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Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow

DigiTrad:
BOSTON HARBOR


Related thread:
(origins) Origins: Big Bow Wow (68)


GUEST,Jane Selman 02 May 00 - 10:20 AM
Ship'scat 02 May 00 - 01:16 PM
Liam's Brother 02 May 00 - 04:36 PM
kendall 02 May 00 - 04:52 PM
Richard Bridge 02 May 00 - 06:09 PM
kendall 02 May 00 - 07:11 PM
GUEST,Toadfrog 28 Jul 08 - 07:00 PM
Leadfingers 28 Jul 08 - 07:32 PM
kendall 28 Jul 08 - 07:33 PM
Charley Noble 28 Jul 08 - 08:12 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 28 Jul 08 - 08:23 PM
Les from Hull 29 Jul 08 - 07:42 AM
Leadfingers 29 Jul 08 - 08:18 AM
Crane Driver 29 Jul 08 - 08:25 AM
Charley Noble 29 Jul 08 - 08:43 AM
Les from Hull 29 Jul 08 - 08:59 AM
kendall 29 Jul 08 - 09:35 AM
GUEST,BP 29 Jul 08 - 10:17 AM
EBarnacle 29 Jul 08 - 12:05 PM
MartinRyan 29 Jul 08 - 12:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Jul 08 - 12:57 PM
Les from Hull 29 Jul 08 - 01:43 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Jul 08 - 02:06 PM
Jim Dixon 29 Jul 08 - 04:28 PM
Barry Finn 29 Jul 08 - 04:48 PM
GUEST,Lighter 29 Jul 08 - 05:23 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Jul 08 - 05:23 PM
Charley Noble 29 Jul 08 - 07:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 29 Jul 08 - 10:42 PM
Barry Finn 30 Jul 08 - 02:48 AM
GUEST,DaveP 30 Jul 08 - 07:28 AM
MartinRyan 30 Jul 08 - 07:30 AM
Charley Noble 30 Jul 08 - 08:35 AM
toadfrog 10 Aug 08 - 09:45 PM
Artful Codger 12 Sep 09 - 06:05 AM
Jim Dixon 14 Sep 09 - 10:51 AM
Artful Codger 14 Sep 09 - 07:38 PM
GUEST,Heather Wood 29 Mar 10 - 08:29 PM
GUEST,concerened 25 Aug 13 - 08:22 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Aug 13 - 09:23 AM
GUEST 25 Aug 13 - 10:39 AM
MGM·Lion 25 Aug 13 - 10:49 AM
Lighter 25 Aug 13 - 02:39 PM
MGM·Lion 25 Aug 13 - 02:46 PM
Jack Campin 26 Aug 13 - 05:21 AM
Steve Gardham 26 Aug 13 - 07:56 AM
MGM·Lion 26 Aug 13 - 08:10 AM
Lighter 26 Aug 13 - 12:38 PM
GUEST,John Wilson 27 Aug 13 - 10:27 AM
Lighter 27 Aug 13 - 12:20 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Aug 13 - 02:29 PM
r.padgett 28 Aug 13 - 08:42 AM
GUEST,concerened 22 Oct 13 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,DGonzalez 02 Nov 13 - 09:21 PM
GUEST,Guest Jimjamr 12 Feb 17 - 11:37 AM
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Subject: Boston Harbour
From: GUEST,Jane Selman
Date: 02 May 00 - 10:20 AM

Looking for lyrics and chords for banjo for a song named "Boston Harbour." The song is on an old record and difficult to understand, especially the first part. It's on National Geographics Songs of the World recording with Michael Cooney and John Roberts, I think.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour
From: Ship'scat
Date: 02 May 00 - 01:16 PM

Check under Boston HARBOR in Digitrad. Harbour is brit for harbour. The Boston in this fine pumping shanty is their Boston anyway so it should probably be harbour.

Banjos make great bailers if the pumps are packed up but why would you want banjo chords?

KC


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour
From: Liam's Brother
Date: 02 May 00 - 04:36 PM

"Harbour is brit for harbour." Never a truer word was writ.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour
From: kendall
Date: 02 May 00 - 04:52 PM

there are 3 mistakes in the lyrics there..the ring tail set all ABAFT the mizzen peak..
back to his cabin he quickly CRAWLS

he says "COIL those ropes there fore and aft.."
I suspect this was not written by a sailor, there are only two ropes on a sailing ship, and neither of them would be coiled.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 May 00 - 06:09 PM

The Watersons sang "Coil up your ropes lads, fore and aft"


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour
From: kendall
Date: 02 May 00 - 07:11 PM

the Watersons are singers, not sailors.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: GUEST,Toadfrog
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 07:00 PM

I am curious about this song. Where does it come from? It is sung quite a lot, but it is not in Hugil's Shanties from the Seven Seas. It somehow does not sound quite traditional, but that could either be a problem with my ear or indicate somebody re-wrote it. Does anybody know?


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Leadfingers
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 07:32 PM

Sleeve Notes from New Voices - Topic 12T125 - 1965

"The Captain W B Whall was the first to print this song in his pioneer collection of 'Sea songs and Shanties' . He says 'It is evidently the work of a seaman . . . and was very popular between the years 1860 and 1870 .' Its a Foc'sle song , a forebitter , not a shanty . The Bow Wow chorus is borrowed from an influential Music hall song of the mid nineteenth century "


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: kendall
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 07:33 PM

Joe Hickerson would know.
jhick@starpower.net


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 08:12 PM

I would agree that this song is most likely one that came over from the Music Hall. It's interesting how quickly songs spread from the Music Hall to other corners of the earth via sailors. Some of the other "shanties" which started at the Music Hall or Minstrel Singing include "The Jolly Roving Tar" and "Coal Black Rose" respectively.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: Lyr Add: BOSTON (Whall, Colcord)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 28 Jul 08 - 08:23 PM

"Boston," "Boston Harbor," comes from Captain Whall's collection, and was published in Joanna C. Colcord, 1938, "Songs of American Sailormen," pp. 168-169, with music score. Her earlier "Roll and Go, Songs of American Sailormen," 1924, I have not seen; I don't know if it appeared there.

The song is in the DT, with some variation.

BOSTON
Music by permission, James Brown & Sons

From Boston Harbor we set sail
When it was blowing a devil of a gale,
With our ringtail set all abaft the mizzen peak,
And our dolphin striker plowing up the deep

With a big Bow-wow! Tow-row-row!
Fol-de-rol-de-ri-do-day!

Up comes the skipper from down below,
And he looks aloft and he looks alow,
And he looks alow and he looks aloft,
And it's "Coil up your ropes there, fore and aft."

Then down to his cabin he quickly crawls,
And unto his steward he loudly bawls,
"Go mix me a glass that will make me cough,
For it's better weather here than it is up aloft."

We poor sailors standing on the deck,
With the blasted rain all a-pouring down our necks;
Not a drop of grog would he to us afford,
But he damns our eyes with every other word.

And one thing which we have to crave
Is that he may have a watery grave,
So we'll heave him down into some dark hole,
Where the sharks'll have his body and the devil have his soul.
---------------------------

Original British version in Whall, W. B., 1927 reprint edition, "Sea Songs and Shanties," pp. 148-149, James Brown & Sons, Glasgow (latterly Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd.).

In a note, Whall says, "The origin of the following example is unknown to me. It is evidently the work of a seaman and has, probably, never before appeared in print. I have never met with it. The song goes with a good swing, and was very popular between the years of 1860 and 1870, though now, I fear, it has gone the way of all songs with choruses, and is replaced by music hall inanities."

BOSTON
source: W. B. Whall, 1910

From Boston Harbour we set sail,
When it was blowing a devil of a gale,
With our ringtail set abaft the mizen peak
And our Rule Britannia ploughing up the deep.

With a big Bow-wow! Tow-row-row!
Fol de ral do ri do day!

Up comes the skipper from down below,
And he looks aloft and he looks alow,
And he looks alow and he looks aloft,
And its "Coil up your ropes, there, fore-and-aft."

Then down to his cabin he quickly crawls,
And unto his steward he loudly bawls,
"Go, mix me a glass that will make me cough,
For it's better weather here than it is up aloft."

We poor sailors standing on the deck,
With the blasted rain all a-pouring down our necks;
Not a drop of grog would he to us afford,
But he damned our eyes at every other word.

Now the old beggar's dead and gone,
Darn his eyes, he left a son;
And if to us he doesn't prove frank,
We'll very soon make him walk the plank.

And one thing which we have to crave,
Is that he may have a watery grave,
So we'll heave him down into some dark hole,
Where the sharks'll have his body and the devil have his soul.
With score, 4/4.

(Ropes are mentioned in the older records and journals; 19th c. sailors generally didn't have the education of the modern chantey singers, and knew no better).


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Les from Hull
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 07:42 AM

Hmm! He says 'it is evidently the work of a seaman' but the first verse mentions 'when it was blowing a devil of a gale, with our ringtail set abaft the mizzen peak'. Now I thought that a ringtail was an extension to the driver or spanker sail used in light winds (a studding sail - or stuns'l). So is the captain ordering the ringtail taken in or what?


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Leadfingers
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 08:18 AM

Dont ask me !! I was just quoting the sleeve notes on the first Watersons recording !!


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Crane Driver
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 08:25 AM

I always assumed it was an example of the Captain's rank bad seamanship, that he'd set out in 'a devil of a gale' with the ringtail set.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 08:43 AM

Frederick Pease Harlow also includes this song in Chanteying aboard American Ships but it's similar to what is posted above. He also states that a Holman Day mentions this song in his Blow the Man Down.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Les from Hull
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 08:59 AM

Thanks Crane Driver - that was what I was thinking.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: kendall
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 09:35 AM

There is a lot of poor seamanship in the history of ships and sailing. Probably why there are so many wrecks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: GUEST,BP
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 10:17 AM

...."Roll and Go, Songs of American Sailormen," 1924, I have not seen; I don't know if it appeared there. <<

Yep, in there too.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: EBarnacle
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 12:05 PM

Lincoln Colcord specifically has one of his sailing ship captains referring to ropes, rather than line. I have a feeling that calling virtually all cordage "line" is something that came from yachting practice and became generic rather than the other way around. If so, specific lines might be known as line but as a whole, they might be referred to as ropes.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: MartinRyan
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 12:23 PM

Not a great line of approach! "Ropes" had (and have) very different names in sailing because they have very different functions.

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 12:57 PM

Yachting is a specialized form of sailing with its own protocols and terminology.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Les from Hull
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 01:43 PM

On the subject of 'ropes' coiled or not, terminology does change through time, geography and the particular trade involved. Apparently reef points were called reef ropes when first introduced in the 14th Century.

The commonest cordage referred to as ropes would be mast ropes and yard ropes, used to send up or down yards, topmasts and topgallant masts. But as a generic term to include all the various lines, tacks, sheets, braces, halliards, tackles etc I don't have any problem with calling them all 'ropes', if there's a need to lump them all together. The only other similar term 'cordage' tends to suggest to me that it has yet to be put to use. The earliest nautical written reference to the phrase 'learn the ropes' dates from 1840.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 02:06 PM

Dana, in his "The Seaman's Friend," 1856, uses 'rope' as a general term for all those with specific functions; clewline is "a rope that hauls up the clew of a square sail," a sheet is a "rope used in setting a sail...," halyards are "Ropes or tackles used for hoisting and lowering yards, gaffs, and sails," a guy is a "rope attached to anything to steady it, and bear it one way and another in hoisting," &c. &c.

In the section "Work upon Rigging," "Those ropes in a ship which are stationary are called standing rigging, as shrouds, stays, bachstays, &c. Those which reeve through blocks or sheave-holes, and are hauled or let go, are called the running rigging, as braces, halyards, buntlines, clewlines, &c."

He says nothing about keel-hauling a seaman who calls a clew a rope, or the like.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BOSTON HARBOUR (from Elinor Mordaunt)
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 04:28 PM

This chantey is quoted in:

Mordaunt, Elinor. A Ship of Solace. New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1911, page 235f.

Wikipedia classifies Elinor Mordaunt as "an English author, writer and traveler." (It's not clear to me how an author differs from a writer, but that's what it says.) The book seems to be a travel memoir.

1. From Boston Harbour we set sail,
And the wind it was blowing the devil of a gale.

CHORUS: Royals free — royals free,
Studding sails aloft, boys; royals free.

2. With a ring-tail set all abaft the mizzen peak,
To see Britannia a-ploughing up the deep.

3. And now the wind begins for to blow.
It's in with your ring-tail quickly, oh.

4. Clew up the to'gallant sails and take 'em in again;
Bear a hand, jolly tar, at the mizzen fore and main.

5. Now we poor sailors are a-trampin' on the deck,
With the nasty cold rain all a-blowin' down our necks.

6. Not a dram of grog can the old man afford;
But it's "Damn your eyes!" at every other word.

7. Now that old fellow he's both dead and gone,
But he's left to us his one and only son.

8. And if he don't prove both kind and frank,
So help me, Jimmy, we'll make him walk the plank.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Barry Finn
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 04:48 PM

This "ring-tail" has ben the subject of a thread in the past but I can't find it

Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 05:23 PM

We went through this "rope" superstition on another thread. In traditional seamanship, a rope is a rope, a very heavy and stout rope in a particular application may be a "cable" or a "sheet" or a "brace" or a "shroud." A light rope is a "line." A real sailor would automatically use the most appropriate term, but "rope" was still generic.

Small ketches, e.g., have "lines." If 20th C. naval usage requires "line" for any kind of rope, it's a recent development.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 05:23 PM

Ring-tail- "A small sail, shaped like a jib, set abaft the spanker in light winds." Dana, The Seaman's Friend, 1856.

A word that has another meaning-
Snotter- "a rope going over a yard-arm, with an eye, used to bend a trippingline to in sending down topgallant and royal yards in vessels of war."


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Charley Noble
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 07:53 PM

Any greenhorn would have the task of "learning the ropes" which should lay the matter to rest, assuming that "lines" were a subgroup of ropes.

"Jimmy Green" is another intriguing name for a sail somewhat more forward than the "Ring Tail." C. Fox Smith has a lovely poem which notes many of these arcane sails and the fact that so few remain (back in the late 1920's) who know their names and their function.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 29 Jul 08 - 10:42 PM

"Jimmy Green" not in Dana. Raises the question "Who was Jimmy Green," probably unanswerable.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Barry Finn
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 02:48 AM

Jimmy Green: Greenhorn (Naval)
Jimmy Legs: master-at arms or head of ship's police (US Navy)
Johnny Bone: thief
Jimmy Bungs: cooper
Jack Dusty or Jack of the Dust: purser's assistant
Charlie Noble: Mudcatter


Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: GUEST,DaveP
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 07:28 AM

Hamish Currie does a great version if you're lucky enough to catch him 'live', but also has a clip on his webpage http://myweb.tiscali.co.uk/lombardy/hamishcurrie/clips.htm


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: MartinRyan
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 07:30 AM

Just strikes me - should we change the thread title slightly?
Cords Req.


I'll get me sou'wester...

Regards


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Charley Noble
Date: 30 Jul 08 - 08:35 AM

Here's one reference from C. Fox Smith to the sail called "Jimmy Green":

"They 'adn't no jibs not yet no staysails,
Royals nor stunsails nor none o' they sails;
They'd a sort of a Jimmy Green set forrad,
An' as for the topsails, their cut was 'orrid;
There warn't no reef-points nor no such gear,
But they clewed up their courses uncommonly queer . . ."

Here's another from Smith:

"Was a flash flyin' clipper
With her kites both large an' small,
With 'er low sails and 'igh sails
From water-sails to skysails —
Ringtail, jib-o-jib, Jamie Green and all!"

Odd that the sail is spelled differently; I better recheck for typos!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: toadfrog
Date: 10 Aug 08 - 09:45 PM

Thanks, guys.
Some information, I think, I shall never have.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Artful Codger
Date: 12 Sep 09 - 06:05 AM

A slight correction to Jim Dixon's transcription of Mordaunt's version:

Mordaunt didn't number the couplets; rather, she just preceded appropriate lines with "Solo:" or "Chorus:" in a running manner.
Each pair of couplets together form one stanza. Between these pairs, the chorus only sings "Royals free--Royals free." It's at the end of each quatrain that the chorus sings the full "Royals free--Royals free, / Studding sails aloft, boys, Royals free." Therefore, the first stanza would be better rendered as:

From Boston Harbour we set sail,
And the wind it was blowing the devil of a gale.
    Royals free--Royals free.
With a Ring-tail set all abaft the mizzen peak,
To see Britannia a-ploughing up the deep.
    Royals free--Royals free,
    Studding sails aloft, boys, Royals free.


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Subject: RE: Lyr/Chords Req: Boston Harbour / Boston Harbor
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 10:51 AM

Artful Codger: You're right. I added the verse numbers, as I frequently do, because I find that it sometimes facilitates further discussion, if people want to comment on a particular verse. In this case, I got it wrong; your rendering is more accurate than mine. There should be 4 verses, each consisting of 4 solo lines and 3 chorus lines, arranged exactly as you showed us.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BOSTON HARBOUR
From: Artful Codger
Date: 14 Sep 09 - 07:38 PM

Jim: I didn't mean to imply that adding the numbers was improper--I generally do the same (albeit in square brackets) and for the same reasons; also because the numbering often serves as a memory aid. Rather, I only meant that in this case the wrong stanza pattern was reflected. Given how the Mordaunt text is presented in her book, it's easy to confuse the pattern, particularly as she indicated no break between stanzas.

For what it's worth, here's the whole song reformatted into proper stanzas, with solo lines flush, chorus lines indented, verses renumbered:

BOSTON HARBOUR

1. From Boston Harbour we set sail,
And the wind it was blowing the devil of a gale.
    Royals free—Royals free.
With a Ring-tail set all abaft the mizzen peak,
To see Britannia a-ploughing up the deep.
    Royals free—Royals free,
    Studding sails aloft, boys, Royals free.

2. And now the wind begins for to blow,
It's in with your Ring-tail quickly oh.
    Royals free—Royals free.
Clew up the to'gallant sails and take 'em in again;
Bear a hand, jolly tar, at the mizzen fore and main.
    Royals free—Royals free,
    Studding sails aloft, boys, Royals free.

3. Now we poor sailors are a-trampin' on the deck,
With the nasty cold rain all a-blowin' down our necks.
    Royals free—Royals free.
Not a dram of grog can the old man afford;
But it's 'Damn your eyes!' at every other word.
    Royals free—Royals free,
    Studding sails aloft, boys, Royals free.

4. Now that old fellow he's both dead and gone,
But he's left to us his one and only son—
    Royals free—Royals free.
And if he don't prove both kind and frank,
So help me Jimmy, we'll make him walk the plank.
    Royals free—Royals free,
    Studding sails aloft, boys, Royals free.

Source: Mordaunt, Elinor. A Ship of Solace. New York: Sturgis & Walton, 1911, page 235f.
[Note: Her name is misspelled "Eleanor" on the cover and title page.]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: GUEST,Heather Wood
Date: 29 Mar 10 - 08:29 PM

extra verse, found in the National maritime Museum, Greenwich:

And now the old bugger is dead and gone
But in his place he's left a son
And if to us he don't prove frank
We'll damn soon make him walk the plank


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: GUEST,concerened
Date: 25 Aug 13 - 08:22 AM

any body got the chords please?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Aug 13 - 09:23 AM

Sir Walter Scott's diary for 14 March 1826 notes

"Read again, for the third time at least, Miss [Jane] Austen's finely written novel of 'Pride And Prejudice'. That young Lady had a talent for describing the involvements and feelings and characters of ordinary life, which is to me the most wonderful I ever met with. The big Bow-Wow strain I can do myself like any now going; but the exquisite touch which renders ordinary common-place things and characters interesting from the truth of the description and the sentiment is denied to me. What a pity such a gifted creature died so early!"

Did he invent that phrase "big Bow-Wow strain"? I have been unable to find it earlier, and it is perhaps the sort of phrase a literary man such as himself might have thought of to describe a particular type of "grand" writing, such as his own as distinct from that of Miss Austen. OTOH, it might have been a commonplace of the age.

But I have always been greatly exercised how it emerged as the chorus of a music-hall song* [do we know which, btw?], and move thence to a sailors' song of complaint against the captain.

~M~

*See Topic "New Voices" sleevenote, also cited above by Leadfingers

"Captain W B Whall was the first to print this song in his pioneer collection of 'Sea songs and Shanties' . He says 'It is evidently the work of a seaman . . . and was very popular between the years 1860 and 1870 .' Its a Foc'sle song , a forebitter , not a shanty . The Bow Wow chorus is borrowed from an influential Music hall song of the mid nineteenth century ".

I can't at present put my hand on 'New Voices, so am unsure who wrote this; Bert Lloyd, at a guess? If the song was so 'influential', why did he not specify what it was?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Aug 13 - 10:39 AM

We've had the Bow wow wow discussion before. It was much earlier than Music Hall and off the top of my head it had Boston connections. It was at least 18thC and a whole genre of songs used the chorus including 'the drummer and the cook'. Whether this has connections closely to the current song I'm not sure.

Steve G on wife's laptop.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Aug 13 - 10:49 AM

Or, do you think, to Scott? Would he have known about it, one wonders?

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Aug 13 - 02:39 PM

Having written "Bonnie Dundee" earlier in the day, Scott noted in his journal for Dec. 22, 1825, that his friend "J.B." (presumably James Ballantyne) might be able to provide a sensitive critique: the man had "good taste," though there was "a little of _Big Bow-Wow_ about it."

The previous year, the collection "The Vocal Library" (p. 343) included comic song lyrics by "O'Keefe," whose canine theme carried the burden, "Bow wow wow, Fal lal la [etc.?]." Titled "I'll sing you a song," it goes to the popular measure of "Unfortunate Miss Bailey."

"O'Keefe" [sic] is possibly be the Irish writer John O'Keeffe (1747-1833).


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 25 Aug 13 - 02:46 PM

Thank you, Lighter. Obviously a phrase Scott used a lot around then ~~ only 4 months between those entries. I should still love to know whether Scott knew the collection you cite; or whether it was a phrase which occurred independently to him; or whether it was a commonplace metaphor of the time for inflated writing redolent of barking dogs...

And how it got into a seamen's song current, according to Whall, about 40 years later later...

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: Jack Campin
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 05:21 AM

The tune "The Big Bow Wow" occurs in William Vickers' tune MS of 1771 and was reprinted by Aird in 1778. Presumably Vickers got it from a collection of English dance tunes a bit before that.

It could still have originated in colonial Boston, I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 07:56 AM

If you can find the other thread I seem to remember putting a load of background info on the Bow wow songs on there.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 08:10 AM

That thread is easily found {I just did} as it is flagged at the top of this one. We went over v much of the same stuff there, indeed.

A significant ref to Aird predated Scott's usage, it appeared.

~M~


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: Lighter
Date: 26 Aug 13 - 12:38 PM

The broadside printing of "Big Bow Wow" linked by Mick Pearce in the other thread indicates that the song is from the play "Love in a Camp."

This was written by the once well-known John O'Keeffe and first performed in 1786.

Steve, outside of the not-always-reliable pages of Farmer & Henley (and the existence of Boston terriers), I have never heard of a Bostonian referred to as a "bow-wow" of any size.

(Can we somehow combine this and the other thread? They *are* embarrassingly similar.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: GUEST,John Wilson
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 10:27 AM

In the bawdy and innuendo filled world of British Music Hall I always understood that 'pussy' and 'bow wow' were well know euphemisms for female and male genitalia. I think the chorus with my big bow wow is a form of male bravado coming from music hall.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 12:20 PM

Except that the earliest texts all have "a" big bow-wow, not "my" big bow-wow. And what a genital bow-wow would be doing in this particular song (or sort of song) is something of a mystery to me.

It would be interesting to see a real example of a 19th century music hall song that uses "bow-wow" as a double entendre.

What's more, a "big bow-wow" is simply one kind of big noise, a concept that seems to fit the rest of the nonsense chorus.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Aug 13 - 02:29 PM

At the risk of the repetition with the other thread, the next phrase 'tow, row, row' is also in 'The British Grenadiers' chorus. Could this particular song just be borrowing nonsense phrases from earlier songs?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: r.padgett
Date: 28 Aug 13 - 08:42 AM

Parody/ mickey take maybe!!

Ray


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: GUEST,concerened
Date: 22 Oct 13 - 06:12 PM

Come on!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! how many times do I have to ask for chords?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: GUEST,DGonzalez
Date: 02 Nov 13 - 09:21 PM

If the "ringtail" or ringsail is set abaft the mizzen, that would give an extra pitch to the ship's progress, lifting the stern in the chop and hence the "dolphin striker" dipping below the waves as the vessel moves forward and down. So maybe poor seamanship on the captain's part adding to the crew's general dislike and universal wish.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Boston Harbour/Boston Harbor/Big Bow Wow
From: GUEST,Guest Jimjamr
Date: 12 Feb 17 - 11:37 AM

A good slightly different version was on a National Geographic
album from the 70s; "Songs and Sounds of the Sea",
along with many more terrific songs. A good resource
for this stuff is a site called mainlynorfolk.info


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