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Lyr Add: Roll the Cotton Down (Leighton Robinson)

DigiTrad:
ROLL THE COTTON DOWN
ROLL THE COTTON DOWN (2)


GUEST,Lighter (w/o cookie) 21 Aug 04 - 08:46 PM
Dead Horse 22 Aug 04 - 12:13 PM
GUEST,Lighter (w/o cookie) 22 Aug 04 - 01:34 PM
Dead Horse 22 Aug 04 - 08:43 PM
GUEST,Lighter (w/o cookie) 23 Aug 04 - 07:22 PM
Dead Horse 24 Aug 04 - 07:20 AM
Snuffy 24 Aug 04 - 08:55 AM
Dead Horse 24 Aug 04 - 02:04 PM
Joe Offer 25 Aug 04 - 03:08 AM
GUEST,Lighter 25 Aug 04 - 09:18 AM
Dead Horse 25 Aug 04 - 10:34 AM
Charley Noble 07 Aug 08 - 01:28 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 07 Aug 08 - 03:16 PM
Charley Noble 07 Aug 08 - 09:41 PM
Barry Finn 08 Aug 08 - 02:59 AM
GUEST,Lighter 08 Aug 08 - 08:46 AM
Charley Noble 08 Aug 08 - 09:25 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 08 Aug 08 - 01:08 PM
Lighter 05 Sep 19 - 11:55 AM
GUEST,Starship 05 Sep 19 - 12:05 PM
Lighter 05 Sep 19 - 12:06 PM
RTim 05 Sep 19 - 02:45 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: ROLL THE COTTON DOWN (Leighton Robinson)
From: GUEST,Lighter (w/o cookie)
Date: 21 Aug 04 - 08:46 PM

Captain Leighton Robinson sang this version of the shanty "Roll the Cotton Down" in California in 1939. For more details, see my post to the thread "Robinson's 'Hanging Johnny'."

                      ROLL THE COTTON DOWN

             Oh, away down south where I was born,
                Oh, roll the cotton down!
             Oh, away down south where I was born,
                Oh, roll the cotton down!

             [Similarly:]

             A dollar a day is the white man's pay....

             I thought I heard our old man say....

             We're homeward bound to Mobile Bay....

             Oh, hoist away that yard and sing....

Robinson Recordings

1Away, Riothread
2Sally Brownthread
3Hanging Johnnythread
4Poor old manthread
5Whiskey Johnnythread
6Roll the cotton downthread
7Goodby, fare you wellthread
8Rolling homethread


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Dead Horse
Date: 22 Aug 04 - 12:13 PM

Where de grand chorus at?
Roll the cotton, Roll the cotton Moses.
Roll the cotton, Oh, Roll the cotton down.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: GUEST,Lighter (w/o cookie)
Date: 22 Aug 04 - 01:34 PM

They didn't sing one. Versions in DT lack it also.

Dead Horse, now's your chance!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Dead Horse
Date: 22 Aug 04 - 08:43 PM

Not very pc. But neither were the guys wot sang it!

Oh, away down south where I was born,
Oh, roll the cotton down!
Oh, in Alabam one early morn,
Oooh, roll the cotton down!
Roll the cotton
Oh Roll the cotton moses
Roll that cotton
Oooh Roll the cotton down.

I lived down south in Tennessee,
Roll the cotton down
My ole massa he said to me
Roll the cotton down.

Oh the nigger he works for the white man boss,
He the one on de big black hoss.

If the sun dont shine dem hens dont lay,
If the nigger dont work, the boss dont pay.

God made bees & the bees make honey,
Devil made the women for to take our money.

Oh the nigger he work the whole day long,
So stretch it aft & sing this song.

Lift him up & carry him along,
Screw him down where he belong.

We'll fill her up from fore to aft,
Five thousand bales for this ole craft.

Row on row we'll stow 'em, neat,
Until this job is made complete.

We'll screw 'em up so handsomely,
And roll 'em over cheerily.

Oh, in Alabam where I was born,
Screwing cotton on a summers morn.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: GUEST,Lighter (w/o cookie)
Date: 23 Aug 04 - 07:22 PM

I haven't checked, but this reminds me of Stan Hugill's version in "Shanties from the Seven Seas." "Not pc" is of course an understatement, but we must be social scientists here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Dead Horse
Date: 24 Aug 04 - 07:20 AM

Very similar. I note he also has halyard version(s)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Snuffy
Date: 24 Aug 04 - 08:55 AM

The version on the Carpenter CDs seems like a completely different song


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Dead Horse
Date: 24 Aug 04 - 02:04 PM

Thats cos they is folkies, not shantymen.
A lot of the ills that have befallen most shanties can be laid squarely at the door of folkies :-)

(I do hope the irony is not lost, as without the folkies, shanties would be a lost genre)


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Subject: Origins: Roll the Cotton Down
From: Joe Offer
Date: 25 Aug 04 - 03:08 AM

Seems like we should be able to glean a little more information about this song. The versions in the Digital Tradition are pretty scanty (scanty shanties?). The first version is from Colcord's Roll and Go. The second version is from the Grieg-Duncan Folk Song Collection.
Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry:

Roll the Cotton Down

DESCRIPTION: Shanty. Characteristic line: "Roll the cotton down." The young man (from Alabama) joined the (Black Ball) line (and now looks back and describes the curious doings on a Black Ball vessel)
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1923
KEYWORDS: shanty sailor
FOUND IN: US(MA)
REFERENCES (2 citations):
Doerflinger, pp. 33-34, "Roll the Cotton Down" (3 texts, 1 tune)
DT, ROLLCTTN* ROLLCOTT2*

Roud #2627
RECORDINGS:
Capt. Leighton Robinson w. Alex Barr, Arthur Brodeur & Leighton McKenzie, "Roll the Cotton Down" (AFS 4232 B2, 1939; on LC27, in AMMEM/Cowell) (click here for Robinson recording)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "A Long Time Ago" (tune, floating lyrics)
cf. "Roll, Alabama, Roll" (tune)
File: Doe033

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2004 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 25 Aug 04 - 09:18 AM

Here's the entire performance of yet another "Roll the Cotton Down."
To judge from the variety of unrelated texts (Hugill has several), this must have been a very popular shanty pattern.

This version was sung by J. S. Scott for James M. Carpenter in 1929.
Scott had gone to sea in 1863.


                         ROLL THE COTTON DOWN

                   I am going away to leave you,
                      To roll the cotton down!
                   I am going away to leave you,
                      To roll the cotton down!

          [Similarly:]

                   Oh, fare you well, my true love....

                   For the ship she sails tomorrow....

Sounds like the start of one well-known version of "Shallow Brown."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Dead Horse
Date: 25 Aug 04 - 10:34 AM

Or Shenandoah?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Aug 08 - 01:28 PM

This was the version that Cicely Fox Smith collected in her book A BOOK OF SHANTIES, © 1927, pp. 54-55:

ROLL THE COTTON DOWN
(Halliard Shanty)

Oh roll the cotton down, my boys –
Roll the cotton down!
Oh roll the cotton down, my boys,
Oh roll the cotton down!

Oh once we lay in Mobile Bay –
Roll the cotton down!
Oh once we lay in Mobile Bay –
Oh roll the cotton down!

A dollar a day is a negro's pay –
Roll the cotton down!
A dollar a day is a negro's pay –
Oh roll the cotton down!

Two dollars a day is a white man's pay –
Roll the cotton down!
Two dollars a day is a white man's pay –
Oh roll the cotton down!

I thought I heard the old man say –
Roll the cotton down!
"Another pull and then belay!"
Oh roll the cotton down!


Notes by CFS, p. 54:

Why was the shantyman so enamoured of Mobile Bay? Possibly because of the sound of it; possibly because it fitted in well with the usual shanty rhythms. There must have been some such reason: otherwise why should the name of a comparatively unimportant place appear in the shanties more frequently than any other? It is one of the minor puzzles of the subject.

"Roll the Cotton Down" is a jolly little tune which deserves a wider popularity among the shanty revivalists than it has so far enjoyed.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 07 Aug 08 - 03:16 PM

CFS may have thought that Mobile and its Bay were 'unimportant,' but as the only port in Alabama, it was extremely important to the cotton industry. By the 1840s, Mobile was second only to New Orleans. It was noted for the development of its port facilities, with fireproof brick warehouses. It was a port of call for vessels carrying cotton to mills in the North and in England.
In 1860, the population was 30,000, including 1195 free Negros, and some 11,000 slaves, for a total of about 42,000 (1860 census data, quoted in Wikipedia). It is currently ranked as the no. 10 port in the U. S.

Some of the verses used in the chantey versions or cotton-screwing songs can be found in other songs, especially of Blacks. Old versions seem to be lacking. The 'hoosier' verse appeared in Bone, "Capstan Bars," 1931. In form, it resembles "Rolling King," remarked on by Joanna Colcord, in "Songs of American Sailormen."

The chantey seems to have developed from the songs of the Black workmen, free and slave, that the sailors heard while cotton was being screwed or moved from warehouse to shipboard. In "Black Susie," the port is New Orleans (English origin).

A recording was made by J. S. Scott, 1929, 2 stanzas, "I'm goin' away to leave you."
Percy Grainger recorded Royston Clifford singing "Roll the Cotton Down" in 1908, London (a copy at the American Folklife Center, Traditional Music and Spoken Word Catalog, Library of Congress).


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 07 Aug 08 - 09:41 PM

Q-

Stan Hugill referred to Mobile as the "Shanty Mart," as a place where many shanties were created and than redistributed across the wide world by sailors.

William Doerflinger in SONGS OF THE SAILOR AND LUMBERMAN, p. 98, focuses on Mobile as one of the first places (late 1840's) where the term "chanty-man" was used by an observer; Charles Nordhoff provides a vivid description of the cotton-stowers singing songs to help them with their hard work. "Fire Maringo" was just one of the sing titles he mentions by name.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Barry Finn
Date: 08 Aug 08 - 02:59 AM

Mobile is also prominent in some prison work songs. Old Alabama, a prison work song (as follows)

Old Alabama

Old Alabama, j'ines the state of Floridy
Old Alabama, j'ines the state of Floridy
At Mobile, Lawdy, at Mobile

Old Alabama, is a hog killing country (2x)
Ev'y fall, Lawdy, ev'y fall

Did you hear 'bout that water boy getting' drownded (2x)
In Mobile Bay, Lawdy, Mobile Bay

Did you hear 'bout the men all gonna leave you (3x)
Next pay day, Lawdy, next payday

Did you hear 'bout Louella Wallace (3x)
Poor gal dead, Lawdy, poor gal dead


I believe this is also related to the Manhaden shanty "Every Mail Day" in structure & content. Mobile was not only a just cotton port but also had a plantation economy, was quite a rail transportation spot & had a shipbuilding history. So as a song mart it had quite a few elements that would make it's name popular in song.

Barry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 08 Aug 08 - 08:46 AM

FWIW, "Mobile Bay" also provides an easier rhyme than, say, "New Orleans." The 1864 naval battle made the port even more prominent in the national consciousness.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Charley Noble
Date: 08 Aug 08 - 09:25 AM

Here's a link to a University archives of old photographs of the Mobile Bay area: click for a trip to Mobile Bay

There's also a nice one in that same set of images titled "Saturday Night" with a group on the wharf with banjo and other instruments.

Love this access to the way-back machine!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Robinson's 'Roll the Cotton Down'
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 08 Aug 08 - 01:08 PM

American Memory has a map of Mobile Bay, 1780, Spanish: Pto. de la Movila. In Map Collections.
The Spanish were developers and entrepreneurs in New Orleans and other Gulf coastal areas.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Roll the Cotton Down (Leighton Robinson)
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Sep 19 - 11:55 AM

R. W. Gordon in Adventure magazine (Nov. 1, 1923), pp. 191-192:   “[This] true chantey [is] from a sailor reader who had for years kept by him a note-book in which he had jotted down songs, and which he generously contributed. … Old-time sailors will recognize it as a curious blending of several separate chanteys popular at the time when cotton was squeezed tightly into he holds of ships by means of screw presses.

         (Solo)          Come rock and roll me over
         (Refrain)          Roll the cotton down!
         (Solo)          From Calais unto Dover
         (Refrain)          Oh, roll the cotton down!

         Have you ever been in Mobile Bay
         Screwing cotton day by day?

         Five dollars a day is a white man’s pay,
         So bring your hooks and screws this way.

         And bring your samson post likewise,
         Bear a hand! Get a curve on, boys!

         We’ll floor her off both fore and aft;
         There’s five thousand for this here craft.

         Tier by tier we’ll stow so neat
         Till she is loaded up complete.

         As I was walking down the street
         A fair young girl I chanced to meet.

         She was a clipper fair to view;
         Her cheeks were read, he eyes were blue.

         I asked if she would take a trip
         Down to the docks and see my ship.

         “Thank you, sir,” she answered; “no,
         I’m sorry, sir, I can not go.

         “My love is young and he is true;
         He dresses in a suit of blue.”

       So then I quickly went away;
       I had not another word to say.

       To the mast-head this yard must go;
       Tighten the leaches and the foot will show.

               One more pull and the mate will say,
                      Roll the cotton down!
               “One more pull and then belay!”
                     Oh, roll the cotton down!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Roll the Cotton Down (Leighton Robinson)
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 05 Sep 19 - 12:05 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yFJihzC-U2Y

That may be of interest--and I don't believe it's been referenced on this thread.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Roll the Cotton Down (Leighton Robinson)
From: Lighter
Date: 05 Sep 19 - 12:06 PM

"Five dollars a day" in the 1890s was equivalent in purchasing power to about $135 a day in 2019.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Roll the Cotton Down (Leighton Robinson)
From: RTim
Date: 05 Sep 19 - 02:45 PM

I have a version collected by Dr. George Gardiner in Portsmouth, Hampshire....

Tim Radford
-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
Come Roll the Cotton Down - Roud 2627 - From - James G. Bounds
(GG/1/14/879) – Tune – Bounds – Portsmouth – 14 Aug 1907
Text – Bounds, except Stanza 4 line 2 – From the Chanty Tradition

As I was a walking out one day
    Come Roll the Cotton Down
A fine young girl I chanced for to meet
    Come Roll the Cotton Down

Good morning to you, my pretty maid
Oh where are you going to, my pretty maid?

I’m going a-milking, Sir she said
Can I come with you, my pretty maid?

You can come if you like, kind Sir she said
So he took her in tow and away did go

Now what is your father, my pretty maid?
My father’s a farmer, Sir she said.

And what is your Mother, my pretty maid?
The same as my Father, Sir she said

And what is your fortune, my pretty maid?
My face is my fortune, sir she said.

Then I can’t marry you, my pretty maid
Nobody asked you, Sir she said


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