily originated with the editors.

In songs like this, that had only a couple of bawdy lines, an added advantage of repeating the "content" line in each stanza is that by getting more time to think, the chanteyman would be less likely to blurt out something that could get him into serious trouble. But undoubtedly there were standard euphemized versions as well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 03 Jun 15 - 10:00 AM

Here's a bit of new info. According to

http://www.loc.gov/folklife/Gordon/sideBbandB3.html

Gordon recorded "Blow, Boys, Blow," and "Away Haul Away," from "A. Wilkins," place and date unknown.

You can hear the surprisingly clear recordings, and a couple more, at the above link.

Those transcriptions are minutely different from those I've posted.

In "Blow, Boys, Blow," the unusual "mosquit's liver" is transcribed as "monkey's." I believe it is in fact "mosquit's."

In "Away, Haul Away," the Irish girl clearly has a "double chin" (if you can buy that) and it is "our oats" that are "growin' mouldy." "Our oats" is quite clear on the recording.

There's even an additional final verse:

"Away, haul away, the bloody ship's a rollin'."

Why Gordon would have written "word deleted" for "chin" is a mystery - unless the singer had told him it was a euphemism. "Oats" was a harmless 19th century term referring to vim and vigor (as in "feel your oats"), but it could have sexual associations in the appropriate contexts. Why he wrote "old cook" is another mystery, unless, again, the singer told him that was sung too.

Another possibility is that these are two different performances from two different singers. Not that it matters very much.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 07:22 AM

AWAY RIO
(Capstan)

As I went a-strolling one morning in May
Chorus: Away, Rio,
Oh, as I went a-strolling one morning in May,
Chorus: We're bound for the Rio Grande.
Chorus: Then away, Rio,
       Oh, away, Rio,


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 07:35 AM

AWAY RIO
(Capstan)

As I went a-strolling one morning in May
Chorus: Away, Rio,
Oh, as I went a-strolling one morning in May,
Chorus: We're bound for the Rio Grande.
Chorus: Then away, Rio,
       Oh, away, Rio,
       Sing fare ye well, my bonnie young maid,
       We're bound for the Rio Grande.

[Similarly:]

I met a fair damsel and to her did say....

Where are you going to, my pretty maid?...

I'm going a-milking, kind sir, she said....

Can I go with you, my pretty maid?...

You can if you'd like to, kind sir, she said....

What is your fortune, my pretty maid....

My face is my fortune, kind sir, she said....

Then I cannot marry you, my pretty maid....

Well, nobody asked you to, kind sir, she said....


This "milk-maid" version - which appeared on English broadsides - may be the most frequently collected form of this well-known chantey. The possibilities for salty improvisation and variation need not be mentioned. Hugill apparently heard such variations more than once..

The complete innocuousness of the original made it a safe choice for singing when passengers were around.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 08:01 AM

ROVING RANSO.

(Topsail halliard)

Oh, we'll sing of Roving Ranso,
Chorus: Ranso, boys, Ranso,
Oh, we'll sing of Roving Ranzo,
Chorus: Ranso, boys, Ranso.

[Similarly:]

Oh, Ranso was no sailor....

But the son of a Boston tailor....

He shipped aboard of a whaler....

But he couldn't do his duty....

So they took him to the gangway....

And they lashed him four and twenty....

Aboard was the captain's datter....

She ran and told her father....

The captain being a kind man....

He took him to the cabin....

And fed him cakes and brandy....

And taught him navigation....

And no he's Captain Ranso....


The well-known story rarely changes. One or two other early printed versions have "Rovin'" rather than the more frequent and now demanded "Reuben."

"Datter" was a common dialect spelling of the old New England pronunciation of "daughter" (with the "a" rather like "ah" not "aw.")


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 03:46 AM

WHISKEY JOHNNY.

(Topsail Halliard)

Oh whiskey is the life of man,
(Chorus) Whiskey, Johnny,
Oh whiskey is the life of man,
(Chorus) Whiskey for my Johnny.

[Similarly:]

Whiskey here and whiskey there....

It's whiskey almost everywhere....

Whiskey made me pawn my clothes....

Whiskey got me a broken nose....

Whiskey killed my sister Sue....

It's killin' me and killin' you....

I'll drink whiskey when I can....

I'll drink it from an old tin can....

I thought I heard the old man say....

He'll give us whiskey this very day....


My note: Chanteys for long hoists (like this and "Ranzo" and "Blow the Man Down") may have come closer to being standardized because they had to kept going for a long while. It would have been equally true for capstan songs.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: John Minear
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 08:27 AM

Lighter, I am appreciating and enjoying this thread. Thanks for making this material available to a broader group of folks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 09:13 AM

Don't mention it.

On August 6, 1928, Tom L. Mills of Fielding. N.Z., mailed Gordon a feature article from the Glasgow Herald (of unknown date) somewhat misleadingly called "Sea Songs of the Capstan." Like so many similar pieces, it laments the passing of the romance of the sea. It is illustrated by a number of chantey fragments, which, though I haven't checked, seem to be "field-collected."

A few others are clearly unsingable in their present, somewhat confused form, which suggests that the writers source may have been struggling to recreate something half forgotten. (Otherwise the writer would doubtless have regularized them.)

We're outward bound from Glasgow town,
Good-bye, fare ye well; good-bye, fare ye well.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 09:50 AM

On August 6, 1928, Tom L. Mills of Fielding, N.Z., sent Gordon an undated feature article from the Glasgow Herald called "Sea Songs of the Capstan: A Link with Yesterday." It illustrates a typical lament for the lost romance of the sea with fragments of chanteys.

Some are unsingable in the form given, which suggests that the writer's source was trying to recreate something half forgotten. Otherwise the writer would surely have regularized them.


We want sailors bold who can work for their gold,
Heave away, cheerily, O! O!
And stand a good wetting without catching cold
As off to the South'ard we go, go!



We're outward bound from Glasgow Town,
Good-bye, fare ye well; good-bye, fare ye well.
We're outward bound from Glasgow Town
Hurrah, by boys, we're outward bound.


So man the good capstan and run it around,
Away Rio!
We'll haul up the anchor to this jolly old sound,
For we're bound for the Rio Grande.
And away Rio, away Rio!
Sing fare ye well, my bonny young gel,
For we're bound for the Rio Grande.


Hang, boys, hang;
I will hang and haul him over,
Hang, boys, hang,
From Calais on to Dover,
Hang, boys, hang.


I an chanty-man to the working party;
To my weigh, heigh, he, hoh, hay.
So, sing lads; pull, lads, so strong and hearty,
And sing hylo, my Ranzo, weigh.



Oh, Sally Brown's a bright mulatter,
Way-ay, roll and go!
She drinks rum and chews tobaccer,
And I'll spend my money on Sally Brown.


Oh, Sally Brown's a Creole lady,
Way-ay, roll and go!
She's the mother of a yeller baby,
And I'll spend my money on Sally Brown.


Santa Anna gained the day,
Hoorah, Santa Anna.
Santa Anna gained the day,
Along the plains of Mexico.
Hoorah, Santa Anna.
Poor old Santa's dead and gone,
Hoorah, Santa Anna.
We'll dig his grave with a silver spade,
Along the shores of Mexico.
Hoorah, Santa Anna.


There's a Yankee ship a-coming down the river,
Blow, boys, blow.
And Dirty Dick's her blushing skipper,
Blow, my bonny boys, blow!

[My note: "blushing" was a common written euphemism for "bloody."]


Ranzo was a ploughboy,
Ranzo, boys, Ranzo.
He shipped on board a whaler,
Ranzo, boys, Ranzo.
O-o-o, Reuben Ranzo-o-o!


Boney was a warrior,
O! ay, O!
Boney was a warriot,
John Franswa.
Boney broke his heart and died,
O! ay O!
Boney broke his heart and died,
O! ay, O! O!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 07 Jun 15 - 09:19 AM

I can't guarantee that this second version of "The Farmer's Curst Wife" was sung as a chantey, but it shares the choruses of one. Coincidentally or not, the nonsense of "Ranzy O" is certainly reminiscent of "Ranzo."

It was sent to Gordon, apparently around 1925, by E. G. Trimmer, of Titusville, N.J., who noted only, "The above...is given as I have heard it years ago."

There was an old farmer lived close to hell,
Hi-O Ranzy O.
And in a little hut where he did dwell.
Sing Gallopin randy dandy o.

[Similarly:]

The old devil came to visit him one day....
Says one of your family now must go....

Now says the old farmer I'm always undone....
The devil's come after my oldest son....

It's not your oldest son I want....
It's your old scolding wife is the one I sought....

Oh take her good devil with all my heart....
Pray you and her may never part....

The devil loaded her up on his back....
And like an old peddler went carrying his pack....

He took her down to the Hell door....
He gave her a kick and she hollowed for more....

He set her down in the big arm chair....
And forty young devils jumped into her hair....

The devil stooped down to pick up the chains....
She picked up a poker and beat out his brains....

Three old devils came up the wall....
And said take her out or she'll brain us all....

One old devil got her up on his back....
And like an old jackass went lugging her back....

That proves that the women are worse than the men....
They go to hell and come back again....


Bronson includes a stanza or two of the ballad sung to the chantey, "Good-bye, Fare You Well."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Jun 15 - 09:45 AM

On August 16, 1923, "T. R." of Buffalo, N.Y., sent Gordon an untitled copy of the poem called "Seafarers" given on another thread by Charley Noble from a Vancouver newspaper of 1910.

Hugill, who suspected correctly that it had originated as a poem, gives a fuller version as a capstan chantey sung to the tune of "Can't You Dance the Polka?"

Parts of T.R.'s letter are interesting:

"I am sending you a copy of a poem I picked up a number of years ago. Fact is a Yank sailor gave it to me in Calcutta, India. Every time I read it it seems to impress me in a different way. No doubt we have all read something some time or other like that.

"Shortly after it was given to me I heard the man was killed in a fight....

"I am waiting for my pal to come up from the Argentine to with me on a trip to Afghanistan and Persia. We expect to be gone about five years. Rhis will be my second trip to the roof of the world.

"Have spent most of my life in the Orient, mostly China and Korea."


Shanghaied in San Francisco,
And brought up in Bombay;
They set us afloat in an old sea boat,
That steered like a stack of hay.
We panted in the Tropics,
With the pitch boiling up on deck,
We saved our lives and a little besides,
From an ice-cold North Sea wreck.

We drank our rum in Portland,
Stressed up the Bering Strait --
I toed the mark on Yank bark,
With a hard-boiled Down-East mate.
I know the streets of Santos,
And the loom of the lone Azores,
I ate my grub from a salt-horse tub
Condemned by the naval stores.

I know the track to Auckland,
The light on Sydney Head;
I kept close-hauled while the leadsman called
The depths of the Channel's bed.
I know the quays of Glasgow,
And the river at Saigon,
I drank my glass with a Chinee lass
In a house-boat at Canton.

They paid us off at London
Then Ho for a spell ashore,
Again we'll ship for a Southern trip
In a week, or hardly more.
We say goodbye to all the girls
'Tis time to get afloat,
With an aching head and a straw-stuffed bed,
A knife, a gat, and an oilskin coat.

'Tis time to leave her, Johnnie,
Sing, "Bound for the Rio Grande"
When the tug turns back, we'll follow her track,
For the long last look at land.
And when the purple disappears,
And nothing but the blue is seen,
My bones go down to Davy Jones
My soul to Fiddler's Green.


My note: The final quatrain is a little distorted. Why should the ship apparently sink in fine weather as soon as the land disappears? (In Hugill's version, the blue ocean will eventually take the sailors' bones to Davy Jones.)

The presence in T.R,'s version of a "gat" (pistol) besides the knife and oilskin is notable.

Gordon's papers include another, somewhat shorter version sent in 1922 to Robert Frothingham, his predecessor at Adventure magazine.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 02:24 PM

Hello Gibb,

Greetings from San Francisco! Hope you are doing well.

I'd be very interested in seeing the NY Time articles. If you don't have my contact info you can reach me at:

radriano50@gmail.com


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 06:59 PM

R,

Sure!- Check your mail.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Jun 15 - 08:04 PM

Another "Blow the Man Down," this time from ca1929. It looks like a good example of borrowing, adapting, and improvising.

I'm a "Flying Fish" sailor just home from Hong Kong.
Chorus: To me Way! Ho! Blow the man down!
And soon I'll be getting my twelve months pay.
Chorus: Give us some time to blow the man down!

[Similarly:]

As I was a-walking the streets of Hong Kong....
A young Japanese maiden I chanced for to meet....

She says, Young man, will you stand me a treat?...
Me lovee white man, me savvy Chinee....

What is your fortune, m Japanese maid?...
My face is my fortune, kind sir, she said....

She asked me to ride in a jin-a-rick-shaw....
She said that her Chinaman could run like a horse....

It's now we are leaving the Chinese coast....
We've bid farewell to the Japanese girls....

We are homeward bound for the old USA....
There's no country like the old USA....


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Mudcat time: 18 August 6:43 AM EDT

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