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Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...

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SPANISH LADIES


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(origins) Origins: Spanish Ladies (87)
Lyr Add: Spanish Lady (Helena Cinto) (51)
Lyr/Chords Req: Spanish Ladies (21)
Lyr Req: We'll rant and we'll roar, till the cops (1)
Spanish Ladies (10)


Ian Fraser 15 Oct 96 - 07:02 PM
dick greenhaus 21 Oct 96 - 07:09 PM
Ian Fraser 25 Oct 96 - 08:28 PM
GUEST 23 Dec 23 - 04:36 AM
Steve Gardham 24 Dec 23 - 12:44 PM
Reinhard 24 Dec 23 - 01:35 PM
Robert B. Waltz 24 Dec 23 - 02:27 PM
Reinhard 24 Dec 23 - 10:05 PM
Robert B. Waltz 25 Dec 23 - 03:15 AM
Reinhard 25 Dec 23 - 07:07 AM
Gibb Sahib 25 Dec 23 - 07:53 AM
Robert B. Waltz 25 Dec 23 - 09:36 AM
GUEST 27 Dec 23 - 11:48 AM
Robert B. Waltz 27 Dec 23 - 12:26 PM
Steve Gardham 27 Dec 23 - 12:47 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Dec 23 - 06:43 PM
Robert B. Waltz 27 Dec 23 - 08:30 PM
Gibb Sahib 28 Dec 23 - 03:39 AM
Robert B. Waltz 28 Dec 23 - 05:08 AM
Gibb Sahib 28 Dec 23 - 05:51 AM
Lighter 28 Dec 23 - 09:29 AM
Robert B. Waltz 28 Dec 23 - 11:26 AM
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Subject: I've been a seacook and I've been a sailorman
From: Ian Fraser
Date: 15 Oct 96 - 07:02 PM

I would like to have the works for a sea shanty which goes something like this.

I've been a seacook and I've been a sailorman
I can sing, I can dance, I can haul the main boom
I can handle a harpoon and cut a fine figure
?
Chorus
And we'll sing and we'll dance now
Like true born young sailormen
We'll sing and we'll dance on deck and below
Until we sight Wasco? beyond ???
And straight up the channel to Wasco? we'll go.

I would really appreciate any help in finding the correct words for this song,

thanks,

Ian


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Subject: RE: I've been a seacook and I've been a sailorman
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 21 Oct 96 - 07:09 PM

It's a old parody of an old English shanty: Farewell and Adieu to You Spanish Ladies.

We have a couple of versions and some notes in the DT. Try searching for [We'll rant]


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Subject: RE: I've been a seacook and I've been a sailorman
From: Ian Fraser
Date: 25 Oct 96 - 08:28 PM

Got it! thanks Dick!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Dec 23 - 04:36 AM

Dransfield brothers.

I've been a ship's cook and I've been a clipper man
I can dance a fine jig I can walk a ship's boom
I can throw a harpoon and cut a fine figure
Whenever I get a good stamping ground


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Dec 23 - 12:44 PM

Talcahuana Girls I believe. May have spelt it wrong.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Reinhard
Date: 24 Dec 23 - 01:35 PM

That's it Steve. See Lyr Add: Talcahuano Girls,


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 24 Dec 23 - 02:27 PM

That may be the source someone was thinking of, but the lyric is also found, in almost those exact words, in Henry W. Le Messurier's Newfoundland song "The Ryans and the Pittmans," now universally known as "We'll Rant and We'll Roar," from about 1880.

The tune is, as in all the other cases, "Spanish Ladies."

The strong suspicion is that the verse

And we'll sing and we'll dance now
Like true born young sailormen
We'll sing and we'll dance on deck and below
Until we sight Wasco? beyond ???
And straight up the channel to Wasco? we'll go.

is from "We'll Rant and We'll Roar," because the town name is "Toslow" on Placentia Bay.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Reinhard
Date: 24 Dec 23 - 10:05 PM

Talcahuano Girls has the line

And straight up the channel to Huasco we’ll go.

that fits the pattern too, so the original poster (who asked 27 years ago) would probabably have been happy with both songs.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 25 Dec 23 - 03:15 AM

Reinhard wrote: that fits the pattern too, so the original poster (who asked 27 years ago) would probabably have been happy with both songs.

You're no doubt right, though the text you site isn't in the version you pointed to, which is why I said what I said. :-)

My problem is, I've met "We'll Rant And We'll Roar" many, many times in tradition. It's in most of the major Newfoundland collections.

"Talcahuano Girls" I've never encountered in tradition. It has one Roud collection (#32688), from circa 1990. And there is a recording by A. L. Lloyd, made perhaps in 1967.

The obvious suspicion is that it is an A. L. Lloyd rewrite, probably based on "We'll Rant and We'll Roar" rather than "Spanish Ladies." I can't prove it, but when A. L. Lloyd is the earliest source I can find for a song... I just don't like it one little bit.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Reinhard
Date: 25 Dec 23 - 07:07 AM

Yes it's quite possible that Lloyd (re)wrote "Talcahuano Girls".

I only know of three other versions of this. They are nearly identical to Lloyd's verses but all were recorded later than Lloyd's 1967:
- the Critics Group's "We'll Rant and We'll Roar" (1968 live recording, leaving out the last verse),
- Gordon Hall's "Talcahuana Girls" (c. 1990, the Roud #32688 version you mention),
- Danny Spooner and Duncan Brown's "Talcahuano Girls" (2006).
None of them revealed their source, and all may have gotten the song from Lloyd.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 25 Dec 23 - 07:53 AM

It's a thinly disguised re-write of "Ryans and Pittmans" in the 1910-20s Newfoundland collections (and boosted in reprints), with Lloyd just substituting supposedly whaling-related stuff to bolster the whaling theme of the Leviathan album.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 25 Dec 23 - 09:36 AM

Gibb Sahib wrote: It's a thinly disguised re-write of "Ryans and Pittmans"

Thank you. Glad to know that I won't have to argue about it more. :-)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Dec 23 - 11:48 AM

Bert bashing and careless supposition are so unattractive.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 27 Dec 23 - 12:26 PM

GUEST wrote:

Bert bashing and careless supposition are so unattractive.

Deceit is not only socially damaging, it also makes it harder to do other research. One of the biggest problems of folk song scholarship is trying to penetrate the deceptions of people from Thomas Percy to John Jacob Niles.

Rewriting is fine -- all of us who perform play around with songs to get performable versions. But own up to it.

Someone who has engaged in false attributions once must face the prospect of never being trusted again. And deserves it.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Dec 23 - 12:47 PM

Couldn't agree more, Bob. All of the people who have indulged in this practice of deception have otherwise done great works and deserve all of the recognition they get for that, but to sweep their deceptions under the carpet is to do a great disservice to research in the music.

In Bert's case there are so many examples of this that the word 'supposition' is just not appropriate.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Dec 23 - 06:43 PM

My earliest source for "The Ryans and the Pittmans" (Newfie parody of "Spanish Ladies") is James Murphy, Old Songs of Newfoundland (self-published, 1912). Then it gets taken up in the self-published Newfoundland-centered songsters of Gerald Doyle (1927, 1940), and Edith Fowke borrows (via Doyle) it for Folk Songs of Canada (1954).

Murphy positively ascribes authorship to the eleven-verse song to H. W. LeMussurier, Deputy Minister of Customs, "some 35 years ago," i.e. circa 1877. (Mentioned as well on the Traditional Ballad Index.) I think we can treat that with a pretty high level of confidence. LeMussurier published a public notice (government business) in the advertisement section of Murphy's book itself, and it would seem likely that the two were personal acquaintances. It's less clear as to whether LeMussurier's composition had "caught on" much in oral tradition or if, indeed, due to the acquaintance Murphy was able to give the song a platform in his book.

One of the more interesting substitutions in Lloyd's re-write is the change from chawing "frankgum" to chawing "tobacco"—the former evoking a characteristically Canadian Maritime practice. "Ryans and Pittmans" also has a nice internal rhythm of "jigger" (cf. squid-jigging) with "figger" (figure) that goes away in Lloyd's version since "jigging" was a Newfie fishermen's thing specifically.

I enjoy Lloyd's piece; I think it fits the imaginary of whaling nicely. Allowing folks to presume it was a whalermen's song, however, is frustrating. Also frustrating not to credit LeMussurier as the name *was* know-able—at least in Murphy's and Doyle's books. If Fowke's book was Lloyd's source, he may have presumed the author was unknown. Because Fowke, in preparing a popular volume that could serve as a songster for Canadians broadly, introduces vague stuff in her notes to the songs. In the case of this song, for instance, she says it was "written around 1880," which is technically true, but seems to me as a thing that folk revival *performers* sometimes do to make information about songs *less* clear—as if to remove authorship and imbue the song with a more mysterious/magical "communal" origin. We go from Murphy in 1912 positively stating the author is LeMussurier 35 years ago [i.e. circa 1877] to Doyle picking it up and being less positive about the author (skepticism—fair enough) and adding "over" 50 years ago [i.e. *earlier* than 1877] to Fowke saying "written" but not naming the author and, I guess, smudging circa 1877 as "around 1880." 1877 or around 1880 probably makes little difference, but it's the way that successive writers subtly erode the foundation of firm authorship and date that I find interesting. At last, Lloyd says, of "Talcahuano Girls": "The present version belongs to the rowdy South-Seamen who, particularly during the first half of the 19th century, sailed out of London and Hull to hunt the sperm whale off the coasts of Chile and Peru."   

One of the other famous adaptations of Lloyd from a Canadian Maritimes collection is "The Wild Goose," from Roy MacKenzie, Ballads and Sea Songs from Nova Scotia (1928).

Please correct any mistakes I may have made. The above is based solely on my bibliographic notes about various books. I suppose I should also make the disclaimer that I have no proof of what Lloyd did, I'm only assuming based on what I think the internal evidence strongly points to.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 27 Dec 23 - 08:30 PM

Gibb Sahib wrote:

I think we can treat [Le Messurier's authorship] with a pretty high level of confidence.

Given that it is attested not only by the folk song books but also by the independent Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador Biography, I think this a safe statement.

It's less clear as to whether LeMussurier's composition had "caught on" much in oral tradition or if, indeed, due to the acquaintance Murphy was able to give the song a platform in his book.

I would put it this way: around, say, 1960, almost every Newfoundlander knew it. The Doyle songbooks were everywhere. I don't index pop-folk songbooks, but I have a lot of them from Newfoundland, and it's in all of them. It's in beer company songbooks, and tourism booklets. It's pretty inescapable. How it came to be so popular is a different question -- it's noteworthy that it's not in Leach or Peacock, for instance, though it is in Greenleaf/Mansfield. It's almost a "national" rather than a "folk" song. But that's a distinction much less drawn in Newfoundland than elsewhere. Newfoundlanders actually sing their anthem "Ode to Newfoundland," e.g., and not just at sporting events. :-)

Jigging and jiggers, FWIW, were not a Newfoundland-specific technique. But they are particularly associated with Newfoundland because... cod. No place else in the world was so dependent on cod as Newfoundland, and cod was caught with jiggers, and so it became a word that every Newfoundlander knew, whereas it was a specialized term elsewhere.

I would take minor exception with one statement: LeMussurier published a public notice (government business) in the advertisement section of Murphy's book itself, and it would seem likely that the two were personal acquaintances.

You probably haven't studied as many old Newfoundland books as I have. Almost all of them have those big advertising sections, and I'm pretty sure they weren't all based on personal acquaintance. The printers often brought in the ads. I'd call it possible that they knew each other, but the evidence isn't strong enough to justify the word likely. This is of course a nitpicky distinction.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Dec 23 - 03:39 AM

True--
I meant that LeMussurier was a dude that was around an accessible (how many people were on Newfoundland in 1912 anyway?!) and if he wrote the song it wasn't a big mystery to figure out. He's not an obscure or even dead person.

Which begs the question of how Murphy would know that LeMussurier wrote it, 35 years prior. Something in a newspaper? Maybe. Or maybe everyone sees everyone in the pub in St. John's? Fewer than Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 28 Dec 23 - 05:08 AM

Gibb Sahib wrote: Which begs the question of how Murphy would know that LeMussurier wrote it, 35 years prior. Something in a newspaper? Maybe. Or maybe everyone sees everyone in the pub in St. John's? Fewer than Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon.

The Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador Biography has a fairly long entry on LeMessurier. He spent a term (1885-1889) in the Newfoundland House of Assembly and edited the Evening Herald, which was one of the most important Newfoundland publications. I don't know that he published "The Ryans and the Pittmans" in the Evening Herald, since it didn't seem to be available online when I was doing my Newfoundland research, but the probability seems high -- most Newfoundland newspapers published a lot of poetry.

Newfoundland's population in this period was a few hundred thousand, but that almost doesn't mean anything. There were "baymen" and "townies," and ne'er the twain did meet. Saint John's had a population in the low tens of thousands -- so you're right: the Erdös number for any two Saint John's residents was probably about four.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 28 Dec 23 - 05:51 AM

Wow, thanks for that info, Bob!

The only reason this came to my attention (off topic) was that I was trying to get a sense of what might actually be known about (another song, another thread) "Donkey Riding."

Interestingly, Gerald Doyle's book's second edition had the song "A Great Big Sea Hove In Long Beach." That brought to mind the Canadian Maritimes 1990s folky-rocky music outfit Great Big Sea (led by Newfie Alan Doyle... I dare not guess how many Doyles there are in the Newfoundland phonebook).

I always took Great Big Sea to be a pretty direct product of the "everyone knows [certain] songs," in part due to these books—especially noting their take on maritime music as (ahem) *Maritimes* music... being rather deliberate in making sure their material stayed focused on Canadian stuff. At least that is my hasty allegation, with the model for that idea being especially "Donkey Riding," the Canadian schoolhouse classic and sometimes chanty (though the extent to which it was really known and sung "as a chanty" is the question I was trying to answer for myself).

I thought Great Big Sea rather studiously avoided certain common verses that overlap with its sibling "Highland Laddie"; if I can *pretend* to speak for most modern chanty singers, "Donkey Riding" and "Highland Laddie" are thought of as basically interchangeable songs. With that in mind, avoidance of very typical chanty couplets about Mobile Bay (stowing cotton), New York, etc. would seem almost to erase the US-American part of the picture in favor of Canadian and colonial tropes (Quebec, Miramachi, London). Perhaps more likely, that process had already been executed in the Canadian collections that were the band's source/heritage before they ever got to it. I read that Peacock was bothered that Doyle (in his opinion) painted a picture of Newfie songs as rather too concentratedly about local stuff... It seems true, at least, that a rather large number of G. Doyle's are parodies of "Banks of Newfoundland" (or "Van Dieman's Land") or else are ballads that could be spliced to the same melody.

I still am inclined to think that "chanty" has been acquired in [insert qualification here] Canadian circles as rather Canadian and ~Commonwealth to the exclusion of US-American emphases/influences that might taint that picture were they introduced. As in, What could those people in the US South—god forbid, in Alabama—possibly know about chanties?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Lighter
Date: 28 Dec 23 - 09:29 AM

If as seems evident Lloyd was the author/reviser/adapter, his statement that the "present version belongs to the rowdy South-Seamen who, particularly during the first half of the 19th century, sailed out of London and Hull to hunt the sperm whale off the coasts of Chile and Peru" is plainly, shall we say, a complete fib.

I assume Lloyd meant to "bring history to life" by faking it for the unsuspecting - and not just in this case.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: I've been a sea cook and I've been a ...
From: Robert B. Waltz
Date: 28 Dec 23 - 11:26 AM

Regarding "Great Big Sea...."

Given that it really appears that Doyle is the source of all other versions of the song, the idea that it might be a "fix-up" by one of Doyle's sources seems reasonable -- I'm going to add a note to the Ballad Index, crediting you.

It's interesting to note that all of the sources (except Lomax) are Canadian -- and none of them, including Lomax, lists an informant. (Apparently there is a recording somewhere in the Memorial University archives, but one recording doesn't mean much.) It makes sense to suggest that it all goes back to Doyle. And it's an open question whether it went into tradition. (I think it safe to say that "We'll Rant and We'll Roar" did.)

Regarding the number of Doyles in Newfoundland -- I don't have a census, but the name did not stand out to me in the many sealing ship crews I've looked over. The Dictionary of Newfoundland and Labrador Biography (a book which should be in the hands of every Newfoundland song scholar, not because it's great but because there is no other comparable reference) lists six Doyles. Only two have substantial entries: Gerald S. Doyle himself and businessman John Christopher Doyle. The six entries take about a page and a quarter of the 372 pages of biographies in the book.

By comparison, there are three Keans (sealing captains). There are two Kellands (as in, Otto of "Let Me Fish Off Cape Saint Mary's"). There are nine Winsors (also mostly sealing captains). There are eleven Murphys. There are seven Reids (mostly of the Newfoundland Railroad). There are only four Squireses, but Richard Squires has, I think, the longest biography in the book, twice as long as all the Doyles combined. (No wonder the "red ranting Tory" spent his time "running down Squires on the squid-jiggin' ground" :-). So Doyle is common, but not exceptionally so.


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