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Sea term: trousers on

radriano 22 Sep 00 - 12:37 PM
Bert 22 Sep 00 - 12:42 PM
Melani 22 Sep 00 - 12:46 PM
annamill 22 Sep 00 - 01:33 PM
Micca 22 Sep 00 - 01:36 PM
GUEST,Barry Finn 22 Sep 00 - 01:56 PM
Malcolm Douglas 22 Sep 00 - 03:37 PM
radriano 22 Sep 00 - 05:44 PM
McGrath of Harlow 22 Sep 00 - 06:46 PM
Gervase 23 Sep 00 - 09:38 AM
Ferrara 23 Sep 00 - 06:51 PM
Stewie 23 Sep 00 - 09:08 PM
Penny S. 24 Sep 00 - 05:32 PM
sophocleese 24 Sep 00 - 07:11 PM
Amos 24 Sep 00 - 07:22 PM
Crazy Eddie 25 Sep 00 - 07:00 AM
Mrrzy 25 Sep 00 - 09:14 AM
radriano 25 Sep 00 - 01:55 PM
m5ret 25 Sep 00 - 06:08 PM
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Subject: Sea term: trousers on
From: radriano
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 12:37 PM

I'm interested in finding out information about the phrase "with his trousers on" with respect to sea songs or shanties. I came across a song in the Oxford Book of Sea Songs with that phrase in it. The song is "Jackie Tar" and the melody is a version of the hornpipe Jackie Tar (also known as The Cuckoo's Nest). There's the recurring theme in this song of a sailor returning from sea "with his trousers on."

It's pretty clear from the text that the phrase refers to returning from sea (or from the wars) intact but I can't think of any other sea song that uses this terminology.
I don't believe the song is in Digitrad so I'll post the lyrics and melody.


Jackie Tar

The Oxford Book of Sea Songs, Roy Palmer, editor


When Jack had pulled the oar and the boat was gone
And the lassie on the shore with her head hanging down
The tears stood in her eyes and her bosom heaving sighs
Farewell, my dear, she cries, with your trousers on
Farewell, said he, I go to sea, and you must stay behind
But do not grieve, for while I live I ever will be kind
And when I come to land you will meet me on the strand
And welcome Jackie Tar with his trousers on

Now peace is proclaimed and the wars are all o'er
The fleets they are moored and the sailors come ashore
Now you may see her stand with a glass into her hand
To welcome Jack to land with his trousers on
While up on high, she catched his eye with all her lovely charms
Her face he knew and straight he flew and caught her in his arms
Her hand he kindly pressed as he held her round the waist
And he kissed the bonny lassie with his trousers on

O Jack, where have you been since you went from me
And what have you seen upon the raging sea
I mourned for your sake while my heart was like to break
For I thought I'd never see my Jack with his trousers on
And while you stayed I sighed and prayed to Neptune and to Mars
That they would prove kind and send you home safe from the wars
And now to my request they have been pleased to list
And sent you to my breast with your trousers on

I have sailed the seas for you to the Torrid Zone
From the confines of Peru to Van Diemen's Land
From the Bay of Baltimore to the coast of Labrador
But now I'm safe on shore with my trousers on
I have beat the storms in many forms upon the raging main
I have fought the foes with deadly blows and many a hero slain
I have heard the cannons road, I have rolled in blood and gore
But now I'm safe on shore with my trousers on

I have been aloft when the winds have blown
And I have been aloft when the bombs were thrown
But like a sailor bold I have now come from the hold
With my pockets full of gold and my trousers on
And now no more from shore to shore I'll plough the raging seas
But free from strife as man and wife we'll live in peace and ease
To the church this couple hied and the priest the knot has tied
And the sailor kissed his bride with his trousers on

ABC Notation:

X:1
T:Jackie Tar
M:4/4
L:1/8
R:Hornpipe
K:D
(B,C)|DCDB, d2cB|(AF) (DF) G2","GE|
DDCB, (A,>B,) CE|A2EE E2","FE|
DCDB, d2cB|AFDF G2","(FE)|
DDCB, (^A,B,) CE|D2B,2 B,2","F2||
BBBB BcdB|AAFF F3","^G|
A^GAB ceBc|AAEE E2","(FG)|
BABc d2cB|AFDF G2","(FE)|
DDCB, (^A,B,) CE|D2B,2B,2||


Regards to all,
Radriano


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Bert
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 12:42 PM

Could it be derived from the song 'With me cattle smock on'?


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Melani
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 12:46 PM

Sounds great! Please sing it in October. Maybe it referred to a uniform, or getting dressed up for shore leave. Though this does conjure up the image of a bunch of pantsless sailors cavorting about in the rigging. Maybe they could borrow Paddy's slacks...


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: annamill
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 01:33 PM

Sounds to me, like being dressed up. He's come to shore all dressed up. Trousers as opposed to work pants. Sorta 'dressed to kill' type thing. Just guessin'.

Love, annamill


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Micca
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 01:36 PM

I would surmise that it refers to having 2 legs to put in the trousers as the loss of a leg, to chain or grape shot was apparently very common in the 19/19th century.


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: GUEST,Barry Finn
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 01:56 PM

Hi Richard, I think (but I'm not sure) it refers to the trousers having pockets & the pockets holding a "pocket full" of cash. Barry


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 03:37 PM

Roy Palmer had this to say on the subject (Bushes & Briars: Folk Songs Collected by Ralph Vaughan Williams, 1983/1999):

"At the end of the 18th century, when most men wore knee-breeches, sailors (apart from officers) wore trousers, and had been doing so for some fifty years.  (Incidentally, the revolutionary French sans-culottes were so called, not because they went about with bare posteriors, but because they, too, wore trousers in preference to breeches).  A sailor could easily roll up his wide trousers when decks had to be scrubbed, or seas were breaking over them.  The trousers (usually spelled "trowsers" at the time) were often stained with the Stockholm tar used on the standing rigging, and "tarry trousers" were thus the unmistakable badge of the sailor."

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: radriano
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 05:44 PM

Thanks to all who responded to this inquiry. Malcolm, a quote even! This is more impressive than the usual Mudcat thoroughness.

Hi Melani. I've actually sung this a couple of times at the Shanty Sing but since it doesn't have a chorus and is not a shanty I've stuck to chanteyranger's rules and only sung it after 11:00. I've never heard of pantsless sailors cavorting in the rigging before. Now "frigging in the rigging" I've heard of and can relate to.

And hello Barry. How's by you?

Lot's of good ideas here. And thanks to you other Mudcatters who I don't know personally yet.


Radriano


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 22 Sep 00 - 06:46 PM

With his bell-bottom trousers

and his jacket made of blue

He'll go climbing up the rigging

like his daddy used to do.


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Gervase
Date: 23 Sep 00 - 09:38 AM

Sailors in the Royal Navy in the late 18th and early 19th century would often have a "best" pair in their dunnage, which they would work through in the seams with petersham ribbons and the like - with the result that they ended up looking not unlike morris-men.


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Ferrara
Date: 23 Sep 00 - 06:51 PM

The phrase "tarry breeks" was used to describe a sailor too. I think it was used as a nickname for the Duke of Clarence at one time - possibly because he had served in the navy?

My usual disclaimer about the unreliability of my memory is hereby inserted. (Just because a person mixes up their facts from time to time is no reason not to post 'em on the Web, as a few hours spent surfing the net will prove...)


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Stewie
Date: 23 Sep 00 - 09:08 PM

Ferrara, your memory is okay. In his glossary to 'The Valiant Sailor', Palmer stated that 'tarry-breeks' was a north country name for a sailor. He wrote: 'Perhaps the sailor was associated with tar because he used it for his pigtail and he came into contact with it so much - for it was used to preserve standing rigging from the weather - that the smell of it hung about him'.

--Stewie.


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Penny S.
Date: 24 Sep 00 - 05:32 PM

This reminds me of a BBC radio program about changes in dress over the centuries, and one of the academics suggested that to eighteenth century eyes parctically everyone would look like a sailor, because trousers and t-shirts would look like their gear.I think he thought it odd that fashion had risen from the bottom up, rather than trickling down from the top.

Penny


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: sophocleese
Date: 24 Sep 00 - 07:11 PM

Ahh but Penny it comes from the bottom generally by being taken up by the top and then passed down again to the middle classes.


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Amos
Date: 24 Sep 00 - 07:22 PM

Cf:

Oh, were ye drunk, or were ye blind,
When ye left yer too good legs behind?
Or was it walkin' upon the say,
Wore yer two good legs from the knees away?

Ah, Ted, me boy, ah Ted, me boy
Those two fine legs were yer mother's joy!
An' those stumps of a tree willna do at all
Why didn't ya run from that cannon ball?

To me toorio
Faladiddle dae
Tooreye, oorreye, ooreye-o!


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Crazy Eddie
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 07:00 AM

No I wasn't drunk, and I wasn't blind,
That I left my two fine legs behind;
But a canon-ball, on the fifth of May,
Took my two fine legs, from the knees away.

With my, tooreye-ay, fol-the-dither-ay
Tooreye, ooreye, ooreye ay.

Eddie


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: Mrrzy
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 09:14 AM

McGrath of Harlow, do you know Amble Town? It has the line With his buckles and his boots and his little jacket blue / He shall walk the quarterdeck like his Daddy used to do..." - the high-brow version, I guess!


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: radriano
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 01:55 PM

One of the things I was trying to establish in this thread was the existence of other sea songs that use the phrase "with his trousers on" in the way that Jackie Tar does, that is, as a general theme.


Radriano


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Subject: RE: Sea term: trousers on
From: m5ret
Date: 25 Sep 00 - 06:08 PM

I lean to the injury explanation the best

"Then at length we stood two cables away, Our cracked four-pounders made an awful din, But with one fat ball the Yank stove us in. The Antelope shook and pitched on her side. Barrett was smashed like a bowl of eggs, and the maintrunk carried off both me legs. So here I lay in my twenty-third year..."

From Barretts Privateers

Mike


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