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Origins: Three Score and Ten

DigiTrad:
THREE SCORE AND TEN


Related threads:
(origins) Origins: Threescore and Ten (55)
A note to Three Score and Ten (73)
3 Score and 10 -Grave found in Hull (23)
3 score & 10; How big was Grimsby Town? (12)
Chord Req: Three Score and Ten (7)
Three Score and Ten - What event? (13)


GUEST 27 Oct 04 - 05:55 AM
The Borchester Echo 27 Oct 04 - 06:03 AM
pavane 27 Oct 04 - 09:21 AM
Snuffy 27 Oct 04 - 09:37 AM
Abuwood 27 Oct 04 - 12:37 PM
Joe Offer 27 Oct 04 - 01:27 PM
Joe Offer 27 Oct 04 - 02:01 PM
Bassic 27 Oct 04 - 03:00 PM
Strollin' Johnny 27 Oct 04 - 03:33 PM
Joe Offer 27 Oct 04 - 03:43 PM
Strollin' Johnny 27 Oct 04 - 03:56 PM
Leadfingers 27 Oct 04 - 04:38 PM
Les from Hull 27 Oct 04 - 05:01 PM
GUEST,Boab 28 Oct 04 - 12:54 AM
Joe Offer 28 Oct 04 - 01:59 AM
DMcG 28 Oct 04 - 03:13 AM
BB 01 Nov 04 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,Anne Croucher 01 Nov 04 - 07:00 PM
Joe_F 01 Nov 04 - 09:19 PM
Richard Bridge 02 Nov 04 - 03:23 AM
Dead Horse 02 Nov 04 - 03:42 AM
Dave Hanson 02 Nov 04 - 03:47 AM
Steve Parkes 02 Nov 04 - 04:15 AM
GUEST,Keith A o Hertford 02 Nov 04 - 05:24 AM
GUEST,Barrie Roberts 02 Nov 04 - 01:07 PM
BB 02 Nov 04 - 02:23 PM
Dead Horse 02 Nov 04 - 04:14 PM
BanjoRay 02 Nov 04 - 06:22 PM
Bates from Birregurra 03 Nov 04 - 03:48 AM
Flash Company 03 Nov 04 - 11:33 AM
Rozza 03 Nov 04 - 02:02 PM
GUEST,999 17 Nov 09 - 08:39 PM
GUEST 13 Apr 11 - 11:51 AM
Joe Offer 13 Apr 11 - 01:57 PM
Snuffy 13 Apr 11 - 04:48 PM
JHW 26 Apr 11 - 07:11 AM
Tattie Bogle 28 Apr 11 - 01:02 PM
Joe Offer 28 Apr 11 - 02:51 PM
CupOfTea 28 Apr 11 - 03:27 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Apr 11 - 03:33 PM
Joe Offer 28 Apr 11 - 03:44 PM
Steve Gardham 28 Apr 11 - 06:16 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Apr 11 - 02:31 PM
Joe Offer 29 Apr 11 - 03:11 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Apr 11 - 04:29 PM
GUEST,guestLS 29 Apr 11 - 04:43 PM
Steve Gardham 29 Apr 11 - 05:08 PM
goatfell 30 Apr 11 - 09:17 AM
Mysha 30 Apr 11 - 12:25 PM
GUEST,Vizalma 30 Apr 11 - 01:03 PM
Rozza 01 May 11 - 06:58 AM
Ross Campbell 01 May 11 - 08:58 PM
Rozza 02 May 11 - 03:27 PM
Steve Gardham 03 May 11 - 11:27 AM
Rozza 03 May 11 - 11:54 AM
Rozza 03 May 11 - 12:00 PM
ripov 03 May 11 - 12:12 PM
Artful Codger 03 May 11 - 03:28 PM
Mo the caller 04 May 11 - 03:20 AM
Les from Hull 04 May 11 - 09:17 AM
Steve Gardham 04 May 11 - 03:18 PM
Steve Gardham 04 May 11 - 03:45 PM
Les from Hull 05 May 11 - 05:48 AM
Steve Gardham 05 May 11 - 02:30 PM
Herga Kitty 05 May 11 - 03:59 PM
Ross Campbell 06 May 11 - 10:15 AM
Steve Gardham 06 May 11 - 01:30 PM
Herga Kitty 06 May 11 - 01:49 PM
GUEST,violets 49 14 Oct 16 - 02:25 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Oct 16 - 06:19 PM
Steve Gardham 14 Oct 16 - 06:21 PM
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Subject: Lyr Req: English folk song?
From: GUEST
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 05:55 AM

I remember a folk song from the late 60s and would like the complete lyrics,if anyone has them.
All I remember is,
    Four score and ten,
    boys and men,
    were lost to Grimsby town.
    From Yarmouth down to scarboro,
    six hundred more were drowned.
    In their fishing boats and trawlers......?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: English folk song?
From: The Borchester Echo
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 06:03 AM

'Tis in the Digital Tradition here.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: English folk song?
From: pavane
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 09:21 AM

I seem to remember a parody as well - but can't actually bring it to mind - was it Dustbin men?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: English folk song?
From: Snuffy
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 09:37 AM

I think Dead Horse does one, Pavane. Why not PM him.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Abuwood
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 12:37 PM

"From Yarmouth round to Scarborough" is more geographically correct and how I have heard it sang in Whitby.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 01:27 PM

There's no entry on this song in the Traditional Ballad Index. folktrax.org has an entry, but it's very brief. The only songbook source cited is Palmer's Oxford Book of Sea Songs. Here's the Folktrax entry:
    THREE SCORE AND TEN - "boys & men were lost from Grimsby Town" "From Yarmouth down to Scarborough" - PALMER OBSS 1986 #138 p274 Noted by N A Hudleston, Wardill Yorks 1956 -- THE WATERSONS: TOPIC 12-TPS-166 1966 - KESTY rec by PK 1980: 240 - Tommy MORRISEY & chorus rec by John Howson, Cornwall on Radio 2: 10/11/95: CASS-1335

The version in the Digital Tradition is not attributed. It's almost the same lyrics that I found in the Turning Toward the Morning CD by Bok, Muir, and Trickett - but not exactly. I wonder where the DT version is from.

Roud Index Search


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Subject: ADD Version: Three Score and Ten
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 02:01 PM

Here's the version from Roy Palmer's Oxford Book of Sea Songs (1986). Note that this version has only three stanzas, and the one in the DT and Bok/Muir/Trickett has four. Palmer mentions an 8-stanza version. Can we find that one?

THREE SCORE AND TEN
    CHORUS:
    And it's three score and ten boys and men were lost from Grimsby town;
    From Yarmouth down to Scarborough many hundreds more were drowned.
    Our herring craft, our trawlers, our fishing smacks as well.
    They longed to fight that bitter night to battle with the swell.
Methinks I see some little craft spreading their sails a-lee
As down the Humber they do glide all bound for the northern sea.
Methinks I see on each small craft a crew with hearts so brave
Going out to earn their daily bread upon the restless wave.

Methinks I see them yet again as they leave the land behind,
Casting their nets into the sea the fishing ground to find.
Methinks I see them yet again and all on board's all right,
With the sails flow free and the decks cleared up and the side-lights burning bright.

October's night was such a sight was never seen before:
There was masts, there was yards; broken spars came floating to our shore.
There was many a heart of sorrow, there was many hearts so brave;
There was many a hearty fisherlad did find a watery grave.


    'In Memoriam of the poor Fishermen who lost their lives in the Dreadful Gale from Grimsby and Hull, Feb. 8 & 9, 1889' is the title of a broadside produced by a Grimsby fisherman, William Dell, to raise funds for the bereaved families. It eight lost vessels, the last two from Hull: Eton, John Wintringham Sea Searcher, Sir Fred. Roberts, British Workman, Kitten, Harold, Adventure and Olive Branch. In addition the names of some of the lost sailors are given, and there is a poem in eight stanzas. This passed into oral tradition, and in so doing lost six verses and acquired a new one (the last, in which an error of date occurs), together with a chorus and a tune. The oral version was noted from a master mariner, Mr J. Pearson of Filey, in 1957, and has subsequently, with some further small variations, become well known in folk-song clubs.

    28 April 2011: See discussion below and note this much-disputed line in the chorus, as Palmer has it:
      They longed to fight that bitter night to battle with the swell.
    Seems to me that it must be something different, since the Palmer version doesn't quite make sense. I think I'd interpret it as "they long did fight."


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Bassic
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 03:00 PM

Re the Up/Down debate, this was posted some time ago....

......................................................................

Subject: RE: A note to Three Score and Ten
From: Wolfgang Hell - PM
Date: 10 Mar 98 - 04:17 AM

here's a copy from an old thread relevant to this thread:

Subject: RE: Eyemouth disaster (Lyr. req.) From: Pete M Date: 29-Sep-97 - 05:52 AM

I can add nothing about the original request I'm afraid. but I can throw some light on the point about "Three score and ten" by Ferrera. Scarborough is indeed north of Yarmouth, but in interpreting traditional folk songs you need to know a bit about the millieu in whivch they were created, The prevailing winds, currents and tidal streams of the East coast of Britain mean that going North is the "Downhill" direction, usually running with the wind on the port quarter, whilst going South meant beating into the wind. Hence amongst the sea farers the reference was always to going "down to the North".

However, I recollect hearing up to Scarborough from the singing of the McKenna Brothers. I'll relisten tonight.
Wolfgang
......................................................................

This seems to have a certain logic to it imho.

G


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 03:33 PM

Isn't it 'They long defied that bitter night'? I doubt very much if they longed to fight it!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 03:43 PM

Hi, Johnny - that goes to show you that maybe even Roy Palmer can be wrong. I'll agree that it doesn't make much sense.

The DT version has
They long defied that bitter night, And battled with the swell.
The Bok, Muir, & Trickett version has
They long did fight, that bitter night, their battle with the swell.
I like both of those better than the Palmer/Oxford version.
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Strollin' Johnny
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 03:56 PM

Yep Joe, agreed! Both sound better and make far more sense!
As a long-time Tall Ship sailor I never, ever longed for a storm, but I sure as hell defied a few! Makes me queasy to think about them! LOL! :0)
SJ :0)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 04:38 PM

Perhaps I have a warped mind , but the 'Battle with the Swell ' line always makes me think of lads from the East End of London going up to Mayfair for a punchup with the upper class !!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 27 Oct 04 - 05:01 PM

Me too - knock 'is bloody top hat off!

Most people do sing 'long to fight' but then most people are pillocks (IMHO). This is part of the oral tradition at work, I'm afraid. Most people have picked up this chorus from somebody else singing it.

I'm not sure about the reason for Yarmouth down to Scarborough, but the prevailing wind round here is between south and west, so Scarborough is usually downwind of Yarmouth. That's the first time that line has made sense to me - we usually think in terms of maps, but I'm sure they didn't think that way so much in C19.

Another way to sing this song is to leave the (second) verse till the last one, and you can imagine the ghosts of these small craft heading away from land. Spooky!

This song is still (surprisingly) popular among the fishing communities of the East Coast, and is often requested in Whitby in informal pub singsongs.

Which reminds me of a session that used to take place in Whitby Yacht Club bar, when we were asked by the Commodore why we sang so many songs about drowning sailors. Of course, we just took this as a challenge and stated keeping a running total on a board. I still remeber the glee of somebody coming up and saying 'Put this lad on - he knows 'The Loss of the Royal George' - there's nine hundred of 'em on that one!'


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: GUEST,Boab
Date: 28 Oct 04 - 12:54 AM

I use the song as Joe sets it down fairly regularly, but I have seen somewhere [forgetful!] an additional third verse. Anybody come up with it?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Oct 04 - 01:59 AM

Ahem...
Yeah, Boab - the version in the Digital Tradition has four verses.

Here's the additional verse:
    Methinks I heard the captain say
    "Me lads we'll shorten sail"
    With the sky to all appearances
    Looks like an approaching gale
    Me thinks I see them yet again
    Midnight hour is past
    The little craft a-battling there
    Against the icy blast

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: DMcG
Date: 28 Oct 04 - 03:13 AM

I am told that a copy of the original broadside is held at Grimsby Public Library. Perhaps someone from 'Ull can nip across and copy it for us.

I found this entry from the local newspaper some time ago, describing the storm (which was not in October):


As day after day passes and no tidings arrive of the missing Grimsby smacks, it is beginning to be realised that the gale of the 9th ult. will prove one of the most disastrous to the Grimsby fishing trade on record. Altogether nearly a dozen fishing vessels, carrying between 60 and 70 hands, are missing. Most of these vessels were only provisioned for eight or nine days, and many of them have been out over a month. Of the safety of seven of them all hope has now been abandoned. The vessels are:
    Sea Searcher, trawl smack, owner Mr Joseph Ward; five hands.
    John Wintringham, cod smack, master and owner Mr John Guitesen; eleven hands.
    Eton, iron steam trawl smack, owner Mr H. Smethurst, Jun.; eight hands.
    British Workman, cod smack, owner Mr Thomas Campbell; seven hands.
    Sir Frederick Roberts, trawl smack, master and owner Mr W. Walker; five hands.
    Kitten, trawl smack, owner James Meadows; five hands.
    Harold, trawl smack, master and owner Mr Blakeney; five hands.
Portions of wreckage from the Kitten have been picked up at sea and brought into port, and the British Workman was seen to be reduced to a mere wreck by a heavy sea on the morning of the gale. Many of the men who have been lost leave wives and families, and an immense amount of distress will be caused amongst the fishing population. The total number of vessels lost will, it is feared, be near 15, and of lives between 70 and 80.

Hull Times, 2 March 1889.


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Subject: Lyr Add: A BALLAD IN MEMORY OF THE FISHERMEN....
From: BB
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 03:38 PM

From 'The Oxford Book of Local Verses', comes the following:

'A Ballad in Memory of the Fishermen from Hull and Grimsby who lost their lives in the Gale of 8 and 9 February 1889'
by W. Delf, a Grimsby fisherman.

Methinks I see some little crafts spreading their sails a-lee
As down the Humber they did glide bound in the Northern sea;
Methinks I see on each small craft a crew with hearts so brave,
Going to earn their daily bread upon the restless wave.

Methinks I see them as they left the land all far behind,
Casting the lead into the deep their fishing grounds to find;
methinks I see them on the deck working with a will,
To shoot their net into the deep either for good or ill.

Methinks I see them shoot their trawl upon the Thursday night,
And saw the watch upon the deck, and everything was right;
methinks I see them yet again when daylight did appear,
All hands working with a will getting off their gear.

Methinks I see the net on board and fish so fresh and gay,
And all were busily engaged clearing them away;
Methinks I see them put away into the ice below,
And then the sea began to rise, and the wind did stronger blow.

Methinks I heard the skipper say, 'My lads, we'll shorten sail,
As the sky to all appearance looks like an approaching gale.'
Methinks I see them yet again, and all on board was right,
With sails close reef'd, the deck cleared up, and sidelights burning bright.

Methinks I see them yet again, the midnight hour was passed [sic];
Their little craft was battling there with the fiery blast;
Methinks I heard the skipper say, 'Cheer up, my lads, be brave.
We'll trust in Him who rules the deep, in Him who alone can save.'

Methinks I read the thoughts of them who now are called away;
They were thinking of their loved ones dear many miles away;
Thinking of wife and children dear, and aged parents too,
Who no more will see them here again in this world below.

Great God, Thou sees each sorrowing heart, the widow in distress,
Thou knows the little children dear, who now are fatherless;
Comfort and cheer them here below, and lead them by Thy hand,
And at last may they meet with their loved ones dear in the promised land.

The notes say: 'Supplied by F.R. Whitmarsh of Grimsby from the original broadsheet as sold by the author.'

I have heard that the tune and the chorus, were written by Mike Waterson, but whether or not that's true, I have no means of knowing. If so, presumably he also did the adaptation of the words.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: GUEST,Anne Croucher
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 07:00 PM

I heard this at the George in Barnsley, Yorkshire - in 1968 or early 69 I think.

There are slight differences.

It was three score and ten boys and men were lost from Grimsby town
From Yarmouth down to Scarborough many hundred more were drowned
There were herring craft and trawlers and fishing smacks as well
Went out to fight that bitter night and battle with the swell.

Methinks I see a host of craft their sails set to the breeze
As down the Humber they do glide all bound for the Northern sea
Methinks I see on each small craft a crew with heart so brave
Going to earn their daily bread upon the restless wave

Methinks I see them yet again as they leave the land behind
Casting their nets into the sea the herring shoals to find
Methinks I see them yet again and all on deck all right
with sails close reefed and decks cleared up and sidelights burning bright

October's night brought such a sight as never seen before
As masts and spars and broken yards came floating to the shore
there was many a heart of sorrow there was many a heart so brave
there was many a hearty fisherman went to a watery grave

Anne


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Joe_F
Date: 01 Nov 04 - 09:19 PM

"Masts and spars and broken spars" -- that line always makes me catch my breath, because of what it does not mention. When I said that to Don Duncan at one of his sings, he told me that the fishermen's wives each knitted special designs into their husbands' sweaters, which might identify them.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:23 AM

I have a version (the short version) recorded by the Watersons, from the 60s, (one of the "New Voices" set, at least I assume it was a set, recorded by the BBC) where they definitely sing "long to fight that bitter night".

The chorus on that version has "masts and spars and broken yards".

The other verse posted above I picked up in South London about 10 years ago in a slightly different form as
    Methinks I hear the skipper say
    'Tis time to shorten sail
    The sky to all appearances
    Heralds an approaching gale
    Methinks I see them yet again
    Though the midnight hour is past
    Those little boats are battling
    Against the icy blast.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:42 AM

At the risk of being taken for a curmudgeonly old bastard, I will say that the lyrics of this song are no better than dozens of similar disaster/murder/sensation crap found on broadsides from even earlier.
The only saving grace of this tedious offering is the tune, which alone saves it from being lost in some dusty archive.
Methinks it is somewhat repetitious. Methinks it overdramatic. And methinks again that it doth go on far too long.
I shall now await the storm I have so deservedly unleashed upon myself, methinks.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Dave Hanson
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 03:47 AM

Methinks You are a curmudgeonly old bastard you.

eric


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 04:15 AM

Dead Horse has raised an interesting point. Old-established and well-loved songs are not, in fact, sacred, and to criticise one on fair and reasonable grounds is rather less unforgivable than blaspheming the Holy Ghost. Or is it? If we want to have a debate on this, I suggest we start another thread and leave this one in peace!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: GUEST,Keith A o Hertford
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 05:24 AM

I have read that the event commemorated was in February not October, the change to improve the scan.
I find that I can make Feb. scan OK. Should I ?
Floating to the shore,
Keith.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: GUEST,Barrie Roberts
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 01:07 PM

Ref Dead Horse's comments --- Steve P is quite right --- merely being old and well-loved does not make anything safe from criticism (I know this because people have been known to criticise me!) On the other hand, there are wellknown traditional ways of dealing with this situation. 1) Ignore it --- nobody who likes the song cares about what anyone else thinks. 2) Rewrite it so that you like it. Nobody else will, but you'll be happy.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: BB
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 02:23 PM

The version as it is usually sung is not particularly long, unless you're not into singing choruses which would make it seem long I suppose. The folk process has been at work on what was originally a poem, and made it into something that fishermen from all over love to sing, and which they can and do relate to.

Dead Horse, I doubt that you're a fisherman, and therefore might find that difficult to understand, and therefore to you it may seem no better than other broadsides - and indeed it may not be, but it obviously strikes a chord with many. I see no particular virtue in its age or that of other broadsides - in this situation, its age is irrelevant.

Barbara


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 04:14 PM

I say again, it is only the tune that makes this one a favourite.
I like to hear it myself, but the lyrics....the lyrics....aaaargh!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: BanjoRay
Date: 02 Nov 04 - 06:22 PM

When I first heard the Waterson's sing this in the sixties the tune AND the words sent shivers up my back - it still does.
Ray


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Bates from Birregurra
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 03:48 AM

Gerday from Birregurra

I know that line as "They learned to fight that bitter night and battle with the swell"

Cheers

Keith Maxwell


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Flash Company
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 11:33 AM

I used to sing this a lot in my Malt Shovel days, I heard it from Mike Waterson's version and I originally had it as 'longed to fight that bitter night' which I didn't think made a lot of sense.
Someone suggested ( my wife, I think!) that it should be 'long defied', and from then on that's what I sang. (Never argue with the missus!)

FC


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Three Score and ten?
From: Rozza
Date: 03 Nov 04 - 02:02 PM

The song as sung by the Watersons was collected by the Huddlestons at Filey from "Jack Pearson and men" and is on p.45 of Nigel Huddleston's "Songs of the Ridings" - a photocopy of the broadside is on p.46. William Delf lived in Grimsby in the 1890s (in Victor Street). He was lost at sea in about 1893, aged c.40.


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Subject: ADD: Three Score and Ten (Clancy Version)
From: GUEST,999
Date: 17 Nov 09 - 08:39 PM

These are the lyrics used by the Clancy Brothers.

THREE SCORE AND TEN

Methinks I see a host of craft
Spreading their sails alee
Down the Humber they do glide
All bound for the Northern Sea
Methinks I see on each small craft
A crew with hearts so brave
Going out to earn their daily bread
Upon the restless wave

    And it's three score and ten
    Boys and men were lost from Grimsby town
    From Yarmouth down to Scarboro
    Many hundreds more were drowned
    Our herring craft, our trawlers
    Our fishing smacks, as well
    They long did fight that bitter night
    The battle with the swell

Methinks I see them yet again
As they leave this land behind
Casting their nets into the sea
The herring shoals to find
Me thinks I see them yet again
They're all on board all right
With their nets rolled up and their decks cleaned off
And the side lights burning bright
Me thinks I've heard the captain say
"Me lads we'll shorten sail"

With the sky to all appearances
Looks like an approaching gale
Me thinks I see them yet again
Midnight hour is past
The little craft abattling there
Against the icy blast
October's night brought such a sight
Twas never seen before

There were mast and yards and broken spars
A washing on the shore
There were many a heart in sorrow
Many a heart so brave
There were many a fine and hearty lad
That met a watery grave



I'm not sure of line-breaks. Hope this helps.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: GUEST
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 11:51 AM

Folk process or not, can we please lay to rest that persistent mondegreen "longed to fight the bitter night" from "Threescore and Ten"?


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 01:57 PM

The Digital Tradition has They long defied that bitter night - is that correct?

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Snuffy
Date: 13 Apr 11 - 04:48 PM

It's what I always sing.

Why would anyone in their right mind long to go out into a huge storm if they didn't have to?


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: JHW
Date: 26 Apr 11 - 07:11 AM

The DT lyrics at Joe's link is as he says but the text accompanying the stave there is 'they long did fight that bitter night' which is widely sung. I like 'long defied' as 'fight' and 'battle' are almost repetition.

Just to confirm, in 'Threescore and Ten' the DT lyrics are correct in the chorus as 'They long defied that bitter night'
I spoke to Harvey Blogg (who runs Riverside Folk, Bedale ).
Henry Blogg, cousin of Harvey's grandfather wrote the words as a poem at school about age 10 circa 1886. The chorus was his first verse and it became a song perhaps around 1900 when someone set it to a traditional tune.
Harvey tells me the words can be seen in Cromer Lifeboat Museum though their online factsheet does not mention the song.
Henry Blogg joined the lifeboat crew aged 18 and went on to be coxswain.


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Subject: RE: Perpetuated Errors
From: Tattie Bogle
Date: 28 Apr 11 - 01:02 PM

There are several previous threads on "Threescore and ten" with a lot of useful info about the origins of the song.
There is a discrepancy in the DT between the lyrics at the top of the page and the words under the music at the bottom of the page!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Apr 11 - 02:51 PM

I moved the "perpetuated errors" messages over here because they really ought to be with other information on the song. I think this is the definitive thread on "Three Score and Ten." You will note above the Roy Palmer's Oxford Book of Sea Songs has "They longed to fight that bitter night to battle with the swell." I wonder if his Boxing the Compass revision has something different. I have to agree that this version doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

You will notice in the message from BB above, a version that appears to be quite early, that doesn't have a chorus or a mention of a "bitter fight/night" at all.

So, what's the "correct" version? I'd venture to say that there is no correct version. There are just "various" versions, and whether it's "defied" or "to fight" is a matter of personal preference.

I think that most of us will tend to prefer the first version we learned.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: CupOfTea
Date: 28 Apr 11 - 03:27 PM

My favorite version is Lou Killen's. His version has the last line of this verse as the poem cited above:

Methinks I heard the skipper say, 'My lads, we'll shorten sail,
As the sky to all appearance looks like an approaching gale.'
Methinks I see them yet again, and all on board was right,
With sails close reef'd, the deck cleared up, and sidelights burning bright.

When I first started looking for the dots/chords to do this other than acapella, all I found was the Soodlum book version, which only had a passing acquaintance to how I heard it from Lou and others. When I was first looking, DT didn't have the dots for things - this is a WONDERFUL addition to have, and I give thanks for whatever Mudmarvelous sorts who have accomplished this.

Joanne in Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Apr 11 - 03:33 PM

I'm sure I've posted this before. Never mind.

William Delf undoubtedly wrote that broadside original in 1889 shortly after the event. The unknown quantity is how it got to Filey further up the coast in Yorkshire to be collected by the Hudlestons in about 1960.

Talking to Brian Dawson of Lincolnshire at Whitby Festival a couple of years ago he told me he had talked to descendants of William Delf in the Lowestoft area who knew how the song was reduced to the 3 verses and chorus and set to music in Lowestoft. Now the comments above applying to Cromer may have some relevance in this context.

However, Rozza who posted earlier, has done further research into the life of Delf and found that he died childless, so no descendants one presumes. It may have been a close relative who moved to Lowestoft, such as a brother. Hopefully further info will come to light when Rozza and Brian can compare notes.

And I'm sure I've posted this as well, but thanks to Geoff Lawes of Hull there is now a photo of one of the Hull gravestones of the men in the disaster on the Yorkshire Garland website www.yorkshirefolksong.net where you can hear the song sung by 'Three-Score-and-Ten'.

Delf wrote other sea disaster songs. There is one on a broadside on display in Hull Maritime Museum.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Joe Offer
Date: 28 Apr 11 - 03:44 PM

Can anyone post the two versions found in Nigel Huddleston's "Songs of the Ridings"?

Also, if somebody can check Palmer's Boxing the Compass to see if it's different from the version Palmer had in the Oxford Book of Sea Songs.

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 28 Apr 11 - 06:16 PM

Joe
The only versions in SOTR are the Pearson version from The Filey Fishermen's Choir which is almost the same as The Oxford book of Sea Songs version which is not surprising as they are from the same source. And the broadside already given above. There is an actual photo of the broadside.

Unfortunately the two gentlemen who Nigel paid enormous sums to to transcribe the songs were to put it kindly, less than competent, when it came to the texts. We are currently working on a new edition much more carefully transcribed. I would say Roy probably transcribed his version more accurately from the commercial recordings made by the Hudlestons at the time in the 60s, an LP, and an EP of the original singers put out in limited numbers and I think sold or given away by themselves.

Here follow the differences
Roy has 'longed' in the last line of the chorus and SOTR has 'long'.
As soon as I get chance I'll have a listen to the EP I've got and see what I make of it, if it could be 'long did' for instance.

Verse 1 ends with the word 'wave' in Roy's version and in SOTR it's 'waves'.

Verse 2 where Roy has 'nets' SOTR has 'net', and 'flow' becomes 'blowing' in SOTR.

Verse 3, line 1 Roy gives, 'night was' and SOTR has 'night left'
Also in this verse wherever it says 'There was' in SOTR the tense changes to 'There's'.

There are one or two silly typos I've ignored.

Any differences between the Pearson text and those well sung on the folk scene I would put down mainly to Mike Waterson who quite rightly IMO adapts to suit himself.

I've got the Oxford book but not 'Boxing TC'. I can't think why he would have changed it from one book to the other, but it's possible. If anyone has 'BTC' they can compare it with the Oxford text given above on 1st Nov 04.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Apr 11 - 02:31 PM

THREE SCORE AND TEN
original recording transcribed from EP by SG.

1
Methinks I see some little craft spreading their sails alee,
As down the Humber they do glide all bound for the northeren sea.
Methinks I see on each small craft a crew with hearts so brave,
Going out to earn their daily bread upon the restless waves.

Chorus:-
And it's three score and ten, boys and men, were lost from Grimsby town,
From Yarmouth down to Scarborowe many hundreds more were drowned,
Our herring craft, our trawlers, our fishing smacks as well,
They longed to fight that bitter night, to battle with the swell.

2
Methinks I see them yet again as they leave the land behind,
Casting their net into the sea, the fishing grounds to find.
Methinks I see them yet again, and all on board's alright,
With the sails flowing free and the decks cleared up and the sidelights burning bright.

3
October's night left such a sight was never seen before,
There was masts, there were yards, broken spars came floating to our shore.
There was many a heart of sorrow, there was many a heart so brave,
There was many a hearty fisherlad did find a wat'ry grave.

The transcription in SOTR was about as carefully done as most of the other transcriptions in there. However, although the recording is relatively clear Pearson is singing closer to the mike with another singer(s) in the background making some of the consonants not as clear as they would have been had he sung solo.

The controversial 'long/longed to fight seems to be as sung. there is some lingering on the g in 'long' which makes me veer towards 'longed' but it could be just 'long'. the 'to' is repeated in front of 'battle' which makes the intended meaning quite clear. It may be that the writer was looking back and saying this is how they felt when they set out before the storm arose.
In verse 2 'grounds' could be 'ground'. It's not easy to make out the final s with 2 or more singing. However the broadside has 'grounds'.
Sails 'flowing' free is also difficult to make out as they're trying to fit 2 syllables into one. The broadside gives 'sails close-reefed' which is what I sing and what I suspect Mike W interpolated from the broadside.
Verse 3 There seems to be clarity lacking on whether it states 'There's'/'There was'/'There were'. Again they are trying to cram syllables in to fit with the music. The above is my best shot. It certainly isn't 'There's' in any of the cases as given in SOTR.
I'm passing this transcription to our score transcribers who are working on a new edition of SOTR and they have copies of the EP so they might come up with something slightly different to my transcription.
'northeren' and 'Scarborowe' are my attempts to transcribe what was actually sung.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Joe Offer
Date: 29 Apr 11 - 03:11 PM

Thank you very much, Steve. You may get some flak for coming down on the "they longed to fight" side, so I admire your courage....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Apr 11 - 04:29 PM

Joe,
I'm not coming down on any side. I just transcribed what I heard from the original recording. I'd be happier singing 'They long did'... 'and battled'. The chorus wasn't in the original so we can only wait to see what Ruairidh and Brian can come up with when they get together. If we can identify the writer of the later version we may get somewhere. Currently we are looking at the Norfolk coastal towns.

My own guess is that Brian was right about relatives (as opposed to descendants) of Delf moving down to Norfolk during WWI to avoid the persecution of people with Dutch/German sounding names. If a relative did rewrite it as part of one of the Norfolk fishermen's choirs then it would be a small step back up the coast to Filey to being sung by the fishermen's choir there, Filey lying just to the south of Scarborough.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,guestLS
Date: 29 Apr 11 - 04:43 PM

Elle Osborne has recently recorded 'Three Score and Ten' for her new album 'So Slowly Slowly Got She Up', and having heard the recording, I can say she sings "longed to fight" - and she's a Grimsby lass raised by folk singers from a fishing family!

As I've understood it, "longed to fight", is interpreted as "longed to BEAT" the swell.

Also, the "Yarmouth DOWN to Scarborough" line is true, in that North Sea fishermen always referred to North as 'down'.

This is as Elle sings it

Methinks I see a host of craft spreading their sails a-lee
As down the Humber they do sail bound for the great North Sea
And methinks I see on each small craft a crew with hearts so brave
Setting out to earn their daily bread upon the restless wave

Chorus:
And it's three score and ten boys and men were lost from Grimsby town
From Yarmouth down to Scarborough many 100s more were drowned
Our herring craft, our trawlers, our fishing smacks as well
They longed to fight that bitter night and battle with the swell

Methinks I see them yet again as they leave the land behind
Casting their lead into the deep the fishing grounds to find
And me thinks I see them yet again and all on board's alright
With the sails close-reefed and the decks cleared up and the side-lights burning bright

Chorus

October's night was such a sight as never seen before
There were masts and spars and broken yards come floating to our shore
There was many a heart of sorrow, there was many a heart so brave
There was many a hearty fisher lad has found a watery grave

Chorus

In verse 2, "casting their lead" is the more accurate, as it was line-fishing, not nets, in the 1880s, as Mike W sings, and Elle has been significantly influenced by him.

LS


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 29 Apr 11 - 05:08 PM

LS
You haven't been reading the rest of the thread have you?
Yes in the original it says casting the 'lead' in verse 2 line 2 but in line 4 it says 'shoot their net'
Verse 3 'Methinks I see them shoot their trawl'
Verse 4 'Methinks I see the net on board'

I would guess they are casting the lead to find the shallower Dogger Bank where the fish often congregate. The net may well have had some lead weights on it, but casting the lead usually refers to the 'lead line' to test the depth.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: goatfell
Date: 30 Apr 11 - 09:17 AM

the version that I know is 'they longed to fight that bitter night'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Mysha
Date: 30 Apr 11 - 12:25 PM

Hi JHW,

Are you saying the chorus is a rhyme by a ten-year-old? Wouldn't it be somewhat unlikely that a ten-year-old would have "defied" in his vocabulary?
On the other hand, they didn't fight against the night. To me the version Joe quoted makes the most sense: "They long did fight, that bitter night, their battle with the swell." But is that a sentence for a ten-year-old?

Bye,
                                                                  Mysha


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,Vizalma
Date: 30 Apr 11 - 01:03 PM

As far as the Grimsby/Lowestoft point, fishing families moved about from time to time - My wife's grandfather was born in Gorleston (Suffolk at that time), his father was skipper of a sailing trawler. In the name of better fishing, they loaded up the trawler with all their belongings and moved lock, stock ans barrel to Grimsby in around 1906. Her grandad and his brothers all became skippers. As far as the lyrics are concerned, I suppose it's relevance depends on whatever area you're singing it in. Sing it in Grimsby and you'll stir up different feelings than you will in Cheam. Two of my wife's family were lost at sea in the name of catching fish. It's that close to home. The one thing I do know, is that I can't imagine fisherman nit-picking about the song like has been going on here!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Rozza
Date: 01 May 11 - 06:58 AM

William Delf was certainly no great poet. Threescore and Ten stands out as a masterpiece compared to such as this verse in one of his other poems:

The "C.H.Spurgeon" too as well, the crew did suffer great
The second hand was swept away, it's awful to relate
The cook brought in a lifeless corpse, who died upon the deck,
While the vessel was lying in the sea totally a wreck.

Ruairidh


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 01 May 11 - 08:58 PM

The "Boxing the Compass" version is exactly the same as "The Oxford Book of Sea Songs" version given above.

I'll still continue to sing
"They long did fight that bitter night, and battled with the swell".
(Doesn't seem to clash disastrously with what anybody else sings, and it's how I made sense of what I heard years ago in the Waterson's version).

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Rozza
Date: 02 May 11 - 03:27 PM

Perhaps there's an American link to 3x20+10. American choral composer wrote the Shepherds' Carol which begins:

Methinks I see an heav'nly host.
Of angels on the wing.
Methinks I hear their cheerful notes.
So merrily they sing

Delf may well have been familiar with this, especially if he had a chapel connection.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 03 May 11 - 11:27 AM

Rozza,
Is there any link between the tune of the hymn and 70? Nigel Hudleston who recorded Pearson singing it always said the tune was a slowed down version of Jingle Bells. As Delf mentions no tunes on his sheets we can presume the tune was added later.

Somebody sang it at a session I was at last night with the extra verse and a highly individual version of the tune which went quite nicely.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Rozza
Date: 03 May 11 - 11:54 AM

Funnily enough, I listened to it today. The link is: Shepherds' Carol: Billings


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Rozza
Date: 03 May 11 - 12:00 PM

There's also a YouTube rendition. The tune is vaguely reminiscent, but not a strong similarity.

Quire Cleveland


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: ripov
Date: 03 May 11 - 12:12 PM

"down" from Yarmouth to Scarboro' would correspond with railway usage (ie UP is toward London). Though I don't know how long this has been the convention.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Artful Codger
Date: 03 May 11 - 03:28 PM

"The Shepherd's Carol" is what Billings originally titled "Heavenly Host" in The Singing Master's Assistant (1778). The original setting was "Boston" rather than "Shiloh", as in the Quire Cleveland clip, though both were written (or arranged--one is seldom sure) by Billings.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Mo the caller
Date: 04 May 11 - 03:20 AM

It always seem to me that the way people bawl out the chorous with such gusto is a bit out of keeping with the subject matter.
The tune lends itself to a 'raise the roof' chorus.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Les from Hull
Date: 04 May 11 - 09:17 AM

Steve - that was Laurie, known here at Mudcat as 'Bloke in the corner'.

And I second your remarks about casting the lead. This would be a deep-sea lead, not the lead you use close inshore. The deep-sea lead has a recess in the bottom that you fill with tallow to pick up a sample of what is on the bottom. That is what you would use to find where you wanted to fish such as the 'Silver Pit'. Another mention of the deep-sea lead is in 'Spanish Ladies'.

We hove our ship to with the wind from sou'west, boys
We hove our ship to, deep soundings to take
'Twas forty-five fathoms, with a white sandy bottom

And it was certainly trawling not line fishing in 1889.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 May 11 - 03:18 PM

Thanks, Captain Ward, you're a mine of information.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 04 May 11 - 03:45 PM

Les,
Our Chris showed us one of these only last weekend, complete with hole for the tallow. We're going to use it on the Humber next time we go out.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Les from Hull
Date: 05 May 11 - 05:48 AM

You'll likely get mud!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 05 May 11 - 02:30 PM

Oh! Now you've spoilt the surprise!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 05 May 11 - 03:59 PM

I've always thought "long defied" or "long did fight" made more sense than "longed to fight", so was surprised to hear from Brian Dawson (at Sidmouth a couple of years ago) that the record of what WD wrote seemed to be longed to fight....

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 06 May 11 - 10:15 AM

On Sunday 26th June, 2011, the Bothy Folk Club, now based at The Park Golf Club, Park Rd West, Southport, PR9 0JS are running a Themed Singers Night, 'Three Score & Ten'; it's also Ian Wells' birthday. Can the number and the birthday conceivably be related? Doesn't seem possible, but then he has been a ubiquitous and supportive presence on the North West folk scene for as long as I can remember (and I've been in this area nearly forty years). All the best for the day!

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 06 May 11 - 01:30 PM

Kitty,
As far as we know Delf didn't write this line. The nearest thing to it he wrote is in his 6th verse where he puts,
'.....................the midnight hour was passed,
Their little craft was battling there with the fiery blast.'

Which we presume inspired the line in the later chorus. There is no mention of 'long' or 'longed'. If the Filey men had learnt it orally as seems to be the case they could easily have misheard it. On the only surviving recording the word is 'long...' but the ending is difficult to say for certain. If we take the spirit of what Delf actually wrote 'long did' seems to be the nearest.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Herga Kitty
Date: 06 May 11 - 01:49 PM

Thanks Steve... I may have misreported what Brian said, but the impression I got was that there are different interpretations, which I think is consistent with your post...

Kitty


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: GUEST,violets 49
Date: 14 Oct 16 - 02:25 PM

This song is alleged to refer to the 'great Gale of 8th/9th February 1889. And yet the last verse begins 'October's night brought such a site' Why October? Has this song got its origins in the Eyemouth Disaster of 14th October 1881?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 16 - 06:19 PM

Just tried twice to reply to this thread and it disappeared. Other threads fine!


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Subject: RE: Origins: Three Score and Ten
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Oct 16 - 06:21 PM

Okay 3rd time lucky.

No mention of October's night in original. Filey version possibly hybrid, but dates are notoriously fickle in oral tradition.


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