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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


Stilly River Sage 30 Mar 24 - 03:36 PM
Stilly River Sage 30 Mar 24 - 03:29 PM
Joe Offer 25 Mar 24 - 04:33 PM
GUEST,BNOinoz 22 Apr 21 - 07:40 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 27 Nov 20 - 02:00 PM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 24 Nov 20 - 03:13 AM
GUEST 23 Nov 20 - 09:29 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Nov 20 - 02:14 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 12 Nov 20 - 02:11 AM
GUEST 11 Nov 20 - 10:52 PM
Lighter 09 Nov 20 - 07:50 PM
GUEST 09 Nov 20 - 07:25 PM
GUEST 09 Nov 20 - 07:01 PM
GUEST 09 Nov 20 - 06:41 PM
GUEST,Mr. Bahamas 06 Nov 20 - 07:13 AM
GUEST,Mr. Bahamas 06 Nov 20 - 07:03 AM
GUEST,jameson 12 Dec 18 - 09:40 PM
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
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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 30 Mar 24 - 03:36 PM

And another connection - a link to a full 1957 Pete Seeger concert was posted Pete Seeger - resources thread last week - and in the set list, second half, there it is, Sloop John B.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Stilly River Sage
Date: 30 Mar 24 - 03:29 PM

Interesting that this thread came back around this week as a trip back memory lane to conversations with Don Firth and Bob Nelson (Deckman) about a time when my father (John Dwyer) was first learning a few popular folk songs that had to do with ships and sailing. The remarks from here sent me looking for another song I associate with this period (though they aren't related) - Venezuela.

Don and Bob participated in both of these threads. A bunch of the folksingers of the early 1960s were performing these songs, and I remember a reticence growing in Dad about performing Sloop John B because it had become popular on the radio, where as Venezuela didn't have the same broad appeal, though it made the rounds on folk records. (I was a child at the concert Don cited, where Richard Dyer-Bennet performed Venezuela.) I think it had to do with his interest in performing songs known well in folk circles but staying out of the popular music arena.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Mar 24 - 04:33 PM

Check "Nassau Bound," the Tom Lewis song built on "Sloop John B."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,BNOinoz
Date: 22 Apr 21 - 07:40 PM

Check out Tom Lewis and 'Nassau bound' for the extended version.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fhQrDZnk0_Y


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 27 Nov 20 - 02:00 PM

Me (see above) - The “Great Fire of 1901” ended Prouty's personal eighteen year run at Jacksonville, Florida's old St. James Hotel and he took Flagler up on an offer to open in Nassau for the next few seasons while JAX recovered & rebuilt.

Flagler actually extended the offer as soon as he aquired the Bahamian leases in 1899, well before the Great Fire. In 1901 Prouty was already being billed as Musical Director of Nassau's Royal Victoria and the Carthagena Annex.

More small world: Head Waiter at the Jacksonville, Florida St. James? – James Johnson. Father of James Weldon Johnson (1871-1938) and J. Rosamond Johnson (1873-1954).


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 24 Nov 20 - 03:13 AM

The lyrics to Port Nelson were just too much thread drift: Folklore: J.H. Webb and The Nassau Phil. (Bahamas)

Cheers!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Nov 20 - 09:29 AM

Hey Phil! I have a question about something kind of unrelated. There was a man by the name of J. H. Webb. I'm not sure if he was born in The Bahamas, but he lived here a pretty long time, helping develop music during the 19th century. He was also a President and co-founder of the Nassau Philharmonic Society in the 1870s. He put on many concerts, developed classical and Sacred music forms, he also composed many songs. Songs that I am interested in knowing if you have any knowledge of?

I know he copyrighted a song in New York, but I also discovered another of his songs he composed in the Bahamas. The sheet music was found in the Nassau Guardian.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Nov 20 - 02:14 AM

See Guest's: (06 Nov 20 - 07:03 AM) above:

“We have seen a copy of “Hoist the John B. Sails,” a two-step by E.W. Prouty, “respectfully dedicated to the Citizens of Nassau N.P.,” which has just been published by the Prouty Music Publishing Co. of Spencer, Mass. Everyone who has heard Mr. Prouty's arrangement of this most popular local air will be glad to know that copies of it may be obtained from Mr. G.H. Gamblin.”
[The Nassau Guardian, (NP) 13 May 1903, p.2]
[https://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00076890/04687/2x]


Sir George Henry Gamblin, Kt. (1870 – 1930) – His picture was next to the word stentorian in the Bahamian dictionary. Also, ahem, 'dabbled' in music and acting.

Small world:
“The entertainment advertised to take place in the Victoria Hall on the 21st instant, but which was postponed until Thursday evening, afforded much pleasure to the audience. The progamme was varied and embraced instrumental and vocal music and recitations contributed by members of the Trinity Church, asisted by other friends.

...Mr. Brice's cornet solo was deservedly appreciated and so were the violin selections by Master Charles Lofthouse, and Mr. G.H. Gamblin….”
[The Nassau Guardian, (NP) 30 Oct 1897, p.2]
[https://ufdc.ufl.edu/AA00076890/04112/2x]

Note: Master Charles Lofthouse, age 14yrs. and could it have been a Prouty Orchestra cotillion for our lad? ;)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 12 Nov 20 - 02:11 AM

Yes, thanks for the long overdue bump and for that Delia reference. I've been meaning to correct some earlier posts here.

For all we know the Prouty sheet music has “Sung to the Tune of...” plastered across the top of page one... and it was a ketch... and it's the worst trip the granddaughter had ever had been on...

Fwiw: Turn-of-the-century Flager Hotels were private clubs. Native Nassau Anglo-Bahamians were invitation only. Jews, out islanders, conchies &c could go pound the pretty pink sand. The Guthrie family and the Santa Monica Inkwell... same double deal.

Le Gallienne's timeline notwithstanding, given the glacial pace of the U.S. copyright submittal process and an April '03 release date, it's a fairly safe bet Prouty had all the paperwork done in 1902 before he sailed for the New Year.

Any Mudcatters currently at Princeton U. and/or Mystic Seaport or know someone who knows someone?

Hoist the John B. sails
Subtitle: Two-Step
Composer: Prouty, Ed. W.
Publisher: Prouty Music Pub. Co.
Publisher City & State: Spencer, MA
Publication Date: 1903

Instrumentation:
Bass
Bassoon
Cello
Clarinet
Cornet
Flute
Horn
Oboe
Percussion
Piano
Trombone
Viola
Violin

Box Number: 90
Folder Number: 43
[https://library.princeton.edu/hoist-john-b-sails]

Frankly... both John B. & Delia seem a tad rabelaisian for Prouty's bunch.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Nov 20 - 10:52 PM

You're Welcome. There were many local tunes that Prouty may have turned into Band music. However, this is difficult to say, as Black people weren't allowed to play in mainstream settings and were largely travelling orchestras, while Whites were able to be professional orchestras. So the question would still be is Prouty really responsible for turning them into Band music or was he simply credited for it because Black orchestras were ostracized. These are dynamics that should always be considered. Tanneray performed by Blind Blake Higgs was mentioned as a Bahamian Ditty in 1913, 2 years before Blind Blake Higgs was born. These Black orchestras were mentioned by visitors in the late 19th century. Their common orchestra consisted of a concertina, triangle and tambourine. They performed well-known songs and original songs as noted by a 19th-century American visitor to The Bahamas.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Nov 20 - 07:50 PM

Thanks, Guest.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Nov 20 - 07:25 PM

April 4th 1903 Prouty is credited with putting into music another local air or local tune from Nassau. "and as an Encore the orchestra gave "Delia" also a well known local air set to music by Mr Prouty." The melody and lyrics already existed for both John B and Delia, but Prouty is credited with writing the music for it. This he played to tourist and sometimes locals at the hotels and other places.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Nov 20 - 07:01 PM

14 March 1903, Nassau Guardian: "We see that they have canonized our dear old friend "John B." Sail on old man but we do think the idea of your becoming a Saint a Prouty good Joke."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Nov 20 - 06:41 PM

An earlier reference is found in the Nassau Guardian on the 14 of March of 1903. "The orchestra played its liveliest, particularly the ever popular "John B. Sails," which the children sang enthusiastically."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Mr. Bahamas
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 07:13 AM

Also to note. There was a local sloop in The Bahamas called the John Byron. It transported many goods including sponges from out island settlements to Nassau, and from Nassau to the Out Islands. It is the likely candidate for the Sloop John B.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,Mr. Bahamas
Date: 06 Nov 20 - 07:03 AM

Edward Prouty did not create the song the Sloop John B. However he did arrange a version in 2 step of the song that was considered a popular local air in The Bahamas. This is found in the Nassau Guardian 13 May 1903. Which means he arranged it for Ballroom dancing and the local Bahamian version performed in 1935 is likely not the version arranged by Prouty.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Sloop John B
From: GUEST,jameson
Date: 12 Dec 18 - 09:40 PM

check out the "fisherman's friends" at the 2011 cambridge folk festival for use of "grandpappy and me" and other verbage that may interest readers of these threads.


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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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