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Reuben James

DigiTrad:
THE SINKING OF THE REUBEN JAMES


Related threads:
Lyr Add: the sinking of the reuben james (38)
Reuben James and the Bismarck (46)
The Reuben James (32)
Lyr/Chords Req: The Good Reuben James (23)
Lyr Req: Sinking of the Reuben James (14)
Lyr Req: Ruben James? / Reuben James (5)


kendall 30 Oct 02 - 07:41 PM
Leadfingers 30 Oct 02 - 07:46 PM
kendall 30 Oct 02 - 08:32 PM
JJ 30 Oct 02 - 11:42 PM
Devilmaster 30 Oct 02 - 11:49 PM
GUEST,Greycap 31 Oct 02 - 03:19 AM
Gareth 31 Oct 02 - 05:57 AM
JJ 31 Oct 02 - 09:28 AM
GUEST,Chicken Charlie 31 Oct 02 - 04:19 PM
SINSULL 31 Oct 02 - 04:48 PM
beadie 31 Oct 02 - 05:01 PM
Gareth 31 Oct 02 - 07:04 PM
beadie 31 Oct 02 - 08:53 PM
catspaw49 31 Oct 02 - 09:31 PM
Charley Noble 01 Nov 02 - 08:23 AM
HuwG 01 Nov 02 - 08:45 AM
kendall 01 Nov 02 - 08:51 AM
GUEST,Ruben James Ciriacks ruben@ciriacks.com 06 Mar 03 - 09:43 AM
denise:^) 06 Mar 03 - 03:39 PM
Joe Offer 06 Mar 03 - 08:29 PM
BUTTERFLY 14 Mar 03 - 07:56 AM
Schantieman 14 Mar 03 - 11:08 AM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 14 Mar 03 - 11:48 AM
PeteBoom 14 Mar 03 - 01:41 PM
Suffet 14 Mar 03 - 05:21 PM
Tiger 14 Mar 03 - 06:02 PM
DaveA 14 Mar 03 - 10:27 PM
Amos 15 Mar 03 - 10:07 AM
Suffet 16 Mar 03 - 10:54 PM
GUEST,Santa (at work) 17 Mar 03 - 07:55 AM
clueless don 17 Mar 03 - 12:14 PM
Steve-o 17 Mar 03 - 06:37 PM
GUEST,Martin Gibson 18 Mar 03 - 11:25 AM
Charley Noble 18 Mar 03 - 11:59 AM
BuckMulligan 18 Mar 03 - 12:11 PM
DaveA 18 Mar 03 - 09:35 PM
BuckMulligan 18 Mar 03 - 10:27 PM
Steve-o 19 Mar 03 - 11:28 AM
JJ 20 Mar 03 - 06:49 AM
Schantieman 20 Mar 03 - 06:52 AM
BuckMulligan 20 Mar 03 - 01:23 PM
GUEST,Ruben James Ciriacks 28 Dec 07 - 02:29 PM
GUEST 07 Sep 10 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,Joe 07 Sep 10 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Joe Moyes 07 Sep 10 - 02:43 PM
GUEST,Tinker in Chicago 07 Sep 10 - 05:31 PM
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Subject: BS: Reuben James
From: kendall
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 07:41 PM

Sixty two years ago today, the destroyer REUBEN JAMES was sunk by a German torpedo near Iceland. Over 100 men were lost, and, even though the Germans apologized, given the tension at the time, it was probably intentional.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: Leadfingers
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 07:46 PM

Did you have a friend on the good Reuben James


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: kendall
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 08:32 PM

the song had a couple of mistakes; there were not 500 casualties, it was not the last day of Ocrober


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: JJ
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 11:42 PM

I always thought the Reuben James was a merchant marine vessel, not a destroyer or any other warship. And if the Germans sank her in 1944, in the middle of the war, why would they apologize?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: Devilmaster
Date: 30 Oct 02 - 11:49 PM

ummm 2002-62 would be 1940...

one year prior to the Americans entering the war. Pearl was 1941.

Steve


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Greycap
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 03:19 AM

She was sunk by a U-boat commanded by Erich Topp. He was on TV recently on the History Channel, a very old man.
He thought she was British ( the Brits were using some American Lend-Lease destroyers ) and said the deed haunted him even now.War is Hell.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: Gareth
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 05:57 AM

Mmmmm ! The neurality Patrol of the USN in 1940/41 was a little one sided - Thank goodness. I have in my wardrobe not 6 feet from this computer an old US Coastgaurd jacket, given to my grandfather as dry clothing when he was picked up off a liferaft in the North Atlantic in 1941 by Patroling US vessels.

Anyway heres a blicky that will lead into the "USS Reuben James" U552 and Erich Topp

Gareth


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: JJ
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 09:28 AM

Steve, maybe I should not try to count late at night...


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Chicken Charlie
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 04:19 PM

The "44" gets into your subconscious from the mention that 44 men were rescued "... they saved the 44/From those cold ocean waters on that cold Iceland shore." Or words to that effect. Sinking was in 1941 prior to America's entry. I'm not aware of any version that states that 500 were lost. Some Web sources say 100 were lost, others 86; the song as I recall it said "one hundred."

CC


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: SINSULL
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 04:48 PM

100 men went down to their dark and watery grave.
When that good ship went down, only 44 were saved.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: beadie
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 05:01 PM

The Reuben James (DD245) of the song was about the first of three ships bearing the name of a ninteenth century Bosun's Mate who served on the USS Constitution. She was an already aging (commissioned in 1920) four-stack vessel suited mostly for patrol duty in the age of increasingly fast U-boats.

After the sinking of the original, a second destroyer (DE153) was commissioned as the Reuben James in 1943 and served until decommissioning in 1947.

The current Reuben James is a guided missile "fast" frigate (FFG57). She was commissioned in 1985 and has served in several conflicts since that date (including a stint as a movie star in "The Hunt For Red October).


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: Gareth
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 07:04 PM

Maybe an historical glitch over the numbers of casualties on the Rueben James - But us Brits are quite happy she and her sisterships were there, 4 Stackers or not - And the 4 Stackers JFR sold for the bases in the West Indies were good value too - HMS Campbletown did her job - with Honour 5 Victoria Cross's at St Nazire(SP)

The British built V/W classes were just as old, and did the same escort duties.

Gareth
and the rolling wide Atlantic,
With the Convoys to and fro

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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: beadie
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 08:53 PM

Gareth:
Although I never served in the Navy (Air Force, actually), I intended no disrespect to the four-stackers or any of the other ships that went to sea in that war. Although the James was, perhaps, slower than her more recently commissioned sisters, I suspect that her armament would still have given an enemy captain pause had the encounter not been at night and come as a (relative) surprise.

I tend to hug the ground and I tip my hat to anyone who has the cojones to willingly go abroad on the bounding main.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: catspaw49
Date: 31 Oct 02 - 09:31 PM

The US didn't rid themselves of them in any case. We continued to use the 4 pipers throughout WWII with the majority being converted to minesweepers.

Spaw


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: Charley Noble
Date: 01 Nov 02 - 08:23 AM

Portland Harbor, Maine, was a major assembly point for the North Atlantic convoys and the home base of the Reuben James. A few years ago a local group raised the money for a commemorative monument to the Reuben James and her crew, with several survivors actually present at the ceremony. Our group, Roll & Go, actually got to sing a version of the song to them on that brisk fall day.

The names are there on the monument for future generations to wonder about.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: HuwG
Date: 01 Nov 02 - 08:45 AM

Gareth and others:

The Five Victoria Crosses won at St. Nazaire went to: Lt-Colonel Newcombe (led the Commandos in the attack, but landed from a motor-gunboat, rather than HMS Campbeltown); Commander "Red" Rider (led the naval forces, from the same motor-gunboat as Newcombe); Lt-Commander Beattie (captain of HMS Campbeltown); Leading-Seaman Rolls (??) gun-crew captain on Rider's motor-gunboat; Segeant Durrant (aboard a Motor Launch which was intercepted by a German torpedo-boat flotilla when retiring).

Durrant's award was posthumous; Newcombe was taken prisoner. About the best description of this raid (from the British side) is "The Greatest Raid of all", by C.E. Lucas-Phillips.

HMS Campbeltown didn't survive the raid, but this was intentional. Several hours after she rammed the "Normandie" dry-dock gates and stuck fast, a seven-ton (!) demolition charge hidden inside her, detonated, blowing the ship to atoms, destroying the dry dock and incidentally causing hundreds of casualties (mostly German, but also some French sight-seers and labourers).

There is a HMS Campbeltown in the Royal Navy today; she is a Type 22 (Batch 3) frigate.

Incidentally, I seem to recall that the original Reuben James was a midshipman who accompanied Stephen Decatur in a raid to burn the captured USS Philadelphia in Tripoli harbour in 1800 (??) even though seriouly wounded already. He is supposed to have saved Decatur from an attack by a sword-wielding corsair by putting his own head in the way.

No doubt, US 'Catters will correct me on this if I have it wrong.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: kendall
Date: 01 Nov 02 - 08:51 AM

That raid on Tripoli was headed up by Commodore Edward Preble of Portland Maine. Although he was the man in charge, Decatur gets most of the credit.


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Ruben James Ciriacks ruben@ciriacks.com
Date: 06 Mar 03 - 09:43 AM

Have yet to discover anyone else born around 60 years ago who remembers how they got the name "Ruben (or Reuben) James" at the beginning of WWII. My father's name was Ruben but there are no James in either sides of my family going back several centuries.

My 91 year old mother doesn't remember how the James got there. I reminded her of the Woodie Guthrie song of the time and how it got everyone singing along with it and how, maybe, she unconsciously added the James following the familial Ruben because of the memories of that song - she still couldn't remember and wouldn't acknowledge that possibility.

Do any other "Reuben James" named 60+ year olds out there have stories about how they got the name because of the popular song of the time?


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Subject: RE: BS: Reuben James
From: denise:^)
Date: 06 Mar 03 - 03:39 PM

So--what were their names, tell me--what WERE their names?

(I've read that it was Woody's original intent to have a line about each man in the song, until he realized how long it would get. The chorus came about when Pete Seeger & Lee Hays were ribbing him about all of the names they were supposed to be able to remember...)

Denise:^)


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Joe Offer
Date: 06 Mar 03 - 08:29 PM

This page (click) tells us the names of both the dead and survivors. It also says the sinking was October 31, 1941.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: BUTTERFLY
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 07:56 AM

I first heard a version of "Reuben James" sung by Kenny Rogers (of "Ruby, don't Take Your Love to Town" fame) but it made little impression until I heard Pete Seeger's version. I though that perhaps there was a little bit of poetic licence with dates and numbers but basically they are correct (ie 31st October 1941 and 44 were saved, though it appears there were 115 killed and not 100.
See the website http://dspace.dial.pipex.com/white.ensign.models/350reub/350reub.htm

I actually prefer Pete Seeger's version to that of Woody Guthrie, the original writer, though perhaps this is because I heard it first.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Schantieman
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 11:08 AM

A Google search on "Reuben James" "Woody Guthrie" give this: http://www.geocities.com/Nashville/3448/reuben.html (sorry about lack of clicky - I can never seem to make them work) as the first result. There's a photo of the Almanac Singers in 1942 (including Woody and Pete Seeger) and it plays the tune, Wildwood Flower, to which the words were set. (although it's a rather more upbeat version than might have been used for the song)

It says, (amongst other things):

When the U.S.S. Reuben James was torpedoed by the Nazis off the coast of Iceland in late October [1941], killing 86 and wounding 44, Woody was inspired to write a ballad about the incident. He decided the best way to humanize the tragedy would be to name all 86 victims, and he set out to do just that (to the tune of the Carter Family's "Wildwood Flower"):

There's Harold Hammer Beasley, a first rate man at sea
From Hinton, West Virginia, he had his first degree.
There's Jim Franklin Benson, a good machinist's mate
Come up from North Carolina, to sail the Reuben James.

Dennis Howard Daniel, Glen Jones and Howard Vore
Hartwell Byrd and Raymond Cook, Ed Musselwhite and more
Remember Leonard Keever, Gene Evans and Donald Kapp
Who gave their all to fight about this famous fighting ship.

Woody brought his completed work to a songwriting meeting in early November and everyone agreed he'd come up with a sensational idea for a song, but all those names were a bit... boring. You didn't have to go through all that to personalize it, Seeger argued. A rousing agitprop chorus could get the same message across. If you combined a chorus with ballad verses describing the event in detail, it might make a better song. Woody agreed to give it a try and reworked the verses, while Seeger and Lampell developed the chorus that would make the song one of the Almanacs' best-known....

Joe Klein, Woody Guthrie: A Life, London, 1981, p. 209.


I used to sing this song, years ago when I played the guitar. Maybe I'll start again!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 11:48 AM

The Rueben James song by Kenny Rogers that Butterfly refers to is a completely different song. That Rueben James song is about a man named Reuben James, not a ship.

In this whole thread I find it hard to believe that no one has mentioned this song had the most exposure (and continues to do so)by The Kingston Trio. I would not doubt that most people who have heard it or learned it, were because of their recording of it.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: PeteBoom
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 01:41 PM

"by The Kingston Trio".... Not me - Pete Seeger's version... Of course, I always prefered The Weavers over Kingston Trio, any day.

Cheers -

Pete


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Suffet
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 05:21 PM

Philatelic trivia: A periscope view of the USS Reuben James being struck by a torpedo appears on a 29c USA postage stamp issued September 3, 1941. That stamp was on of a set of 10 stamps issued at the same time commemorating the 50th anniversary of World War II. The USA also issued sets of 10 stamps commemorating the 50th anniversary of World War II in each of the next four years.

Erich Topp, the commander of the German U-Boat that sank the USS Reuben James also appears on a stamp, a 6pf + 4pf semi-postal stamp issued by Germany on March 11, 1944. It was one of a set of 13 stamps honoring the German armed forces. It is called a semi-postal because only 6pf of its total price was valid for paying postage. The other 4 pf was a surtax that was supposedly earmarked for charity, but which like found its way into the coffers of the Nazi party or its front groups. The stamp pictures Herr Topp peering through a periscope.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Tiger
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 06:02 PM

That stamp was from 1991 (50-yr anniversary) - US rate was 29 cents then.

BTW, PBS did a wonderful show on U-Boat history.

One of the most touching segments was an interview with the U-Boat commander, still living. The incident still haunted him, quite obviously, because he later realized he had sunk a (presumably) innocent target - but that discussion continues, too.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: DaveA
Date: 14 Mar 03 - 10:27 PM

Just as a query, was there a Kingston Trio version of this.

I am familiar (& very fond) of a Chad Mitchell Trio cover of the Woody Guthrie classic but never the Kingston Trio.

Amazing what did (& didn't) make it's way to Australia in the 60s.

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Amos
Date: 15 Mar 03 - 10:07 AM

I never heard the Kingston Trio do "Reuben James" -- but I had learned it before they hove into fame. They were so trig and collegiate that I feel it would have essentially trivialized the substance of the song, as I feel they did with many of their songs. I can't envision Dave Guard doing "Good Old Rebel Soldier", either -- sure he could sing it, but what would it mean? Whereas when Frank Warner sings it, he sounds like he just walked away in disgust from the headquarter tents at Appomatox.

A


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Suffet
Date: 16 Mar 03 - 10:54 PM

Yes, of course the 29c stamp was obviously from 1991. Sorry for the error.

--- Steve


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Santa (at work)
Date: 17 Mar 03 - 07:55 AM

The Reuben James was escorting British convoys in international waters - for which all the "good guys" should be grateful - but hardly fits any definition of "innocent".

Just one of the ways in which some Americans were helping to fight the good fight whilst others dragged their heels. Whilst the US Navy was fighting the U-boats, US-flagged tankers were refuelling them. No one said life was straightforward.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: clueless don
Date: 17 Mar 03 - 12:14 PM

The Kingston Trio version (on one of their "Greatest Hits" albums) is the only rendition of "Reuben James" that I have ever heard (maybe I should get out more!)


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Steve-o
Date: 17 Mar 03 - 06:37 PM

I'm surprised, Amos, not only at your general attitude about the Trio, but also that you would say, "I haven't heard it, but....they would have trivialized it". Give me a break on the authenticism snobbery. You know, the Weavers massaged lyrics and smoothed harmonies in order to make music from the hills and "protest" songs more accessible to the public. Were they "trivializing" the songs? Dave Guard was a great singer, as Lee Hayes was a great singer of his era, and their versions of songs did not "lose meaning" just because they were slicked up. Get over that "hipper than thou" stuff- we were all talking like that back in 1965, and it was just as dumb then. 80% of the people today who recognize "The Reuben James" know this wonderful song because the Trio put it on a record- people who didn't even know Woody Guthrie ever made a record. The other 20% of us went out and found the Woody record and loved it, but that's about all you can expect- there's only a small market for the genuine article. That doesn't mean the "cleaned up" version is automatically lousy.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Martin Gibson
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 11:25 AM

Very well said Steve-O

I'm sure there are many other closet Kingston/folk-scare people here who lay low for fear of not seeming "mudcat cool" enough.

Just a guess.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Charley Noble
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 11:59 AM

Steve-O does have a valid point about the Trio, but has he heard Frank Warner's rendition of "Old Rebel Soldier." I have, and those of us in the "folk revivalist" tradition have the utmost admiration for Warner's work.

Probably my favorite rendition of "Reuban James" is the one recorded by Cisco Houston.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 12:11 PM

The CMT's version was quite excellent. It was slick, had their trademark tight harmonies and was perhaps over "produced." It was the pinnacle of "trig, preppie" folk scare stuff. As Steve-O says, it (the "slick" folks scare sound of the KT, CMT, etc.) brought a lot of folks "into the tent." These guys were my heroes in 1965. I still love their sound. If it ain't "folk" enough for some, well, "folk' is really a pretty big place, isn't it? I mean, room for more than one style? Or is it only populated by those who subscribe to one purist dogma or another? Don't lay low FolkScare veterans. It was a great time and produced some great music (a lot of crap too, but pick a time that hasn't).


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: DaveA
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 09:35 PM

Buck,
Thanks for the common sense - the mudcat ought to be a "Broad Church".
To be a little controversial though, the reconstituted Mitchell Trio (after Chad took his fall) featured a very young John Denver. Any other old folkies who think his versions of "Bells Of Rhymney" & "Mr Tamborine Man" (done as solos on "That's the way it's going to be" & "Violets of Dawn" respectively, deserve to be fondly remembered as classics???

Cheers

Dave


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 18 Mar 03 - 10:27 PM

Not so sure about the pieces you cite (though I happen to like them) as "classics" - but his "Jet Plane" certainly qualifies as influential, providing PP&M's first big hit. Personally, I didn't get fed up with Denver until he came down with the terminal country-boy cutesies. "Poems, Prayer, and Promises," "Aerie" and "Farewell Andromeda" have some pretty good stuff. Darcy Farrow, Casey's Last Ride, some Prine (Spanish Pipe Dream and Paradise in there somewhere). He got wrapped up in an image and lost some of what infused his early music.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Steve-o
Date: 19 Mar 03 - 11:28 AM

Yeah, with John Denver you often had to sift through a lot of crud, but if you worked at it you could uncover some gems. One of my favorites to this day is "Matthew"- when you do it in concert it knocks 'em dead.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: JJ
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 06:49 AM

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan, surely "Leaving on a Jet Plane" was not PP&M's first big hit! What of "If I Had a Hammer," followed by "Blowin' in the Wind?"

Hear Denver and the rest of the Mitchell Trio sing "Leaving on a Jet Plane" first on their final album, "Alive!"


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: Schantieman
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 06:52 AM

Do I detect a slight case of thread creep here? :-)


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: BuckMulligan
Date: 20 Mar 03 - 01:23 PM

Geez, Schantieman, just because I got a slight detail about PP&M's discography wrong's no reason to call me a creep.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Ruben James Ciriacks
Date: 28 Dec 07 - 02:29 PM

So, since my posting in March 2003 there has been nobody else named Ruben James or Reuben James visiting this site - maybe the rest of us are internet (or Google) illiterate.

In any case, as a matter of curiosity, although I spent 7 1/2 years in the U. S. Navy in the 1960s, I never discovered there was a ship of the same name until the 1980s when a relative sent me a newspaper article with a picture of the ?new? destroyer just commissioned with the name.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: GUEST
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 02:40 PM

People should leave Kenny rodgers song out of the discussion because it is an entirely different tune, and entirely different words about some thing other than the ship that is discussed here.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Joe
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 02:43 PM

The first time i heard this song was on a recording, years ago called 'american roots' it is definitely true that guthrie, nor pete seeger wrote the tune, the tune originally came from an earlier tune called the wild wood flower, which was made famous by the carter family.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Joe Moyes
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 02:43 PM

People should leave Kenny rodgers song out of the discussion because it is an entirely different tune, and entirely different words about some thing other than the ship that is discussed here.


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Subject: RE: Reuben James
From: GUEST,Tinker in Chicago
Date: 07 Sep 10 - 05:31 PM

Y'know, if you're gonna diss the Kingston Trio because you think Dave Guard wouldn't do justice to "Reuben James," shouldn't you take note that Dave had left the group before they recorded that song?


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