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Lyr Req: Ballad of John Williams (Johnny McEvoy)

DigiTrad:
BALLAD OF JOHN WILLIAMS
DOWN WITH THE OLD CANOE
GOD MOVES OVER THE WATER
HAVE YOU GOT ANY NEWS OF THE ICEBERG?
SINKING OF THE TITANIC
THE TITANIC (COLD AND ICY SEA)
THE TITANIC (GONE TO REST)
THE TITANIC (HUSBANDS AND WIVES)
THE TITANIC 6
TITANIC (7)
TITANIC (RISE NO MORE)


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jamas@gil.com.au 30 May 97 - 01:57 AM
Martin Ryan 30 May 97 - 06:17 AM
Martin Ryan 03 Jun 97 - 09:25 AM
jamas@gil.com.au 04 Jun 97 - 04:48 AM
Mysha 19 Feb 09 - 07:46 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 19 Feb 09 - 08:16 PM
Mysha 19 Feb 09 - 09:45 PM
GEST 19 Feb 09 - 10:11 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 20 Feb 09 - 03:50 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 20 Feb 09 - 04:04 AM
Mysha 20 Feb 09 - 11:51 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 20 Feb 09 - 12:03 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 20 Feb 09 - 12:45 PM
Tattie Bogle 17 Mar 12 - 01:21 PM
MartinRyan 17 Mar 12 - 05:21 PM
Tattie Bogle 19 Mar 12 - 09:02 AM
GUEST 01 Nov 17 - 09:14 AM
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Subject: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: jamas@gil.com.au
Date: 30 May 97 - 01:57 AM

I'm not sure who recorded this one - it's a story about a young man and his bride setting off across the Atlantic to America - and somewhere towards the end it's revealed that the ship they sailed off in was the Titanic.

Any help appreciated.

Tony


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 30 May 97 - 06:17 AM

Written and recorded by the Irish singer Johnny McEvoy. Its on its way to the DT already but I'll post a set here if I get a chance.

Great song.It's already well absorbed into the traditional singing circuit in Ireland i.e. unaccompanied singing.

Regards


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Subject: Lyr Add: BALLAD OF JOHN WILLIAMS (Johnny McEvoy)
From: Martin Ryan
Date: 03 Jun 97 - 09:25 AM

Here goes. Tune is "Bantry Girl's Lament" - or very near.


THE BALLAD OF JOHN WILLIAMS

When last I saw John Williams, a young man full of pride,
His lovely bride of just four days was standing by his side.
He smiled and took me by the hand, saying, "Boyo, can't you see,
I've seen the last of windswept bogs and bogs the last of me!
And the peelers and the landlords and the risings of the moon,
And if ever I return again, 'twill be too bloody soon."

CHORUS: Rich man, poor man, beggar man, wife
Sailed away into the night.
Where they'll wind up no-one knows.
Round and round the story goes.

He said, "I'll go and take my chance in far-off New York Town,
For they say there's lots of work there and a good man's not put down,
And with my lassie by my side, we'll build a better home,
And when the sea trip's over, lads, we never more will roam."
So we said farewell upon the quay. there was nothing left to do
But to pray for John and his lovely bride that their dreams might all come true. CHORUS

How I envied you, John Williams, and your lovely fair-haired bride
To be sailing on that mighty ship across the ocean wide,
For she's the finest liner that was ever built by man,
And they say there's naught can sink her, no not even God's own hand.
Man's pride can be his own downfall. That big ship sailed from home
And I thought I heard the banshee cry, and it chilled me to the bone.

CHORUS: Rich man, poor man, beggar man, wife
Sailed away into the night.
Where they'll wind up no-one knows.
Round and round the story goes.
Round and around the icebergs flow.


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: jamas@gil.com.au
Date: 04 Jun 97 - 04:48 AM

Many thanks Martin! That's terrific!

Tony


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Mysha
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 07:46 PM

Hi,

I sing "Round and around the iceberg floats." Doesn't quite rhyme either, but both sound and meaning seem to fit slightly better.
(I didn't know the word "boyo", though: Live and learn.)

Thanks,
                                                                                                                                                          Mysha


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 08:16 PM

Here (Cork) I've heard it sung "Round and round the iceberg flows" - which I always took to mean that it was the unfinished story of all those lost in the sea, or the endless story of mankind's hubris, that was circling and haunting the scene of death, perhaps lying in wait for the next time. But who knows?


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Mysha
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 09:45 PM

Hi Bonnie,

Well, I took it to be about the Titannic, like Tony did.
But does an ice berg "flow" in English?

Thanks,
                                                                                                                                                            Mysha


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: GEST
Date: 19 Feb 09 - 10:11 PM

Here's it is with a YouTube video from GEST Songs of Newfoundland and Labrdor:

The Ballad Of John Williams

I hear Johnny McEvoy singing 'the icebergs flow'.


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 03:50 AM

Hi Mysha -

Yes the song IS about the Titanic, which is what I was referring to. No, icebergs are solid so they don't flow - but the story that is "going round and round" could. That image is already an abstract one, to which the final words could apply.

As I say, I don't sing this song myself so that wording is not mine. But it's how I've heard it here* and the idea of a story flowing makes sense to me and takes on its own life.

This may be different from McEvoy's original lyric (which I've never heard) but it's an interesting example of the folk process in motion, how tiny changes can slip in that are still meaningful in their own context. It's why we have so many versions of folk songs - and a lot of good material than has been composed by a particular artist becomes "traditionalised" (if that's a word). The guy I heard it from heard it from another guy, who probably heard it from another guy. (Round and round the story goes . . .)


- - -
* I live very near the town that was Titanic's final port of call before her fatal voyage. Not that this makes the local way of singing it the "right" one, but I only mention it out of interest. Cobh, then known as Queenstown, is also The Holy Ground referred to in another song.


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 04:04 AM

I've just re-read my first post, and see that I didn't make my meaning clear: "All those lost in the sea" meant the Titanic victims, and "mankind's hubris" refers to believing that this marvellous ship was so perfect and unsinkable that they could ignore basic safety precautions and warnings, and withstand a gigantic force of nature.

For she's the finest liner that was ever built by man
And they say there's naught can sink her, not even God's own hand
Man's pride can be his own downfall . . .



And it was. If Captain Smith had stopped for the night, or at least slowed down, if they had heeded the ice notices, if they'd bothered to take enough lifeboats, if the harrassed Titanic radio operator had not annoyed the radio operator of the nearby ship to the extent that he switched off in disgust, if, if, if . . .


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Mysha
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 11:51 AM

Hi,

Indeed, you seemed to be talking in more general terms. That's why I wrote that I really did interpret it as refering to the Titanic.

Regarding those precautions - let's see:
* If Captain Smith had changed speed: customary for the big ships at the time was to go full speed through ice fields, and leave them behind as soon as possible. Staying in the field longer meant more ice bergs could float your way.
* If they had heeded the ice notices: They had taken a more southernly route and were behaving as one normally would upon encountering an ice field - full speed and look-outs.
* If they had bothered to take enough lifeboats: Lifeboats, unfortunately, are not like ropes stacked in the harbourside warehouse. The lifeboats were those the company had provided the ship with; In all, its safety equipment was above the norm of the regulations.
* He switched off in disgust: Rather, the operator on the Californian went to bed. If the message had been passed correctly, you would have expected him to do the exact same thing. His ship was stationary, after all; no harm could come to it.
* If, if, if: If the captain of the Californian had shown good seamanship and had reacted on seeing rockets fired from the other ship. Even if he really did believe them to be party rockets, he still ought to have wired the Titanic to make sure ...

Ultimately: If the bolts on the Titanic had been of better quality.


If the Titanic would not have sunk then, it would probably have been lost in the war, as would the Gigantic which, without the lessons learned from the previous disaster, would not have had sufficient life boats, and would have sunk even faster than the Brittanic did in real life.

And the Olympic? The Olympic wasn't sunk in the war because the submarine intending to do so had a mechanical failure. Where's man indestructable design in that?

Yes, it's a tale of man's folly to believe the ship was unsinkable.
I wonder whether there are songs about the other two, or about the other largest ships afloat.

Bye,
                                                                                                                                                       Mysha


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 12:03 PM

The operator of the Californian went to bed because the operator of the Titanic told him to shut up and he switched his machine off in annoyance: he had been trying to initiate a chat and the Titanic operator, being hassled by passengers who thought it would be a kick to send Marconigrams to their pals on land were pestering him. After this incident they changed maritime law so it had to be operative 24 hours per day. The Californian had stopped for the night; there's no reason the Titanic had to steam full ahead. The lifeboats were stacked on new state-of-the-art quadrant davits, which were underused and well capable of taking on more - there's no excuse for not having enough lifeboats. Etc etc etc etc. Plenty more to argue about but I really truly don't feel like it. Work to do - cheerio -


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Subject: RE: Titanic - Rich Man Poor Man Beggar Man Thief
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 20 Feb 09 - 12:45 PM

PS: I'd better clarify one thing: The Californian's operator, Cyril Evans, was also giving Titanic an ice warning but it was informal and chatty, something like "Hello, did you know we were surrounded by ice and are stopped?" Unfortunately his signal, being nearest, was stronger than the one Phillips was trying to attend to, and not only was it irritatingly loud and unexpected, it blocked out the fainter one Phillips needed. If Evans - not that I'm trying to blame either of these men - had submitted a formal report with a MSG prefix, Phillips would have had to relay it to the bridge. After disaster struck Phillips remained at his post sending signal after signal, including the now-standard SOS one which was a fairly new distress call at the time. He worked as long as was physically possible and went down with the ship; but his young assistant survived.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballad of John Williams (Johnny McEvoy)
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 17 Mar 12 - 01:21 PM

Just heard this song for the first time while in Dublin last week: it really grabbed me, and this being the centenary of the Titanic disaster too. Wrote the name of the song on a theatre ticket and decided to try Mudcat for the lyrics: as usual Mudcat has delivered! And there are several Youtubes of it to get the tune.
Incidentally in a wee thread flow,floe, float or drift: icebergs are melting all the time, and one night around the Antarctic peninsula, I thought I was dreaming when I saw this simply massive bubble appear outside our cabin window: it seems it's what happens when an ice floe melts to the point at which its centre of gravity shifts and it then turns turtle, with accompanying bubble!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballad of John Williams (Johnny McEvoy)
From: MartinRyan
Date: 17 Mar 12 - 05:21 PM

It's a fine song.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballad of John Williams (Johnny McEvoy)
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 19 Mar 12 - 09:02 AM

Thanks Martin: should've thanked you for posting the lyrics too!
Some bits of the tune remind me of "The Rowan Tree" too.
Have since looked at more of Johnny's songs on Youtube and Myspace, and really like them.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Ballad of John Williams (Johnny McEvoy)
From: GUEST
Date: 01 Nov 17 - 09:14 AM

wewe


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