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Origin: Sloop John B

DigiTrad:
THE WRECK OF THE JOHN B


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Sloop John B. (28)
Lyr Req: Sloop John A ? (2)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
The John B Sails (Sandburg) (from American Songbag)
The John B.'s Sails (Alan Lomax) (from The Folk Songs of North America)
The Wreck of the John B


GUEST,Phil d'Conch 11 Jun 18 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 08 Jun 18 - 06:10 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 08 Jun 18 - 05:31 PM
Dave Rado 08 Jun 18 - 04:01 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 06 Jun 18 - 09:27 PM
Dave Rado 06 Jun 18 - 07:32 PM
Dave Rado 06 Jun 18 - 07:01 PM
Max 05 Feb 18 - 08:04 PM
Lighter 04 Feb 18 - 06:03 PM
mayomick 04 Feb 18 - 04:39 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 02 Feb 18 - 10:10 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 02 Feb 18 - 09:54 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 02 Feb 18 - 09:50 PM
GUEST,Emmie 31 Jan 18 - 03:32 PM
Lighter 31 Jan 18 - 09:50 AM
Gibb Sahib 30 Jan 18 - 09:14 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 30 Jan 18 - 02:53 PM
GUEST,Emmie 30 Jan 18 - 02:46 AM
Gibb Sahib 29 Jan 18 - 10:36 PM
GUEST,Emmie 29 Jan 18 - 06:52 PM
GUEST,Emmie 29 Jan 18 - 05:45 PM
GUEST,Emmie 29 Jan 18 - 05:31 PM
GUEST,Emmie 29 Jan 18 - 04:27 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Jan 18 - 01:42 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 29 Jan 18 - 01:40 PM
GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP) 29 Jan 18 - 11:21 AM
GUEST,Emmie 28 Jan 18 - 09:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jan 18 - 07:57 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 28 Jan 18 - 07:27 PM
Gibb Sahib 28 Jan 18 - 04:51 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 28 Jan 18 - 04:45 AM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jan 18 - 12:12 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 26 Jan 18 - 02:27 PM
Mysha 25 Jan 18 - 12:17 PM
GUEST,Emmie 25 Jan 18 - 01:42 AM
Gibb Sahib 25 Jan 18 - 12:25 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Jan 18 - 11:54 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Jan 18 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,Emmie 24 Jan 18 - 02:23 PM
GUEST,Emmie 23 Jan 18 - 07:02 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Jan 18 - 02:35 PM
GUEST,Emmie 23 Jan 18 - 06:41 AM
GUEST,Emmie 23 Jan 18 - 06:10 AM
GUEST,Emmie 23 Jan 18 - 05:55 AM
GUEST,Emmie 23 Jan 18 - 05:47 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 23 Jan 18 - 02:00 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Jan 18 - 02:16 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Jan 18 - 01:57 PM
akenaton 14 Jul 17 - 03:54 PM
Gallus Moll 14 Jul 17 - 03:27 PM
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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 11 Jun 18 - 11:33 AM

Heads up, revised & updated to The Weavers first audio release:

Hoist the John B. sails
w&m: Prouty (Eddy Warren,) Spencer, Mass.;
two step for piano, by Ed. W. Prouty. 19970, C 46639, Apr.25, 1903; 2c. Apr.25,1903.
[Catalogue of Title Entries of Books and Other Articles, Vol. 36 Musical Compositions, (Washington: GPO, 2 April 1903, p.452)]


*Hoist the John B. Sails!
[Advertisement, Bahamas Goverment Agent, (New York: New York Tribune, 5 Dec., p.adv., 1915)]
[Advertisement, Bahamas Goverment Agent, (New York: The Sun, 26 Dec., 1915, p.13)]


The John B. Sails
[Gallienne, R.L., Coral Islands and Mangrove Trees, Harper's Monthly Magazine, vol.CXXXIV, December, 1916, To May, 1917 (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1917, pp. 82-83)]
(Reprinted.)


The John B. Sails
[Gallienne, R.L., Pieces of Eight: Being the Authentic Narrative of a Treasure Discovered in the Bahama Islands, In the Year 1903 – Now First Given to the Public" (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1918, pp.30-31)]
(Multiple reprintings.)


The John B. Sails
w: F.W. Clark, m: A. Leopold Richard
[The John B. Sails, sheet music, (Chicago: Legters Music Co, 1921)]


*H'is up the John B. sail
Twelve Bahamian memories; sheet music,
w&m: A.F.F. of U.S.©1c. May 8, 1924; E 590089; Anthony Frank Fiorillo, New Haven Conn. 12186
[Catalogue of Copyright Entries, pt.III, n.s., V.19, (Washington: GPO, 1924, p.12182)]

Renewed:
w&m: ©8May24, E590089. R79U9, 29May51, Anthonv Frank Fiorillo (A)
[Catalog of Copyright Entries, Series 3, v.5, pt.5c, nos.1-2, Renewal Registrations – Music, (Jan.-Dec. 1951)(Washington: GPO, 1951, p.78)]


*H'is up the John B. sail
Native Bahamian memories;
w&m: Esau Wood [pseud, of A. F. F.]; pf. and ukulele acc. First series:© Oct. 3, 1924; 2 c. Oct. 6; E 600328; Anthony Frank Fiorillo, New Haven, Conn. 20401
[Catalogue of Copyright Entries, pt.III, n.s., V.19, (Washington: GPO, 1924, p.1001)]

Renewed:
w&m Esau Wood (pseud. Of Anthony Frank Fiorillo)©3oct24, E600328. R84855, 22oct51, Esau Wood (A)
[Catalog of Copyright, Renewals, (Washington: GPO, 1951, p.136)]
[At Yale - Native Bahamian memories]


Trilogy: The John B. Sails; Canopus & The Watch Tower
[McCutcheon, John T. & Evelyn S, The Island Song Book, (Chicago: The Chicago Tribune Tower, Private printing, Jan. 15, 1927, pp. i, ii, 8, 22, 23)]


*Hice up the John B. sail
Grants' Town Melodies: Four original melodies of Bahamian airs.
Arr: Austin Ira Destoup, Nassau
[musical score, (Nassau: A. Destoup, 1927)]


The John B. sails
Arr: A.G. Wathall, WGN-Chicago
[Sandburg, C., American Songbag, (Orlando: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1927, p.22)]


H'ist up the John B's sails
418B2, Sound recording, sung by Cleveland Simmons and group of women. Old Bite, Cat Island, Bahamas, Alan Lomax, Mary Elizabeth Barnicle, July 1935.
[American Folklife Center, Library of Congress, AFC 1935/001; AFS 00418 B02, 1935]
[Commericial release: Rounder, CD, 11661-1822-2, 1999, trk.7)


*'Oist hup de John B. sail
w & melody. © 1 c. Jan. 30, 1939; E unp. 187035;
Osgood Stevens Lovekin & Marion Roads Lovekin, North Tarrytown, N. Y. 4893
[Catalog of Copyright Entries, Part 3, Musical Compositions, New Series, v.34, For the year 1939, nos.1-12, (Washington: GPO, 1940, p.4873)]


Note: There are several versions in the unreleased 1940 WPA Florida Recordings (American Folklife Center, Library of Congress.)


(The Wreck of the) John B
w/m: Carl Sandburg, Lee Hayes
[The Weavers, Decca, 27332, 1950, b/w: The Roving Kind]


*Added


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 06:10 PM

Reposting the known early sources here, with Prouty inserted, just for reference:

Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 04 Apr 16 - 02:23 AM

Prouty (Eddy Warren)
Spencer, Mass.
Hoist the John B. sails; two step for piano, by Ed. W. Prouty. 19970
C 46639,Apr.25,1903;2c.Apr.25,1903.

[Catalogue of Title Entries of Books and Other Articles, Vol. 36 Musical Compositions, Washington: GPO, 2 April 1903, p.452]



Subject: RE: Songs that surprisingly _are_ trad
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 19 Mar 16 - 08:31 PM
Re: "Sloop John B" and three references (more like 7-8 but anyways…)

Lyrics by romantic novelist-travel writer Richard Le Gallienne (on paid assignment to the Bahamian government) in one of a series of articles for Harper's Magazine. Song title is given as: "The John B. Sails" (Coral Islands and Mangrove Trees, Harper's Dec. 1916)

Le Gallienne recycled and expanded the lyrical meme in his adventure novel "Pieces of Eight: Being the Authentic Narrative of a Treasure Discovered in the Bahama Islands, In the Year 1903 – Now First Given to the Public" (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, Page & Co., 1918)

The "original" lyrics (credited to F.W. Clark?) were set to music and published by Chicago theater organist-composer A. Leopold Richard. (The John B. Sails, Chicago: Legters Music Co, 1921)

Privately released in songbook form (sans attributions) by Chicago Tribune political cartoonist-author John T. McCutcheon and poet-author Evelyn Shaw McCutcheon. The notes differ from Sandburg's only in the last half of the last sentence "...designed by Mr. Howard Shaw..." &c. This is the first appearance of the "Wreck" meme though the song title remains simply "The John B. Sails" (The Island Song Book, Privately Printed at The Chicago Tribune Tower, Jan. 15, 1927)

Released in songbook form by Sandburg later the same year, with the same song title. Arranged by A.G. Wathall, master-arranger and composer for the Chicago Tribune's WGN radio station. (American Songbag, Orlando, Florida: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1927)

First audio recording "Histe Up the John B. Sail" was the Cleveland Simmons Group by Alan Lomax in Old Bight, Cat Island, Bahamas in 1935. No mention of Le Gallienne, Richard, or the McCutcheons when finally released over a half-century later. (Rounder CD 11661-1822-2, 1999)

First commercial release by The Weavers as "(The Wreck of the) John B". Credited to Carl Sandburg – Lee Hayes. (b/w: The Roving Kind, Decca 27332, 1950)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 05:31 PM

Dave: “So it seems to be pretty certain to me that the Sloop John B (both the boat and the song named after it) was named after its captain, John Bethel, who lived in the mid-to-late 19th century; and that the song dates from around that time.

"The real estate agent told me..."? The 'source' that convinced the current homeowner, and you, was social media. Even then, not as well sourced as the thread you are posting in now.

fwiw: The salesperson's patter is lifted straight from the McCutcheon fable. The Bahamian process is little different from the hundred-and-eleventeen “Washington Slept Here” roadsides all over New England.

A copy, or even a retrievable reference to, a poem or a song that actually predates Prouty/Le Gallienne oth would be interesting to say the least.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Dave Rado
Date: 08 Jun 18 - 04:01 PM

I emailed Matthew Simon, the current owner of the house that the 19th century John Bethel built, and he wrote back and quoted from a post on the "Straight Dope Message Board, as follows (I've corrected some typos that were in the original post):
John Bethel was a sea Captain from Govenours Harbor, Eleuthera, The Bahamas. The "Sloop John B" was an actual boat (sloop) that Captain John Bethel built in the front yard of his house. He then rolled it down hill on logs and launched it into the harbour. Captain Bethel used the Sloop John B for many years in commerce, both in The Bahamas and along the eastern seaboard of the United States, from Key West all the way up to Newfoundland. At some point the boat hit a reef and sunk. Someone wrote a poem, another put that poem to music. That song became a sailors sea song and was adapted widely and sang by many sailors. for many many years, depicting the drama on a typical sea voyage ... In June of 2014, I stayed in the Sea Captains House, which is over 300 years old. This story is common knowledge on Eleuthera.

Go to VRBO and search for The Sea Captains House, Eleuthera. Angelicka Bacchus, a realtor and restaurant owner on Eleuthera can tell you more details.

Matthew then added:
Except that the sloop sank in Governors Harbour (where there are no reefs) and the wreck was a landmark in the harbor for many years. John Bethel lived in the late 19th century. He was perhaps descended from the 17th century John Bethel, but not the same guy : )

So it seems to be pretty certain to me that the Sloop John B (both the boat and the song named after it) was named after its captain, John Bethel, who lived in the mid-to-late 19th century; and that the song dates from around that time.

As the boat was sunk in Governors Harbour, which is on a different island from Nassau, the note in the DT version of the song is probably wrong when it says: "This is a theme song of the Nassau waterfront, telling the story of a little sloop and the wild party which went on the night she was sunk."

I'm beginning to think that the reference to "the wreck" of the Sloop John B in the song's title must just be a reference to the fact that everyone in the Bahamas at the time the song was written knew about the wreck of that boat, as it was a landmark back then - but the song is not actually about the boat being wrecked, (or even about what happened the night before it sank) - but rather, it's just about the behaviour of it's crew, who according to Blind Blake "were in the habit of getting notoriously merry, whenever they made port".

Dave


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 06 Jun 18 - 09:27 PM

Afaik the “wreck” bit was created as part of a comedy skit/trilogy at the 26 March 1926 dedication of the Watchtower on Treasure Island, Nassau. (25.098333,-77.271111) Event of the season.

It's listed as the “Customhouse Watchtower” in the list of works by Howard Van Doren Shaw. He played the part of the pirate in the skit. The tower is still there.

Dolphin Encounters

I've posted the McCutcheon-Sandburg songbook notes and the McCutcheon family song/toast lyrics here: Lyr Add: Canopus. There's a bit more tongue-in-cheek 'history' in the McCutcheon 1927 songbook.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Dave Rado
Date: 06 Jun 18 - 07:32 PM

PS - Judging from the Bahamian Letting Agent's ad here, the story that I posted about the Sloop John B being named after its Welsh captain, John Bethel, does appear to be commonly accepted as fact in the Bahamas - although confusingly, the ad is about a 19th century house which it says was built by John Bethel - which seems to scupper the idea that Bethel went to the Bahamas in 1647 or that the song could date from that long ago.

Can anyone throw any more light on this?

Dave


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Dave Rado
Date: 06 Jun 18 - 07:01 PM

Having read this thread with great interest, a few things puzzle me:

1) If as has been stated in several posts, the Sloop John B was a real boat and its crew were famous for getting merry when they landed ashore, then surely it should be possible to say roughly when the song originated (as opposed to when it was first published, which was in 1916). Does anyone have any idea when the actual boat would have been sailing? If "time and usage" had "given this song almost the dignity of a national anthem" by 1927, then one would have thought it must have written a lot more than 11 years earlier than that.

2) I understood that traditional Bahamian sloops looked pretty much like large rowing boats with a single sail in them, which could take a crew of 5 fishermen - so they contained no rooms or covered areas and certainly no galley. Given that, how could they have had a cook on board? Or is that poetic licence?

3) Why is the song called (in several versions) "The Wreck of the Sloop John B" when nothing in any of the lyrics I've seen refer to the boat being wrecked, they only refer to the behaviour of the crew?

4) In the Bahamian versions I've heard, and in most other pre-Beach Boys recordings, it says in the chorus: "I feel so break up" (rather than "broke up" or "broken up"). Is it part of Bahamian patois to use the present tense like that, when it's more usual elsewhere to use a past participle (broken up) or the past tense (broke up)?

5) Someone posted above that:
...About John B.: I've heard from one knowledgable source that the bad things that happen on that sloop are all the result of naming the boat "John B." In Afro-Carribean culture, nobody with a surname beginning with "B" (supposedly) will name a son "John," because the result ("John B." sounds too much like "jumby" -- a west african (Wolof/Bambera) term referring to this undead thing we've anglicized to "zombie" -- apparently it won't do to mention these creatures; "speak of the devil," and all that.

If Bahamians considered it to be such bad luck to name a boat John B, and if the John B was a real boat as has been claimed in several posts in this thread, then why would any Bahamians have named their boat John B in the first place?

6) A possible answer to questions 1) and 5) is contained in an article by Clarence H. Bethel , which states:
1647: An enterprising group seeking freedom of religion and self government obtained a charter from Charles I to establish a colony in the Bahamas. Known as "The Company of Eleutherian Adventurers" they were the first permanent European settlers in the Bahamas. They named the 100 mile long island they settled on Eleuthera, The adventurers crossed the Atlantic in a sailing skip called the "William" out of a British port. Some of the pilgrims were from Ireland, among them one, John Bethel, a Welshman, established himself at what is now Governor's Harbour. He captained a sailing vessel in early trading between the Islands of the West Indies and the American Colonies. His crew of Bahaman Negroes sang a folk ballad that was revised and recorded in the 1960's and '70s by several prominent artists, including Percy Faith, The Beach Boys and others. It became a hit record under such names as, "The Wreck of the Sloop John B." and "The John B's Sails".

Does anyone know whether this story has any credence? If so, it would appear that the ship was named after (and presumably by) its Welsh owner, which might explain how it could have been given a name that Afro-Bahamians considered to be unlucky; and it would also mean that both the boat and the song itself date all the way back to the 17th century. Does anyone know if this story has any truth to it?

Dave


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Max
Date: 05 Feb 18 - 08:04 PM

Loosely, I always considered Joseph Spence was as close you could get to the origin. Folk song from the Bahamas by a folk singer, seemingly as old as the ocean itself, from the Bahamas... Hellova version anyway: https://youtu.be/PO0XjbAAso0


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Lighter
Date: 04 Feb 18 - 06:03 PM

Or Johnstone or even Johnson.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: mayomick
Date: 04 Feb 18 - 04:39 PM

Emmie. Is it known if there was a Sherriff or a Constable John Stone or Johnston in Nassau around the time the lyrics would have been written?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 02 Feb 18 - 10:10 PM

I like my creativity clearly labelled:

RECORD 14 3391
A-1 WASTE
B-1 "Hoist Up The John B Sail." (Complete) Sung by Theodore Rolle, guitar, trombone accompaniment, Key West, Florida, January 23, 1940.

[Library of Congress Title List and Related Data for Folk Songs Recorded by the Second Florida WPA Recording Expedition, January 15-31, 1940, pp.8-9.]

Audio at Florida Memory: WASTE
(Starts at 34:30)


A little conchy night music. Enjoy.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 02 Feb 18 - 09:54 PM

Where Bahamian Theodore "Tea Roll" Rolle is singing lyrics at all, it's mostly scat, he's singing the Grits & Grunts version above, sort of. Kennedy also did the recording here.

Library of Congress Catalog: Hoist up the John B. Sail

Library of Congress Audio: Hoist up the John B. Sail


3391 B
Hoist up the John B. Sails
Sung by Theodore Rolle with guitar and trombone.
Key West, Fla., Stetson Kennedy and Robert Cook, Jan, 1940.


Florida Memory Audio: Hoist up the John B. Sail
(starts at 39:00)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 02 Feb 18 - 09:50 PM

Hoist up the John B Sail

Hoist up the John B Sail,
See how the main sail set.
Send for the Captain ashore,
And let us go home.

Oh let us go home,
To see my darlin'.
Let us go home....

I feel so break-up
I want to make-up [set sail]
And go home....

Captain and Mate got drunk,
Open the people's trunk,
Stole all the people's junk.

The Captain raise Cain uptown.
Up come Policeman Brown.
Who took the Captain down.

The judge he was sorta' kind,
Scold him for drinkin' wine.
"Let you off light this time."

The Captain he told the Mate,
At nine o'clock to lock the gate;
Run, run before it's too late!

Chorus:
Let us go home, oh let us go home,
To see my darlin', let us go home...

Kennedy, Stetson, Grits & Grunts: Folkloric Key West, (Sarasota: Pineapple Press, 2008, pp. 155, 157)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 31 Jan 18 - 03:32 PM

I think Phil is a racist. I bet he is also of the belief that the rhyming spirituals of the Bahamas also has its origins among whites. When clearly all the early folklorist that commented on it believed it was of African Influences and didn't come from European customs.

For one Charles Edwards opinion was that it was unlike anything he has ever seen, entirely unique to Bahamian Blacks.
Henry Edward Krehbiel wrote:
"Relics of ancient ceremonies connected with death and burial have survived amongst the American negroes and have been influential in producing some strangely beautiful and impressive songs. One of these, 'Dig My Grave', from the Bahamas, where the songs, though they have much community of both poetical and musical phrase with them, yet show a higher development than do the slave songs of the States, is peculiarly impressive."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Lighter
Date: 31 Jan 18 - 09:50 AM

> rigor and creativity

The order is too often reversed.

Especially in folk song studies.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 30 Jan 18 - 09:14 PM

Phil, I think that both rigor and creativity are necessary components of doing history.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 30 Jan 18 - 02:53 PM

Gibb:

I count nothing in or out. The document record is what it is. Speculation is not documentation.

WPA A&R would hardly be an unadulterated sampling of anything. It's pre-selected, sorted and packaged by individuals who were openly hostile to the commercial process but nonetheless part of it and just as lax with the credits as any major record label.

imo the U.S. Government does ballyhoo quite well. Caveat emptor, always.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 30 Jan 18 - 02:46 AM

Here you can see very clearly that blacks of The Bahamas was not engaged in one style of music. The land of the pink pearl was published in 1888 and show Blacks playing and singing the blue bells of scotland and when the stormy winds do blow. And is noted for playing and singing them quite well.

These songs already being a part of the Black Bahamian musical options could of develop some similar songs in the same character.

I just wanted to post this because there seems to be an belief here that all blacks had not adopted European influences and all of it came by way of America despite the fact that Europeans would have brought with them their musical traditions from Europe when they settled in the Bahamas. Powles actually makes a few references to this, he also mentions that Irish jigs were considered a national dance among many Black Bahamians.

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=mdp.39015009054720;view=1up;seq=246


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 29 Jan 18 - 10:36 PM

What would I know from 'serious' or Africana?

I dunno, dude. Sometimes you lose me in your brevity and/or tongue-in-cheek or sarcastic language!

My humble point is: "Listen and consider the possibilities."

People in the Caribbean (which the Bahamas isn't... but I'm taking liberty in grouping it there!) have sung the same songs in both working and playing contexts. The chanties of Grenada discussed in another thread in which we both participated, were "used" as launching songs... and then sung also at wakes in a non-working context. People could tell you that they were launching songs all the while performing them on a social occasion in a somewhat different style.

While I know that any song, for example, composed by a Euro-American composer for stage entertainment *might* be adapted to a quite different Afro-Bahamaian "folk" style -- whether for play or work -- I don't think we know that this was the case here. (Do we?) I am suggesting that if "John B" was sung within a set of items of Afro-Bahamian folk material, several items of which are confirmed work-songs, and if it was labeled as a launching song (one of the types of work-songs relevant to Bahamian boating culture), then maybe it's worth holding out the possibility that it was one of the work/play songs that just as easily can be borrowed by a Euro-American composer!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 29 Jan 18 - 06:52 PM

Prouty also never claimed to be the writer of the lyrics he only published the music, two step for piano; composed by Ed. W. Prouty.

Which mean he arranged music for an already existing song.

And we also know the lyrics predates Clarke. So Phil is really desperately trying to hold on to this American origin narrative, for which reason I can not explain.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 29 Jan 18 - 05:45 PM

Now I am not going to claim this narrative as a fact, however it is a possible scenario. We know very well the history of Chicago's gang culture and we know the involvement of Al Capone in the rum running in the 1920's.

If these Chicago men had any relation to the rum running era which is very possible, it is very likely they heard the song in Nassau in the 1920's went back and copyrighted it.

I can't prove this but this is a possible scenario if they weren't aware of the Prouty version.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 29 Jan 18 - 05:31 PM

He write the lyrics were claimed by Clarke as if we don't already know the lyrics were first transcribe in 1916.

So which lyrics did he create for him to be relevant? Again just because people claim something doesn't make it true. People have been thieves and plagiarism have been active for centuries.

It is interesting that Prouty would dedicate said song to the citizens of Nassau Bahamas as is written somewhere I am sure but I haven't seen the actual document that says it. Where as this Clarke will claim he is the originator of said lyrics?

And we should take that seriously?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 29 Jan 18 - 04:27 PM

Mick I have never seen the sheet music with my own eyes, I have only seen the publishing of Hoist the John B sails in a book dating it to 1903.

To me the core lyrics are the most important part to identify a song because the tune can always change a little or a lot in songs but the core lyrics make up the base of the song.

I can only assume that the version by Prouty is lyrically the same song but again I haven't seen it.

For example if I used the peas and rice tune on a different lyric song, at best it would be a song using the peas and rice tune. If I including the peas an rice lyrics on a different tune it would be a new version of the classic peas an rice.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Jan 18 - 01:42 PM

Me: "As mentioned above, the lyrics were claimed by "F.W. Clark." If anybody has any background-bio on Clark please post it here. Nobody in the Bahamas ever claimed him from what I know."

Update: First name "Ferdinand" and from Chicago in 1921.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 29 Jan 18 - 01:40 PM

Gibb: Audacity will clean that mp3 right up.

377B2's lyrics always seemed grafted onto a beat I've heard somewhere but never placed. I don't hear a work song but then, I get strains of A-Tisket, A-Tasket in Bellamena (377B1.) What would I know from 'serious' or Africana?

"1900s-composed pop song"(?) Chosen, FL, of any era, is certainly a different setting from Bay Street, Nassau and it's sort of given a Euro-American, professional ballroom orchestra would execute differently than Afro-Bahamian migrant workers and drummer, any time or place. It's a song.

All the 1930s WPA John B. recordings lack the commercial credits in their notes. Different branch, but it's the same U.S. Federal government that issued the copyrights in 1902 (Prouty) and again in 1921 (Clark-Richard.)

fwiw: I take the lot of it with a U$600 grain of salt.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Mick Pearce (MCP)
Date: 29 Jan 18 - 11:21 AM

Emmie

Is the Prouty the same tune as normally heard for the song, and if there are lyrics how do they compare?

Mick


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 28 Jan 18 - 09:50 PM

I finally laid my eyes on the Prouty 1903. He published a song by the name Hoist the John B sails in Spencer Mass. However I don't see the dedicated to the people of Nassau Bahamas.

My response to this is Peas n' Rice was copyrighted in 1931 but the New York Herald had the lyrics posted in a 1921 publication. Also Heilner stated that everyone who visited Nassau has heard the song and suggested it originated during the first World War, this confirms he already knew the song before 1922 and possibly suggest he knew it as early as at least 1918.

My point is a song appearing in the records for the first time doesn't equate the songs origins.

So we can say the documentation shows Prouty as the first to publish said song but it hasn't confirmed that the song originated with him.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jan 18 - 07:57 PM

I wrote,

"And the first rendition of John B strikes me as potentially notable in how different it is from how one might imagine a 1900s-composed pop song to be performed."

Translation: It's very different from Le Gallienne's setting.

Do you disagree?


(Play songs and work songs are overlapping categories in Afro-American culture.)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 28 Jan 18 - 07:27 PM

'Serious' - Something, anything, the opposite of Le Gallienne's set & setting. Less play, more work.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Jan 18 - 04:51 PM

Thanks, Phil. That digitization of the WPA tape is just what I was looking for! It was a lot harder to struggle with the reel-to-reel tape at the LoC!

That said, the LoC notes did label several of those items as launching songs.

And the first rendition of John B strikes me as potentially notable in how different it is from how one might imagine a 1900s-composed pop song to be performed.

Not sure what you mean by "serious" work song.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 28 Jan 18 - 04:45 AM

Gibb:

Here is the one Atterly source I'm aware of:
WPA in Calhoun County (1935)

John B as a "serious" work song I've not seen before but yeah, the WPA notes and the listening can be... challenging.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jan 18 - 12:12 AM

Thanks, Phil.

I have two (-ish) related questions for you, if you know these recordings well.

In my crappy notes, I have one version marked as sung by Abraham Atterly in Chosen, FL.

I have another one -- the one I mentioned above included drums and women singers -- marked as having been recorded in "Florida." I don't have the specific names of singers. I may have just been negligent in noting, or the information was not given. The cataloging of these items is fabulously mixed up, and I can't locate a coherent listing on-line.

Anyway, that one -- the "drums and women" one -- was annotated as a "launching song." It was recorded along with other confirmed work-songs. Granted, the others have chanty forms, which John B does not.

I wonder if there is anything notable, in any case, about "John B" being sung in that context. (And keeping in mind it's possible that the person labeling these things may have erred.)

Secondly, and unrelated to John B., I'm wondering if by chance you have any of these recordings in your possession, as I'm particular interested in obtaining Atterly and company's rendition of "Fire Down Below."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 26 Jan 18 - 02:27 PM

"(...to someone reading this thread in the future.)"

Are we there yet?

Those WPA project recordings have two names of interest to conchies.

Abraham "Atterly" - the more common spelling is Adderley, as in Nat and Julian. I'm pretty sure America's famous jazz brothers' ancestors hail from Nassau.

Theodore "Tea Roll" Rolle - The third husband Zora Neale Thurston's Their Eye's Were Watching God was "Tea Cake" and the climactic hurricane scene was set in Chosen, Florida, where Stetson recorded Rolle. (WPA was rebuilding the Herbert Hoover Dike.)

Somebody Drowned and/or God Rode a Mighty Storm return bagels in a Mudcat search.(!?!)

Still checkin'


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Mysha
Date: 25 Jan 18 - 12:17 PM

Phil d'Conch: I don't recall a song "God save the female". Is this about Oben am jungen Rhein? (-:

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 25 Jan 18 - 01:42 AM

You haven't answered the question.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Jan 18 - 12:25 AM

Nothing substantial to add, but just to note (for whatever small it may be worth to someone reading this thread in the future) that when I was researching at the Library of Congress last year I kept on running into recordings of "John B."

e.g. (according to my sketchy notes -- I didn't take notes because the song wasn't the subject of my interest...):

- A version with string orchestra recorded "in the Caribbean" by Laura Boulton, 1938

- a 1935 version recorded by Lomax and/or Hurston and/or Barnicle, in Florida, with drums and with women joining the chorus

- June 1935, Bahamians on Lake Okeechobee in Florida, singing what I'll loosely call the "standard version"

- Cat Island, July 1935, which I suppose was the familiar Lomax recorded take


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Jan 18 - 11:54 PM

A Prouty closing time:

He was the soundtrack to my grandparents wedding anniversaries, or so I was told, and ended every show with S.F. Smith's My Country 'Tis of Thee (America) which is also God Save the [gender du jour] in the Bahamas. Sneaky 'dem Yanks.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Jan 18 - 11:52 PM

It looks like everything is already posted except the biographies, see above and here:
https://mudcat.org/detail.cfm?messages__Message_ID=3779899
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=159532

Le Gallienne:
Whittington-Egan, Richard, The Quest of the Golden Boy: the life and letters of Richard Le Gallienne, (Barre, MA.: Barre Pub., 1962)(not online)


Edward Warner Prouty:
Tower, Henry M., Historical Sketches Relating to Spencer, Mass., Vol. II, (Spencer, MA: W.J. Heffernan-Spencer Leader Print, 1902, pp.98-101)
(online)

Published in his third season in Nassau (at The Vic) and one year before the John B. copyright; no mention of the song.

Lofthouse has nothing to do with John B. Different thread(s). Lastly, I'm sometimes away from Mudcat for a minute. It's not about you.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 24 Jan 18 - 02:23 PM

Everytime I ask you to show me references for the claims you make, you change the subject or don't respond.

You made a claim in 2015 That the sloop John B was only widely known among the Bay Street elite. Yet there is no record at all that suggest this to be the case.

As a discographer to make the claims you make, without showing the evidence for them, proves to me you are making up false narratives.

You also stated that Charles Lofthouse was in Paris around the time, but the Charles Lofthouse who was in Paris was born in England and is not the same Charles Lofthouse who was born in Nassau.

So I will ask you again show the sources that created these claims.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 07:02 PM

"A melody familiar in the Bahamas since 1903 according to Le Gallienne, in a travelogue piece paid for by the Bay Street Boys"

Do you have links to the actual sources so I can look over them myself?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 02:35 PM

RE: this thread's song:

"This means the song already had a melody to it and all A.G Wathall would do was write a piece to fit the melody that already existed."

A melody familiar in the Bahamas since 1903 according to Le Gallienne, in a travelogue piece paid for by the Bay Street Boys.

Which dovetails with the Prouty copyright on sheet music dedicated to the People of Nassau as a senior executive of the mainland's Flager System (in Nassau, The Colonial and The Royal Vic.)

No earlier references have been found. Prouty himself is a very recent addition to the discussion.

I say again, there isn't anything currently in the historical record, Lomax liner notes inclusive, that originates from anywhere but the Bay Street Boys tourist industry narrative.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 06:41 AM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAGjxqjoCko this is long but this will help you to get a good sense of songs like peas and rice.

Miss lucy hang herself in da mango tree at about 16:20, and the Blue Hill water dry part was also native to the Bahamas and was originally from Tony Mckay but from the native songs, also I went up on the hill.

Now I am much to young to tell you when these songs first appeared but I grew up playing them in schools, my mom remember them from her school days and I am pretty sure my granny remembers them also.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 06:10 AM

For example tony mckays Blue Hill water dry lyrics in Brown Girl in the ring was stolen by Boney. M and I do recall reading that he had attempted or did sue the group but I am not sure what came out of that.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 05:55 AM

Also in the 1950's and 60's Calypso music is a big market and Bahamians produced some original songs and some came from Trinidad and Jamaica. Lazy man by George Symonette is definitely Bahamian because it is still only found here as it never caught on.

Lazy man however is not by George, Lazy man was a Bahamian ring dance song that Bahamian women would sing. My mama told me 3 years ago, I must not marry no lazy man, no lazy man no lazy man, no lazy man. Another Bahamian folk song, just didn't go international like peas n rice, and John B.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Emmie
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 05:47 AM

I read the American song book and what it says is that they had learn to sing it on their treasure island in the west indies. This means the song already had a melody to it and all A.G Wathall would do was write a piece to fit the melody that already existed.

She did say time and usage has given the song almost the dignity of a national anthem around Nassau. This is a reference to there not being any radio or any means of mass communication, when she says Nassau, she is talking about New Providence or the entire island not Bay Street.

Art label didn't produce any songs they sought out artist in clubs who already had songs. http://www.bsnpubs.com/florida/art/art.html

"The Art label specialized in recording the lounge and club acts that were appearing in South Florida hotels and clubs, clubs across the water in the Bahamas, and by 1955, artists in Panama. Much of the time, these recordings were "live" recordings of their lounge acts, manufactured to be sold by the artists themselves at their club appearances. Because of this, a much, much greater percentage of records on the label are autographed by the artists. In fact, most albums feature a small box on the back of the album with the notation "For Autographs"."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 23 Jan 18 - 02:00 AM

With all the renewed discussion I decided to review what Alan Lomax actually had to say about the origins of John B, as opposed to its 1935 recording location.

A Bahamian ballad made world-famous by the Weavers in the early 1950's. Their Decca recording was based on a version from a collection by Carl Sandburg, The American Songbag, published in 1927. "The John B. was an old sponger boat whose crew were in the habit of getting notoriously merry, whenever they made port," say the notes to an album of Blind Blake, a popular Nassau entertainer who recorded a string band version with the Royal Victoria Calypsos in 1952 (Art ALP-4). The unaccompanied version from Cat Island presented here is perhaps the earliest recording of this song.

[Bahamas 1935: Chanteys and Anthems from Andros and Cat Island, Rounder, CD, 11661-1822-2, trk. 7 (AAFS 418 B2), released 1999]

The Rounder liner notes are credited to Anna Lomax Chairetakis.

Sandburg's Songbag provided zero originality to the narrative. It's verbatim McCutcheon. The arrangement therein is credited to A.G. Wathall of WGN-AM Radio, Chicago (owned by McCutcheon's employer the Trib.)

Art ALP-4 is the product of American Recording Transcriptions, Miami-Nassau (former CBS-AM Radio engineer Hal Doane's one-man-show) and the Royal Victoria Hotel and Gardens (Songs of the Islands Ltd., Nassau.) Doane outrecorded Lomax about 100:1 in the Bahamas, albeit three decades later.

So it would appear, for now, that even the one historically significant off island recording of John B relies entirely on the Bay Street Boy tourist narrative for its backstory and Alan Lomax didn't actually say it.

Still checkin'.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Jan 18 - 02:16 PM

And before the pedants chime in, no, Sands didn't head up the board in '13 at age two. His era came later. Charles on the other hand, had just returned from his musical finishing education in Paris (Ballymena anyone?) and was very much a player at the time.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Jan 18 - 01:57 PM

ref Emmie's questions in the Brown Skin Girl thread here:
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=137067&messages=63&page=1&desc=yes

"HOIST THE JOHN B. SAILS"

"See how the mainsail sets,
Send for the Captain ashore
I want to go home, I want to go home,
I feel so break-up, I want to go home!"
                        BAHAMIAN FOLK SONG

Ah, but the real charm of these quaintly appealing Bahamian songs, is not one of words at all, but of tropic moonlight, and soft throbbing guitars, and silver bubbles that sweep your bows with a sound like fairy bells. And the memory of these ecstatic nights on tropic seas stay with one always - only lovelier and more insistent each day than the last. It is like a Kipling calling "Come you back to Mandalay!"

NASSAU-BAHAMAS

is Kipling, Stevenson, Herman Melville and Charles Warren Stoddard too. It is tropics de luxe and tropics au naturel, - with a winter climate unequaled even by Madeira or the Cote d'Azur.

But two-and-a-half days from New York, or fifteen hours from Miami, Florida, Nassau, with its surf bathing, sailing, fishing, tennis, golf, riding, motoring and polo in one of the acknowledged sporting centers of the world.

Illustrated booklets and complete travel information will be mailed upon request.

BAHAMAS GOVERNMENT AGENT
450 Fourth Avenue, New York City


[Display Advertisement, The Sun (New York,) 26 Dec., 1915, sec.2, p.13 (Sporting & Automobiles)]



Conchy Notes: The Bahamian government's Tourism Development Board also ran display adverts in the N.Y. Tribune at about the same time.

The man behind the scenes at the Development Board was a very young and just starting out, (Sir) Stafford Lofthouse Sands (1913-1972,) a name familiar to most Bahamians.

Much less familiar, his cousin Charles Lofthouse, The Bahamian composer of the first half of the 20th century.

See my previous posts (above) for your questions re: Bostonian Prouty & the Southern Floridian "Flagler System."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: akenaton
Date: 14 Jul 17 - 03:54 PM

Ach! away wi' ye, yer only a wean......no' a wrinkle in sight....well no' thit a've seen enyweys :0)

See ye in the Coopie hen!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Gallus Moll
Date: 14 Jul 17 - 03:27 PM

Hi again Ake --- I used to wonder that too, but as far as I know it is a coincidence. Gordon had much knowledge of a wide range of issues, urban folk tales etc, not just song writing and singing. He was also involved in all the anti nuclear stuff. Were you at the concert in Glasgow a few years ago, might have been anniversary of Ding Dong Dollar (or anither yin!)
We are losing far too many of these folks, canny believe the number of folkies' funerals I've been at in the last two or three years. Always a brilliant ceilidh afterwards - - but it would be so much better to have the main person present and singing with us! So I propose that we should all start having a series of 'wakes' in advance of our deaths, while we are still able to sing / play and remember the fun.


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