Lyrics & Knowledge Personal Pages Record Shop Auction Links Radio & Media Kids Membership Help
The Mudcat Cafemuddy

Post to this Thread - Sort Descending - Printer Friendly - Home


Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper

Mick O'Farrell 12 Jan 04 - 09:30 AM
Geoff the Duck 12 Jan 04 - 10:14 AM
Lighter 22 Jan 05 - 09:48 PM
GUEST,Bob Coltman 04 Apr 05 - 12:28 PM
GUEST,Lighter w/o cookie 04 Apr 05 - 01:21 PM
A Wandering Minstrel 05 Apr 05 - 08:06 AM
GUEST,MMario 05 Apr 05 - 08:53 AM
A Wandering Minstrel 06 Apr 05 - 07:58 AM
Jim Dixon 18 Apr 05 - 08:13 AM
GUEST 24 Sep 12 - 02:42 AM
GUEST 24 Sep 12 - 03:56 PM
GUEST,Lighter 24 Sep 12 - 04:30 PM
GUEST,SteveG 25 Sep 12 - 09:53 AM
Brian Peters 25 Sep 12 - 10:19 AM
GUEST 25 Sep 12 - 10:48 AM
RoyH (Burl) 25 Sep 12 - 10:57 AM
Brian Peters 25 Sep 12 - 12:01 PM
Les from Hull 25 Sep 12 - 12:54 PM
Steve Gardham 25 Sep 12 - 04:02 PM
Brian Peters 26 Sep 12 - 04:36 AM
GUEST 26 Sep 12 - 07:30 AM
GUEST,Lighter 26 Sep 12 - 09:22 AM
Jim Dixon 26 Sep 12 - 09:23 AM
GUEST,leeneia 26 Sep 12 - 02:35 PM
Steve Gardham 26 Sep 12 - 04:43 PM
GUEST,LIghter 26 Sep 12 - 07:14 PM
Brian Peters 27 Sep 12 - 04:29 AM
GUEST,Lighter 27 Sep 12 - 07:53 AM
GUEST 28 Sep 12 - 07:08 AM
Les from Hull 28 Sep 12 - 08:10 AM
GUEST,Bob Hill 25 Apr 15 - 11:50 AM
Lighter 25 Apr 15 - 12:29 PM
GUEST,crumpled 29 Apr 16 - 01:26 AM
Share Thread
more
Lyrics & Knowledge Search [Advanced]
DT  Forum
Sort (Forum) by:relevance date
DT Lyrics:









Subject: Origins: good ship ragamuffin
From: Mick O'Farrell
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 09:30 AM

I'm trying to find a recorded version of a song I've heard sung live. It's sung at a fast tempo, so the words are hard to decipher but I think some of them are as follows : -

"And the wind began to blow,
and the ship began to roll,
and the devil of a hurricane did blow, hi, ho.
It nearly knocked the stuffing
from the good ship Ragamuffin,
and down to the bottom,
she shall go."

P.S. It's not a variation on 'Botany Bay', which also mentions 'The Good Ship Ragamuffin'. As the melody and clearly the words, are very different.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 12 Jan 04 - 10:14 AM

I tried a web search osing "good ship ragamuffin", but can only find mentions of the Bricks and Mortar song.
Quack!
GtD.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Jan 05 - 09:48 PM

This was recorded way back in 1958 or '59 by Paul Clayton and the Fo'csle Singers (including Dave Van Ronk) on the Folkways album "Fo'csle Songs and Shanties."

Now you can download their version from MSN-Music for 99 cents if you're in the U.S.

I have the original album with the notes if anybody needs the song info.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin
From: GUEST,Bob Coltman
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 12:28 PM

Yes - it would be useful to have the info about the song from the album notes.

Indeed do you have the ability to scan text? It would be VERY interesting to have the contents of those notes--particularly any songs that show Clayton's authorship or part-authroship, and especially-particularly anything bearing on Clayton's biography.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin
From: GUEST,Lighter w/o cookie
Date: 04 Apr 05 - 01:21 PM

My superpowers do not include scanning of texts. I will dig out the notes, however. All of the songs on the album are traditional.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 05 Apr 05 - 08:06 AM

More commonly known as Captain Nipper. The part you quoted is the chorus. This is a "Paddy West" type song full of fake sea-faring references presumably meant to fool the landlubbers.
as best I recall it begins:

Twas an Friday in November
as I very well remember
when I nearly broke me dear old mothers heart
For I signed with Captain Nipper
On his big four-masted clipper
All bound away for southern parts


I have the rest written down somewhere, if you want it?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin
From: GUEST,MMario
Date: 05 Apr 05 - 08:53 AM

yes. please. thank you.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: CAPTAIN NIPPER
From: A Wandering Minstrel
Date: 06 Apr 05 - 07:58 AM

OK here you go:

Twas an Friday in November
as I very well remember
when I nearly broke me dear old mothers heart
For I signed with Captain Nipper
On his big four-masted clipper
All bound away for southern parts

CH And the wind began to blow,
and the ship began to roll,
and the devil of a hurricane did blow, hi, ho.
It nearly knocked the stuffing
from the good ship Ragamuffin,
and we thought to the bottom ,
we would go.

So we weighed the maintop spanker
and then we hauled up our anchor
and dropped the pilot at the harbours mouth
Then we set off down the river
with our skysails all a-quiver
on a compass bearing east-nor-west by south

Then the captain came on deck
and he said ...Blooming heck!
and bade each man put on an oilskin coat
He said he'd come to a decision
as we'd plenty of provisions
we was going to run a record voyage out

But the sky turned very black
the winds began to crack
and our fore-jiboom-t'gans'l carried away
So we pulled the helm hard over
and we sailed her back to Dover
and anchored on the downs at break of day


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 18 Apr 05 - 08:13 AM

CAPTAIN NIPPER was recorded by Robin Richmond & His Organ Grinders Swing, with vocalist Benny Lee. It's on a collection called "Organ Contrasts," Empress CD #900, 1999. You can hear a sound sample at allmusic.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Sep 12 - 02:42 AM

Veryan Hutchings
My Grandfather used to sing this song to my mother another version on the same theme i think ! Just another verse to add.

We were outbound to Calcutta
with a stock of Irish butter
cigarettes and whisky in galore
passengers we were twenty
and heavens knows that was plenty
for the good ship
could carry no blinking more !!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Sep 12 - 03:56 PM

Some of the printed sources I have name 'Shanties and Forebitters, 1914, by Bedecker, as the source, but I haven't got a copy of this.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 24 Sep 12 - 04:30 PM

Clayton's note:

"CAPTAIN NIPPER. This delightful British foc'sle ditty has been collected only rarely from tradition. More than likely it was first popularized in British music halls, and taken from there to the foc'sle by one of the many sailors who frequented the music halls in their layover between ocean trips."

He also points out the existence of Mrs. Clifford Beckett's 1914 text, which is almost identical to his. Beckett says, "'Captain Nipper' is far too good a song to lose. I chased it for two years before I got it as given here. I believe 'the good ship rag-a-muffin' refers to the old Bellerophon."

Well, I very much doubt that. Beckett writes that she collected the eight songs in her booklet from sailors. One of them is "The Chinese Bum-Boat Man."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST,SteveG
Date: 25 Sep 12 - 09:53 AM

Jon,
It's me Steve G. I don't know where I got 'Bedecker' from instead of Beckett. I'd go along with Clayton, exactly what I was thinking. Are the Beckett songs available anywhere?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Sep 12 - 10:19 AM

I found a copy of this song (not listed in the Roud Index) in the Collinson archive in Edinburgh. I was looking for something else at the time so wasn't paying it much attention, but from my notes it looks like the performer was called Crosby and that it was collected in Cottingham. There was a shout of 'Woolloomoolloo!' at the end of each chorus, and I think Collinson used that for his song title.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Sep 12 - 10:48 AM

Cyril Tawney used to sing this but didn't record it. I've sung it myself, minus the last two verses given above. It's in one of Roy Palmer's books too.(this off the top of my head, I'm not near my books at the moment so I can't say which one.)


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: RoyH (Burl)
Date: 25 Sep 12 - 10:57 AM

That last guest was me. I hadn't noticed that my cookie was dead.ROY


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Brian Peters
Date: 25 Sep 12 - 12:01 PM

Hello Roy!!


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Les from Hull
Date: 25 Sep 12 - 12:54 PM

As to Ragamuffin referring to Bellerophon, Bellerophones were usually referred to as 'Billy Ruffian'. I'm sure that Ragamuffin was chosen as a very unlikely name for a ship.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Sep 12 - 04:02 PM

Hi again, Brian. Hi, Roy. Hi, Les. (Meeting with council went well)

Roy P's book is 'Room for Company' p40.

I'm very interested in your reference to Cottingham. Would that be Cottingham near Hull? Has it got a date of collection on it? Do you know what Collinson was doing in Cottingham? Did he collect anything else in the area?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Brian Peters
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 04:36 AM

Hi Steve, I thought that might pique your curiosity.

Like I said, I wasn't really paying too much attention to the detail - I just like the song and was interested to find an alternative version. However, the RI tells me that Collinson collected 'Around Cape Horn and Home Again' in Cottingham, Yorks., from a Captain Fox in January 1951, so at least we know when he was there.

I hope to get back to the Collinson papers next time I'm in Edinburgh, and will look again. From memory, his song transcriptions don't include very much detail about the circumstances of collection, but there may be something in his personal papers.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 07:30 AM

Jim Mageean recorded it on his CD The Capstan Bar from a long time ago. His words are a bit different from The Wandering Minstrel and he has an extra verse


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 09:22 AM

Steve, if you mean "recorded," I'd say not - except maybe for Clayton et al's "Captain Nipper." (Two lines are different though.)


The contents:

Way Down to Rio ["Rio Grande"]

Roll the Cotton Down

The Wide Missouri

The Merchant Ship ["According to the Act"]

Captain Bover ["The Weary Cutters"]

Captain Nipper

The Chinese Bum-Boat Man

Fare Well and Adieu to You Fair Spanish Ladies

It's nice little collection, made up songs the editor used "to illustrate my lectures on sea music." She makes two interesting observations: that "Shanties belong to the Merchant Service only, and that because of its "beautiful melody," "The Wide Missouri" was sung as a forebitter as well as a shanty.

Not much on Mrs. Beckett is easily findable. She was born Bessie Drummond Thomason to a family prominent in India. In 1889 she married William Thomas Clifford Beckett (1862-1956), an Indian Army officer and railway engineer: he became a general during the Great War. The only other things I've discovered about Bessie is that she was a trained singer who performed a pair of classical songs at a Nonconformist church in Tunbridge Wells in 1905 and launched a series of five lectures on "Song as an expression of life" in 1913.

Her primary resource in collecting appears to have been her naval-officer son, Capt. Walter Napier Thomason Beckett (described in later life as an "Elizabethan" figure: see Wikipedia), but she also acknowledges "many friends in both branches of the Navy [i.e., Royal and Merchant] for the kind way they have sung me the shanties and forebitters and the pains they have taken to give me the correct versions of the words and the melodies."


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: Lyr Add: CAPTAIN NIPPER
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 09:23 AM

Here's my transcription from a recording I heard on Spotify (I'm not sure about verse 4 line 3.):


CAPTAIN NIPPER
As sung by Paul Clayton and the Foc'sle Singers on "Foc'sle Songs and Shanties" (1959)

1. 'Twas the fifteenth of September
How well I do remember—
It nearly broke my poor old mother's heart,
For I shipped with Captain Nipper
In a big four-masted clipper
Bound away down south for foreign parts.

CHORUS: And the wind began to blow,
And the ship began to roll,
And the devil of a hurricane did blow—oh, my, oh!
It nearly knocked the stuffin'
From the good ship Ragamuffin,
And we thought to the bottom we should go.

2. Then we hoisted up our anchor,
And we set our jib an' spanker,
And the pilot took us to the harbor's mouth.
Then from the tug we parted,
And on our voyage started,
With
a compass headed east-nor'west by south.

3. Then there came a good stiff breeze
That made the old man sneeze,
And carried away the sails on ev'ry hand,
And for seven long days we bore't,
While runnin' right afore't,
Thinkin' we would never see the land.


4. But the ship got caught aback,
And the stays began to crack,
And the fore-gallant-fores'ls carried away,
So we pulled the helm [pronounced "hellum"] over,
And headed straight for Dover,
And at last we anchored safe within the bay.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 02:35 PM

Thanks for posting, Jim. It's a clever song.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 04:43 PM

It's certainly an interesting song, quite scarce, and yes probably 1890s Music hall. Usually the genre is full of nonsense (e.g. 'Cruise of the Calabar', 'Fish and Chip Ship' etc) but this contains relatively little nonsense...
Hoisted up our anchor'
East nor-west by south

The use of a 'tug' by the pilot means it can't go back very far into the nineteenth century surely? Les?

Thanks for the background, Jon. Looks like it might be worth keeping a lookout for a copy. Has Gibb Sahib used it do you know?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST,LIghter
Date: 26 Sep 12 - 07:14 PM

I don't know, Steve.

BTW, Stan Hugill gives a few lines in "Shanties and Sailors' Songs" that was sent him "by Capt. C. S. Smith of Hong Kong, one-time apprentice in the barque 'Inverclyde'."

It's pretty much the same as the first stanza above, except for "the fifteenth of November" and "To sail round the north and foreign parts."

The chorus goes,

"Oh, the windy winds did blow, and the rain and blindin' snow,
And the devil of a hurricane did blow-o-oh!
And it nearly knocked the stuffin' out of the good ship 'Ragamuffin,'
As off to the tropics we did go."

Both stanza and chorus end with the exclamation "Woollamaloosh!"

"Unfortunately," Hugill writes, "Capt. Smith had forgotten the rest of this interesting bit of nonsense."

Let's not forget a second song with a "good ship Ragamuffin" in it: the well-known one taking "old Mick with his shovel and his pick/ To the shores of Botany Bay" (or "Americay"). It was known in the 1890s.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Brian Peters
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 04:29 AM

"Both stanza and chorus end with the exclamation "Woollamaloosh!""

That ties in with the Collinson version, then.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 27 Sep 12 - 07:53 AM

And a stage origin.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST
Date: 28 Sep 12 - 07:08 AM

Steam tugs were introduced in the 1820s as they were very useful getting sailing ships out of harbour. But the four masted barque rig claimed for Ragamuffin became popular in the 1880s.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Les from Hull
Date: 28 Sep 12 - 08:10 AM

Sorry, that was me sans biscuit.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST,Bob Hill
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 11:50 AM

At the Nautical College Pangbourne the version was

I shipped with Captain Bruiser
On a big three funnelled cruiser


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Apr 15 - 12:29 PM

A modern naval adaptation? Thanks for sharing. When was that, anyway?


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate

Subject: RE: Origins: good ship ragamuffin? / Captain Nipper
From: GUEST,crumpled
Date: 29 Apr 16 - 01:26 AM

Let's not forget a second song with a "good ship Ragamuffin" in it: the well-known one taking "old Mick with his shovel and his pick/ To the shores of Botany Bay" (or "Americay"). It was known in the 1890s.

As spoken by Lighter GUEST a few years ago.

Any more info? - I'm trying to chase this song which has no version I can find online - just some chorus snippets from the early 20th Century.

And yes, I know the Australian version which so many have copied.


Post - Top - Home - Printer Friendly - Translate
  Share Thread:
More...

Reply to Thread
Subject:  Help
From:
Preview   Automatic Linebreaks   Make a link ("blue clicky")


Mudcat time: 16 July 10:36 AM EDT

[ Home ]

All original material is copyright © 1998 by the Mudcat Café Music Foundation, Inc. All photos, music, images, etc. are copyright © by their rightful owners. Every effort is taken to attribute appropriate copyright to images, content, music, etc. We are not a copyright resource.