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Lyr Add: Mark Twain (Harry Belafonte)

GUEST,Phil d'Conch 27 Dec 17 - 05:50 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: Mark Twain (Harry Belafonte)
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 27 Dec 17 - 05:50 PM

Mark Twain

Many years ago on the Mississippi riverboats they had men called "gaugers," and the job of a gauger was to hang off the side of the boat with one hand and in the other hand he had a ball of twine with a hunk of lead on the end of it. He'd wield the lead around his head and let it fly into the water. Wherever the water marked the twine, he'd call up to the skipper and say "Markin' on the twine is four fathoms." 'Course, day in and day out, year after year this would get pretty monotonous. Until in the eighteen hundreds, a little man came along and revolutionized the whole gauging industry. Instead of saying marking on the twine, he cut it short and said "Mark twain," and in between each marking, he'd fill it in with a little pattern about himself and his every day life. Well if you'd been livin' at that time, coming up from the distance on the Mississippi, it would have sounded like this:

Mark twain! Four fathoms off the starboard bow.
I got a gal named Cindy-Lou,
Feeds me gin and bake beans too, mark twain.

Mark twain! Three fathoms off the starboard bow.
I got a friend his name is Pete,
Sings dirty songs down on Beale Street, mark twain.

Mark twain! Two fathoms off the starboard bow.
I've been workin' the river since '92,
I get a penny a day and bad liquor too, mark twain.

I won't save my money 'till the I die.
They gonna bury me all but my good right eye, mark twain.

Mark twain! No fathoms off the starboard bow!
Look out skipper pull it to the side!
You gonna bust your bow and split your hide.
Oh great God we done run aground!
Skipper gonna chase me with a big blood hound, mark twain.

Transcribed from:
Harry Belafonte, "Mark Twain" And Other Folk Favorites, LP, RCA Victor LPM-1022, 1954, trk. A1, w&m Harry Belafonte, Millard Thomas - guitar.

Wiki for the LP: Mark Twain

HB on YT: Mark Twain


Note: The title track, HB's first folk song and the only all Belafonte composition on his debut album. It's mostly nonsense and more Elvis than "authentic" riverspeak imo.


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