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Origins: The Bold Benjamin

DigiTrad:
BOLD BENJAMIN


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Bold Benjamin Sea Ballad (18)
(origins) Origins: Bold Benjamin-O (5)
Tune add: Bold Benjamin (1)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
The Bold Benjamin
The Bold Benjamin (from The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs)


radriano 19 Jul 00 - 11:42 AM
sledge 19 Jul 00 - 11:57 AM
sledge 19 Jul 00 - 12:32 PM
sledge 19 Jul 00 - 12:52 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 19 Jul 00 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 19 Jul 00 - 01:41 PM
Malcolm Douglas 19 Jul 00 - 02:41 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 19 Jul 00 - 03:24 PM
radriano 19 Jul 00 - 03:37 PM
radriano 19 Jul 00 - 05:23 PM
GUEST,Bruce O. 19 Jul 00 - 05:46 PM
radriano 19 Jul 00 - 07:47 PM
sledge 20 Jul 00 - 03:36 AM
radriano 20 Jul 00 - 11:36 AM
GUEST,Bruce O. 20 Jul 00 - 10:36 PM
ooh-aah 10 Aug 03 - 03:22 AM
GUEST,ben 15 Aug 16 - 04:25 AM
Lighter 15 Aug 16 - 08:18 AM
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Subject: The Bold Benjamin
From: radriano
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 11:42 AM

There are several old threads mentioning this song but none of them had the information I was looking for.

I have heard references to The Bold Benjamin as a shanty. Anyone know what kind of a shanty it was used as? Halyards, pumping, capstan, etc.? Except for the "oh, me boy, oh" at the end of the first line of each verse there is no clear chorus. The last line of each verse changes but I suppose if the song were well known the last line could easily be a chorus. Also, the second line of each verse is a repeat of the first line and that could be considered a chorus line as well.


Regards to all,
Radriano


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: sledge
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 11:57 AM

AS far as I have been able to find out its listed as a Ballard.

The only referance I have is www.shanty.org, an excellent site.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BOLD BENJAMIN
From: sledge
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 12:32 PM

Is this the one?

BOLD BENJAMIN

Brave Admiral Cole he's gone to sea, oh, my boys, oh!
Brave Admiral Cole he's gone to sea, oh!
Brave Admiral Cole he's gone to sea,
Along of our ship's company,
On board the bold Benjamin, oh!

We sailed our course away for Spain, oh, my boys, oh!
We sailed our course away for Spain, oh!
We sailed our course away for Spain,
Our silver and gold for to gain,
On board the bold Benjamin, oh!

We sailed out five hundred men, oh, my boys, oh!
We sailed out five hundred men, oh!
We sailed out five hundred men,
And brought back but sixty-one.
They were lost in bold Benjamin, oh!

And when we came to Blackwall, oh, my boys, oh!
And when we came to Blackwall, oh!
And when we came to Blackwall,
Our captain so loudly did call:'
Here comes the bold Benjamin, oh!'

Here's the mothers crying for their sons, oh, my boys, oh!
Here's the mothers crying for their sons, oh!
Here's the mothers crying for their sons,
And the widows for their husbands
That were lost in bold Benjamin, oh!

Cheers

Sledge

HTML line breaks added. --JoeClone, 13-Jul-02.


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: sledge
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 12:52 PM

Available on a CD called "Blow the man down" available on Topic, serial number TSCD464, a new run of a recording made in the 60's.


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 01:33 PM

Its' a traditional version of a late 17th century broadside ballad commencing "Captain Chilver's gone to sea". The ballad is entitled "The Benjamin's Lamentation for their sad loss at Sea, by Storms and Tempests", 15 verses. See ZN464 in the broadside ballad index at www.erols.com/olsonw


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 01:41 PM

The traditional version is also in DT.


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 02:41 PM

According to A.L. Lloyd (Penguin Book of English Folk Songs), C.H. Firth (Naval Songs and Ballads, Navy Records Society, 1908) thought that the song's unusual metrical form might suggest that it had been -or was based on- an early shanty, but I have no idea if there's any evidence.  At any rate, it would probably be impossible to say what kind of shanty that may have been; though I suppose an expert might be able to make an educated guess, that's about all it could be.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 03:24 PM

"The Granadeers' Rant", commencing "Captain Hume is bound to sea, Hey boyes, ho boyes" (ZN465) has the same verse form and meter. It was to be sung to "Hy! the brave Granadeers; Ho", and that is probably another title for the same tune as "The Benjamin's Lamentation". It's also late 17th century, but the broadside has no imprint, so it's not possible to say if it's earlier or later than "The Benjamin's Lamentation" [It is probably also in Firth's 'Naval Songs and Ballads' which I don't have. Firth's transcript of it is in Bodleian Firth MS c.17, fol. 19]


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: radriano
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 03:37 PM

Thanks for the posts, guys!

Sledge, thanks for posting the lyrics. This is a song I've known about and have been singing for years so I didn't need the words but maybe someone else did.

Malcolm, the reference you cited may be what I vaguely remembered. It's also true that sometimes people call any song about the sea a shanty.

And Bruce, thanks for the reference. I love finding those old ballads, especially the longer ones.


Radriano


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: radriano
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 05:23 PM

Bruce,

I managed to get a copy of Captain Chilver's Gone to Seafrom the Bodleian Library site. My first attempts to find it using their search engine were fruitless but when I browsed the entries I found it under the title The Poor Benjamin, O. I can't understand why I didn't get any hits with Benjamin or Captain Chilver as a keyword. The title of the broadsheet is actually The Benjamin's Lamentation. Some of the middle verses are a little hard to read because of the smeared original but all sixteen verses are there.


Radriano


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 05:46 PM

That's the Douce collection copy. I noted under sources in my broadside ballad index that Wood, Rawlinson and Douce (17th century ones) collection ballads could be found on the Bodley Ballads website, but didn't repeat that for each ballad in these collections.

The unbared traditional tune for "The Bold Benjamin" in JFSS #11, 1907 (that regularized in 'The Penguin Book..') is coded in the file COMBCOD2 on my website, and I can't find any known broadside ballad tune of the 17th century to match it. Anne Geddes Gilchrist in JFSS #11 suggested that the tune may have been adapted from the Admiral Benbow one that starts "Oh, we sailed to Virginia", also used for "A Virgin Unspotted".


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: radriano
Date: 19 Jul 00 - 07:47 PM

Thanks for the clarification, Bruce.

It's interesting that the Douce broadside mentions one hundred men on board with four being lost at sea and the shorter song that most of us are more familiar with (the one in the DT) talks about five hundred men on board with only sixty-one surviving.

Is this an example the exageration that happens when a tale is retold over and over? There are a couple of verses in the broadside that are almost entirely unreadable but I don't see any mention near the end of how many survivors there were. Of course, the Bold Benjamin mentions sailing for Spain to gain silver and gold while the broadside ballad talks about being bound for Venice. Did the change from destinations and the change from a captain to an admiral make for a more dangerous voyage and maybe a more interesting ballad?

At any rate, I've always thought the Bold Benjamin was too short. You never find out what exactly happened to the ship.


Radriano


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: sledge
Date: 20 Jul 00 - 03:36 AM

A book that might provide an insight into Naval life of the type described in the song try The Wooden World by N.A.M. Roger. It debunks a lot of myths but it also has a few surprises.

Sledge


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: radriano
Date: 20 Jul 00 - 11:36 AM

Thanks, Sledge, I'll look it up.

Radriano


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: GUEST,Bruce O.
Date: 20 Jul 00 - 10:36 PM

I've had my troubles with the search by keyword on the Bodley Ballads website, too. Yesterday I could find nothing under 'Benjamin', but today I get several listings, two being our ballad here. The copy designated BDN in my broadside ballad index is also in the Bodleian, in the Don collection, and that (and the one in the Crawford collection are the earliest.

Curiously, the late copy in the Douce collection is the only one that has the 16th verse (as the last).


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Subject: RE: The Bold Benjamin
From: ooh-aah
Date: 10 Aug 03 - 03:22 AM

Does any navy buff out there have any info on the actual incident or voyage commemorated in the song?


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Bold Benjamin
From: GUEST,ben
Date: 15 Aug 16 - 04:25 AM

my father spent twenty seven years in the rn and he also a folk singer. he reckons that it was an old Capstan shanty for when the crew were pulling anchor. hope this helps


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Subject: RE: Origins: The Bold Benjamin
From: Lighter
Date: 15 Aug 16 - 08:18 AM

Other than the mere form (and some would say the phrase "My boys") there is no evidence at all that this excellent song was used as a shanty. No shanty collection includes it or any variant of it. It seems not to have been widely known in the 19th century in any case.

Yes, it *could* have been used, by somebody, somewhere, as a shanty, but so could any song with a similar refrain pattern, including "The Two Sisters."


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