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Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley

DigiTrad:
BULLY IN THE ALLEY


Related threads:
Shinbone Alley: Where is it? (46)
Help: Kicking Up Bob's A-Dying? (38)
Lyr Req: new words to bully in the alley (6)
Lyr Req: bully in the alley (20)
Wishbone Alley (3)


GUEST,Shameless 13 Jan 18 - 12:41 AM
GUEST,Oz Childs 17 Feb 14 - 05:46 PM
doc.tom 23 Feb 13 - 07:15 AM
Gibb Sahib 22 Feb 13 - 03:14 PM
doc.tom 22 Feb 13 - 09:11 AM
Charley Noble 22 Feb 13 - 08:47 AM
Gibb Sahib 21 Feb 13 - 11:40 AM
Gibb Sahib 10 Feb 13 - 05:03 PM
Gibb Sahib 10 Feb 13 - 04:31 PM
Gibb Sahib 10 Feb 13 - 03:00 PM
Charley Noble 10 Feb 13 - 11:25 AM
doc.tom 10 Feb 13 - 07:48 AM
Gibb Sahib 09 Feb 13 - 07:02 PM
doc.tom 09 Feb 13 - 08:35 AM
GUEST,Lighter 09 Feb 13 - 08:15 AM
doc.tom 09 Feb 13 - 06:53 AM
GUEST 08 Feb 13 - 08:59 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Feb 13 - 08:47 AM
Charley Noble 08 Feb 13 - 07:44 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Feb 13 - 07:09 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Feb 13 - 07:07 AM
GUEST 07 Feb 13 - 11:28 PM
Gibb Sahib 07 Feb 13 - 09:13 PM
GUEST 07 Feb 13 - 11:27 AM
Nerd 04 Sep 12 - 01:34 PM
Charley Noble 04 Sep 12 - 11:28 AM
Dead Horse 04 Jan 03 - 06:29 PM
Charley Noble 04 Jan 03 - 01:22 PM
breezy 04 Jan 03 - 12:34 PM
GUEST 04 Jan 03 - 12:20 PM
GUEST,Melani 15 Oct 02 - 01:49 PM
Bob Bolton 19 Jun 02 - 11:47 PM
GUEST,Eric Yuhas 19 Jun 02 - 10:29 PM
Bat Goddess 19 Jun 02 - 05:34 PM
Charley Noble 19 Jun 02 - 11:32 AM
Charley Noble 19 Jun 02 - 09:14 AM
CET 18 Jun 02 - 06:10 PM
Charley Noble 18 Jun 02 - 08:44 AM
Abby Sale 17 Jun 02 - 09:55 PM
Abby Sale 17 Jun 02 - 09:45 PM
GUEST,Eric Yuhas (of Shipping News) 17 Jun 02 - 09:42 PM
Celtic Soul 17 Jun 02 - 09:18 PM
Abby Sale 17 Jun 02 - 09:03 PM
Nerd 04 Jan 02 - 12:01 AM
Charley Noble 03 Jan 02 - 08:04 PM
breezy 03 Jan 02 - 06:53 PM
Melani 03 Jan 02 - 12:33 AM
ChanteyMatt 02 Jan 02 - 02:04 PM
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Charley Noble 01 Jan 02 - 11:47 AM
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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST,Shameless
Date: 13 Jan 18 - 12:41 AM

'M not sure the Oysterband is directly related. "Bully" refers to being pitch-drunk.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST,Oz Childs
Date: 17 Feb 14 - 05:46 PM

Always a favorite chantey song. I hope to sing it on the Balclutha, at their monthly sing. I learned it from the Helen Schneyer record, but I will use the Blue Murder version. A couple of notes: (1) The singer is an incurable romantic, who exemplifies the triumph of hope over experience. "Spliced nearly" means "almost married", and it is clear that even though he went to sea after his last rejection, he thinks Sally will marry him in the end. I hope that worked out for him! (2) "Bully" means just what it did in the 19th Century. Great! Feelin' good! First-rate! Not drunk. Though I know of fewer songs that are likely to invite people to sing along, if they have had a few pints or drams.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: doc.tom
Date: 23 Feb 13 - 07:15 AM

Gibb. I didn't say it was - I said it felt more like: TO ME, but who am I to know anything. 'Dear boy' is a theatre cultural thing - Olivier and Hoffman - never mind, obviously lost in translation. Thank you for your opinions. Once the possibilities are aired, the next stage is speculating round and round and.. Sorry, not going to play that game.

By the way, love your reconstruction of the Caribbean Rosabella.

TomB


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Feb 13 - 03:14 PM

Thanks, Tom, but I'm afraid you've got me a little more confused on your actual position. I don't understand why now you're say it "feels" more like a cotton chant because people said it was. If it was because people said it was, why not just say it was ("reported as"), rather than that it "feels" like it? Where does this ability to feel cotton chants come from?

As to whether it was used for cotton-screwing, you'll have no disagreement from me. I have all the same sources as you that say that. I believe the song was, if not originally a stevedore or cotton screwer's song, then at least also used in that capacity. My issue here is with why you want to tout Short's as the cotton-screwing version in distinction from others and despite the fact that Short also evidently used it (first and foremost?) as a shanty.

For some time you have been presenting this Short version specifically with emphasis on its being a cotton-screwing version. These have stayed in my mind, and I have been wondering what your logic was. For example, on another thread you say,

In fact, Short's version is structurally different to the one Stan gives (and everybody else subseqently sings), and does appear to be much closer to an original hoosier's chant then Stan's!

and

This structure is much more a Hoosier's form than the later Hugill form and may therefore endorse Hugill's opinion that the shanty derived from the cotton ports.

Above you say,

It feels as though this version is far closer to a cotton-screwing chant than the Hugill version.

[Gibb Sahib: How so?]

The structure, dear boy! - and, of course, the absence of a grand chorus.


All the time you emphasized structure - And in your last comment (quoted here), your "dear boy!" and "of course" make it sound as if this is supposed to be elementary and obvious.

But what is the structure of a cotton-stowing chant? - I asked. How did it differ from a shanty's structure?

Rather than positively explaining what a cotton-stowing chant's structure is -- perhaps by bringing in the example of other cotton chants, or by explaining how the work actions and pace corresponded to or maybe necessitated this structure -- your argument (*as I see it*) is that this structure is just "different" from 1) Typical shanties and 2) Hugill's "Bully."

The assumption seems to be that deepwater shanties and cotton-screwing chants (all of which, incidentally, come under the umbrella of "chanties" in my mind) can be differentiated with respect to form. That is something that interests me very much, not least because it raises questions about just how cotton songs "became" deepwater songs or how these songs were shared / set to dual purpose if they were structurally different. I think these questions lead one (or at least me!) to suspect that they weren't necessarily different (structurally) at all, but I have seen enough as well to suspect that there could be notable differences in some cases. In all, without a definition of "the structure" of cotton chants, one can't assume they were different in specific ways.

As for the structure being different from 1) Typical shanties:
I think it is reasonable to form an idea of a "typical" shanty as you did, Tom. I don't need to point out that there are many exceptions to those typical shanty structures. But just as the exceptions don't invalidate the notion of a "typical" shanty structure, the difference in structure (and it's not really *that* different) of Short's "Bully" from "typical shanty" doesn't logically make it less of a deepwater shanty's and more of a cotton song's structure.

As for the structure being different from 2) Hugill's "Bully":
Let us be clear that Hugill's does *not* have a grand chorus. Tom, you never clarified what song you were referring to when you said "...the absence of a grand chorus." Hugill's does not have one—despite folkies singing it as if it did. I would say that Short's—at least as Sharp has marked it—does have something like a grand chorus. (Sharp's marking are another issue; I don't quite buy the logic about how his markings must be accurate because he must have checked them with Short.)

Either version has the potential for having a grand chorus of the type you call "of similar scansion." It is just a matter of repeating a phrase and having everyone sing more of the lines! If, say, we divide a chorus into 4 sections, a "typical" grand chorus might have everyone singing on all 4, i.e. on 1, 2, 3, and 4. However, there are variations of this where everyone sings on parts 2 and 4, or on parts 2, 3, and 4. In this case, how Sharp marked it, everyone sings on 1, 2, and 4. I think (agree) this is unusual...but it doesn't indicate a cotton song.

How was Hugill able to suspect it was a cotton song if the structure of the version he collected was not (by your logic, Tom) like a cotton song? How was the structure of Short's version more like a cotton song if he used it as a deepwater shanty? Why should we draw conclusion about the structure of cotton songs from Short's shanty rather than from Hugill's shanty? In other words, can it be argued that structure has something to do with all this? And if so, how can it be argued without a positive description of cotton chant structure(s)?

My opinion is that to throw in this "It feels as though [Short's] version is far closer to a cotton-screwing chant..." is not far off from throwing in, "There has also been some speculation that 'Bully' is a synonym for 'drunk'". It's a sort of "liner-notes" language that I completely understand and accept within its own practical and discursive context. But it *is* like sort of dropping a bit of gossip into a crowd and seeing where it goes...to see who, years later, will say, "Well, I heard it meant "drunk"...I heard this was the cotton-screwing version." What's more, to drop in liner-notes (cut and paste) into a critical discussion -- a different discursive context -- is odd. This is the chance to really work out *why* the version may feel like a cotton song! It would be a great feeling to pin down; feelings like this often lead to great discoveries. I don't think it is the place to drop in unsubstantiated ideas in a way as if they were already well establish in prior publication, research, etc.

Gibb


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: doc.tom
Date: 22 Feb 13 - 09:11 AM

Why does Short's version feel more like a screwing chant?
1) What Charlie said twice above.
2) Because Short told Sharp that that was what is was used for (as well as his own use as a shanty)
3) Opinion - because it is not structured in a common 'shanty' style, neither line:chorus:line:chorus nor with the addition of a chorus of similar scansion.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Feb 13 - 08:47 AM

Gibb-

It's not surprising to me that "Shinbone Alley" has such deep roots ashore but thanks for the additional references.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 21 Feb 13 - 11:40 AM

Refresh.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Feb 13 - 05:03 PM

The other reference I want to share is to the same song used in a corn shucking context.

Hentz, Caroline Lee. _Linda; or, The Young Pilot of the Belle Creole._ New York: F.M. Lupton, 1881.

This novel was written in 1848 (published 1850). The author, born ca.1801/2, lived in North Carolina, Tennessee, and Alabama at various times in the 1820s-40s.

An extended quotation here. Scene from a Louisiana plantation. Also features some form of "Sittin' on a Rail." Pp. 157-8.

Soon she saw a torch-light glimmering through the trees, and she found herself near a large corn-crib, from which the choral strains were issuing. To one unaccustomed to such a spectacle, nothing could have been more picturesque lhan the scene that presented itself to Linda's eye. Large, pine torches were flaring near the door, and threw their red light on the black visages of about forty or fifty negroes, sitting in a ring round an immense pile of corn, on which was seated the sable master of the ceremonies, who was tossing the corn down to the group below, who seized it, one by one, with a yell of delight, and, squaring their elbows and shrugging their shoulders, they vied with each other in stripping off the dry husks from the golden ears. The African monarch of this harvest festival, as he threw the grain into the dexterous hands of the workmen, rolled out a volume of voice that shook the pine-boards of the crib, and every negro joined in the chorus with a vehemence and glee, a physical joy and strength, which none of the pale race can imitate—

"As I went out by the light of the moon,
Merrily ringing this old tune,
I come across a big raccoon
A sotting [sic] on a rail,"

shouted the Agrarian king; and then the sable orchestra chimed bravely in—

"A sotting [sic] on a rail, a sotting on a rail—
I come across a big raccoon
   A sotting on a rail."

Then, as the spirit of melody waxed stronger, the master would vary his strains, and—

"As l went down to Shinbone alley,
   Long time ago,
To buy a bonnet for my Sally,
   Long time ago,"

echoed through the woods, in one full, deafening chorus, dying away only to be repeated with more Herculean vigour. There is nothing that bears the name of music, that can be compared to the negro's singing; he sings all over; every muscle quivers with melody; it gushes from every pore The sounds seem to roll from the white of his eyes, as well as through his ivory teeth. His shoulders, elbows, knees, all appear instinct with song. He winks, he grins, stamps with his feet, taps with his heel, pats with his toes, raps with his knuckles—in short, gesticulates in every possible manner the human form admits. Oh! he is in his glory at a corn shucking!


I get the feeling from the tone of this that the author would not simply have been quoting T.D. Rice's popularized version--which suggests this was the vernacular tradition on which Rice based his song.

These references don't explain "bully in the alley," but they point to the existence of a similar song in an Afro-American work context before sailor chanties became widespread.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Feb 13 - 04:31 PM

A visitor to New Orleans claimed to have heard Black men at work singing a "Shinbone Alley" song. It actually corresponds in part to TD Rice's stage minstrel song (c. 1833?), so there may have been some cross-influence—if this was not the source Rice took it from. The author is not clear whether he actually heard it there, or if this is a general "type."

"...those who have never visited the South and South-west, let them journey hitherward, and hear the negroes singing at their work — regaling their humble fancies with some such intellectual bijou as —

'As I was gwyin' down Shinbone alley,
    Long time ago,
There I spied ole Johnny Gladdin',
    Long time ago, oh-e-oh!' "

["Leaves from the South-West and Cuba." _The Knickerbocker_ 8.1 (July 1836). Pg. 51.]


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Feb 13 - 03:00 PM

The structure, dear boy! - and, of course, the absence of a grand chorus.

What aspect of the structure? What distinguishes the structure of a cotton-screwing chant from a deepwater chanty?

Which is the one that lacks a grand chorus?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 Feb 13 - 11:25 AM

In the South Street area of Lower Manhattan is another Shinbone Alley, as documented in an illustration from DARKNESS & DAYLIGHT IN NEW YORK, Helen Campbell, published by A. D. Worthington & Co., Hartford, ©1897, p. 252.

"Bully in the Alley" as I mentioned way up above was a standard shout of the stevedores who manned the screw-jacks which crammed the bales of wool into ships in Sydney Harbour around 1900, as documented by poet/labor organizer Edwin J. Brady (1869-1952) who worked as a clerk on the docks.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: doc.tom
Date: 10 Feb 13 - 07:48 AM

The structure, dear boy! - and, of course, the absence of a grand chorus.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Feb 13 - 07:02 PM

Tom-

It feels as though this version is far closer to a cotton-screwing chant than the Hugill version.

How so?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: doc.tom
Date: 09 Feb 13 - 08:35 AM

Hi Lighter - absolutely!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 09 Feb 13 - 08:15 AM

> There has also been some speculation that 'Bully' is a synonym for 'drunk'.

There is simply no evidence that this was true.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: doc.tom
Date: 09 Feb 13 - 06:53 AM

On the other hand:
"Bully in the Alley crops up as published only from Short via Sharp ("I have no variants of this nor do I know of any printed version of it") – except for one other version that Hugill 'picked up in the West Indies'. There are three other shanties of this title in the Carpenter collection, with first lines that seem to be related (Edward Robinson - 'John Brown's body in the alley' and Cptn. Robinson – 'I lost my jacket in the alley' [both of Sunderland, England] – and Mr. Forman [of Leith, Edinburgh, Scotland] – 'I lost my coat in Story's Alley'). Judging by extant recordings and the internet, all revival versions seem to have the same structure, and stem from Hugill. Hugill's version gives Shinbone Al as a location in his text. There are Shinbone Alleys in St. George's, Bermuda, in Antigua, and in Pittsburgh – to name but a few! (Story's Alley, incidentally, is in Leith). There has also been some speculation that 'Bully' is a synonym for 'drunk': it could equally be synonymous with 'bullish' i.e. agressive (which might account for leaving your jacket in an alley after taking it off for a fight!).

Short's version gives no location and no indication of drunkenness. In fact, the fragments of Short's text are more reminiscent of Sally In Our Alley (the composition by Henry Carey published in 1726, which became very popular in the U.S. in the nineteenth century, not the Gracie Fields 1931 song) than of Bermudan alcoholism – but either 'explanation' of the shanty is probably grasping at straws and ultimately pointless.

Hugill comments, on the version published by Sharp, that "I feel that this version has all the signs of being in a worn condition, as though Mr. Short's memory, in this case, didn't serve him well." It certainly proved a difficult mss to get 'inside' and understand. Sharp did not always mark his mss with 'solo' or 'chorus', nor did he usually mark the stresses – the conclusion must be that when he does so (as he does throughout this shanty), it is because he has specifically checked it with Short for whatever reason. Sharp's solo/chorus markings and stresses initially did not seem logical, primarily because the Hugill version is so ingrained! However, the way it seems to work is actually as Sharp recorded/published it, although it is still open to some degree of interpretation. It feels as though this version is far closer to a cotton-screwing chant than the Hugill version. (Carpenter makes a note beside the version from Edward Robinson that it also was for 'cotton screwing').


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 08:59 AM

Online Etymology Dictionary tells me that the word 'Bully' comes from the Dutch 'Boel' meaning 'brother or lover' originally a 'sweetheart' but the meaning deteriorated from 'sweetheart' to 'fine fellow,' 'blusterer' and finally to 'harasser of the weak', the link between 'lover' and 'ruffian' possibly coming from one form that meant 'protector of a prostitute'
It is also an adjective meaning 'worthy, jolly, admirable', as in 'bully for you', which is a reflection of its earlier, positive meaning. (somebody acting in a brotherly fashion)

The term 'bully' in indeed has less of a connotation with intoxication and more one of being obstinate, stubborn and rowdy, none of which are requisite, but are nonetheless key symptoms of being drunk. The amusing thing is that most of the word's alternate definitions could serve as a reasonable explanation.

it reminds me of the grammatical curiosity 'Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo' where you can construct a meaningful sentence using only homonyms.

In this case, several sailors are granted shore leave and wind up in a public house, The bully, but bullied bullied bully bullied a bully bully's bullied bully, so bullied bully bully's bullies bullied him into alley. (The fine yet harassed and rowdy sailor, in turn harassed some fine gentleman's drunken sweetheart, so other drunken, well meaning pimps girlfriends threw him out into the alley)
---------------------------

But to return to the original topic,

Another thought (SPECULATION ALERT) is that it could be the other way around, with the sailing expression cropping up later on, after the 'bully in the alley' had already come to mean a drunken sailor. After all, a wavering vessel as described before would certainly give the appearance of being steered by a soused helmsman (or that the ship is being stubborn and steering its own course)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 08:47 AM

> How those old shellbacks would be amused by our babble!

Not an appealing thought.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 07:44 AM

But it's a great story and now has become part of the evolving background to the song.

How those old shellbacks would be amused by our babble!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 07:09 AM

Not to mention that bullies are not always drunk and not always sailors.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Feb 13 - 07:07 AM

I agree with Gibb. Another possibility is that the association once occurred randomly to Hugill, stuck in the back of his mind, and then, many years later, he recalled it when asked without thinking about where it came from!

If you don't think this is possible, wait till you're my age!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 11:28 PM

Thanks. From what I've read/understand, Hugilll was certainly one put a fanciful spin on a simple story. And the general feel in these forums is that he began to buy more and more into his authoritativeness, shifting his tone over the years from apprehensive to firm assertion when discussing origins and meanings.
I had a feeling, it being a second hand yarn and all, and there being no other accounts to back it up, that this explanation was too good to be (totally) true.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 09:13 PM

I was at that performance, and I think I recall chatting about it with someone(s) afterwards.

IMO this explanation is total fancy. I could speculate that Hugill was pressed by people to offer an explanation, and he didn't want to let down the other festival folks who looked up to his experience. I don't know if he gave the explanation in a positive/confident way, or if he also provide caveats (e.g. like "I'm really not sure, but here's a theory...") and people who *wanted* to feel secure dropped those caveats when they retold it. It just seems unlikely to me that Hugill would be privy to any special information about the meaning, so whatever he would say would be more imagination than fact.

I am not in the right mindset right now to offer any really serious opinion of my own on the meaning, except to say that I tend to doubt it has anything much to do with sailing. If anything related to the singers' working environment, I'd guess it pertains to something stevedores were doing. Playing the word-match game, the "alley" might be some space or passage through which cargo must go.

In all, I'm doubtful of it being a "nautical expression." That's my gut reaction.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Feb 13 - 11:27 AM

Hey, longtime reader, first time contributer. I've recently been 'diving in' to the world of shantying, and have found this forum to be an amazing resource.

Bully in the Alley is one of my favorite songs, and I wanted to learn a little more about it.
There's a youtube video where Tom Lewis presents a wonderfully colorful explanation for the meaning of "Bully in the Alley" that seems to expand a bit on the standard notion that it merely refers to a drunken sailor. Tom Lewis claims that this explanation was given to him by none other than Stan Hugill. I will do my best to transcribe this, although the video is worth watching, as Tom Lewis can be seen doing a marvelous Hugill impression. (i'll post the link below)
Hugill:
"on a traditionally rigged ship, if the standing rigging is made of natural fiber, it tends to stretch. If it's not kept tight, the mast will tend to flop to one side or the other, which is not really too much of a problem except for the helmsman. Because the helmsman will be at his wheel, he'll be following his course, and be nicely on his course, and suddenly the mast will FLOP to one side, as the wind has changed, or the sea direction has changed. Suddenly, he's got to compensate for that. And he'll just get it nicely back on its course when the mast will FLOP the other way, and he'd suddenly have to compensate for that! So he's sort of steering in the right direction, but he's only making an approximate course. At that point, the ship is said to be 'Bully in the Alley'..........The sailor in the song has spent too long in a tavern, and he's trying to get back to his ship, but he's only steering an approximate course. So he's calling for his mates to give him some help."

I'm interested that I've never come across this particular explanation anywhere else. Not knowing anything about sailing myself, I'm hoping somebody else has stumbled on this particular explanation for the more obscure nautical expression (as opposed to the standard one about being blind drunk in an alley) and could shed more light on it.......Cheers

Hugill Explanation as Recounted by Tom Lewis


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Nerd
Date: 04 Sep 12 - 01:34 PM

In the James Madison Carpenter collection at the Library of Congress we have a version collected from Edward Robinson:

John Brown's body in the alley
So help my Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Bully in Shinbone Alley
Away, hey! Bully in the alley

I lost my jacket in the alley
So help my Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Bully in Shinbone Alley
Away, hey! Bully in the alley

And one collected from James Forman of Leith:

O, I lost my coat in Storrie's Alley
O-o-o I'm bully in the alley!
He chucked me out because I had no money
Way-ay-ay, I'm bully in the alley

Mary Jane is my good fancy
O-o-o I'm bully in the alley!
But she took my watch and stole my money
Way-ay-ay, I'm bully in the alley

She pawned my clothes in Storrie's Alley
O-o-o I'm bully in the alley!
And then she kicked me out me out because I had no money
Way-ay-ay, I'm bully in the alley

I'll see what else i can turn up about these versions....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Sep 12 - 11:28 AM

refresh!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Dead Horse
Date: 04 Jan 03 - 06:29 PM

Yeah. Those old shantymen were real fussy about the exact words that they would use for a song, and in what order to sing 'em. Not like us folk singers, eh?
(Pause for irony to sink in)
There are as many versions to any one shanty as there are singers to sing 'em, matey :-)   AND they are all correct!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 Jan 03 - 01:22 PM

Guest-

Without a fragment, or the recording, I can't even speculate about BM's missing verse.

They do seem to be taking liberties, rewriting, with a fine old shanty and even misusing some of the sailor jargon such as "gonna slip my cable" which literally means unfastening the anchor line (sometimes bueying it) from the ship for a speedy get-away but usually means as sland that the a sailor has died.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: breezy
Date: 04 Jan 03 - 12:34 PM

I think their version ,and tune is less appealing than the one I posted.
Its certainly scant as opposed to scanning.
Have you ever considered why they call themselves 'B M' is it 'cos they can get away with it?
When Martin comes to our club I'll ask him. He'll be in St Albans on Fri 12th December.Please let me have your questions in good time.
If anyone sees him first please ask him and report back.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Jan 03 - 12:20 PM

I am interested in the version sung in Blue Murder. I've tried to write it down, but there can be mistakes and I can't get the words of a stanza. English is not my mother language. Can somebody help me in finding the complete and correct text as sung in Blue Murder? Thank you. Roberto

This is what I could get:

So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley
So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Bully down in Shinbone Al

Well, Sally is a girl that I loved dearly
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley
Well, Sally is the girl that I spliced nearly
Bully down in Shinbone Al

So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley
So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Bully down in Shinbone Al

When I get to Saint Lou, I'm gonna steer by my Sally
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley
I'll throw her a line and make fast in our alley
Bully down in Shinbone Al

So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley
So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Bully down in Shinbone Al

(…)

When it's time to leave, I'm gonna slip my cable
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley
Gonna visit my Sal as often as I'm able
Bully down in Shinbone Al

So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley
So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Bully down in Shinbone Al

I'm gonna leave my Sal and go out a-sailing
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley
Gonna leave my gal and go out a-whaling
Bully down in Shinbone Al

So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Way-ay, ay-ay, bully in the alley,
So! Help me Bob, I'm bully in the alley
Bully down in Shinbone Al


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: bully in the ally
From: GUEST,Melani
Date: 15 Oct 02 - 01:49 PM

"Bully of the Town" doesn't seem to be the same song as "Bully in the Alley", which as I understand it is a rowing chantey. DT has both, but here are some more verses to "Bully in the Alley":

Cho: So help me, Bob, I'm bully in the alley,
    Way, hey, bully in the alley,
    Help me, Bob, I'm bully in the alley,
    Bully down in Shinbone Al.
   
    Sally is the girl that I love dearly,
    Way, hey, bully in the alley;
    Sally is the girl that I splice nearly,
    Bully down in Shinbone Al.

    For seven long years I courted Sally,
    All she did was dilly-dally.

    I bought her silks, I bought her laces,
    Took her out to all of the places.

    So I'll leave Sal and I'll be a sailor,
    I'll leave Sal and ship aboard a whaler.

    When I get home, I'll marry Sally,
    We'll have kids and count 'em by the tally.

    I shipped on board of the Robert E. Lee, boys;
    Made a lot of money, spent it fast and free, boys.

    Got British ammunition and French champagne;
    When I get to Charleston, gonna feel no pain.

    I shipped on board of a Charleston liner;
    Carolina's fine, but St. George is finer.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 19 Jun 02 - 11:47 PM

G'day,

Charley Noble: "... a true "bully" in the alley ..."

The discussions above seem to miss the meaning that I take, from common British useage, where "bully" (initially as an adjective, but that can be used as a noun, omitting the subject) means "very good", or "first rate".

He is saying that he is top dog in Shinbone Alley ... ? It certainly sounds more like a boastful sailor's view of life on shore leave.

Regards,

Bob Bolton


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST,Eric Yuhas
Date: 19 Jun 02 - 10:29 PM

Hi, Linn, glad you liked it!

Yes, I see those verses from the earlier post now. When I first posted to this thread the previous thread had not been added on yet. I love Dave Parry--I had a cd of his once--actually it was my ex's--you know how THAT goes!

That pub sing was a great end to a great festival, wasn't it?

-Eric


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Bat Goddess
Date: 19 Jun 02 - 05:34 PM

Eric --

Note I posted the Civil War words from David Parry's tape (Ian Robb was part of Friends of Fiddler's Green) much earlier in this thread. But I was really glad to hear you sing them the other night in the Kennebunk Inn pub! (Glad you could take such quick & accurate notes at Mystic!)

Linn


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Jun 02 - 11:32 AM

I just sent a PM to Breezy. Hope he responds with the goods.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 19 Jun 02 - 09:14 AM

In reviewing this thread, including my own comments as "Guest Roll & Go-C," I would most like to find out where Breezy (see above) came up with his interesting verses, which I've never run across before. They are unique in terms of fitting in with a true "bully" in the alley, rather than the usual added verses about some frustrated young man fleeing to sea because Sally won't settle down. Any one got a lead on Breezy?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: CET
Date: 18 Jun 02 - 06:10 PM

I sang this at a session held in the Community Centre, Stromness, Orkney during the Orkney Folk Festival on the last Sunday in May. In fact, I decided to do this song largely because this thread had kept the song in my mind. This session will always stay in my mind because I had the pleasure of sitting next to Fergus O'Byrne, late of Ryan's Fancy, and hearing him sing harmony with me.

Edmund


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Jun 02 - 08:44 AM

"Shinbone Alley" seems to be a generic term that surfaces in many "sailortowns" including those in the West Indies. We still have one in Wiscasset, Maine, of all places.

I first heard Jeff Warner and Jeff Davis sing a slow version of this song at the Lunenburg Folk Harbor Festival, Nova Scotia, in the early 1990's and then became enamored with the faster paced version done by the Seattle based Victory Sings Songs of the Sea collective. I'll ask Jeff W. where he got his version the next time I run into him at the Press Room.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Abby Sale
Date: 17 Jun 02 - 09:55 PM

As I was saying, I'm looking for any documented trad sources for this. I can't get those three extra commonly sung verses ('For seven long years,' 'I'll leave Sal' and 'I thought I heard') back further than Tom Lewis. I too wish breezy had expanded. As to the Civil War aspect, I found the following:

Re chanteys that may have been sung during the Civil War, per Music In The Confederate Navy, by John Townley. Presented at the 10th Annual Mystic Seaport Museum Maritime Music Symposium, June 10, 1989. Posted at http://hmi.homewood.net/alabama.html

A really good candidate, however, is "Bully In The Alley," the chorus of which mentions Shinbone Alley, the heart of sailortown in St. George's, Bermuda.


He offers good logic but not evidence. Any other ideas?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Abby Sale
Date: 17 Jun 02 - 09:45 PM

Ah, there was a good prior thread. I'll go there, I guess. The search thing didn't bring it up.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: GUEST,Eric Yuhas (of Shipping News)
Date: 17 Jun 02 - 09:42 PM

Funny that this thread should appear now...

This is one of my favorites to sing. My main complaint has been "Its too bloody short!" I tried writing a couple verses, but they sounded just like that: written by an amateur. So I started listening and stealing...

From Ken Shatz of NexTradition, I got:
For five long years I courted Sally,
But all she did was dilly-dally.

When I get home I'll marry Sally,
We'll have kids and count 'em by the tally.

And from Ian Robb, at this year's Mystic Fest, I nicked:

Shipped on board o' the Robert E. Lee, boys
Spent our money both fast and free, we were....

We've got British ammunition and French chanpagne, boys
When we get to Charleston gonna feel no pain.

Shipped on board of a Charleston Liner
Carolina's fine, but St. George is finer.

(I had my pad with me and wrote fast--I had heard him do it a while ago and only managed to memorize the first.)

I don't know if any of these verses are traditional, but they sure are fun to sing--I managed to debut them at the pub sing after the Songs of Sail Fest in Kenneybunk on Saturday--no one seemed to mind.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Celtic Soul
Date: 17 Jun 02 - 09:18 PM

Waiting and watching....

This is one of my all time favorite questions as well.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BULLY IN THE ALLEY
From: Abby Sale
Date: 17 Jun 02 - 09:03 PM


At Mystic, a fine, new-to-me group from Michigan yclept 'Hoolie' sang
mostly Lakers' songs (of which most of us only know "Red Iron Ore" but
there's plenty of them) but also a rousing pumping chantey:
          BULLY IN THE ALLEY
(shown here as per Hugill, not as sung)

So 'elp me bob, I'm bully in the alley,
    Way-a-a  a-a-a, bul-ly in the alley!
So 'elp me bob, I'm bully in the alley,
    Bul-ly down in Shinbone Al!

Sally am de gal down in our alley,
Sally am de gal that I spliced nearly,

I'll leave my Sal an' I'll go a-sailin',
I'll leave my Sal an' go a-whalin'.

'bully' = drunk
'bob' generally means more-or-less God & maybe from
'Babe' as in "So help me, Jesus" -- an oath, not as in asking Bob for help.]

They turned v.1 to a chorus & added three more verses to make it a
singable length.  The extra three verses may be put together by one
Tom Lewis.  Hugull just notes that more verses should be improvized
onto this base (as with any chantey).  So ok.

Still, has anyone any other traditional verses for this?  There are a
couple of modern recordings but no attribution, I think.  I see no version
in any of my sea song books except Hugill.

The only older recording I've located so far (thanks to Jane Keefer) are
1.Clam Chowder. Clam Chowder Stewed, Clam Chowder, LP
 (197?), cut#A.02
2.Schneyer, Helen Bonchek. Ballads, Broadsides and Hymns,
 Folk Legacy FSI-050, LP (1974), cut# 8

(Mary-t-F adds that the Clam Chowder was reissued on the CD Spindrift, 1999.

I don't usually think of Hellen Schneyer as a chantey singer, but there
you go.  Sadly I don't have either of these.  Mea culpa, I missed a Folk-
Legacy good one - I thought I had them all.

Would Any have additional words (or tune) from these records or from any
other trad source?

I thank you.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Nerd
Date: 04 Jan 02 - 12:01 AM

I've heard it essentially as Desdemona gives it, but with a couple extra verses:
I bought her silks and fancy laces
took her to all the fancy places

I called her love and dear and honey
She drank my rum and stole my money

So I'll leave Sal, etc.

Messages below are from a new thread.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 08:04 PM

Breezy - where did you find those verses? The first ones are fairly standard but I'm not familar with the later ones; they do sound like they fit more with a boasting, rambunctious "bully in the alley" which is what I've been looking for.


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Subject: Lyr Add: BULLY IN THE ALLEY
From: breezy
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 06:53 PM

V1
Sally am de gal way down our alley
way hay
Sally am de gal that I spliced nearly
bully down
CH Help me Bob I'm bully in the alley
way hey I'm Bully in the alley
Help me Bob i'm bully in the alley, Bully down in shinbone al
V2
I left my Sal to go a-sailing
way
I left my Sal to go a-whaling [wailing]!
bully
V3
I found meslf down on the quay-o
way
Found meself with time so free-o
Bully
V4
Waltzed up to the angel inn-o
way
Kicked the door I waltzed right in -o
V5
Waltzed up to the baroom counter
there I met with greasey Annie
V6
Greasey Annie is a slimey whore-o
Every shellback's knocked on her door -o
V7
I bought her gin I bought he rum -o
Bought her wine both red and white -o
V8
When I'ld spent all my tin -o
Offto bed we then did creep-o
V9
All night long we tossed and tumbled
Dawn did come and cocks! did crow-o
V10
repeat verse the second to finish,
great audience participation number and rarely sung, but very catchy, I enjoy it with driving guitar which makes it appeal to a wider audience but I cut the guitar towards the end until it is sung as it is meant to be with indefinite choruses until I sense it's gone on long enough!!!!
hope I got the linebreaaks all in, cos I am, bye.
P.S. Friday 18th January 2002 Silver Cup F.C. Harpenden, Herts Eng. we'll do it.
Main guest Mick Pearce [M'boro'],does great songs inc D.Miles


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Melani
Date: 03 Jan 02 - 12:33 AM

Gordon Bok recored a song called "Crossing the Water" which he says was written by Joanne Davis. Is that a third one?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: ChanteyMatt
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 02:04 PM

"Twas my thought the song was from Jamaca and was used as a rowing shanty/chantey. I've put a calypso beat to it and it works wonderfully well. Any thoughts?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Jan 02 - 01:08 PM

Three times around spun this gallant ship! Refresh!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Bully in the Alley
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Jan 02 - 11:47 AM

I suppose the point I was making with the old Australia poem above had to do with the "traditional" meaning of the expression "I'm bully in the alley" which I used to think meant alcoholically impaired. I'm now more inclined to think it meant "I'm one fierce fellow and if you know what's good for you, you better start running." The verses that one now finds are a fairly eclectic bunch as one might expect, none of which seem to fit the bellicose interpretation of "I'm bully in the alley" I'm now assuming. Maybe, I need to rake up a new set of verses.


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