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Lyr Req: Down in Demerara

GUEST,dexy@ihug.co.nz 10 Feb 01 - 08:03 PM
catspaw49 10 Feb 01 - 08:09 PM
katlaughing 10 Feb 01 - 08:11 PM
catspaw49 10 Feb 01 - 08:13 PM
catspaw49 10 Feb 01 - 08:14 PM
katlaughing 10 Feb 01 - 08:17 PM
Malcolm Douglas 11 Feb 01 - 07:46 AM
Suffet 11 Feb 01 - 01:43 PM
Sourdough 11 Feb 01 - 07:46 PM
SINSULL 11 Feb 01 - 08:05 PM
katlaughing 12 Feb 01 - 12:02 AM
catspaw49 12 Feb 01 - 12:45 AM
Hollowfox 12 Feb 01 - 10:57 AM
SINSULL 12 Feb 01 - 11:02 AM
Giac 12 Feb 01 - 12:50 PM
Kim C 12 Feb 01 - 01:20 PM
Sourdough 12 Apr 01 - 03:34 AM
Hollowfox 12 Apr 01 - 10:28 AM
katlaughing 16 May 04 - 08:44 PM
Sourdough 21 Jun 04 - 03:42 PM
GUEST,Elaine 02 Dec 08 - 04:27 PM
Steve Gardham 03 Dec 08 - 11:35 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Dec 08 - 01:57 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 03 Dec 08 - 02:07 PM
GUEST,esperanza 05 Jan 13 - 06:37 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Jan 13 - 09:21 PM
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Subject: Demerara
From: GUEST,dexy@ihug.co.nz
Date: 10 Feb 01 - 08:03 PM

Hi all

There's a fragment of an old song that has been buzzing in my head for years, and I'd like to get words and tune right. I think it's called "Down in Demerara". the chorus goes: Here we sit like birds in the wilderness Birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness Here we sit like birds in the wilderness Down in Demerara

Can't find it in Digitrad - help, anyone? Dexter dexy@ihug.co.nz


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Feb 01 - 08:09 PM

try HERE

Spaw


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Subject: Lyr Add: WAY DOWN DEMERARA
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Feb 01 - 08:11 PM

I found the following at this site: Guyana Songs of Praise. Hope it is the one you are looking for...

WAY DOWN DEMERARA
Words: Anonymous Music by R. C. G. Potter

When your ship has passed the islands and the blue sea turns to brown,
And the leadsman calls 'Five Fathoms' when he casts the lead-line down,
And you see a long flat coastland and a smokeless wooden town,
And you can reckon you are nearing Demerara.
Demerara, Demerara, you can reckon you are nearing Demerara.

When you're wakened in the morning by a cheerful kiskadee,
And you see a sackiwinki by a mukka mukka tree,
And the very homely features of the slimy manatee,
You can know that you are down in Demerara.
Demerara, Demerara, you can know that you are down in Demerara.

When you spot an alligator who is waiting for a feed,
And observe a salepenta (of the iguana breed),
And you dodge the marabunta (ripe for any evil deed),
You are somewhere, without doubt, in Demerara.
Demerara, Demerara, you are somewhere, without doubt, in Demerara.

When you sail up mighty rivers and you scarcely glimpse a hill,
And you see the great Kaieteur (which perhaps you never will),
When you pay your fare in shillings, though it's dollars on the bill,
You will boast that you're at home in Demerara.
Demerara, Demerara, you will boast that you're at home in Demerara.


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Feb 01 - 08:13 PM

Also here

Tune is "Old Gray Mare" and the alternate words are in the DT under "Great Green Gobs"(of greasy, grimey, gopher guts)

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: catspaw49
Date: 10 Feb 01 - 08:14 PM

Well kat, one of us is whupped up...LOL

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Feb 01 - 08:17 PM

yeah...lol


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Subject: Lyr Add: DOWN IN DEMERARA
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 07:46 AM

DOWN IN DEMERARA

There was a man who had a horselum
Had a horselum, had a horselum
Was a man who had a horselum
Down in Demerara.

Chorus:

And here we sits like birds in the wilderness
Birds in the wilderness, birds in the wilderness
Here we sits like birds in the wilderness
Down in Demerara.

Subsequent verses follow the same pattern:

Now that poor horse he fell a sickelum...

Now that poor horse he broke his legalum...

Now that poor man he sent for a doctorum...

Now that poor horse he went and diedalum...

And here we sits and flaps our wingsalum...

And still we sits and flaps our wingsalum...


This version from Singing Together, Autumn 1963 (BBC Publications).  I've no idea where it came from originally.


See also

Lyrics to Old Gray Mare  -includes tune in miditext and abc formats.
Old Gray Mare - She Ain't What She Used to Be

There is a midi of "The Old Gray Mare"  here.  The "Demerara" version that I remember is a little different, but as Catspaw said, it's basically the same tune.

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: Suffet
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 01:43 PM

Just in case you are having trouble locating Demerara, it is the old name for the capital of what was once British Guiana. The city is now Georgetown, Guyana, South America.

Eccentric millionaire John DuPont, now serving time for murder in Pennsylvania, used to use the pseudonym Rae Mader. It's an anagram for Demerara. Why? Because he owned (and apparently still owns) the only known example of the famed British Guiana 1-cent magenta postage stamp of 1856. That stamp bears a Demerara cancellation.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: Sourdough
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 07:46 PM

There is astounding rum in the Guyanas.

When gong into the interior of what used to be Dutch Guyana and is now the nation of Suriname, I brought with me gifts for the village elders as is the custom. These included machetes of different varieties of quality, fish hooks, and rum. The rum was of two sorts, a standard rum, much like what you would get in a local liquor store but the other was a 180 or so proof distillation. It was actually pure alcohol with only the water that it absorbed from the atmosphere to "cut" it so it may have been more than 180 proof. I have never had any experience with "everclear" but this must have been much like that except it is a product of sugar cane rather than grain. I bought it in the city of St. Laurent in French Guiana and brought it back to the little village of Albina where we shoved off for our ten day trip up the Marrowijne River to a village we were to visit.

The rum had the mildly ominous name of Chat Noir, Black Cat. Several cases of it were stored up towards the bow of our forty foot dugout canoe.

Several days later, we were spending the night in a village at the head of some rapids. This is the preferred location of villages of these Djuka people who are the descendants of slaves (they prefer to think of their ancestors as having been prisoners of war). Their ancestors rebelled more than three hundred years ago. Unable to return across the South Atlantic to their homes, they headed into the bush. The rain forest here is the same latitude as their homes in West Africa and was far more hospitable to them than it was to the Dutch army units sent in over the next century or so to flush them out. Since the rain forests are so thick, travel by river is the only reasonable way to move through central Suriname and that is why the Djuka villages are placed at the head of rapids. It is far easier to defend yourselves against an enemy who is trying to deal with rapids than one who can organize an attack right outside your village. Their reasoning was good enough that no expedition ever mounted against them was successful It was also why, as an outsider, our group had to carry gifts for the headmen of the villages. This is truly their land. They are a semi-autonomous nation within Suriname.

We had stopped in a village at the head of a particularly difficult rapid that we had just come up through that afternoon and after a gift exchange ceremony with the village elders were preparing to spend the night there when I heard that there was a funeral taking place that evening in a village across the river. I asked the boatman to find out whether or not if I would be welcome there. He said that I would be.

It is about three quarters of a mile across the river at this point. We beached the canoe under a sandy bluff and walked up to the village. I was accompanied by a Djuka boatman and a translator.

It had just turned dark, something that happens at six pm every day near the equator. There was a large fire burning in the square which was surrounded by thatched huts. People were gathered around the square either standing or sitting on stools since it is regarded as being extremely poor manners to sit directly on the ground, probably for the very practical reason that insects and parasites are everywhere.

There were several young men drumming and some singing going on. I stood inobtrusively, I hoped, in the shadow of one of the huts and took out my tape recorder, slung it over my shoulder and held the mike in my hand. According to the dial on the recorder, I was getting good pickup and I settled in to watch what was going on.

Several houses away, a boy of about eight or nine years was offering an enamel cup he had just filled with the contents of a bottle in his hand. The adult drank it and passed the cup back to him. The boy, poured more into the cup, moved on to the next adult and offered it to him. When the bottle was empty, he brought out another. He was moving my way.

When he reached me, he seemed puzzled. More than six feet tall and while, wearing a shirt and trousers rather than bare chested with a cloth wrapped around my waist, I was clearly from far outside his society. It is possible that I was the first outsider he had ever faced in his young life and he didn't know how the rules of hospitality applied or didn't apply to me. Soon, though, he made a decision. He poured me some of this clear liquid, I think more than usual in order to show that despite his original hesitation, I was welcome. Then he passed me the enameled cup.

Even though the bottle was not marked, I was pretty sure it was rum but when I brought it up towards my face, my eyes began to water from the fumes. This was surely Chat Noir. The boy looked at me and suddenly I was aware that the entire village was also looking at me to see what this outsider would do when offered Djuka hospitality at this funeral.

I put the cup to my lips and took some of the liquid into my mouth. It burned! It actually felt as though it were eating away at my gums. The people were still looking at me with curiosity. I tried sucking saliva out of my salivary glands to mix with the rum in order to make it easier to swallow but that didn't seem to help. I could feel the rum burn as it trickled down my throat - and there was still a lot left in the cup.

I felt there was only one thing to do. I lifted the cup, took the entire belt in one gulp and swallowed.

When the rum reached my stomach it felt as though it splashed into an explosion, an upside-down mushroom cloud. I leaned against the hut and gasped. The boy smiled, took the cup and moved on. The people in the village lost interest too and returned to listening to the drumming and the singing. When the fire down below started to subside, I swear that int he back of my nostrils I smelled burning hair.

The funny thing was that about fifteen or twenty minutes later, I was feeling very much at home in this strange environment and I started looking around for that nice young boy with the bottle.

At about two AM, I had recorded enough music and was well aware that we would be up at dawn, 6:00AM, and soon after that would be moving up river. I needed to get some sleep. In order to get back to my hammock, I would need to get the translator and the boatman.

I found them on the other side of the village, back from the square a ways. The boatman had been lulled to sleep by the Chat Noir and was lying on the ground. The translator though was very active, He was dancing.

The Djuka are known for their fire-dancing. They will dance, on certain occasions, on burning embers, something I have never seen but it is well known throughout Suriname that they do this. The translator was not Djuka but he knew of the custom and had decided to show them his version of the fire dance. I have to add that he had been petting the Chat Noir vigorously during the evening. When I found him, he was dancing over an open fire, first on one bent leg and then on an other seeing how low he could dance. I think I got him away before he really hurt himself although I am not sure that he would have mentioned any such injuries to me over the upcoming days.

We made our way down the bluff to the beach in the total darkness. There was no moon but I did have a flashlight.

The boatman climbed in first and made his way to the stern and started the outboard. I climbed aboard next and was about in the middle of the dugout when the interpreter pushed off and jumped in, falling face-down on the bottom of the dugout. The boat swung in the current and when the motor stalled I could hear the rapids. The boatman started shouting. He clearly was saying something that was important. The interpreter, getting up to his knees from where he had fallen was not listening. "What's he saying!?". I wanted to know but interpreter didn't seem to care as much as I did. Now the rapids were getting louder as were the boatman's shouts and we were heading towards them sideways. It was right then that I took one of the most ill-considered actions of my life. I jumped overboard on the downstream side of the log dugout and tried to prevent it from moving closer to the rapids. Yup, I must have had more rum than I realized because I was trying to hold, broadside, a log that weighed easily a thousand pounds and was being pushed by one of South America's major rivers.

My first thought though wasn't that I was going to be pushed over and into the rapids at night, it was a totally different sort of thought. It was a thought that under no other conditions would I have ever considered to be important. thought that I had never considered until that moment. Now I really wanted to know whether or not piranha slept at night. The boatman had been feeding our little expedition with fresh fish including piranha on this trip so I knew they were there. What I didn't know was what sort of appetite they had in the middle of the night.

I was really lucky that I had jumped overboard more towards the bow than the stern so the boat pivoted around me, bow facing upstream. At about this time, the boatman got the engine running again. I popped up into the dugout like a watermelon seed squeezed between thumb and forefinger and we crossed the river without any further adventures.

I climbed into my hammock, still wet, adjusted the mosquito netting, and went to sleep to dream of black cats and piranhas going to a funeral.


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: SINSULL
Date: 11 Feb 01 - 08:05 PM

Sourdough! More! More!


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: katlaughing
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 12:02 AM

Sourdough, SO GOOD to hear more of your adventures! Thank you!


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: catspaw49
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 12:45 AM

Another great story my friend.....simply wonderful. And whether its you or somebody else, I am constantly amazed at how much I learn around here........and even from an unlikely thread such as this one. Its great what triggers different things at different times from different people. You never know do you? That's the thing that makes even the most ridiculous threads sometimes worthwhile...........so many knowledgable people and so much to learn.

BTW, I didn't think this thread was ridiculous, just kind of a fun song and easy to find. Then Suffet gives us some neat info and the 'Dough cranks out one of his best...........Damn, but I DO love this place.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: Hollowfox
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 10:57 AM

wow


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: SINSULL
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 11:02 AM

Once again the 'Cat comes full circle. From a plethora of BS threads to two gems in one week. If you haven't seen the Walt Robertson thread, make it your next stop but only if you have time to savor it.


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: Giac
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 12:50 PM

Thanks for the gift, Sourdough!

Yeah, Spaw, me too.


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: Kim C
Date: 12 Feb 01 - 01:20 PM

It's a long way to Demarara, it's a long way to go...


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: Sourdough
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 03:34 AM

The times they are a-you-know-whating.

I just saw the latest issue of Arthur Frommer's Budget Travel Magazine. There is a feature article on Suriname. They have discovered the little nation and the article tells how it is possible take a river tour, to go to the (once) remote villages and rent a hammock. It has been twenty years since I was there and I think the world I was lucky enough to enter is gone or will be going soon. I was lucky to have the chance to go when it was an adventure.

Well, I can't go back anyway, or at least not until there has been a total change of government. My name is on some very bad lists because I provided a home in San Francisco to an escaping newspaper edtor and his family. This was big news in some quarters. The editor used to get phone call interviews from Dutch radio and television from reporters following the family story. The whole thing was very upsetting to a government that ruled by the gun. These were brutal people who had taken over a democratic government and were determined to stay in power at any cost.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: Hollowfox
Date: 12 Apr 01 - 10:28 AM

You did the right thing in providing them a home. Perhaps someday things will turn out for you to visit there again.


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Subject: RE: Demerara
From: katlaughing
Date: 16 May 04 - 08:44 PM

refresh - some great stories in this one esp. by Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Demerara
From: Sourdough
Date: 21 Jun 04 - 03:42 PM

I don't get as much time as I used to , to spend on Mudcat. It is reassuring to find many of the same people still here.

I had totally forgotten about the posts about Suriname and hadn't even made a copy for myself. I have started putting together stories from other adventures. The most recent being a motorcycle trip across the arid and very hot Anatolian Plain to the site of Helen's Troy. The movie got me thinking about it. I pulled together some photographs from that time, used them in an Acrobat file to show pictures of the Turkish Cavavaly and the infantry units that stopped us and the pictures taken from the walls of Troy out towards the ocean where the Greek ships were pulled up. I did this for my kids and it gave me a way to use a bunch of old photos that had been lying around for a number of decades. Now that I have "re-discovered" the Suriname pieces, maybe I'll do something with them. Thanks, Katlaughing.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Demerara
From: GUEST,Elaine
Date: 02 Dec 08 - 04:27 PM

In her 1937 novel Busman's Honeymoon, Dorothy Sayers has several
of her characters sing a bit of Down in Demerara. They do:
Now this old man, he took and died-a-lum,
Took and died-a-lum,
Took and died-a-lum,
This old man, he took and died-a-lum,
Down in Demerara!

and   So here we sit like birds in the wilderness,
      Birds in the wilderness,
      Birds in the wildeness!
      Here we sit like birds in the wilderness,
      Down in Demerara!

The novel has nothing to do with Guyana. It is a detective story about Lord Peter Wimsey and his wife, Harriet Vane, on their honeymoon. The song is on the program of a village concert that the vicar is organizing to raise money for the organ fund. So, the birds in the wilderness here merely testify to the popularity of this
odd little song in genteel rural society in 1930s England - and also, perhaps, to its universal appeal. Not only does the vicar know the words - so also does the chimney sweep (he's in the choir) and
Wimsey and Vane.

I wonder who wrote the music...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Demerara
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 11:35 AM

I have sheet music for 'Down in Alabama' Traditional Music arr by Paul Edmonds, Curwen 1927.
My old man he bought a hoss-er-um, b a h, b a h, M o m h b a h, Down in Alabama. I'd have said the tune like the others is based on 'Buffalo gals'
Chorus Here we sit etc

2 My o m he got a kick-er-um
3 My o m h call'd for a doctor-um
4 M o m h couldn't effect a cure-i-cum
5 M o m h fell a dead-er-um
6 So they buried him in six foot of earth-er-um


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Demerara
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 01:57 PM

Of course this is the famous old minstrel song, "Down in Alabam', 1858, Bryant's Minstrels.

Chorus:
Ain't I glad I got out de wilderness,
Got out de wilderness,
Got out de wilderness,
Ain't I glad I got out de wilderness
Down in Alabam'.

Sheet music at American Memory

During the Civil War, the verse "Old Abe Lincoln came out of the wilderness,..." was popular. I think song sheets of this time are at American Memory as well.
There was a thread with this information a while back.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Demerara
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 03 Dec 08 - 02:07 PM

Original 1858 song plus much else posted in thread 11138, Old Gray Mare-

Old Gray Mare


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Demerara
From: GUEST,esperanza
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 06:37 PM

To add a bit more info - I've just looked up this song because I heard the tune on the radio - and the tune comes from 'Swedish Rhapsody', somewhere in the middle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Down in Demerara
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Jan 13 - 09:21 PM

?


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