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Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad

GUEST,Julia L 29 Nov 16 - 04:45 PM
Joe Offer 29 Nov 16 - 05:35 PM
GUEST,Julia L 30 Nov 16 - 01:50 PM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 16 - 02:28 PM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 16 - 02:38 PM
GUEST,Julia L 30 Nov 16 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,Julia L 30 Nov 16 - 04:00 PM
Joe Offer 30 Nov 16 - 04:21 PM
GUEST,Julia L 30 Nov 16 - 06:14 PM
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Subject: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 29 Nov 16 - 04:45 PM

Hi All- I'm frustrated trying to find the source or even similar ballad sources for this song "Bill Seymour the Bold Seaman" I have been transcribing from the Flanders collection.I know I have seen it somewhere
Here's what I've got. The melody is similar to Betsy from Pike- this singer used that tune for almost all his songs
The question marks are where I took a stab at it, while ---- denotes indecipherable sounds. The recording is compromised and the guy had a cough
-------------
Bill Seymour, the Bold Seaman
Alonzo Lewis, York ME 9/20/1947
Helen Hartness Flanders Collection, Middlebury VT
D50A side B 10:30
Learned from his father, Alonzo

Come all you bold heroes who have jackets of blue
Lend an ear to my story I'll tell unto you
Concerning a young man who who plowed the rough main
He was a bold seaman, Bill Seymour by name

A fierce fiery temper this young man possessed
While jealous precedings deep wounded his breast
And the dark clouds of heaven took care of his soul
While his eyes sparkled fire like a bright burning coal

He was a twin brother to Warren by name
He was frank open-hearted with honor and fame
Born of the same mother reared with the same care
Still chose the road down to ruin and despair

As he went a-walking one cold winter's day
He met his bold crew and to them he did say
Prepare for the conflict, no longer delay
For the arrow is thrown and we may have foul play

With a high reefed topsail she bore on the tide
High over the ocean the Vulture did ride
And the bold reckless captain led that bloody band
While he held a broad saybree (saber) and a cutslash (cutlass) in hand

You go down to the cabin and then you will see
The handsomest creature that ever could be
Her cheek pale as marble and her eyes black as sloe
And a founting (fountain) of tears from them they do flow

He's taken a pistol and a dirk in his hand
He gave them to Clarey and bade her to stand
And never give up to that hellish design
For the whole of their treatment was (true or be kind?)

Next moment a rap it was heard at the door
"Fare ye well dearest Clarey, If I see you no more"
And the bold buccaneer with a smile on his face
Rushed in; that fair lady he thought to embrace

"Stand back cruel monster!" she said to him straight
"Or the pistol shall teach you your own dismal fate
At the sight of those weapons (he) stepped back with surprise
While tiger-like vengeance did flash in his eyes

Must I be thus frightened of you lady fair
Your pistol in handle like courage you dare(?)
Your weapons fair lady all them I'll defy
My will I will have, on that you rely

Then like a fierce lion on Clarey did spring
Resol-ved (upon her) dishonor to bring
Her pistol it failed her in that trying hour
And he (dashed it ) like lightning from her hand to the floor

Then a dirk from her bosom she instantly drew
-----
And with one first strike at the pirate so bold
That made him fall back and relinquish his hold

Overlightening that moment was a most dreadful blast
Descended like --- and rent the mainmast
He then from the cabin flew up to the deck
Maddened with rage and his vessel a wreck

Oh the words on his lips they had not scarcely died
When a call from the lookout a sail he espied
He's taken his glass and the ocean did scan
To learn of this vessel and find out her ;plan

It is "Oh hell and fury!" he quick did exclaim
"It is my brother's vessel "Flying Arrow" by name

He called for --- as he shouted so loud
Which raised every pirate in that lawless crowd
But the brave little schooner with terrible force
Kept bravely ahead and would not change her course

At length the Flying Arrow was flown alongside
And the two grappling irons together were tied
And both springing forward within a short space
The two rival brothers they met face to face

Next moment the clash of the weapons did ring
To return his own saybree to it's party to bring (?)
So skilled in the heart (?) and so nobly he played
Till on his own deck this bold pirate he lay

Now William, my brother 't is you I have slain
Unblessed and unhonored you'll sleep in the main
No home, friend or kindred shall riches repay
Let the white foaming billows your winding sheet be


Transcribed by Julia Lane 11/2016


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Nov 16 - 05:35 PM

Hi, Julia -
Is this (click) the recording you're working from? How are you getting access to it? Can the rest of us listen to it, too? Collaborative transcriptions are fun, and they work very well on Mudcat.
-Joe-

P.S. If you'd like to join Mudcat, contact me, joe@mudcat.org


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 01:50 PM

Hi Joe-
yes that's the one. But it's not the transcription I'm concerned about, it's the origin of the song. It's quite and epic, but I haven't found a proper predecessor. It has aspects of Bold Pirate Manan, but the brothers motif is intriguing as is the girl defending herself.

Any ideas where it came from?

best- J

BTW what are the benefits of joining?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 02:28 PM

Hi, Julia-

Mudcat membership is not required for posting in the music section, although it is required in the non-music (BS) section. Membership gives your posts a verified identity, and gives you personal messaging and access to a few features. If you don't post regularly, it won't be of much value to you.

The 1940 U.S. Census shows Alonzo Lewis lived in York, Maine, and was 66 at the time - so he was born in 1874 or so. Wikipedia says that the poet Alonzo Lewis (1794-1861) lived in Lynn, Massachusetts. He had six children, including a son named Alonzo who was born in 1822. I'm guessing that the singer is Alonzo III (or more) - and it's clear he has poetry (click) in his family.

To me, the song sounds very local. I'm guessing that Bill Seymour and his brother Warren were real people, likely from the York area.

I wonder what more we can find.

Even if you don't need help on the transcription, I'm sure some of us would love to hear the recording, and to know how we can get access to the Helen Hartness collection. Can we access it on the Web somewhere?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 02:38 PM

Oh, look at this:It's about the twins, William and Warren Seymour! The story mentions both the Flying Arrow and the Black Vulture, but no Clarey or Clary.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 03:10 PM

YAY! You are an ACE!
very cool

Just FYI, I am transcribing all of the Maine material in the Flanders collection- about 900 songs. Started with the maritime/ nautical stuff and I'm almost finished with that.I was going over to Middlebury periodically ( a two day commitment from midcoast Maine) and they actually provided me with Mp3 files. I'll be publishing the first book in a series in the summer.

The recordings are now all online at archive.org. A warning- they are mostly pretty "compromised" and the index is not always accurate. Still, there's good stuff there from all over New England.

Thanks again for your help!
Julia


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 04:00 PM

I've just read "The Rival Brothers" and it's awesome! Clarey is indeed there in the glorious form of Clara Wildon who energetically fends off unwanted advances with variously dagger and pistol.

It seems to be part of an anthology of romantic pirate encounters. There are several stories in the collection that make Jack Sparrow look like amateur.

The publication is dated 1846 in Boston, so I am thinking that Alonzo Lewis the poet may have been inspired and adapted the story to epic poetry, then passed on down the family set to an easy tune of the time.

Any idea from whence dates the "Betsy from Pike" melody?

Thanks again for all your help
J


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 04:21 PM

Hi, Julia -
Now I see the Flanders recordings. They're at archive.org (I corrected your post and changed it to a link. The Alonzo Lewis recording is here:
"Bill Seymour" begins at 10:10.

The tune for "Sweet Betsey From Pike" is Villikins and his Dinah. It has been used for many, many songs. I'd agree that the tune Lewis uses for "Bill Seymour" is very similar to "Villikins."

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Bill Seymour Bold Seaman pirate ballad
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 30 Nov 16 - 06:14 PM

Thanks for the correction and the info about the tune.

I have an inquiry in to the Lynn historical society about all this. Apparently he was highly regarded as a poet and local historian. His poetic opus, published by his son in 1888, is over 400 pages, but no sign of Bill Seymour. I'll let you know what I find out

best- J


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