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LYR ADD: Wee Pot Stove (w/RA)


Related threads:
Lyr Req: In the little dark engine room (35)
Wee Dark Engine Room (13)
Help with 'Wee Pot Stove' chords (4)
Tune Add: Wee Pot Stove (9)

Ezio 29 Aug 98 - 02:49 AM
Jerry Bryant 31 Aug 98 - 05:32 PM
Bob Bolton 31 Aug 98 - 06:20 PM
Jerry Bryant 01 Sep 98 - 09:35 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: WEE POT STOVE
From: Ezio
Date: 29 Aug 98 - 02:49 AM


(H. Robertson)

How the winter blizzards blow when the Whaling Fleet's at rest
Tucked in Leither Harbour's sheltered bay, safely anchored ten abreast
The whalers at their stations, as from ship to ship they go,
Carry little bags of coal with them, and a little iron stove.

In that wee dark engine room, where the chill seeps in your soul,
How we huddled round that wee pot stove, that burned oily rags and coal.

The fireman Paddy worked with me, on the engines stiff and cold,
A stranger to the truth was he, there's not a lie he hasn't told,
He boasted of his gold mines, and the hearts that he had won,
And his bonny sense of humour shone, just like a ray of sun.


Then one day we saw the sun, and the factory ships return,
Meet your old friends, sing a song, hope the season won't be long.
Then homeward-bound when it's over, we'll leave this icy hole,
But I always will remember that little iron stove.


Sung by Eric Bogle on 'Down Under' (1981)

Submitted by EB

Lyrics in database as Wee Dark Engine Room

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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: Wee Pot Stove (w/RA)
From: Jerry Bryant
Date: 31 Aug 98 - 05:32 PM

Harry Robertson wrote 4 verses of this song, which is set in Leith Harbor in the South Georgia Islands. He was a mechanic for a British/Norwegian whaling company in the 1950's, and spent two seasons there in the South Atlantic, later writing several good songs about his experiences. He recorded them in the 60's, along with some songs about the Australian humpback whale fishery. I'll have to check on the exact title of the recording and post it here later.

Here's the other verse Eric Bogle didn't include (I sing it as the third verse of the song):

We live it seven days a week, cold hands and frozen feet. Bitter days and lonely nights, making grog and having fights. There's salt fish and whalemeat sausage, and fresh penguin eggs - a treat. Then we struggle on to work each day through the icy wind and sleet.

This and another of Harry's songs - The Humpback Whale - are on Nick Jones' album "Penguin Eggs", without attribution and, unfortunately, without royalties paid.


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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: Wee Pot Stove (w/RA)
From: Bob Bolton
Date: 31 Aug 98 - 06:20 PM

G'day Ezio and Jerry,

Harry's Record (with him and Marion Henderson singing) is called (I think) "Whale Chasing Men". I have both the LP and the music book at home. I was thinking of posting the Australian coastal whaling songs as they are examples of a style of whaling not dealt with in the traditional, northern hemisphere whaling songs.

I feel an extra identification with Harry's songs (beyond having known Harry at the time he lived in Sydney with a peripatetic bunch of folkie types - including my younger brother - who flatted together in the Balmain / Rozelle area).

My uncle Vik (my mother's sister's husband) was a Danish whaler who came ashore when he married Norma and worked as a stockmen in the western districts, but every few years he would chuck in the job and get down to Sydney to sign on for a southern whaling season. He would be away for 4 or 5 months hunting whales and then he would be back on a horse in the Australian outback! He never tried shore-based whaling of the Queensland whalers but the spirit is much the same.


Bob Bolton

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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: Wee Pot Stove (w/RA)
From: Jerry Bryant
Date: 01 Sep 98 - 09:35 AM

Bob, Sounds like your uncle Vik would have identified with Harry's "Queensland Whalers" with all it's references to the stockman's trade.

Harry's songs are the only ones I've found that deal with the 20th century whaling industry. Distasteful though it may be to us, the songs themselves are gems, preserving a type of work that - one day, I hope - will be only a memory.

Do you know Harry's son Andrew, who lives in Thorneside? He was very helpful to me when I was doing research for a paper on Harry's whaling songs.


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