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Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'

JFloyd1 24 Feb 16 - 04:38 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Feb 16 - 05:32 PM
Joe_F 24 Feb 16 - 06:18 PM
JFloyd1 24 Feb 16 - 06:24 PM
Leadfingers 24 Feb 16 - 06:47 PM
GUEST,Gibb Sahib 25 Feb 16 - 12:25 AM
GUEST,.gargoyle 25 Feb 16 - 02:44 AM
Cool Beans 25 Feb 16 - 11:30 AM
The Sandman 25 Feb 16 - 01:42 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Feb 16 - 02:57 PM
GUEST,Dave Hunt 25 Feb 16 - 03:34 PM
The Sandman 25 Feb 16 - 03:43 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Feb 16 - 05:36 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Feb 16 - 05:56 PM
JFloyd1 26 Feb 16 - 09:58 AM
JFloyd1 26 Feb 16 - 10:04 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Feb 16 - 06:38 PM
GUEST,Lighter 26 Feb 16 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,jonesnudger 29 Feb 16 - 11:04 AM
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Subject: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: JFloyd1
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 04:38 PM

My name is Jessica Floyd and I am a PhD student who is researching shanties. I will beginning work on my dissertation this summer. I am in the process of trying to track down information about two shanties, one of which is listed above. I have another thread concerning another song of interest: "The Shaver."

In terms of "The Good Ship Venus," I am interested in learning more about its possible origins or of other possible versions/texts. I have copies of Terry, Hugill, Doerflinger, Colcord, and Harlow; however, I am interested in any other, unexpurgated versions that may be floating around. I am particularly interested in the version taht is similar to "Friggin' in the Riggin'." Has anyone come across this shanty or know anything more about it? I have consulted Immortalia, Vance Randolph, Gershon Legman, The Roud Index, the Horntip collection, the Carpenter Collection, and the Inferno Collection.

Are there any other repositories of unexpurgated shanties that someone might know of that I have not consulted? Any help would be much appreciated. Thank you for your time.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 05:32 PM

Hi Jessica,
What makes you think that 'The Good Ship Venus' was ever used as a shanty? I know of no versions earlier than WW1. You would do well to read Ed Cray's book The Erotic Muse where he describes it as an English song brought over to the States by soldiers returning from WW1. He says Vance Randolph (Ozarks) ascribes it very definitely to the 1890s, which you must have seen. You say you have copies of several shanty books; but it isn't in any of those. Confused!

As for other versions, there must be a thread here with plenty of versions.

For as long as I can remember it has been a staple member of the forces/rugby song repertoire and is in all the usual anthologies. If you have any evidence of its use as a shanty we'd all be very interested.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: Joe_F
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 06:18 PM

In all the versions of "The Good Ship Venus" that I know, "Frigging in the rigging" is the beginning of the chorus. In the version at St Andrews University, ca. 1959, it was elaborated to

Frigging in the rigging,
Wanking on the planking,
Buggery in the snuggery --
There's fuck-all else to do.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: JFloyd1
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 06:24 PM

Hi Steve,

I was under the impression that "The Good Ship Venus" is similar or interchangeable with "Friggin' in the Riggin.'" I am away from my materials at the moment; however, when I get back to my office tomorrow and I will check and see which text contains the mention of the alignment of the two songs. In at least one version that I know of, "Friggin' in the Riggin'" is the chorus.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: Leadfingers
Date: 24 Feb 16 - 06:47 PM

'Twas on the good ship Venus , My word you should have seen us

The figure head was painted red , and the captains name was Greeners

First verse of the CLEAN Version !


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: GUEST,Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 12:25 AM

I have never seen "The Good Ship Venus," in any quality source, described as a chanty.

Cray, etc. show that bawdy subject matter appears across the genres of English language song. In my opinion, there is nothing significantly bawdy about chanties as a genre. That is, singers sometimes or often -- depending on one's interpretation -- indulged in creating bawdy lyrics, but this is not a feature that distinctly characterizes chanties.

There are of course a number of distinctly bawdy songs that were enjoyed by sailors as well as by hillbillies in the Ozarks. But those songs don't tend to represent the chanty genre well.

Creators of popular media and some Folk Revival performers, wanting to have some fun and to imagine sailors as exceptionally crude, and to imagine ~all~ sailors' songs to be chanties (I guess the word has a special ring to it?) may have indulged in selectively presenting a few bawdy songs as "typical" of sailors' songs AKA (in their mind) "chanties."


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 02:44 AM

Dear Jessica,

You should find a start for your studies here:

I suggest you contact, for primary source information

Dick Greenhouse of the Digital Tradition (Mudcat)


Ed Cray at USC

John Mahlerg UC,FRESNO


WWW.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=4377

University of Liverpool is doing research and has a grant.
Sincerely,
Gargoyle

Have FUN, BE Safe, Work Hard.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: Cool Beans
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 11:30 AM

Typo: That'd be John Mehlberg, not Mahlberg. He's a serious collector of bawdy songs and has posted many times on Mudcat but I forget his nom de Mudcat .


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 01:42 PM

the good ship venus, uses brighton camp tune, and is a rugby type song, i have never ever heard of it being used as a shanty


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 02:57 PM

That's interesting, Dick. All the versions I've ever heard in England go to the 'So early in the morning/In and out the windows' tune. I can't imagine how it would fit in its limerick form to 'Brighton Camp'.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: GUEST,Dave Hunt
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 03:34 PM

I've never heard it sung to any tune, just recited.. and there are plenty of sites giving the words...and I can't imagine it was ever used as a shanty. It's limerick meter would suggest it was never used for something that needed equal length measures. I've always know it a a 'rugby' type song...I must have learned it when at school (which is over sixty years ago!)


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: The Sandman
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 03:43 PM

oh it was the good ship, venus,by christ you should have seen us our figurehead a whore in bed, our flag a rampant penis.
i learned the whole song from my dad , its the A music it fits perfectly, all the verse fitted ,it was the only tune i ever heard it to. Its the same bit that fits the second line of waxies dargle," says my old one to my our old wan will you come to the waxies dargle, says your old wan to my old wan i havent got a farthing, and then the rest of the waxie tune, you miss out the first bit of the tune,
i could send you all the words if you want, steve.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 05:36 PM

Agreed, it goes to the 'limerick' tune, which is a variant of "In & out the windows/Early in the morning", with a variant of the "That was a beautiful rhyme, Sing us another one, do!", chorus.

But I just tried it out to the "Brighton Camp", aka "Girl I left behind me" air; and it can be fitted to that also. Or for that matter to any ballad-metre song -- which, as I never tire of saying, are metrically interchangeable & it's a matter of convention which ballad goes to which tune.

≈M≈

What was that again, about Willie o' Winsberry aka Fause Foudrage?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Feb 16 - 05:56 PM

Dick,
There must be a proper thread for the different versions. It would be best posted there. It probably mentions Brighton Camp on that thread.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: JFloyd1
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 09:58 AM

Hey guys,

Thank you for all of your insights!

One thing that is interesting to me, though, is that the lyrics are very similar to Hugill and Doerflinger's "The Ebenezer." They are not exact, but are close. What are your thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: JFloyd1
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 10:04 AM

To Gargoyle:

I am having trouble locating John Mehlerg. Would you happen to know an e-mail address?


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 06:38 PM

It is possible that the Ebeneezer was a model for Venus, but with no stronger links than 'The first mate's name was ....' we can't put it any stronger. This theme is common in songs going way back 'The next to come in was a ....' The Ebeneezer form and tune has no relationship with Venus.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Feb 16 - 07:11 PM

Not only is there no evidence that the song was ever used as a chantey, no multi-stanza versions are known for sure till long after the Age of Sail.

Proving nothing, of course. But my own feeling is that the sustained, grotesque, outrageous humor is more typical of university students than of sailors before the mast. In my experience, at least, working-class humor tends to be much more blunt.


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Subject: RE: Origins: 'The Good Ship Venus'
From: GUEST,jonesnudger
Date: 29 Feb 16 - 11:04 AM

If it in anyway helps,there is an excellent recorded version by Loudon Wainwright 111 on the compilation cd's 'Rogue's Gallery - Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs and Chanteys' put together by Johnny Depp and Gore Verbinski in 2006.


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