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History of Benjamin Bowmaneer

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BENJAMIN BOWMANEER


Related threads:
Tune Req: Benjamin Bowmaneer (38)
(origins) Origins: Benjamin Bowmaneer (19)
Help - Benjamin Bowmaneer: Britten arrangement? (2)
Lyr Req: Benjamin Bowmaneer (11)
Tune add: Benjamin Bowmaneer (1)


Jacky of Kent 07 Jun 00 - 09:51 AM
KathWestra 07 Jun 00 - 10:45 AM
Stewie 07 Jun 00 - 11:20 AM
Jacky of Kent 07 Jun 00 - 11:32 AM
harpgirl 23 Feb 03 - 12:28 AM
Crane Driver 23 Feb 03 - 03:10 PM
IanC 24 Feb 03 - 12:21 PM
GUEST,michele 10 Mar 03 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,Bill Kennedy 10 Mar 03 - 04:55 PM
Folkiedave 11 Mar 03 - 02:25 PM
HipflaskAndy 19 Jan 04 - 05:38 AM
GUEST 01 May 04 - 10:08 PM
LadyJean 01 May 04 - 11:04 PM
Malcolm Douglas 02 May 04 - 12:36 PM
McGrath of Harlow 02 May 04 - 04:53 PM
GUEST,Nat Case 25 Feb 12 - 11:47 AM
GUEST,Nat Case 25 Feb 12 - 12:06 PM
EBarnacle 25 Feb 12 - 12:56 PM
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Subject: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: Jacky of Kent
Date: 07 Jun 00 - 09:51 AM

Hi all. Having recently bought the Red Rice album by Eliza Carthy, I've been learning Benjamin Bowmaneer (thanks to Mudcat for the lyrics) but I always try and learn a little bit about a song before I sing it. Can anyone tell me where the song comes from, who it is about etc.?


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: KathWestra
Date: 07 Jun 00 - 10:45 AM

I don't have the notes here at the office, but it's also been recorded on Folk Legacy's "Joe Hickerson with a Gathering of Friends" LP(now available as a cassette C-39 in the F-L catalog) Joe leads the song with Ginny Dildine and Lynn Hickerson singing too. I called Joe to ask what he knew. He says he learned the song from the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, which contains very little info. on its origins. Maybe somebody who has a Penguin Book handy can add whatever song notes there are to this thread.


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: Stewie
Date: 07 Jun 00 - 11:20 AM

The note in the Penguin collection is:

Benjamin Bowmaneer (JEFDSS I 97)

In folklore, the tailor seldom plays a noble part, perhaps because his profession does not call for lustihood. 'Nine tailors make a man', says the proverb, and a popular children's rhyme tells of four and twenty tailors frightened by a snail. The amusing 'Benjamin Bowmaneer' seems to perpetuate the folks' injustice to men of an honourable trade. Perhaps the song has a secondary, satirical meaning that eludes us? It has been suggested that 'Castors away' may mean 'Hats off', the castor being a slang word for a beaver hat, or by extension, any headgear. It may also mean 'Cast us away!', and thus be related to a sailor's song. The tune's resemblance to the 'Spanish Ladies' melody, much used for sea-song texts, would seem to strengthen this possibilty. We have not found a set of this song complete with tune elsewhere. [Ralph Vaughan Williams and A.L. Lloyd].

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: Jacky of Kent
Date: 07 Jun 00 - 11:32 AM

Thanks to both of you, much appreciated.


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: harpgirl
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 12:28 AM

Kath, this song is actually on The New Golden Ring: "Five Days Singing- Vol I" and not Joe's album "Joe Hickerson: With a gathering of friends"


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: Crane Driver
Date: 23 Feb 03 - 03:10 PM

As in a previous thread, I can confirm from Brewster's Dictionary of Phrase & Fable that a "castor" was a hat covered with beaver skin (think of a Dickensian stlye top hat - skin is more waterproof than felt, the other usual material)

Also, "nine tailors make a man" may derive from the fact that, on the death of a man, the church bell rang nine "tells", (three sets of three), whereas if a woman died it was six tells (three twos). Thus "nine TELLERS make a man", later corrupted to "nine tailors".
Maybe.

Andrew


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: IanC
Date: 24 Feb 03 - 12:21 PM

There's quite a bit of discussion of tailors in English folklore (and also other trades) in this thread.

:-)


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: GUEST,michele
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 04:43 PM

from the revival ( 70's ) this was sung by Suffolk singers eg John Goodluck ( Trunkles ) et al. I heard them a lot, since the practised in our house. I guess I always took this to be a song about sailing away to war..., like lots of shanties, it has that rhythym & seems to fit our local accent... but thats just a gut feeling withno justification in research.


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: GUEST,Bill Kennedy
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 04:55 PM

it's on the new Colcannon cd 'Trad.', with notes, I'll post any that are interesting


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Subject: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: Folkiedave
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 02:25 PM

Duncan McFarlane sang it last Thursday night on the Henry Ayrton Show, which is the folk music show for Radio Humberside, Sheffield, York and area. It was live as well and absolutely great.

Dave


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: HipflaskAndy
Date: 19 Jan 04 - 05:38 AM

Hello FolkieDave - sorry to be so tardy in adding a thought or two here - this thread being 'old' now.
The fact is, I've just been trawling Mudcat for Benjamin Bowmaneer references, and found your comment re. my performance on the (sadly now axed) Henry Ayrton Show.
I'm soooooo glad you enjoyed my live rendition of 'Ben Bow' - it's grand to have such feedback, even at this late juncture!
You may be interested to hear I've just recorded the song with my folk-rock band and Alistair Hulett 'guests' on that track!
Hopefully just a few weeks away from release now.
Do get in touch - a 'search' of my name should find the website for you with an email address there. I (or we) may have a gig near you sometime - so you could have the opportunity to hear it live again if the mood strikes you!
Thanks for the back-pat! Cheers! - Duncan McFarlane


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Subject: Origins: Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: GUEST
Date: 01 May 04 - 10:08 PM

Does anyone know the origin of the song "Benjamin Bowmaneer?" Is it based off of a historical event?




--- Transferred from newer thread. ---


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: LadyJean
Date: 01 May 04 - 11:04 PM

In Dorothy L. Sayers' Book, "The Nine Tailors" the bell Tailor Paul is rung nine times when a man dies and 8 times when a woman dies. Hence 9 tailors make a man. If you don't know the mystery, you should. It's one of Sayers' best.


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 May 04 - 12:36 PM

There is more information in the thread Benjamin Bowmaneer.

The song belongs to a family of stories about tailors' misadventures. It has notable features in common with a more widespread song, The Tailor and the Louse, which is ultimately of broadside origin (mid 17th century). It may be an adaptation of that song, or an independent piece; we don't really know. Similar conceits turn up in a number of other, unrelated songs, and it's very unlikely that there's any historical event behind it.


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 02 May 04 - 04:53 PM

What gives the song it's power is that first couplet -

"Have you heard how the wars began...
When England fought to a man"


And the refrain "Castors away" almost subliminally suggest we are all being cast away, shipwrecked.

I'm not suggesting that's where it starts out from - but songs can often take on a colour and a meaning which wasn't there to start with.


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: GUEST,Nat Case
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 11:47 AM

First heard this song as the opening of the Christmas in the Trenches section of the PBS holiday special Siimple Gifts. I think it was sung by David Jones.


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: GUEST,Nat Case
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 12:06 PM

per my last post, here's the segment in question: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBxxZHxuMnc


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Subject: RE: History of Benjamin Bowmaneer
From: EBarnacle
Date: 25 Feb 12 - 12:56 PM

Consider the possibility that "castors away" may be an appeal to patriotism--either as "Throw your hat in the air" or as "Get rid of your fancy clothing and enlist to serve your country."


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