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Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay / Mary L. McKay

DigiTrad:
THE MARY L. MACKAY


EBarnacle 09 May 06 - 01:16 PM
Rapparee 09 May 06 - 01:26 PM
EBarnacle 09 May 06 - 06:35 PM
kendall 09 May 06 - 09:30 PM
Joe Offer 10 May 06 - 01:19 AM
JJ 10 May 06 - 08:42 AM
Charley Noble 10 May 06 - 09:31 AM
kendall 10 May 06 - 10:29 AM
Charley Noble 10 May 06 - 03:33 PM
EBarnacle 11 May 06 - 09:22 AM
Charley Noble 28 Jun 10 - 12:44 PM
GUEST,Al Henneberry 03 Feb 11 - 11:34 AM
meself 03 Feb 11 - 12:29 PM
Charley Noble 03 Feb 11 - 02:56 PM
GUEST,Jason Chenard 27 Sep 11 - 12:11 PM
GUEST,Al Henneberry 28 Feb 16 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Hilary 28 Feb 16 - 01:13 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MARY L. McKAY
From: EBarnacle
Date: 09 May 06 - 01:16 PM

This is a more complete version of the Mary L. Mackay than is currently in the database. I have provided annotation where differences occur between the texts. Many of the differences can be attributed to either folk process or to minor mondegreens. As stated lower in this text, many of the "variants" are actually the original words.

The Mary L. Mackay
1913, Frederick William Wallace
Collected by Helen Creighton in Song and Ballads of Nova Scotia
As sung by Edmund Henneberry
Variant texts in brackets

Oh, come all you hardy haddockers, who winter fishing go,
And brave the seas upon the banks in story winds and snow,
And ye who love hard driving, come listen to my lay
Of the run we made from Portland in the Mary L. Mackay.

We hung the muslin on her, [as] the wind began to hum,
Twenty hardy Nova Scotiamen chock full of Portland [bootleg] rum,
Mainsail, foresail, jib and jumbo on that wild December day,
As we passed Cape Elizabeth and slugged for Fundy Bay.

We slammed her by Monhegan as the gale began to scream,
Our vessel took to dancing in a way that was no dream.
A howler o'er the toprail [or taffrail or caprail or topsail]
We steered Sou'west [her East] away;
She was a hound for running was the Mary L. Mackay.

Storm along and drive along and punch her through the ribs [rips],
Don't mind your [the] boarding combers as the solid green she ships;
"Just mind your eye and watch the wheel [your helm]" our skipper he did say;
"Clear [clean] decks we'll sport tomorrow on the Mary L. Mackay."

Oh, the seas were looking ugly and the crests were heaving high,
Our vessel simply scooped her [them up] till her decks were never dry;
The cook he mouthed [moused] the pots and pans and unto us did say
"You'll get nothing else but mugups on the Mary L. Mackay."

We laced a hawser to the wreck and caulked the cable box,
We tested all our shackles and our fore and mainsail blocks;
We double gripped our dories while the gang began to pray
For a breeze to tear the bitts from out [out of] the Mary L. Mackay.

We slammed her to [by] Matinicus and the skipper hauled the log—
"Sixteen knots, Lord Harry! Ain't she just the gal to jog?"
The half-canned helmsman shouted as he swung her on her way,
"Just watch me tear the mainsail off the Mary L. Mackay."

The rum was passing merrily and the gang was feeling grand,
Long necks [a-] dancing in our wake from where we left the land.
[But] our skipper he kept sober for he knew how things would lay,
And [he] made us furl the mainsail on the Mary L. Mackay.

Under foresail and her jumbo we tore wildly through the night,
The foaming, surging whitecaps in the moonshine made a sight,
Would [To] fill your hearts with terror, boys, and wish you were away
At home in bed and not aboard the Mary L. Mackay.

Over on the Lurcher Shoals, the seas were running strong,
The roaring, angry breakers from three to four miles long
And [in] this wild inferno, boys, we soon had hell to pay,
We didn't care a hoot aboard the Mary L. Mackay.

We laced [lashed] our wheelsman [helmsman] to the box as he steered her through the gloom,
A big sea hove his dory mate right over the main boom;
It tore the oilpants off his legs and you could hear him say,
"There's a power of water flying o'er the Mary L. Mackay."

Our skipper didn't care [wish] to make his wife a widow yet,
[So] he swung her off to Yarmouth Cape with just her foresail set,
[We] And passed Forchu next morning and shut [shot] in at break of day,
And soon in sheltered harbour lay the Mary L. Mackay.

From Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth Sound, two twenty miles we ran,
In eighteen [nineteen] hours, my bully boys, now beat that if you can.
The gang said 'twas [it was] seamanship, the skipper he kept dumb [mum]
But [For] the force that drove our vessel was the power of Portland [bootleg] rum.

When Wallace wrote this he was describing a run the Effie Morrisey took in December, 1913. He changed the names to protect the guilty. Even so, apparently, it was an instant hit and the captain, Bob Bartlett, requested a signed copy from him under the original name as the "Log of a Record Run." Wherever possible, the words in brackets match the originally published words before the folk process began to transmute the song. My theory is that many of the variants Creighton recorded were the result of ignorance, such as the substitution of "mouthed" for "moused." I have heard all of the words in brackets or seen most of them in the original text, such as "shot" vs. "shut." Often the bracketed words make more sense than the words commonly used today.


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Subject: Lyr Add: THE MARY L. McKAY (from Schooner Fare)
From: Rapparee
Date: 09 May 06 - 01:26 PM

Here is the version Schooner Fare did on the "Alive" album in 1983. I copied this from their website, www.outergreen.com.

THE MARY L. McKAY

Frederick W. Wallace / Arr. & Adapt. Schooner Fare

We first heard this song in Halifax, Nova Scotia. Later we found it in a North American folk collection. The story is unchanged but the
rhythm, melody and chords have been rewritten. It's the story of a
record-setting voyage between Portland, Maine, and Yarmouth, N.S.,
with a little help from Portland bootleg rum.

From Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth Sound
Two-twenty miles we ran
In eighteen hours, my bully boys,
Now beat that if you can.
The crew said it was seamanship;
The skipper, he kept dumb.
But the force that drove our vessel
Was the power of Portland rum.

Come all ye hardy haddockers
Who winter fishin' go.
And brave the seas upon the banks
In stormy wind and snow
And ye who love hard driving
Come listen to my lay
Of the run we made from Portland
On the Mary L. McKay.

We hung the muslin on her
As the wind began to hum.
Twenty hardy Nova Scotia men
Chock full of Portland rum.
Mainsail, fores'l, jib and jumbo
On that wild December day
As we passed ole Cape Elizabeth
And slugged for Fundy Bay.

        Storm along, drive along
        Punch her through the rips.
        Northeast gale's a blowin',
        And we'll take all that she gives.
        We're homeward bound to Yarmouth Sound
        Two-twenty miles today
        We made the run on Portland rum
        On the Mary L. McKay.

We slammed her by Monhegan
As the gale began to scream.
Our vessel took to dancing
In a way that was no dream.
A howler o'er the taffrail, b'ye
As we steered sou'east away
For she was a hound for running
Was the Mary L. McKay.

We slammed her to Matinicus.
The skipper hauled the log
"Sixteen knots! Lord Harry!
Ain't she just the gal to jog?"
The half-canned wheelsman shouted
As he swung her on her way
"Just watch me tear the mainsail off
The Mary L. McKay."

        Chorus

The rum was passing merrily
And the crew was feeling grand
Longnecks dancing in our wake
From where we left the land.
Our skipper he kept sober
For he knew how things could lay,
And he made us furl the mains'l
On the Mary L. McKay.

Now the captain didn't care to make
His wife a widow yet.
He swung her off to Yarmouth Cape
With just her fores'l set
Past Fourchu in the mornin'
And shut in at break of day
And soon in shelterin' harbor
Lay the Mary L. McKay.

        Chorus

From Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth Sound
Two-twenty miles we ran.
In eighteen hours, my bully boys,
Now beat that if you can.
The crew said it was seamanship;
The skipper he kept dumb.
But the force that drove our vessel
Was the power of Portland rum.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay
From: EBarnacle
Date: 09 May 06 - 06:35 PM

The Schooner Fare version is based and edited from the Creighton version. The only different word that they used from it is that they include the word "taffrail." Note that in their version, they use "Sou'east." They add the phrase "Northeast gale's a blowin',
                                  And we'll take all that she gives.
                               We're homeward bound to Yarmouth Sound
                               Two-twenty miles today
                               We made the run on Portland rum
                               On the Mary L. McKay." This is entirely new to the song. They may have heard it and included it.

I'm not sure whether it is folk process or Steve Romanoff's writing. Lomax's "Folk Songs of North America" includes a slightly shortened version of the Creighton version.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay
From: kendall
Date: 09 May 06 - 09:30 PM

If she left Portland in a NE gale she would play hell getting to NS.
And, TAFFRAIL is correct.


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Subject: DT Correction: The Mary L. MacKay
From: Joe Offer
Date: 10 May 06 - 01:19 AM

If the Digital Tradition version is supposed to be a transcription from Creighton's Songs and Ballads from Nova Scotia, it does have some verses missing and some other mistakes. This is the entire, corrected Creighton version, which, as EBarnacle says, may have been folk-processed.

I took a ferry from Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, one stormy night about ten years ago. This song reminds me of that trip, which was a scary adventure for me.

-Joe-


THE MARY L. MacKAY

O come, all you hearty haddockers, who winter fishing go,
And brave the seas upon the Banks in stormy winds and snow
And ye who love hard driving, come listen to my lay
Of the run we made from Portland on the Mary L. MacKay.

We hung the muslin on her, the wind began to hum,
Twenty hardy Nova Scotia men most full of Portland rum,
Mainsail, foresail, jib and jumbo, on that wild December day,
As we passed out Cape Elizabeth and slugged for Fundy Bay.

We slammed her by Monhegan as the gale began to scream,
Our vessel took to dancing in a way that was no dream,
A howler o'er the toprail we steered sou'west away,
O she was a hound for running, was the Mary L. MacKay.

`Storm along and drive along, punch her through the ribs,
Don't mind your boarding combers as the solid green she dips.
Just mind your eye and watch the wheel,' our skipper he did say.
`Clear decks we'll sport tomorrow on the Mary L. MacKay.'

Oh, the seas were looking ugly and the crests were heaving high,
Our vessel simply scooped her till our decks were never dry;
The cook he mouthed his pots and pans and unto us did say,
'You'll get nothing else but mugups on the Mary L. MacKay.'

We laced a hawser to the wreck and caulked the cable box,
We tested all our shackles and our fore and mainsail blocks.
We double gripped our dories while the gang began to pray
For a breeze to tear the bits from out the Mary L. MacKay.

We slammed her to Matinicus, the skipper hauled the log,
`Sixteen knots! Lord Harry, ain't she just the gal to jog?'
The half-canned wheelsman shouted, as he swung her on her way,
`Just watch me tear the mainsail off the Mary L. MacKay.'

The rum was passing merrily and the gang was feeling grand,
Long necks dancing in her wake from where we left the land,
Our skipper he kept sober, for he knew how things would lay,
And made us furl the mainsail on the Mary L. MacKay.


Under foresail and her jumbo we tore wildly through the night,
The foaming, surging whitecaps in the moonshine made a sight,
Would fill your hearts with terror, boys, and wish you were away
At home in bed and not aboard the Mary L. MacKay.

Over on the Lurcher Shoals, the seas were running strong,
The roaring, angry breakers from three to four miles long
And this wild inferno, boys, we soon had hell to pay,
We didn't care a hoot aboard the Mary L. MacKay.

We laced our wheelsman to the box as he steered her through the gloom.
A big sea hove his dory mate right over the main boom,
It tore the oil pants off his legs and you could hear him say,
`There's a power of water flying o'er the Mary L. MacKay.'

Our skipper didn't care to make his wife a widow yet,
He swung her off to Yarmouth Cape with just her foresail set,
And passed Forchu next morning and shut in at break of day,
And soon in sheltered harbour lay the Mary L. MacKay.

From Portland, Maine, to Yarmouth Sound two twenty miles we ran,
In eighteen hours, my bully boys, now beat that if you can,
The gang said `twas seamanship, the skipper he kept dumb,
But the force that drove our vessel was the power of Portland rum.

From Songs and Ballads of Nova Scotia, Creighton
Words apparently by Frederick W Wallace


Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on this song:

Mary L. Mackay, The

DESCRIPTION: About a voyage by the Mackay from Portland to Yarmouth. Driven by a gale, and handled by uninhibited officers, she ran 220 miles in 18 hours. The singer challenges others to best the mark, but admits the voyage was made on the power of Portland rum
AUTHOR: Words: Frederick W. Wallace
EARLIEST DATE: 1914 (Canadian Fisherman)
KEYWORDS: ship racing sailor drink storm
FOUND IN: Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (3 citations):
Lomax-FSNA 74, "The Mary L. Mackay" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-NovaScotia 132, "The Mary L MacKay" (1 text, 1 tune)
DT, MARYMKAY*

Roud #1831
Notes: This song is item dD50 in Laws's Appendix II.
According to Creighton, Wallace wrote this poem to describe an experience he had aboard the Effie Morrissey in 1913. She believes her informant, Edmund Henneberry, supplied the tune. - RBW
File: LoF074

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

The Ballad Index Copyright 2007 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay
From: JJ
Date: 10 May 06 - 08:42 AM

1913!

I've wondered for years why Canadians, who didn't have prohibition, seemed to be coming to the US to buy illegal rum!

Now I see they were just drunk...


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 May 06 - 09:31 AM

I've puzzled over this line for years:

A howler o'er the toprail we steered sou'west away,

Steering "sou'west" from Portland doesn't get you to Nova Scotia, let along out of the harbor. However, a sou'west breeze would be very handy for sailing downeast to yarmouth, Nova Scotia.

What do you think, Kendall?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay
From: kendall
Date: 10 May 06 - 10:29 AM

Right on Charlie.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay
From: Charley Noble
Date: 10 May 06 - 03:33 PM

Of course if the crew ate enough beans they could make their own wind!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 May 06 - 09:22 AM

The site I referenced in another thread provides the original text and states taffrail. It also states bootleg rum and nineteen hours rather that eighteen.

Another point of confusion that the text clarifies is that "she shot in at break of day," which is consistent with the rest of the story, indicating that even under foresail, she was moving pretty fast as she entered Forchu.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay / Mary L. McKay
From: Charley Noble
Date: 28 Jun 10 - 12:44 PM

Ugh! The typo for the name of the schooner in this song surfaced again while I was proofing the layout for our new CD titled Look Out! by Roll & Go. Fortunately I have a copy of Songs & Ballads from Nova Scotia in my personal library and confirmed that the correct spelling is "Mary L. MacKay" rather than "Mary L. McKay." And Oasis was happy to make the correction at their end.

And "Mary L. MacKay" does make for an easier rhyme scheme than "Effie Morrissey."

Nor and Eli Dale do a nice job of singing this hard-driving song a capella on the recording. They drank the rum later!

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay / Mary L. McKay
From: GUEST,Al Henneberry
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 11:34 AM

It was my Grandfather Edmund who took the Wallace poem of 1913 and first put it to music. Both my Grandfather and great-Grandfather were fishermen and folk singers from Devil's Island, NS and knew hundreds of songs, including one with 86 verses (the Courtship of Willie Riley ) sung entirely from memory.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay / Mary L. McKay
From: meself
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 12:29 PM

Al -

Your grandfather and great-grandfather had considerable influence on me and undoubtedly a number of others on this forum, through the work of Helen Creighton - we are in their debt. Do you sing any of their songs?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay / Mary L. McKay
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Feb 11 - 02:56 PM

Al-

Welcome aboard.

The "Mary L. MacKay" poem certainly made a great song.

Please sign up as a Mudcat member so we can chat with you via Personal Mail (PM) as well.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay / Mary L. McKay
From: GUEST,Jason Chenard
Date: 27 Sep 11 - 12:11 PM

And also, about every-other version has "Fourchu" in the last verse. Although there is a Fourchu harbour, it's waaaaaaay up on Cape Breton. The correct spelling is "Forchu", which is the cape just southwest of Yarmouth harbour. Terrific old song, regardless. Cheers. -Jason


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay / Mary L. McKay
From: GUEST,Al Henneberry
Date: 28 Feb 16 - 12:39 PM

It was my Grandfather, Edmund Henneberry, who first put the Wallace poem to music sometime shortly after it was published. Incidently, he always sang the last line in the 2nd verse " as we out past Cape Elizabeth" rather than "passed out".

I am in the process of arranging several of my Grandfather's songs which we will be going into the studio to record later this year with guitar, bass, fiddle, banjo, mandolin, and bodhran accompaniment (including Mary L. MacKay).

Miller's Jug did an excellent version of Mary L. MacKay in the 1990's. Very lively and able to put you right there on the deck of the Effie Morrisey.

Cheers,
Al.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Add: The Mary L. Mackay / Mary L. McKay
From: GUEST,Hilary
Date: 28 Feb 16 - 01:13 PM

It always struck me as odd that, if the ship was leaving from Portland, they had to pass Cape Elizabeth to get to Yarmouth, NS, since Cape Elizabeth is south of Portland. Does anyone have an explanation for this?


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