Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: The Fitting Out

GUEST,JenBurdoo 17 Jul 16 - 11:00 PM
Joe Offer 18 Jul 16 - 12:18 AM
Joe Offer 18 Jul 16 - 12:40 AM
leeneia 18 Jul 16 - 11:02 AM
GUEST,Jennifer 19 Jul 16 - 12:22 AM
Joe Offer 19 Jul 16 - 12:40 AM
GUEST,Bob Schwarer 19 Jul 16 - 05:08 AM
GUEST,Bob Schwarer 19 Jul 16 - 05:19 AM
GUEST,Jennifer 19 Jul 16 - 11:19 AM
Joe Offer 19 Jul 16 - 01:17 PM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:





Subject: Origins and jargon: The Fitting Out
From: GUEST,JenBurdoo
Date: 17 Jul 16 - 11:00 PM

This site has some background for the song "The Fitting Out" which I learned (iirc) from AL Lloyd, Peggy Seeger and Ewan MacColl on the album Whaler Out of New Bedford. It is sung to the tune of "Flash Company."

http://www.sea.edu/academics/k-12_detail/packing_a_sea_chest

Does anyone know the name of the author, if any? Was the ship Ocean Rover American or British? What's a "squill?" (From context, it might be a medicinal plant.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: ADD: The Fitting Out
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Jul 16 - 12:18 AM

Hi, Jen -
"the Fitting Out" is on a Smithsonian Folkways CD, FW03580, titled Musical Film Score: Whaler out of New Bedford, and Other Songs of the Whaling Era with Ewan MacColl, Peggy Seeger and A.L. Lloyd.

Notes:
    THE FITTING OUT
    The majority of whaling songs deal with the actual
    business of hunting whales or with the hardships
    and rigors of the whaleman's life. The author of
    this unique song has used a much smaller canvas
    and devoted himself to describing and cataloguing
    the things a whalerman needed on a long voyage.
    From the log of the 'Ocean Rover', New Bedford,
    1859. Communicated to A. L. Lloyd by E. G.
    Huntington of Martha's Vineyard, Mass., in 1960.



THE FITTING OUT

A chest that is neither too large or too small
Is the first thing to which your attention I'll call
The things to put in it are next to be named,
And if I omit some, I'm not to be blamed.

Stow first in the bottom a blanket or quilt,
To be used on the voyage whenever thou wilt,
Thick trousers and shirts, woolen stockings and shoes,
Next your papers and books, lads, to tell you the news.

Good substantial tarpaulins to cover your head,
Just to say, keep it furled, N. C., enough said,
Carry paper and ink, pens, wafers and wax,
A shoemakers last and an awl and some tacks.

Some cotton and thread, silk, needles and palm,
And a paper of pins as long as your arm,
Two vests and a thimble, a lot of large matches,
And plenty old clothes that'll answer for patches.

A Bible, a hymnbook, of course you must carry,
If at the end of the voyage you expect for to marry
Don't forget to take essners, pipes and cigars,
Of the sweetest of butter a couple of jars.

A razor you'll want and a pencil and slate,
A comb and a hairbrush you'll need for your pate,
A brush and some shaving soap, plenty of squills,
And a box of them excellent Richardson's pills.

A podeldoe and painkiller surely you'll need,
And something to stop the red stream should you bleed,
Some things I've omitted but never mind that,
Eat salt junk and hard biscuit and laugh and grow fat.

from the log of the Ocean Rover, New Bedford 1859
communicated to A. L. Lloyd by E. G. Huntington

Also to be found on pp. 7-8 of Songs the Whalemen Sang, by Gale Huntington (Barre Publishers, 1964. The lyrics in the Huntington book are just slightly different. There is no melody in the Huntington book. I'm guessing that MacColl made up the melody, since he's the one singing lead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=324CYpunalM


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Fitting Out
From: Joe Offer
Date: 18 Jul 16 - 12:40 AM

The above was found in the log of the Ocean Rover of New Bedford (Massachusetts), dated 1859. The songs Huntington collected are often found in other sources.

There's another rendition of this "Fitting Out" list/poem in a book called The Whale and His Captors, Or, The Whaleman's Adventures: And the Whale's Biography as Gathered on the Homeward Cruise of the "Commodore Preble, by Henry Theodore Cheever, published in 1864 by Harper & Bros., pages 321-322.

It's in very readable fashion here:

    http://mysite.du.edu/~ttyler/ploughboy/cheever.htm

    APPENDIX.


    LEAVES FROM THE LOG OF A PRACTICED WHALEMAN.

         Since the publication of the first edition of "The Whale and his Captors," a townsman and school-mate of the author (Mr. Joseph B. Gow, now of Edgartown, Martha's Vineyard) has submitted to our perusal certain desultory leaves from the log of his whaling life. Believing they will add somewhat to the value of this volume, as a memoir of the whaleman's adventures and the whale's biography, we give portions of them here in due order, and with such divisions and connectives as were naturally suggested. We begin with our friend's report in doggerel respecting a whaleman's outfit, which he made for a raw hand who had shipped for the South Pacific.

          A FITTING OUT.

          A chest that is neither too large nor too small
          Is the first thing to which your attention I'd call;
          The things to put in it are next to be named.
          And if some I omit, I am not to be blamed.
          Stow first in the bottom a blanket and quilt,
          To be used on the voyage whenever thou wilt;
          Thick trowsers and shirts, woolen stockings and shoes,
          Next your papers and books to tell you the news;
          Good, substantial tarpaulins to cover your head;
          Just to say, keep a journal, "N. C., nuff sed,"
          Carry paper and ink, pens, wafers, and wax,
          A shoemaker's last, awls, pegs, and small tacks;
          Some cotton and thread, silk, needles, and palm,
          And a paper of pins as long as your arm;
          Two vests and a thimble, a large lot of matches,
          A lot of good cloth that will answer for patches.
          A Bible and hymn-book, of course, you must carry,
          If you expect at the end of the first voyage to marry.
          Don't forget to take essences, pipes, and cigars;
          Of the sweetest of butter, a couple of jars.
          A razor you'll want, a pencil and slate;
          A comb and a hair-brush you'll need for your pate;
          A brush and some shaving-soap, plenty of quills;
          A box of those excellent Richardson's pills:
          Opodeldoc and pain-killer surely you'll need,
          And something to stop the red stream, should you bleed.
          Some things I've omitted, but never mind that;
          Eat salt-junk and hard bread, laugh and grow fat.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Fitting Out
From: leeneia
Date: 18 Jul 16 - 11:02 AM

Thanks. That's interesting.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Fitting Out
From: GUEST,Jennifer
Date: 19 Jul 16 - 12:22 AM

Thank you! That's excellent background. I did a paper once on "prescriptive literature," basically instructions for pioneers, soldiers, etc, and this is a fine example of that sort of writing.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Fitting Out
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 16 - 12:40 AM

JenBurdoo, note that the list/poem from Huntington (1859) is older than the one from The Whale and His Captors (1864) - but the 1864 list makes more sense (e.g., "quills," not "squills"). I didn't see anything in the Huntington book that described the list - whether it was printed, handwritten, or what.

There's another tidbit of information about the Ocean Rover with a musical connection. Wikipedia says she was captured by the C.S.S. Alabama in 1862 and burned. The story of her capture is here (click)

There's an interesting drawing of the Ocean Rover here (click).


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Fitting Out
From: GUEST,Bob Schwarer
Date: 19 Jul 16 - 05:08 AM

The tune sounds a lot like "The Bold Princes Royal". Where that came from I do not know.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Fitting Out
From: GUEST,Bob Schwarer
Date: 19 Jul 16 - 05:19 AM

And then I found this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5plbdIVMUbE


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Fitting Out
From: GUEST,Jennifer
Date: 19 Jul 16 - 11:19 AM

Bob - that's a great find! I might have to learn that one. I'm planning to record The Fitting Out, and then might do one of the Alabama songs to go with it.

Squills are indeed a medicinal plant, which fits with the context of the line:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Drimia_maritima

I also found "Richardson's Herbaceous Pills" in an 1863 list of patent medicines - given the same time period this may be the same one in the lyrics.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: The Fitting Out
From: Joe Offer
Date: 19 Jul 16 - 01:17 PM

I'd agree that squills might make sense, but so does "quills."

I couldn't find the words "podeldoe" and "esseners" that are in the Huntington transcription. The word in the Whale and his Captors version is opodeldoc, which is a sort of liniment. Whale has the word "essences" instead of "esseners." So, I'm thinking the Whale and his Captors version of the list is more credible.

Huntington says, "What esseners were, or the podeldoe, I have no idea." That makes me think that Huntington is giving us an exact transcription of whatever he found, but it may be his list is a handwritten copy of an original. Huntington speculates that this list may have been sung, but he doesn't provide a tune.

-Joe-


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 23 September 4:01 PM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.