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Origins: boothbay whale

GUEST,Julia L 04 Jun 15 - 11:52 PM
Charley Noble 05 Jun 15 - 07:54 AM
Charley Noble 05 Jun 15 - 08:07 AM
GUEST,# 05 Jun 15 - 09:03 AM
Steve Gardham 05 Jun 15 - 01:12 PM
GUEST,# 05 Jun 15 - 03:33 PM
GUEST,Julia L 05 Jun 15 - 05:47 PM
GUEST,Julia L 05 Jun 15 - 05:58 PM
Steve Gardham 05 Jun 15 - 06:19 PM
GUEST,Julia L 05 Jun 15 - 08:28 PM
Charley Noble 05 Jun 15 - 08:58 PM
Amos 06 Jun 15 - 11:46 AM
Charley Noble 06 Jun 15 - 05:46 PM
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Subject: Origins: boothbay whale
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 04 Jun 15 - 11:52 PM

Anyone know the origins of the Boothbay Whale? It's in lots of collections but no info re: origins
Thanks! Julia


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 07:54 AM

My mother taught us a version of this and Eli Dale sings a similar version. I also wondered about its origins but never nailed it down.

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 08:07 AM

Actually the song we sing is "Sarah the Whale" and they appear to be almost totally unrelated. The initial line is similar.

Charlie


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: GUEST,#
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 09:03 AM

Julia, do you have the lyrics or know where they are available online?


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 01:12 PM

Never heard of it. Could you perhaps post the first verse please. I presume it's not British.


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: GUEST,#
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 03:33 PM

I think it's from Maine, Steve. Not sure though.


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 05:47 PM

It is always presented as being a "Maine Folk song" but in my (informed) opinion, it does not have the "bite" of a Maine vernacular song. My partner Fred reminds me of a fellow from the Wiscasset area named Albert Bailey who was writing songs for his children and friends. His daughter gave me a folder of these songs several years ago and the style certainly seems similar ("comical" songs about clamdiggers and fishermen" Since Boothbay is basically next to Wiscasset, I think it's a good bet that he wrote it. My copy comes from the Bagaduce music library in Blue Hill ME

It also appears here
www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/top-folksongs-chords/boothbay-whale.htm

The Folksong Fake Book

https://www.harptabs.com/song.php?ID=15600

Songs of the Sea, Rivers, Lakes and Canals by Jerry Silverman
https://books.google.com/books?isbn=160974974X

The Boothbay Whale

It was way up north in Boothbay Harbor
Where the water's always cold,
The fisher folk are a clever lot,
Or so I have been told.

Chorus:
Blow hi for his big black head,
Blow low for his big black tail,
Now step right up and take a little swig
And you'll soon see a Boothbay whale.

They catch their pollack, cod and Cusk
By the mouth, the fin or the tail.
One day they got a heck of a jolt,
When into the bay swam a whale.

Says Captain Pete, "I've harpooned tuna,
And caught them with my rig,
But I can't gettin' near no eighty-foot whale,
That fish is too darned big!"

Well, Skipper Jake was a ready man,
Though he had a wooden leg.
Says he, "I think I'll catch that whale;
Let me have that old rum keg."

Well, he stood on the bow of the Nancy U.
And followed that whale for a ride,
And when that whale she surfaced and blowed,
He steered her to starboard side.

The whale blowed steam from his big spout hole
While Jake took a slug from his keg;
And before he could dive, Jake jumped on his back
Hangin' on with his one good leg.

Well, Jake took his keg and used it like a plug,
Pushed it tight in the old whale's spout.
He kicked it hard, then jumped on board,
Saying', "Boys, it will never come out."

Well, the whale he blew, he puffed, he heaved,
And the boys all gave a shout;
And the very next time he rose to blow
He blew his brains right out.

You bold seafarin' whalermen,
You've wasted all these years,
With race boats, harpoons, ropes and hooks,
And all that other gear.

All you need is a big old plug
Next time you see him spout,
Just kick it in, sit back and rest,
While he blows his brains right out.

If you ever meet a fisherman from Boothbay, Maine,
And you want to hear a dreadful tale,
Well, step right up and offer him a keg,
And learn how to catch a Boothbay whale


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 05:58 PM

I was just remembering a local story of a whale carcass that washed up on the beach years ago, though I believe it was in nearby Bristol.It got pretty ripe, and lacking heavy digging equipment, the town maintenance guys decided the best way to get rid of it was to use dynamite... you can only imagine the result... perhaps that was the inspiration for the song?
best- julia


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 06:19 PM

I like the song, but I like the idea of the second story better. Now that could make a cracking song.


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 08:28 PM

Go for it! I'll try to find the story just for "gorey" details.... ummmm... how about a chorus that includes "thar she blows!" ?
Julia


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Jun 15 - 08:58 PM

Those are exactly the same lyrics as Jerry Silverman published in the Folk Song Encyclopedia, Vo. 2, p. 268, but typically he provided no source for the song. It's nice to know where songs come from.

I'm thinking, Julia, that you are on the right track of nailing this one down. Have you tried searching on-line for newspapers, such as the Bangor Daily archives?

Charlie Ipcar


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: Amos
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 11:46 AM

The "blowing up" of the whale carcass was captured in a video clip--it may still be on Youtube somewhere.


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Subject: RE: Origins: boothbay whale
From: Charley Noble
Date: 06 Jun 15 - 05:46 PM

Hey, Amos, you ever hear this song in Boothbay when you were summering there?

Charlie


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