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Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo

DigiTrad:
CAN'T YE HILO?
HILO, BOYS, HILO
HILO, JOHNNY BROWN
JOHNNY COME DOWN TO HILO
TOMMYS GONE TO HILO
TOM'S GONE TO HILO 2


Related threads:
Lyr Req: Johnny Gone Down To Hilo - Revisited (13)
Chord Req: Johnny Come Down to Hilo chords (12)
Req: Tommy's Gone Away-Short Sharp Shanties (22)
Lyr Add: Tom's Gone to Hilo (34)
Lyr Req: Pretty Little Girl With a Blue Dress On (21)
Lyr Add: Shake Her, Johnny, Shake Her (1)
Lyr Add: Johnny Come Down to Hilo (7)
Johnny Come Down To Hilo - question (28)
Lyr Req: john's gone to hilo (7)


GUEST,Richie 21 Oct 02 - 11:14 AM
masato sakurai 21 Oct 02 - 12:23 PM
masato sakurai 21 Oct 02 - 12:49 PM
EBarnacle1 21 Oct 02 - 12:51 PM
Keith A of Hertford 21 Oct 02 - 01:55 PM
GUEST,Richie 21 Oct 02 - 02:03 PM
EBarnacle1 21 Oct 02 - 03:22 PM
curmudgeon 21 Oct 02 - 03:50 PM
GUEST 21 Oct 02 - 03:53 PM
curmudgeon 21 Oct 02 - 04:44 PM
Charley Noble 21 Oct 02 - 05:21 PM
GUEST,Richie 21 Oct 02 - 10:07 PM
GUEST,Richie 21 Oct 02 - 10:38 PM
GUEST 21 Oct 02 - 11:47 PM
Mark Cohen 22 Oct 02 - 12:54 AM
Mark Cohen 22 Oct 02 - 03:55 AM
GUEST,Richie 22 Oct 02 - 08:43 AM
Charley Noble 22 Oct 02 - 09:11 AM
masato sakurai 22 Oct 02 - 09:29 AM
masato sakurai 22 Oct 02 - 09:54 AM
GUEST,Richie 22 Oct 02 - 01:02 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 02 - 01:38 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 02 - 02:15 PM
Dead Horse 22 Oct 02 - 03:24 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 02 - 04:45 PM
masato sakurai 22 Oct 02 - 08:35 PM
GUEST 22 Oct 02 - 09:31 PM
GUEST,Barry witout a cookie 23 Oct 02 - 02:03 AM
Charley Noble 23 Oct 02 - 07:55 AM
GUEST,Richie 23 Oct 02 - 08:17 AM
Charley Noble 23 Oct 02 - 09:32 AM
Charley Noble 23 Oct 02 - 11:27 AM
Charley Noble 23 Oct 02 - 12:25 PM
GUEST 23 Oct 02 - 01:43 PM
GUEST 23 Oct 02 - 01:46 PM
Charley Noble 24 Oct 02 - 09:37 AM
Barry Finn 24 Oct 02 - 07:54 PM
Charley Noble 24 Jul 11 - 12:45 PM
doc.tom 24 Jul 11 - 03:02 PM
stallion 24 Jul 11 - 06:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Jul 11 - 01:15 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 25 Jul 11 - 01:20 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 05:44 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 05:57 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 06:16 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Jul 11 - 06:49 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Jul 11 - 06:50 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 06:57 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 07:06 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 07:15 PM
stallion 27 Jul 11 - 07:22 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 07:30 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 07:44 PM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Jul 11 - 08:21 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 08:31 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 08:32 PM
Gibb Sahib 27 Jul 11 - 09:00 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 27 Jul 11 - 11:54 PM
GUEST,Lighter 28 Jul 11 - 07:25 AM
John Minear 28 Jul 11 - 07:56 AM
GUEST,kenny 03 Jan 12 - 07:31 PM
Joe Offer 09 Mar 15 - 04:32 AM
Keith A of Hertford 09 Mar 15 - 05:05 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Mar 15 - 05:28 AM
GUEST,Mysha 09 Mar 15 - 05:59 AM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 09 Mar 15 - 06:16 AM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 09 Mar 15 - 06:22 AM
Lighter 09 Mar 15 - 06:52 AM
GUEST,Mysha 09 Mar 15 - 08:25 AM
GUEST,Dave the Gnome 09 Mar 15 - 08:50 AM
bubblyrat 09 Mar 15 - 10:23 AM
MGM·Lion 09 Mar 15 - 10:40 AM
Gibb Sahib 09 Mar 15 - 12:01 PM
Joe Offer 09 Mar 15 - 01:32 PM
Joe Offer 09 Mar 15 - 01:38 PM
Mysha 09 Mar 15 - 03:47 PM
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Mysha 09 Mar 15 - 05:02 PM
Lighter 09 Mar 15 - 05:17 PM
MGM·Lion 09 Mar 15 - 05:18 PM
GUEST,CW 09 Mar 15 - 05:50 PM
Joe Offer 10 Mar 15 - 01:52 AM
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Lighter 10 Mar 15 - 07:11 AM
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Subject: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 11:14 AM

I am trying to find the origin of "Johnny Come Down to Hilo"
It is listed in one source as a Broadside. I am interested in finding the African-American roots to this sea ballad.

Could this be related to: "John come Down de Holler" by Dan Emmett. Does anyone have Emmett's lyrics?

What are the minstrel roots to "Johnny Come Down to Hilo"?

-Richie


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Subject: Lyr Add: JOHNNY COME DOWN DE HOLLOW
From: masato sakurai
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 12:23 PM

JOHNNY COME DOWN TO HILO in the DT.

From The Traditional Ballad Index:

Johnny Walk Along to Hilo

DESCRIPTION: Shanty, with chorus, "Johnny walk along to Hilo, Oh, poor old man, Oh, wake her, oh, shake, her, Oh, wake that gal with the blue dress on!" The verses usually consist of a scattering of lines from assorted Black and minstrel songs
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1914 (Sharp-EFC)
KEYWORDS: shanty nonballad
FOUND IN: US(MA)
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Doerflinger, p. 72, "Johnny Walk Along to Hilo" (1 text, 1 tune)
Colcord, p. 102, "Johnny Come Down to Hilo" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 266-268, "Johnny Come Down to Hilo," "The Gal With the Blue Dress" (3 texts, 3 tunes) [AbEd, pp. 196-197]
Sharp-EFC, XVI, p. 19, "O Johnny Come to Hilo" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 483-485, "Johnny Come Down to Hilo" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, JOHNHILO*

Roud #650
RECORDINGS:
Pete Seeger, "Johnny Come Down to Hilo" (on PeteSeeger04)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Uncle Ned" (floating lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
Johnny Come Down the Backstay
Johnny Come to Hilo
Shake Her, Johnny, Shake Her!
NOTES: Doerflinger says of this song that it was "doubtless invented by colored shellbacks, but [was] just as popular with whites" -- and indeed, Doerflinger's version is in white dialect while Lomax has a Black text. Even more interestingly, they don't have any lyrics in common except the chorus -- Doerflinger's only lyric is from "Uncle Ned," which the Lomax version does not quote. - RBW
File: Doe072a

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2015 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.



There're are two seemingly related songs in John Greenway's American Folksongs of Protest (1953; rpt. Octagon Press, 1970, pp. 94-95) [no mention of Emmett; without music]:

JOHNNY COME DOWN DE HOLLOW

Johnny come down de hollow--
  Oh, hollow.
De nigger trader got he--
  Oh, hollow.
De speculator bought me--
  Oh, hollow.
I'm sold for silver dollars--
  Oh, hollow.
Boys, go catch de pony--
  Oh, hollow.
Bring him round de corner--
  Oh, hollow.
I'm goin' way to Georgia--
  Oh, hollow.
Boys, good-bye forever.
  Oh, hollow.
 --H.M. Henry, The Police Control of the Slave in South Carolina, p. 56.

HILO! HILO!

William Rino sold Henry Silvers--
  Hilo! Hilo!
Sold him to de Georgy trader--
  Hilo! Hilo!
His wife se cried, and children bawled--
  Hilo! Hilo!
Sold him to de Georgy trader--
  Hilo! Hilo!
  --J.D. Long, Pictures of Salvery, Philadelphia, 1857, p. 198.

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: masato sakurai
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 12:49 PM

"Johnny come down de hollow" is quoted in William Cullen Bryant, CORN-SHUCKING IN SOUTH CAROLINA--FROM THE LETTERS OF A TRAVELLER (BARNWELL DISTRICT, South Carolina, March 29, 1843) (Click here and scroll down), where the words are "De nigger-trader got me." In Roger D. Abrahams, Singing the Master: The Emergence of African-American Culture in the Plantation South (1992; Penguin, 1993), this song is in quotations from Bryant's Letter and William Wells Brown, M.D., My Southern Home, or the South and Its People (Boston, A.G. Brown and Co.. 1880) [pp. 224 and 249 respectively].


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 12:51 PM

Interesting, Masato. What you seem to be saying is the earliest forms may to be related to "Shallo Brown," as both versions you presented above seem to scan to that chantey. I wonder where and when they diverged.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 01:55 PM

Hilo got worked into so many shanties that I wonder if they just enjoyed the name, with its internal contradiction.
Away....
Keith.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 02:03 PM

Masato-

Great work! I bet Emmett version of "John Come Down de Holler" is based on an earlier African-American version.

Here are lyric versions in the DT:
HILO, BOYS, HILO
TOM'S GONE TO HILO 2
CAN'T YE HILO?
TOMMYS GONE TO HILO
JOHNNY COME DOWN TO HILO
HILO, JOHNNY BROWN
RANZO RAY

There are three Shallow Brown versions including, HULLABALOO BELAY in the DT.

There are also fiddle tune lyrics that have Hilo (Shilo) in them. Perhaps there is also a connection there.

Does anyone think that this is a one of the origins of the "Shallow Brown" "Hilo" and Hog-eye" sea shanty songs?

Are the tunes related also?

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 03:22 PM

As with sets of lyrics, there are so many chantey melodies that it is very difficult to say. The two versions that Masato posted look as though they were sung slowly, possibly as a field holler for swinging a hoe or cultivating. The other two you inquired about are much livelier.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: curmudgeon
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 03:50 PM

Terry includes this song in "The Shanty Book" Part I, 1921, and comments, "This is clearly of Negro origin. I learn't several variants of it, but for its present form I am indebted to Capt. W. I. Dowdy."

Compare with "Gal With the Blue Dress On," as sung by A.L. Lloyd on the Prestige collection, "A Sailor's Garland." Here, Lloyd writes, "A halyard shanty, most shelbacks say, though at least one 19th collection names it a pumping song. Known to Liverpool seamen, but sounding much like a Negro composition."

Shake her and we'll wake her -- Tom


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 03:53 PM

Johnny Come Down to Hilo, and Hogeye Man, have several interchangable verses. See threads 11353 and 28208, among others. Hogeye and Johnny    
Shallow Brown has some of the same verses. See DT and posts to 7955 Shallow
Some random verses from Johnny-Hilo, not noted in skimming through the threads:
My little gal her hair is red
It's curly all over but not on her head.

But this little gal, she put some hair,
She put some hair on top of his head.

Her eyes are blue, her dress the same,
But she always fell asleep before I came.
I think these are from an old bawdy lp by Oscar Brand.

These were sung by Jesse Schaffer Johnny
My wife died in Tennessee,
They sent her jawbone back to me.

I set that jawbone on the fence,
And I ain't heard nothing but the jawbone since.

So hand me down my riding cane,
I'm off to see Miss Sarah Jane.

Keith, Hilo, pronounced He'-lo, was well-known in the 19th century. It was an important whaling, supply and victualizing port as well as a "playground" for the seamen, along with a similar port at Lahaina on Maui. Its port was a protected narrow horseshoe. In the 20th century, the big tourist ships came, but facilities were largely destroyed by a huge tidal wave whose effect was magnified by the bay's shape.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: curmudgeon
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 04:44 PM

More likely, Ylo or Hilo in Peru. Hawaiian place names were not part of the merchant sailor's language until late in the 19th century. While the Sandwich Islands were common R & R spots for whalers, they were not commercial ports, whereas Hilo, Peru was important in the nitrate trade.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 05:21 PM

Well, apparently a plantation version can be traced back to the 1860's
, as recalled by Solomon Northup, one of the best known Black itinerant musicians of the 19th century according to Eileen Southern in her book THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICANS. This fragment is what's called a "patting song", one that was used for dancing when there weren't any instruments:

Who's been here since I've been gone?
Pretty little gal with a josey on.
Hog eye!
Old hog eye!
And Hosey too!
Never seen the like since I was born,
Here comes a little gal wid a josey on.
Hog eye!
Old hog eye!
And Hosey too!

There seems to be several "birds to kill" with this fragment, including our old friend "Hog Eye."

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 10:07 PM

I was wondering about the connection of the words; "Hilo" to "Shilo" to "Shallow". Is the folk process at work here?

Could this connect with the "Limber Jim," "Jim Along Josie," "Seven Up," "Shiloh" "Black Them Boots" family?

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 10:38 PM

Just a quick note on Charley Noble's post:

See the "Jim Along Josie" Thread also.

Yaller Gal with a Josey On, The
Baltimore: F. D. Benteen, 1849.
As sung by Nightingale Ethiopian Serenaders

I see'd a dashing yaller gal,
One day upon the levee,
Her form was round her step was light
But wa'nt her bustle heavy!

She cast a tender glance on me,
And my heart was gone Oh!
She was the taring yaller gal,
That had a josey on,

Chorus: Oh yes, we all remember her
She used to hoe the corn,
She's the dashing yaller gal
That had a Josey on.

This might be where the expression "Pretty little gal with a josey on" comes from.

Also a Josie might be a slang for "a Joseph" which was a woman's riding cloak.

Interesting that this is mixed with "Hog-eye" lyrics.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST
Date: 21 Oct 02 - 11:47 PM

A correction. Curmudgeon is probably right (hell, more than probably).
In 1854, the whole of Hawai'i received only 148 steam frigates, the great majority at Honolulu, which had become by far the greatest of the Hawaiian ports in amount of trade. 2500 men on whaling vessels did port in Hilo in 1854, but many more landed in Honolulu, and even Lahaina was more important than Hilo.
In 1854, 1,600,000 gallons of whale oil were transhipped in Hawaii, the great majority at Honolulu. Figures from American Memory.
Where the name of the song Johnny Came Down to Hilo came from, I don't know. Ylo would be pronounced E'-lo normally, close to Hilo, but how did sailors pronounce these names?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 12:54 AM

When I moved to Hilo in 1994, I was very excited to think that I was standing by the very bay that John had come down to. Sadly, I wasn't. As the song says, "Oh Hilo town is in Peru..." Here's what Stan Hugill has to say about it:

"...we will now run through those worksongs woven aroung the word 'Hilo'. Hilo is a port in the Hawaiian group, and, although occasionally shellbacks may have been referring to this locality, usually it was a port in South America of which they were singing--the Peruvian nitrate port of Ilo. But in some of these Hilo shanties it was not a port, either in Hawaii or Peru, to which they were referring. Sometimes the word was a substitute for a 'do', a 'jamboree', or even a 'dance'. And in some cases the word was used as a verb--to 'hilo' somebody or something. In this sense its origin and derivation is a mystery. Furthermore, since shanties were not composed in the normal manner, by putting them down, it is on paper quite possible many of these 'hilos' are nothing more than 'high-low', as Miss Colcord has it in her version of We'll Ranzo Ray. Take your pick!"

Stan includes several Shallow Brown shanties as a "detour" in this chapter, indicating there is a definite relation. He also has this to say about the song in question, Johnny Come Down to Hilo, which accords with what has been said previously [politically incorrect phraseology not edited]:

"Now we come to the last of our Hilo series, one well known nowadays, thanks to Terry's making it popular in schools, and so on. This is Johnny, Come Down to Hilo... The tune is Irish in origin and the wording is a mixture of Negro catch-phrases, of lines from Negro and nigger minstrel ditties, and odd bits from other shanties, e.g. Poor Old Man and The Gal With the Blue Dress... The normal use of Johnny, Come Down to Hilo was at the capstan when a steady march round was needed."

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 03:55 AM

By the way, the cruise ships still come to Hilo. The reason they don't come there as often as they do to Maui and Kona is because of the weather, not because of the effects of the tsunami ("tidal wave" is a misnomer).

Two big tsunami hit Hilo in the 20th century, in 1946 and 1960. But things have been pretty well cleaned up since then! Here are some photos from the 1960 tsunami, and here's some information about the tsunami and its effects on Hilo. (In the photo site, the first picture is of a group of people standing at the water's edge, hoping to see the water rush out before the first wave arrives! I don't know what happened to them, but it just goes to show you that stupidity knows no boundaries...)

We actually had a tsunami hit the island soon after I moved there in 1994. We left town and went inland to Waimea. The biggest wave turned out to be 18 inches high! Apparently while seismic analysis can help the experts predict that a tsunami will arrive, they can't tell just how big it will be until it reaches land.

Aloha,
Mark
(We now return you to your regularly scheduled thread)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 08:43 AM

Here is some info using "Shiloh" lyric the from the Limber Jim/Buckeye Jim family:

From the O.E.D. he found an item on "limber-holes" and "limber-ropes". He says that "Limber-holes are holes made in the floor timbers of a ship to allow bilge water to pass through [along with mud from boots etc.] for pumping." And a "limber-rope" is a "rope used to clean the limber-holes so the stuff can go through for pumping out." Perhaps there is a shanty connection for "Limber Jim"/"Buckeye Jim".

Here are two lyrics from Masato's post above:

William Rino sold Henry Silvers--
Hilo! Hilo!

Johnny come down de hollow--
Oh, hollow.

Ruth Crawford Seeger's AMERICAN FOLK SONGS FOR CHILDREN, pp. 96-97, called "Scraping Up Sand In The Bottom Of The Sea". The chorus goes:

Scraping up sand in the bottom of the sea, Shiloh, Shiloh,
Scraping up sand in the bottom of the sea, Shiloh, Liza Jane.

From Black them Boots:

Black those shoes and make them shine,
Shiloh, Shiloh,
Black those shoes and make them shine,
Shiloh, Liza Jane.

Excerpt from Limber Jim:
Limber Jim,
[All.] Shiloh!
Talk it agin,
[All.] Shiloh!
Walk back in love,
[All.] Shiloh!
You turtle-dove,
[All.] Shiloh!

There seems to be some similarities between Masato's posted songs and Limber Jim.

Does anyone have Daniel Emmett's "John come Down de Holler"? It seems remarkable that Emmett's music is so hard to find considering his stature as an American arranger and composer.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 09:11 AM

Richie-

You may actually be making some progress here!

I can't find Daniel Decateur Emmett's "John come Down de Holler" but did find another reference to a "Jim Along Josey" which was another rewrite of a plantation song by the White/Black-faced minstrels of the 1840's.

BUT how about this fragment from an early 19th century field worksong (also from THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICANS, pp. 153):

Oh, this is the day to roll and go,
Hill-up, boys, hilo;
Oh, this is the day to roll and go,
Hill-up, boys, hilo.

Again, two birds with a single stone, "hilo" and "roll and go."

Still curious about what a "josey" might be, a riding cloak doesn't seem to ring true for a field girl.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 09:29 AM

Not found, but mentioned in Hans Nathan, Dan Emmett and the Rise of Early Negro Minstrelsy (U of Oklahoma Pr, 1962, 1977, pp. 241-242):

Though the versification reveals Emmett's hand, numerous lines and images were nevertheless lifted, according to professional custom, from earlier minstrel songs. Appearing alongside passages from English folk texts and such urban colloquialism as "o.k." are many bits from the workaday reality of the slave, as well as such expressions as "going home," "traveling a rocky road," and "joining the union," which, though stripped of their religious meaning, derive from Negro spirituals. The following song, which was sung in the early forties by colored plantation hands in South Carolina as they shucked corn, is a good example:

Johnny come down de hollow. Oh, hollow!
Johnny come down de hollow. Oh, hollow!
De nigger-trader got me. Oh, hollow!
De speculator bought me. Oh, hollow!
I'm sold for silver dollars. Oh, hollow!
Boys, go catch de pony. Oh, hollow!
Bring him round de corner. Oh, hollow!
I'm goin' away to Georgia. Oh, hollow!
Boys, good-bye forever. Oh, hollow!*

Emmett remembered almost all of these lines when he composed his walk-arounds. The opening he borrowed literally for his "John Come down de Hollow," and the rest he paralleled, in practically the same sequence, in his "Road to Georgia" and its alternate text version "Road to Richmond" as follows: "De niggar trader tink me nice" ("De speculator tink me nice"), "De white folks sell me for half price" (later: "We'll fotch a thousand dollars down"), and "Under way, under way Ho! we are on de way to Georgia."
[*Quoted in Norris Yates, "Four Plantation Songs Noted by William Cullen Bryant," Southern Folklore Quarterly (December, 1951)]

~Masato


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 09:54 AM

Not the same song, but there's the line: "John come down de hollow." Quoted from
Francis Fedric, Slave Life in Virginia and Kentucky; or, Fifty Years of Slavery in the Southern States of America (1863):

[Page 47]
In the autumn, about the 1st of November, the slaves commence gathering the Indian-corn, pulling it off the stalk, and throwing it into heaps. Then it is carted home, and thrown into heaps sixty or seventy yards long, seven or eight feet high, and about six or seven feet wide. Some of the masters make their slaves shuck the corn. All the slaves stand on one side of the heap, and throw the ears over, which
[Page 48]
are then cribbed. This is the time when the whole country far and wide resounds with the corn-songs. When they commence shucking the corn, the master will say, "Ain't you going to sing any to-night?" The slaves say, "Yers, Sir." One slave will begin:--

                         "Fare you well, Miss Lucy.
                         ALL. John come down de hollow."

The next song will be:--

                         "Fare you well, fare you well.
                         ALL. Weell ho. Weell ho.
                         CAPTAIN. Fare you well, young ladies all.
                         ALL. Weell. ho. Weell ho.
                         CAPTAIN. Fare you well, I'm going away.
                         ALL. Weell ho. Weell ho.
                         CAPTAIN. I'm going away to Canada.
                         ALL. Weell ho. Weell ho."


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 01:02 PM

Masato- Good connection with Emmett. I suspected this was a similar song.

Charley- I had found two references to a Josey/Josie as an undergarment. Both were unsubstantiated and one (when contacted by Guest in the Jim Along Josey post) admitted it was not based on fact.
Look at the Jim Along Josey thread.

Is it possible that "in some of these Hilo shanties it was not a port, either in Hawaii or Peru, to which they were referring? Sometimes the word was a substitute for a 'do', a 'jamboree', or even a 'dance'. And in some cases the word was used as a verb--to 'hilo' somebody or something. In this sense its origin and derivation is a mystery." From Previous Post by Mark Cohen.

This seems more likely to be the origin of the term, "Hilo" "Shiloh"
"Shallow" etc.

Is perhaps "Limber Jim" a sea shanty also that is mixed with the
"Martin Said To His Man," registered in 1588, type songs-Kitty Alone, Johnny Fool, Hurrah, Lie!, The Bed-time Song, Who's the Fool Now?, Old Blind Drunk John, Fooba-Wooba John? The songs are mostly nonsense songs with animals. Perhaps Turtle Old Man can check into this.

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 01:38 PM

Masato, you seem to have pinned it down pretty well. Weell ho seems like a pretty good antecedent for Hilo.
Your link to Francis Fedric doesn't work. I tried http://docsouth.unc.edu/fedric/menu.html and that didn't work either.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 02:15 PM

When I first read the lines with josie-josey I wondered if it was a sack-like coverall dress. Then I found the garment called a joseph (a cloak) defined in the dictionary. Thinking of minstrel get-ups , including the long blue coat, I thought it likely.
The 1849 song posted by Richie says "wa'nt her bustle heavy." Does this refer to a "big bottom" or to the undergarment pad addition? The word bustle for the big pad was in print by the 1790s and the bustle was used off and on through much of the 19th century. Who has a fashion history?
Farther on in the same song, she has a josey on. Could it be another name for a bustle? Seems it is either that, or a garment which covers the gal. For slaves, often only one layer was both outer and under garment. Was this called a josey? (Or is it just a nonsense word?).
That's a problem with these words; meanings change with time, or they become nonsense. Very difficult to pin down.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Dead Horse
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 03:24 PM

Shallow and Shiloh are far more likely to be corruptions of Challow, which was a description of negroes, and refers to the colour of skin. The fairer the better of course! The darker the skin, the more *uncivilised*. I'd go with Hugill, for what it's worth.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 04:45 PM

Challow =?? Sallow (= salloh, salow, salo, etc.). Used as a description of light yellow or dirty-grayish. "A man may be high colored or sallowe colored and yet not blacke;" usage goes back to the 16th century.
Source of challow?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: masato sakurai
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 08:35 PM

My link to FRANCIS FEDRIC works.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 09:31 PM

Fine now. Server or website off for a while, I guess. Interesting story.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Barry witout a cookie
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 02:03 AM

From the West Indies.


Poor ole man he's sick in bed

He want somebody for rub his head


Johnny come down to the Hilo

Poor ole man.


Barry


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 07:55 AM

Barry-

It's true that a lot of the lines in the verses cited above appear in West Indies sea shanties, but the plantation work songs seem to date back further, at least as far back as the 1840's. We need some diaries to sort this out, and I bet someone has an attic full.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Richie
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 08:17 AM

One location on-line lists a broadside as an early source. It's not clear if it's an American or English broadside but I would presume it's from the mid- 1800's. Can anyone locate this broadside?

-Richie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 09:32 AM

By the way, as in thread drift, if anyone comes across a minstrel version of the West Indies Blues while they're researching the above, please post your comments here or on my old thread of that name. The verses I suspect of being minstrel in origin probably date from the 1890's when my mother's nursemaid, Ella Madison, was touring Europe with a Black minstrel group:

West Indies Blues

Been all over dis doggone world,
Even been as far as China,
Worstes' place I ever did see
Was Charleston, South Carolina.

I'se goin' home,
Goin' 'cross de water,
Make my livin' sure's you bo'n,
Diving after quarters.
Got dem Wes' Indies blues.

Charleston folks eat alligator meat,
Fried wi' rice and taters,
Bestes' eatin' I ever did have
Was monkey hips an' tomaters.

I'se goin' home,
Get meself a carriage;
Get meself a monkey gal,
An' make monkey marriage.
I'se goin' home.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: Lyr.Add. Round' de Corn, Sally
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 11:27 AM

More thread creep but I'm on a roll. Most of us nautical singers are familar with the old sea shanty "Round the Corner, Sally" in which the corner refered to has been ascribed to Cape Horn. Well, try this old plantation corn husking song on for size:

ROUN' DE CORN, SALLY

(corn husking song collected by slaveholder James Hungerford's The Old Plantation and What I Gathered There in an Autumn Month, c. 1832, quoted in THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICANS by Eileen Southern, pp. 180)

Grand Chorus:

Hooray, hooray, ho! Roun' de corn, Sally!
Hooray for all de lubly (lovely) ladies! Roun' de corn, Sally!
Hooray, hooray, ho! Roun' de corn, Sally!
Hooray for all de lubly ladies! Roun' de corn, Sally!

Dis lub's er (a) thing dat's sure to hab you, Roun' de corn, Sally!
He hole (hold) you tight, when once he grab you, Roun' de corn, Sally!
Un (an) ole (old) un (one) ugly, young un (one) pretty, Roun' de corn, Sally!
You needen try when once he git you, Roun' de corn, Sally! (CHO)

Dere's Mr. Travers lub Miss Jinny, Roun' de corn, Sally!
He thinks she is us (as) good us any, Roun' de corn, Sally!
He comes from church wid her er (on) Sunday, Roun' de corn, Sally!
Un (He) don't go back ter town till Monday, Roun' de corn, Sally! (CHO)

My interpretations in ()'s.
Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 12:25 PM

Damn! Just noticed that Forebitter from Mystic Seaport has made the same connection between "Roun' the Corn, Sally" and "Round the Corner, Sally" in the notes to their fine CD LIND OF CHAIN.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 01:43 PM

"Round De Corn, Sally," first collected when used as a rowing song, had at least one more verse in Hungerford, two lines of which are given, along with yours, in Dena J. Epstein, "Sinful Tunes and Spirituals." Are the other two lines in your reference?
Epstein gives the sheet music on p. 169 of her book.
Filling in Charley Noble's post:

Dere's Mr Lucas lub Miss T'resser,
Un ebery thing he does ter please her;

Quoting from Epstein (from Hungerford); "When a passenger (on the boat, coastal Maryland) requested "Round de Corn, Sally," she was told 'Dat's a corn song, un we'll hab ter sing it slow ter row to." They sang it, improvising words to fit the members of the party.
Other songs, such as "Poor Rosy, Poor Gal," could be sung fast to grind hominy and slow to row by, just as a corn song could be adapted for rowing.
The corn shucking song quoted by Masato, and others here all could be used as rowing songs from the east coast, Maryland and the Carolinas to Florida.
This one was a rowing song, also from Hungerford (? In another thread also? Seem to remember that at least one of the variants was posted, but it fits in the context of this thread).

SOLD OFF TO GEORGY

Farewell, fellow servants! O-ho! O-ho!
I'm gwine away to leabe you; O-ho! O-ho!
I'm gwine to leabe de ole county; O-ho! O-ho!
I'm sold off to Georgy! O-ho! O-ho!

Farewell, old plantation, O-ho! O-ho!
Farewell, de old quarter, O-ho! O-ho!
Un daddy, un mammy; O-ho! O-ho!
Un marster, un missus! O-ho! O-ho!

My dear wife un one chile, O-ho! O-ho!
My poor heart is breaking; O-ho! O-ho!
No more shall I see you, O-ho! O-ho!
Oh! No more foreber! O-ho! O-ho!

The response on the part of the rowers, O-ho!, easily changes to "Weel-ho!," "Yoe! Yoee!," "Shilo," "Hollow!," "Hilo!" noted in other songs.
This song appears in many guises in various references. "Sold off to Georgy" (or other far south plantation region) seems to have been a constant fear of slaves working in the more liberal coastal Carolinas.

Aye! Ayee!, is another of the chorused responses in a rowing song (This one has to be called a chantey!).

We are going down to Georgia, boys, Aye! Aye!
To see the pretty girls, boys; Yoe! Yoe!
We'll give 'em a pint of brandy, boys, Aye! Aye!
An a hearty kiss, besides, boys. Yoe! Yoe!
etc., etc.
"The words were nonsense; anything, in fact, which came into their heads." Heard in 1808, traveling by boat from Purrysburgh to Savannah, GA, by boat. John Lambert, Travels, II, p. 253-54.

Others have written of the singing of the Galley slaves on the larger rivers and estuary boats and canoes of the coastal and riverine South.
Unfortunately, secular songs were seldom collected. Major attention was given to the spirituals on the part of collectors.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST
Date: 23 Oct 02 - 01:46 PM

Forgot to note that the Lambert-collected song is also from Dena Epstein's study of pre-Civil War songs.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 09:37 AM

Guest-

There are no other verses of "Roun' the Corner, Sally" in THE MUSIC OF BLACK AMERICANS, pp. 180. However, the Forebitter version which I just listened to again begins with the grand chorus and the first verse as in the above and then adds different verses, one of which is typically sung in "Bully in the Alley." When I get some time I'll post their version here. It's a good listen and the tune is probably similar to the one notated in the above.

There are aslo a lot of versions of "Goin' Down to Georgia."

We needs a time machine to sort them out!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Barry Finn
Date: 24 Oct 02 - 07:54 PM

Hi Charley, I wasn't making a point with that post, just adding an extra to the pot. It'd be quite the ramble to dicuss origins & to put a time line up for what dated where & which came from which. Though I do have strong notions as to what the dimise of what Whall calls real/new shanties & who's golden age of the shanty came when where & how? IMHO. See ya soon somewhere. Barry


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Charley Noble
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 12:45 PM

refresh!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: doc.tom
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 03:02 PM

A good refreshment, Charlie


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: stallion
Date: 24 Jul 11 - 06:53 PM

interesting Charley, so the version ron sings is the Doerflinger version and not the Lomax version, does the Lomax version predate Doerflinger?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 01:15 PM

Doerflinger provides no date, nor useful data on origin.
"....medley of catch phrases from old Negro and minstrel songs."
An unsupported statement by Doerflinger says, "Dooubtless invented by colored shellbacks...."
Lomax is equally unreliable, quoting from Colcord, giving a chantey with minstrel phrases and Liverpool fragments and repeating her statement "There can be no doubt of the Negro origin of the next shanty;...."

I nebber see de like since I been born,
When a big buck nigger wid his sea boots on,
Says "Johnny come down to Hilo,
Poor old man!
Oh, wake her, oh, shake her,
Oh, wake dat gal wid de blue dress on!
When Johnny comes down to Hilo,
Poor old man!"


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 25 Jul 11 - 01:20 PM

Liverpool and other English sailors, not Blacks, made good money screwing cotton in Mobile, as pointed out in another thread; both Colcord and Lomax seem to have been unaware of this when they published. The pay was higher than shipboard pay.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 05:44 PM

Without going off into all the cross references and tangents on this BODY of song, and sticking just to the songs with a J(OHNNY) coming down", here's an attempt at a chronology of references. Some has been posted already, but just to get the ducks in a row...

1863        Fedric, Francis. _Slave Life in Virginia and Kentucky_. London: Wertheim, Macintosh, and Hunt.

Frederick (Fedric), an escaped slave, lived circa 1805-1882. Refers to a corn-shucking circa 1820s-1833 on a Virginia or Kentucky plantation.


In the autumn, about the 1st of November, the slaves commence gathering the Indian-corn, pulling it off the stalk, and throwing it into heaps. Then it is carted home, and thrown into heaps sixty or seventy yards long, seven or eight feet high, and about six or seven feet wide. Some of the masters make their slaves shuck the corn. All the slaves stand on one side of the heap, and throw the ears over, which are then cribbed. This is the time when the whole country far and wide resounds with the corn-songs. When they commence shucking the corn, the master will say, "Ain't you going to sing any to-night?" The slaves say, "Yers, Sir." One slave will begin:--

"Fare you well, Miss Lucy. 
                        
ALL. John come down de hollow."



***

1850        Bryant, William Cullen. _Letters of a Traveller_. London: Richard Bentley.

Refers to a corn-shucking bee on a South Carolina plantation in March 1843.

The light-wood-fire was made, and the negroes dropped in from the neighboring plantations, singing as they came. The driver of the plantation, a colored man, brought out baskets of corn in the husk, and piled it in a heap; and the negroes began to strip the husks from the ears, singing with great glee as they worked, keeping time to the music, and now and then throwing in a joke and an extravagant burst of laughter. The songs were generally of a comic character; but one of them was set to a singularly wild and plaintive air, which some of our musicians would do well to reduce to notation. These are the words:

Johnny come down de hollow.
             Oh hollow!
Johnny come down de hollow.
             Oh hollow !
De nigger-trader got me.
             Oh hollow!
De speculator bought me.
             Oh hollow !
I'm sold for silver dollars,
             Oh hollow !
Boys, go catch the pony.
             Oh hollow!
Bring him round the corner.
             Oh hollow!
I'm goln' away to Georgia.
             Oh hollow!
Boys, good-by forever!
             Oh hollow!


***

1856        Olmsted, Frederick Law. _A Journey in the Seaboard Slave States_. New York: Dix and Edwards.

It is 1853 and Olmsted is traveling on a steamboat on the Red River to Shrevport, LA. Though Olmsted observed and mentioned chanties earlier in his career, he make no comparison or recognition here.


" John come down in de holler,
   Oh, work and talk and holler,
   Oh, John, come down in de holler,
Ime gwine away to-morrow.
Oh, John, &c.
Ime gwine away to marry,
Oh, John, &c.

Get my cloves in order,
Oh. John, &c.
I'se gwine away to-morrow,
Oh, John, &c.
Oh, work and talk and holler,
Oh, John, &c.
Massa guv me dollar,
Oh, John, &c.
Don't cry yer eyes out, honey,
Oh, John, &c.
I'm gwine to get some money,
Oh, John, &c.
But I'll come back to-morrow,
Oh, John, &c.
So work and talk and holler,
Oh, John, &c.
Work all day and Sunday,
Oh, John, &c.
Massa get de money,
Oh, John, &c.

After the conclusion of this song, and after the negroes had left the bows, and were coming aft along the guards, we passed two or three colored nurses, walking with children on the river bank; as we did so the singers jumped on some cotton bales, bowed very low to them, took off their hats, and swung and waved them, and renewed their song:

God bless you all, dah ! ladies !
Oh, John come down in de holler,
Farwell, de Lord be wid you, honey,
            Oh, John, come down, &c.
Done cry yerself to def,
            Oh, John. &c.
I'm gwine down to New Orleans,
            Oh, John. &c
I'll come back, dough, bime-by,
            Oh, John, &c,
So far-you-well, my honey,
            Oh, John, &c.
Far-you-well, all you dah, shore,
            Oh, John, &c.
And save your cotton for de Dalmo!
Oh, John, &c


These references suggest quite strongly that the song (or the phrase that was the basis for later songs) was a part of African-American folk-song, predating and/or distinct from both popular minstrel song and modern chanties.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 05:57 PM

The next reference I have, now as a chanty, is not until,

1914        Bullen, Frank. T. and W.F. Arnold. _Songs of Sea Labour_. London: Orpheus Music Publishing.

Bullen, born c.1858, first went to sea in 1869 at age 11. He was a chantyman in the 1870s.

He claimed that he last heard this song off Calcutta, in the 1870s, I believe.

…brings to my mind most vividly a dewy morning in Garden Reach where we lay just off the King of Oudh's palace awaiting our permit to moor. I was before the mast in one of Bates' ships, the "Herat," and when the order came at dawn to man the windlass I raised this Chanty and my shipmates sang the chorus as I never heard it sung before or since…I have never heard that noble Chanty sung since…

Bullen gives the lyrics in a Black eye-dialect, suggesting that the song was associated (by him) with Black Americans or Caribbeans.

10. Johnny Come Down to Hilo.

I nebber seen de like, Since I ben born
When a 'Merican man wid de sea boots on
Says Johnny come down to Hilo.
Poor old man!
Oh! wake her! Oh! Shake her
Oh wake dat gal wid der blue dress on,
When Johnny comes down to Hilo!
Poor old man!


This song, if the same, certainly developed since the plantation song. I would guess that it has touches of minstrel style to it, but it may have been developed among chantymen. I have no info to speculate further, only that "girl with the blue dress" and "poor old man" were minstrel phrases.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 06:16 PM

In the same year, we have this:

1914        Sharp, Cecil K. 1914. _English Folk-Chanteys_. London: Simpkin, Marshall, Hamilton, Kent & Co. Ltd.

Sharp collected it from John Short. Short ("Yankee Jack") started his deepwater career circa 1857/8 and retired from that circa 1873-75.

16. O Johnny Come to Hilo.

O a poor old man came a-riding by,
Says I : old man your horse will die.
O Johnny come to Hilo,
O poor old man.
O wake her, O shake her,
O shake that girl with the blue dress on,
O Johnny come to Hilo;
Poor old man.


This version suggests more of the influence of the "poor old man" minstrel song about the dying horse.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 06:34 PM

Terry presented the song, in brief, in the following. Though he says it was "known to every sailor," compared to other chanties it wasn't mentioned much up to that point.

1920        Terry, R.R. "Sailor Shanties (II)." _Music and Letters_ 1(3) (July 1920):256-268.

Of the more rhythmic capstan shanties, the following rollicking tune (known to every sailor) is a fair sample:-

JOHNNY COMES DOWN TO HILO.

I nebber see de like since I bin born,
When a big buck nigger wid de sea boots on,
Sez Johnny come down to Hilo, O poor old man.
Oh wake her, Oh shake her, Oh wake dat gel wid de blue dress on,
When Johnny comes down to Hilo, O poor old man.


In his collection of the following year, ...

1921        Terry, Richard Runciman. _The Shanty Book, Part I_. London: J. Curwen & Sons.

...he presents the same, yet with more lyrics. These may be lyrics (probably, I think) that he didn't have space for in the earlier article. However, there is also the possibility that he tacked on lyrics from another source to flesh out and expand the song to a perform-able version (something he also admits to have done, in general). Terry sought to present "ideal" versions of the chanties, and tweaked them according to that concept. However, they were "based" in versions he once heard or deliberately collected. Here is what he says about this specific song:

This is clearly of negro origin. I learnt several variants of it, but for its present form I am indebted to Capt. W.J. Dowdy.

Keep in mind, FWIW, that Terry had also read Bullen and Sharp's works, above.

Here is the song text.

4. Johnny come down to Hilo

1. I nebber see de like since I bin born,

When a big buck nigger wid de sea boots on,

Says "Johnny come down to Hilo.
 Poor old man."

Oh wake her, oh, shake her,

Oh wake dat gel wid de blue dress on,

When Johnny comes down to Hilo.
 Poor old man.

2. I lub a little gel across de sea,

She's a Badian beauty and she sez to me,

"Oh Johnny," etc.

3. Oh was you ebber down in Mobile Bay

Where dey screws de cotton on a summer day?

When Johnny, etc.


4. Did you ebber see de ole Plantation Boss

And de long-tailed filly and de big black hoss?

When Johnny, etc.

5. I nebber seen de like since I bin born

When a big buck nigger wid de sea boots on,

Says "Johnny come down," etc.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 06:49 PM

Very interesting sources. Here's another one.
John Dixon Long, 1857, Pictures of Slavery, pp. 197-198.

William Rino sold Henry Silvers;
Hilo ! Hilo !
Sold him to the Georgy trader;
Hilo ! Hilo !
His wife she cried and children bawled,
Hilo ! Hilo !
Sold him to the Georgy trader;
Hilo ! Hilo !

The above from Dena J. Epstein, 1977, Sinful Tunes and Spirituals, University of Illinois Press.
She says other songs in Long's book.
----------------

Fare ye well, ye white folks all!
Wo-o-o-o-o-o!
And fare ye well, ye niggers too!
Wo-o-o-o-o-o!
I holler dis time, I holler no mo'!
Wo-o-o-o-o-o!
etc.
W. H. Venable, 1858, Down South Before the War; Record of a Ramble ...., , Ohio Archaeological and Historical Society, Pub. 2 (1889)

There are many more of these reminiscences. I think every literate person who took a trip to the South must have written his recollections and/or published his notes.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 06:50 PM

The above from Dena J. Epstein (cited above). She has a long bibliography in her book.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 06:57 PM

1924        Colcord, Joanna C. _Roll and Go_. London: Heath Cranton.

I don't have the full version of Colcord's text with me, and my only question is where she says she got her version from.

In any case, the verse she gives -- both text and music -- can be seen as absolutely identical to Terry's. She makes reference to Bullen in the introductory notes.

***

1934    Lomax, John A. and Alan Lomax. _American Ballads and Folk Songs_. New York: Macmillan.

This simply contained a reprint of Colcord's presentation (i.e. Terry's).


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 07:06 PM

1946        Hatfield, James Taft. "Some Nineteenth Century Shanties." _Journal of American Folklore_ 59(232): 108-113.

In 1886, prior to July, Hatfield traveled from Pensacola to Nice on the bark AHKERA, during which time he noted his chanties from the crew, who were all Black men from Jamaica.

10. SHAKE HER UP
Shake her up and make her go!
O, shake that girl with a blue dress on!
O me Johnny come along, too ma high low,
This poor old man!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 07:15 PM

1951        Doerflinger, William Main. _Shantymen and Shantyboys: Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman_. Macmillan: New York.

Doerflinger collected an independent version from Dick Maitland. Born 1857, NY. Maitland went to sea at age 12 (circa 1869/70).

Johnny Walk Along to Hilo

Oh, wake her, oh, shake her,
Oh, wake that gal with the blue dress on!
Then Johnny walk along to Hilo,
Oh, poor old man!
Oh, I once knew a nigger and his name was Ned,
And he had no hair on the top of his head,


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: stallion
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 07:22 PM

Yup Ron cleaned up the version he heard so as to not offend anyone, including himself as he found, as I, the song in it's unexpurgated form offensive. Guilty as charged m'lud, next.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 07:30 PM

In 1926-27 no less than 4 artists recorded "Johnny Come Down to Hilo". Based on the titles of their other selections, and the fact that it was the only full performance version at the time, they must have all performed Terry's version.

1927        Lloyd, Llewelyn. "FOLK-SONGS OF THE SEA Shanties on the Gramophone." _Gramophone_ (March 1927)

...Vocalion have economised space by getting eight shanties on two ten-inch records, ...The shanties recorded by this company are: Tom's gone to Hilo, Billy Boy, Rio Grande, and Blow the man down (X. 9786); and Shenandoah. Johnny come down to Hilo, A long time ago, and Fire down below (X.9787)...

Parlophone have devoted three ten-inch records to sea shanties, the singers being Kenneth Ellis and a male quartet, while the accompaniment is provided by a string quartet and flute, which proves a pleasant change from the usual pianoforte. ... The first record (E.5583) contains Amsterdam (also known as A-roving) and Shenandoah; the second (E.5584) has The Drunken Sailor, Santy Anna and Lowlands Away (the last two fine tunes, not elsewhere recorded); and the third (E.5585) has Rio Grande, Reuben Ranzo, Blow the man down, and Johnny come down to Hilo....

...Robert Carr and the Seafarers, who sing shanties for the Edison Bell company, impart a welcome touch of vigour to their renderings, which is unfortunately somewhat rare in other recordings... Other shanties recorded by these singers are: Billy Boy, Blow the man down, and Shenandoah (V.F.1159); and Rio Grande, and Johnny come down to Hilo, (V.F.1163)...

...The Aco records are made by John Thorne and a male trio, who sing Haul away Joe, Rio Grande, Shenandoah, and Billy Boy (G-.15824); and The shantyman's song, Can't you dance the polka?, The Drunken Sailor, and Johnny come doun to Hilo (G.15870). ...


Surely this must have had an effect of creating a "standard" version.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 07:44 PM

From the Carpenter collection.

"Shake Her, Wake Her", 1928, contributed by Captain Blue, in Greenock, Scotland

First line: Have you been in Mobile Bay

3 stanzas

"Shake Her, Wake Her", contributed by James Wright, in Leith

First line: I once was rich and had lots of tin

2 stanzas


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 08:21 PM

Colcord credits Terry as her source.

She gives just the first stanza, and gives no indication that she'd ever heard it at sea.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 08:31 PM

1961        Hugill, Stan. _Shanties from the Seven Seas: Shipboard Work-Songs from the Great Days of Sail. London_.

Hugill read the preceding works by Terry, Sharp, and Doerflinger. Says that Terry made it popular in schools, so it was well known in Hugill's day. Hugill claims to have known an "old sailor" who sang it as "Johnny, Come Down the Backstay." He states, without support, that the tune was "Irish in origin."

He doesn't give the precise origin of his version. One can analyze it as the then-popular Terry version (either folk-processed or, likely, tweaked at the time of publication to Hugill's idiosyncratic sense of proper prosody/grammar/spelling)...combined with the "Uncle Ned" verse (i.e. offered by Doerflinger) and finished with a floating verse often associated with "Hog-Eye Man." I am sure that it is certainly informed by Hugill's experiences singing the song, however, it is modeled on a base of prior published material.

JOHNNY COME DOWN TO HILO

I niver seed the like since I bin born,

Ooh, a big buck nigger wid his sea boots on,

Oh, Johnny come down to Hilo., Poor ol' man,
Oooh! wake her! Oh, shake her!

Ooh, wake dat gal with the blue dress on,

When Johnny comes down to Hilo., Poor ol' man!

2. I love a little gal acrosst de sea,

She's a big buck nigger ['Badian beauty] and she sez to me,


3. Wuz ye never down in Mobile Bay
,
A-screwin' cotton for a dollar a day?


4. Ooh, there once wuz a nigger an' his name wuz Uncle Ned,
An' he had no yarns on the top o' his head.

5. Did ye ever see the ol' plantation boss
,
An' his long-tailed filly an' his big, black hoss?


6. Oh, go fetch me down me riding cane,
For I'm off to see me sweetheart Jane.

7. Ooh, Sally [Jinny] in the garden, pickin' peas,
An' the hair of her head hangin' down to her knees.


Though one doesn't imagine the tune *necessarily* varying that much, FWIW each of the original version -- Bullen, Short (Sharp), Hatfield, Maitland (Doerflinger) -- have minor variations. Hugill's comes as close as it can come to Terry's -- suggesting again that this popular version was in the air influencing things even before Hugill went to sea.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 08:32 PM

Thanks for that important info, Lighter.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 09:00 PM

This does not exhaust every source mentioning "Johnny Come Down to Hilo," but it is enough IMO to draw some reasonable conclusions.

I have not found the chanty mentioned in any 19th century publications. Perhaps there are some journals or newspaper out there that do.

I have presented roughly 5 different collected, published chanty versions, from sailors learning possibly from as early as the very late 1850s and ending in the 1880s. There are certainly a few more collections out there, from the early 20th century, that *mention* this, but I suspect very few if any present additional original/independent versions (i.e. not composites or copies). I'd be happy to see more. To that we may add the 2(+?) Carpenter recordings. The St. Vincent Whaler's version is also there much later, pointing to a ring play game in the Caribbean, but it is hard to assess how that can be connect back to 19th century.

In all events, though the chanty seems to have been well established, relatively speaking (if the extant evidence is any indicator) it was not *so* common. The commercial chanty boom in the 1920s would seem to have made it appear disproportionately well-known.

The original chanty versions collected correspond very little in their solo verses. This is what I expect in the case of chanties. The one correspondence is Bullen's verse and Terry's opening verse about "never seen the like." This could have been a "regulation verse" of sorts (though not "de riguer" if it's not in the others!). It's certainly a common floating verse form from minstrel songs, so there's no particular need to explain it. However, seeing that it is the *only* correspondence, and if one want to be hyper-critical, one could ask whether Bullen influenced Terry. It does seem (based surveying his other items) that Bullen influenced Terry a little, and since Terry "fudged" his forms (he thought they were ideals, therefore didn't have to be transparent about his sources), he might have used it as a model. But no big deal if he didn't.

What we can see is that Terry's presentation, based on WJ Dowdy, had the most profound influence. When Colcord repeated it, then Lomax repeated Colcord...and after Terry's book was institutionalized and recorded by at least 4 artists...and then after Hugill came along and opaquely rehashed the presentation with just the right gloss of "folk process" (?)... it is now a sort of "standard."

Other branches have been created nowadays by, say, the Oscar Brand version (deliberately bawdy) and the Mystic Seaport (sanitized) version.

How the chanty may have emerged (if it did) from the African-American folk song is still very unclear to me. Was minstrelsy a mediating factor? What are the minstrel versions -- not contain similar floating verses, but which might contain the core phrases of "johnny come down"/"shake her, wake her"?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 27 Jul 11 - 11:54 PM

The dates (1850s) are pretty much the same for both the plantation work songs and the minstrel songs that seem to have contributed lines to the chantey.
The work songs and chanteys are the typical call and response (chorus) required for joint effort, and for some dance forms (also represented in the early examples presented). All three seem to have contributed; I would 'vote' for the minstrel shows (popular with sailors on the shore) as the main source, but much more needs to be searched out with regard to all three forms.

I also wonder what exposure sailors would have had with plantations. African-Americans working either as slaves or freedmen in port cities would have different songs from those on the plantations.

Not the best or best known chantey by any means, but an interesting one. 'Tis a puzzlement.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 07:25 AM

Gibb, I made this note a few years ago. No history of "Johnny, Come Down to Hilo" is complete without it:


General Wilhelm Burgdorf (1895-1945) was Chief of Personnel of the Wehrmacht at the time of his suicide in the Hitler bunker. Even one of his colleagues later described him as a "drunken swine." Burgdorf, who reportedly "had a big chest and a barrel-organ voice," wiled away his last hours drinking and singing in German and English. According to another survivor, "He kept singing a song, 'Johnny come down to Hilo, poor old man,' something like that....Rather catchy sailor's tune, if you like that sort of thing."

See James P. O'Donnell, _The Bunker_ [Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1978], p. 341-42.

If any comment is conceivable, Burgdorf may have picked up the song from a recording of (presumably) Terry's version.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: John Minear
Date: 28 Jul 11 - 07:56 AM

Lighter, your incredibly comprehensive research is always downright amazing. I guess there's just no accounting for taste when it comes to chanties. What a fine perspectival corrective aid!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,kenny
Date: 03 Jan 12 - 07:31 PM

as a boy living in denver co. in the 1950's i remember singing this song'60 years later it is still stuck in my head,now at last i know where it came from, the only thing of the song i remember singing was"johnny come to high low said the old poor man,and shake her,and break her,said the old poor man" anyway thats what i remember. its nice to at last know the name of the song and orgins.thanks.


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Subject: ADD Version: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 04:32 AM

Many of the versions of this song are horribly racist, or else they sound like racist lyrics that were sanitized. I found a version of this song that apparently came from African-American social reformer Frederick Douglass (1818-1895). I think they sound pretty good. What think ye? It's a difficult question. I don't want to sanitize songs, but neither do I want to sing lyrics that are racist or sexist.
Source: http://leighfought.blogspot.com/2011/08/douglass-and-johnny-come-down-to-hilo.html

JOHNNY COME DOWN TO HILO

Never seen the like since I been born
An Arkansas farmer with his sea boots on
Johnny come down to Hilo, poor old man
Wake her, shake her
Wake that gal with the blue dress on
Johnny come down to Hilo, poor old man


I got gal across the sea
She's a 'Badian beauty and she says to me…
Johnny come down to Hilo, poor old man
Wake her...

Sally's in the garden picking peas
The hair on her head hanging down to her knees
Johnny come down to Hilo, poor old man
Wake her...

My wife she died in Tennessee
And they sent her jawbone back to me
Johnny come down to Hilo, poor old man
Wake her...

I put that jawbone on the fence
And I ain't heard nothing but the jawbone since
Johnny come down to Hilo, poor old man
Wake her...

So hand me down my riding cane
I'm off to see Ms. Sarah Jane
Johnny come down to Hilo, poor old man
Wake her...


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:05 AM

Outrageously misogynist!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:28 AM

... and "Arkansas farmer with his seaboots on" is a priceless bit of nonsensical PC fudge! I have cited it on the 'dilemma' thread as an example of the dangers of messing about with a lyric, for ideological or such motivations.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Mysha
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:59 AM

Hi,

"Never seen the like since I been born
An Arkansas farmer with his sea boots on"

With his hogeye!
An Arkansas Farmer with his hogeye!
Steady on a jig with a hogeye!
Oh, she wants the hogeye man!

?

Yes, it would seem there are some relations between the two songs. (-:

Bye,
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 06:16 AM

Never seen the like since I been born
An Arkansas farmer with his sea boots on

Could that not just be an expression saying it is not possible? Bit like the cow reap the corn or a flea heave a tree?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 06:22 AM

Ah - Gotcha. Seen the 'original'. I think the new one makes as much sense and is less offensive.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 06:52 AM

According to the blog, the only lines Douglass sang were:

Oh John Low! Johnny went down the hi-lo!
Oh John Low! Johnny went down the hi-lo!
Went down the hi-lo to get some gin,
Johnny went down the hi lo!
Drank so much he tumbled in,
Johnnie went down the hi-lo!


The other words posted are the current PC version, with "Arkansas farmer" substituted for the traditional...er, something else.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Mysha
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 08:25 AM

Hi again (Why does work always have to interfere with the more important things in life),

"Sally's in the garden shelling peas" is in Hogeye Man as well. Knowing the Hogeye versions of these verses, they sure sound "modified" to me, here.

But more in general, Joe: Down to Hilo is a shanty of the type that would collect verses, I guess to fit the length of the work. If there was an original that made sense, then likely nobody alive knows it. So, uses Hilo verses that you like, other verses you pick from other songs, new verses that you think up on the spot or that you thought up to match the occasion.

Think of it: These shanties were sung under monotonous work: Would the sailors or other workers prefer to hear the same old verses time and again? Or would they want the lead to think of something new each time? Man, as a variation throw in the first lines of The Wild Rover, on Hilo melody, if you can. That, in my opinion, was what such shanties were about: Inventing stuff, changing stuff around.


Never seen the like since I been born
An Arkansas farmer with his flippers on

Sally's in the garden and says I
Her kisses are sweeter than apple pie.

I tell you now, all around her hat,
She wears a green ribbon, how about that?

My wife she died in some Texan town
And to me they sent her jawbone down

I put that jawbone on the fence
And it's been y'all-ing ever since

The <shipsname>'s so bad, I'll be ***
If she don't soon go to the promised land.

So hand me down *** *** [well-earned] pay,
In <port-name> I'll find some *** [dame] today.


Getting the lyrics "right" is not what it's about. It's probably more about getting them "wrong". It's: Don't make them work, make them laugh.

@ € 0.02

Bye,
                                                               Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,Dave the Gnome
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 08:50 AM

Makes sense to me, Mysha. When I played various roles in a Pace Egg play I always tried to introduce a bit of variety. Occasionally on purpose... :-)


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: bubblyrat
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 10:23 AM

At school in the 1950s in West Sussex, England, we often sang this song, and,since PC hadn't been invented , we always sang "big buck nigger" etc.. I suppose it would be a serious offence today ,but that's life in the modern world, I guess.Of course, we "whites" continue to be abused by all and sundry, and are called "white trash" and "honkys" , but we are above complaining and have more important things to worry about , to be honest !!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 10:40 AM

I remember in the 1940s, my school choir (Hendon County School) singing some songs on the old BBC Radio Home Service schools programme. The "Big Buck Nigger" version was one of them, and nobody then thought anything of it. I recall too an argument with Sandy Paton when he was here in 1958: he asserted that the word "nigger" could not occur in any true folksong; so I sang him that stanza, and Redd Sullivan who was with us, himself an experienced professional Merchant Seaman, assured Sandy that that was indeed what seamen sang.

PC rewriting of history seems to me to have its dangers -- for scholarship as well as for morality.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 12:01 PM

I guess earlier parts of this thread have been somewhat forgotten.

While today viewed as an important item in the deepwater sailor chanty genre, this song does not appear quite so prominently in the historical record of that trade. Terry's publication of a version in the 1920s, and subsequent recordings and other renditions by enthusiasts based off of that, seems to have increased its stock.

The "John comes down the hollow" appears to be likely a pre-Emancipation plantation song of African-American culture. Thus it is one of many songs of this provenance that came to be adopted and/or adapted by non-Black seamen. I personally am more interested in discovering exactly how that happened (among the several possibilities that need not be stated now). My hunch is that in the case of this particular item, minstrel music had some role in helping to *mediate* it, even though the song does not originate with minstrels. But that's another story.

There is nothing inherently racist about it —though I suppose one could add racist lyrics to any song, on a whim.

The couplet pattern that begins "I never seen the like since I was born" looks to have been a stock pattern in African-American song. The rhyme varies.

Michael, I have no idea what a "true folksong" is, but Black Americans sang the word "nigga" often enough in the 19th century, just as many Black people sing it today in certain genres. The meaning or usage in those cases of the past seems to me more or less the same as in the present, and this is one reason that when we see that word in chanty-type songs we have good reason to suspect the song either has an African-American origin or a minstrel ( = representation of "Blackness") origin. And it's for that reason that removal of such language presents a paradox: while removing offense to Black people, it also removes evidence of Black people's "ownership."


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Subject: ADD Version: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 01:32 PM

Here's a version from Bob Zentz that I kinda like, but they don't quite work for me. I'm looking for verses that are more commonly sung.

Johnny, Come Down To Hilo

From Shipmates (2012)

Traditional, combined with the lyrics of "The Gal With The Blue Dress"

 


1. I never seed the like since I bin born, a big buck sailor with his sea boots on, oh

     Johnny, come down to Hi-lo, poor old man!

I love a little gal acrosst the sea, with a blue dress on and she says to me (Johnny, etc.)

     Wake her! (wake her!) Shake her! (shake her!) Wake that gal with the blue dress on oh
     Johnny, come down to Hi-lo Poor old man!

2.  This gal she did look good to me, cos I had been ten months at sea (Johnny, etc.)
Roust her and shake her is the cry, the bloody ol' topmast sheet is dry (Johnny, etc.)  (chorus)

3.  A big wind comes from the west-nor-west, this gal she ain't gonner get no rest (Johnny, etc.)
Shake 'er bullies, oh, helm's a-lee, she'll get washed out wi' a big green sea (Johnny, etc.)  (chorus)

4.  Her oilskins they are all in pawn, it's cold and drafty round Cape Horn (Johnny, etc.)
So roust her up from down below, and haul her away for your Uncle Joe (Johnny, etc.)  (chorus)

5.  This gal, she is a high-born lass, a high-born lass in a flash blue dress (Johnny, etc.)
So roust her up, be quick I say, and make yer port and take yer pay (Johnny, etc.)  (chorus)


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Subject: Dilemma: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 01:38 PM

The "Arkansas Farmer" lyrics were what was proposed for the upcoming Rise Again songbook. My first reaction, like many of those above, was outrage at the blatant attempt at political correctness. There's no way we can include "big buck nigger" in a songbook that may be used in the US outside the folk community, so we have to come up with some alternative.

But I found several recordings, mostly by younger chantey singers, that used the "Arkansas farmer" verse. Then I found the Frederick Douglass page, and misread the "Arkansas Farmer" lyrics as having come from Douglass (give me a break, it was 3 AM). So then I got a little more open to the farmer verse, but still questioning. That's why I'm asking,

Yes, Gibb, I read the entire thread above, and Doerflinger, and Hugill, and Lomax (these books don't have much). And I listened to maybe twenty recordings....and I still haven't come up with what I need - something that's reasonably authentic, fun to sing, and that can be sung in an American elementary school without the singer getting arrested.

I kinda like the one verse Gibb posted above:

    I nebber seen de like, Since I ben born
    When a 'Merican man wid de sea boots on
    Says Johnny come down to Hilo.
    Poor old man!
    Oh! wake her! Oh! Shake her
    Oh wake dat gal wid der blue dress on,
    When Johnny comes down to Hilo!
    Poor old man!

Bob Zentz has "big buck sailor with his sea boots on," which clearly sanitized, but not (I think) blatantly so.

I guess I've most often heard this song sung by Ken Schatz. Most likely, I first heard the song at the FSGW Getaway in 1999, with Ken singing. There's a recording of Ken singing here:I wish I could understand all the verses he's singing.

So, here's my working copy, subject to change per the advice of y'all:

Johnny Come Down to Hilo

Never seen the like since I been born
A big buck sailor with his sea boots on
Johnny come down to Hilo / Poor old man

D - - - / - - - A / D - GD D / D A D -
Wake her, shake her
Wake that gal with the blue dress on / Johnny come down...

I got a gal across the sea
She's a 'Badian beauty & she says to me / Johnny…

Sally's in the garden picking peas
The hair on her head hanging down to her knees…

My wife she died in Tennessee
And they sent her jawbone back to me…

I put that jawbone on the fence
And I ain't heard nothing but the jawbone since…

Hilo girls they dress so fine
They ain't got Sunday [supposed to be "Jesus"] on their mind…

She's a Down East gal with a Down East smile
And a dollar a time is well worth-while...

So hand me down my riding cane
I'm off to see Miss Sarah Jane…

Sorry about the chords. A few of us volunteers questioned the inclusion of chords on songs meant to be sung a cappella. Editor Peter Blood thinks the chords help people get an idea what the song is supposed to sound like, so the chords stay.

So, can we jointly come up with lyrics that will work for this purpose?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Mysha
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 03:47 PM

Hi Joe,

OK, with that purpose stated I can see why you would want a set of somewhat standard verses.

At that link Ken Schatz has the Arkansas farmer:

I've never seen the like since I been born
Of an Arkansas farmer with sea boots on

Who's been here since I've been gone
That pretty little gal with the blue dress on

She's a down-east gal with a down-east style
For a dollar a time and it's all worthwhile

Them down-east gals they dress so fine
They ain't got Jesus on their mind.

I don't care where in the world I go
I can't get away from the calico

My wife died in Tennessee
They sent her jawbone back to me…

Slung that jawbone on the fence
And I ain't heard nothing but the jawbone since…

Hand me down my riding cane
I'm going to see my Sarah Jane…


No unknown verses in it. He does string three verses together by using wording that makes the latter two each refer back to the previous one.

Other than that, I get the impression that the Richmond Tavernacle singer next to him is a bit uneasy about the verse with "Jesus" in it.

But which verses work in general? I guess: Collect the verses from the various strains and pick some moderate ones. Somebody is going to come along and be insulted, no matter which you pick, but you could probably avoid some of the troubles by prudent selection, should you want to.

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Joe Offer
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 04:02 PM

Hi, Mysha - I think that's Flawn Williams who's next to Ken, more-or-less in the center of the screen most of the time. I don't know Flawn very well, but I think he is not one likely to be rattled by such things. Still, it's not a verse I would feel comfortable singing in most situations.

By the way, Flawn leads one heck of a wonderful doo-wop session when he gets the chance.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Mysha
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:02 PM

Hi,

Yeah, when watching part of another tube from the series I realised the whole foreground were soloists and they unmentioned sing along on each-other's songs. If you don't agree with my interpretation there, than just ignore it; my computer can't handle the definition of today's tubes very well, so things often look slightly different for me.

"Sunday" works wonderful, both for the connection with church and with Sunday dress. Of course, somebody is going to be insulted by the removal of the LORD from the song.


Well, you'd need a version of the "the likes" verse to start the song. Apart from Arkansas and Nword, we have:
- A great big sailor with his sea boots on (Lori Archer Sutherland)
- There's a pretty gal asleep with a blue dress on (Snuffy)
- Sheep in the meadow, cows in the corn. (Holler Jimmy Hiley Ho)

None of them great alternatives, I'd say. Unless anyone knows other alternatives, I'd say it's pretty much Arkansas or burst.

Bye,
                                                               Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:17 PM

> For a dollar a time and it's all worthwhile

Shouldn't the line's flagrant approval of the commercialization of the female body offend people?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:18 PM

I have a very early Peggy Seeger record - one of the earliest 1950s vinyl 33s - which includes a "Children's medley""; one little bit of which goes

Jawbone walk and jawbone talk
Jawbone eat with a knife and fork
I left my jawbone at the corner of the fence
And I have not seen my jawbone since


I have always regarded that as simply a bit of somewhat puzzling nonsense verse (which indeed it is: what means "jawbone"!?). But now I can at least see, from above bits about the wife's jawbone being sent to the narrator, whence it has floated as a sort of corrupt discrete fragment.

≈M≈


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: GUEST,CW
Date: 09 Mar 15 - 05:50 PM

The man standing next to Ken in the Richmondtown video is Bob Conroy, not Flawn Williams. I doubt he was too discomfited by the Jesus verse—I've certainly heard him sing it before.


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 01:52 AM

Aw, CW, I shoulda known, but I think it's been 15 years since Bob and Dan Milner did a concert at my house in Sacramento, and I haven't seen him since. I was so much older then, I'm younger than that now.

Lighter, there's no doubt that this and many other sea songs are sexist. Most of us are able to take that in stride and understand that these are historical songs. And I suppose we all like to get a little naughty at times, so we sing songs that aren't politically correct - I think that's a healthy thing. But at least in the U.S., the line gets drawn at "nigger." I think the sensitivity to this one word is a bit extreme, but it's a reality.

As for the "Jesus" verse, it's not a deal-breaker, but I think I'm going to leave it out instead of letting the editor put They ain't got Sunday on their mind. We're short of space, so he's likely to cut verses anyhow.

So, here's what I have. Anything I should change, exclude, or include in the version I submit to the songbook?

Johnny Come Down to Hilo

Never seen the like since I been born
A big buck sailor with his sea boots on
Johnny come down to Hilo / Poor old man
D - - - / - - - A / D - GD D / D A D -
Wake her, shake her
Wake that gal with the blue dress on / Johnny come down...


I got a gal across the sea
She's a 'Badian beauty & she says to me / Johnny…

Sally's in the garden picking peas
The hair on her head hanging down to her knees…

My wife she died in Tennessee
And they sent her jawbone back to me…

I put that jawbone on the fence
And I ain't heard nothing but the jawbone since…

She's a Down East gal with a Down East smile
And a dollar a time is well worth-while...

So hand me down my riding cane
I'm off to see Miss Sarah Jane…


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 02:38 AM

Joe, I sympathize with your dilemma!
For what it's worth, my remarks were not intended to address your dilemma (which I wasn't aware of at the time), but rather more the fact that the historical versions had been mostly posted yet we were getting hung up on Revival version wordings--fine in their own right but evidence of nothing historical. Sorry about that.

I would add, idly:
- "big buck sailor" doesn't make much sense to me, since the "big buck" part is part of the phrase "big buck nigga"
- "Arkansas farmer", while not historical, is in the spirit of the couplet. For example, another rendition of this couplet is "Never seen the like since I been born, nigga on the ice and a hoeing up corn," i.e the thing seen is remarkable/unusual/incongruous.

Incidentally, in at least two reports of African-American song that I know of, the line is, "big buck n* with a derby on," i.e the "sea boots" may have been an extrapolation by mariners.

As to the dilemma:
When performing publicly with young people, SCRIPTED, I have used the wording published by Bullen, re-quoted by Joe Offer.
http://youtu.be/2JOXW0o5xlI?t=8m23s
Otherwise, I'd go with a different line entirely. Or ad lib : [singling out a person present] "…[Name] with [item of clothing] on"

I'm likely one of very few that feels so…this is one of those "my 2 cents" remarks...but I can hardly tolerate the word "sailor" as a blatant substitute for "nigga." To me, it speaks to a re-imagining of the genre that, on principle, I am against. As I opined earlier, the effort to avoid offense to a people ends up, in the long run, erasing said people from the face of the genre-- a worse offense IMO.

Besides, you can often tell an "inauthentic" (ahistorical) chanty when it sings too much about ocean and sailor stuff!


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Mysha
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 02:56 AM

Hi Joe,

Well, the reason I didn't see the sailor as a good alternative is that I don't get why he is such a sight to see with his sea boots on.

Other than that: I think Ken Schatz has a point when he moves up the dollar a time verse to the other gal verses, to give some context for "She". And, I'd go with Who's been here there, rather than Sally. But then, I know Sally as a Hogeye verse, and don't know Who's been here that way. Still, I prefer the link with the chorus it has.

Ah, and in the notes you'll probably have to spell out "'Badian" in full. What are you going to do with the pace? Popular pace or workable pace?

Bye
                                                                Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Keith A of Hertford
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 04:19 AM

The N word is not acceptable here either Joe, so as you say an alternative is needed.
Perhaps a black singer could get away with it?


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Subject: RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Mar 15 - 07:11 AM

> "big buck sailor" doesn't make much sense to me,

Gibb, he could be a really rich sailor. Or a deer sailor in sea-boots. That *would* be remarkable.

Otherwise I pretty much agree with you.


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