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Hist. Origins: Stormalong?

DigiTrad:
LIZA LEE
STORMALONG


Related thread:
Lyr Add: Storm Along Stormy (Minstrel Song) (10)


GUEST,MudWeasel 02 Oct 01 - 01:47 PM
Harry Basnett 02 Oct 01 - 04:31 PM
Joe Offer 02 Oct 01 - 04:49 PM
Joe Offer 02 Oct 01 - 05:05 PM
curmudgeon 02 Oct 01 - 05:09 PM
GUEST,MudWeasel 02 Oct 01 - 05:35 PM
Madam Gashee 02 Oct 01 - 05:48 PM
Keith A of Hertford 02 Oct 01 - 06:04 PM
Dead Horse 02 Oct 01 - 06:11 PM
Mountain Dog 02 Oct 01 - 07:36 PM
Joe Offer 02 Oct 01 - 07:46 PM
GUEST,MudWeasel 03 Oct 01 - 01:23 PM
Crane Driver 03 Oct 01 - 03:59 PM
A Wandering Minstrel 04 Oct 01 - 10:35 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Apr 04 - 04:14 PM
Amos 05 Apr 04 - 04:27 PM
George Papavgeris 06 Apr 04 - 02:44 AM
Lighter 06 Apr 04 - 07:48 AM
radriano 06 Apr 04 - 11:37 AM
Mikefule 01 Jan 08 - 03:39 PM
Charley Noble 18 May 11 - 08:34 AM
Steve Gardham 18 May 11 - 05:58 PM
Charley Noble 04 May 12 - 09:33 AM
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Subject: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: GUEST,MudWeasel
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 01:47 PM

Did some poking around in the DT and forum archives in the past few days, since I've been considering adding "General Taylor" (click for lyrics) to my band's song list.
So, I discover, it looks like the chorus and much of the lyrics are from an older chantey (shantey, shanty, whatever) called "Stormalong" (click for lyrics).
Having just followed another thread re: the New Christy Minstrels' "Land of Giants", I remember this album from when I was a wee tot, and it also had a different song about Stormalong.
So now I'm intrigued. Who was this fella? I caught one reference to him as a "semi-lengendary" maritime figure. IT's been over 20 years since I heard the NCM song, and I can't remember what they had to say about him.
My curiosity burns to know more. Surely some of you chantey-singing folk-freaks out there can set my ppor young mind to ease?

-MudWeasel


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Harry Basnett
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 04:31 PM

Hi MudWeasel...accoring to A.L.Lloyd, Stormalong was "the blusterous old skipper who stands his ground alongside Davy Jones and Mother Carey among the mythological personages of the sea. Some took him to be an embodiment of the wind, others believed he was a natural man..." ( Folk Song In England, 1967 ). All the best, Harry.


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 04:49 PM

I've wondered about this, too, MudWeasel. The lyrics in the Digital Tradition are one of several versions found in Stan Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas, which has about ten pages on this series of songs. What makes me wonder, is that the Stormalong mentioned in these songs does not seem to be the tall-tale character "Old Stormalong" I've heard about in children's stories. I think the legend may have been corrupted by Walt Disney and his ilk.

I found a story called "Old Stormalong, the Deep-Water Sailorman" in Botkin's Treasury of American Folklore. The story was taken from Here's Audacity! American Legendary Heroes by good old Frank Shay (1930). The story includes lyrics similar to what we have in the Digital Tradition, so Shay apparently sees a connection. [Shay is best known for his book called My Pious Friends and Drunken Companions.


Here's what Shay says in his American Sea Songs and Chanteys (1948):

OLD STORMALONG is the only heroic character in the folklore of the sea: he was born, like the great clipper ships, in the imaginations of men. There is a legend, told in prose, of the time he was quartermaster of the Courser, the world's largest clipper. Stormy was taking his vessel from the North Sea through the English Channel, which was just six inches narrower than the Courser's beam. He suggested that if the captain sent all hands over to plaster the ship's side with soap he thought he could ease her through. It was a tight passage but the ship made it, the Dover cliffs scraping all the soap off the starboard side. Ever since, the cliffs at that point have been pure white and recent observers say the waves there are still foamy from the Courser's soap.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: ADD: Stormalong
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 05:05 PM

OK, so here’s Shay’s version of Stormalong.
-Joe Offer-


STORMALONG

Old Stormy's gone, that good old man,
To my way hay, Stormalong, John!
Oh, poor old Stormy's dead and gone,
To my aye, aye, aye, aye, Mister Stormalong!

We dug his grave with a silver spade,
His shroud of the finest silk was made.

We lowered him with a silver chain,
Our eyes all dim with more than rain.

An able sailor, bold and true,
A good old bosun to his crew.

He's moored at last, and furled his sail,
No danger now from wreck or gale.

I wish I was old Stormy's son,
I'd build me a ship of a thousand ton.

I'd fill her up with New England rum,
And all my shellbacks they would have some.

I'd sail this wide world 'round and 'round,
With plenty of money I would be found.

Old Stormy's dead and gone to rest,
To my way hay, Stormalong, John!
Of all the sailors he was the best,
To my aye, aye, aye, aye, Mister Stormalong!

Source: "American Sea Songs and Chanteys," Frank Shay, 1948
JRO


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: curmudgeon
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 05:09 PM

In "The Shanty Book" Richard R. Terry writes:

Who Stormy was is undiscoverable, but more than a dozen shanties mourn him.

Joanna Colcord, in "Songs of American Sailormen" notes:

Bullen says of the next shanty, "it embodies all of the adoration that a sailor used to feel for a great seaman, gives it expression, as it were, though i have never been able to learn who the antitype of Stormalong could have been. I suspect that he was just the embodiment of all the prime seamen the sailor had ever known, and in this song he voiced his heart's admiration."

Keep those silver spades polished -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: GUEST,MudWeasel
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 05:35 PM

I'd heard a slightly different version of the "Cliffs of Dover" story before. It sounds like Old Stormy was a composite of every nautical hero.

My follow-up question: does Stormy actually have anything to do with General Taylor (presumably Zachary Taylor) or are the General Taylor lyrics just later additions to the Shantey? I can imagine after hauling on a capstan for a few hours, you'd be singing just about anything that came into your head, so it's hard to tell whether the addition of Mr. Taylor is at all topical.

-MudWeasel


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Madam Gashee
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 05:48 PM

According to Stan Hugill "Perry calls him 'Old Storm an' Blow', a name found more usually in Negro versions"


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 06:04 PM

John Sampson in his 1926 publication" The Seven Seas Shanty Book" writes "I have heard that the prototype of this noble shanty was old John Willis, a famous early Victorian ship master and owner, whose son was the John Willis known as Old White Hat and who will be remembered chiefly as the owner of the famous Cutty Sark."
To my aye aye aye,
Keith


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 06:11 PM

AND Hugill also gives us a Santianna version, extolling the virtues of this anti-american hero, (Britain had just lost some fight with them Yanks in 1776;-)so them thar mexicans was our mates. Good old British fair play, wot?


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 07:36 PM

A bit more on Old Stormalong and his exploits:

According to "A Treasury of American Folklore" (B.A. Botkin, Ed., Crown Publishers, NY, NY, 1944) Old Stormalong was the greatest, boldest and strongest of the deep-water sailors in the age of mast and canvas. He first arrived on ship with his trunk bearing the initials A.B.S. He claimed they stood for Alfred Bulltop Stormalong, but the captain took one look and declared: "A.B.S. Able-Bodied Sailor. By your size and strength they should measure the talents of all other seamen." And so it's been ever since.

A man of prodigious size and strength, he was every inch a legend among his fellow salts. Said one: "He took his whale soup in a Cape Cod dory...his fav'rite meat was shark. He like ostrich eggs for breakfast and then he would lie back on the deck and pick his teeth with an eighteen foot oar."

Stormalong was a big man and he liked to serve on a ship to match. By all accounts, he was the most loyal of sailors...until a bigger ship passed his way. In a trice, he was over the side with his trunk and making steadily for his new berth aboard a better ship.

The last ship her served aboard was the Courser, "her rigging so immense that no living man could taker her in at a single glance. Her masts penetrated the clouds and the top sections were on hinges so they could be bent over to let the sun and moon pass."

Among other exploits, he was credited with making the Cliffs of Dover white, the result of soaping the sides of his ship so that it could just squeak through the English Channel. He also dug the Panama Canal by virtue of piloting his mighty ship across the Isthmus during a mighty hurricane.

Not coincidentally, Old Stormalong met his end as the Age of Sail was slipping beneath the waves, overtaken by the coming of the steamships, a mode of travel he could neither respect nor abide.

(and with that, I'll be a-weigh, hey!)


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 02 Oct 01 - 07:46 PM

Nice summary, Mountain Dog. I was going to do that, but didn't get around to it. Still, I don't see the connection between the Stormalong of the stories, and the Stormalong of the chanteys.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: GUEST,MudWeasel
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 01:23 PM

Or between the Stormy of the Chanteys, and Gen. Z. Taylor, but I'll be the first to admit that folk music don't always make sense. *grin*
Ah well, the info I have gotten in this thread has been great, and it's somewhat whet my appetite for those old tall tales of the sea which I read with such rapt fascination when I was a wee one.

-MudWeasel


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Crane Driver
Date: 03 Oct 01 - 03:59 PM

I read somewhere that Gen Taylor was nicknamed "Old Stormy" because of his temper. Might explain the confusion. Can't remember where I read it, so I can't check up. What the heck, I'll just keep singing it.

Way hey for ever

Crane Driver


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 04 Oct 01 - 10:35 AM

I always thought he was the elder brother of the much less famous Captain Upspoke :)

I seem to recall that Admiral John Jervis was sometimes referred to as "Old Stormy" but thats probably a red herring

*BG*


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Subject: Lyr Add: OLD STORMY
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:14 PM

Charles Nordhoff, in "Seeing the World," (issued under other titles at various times in the 19th c.) tells of the "mythical personage 'Old Stormy,'"
The foreman of the gang of English and Irish sailors who worked at screwing cotton in Mobile Bay, the "chanting-man" (later referred to as the chantey man with reference to another chantey) leads, and the work gang provided the chorus:

Lyr. Add: OLD STORMY

Old Stormy, he is dead and gone,
Chorus- Carry him along, boys, carry him along,

Oh! carry him to his long home,
Chorus- Carry him to the burying-ground.

Oh! ye who dig Old Stormy's grave,
Chorus- Carry him along, boys, carry him along,

Dig it deep and bury him safe,
Chorus- Carry him to the burying-ground.

Lower him down with a golden chain,
Chorus- carry him along, boys, carry him along,

Then he'll never rise again,
Chorus- Carry him to the burying-ground.

Grand chorus- Way-oh-way-oh-way- storm along,
Way- you rolling crew, storm along stormy.

Nordhoff says, "The English and Irish sailors, who, leaving their vessels here, remain until they have saved twenty or thirty pounds, then ship for Liverpool, London, or whatever port may be their favorite, there to spend it all away, and return to work out another supply. Screwing cotton is, I think, fairly entitled to be called the most exhausting labour that is done on shipboard."

The copy of the book that I have (given to a boy) bears an inscription by a ship's captain, Capt. McNeil Bryd- "The romance of the sea is buried in the coal-bunkers." Dec. 18, 1868.

The line, 'Lower him down with a golden chain,' is present in a number of burying songs of both blacks and Appalachian and Ozark whites; where it originated (along with bury him with a silver spade) is unknown although it is often attributed to black slaves or to the West Indies.
Hugill remarks on its presence in blackface minstrel songs. My guess is that it is from one of the Old Order white denominations.


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Amos
Date: 05 Apr 04 - 04:27 PM

Stormy left the sea with the advent of steam. He was just heartbroken at the passing of the days of sail and swore he would have no more to do with ships and the things of the sea.   He took him a huge longboat oar and carried it over his shoulder, and he walked West until somebody asked him what the funny looking stick was, and there he decided to farm.

A


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: George Papavgeris
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 02:44 AM

...Which gave Tom Lewis the inspiration to write his song "I'm walking inland from the shore (over my shoulder carrying an oar)".

This story is also told of Ulysses.


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Lighter
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 07:48 AM

Gen. (later Pres.) Zachary Taylor's nickname was "Old Rough and Ready."


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Subject: Lyr Add: STORMALONG
From: radriano
Date: 06 Apr 04 - 11:37 AM

Here's a version of Stormalong collected in Canada.

STORMALONG        
pumping & capstan shanty
Jon Bartlett & Rika Ruebsaat, The Young Man from Canada
British Columbia Songs From the PJ Thomas Collection
Our Singing Tradition, Volume 2


Ah, Stormy's gone, that good old man
Chorus: Way, high, Stormalong
Ah, Stormy's gone, that good old man
Chorus: Aye, Aye, Mister Stormalong

Well he's moored at last and he's furled his sails
He's free from wrecks and far from gales

Well we'll dig his grave with a silver spade
Of the finest silk his shroud will be made

Well we'll lower him down with a golden chain
Each eye will dim but not with rain

As Stormy's heard that bugle call
So sing this dirge, now, one and all


Notes from the album: A pumping and capstan shanty learned from the singing of Capt. Charles Cates (1899-1960) of North Vancouver, who most probably had it from his friend Capt. George W. Roberts (1870-1952). Accompanying the song is the fall of the pawls as the capstan is turned.

The songs featured on this album are from the PJ Thomas Collection, now housed in the Provincial Sound Archives. Reflecting the European settlement of British Columbia that took place primarily in the nineteenth century, these songs are, in the main, from logging camps, from fishermen, from the hard rock miners, and from the gold rush. There are also songs of transportation (railways, tugboats, and wagon roads) and songs made by Wobblies (the BC name for the Industrial Workers of the World).

The "Young Man from Canada" is available directly from Jon & Rikka at their website Jon Bartlett & Rikka Rubesaat or from CAMSCO Records here in the US.


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Mikefule
Date: 01 Jan 08 - 03:39 PM

There's an interesting parallel between "Old Stormalong" as described above, and the character, "Hurricane Jack" in the Para Handy stories of Neil Munro.

Hurricane Jack is described (by Para Handy) as "six feet six inches (the exact height varies, generally increasing as a story progresses!) in his stockinged feet, as strong as an ox, and with a back like two shipping boxes."

Para Handy attributes to his friend great feats of physical strength and "agility". Hurricane Jack is always a likeable rogue, quick to anger, but loyal to his friends. Para Handy always avoids explaining how Hurricane Jack got his name.

If you've not read any of the stories, I highly recommend them. They are sometimes whimsical, always funny, and often a little melancholy. They tell of a small group of men working on a "Clyde puffer" before the first world war. There are many references to folk song, folk dance, and various aspects of melodeon and pipe music, and they were written by a man from local to where they were set, to be published in the local newspaper, so the characters would be fairly "authentic" to their time and place, although perhaps a little exaggerated.

The "walking ashore carrying an oar" thing is mentioned several times in the Odyssey, which tells the story of Odysseus' long journey home from the Trojan war. During the journey, he blinds the cyclops, Polyphemus. Polyphemus is the son of the sea god, Poseidon. Poseidon is angered, and does everything he can to prevent Odysseus' safe return home.

When Odysseus gets home, he has to walk inland carrying an oar, and travel so far that no one recognises what it is. He will then have escaped the sea, and therefore Poseidon's curse. The actual walk is never described in the poem.

Ulysses is derived from the Latin name Ulixes, which is the name that the Romans gave to Odysseus. The Greeks generally regarded Odysseus as an all round good bloke; the Romans thought he was a villain.


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 May 11 - 08:34 AM

Then there's this old minstrel song which may be derived from a stevedore worksong or not:

As sung by J. Smith of White's Serenaders at the Melodeon, New York City, from White's New Ethiopian Song Book, published by T.B. Peterson & Bros., Philadelphia, US, © 1854, p. 71,

Storm Along Stormy

O I wish I was in Mobile bay,
Storm along, Stormy.
Screwing cotton all de day,
Storm along, Stormy.
O you rollers storm along,
Storm along, Stormy.
Hoist away an' sing dis song,
Storm along, Stormy.

I wish I was in New Orleans,
Storm along, Stormy.
Eating up dem pork an' beans,
Storm along, Stormy.
Roll away in spite ob wedder,
Storm along, Stormy.
Come, lads, push all togedder,
Storm along, Stormy.

I wish I was in Baltimore,
Storm along, Stormy.
Dancing on dat Yankee shore,
Storm along, Stormy.
One bale more, den we'be done,
Storm along, Stormy.
De sun's gwan down, an' we'll go home.
Storm along, Stormy.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 May 11 - 05:58 PM

Just to throw another idea into the melting pot; there is a large and highly respected family of seafarers from the little fishing village of Robin Hood's Bay on the Yorkshire coast just down from Whitby. For a few centuries they have provided highly competent mariners who have sailed the seven seas. They are the STORM family. They also have their own website which you can easily Google. Now if 'Smith' can become 'Smithy' and 'Jones' 'Jonesy' then 'Storm' easily becomes 'Stormy'. To 'storm along' presumably simply means to rush along recklessly with power.


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Subject: RE: Hist. Origins: Stormalong?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 04 May 12 - 09:33 AM

refresh!


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