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Jamboree: Oat Cakes?

20 Apr 02 - 10:07 AM (#694320)
Subject: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: artbrooks

In the shanty "Jamboree", does "oat cakes" mean anything besides...oat cakes?

20 Apr 02 - 11:39 AM (#694370)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Metchosin

In the version of Whip Jamboree that I know artbrooks, (not in the DT as far as I could determine, so perhaps I should post it) the line is "Jenny is your ringtail warm?" and there has never been any doubt as to what "ringtail" referred to, in my mind.

20 Apr 02 - 11:45 AM (#694371)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Metchosin

might also mention that the Shanty group, "Lime Bay Mutiny" of which my brother was a member, many years ago, took their name from this ditty, as there is a Lime Bay here in Victoria, BC.

20 Apr 02 - 12:44 PM (#694395)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Dead Horse

The original line was too rude for public consumption, so various substitutes were sung when carrying passengers or within earshot of land. That is why there are so many different endings to this chorus, only one of which is *ringtail warm*. Others are *I wonder if me clothes are out of pawn* & *Jenny get yer oatcakes done* Title varies somewhat too, as the original was a wild "whoop" sounding like *whip* or *whup* so sing what you prefer, so long as it's with gusto!!!

20 Apr 02 - 01:39 PM (#694421)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Mr Red

& I always thought it was Jonnhy get yer Oats my son. which is believable in the context of sailors on to a shore thing.

21 Apr 02 - 01:17 AM (#694700)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Barry Finn

Hugill has a version that goes; "A-i-i-i, Y'ring tailed black man, sheet it up behind" he mentions a version from Sharp that goes; "Oh, you long-tailed black man poke it up behind me" & another version from Terry that goes; "O! ye long-tailed black man poke it up behind"


21 Apr 02 - 10:12 AM (#694833)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Celtic Soul

We sing this one, and I am trying like hell to recall any mention of "oatcakes" and cannot. But, that's the folk tradition, after all.

We sing "Ringtail Sailor coming up behind" and "Jenny keep your tailpiece warm".

21 Apr 02 - 12:57 PM (#694914)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Crane Driver

I understood the "oatcakes" version was introduced by the Spinners (Liverpool folk group who appeared a lot on the telly in Britain back when I watched telly). The original versions obviously couldn't be sung on the telly. So Hughie Jones tells me, anyway. (Hughie was one of the Spinners, now singing solo. First time I saw him live, I was amazed he was in colour - I'd only seen him in black and white before!)


21 Apr 02 - 02:04 PM (#694952)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: McGrath of Harlow

Oatcake back a bit before the Spinners, though they might well have felt it necessary to modify the text in a few respects.

I've got in front of me a booklet published by the BBC for the Central Council for School Broadcasting, to accompany a series of programmes for schools in 1947 on the BBC Home Service. I found it up in the attic - we used it in a school I attended.

And there it is, a version of Whip Jamboree, "Somerset Folk-Song, collected and arranged by Cecil J Sharp" - with the chorus:

"Whip jamboree, whip jamboree,
O you long-tailed black man, poke it up behind me,
Whip jamboree, whip jamboree,
O - Jenny get your oat-cake done."

Innocent times... Though, come to think of it, I don't remember us actually singing that one.

09 Jul 02 - 04:27 AM (#744941)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: GUEST,Keith A o Hertford at work

I have lately been singing an authentically obscene version at local singarounds. Last night someone challenged me that they had looked it up and it didn't go like that. They had the version where the sailor fantasises about Jenny baking him some cakes when he gets home.
Thanks all for the info., and this site for making it so easy to find it.
Poke it up behind,

09 Jul 02 - 01:21 PM (#745195)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Emma B

One of Hughie's stories is that 'oat cakes' was one of the few original passages they were NOT obliged to change for public performance and, ironically, the one they were always accused of 'cleaning up'

09 Jul 02 - 08:40 PM (#745486)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: vectis

"Oats my son"
"Ringtail warm"
"Tailpiece warm"

"Oatcakes done"
has to be the polite Vaughan williams type polite version.
I always assumed that the original was a local expression for "getting laid" and anything else was so's you could sing it in front of children and maiden aunts without getting arrested or cut out of a will....

10 Jul 02 - 10:15 AM (#745786)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Charley Noble

I believe the Boarding Party was the first group I heard sing "Jenny keep your tailpiece warm." The sentiment sounds similar to the old Appalachian song "Sal's Got a Meatskin Hid Away."

Charley Noble

10 Jul 02 - 03:38 PM (#745988)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Harry Basnett

Hmmm....have heard it sung as :

"Jenny get yer old kecks(pants) down" - - but that was by a rude Liverpudlian! (As opposed to a nice, refined Mancunian - *grin* -).

All the best........Harry.

10 Jul 02 - 06:07 PM (#746064)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: McGrath of Harlow

It's as "authentic" to sing a cleaned up version as any other. As Stan Hugill explains, the shantyman and the sailors would be likely to tone it down according to whether there were ladies present.

10 Jul 02 - 08:09 PM (#746149)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Barry Finn

See refershed thread "Dirty Hog Eye"

10 Jul 02 - 09:58 PM (#746199)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Jon Bartlett

I have a nice cassette from Lime Bay - my mates Pat and Tony are/were in it. I've always sung, "Jennie is yer ringtail warm?" - a reasonable question, I figure. The "poke it up behind" bit reminds me of the "Roll the Old Chariot Along" verse that goes "Some hangin' on behind wouldn't do us any harm (x3)/So we'll all hang on behind!".

12 Jul 02 - 10:30 AM (#747145)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: MMario

Just a trivia fact that people may find interesting - there was evidently a popular song about 1840 - with both the title and a chorus that was "Jenny get your hoe cakes done"

12 Jul 02 - 05:31 PM (#747393)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Jacob B

To me, "Jenny get your oat cakes done" translates as "Get ready for me, woman, 'cause here I come!"

13 Jul 02 - 02:24 AM (#747580)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Dead Horse

And I fancy something warm to slip into???????

07 Apr 03 - 08:42 AM (#927760)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: Charley Noble

And I might as well repost here this old minstrel song from about 1850 that I came across with the title "Whoop Jamboree" but with entirely different verses about steamboating on the Mississppi:

Whoop, Jam-bo-ree

(As sung by Daniel Decator Emmett and the Virginia Minstrels at White's Melodeon in New York City , circa 1850, in imitation of the Mississippi riverboatmen; in CHRISTY'S PANORAMA SONGSTER, published by William H. Murphy, NYC, pp. 135-136)

I went down to New Orleans, I tink myself a man,
De first place I fotched up was on board de Talleyrann.


Whoop, jam-bo-ree!
Whoop, jam-bo-ree!
Vinegar shoes and paper stockings,
Git up, ole hoss!

When I get on board de boat, de captain look aroun'-
"O put de nigger's heels on shore, dey've got de boat aground." (CHO)

Den I look about de boat, to see what I could see –
When de nigger 'gin to laff, he stopped de she-na-ree! (CHO)

Den dey punch de fires up, to make de bilers burn –
De ingineer he went behind to gib her anudder turn. (CHO)

De captain on de biler deck, a-scratchin' ob his head –
An' jawing ob de deck hand, a-heavin' ob de lead. (CHO)

Den dey hoist de dish-cloth, and spread it to de breeze,
It floated like de udder haff ob tudder haff a cheese. (CHO)

De nigger an' de bullgine, dey running in cahoot –
De nigger pass de bullgine gwine through de (chuite) shoot. (CHO)

I gits upon de cook-house, I call for glass ob gin,
De nigger nearer heaben den I eber was agin. (CHO)

Charley Noble

07 Apr 03 - 09:41 AM (#927796)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?
From: catspaw49

And here I was hoping for a good cookie recipe................


07 Apr 03 - 09:49 AM (#927807)
Subject: RE: BS: Jamboree:Oat Cakes?

Johnny get yer oats my son.

08 Apr 03 - 07:49 AM (#928549)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?

The last verse of song called "Hop High Ladies" (which is more or less to the tune of "Miss Macleod's Reel" ) on an double vinyl album by "The Holy Modal Rounders" called I think "Rounders on Rounder", ie on "Rounder Records" seems to go like this:

Hop high Ladies get your oatcakes done
Hop high Ladies get your oatcakes done
Hop high Ladies get your oatcakes done
If you don't get them done you'll never have any fun

I must admit at times it sounded like "get your old skates on" (get your skates on is another modern way of saying "Hurry up"). I suppose the innocent (and possibly correct) explanation is that the ladies should finish their household chores such as cooking before going out to the dance/hop, but perhaps there is a hidden meaning.

08 Apr 03 - 06:52 PM (#929035)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: GUEST,emily b

We sing "Come and get your oats me son!" At our last gig, someone thought we were singing "Come and get your roast beef son!" Makes as much sense as the rest.
Mondegreens! Don't you love them?


27 Aug 07 - 04:03 PM (#2134749)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Charley Noble


27 Aug 07 - 04:51 PM (#2134777)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Uncle_DaveO

In some CD with A.L. Lloyd and Ewan McColl, the line used was clearly "Come and get your oats, me son!" At least to my ears.

Dave Oesterreich

28 Aug 07 - 02:42 AM (#2135081)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Darowyn

Would Liverpool Oatcakes be the hard biscuits that they sell as Scottish Oatcakes, or the floppy pancake type they still make in Staffordshire?
I think we should be told.

28 Aug 07 - 08:11 PM (#2135677)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Nick E

Is it just me or is the song not about shipboard anal sex?

28 Aug 07 - 08:41 PM (#2135695)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: curmudgeon

Sorry Nick. It's just you.

On another note, I had the song from a recording by Lloyd, but for the life of me I don't know if I sing "Come and get your oats," or "Johnny get your oats." Charley, how do I sing it?

28 Aug 07 - 11:17 PM (#2135778)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: GUEST,Julia

Then there's the parody version "Dramamine"
chorus goes
Up and chuck yer roast beef sandwich..

Whatever works, I say

cheers- Julia

29 Aug 07 - 06:27 AM (#2135922)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Rumncoke

I remember a group who looked suspiciously like the Yetties, but were possibly a lot younger doing a version which went

Ooooh please whip me OOoooh please whip me
With your big black boots running half way up your thighs
Ooooh please whip me OOoooh please whip me
Jennie get your thigh boots on

It definitely was not about sex - Jim - not as we know it, anyway.

14 Mar 09 - 01:39 AM (#2588539)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Gibb Sahib

I've been working on an explicit version of "Jamboree." I wondered if anyone has anything more to add to this thread in terms of full contents to the chantey?

Anyway, here are notes to my rendition, gathering together some of the bits already in this thread. Unfortunately, there is no one concise thread about this chantey--bits are scattered in other threads about "Hog eye Man," etc....

For better or worse, it holds a certain place of notoriety, along with "Hog Eye Man," as being one of the chanteys that's "unprintable" in its actual form. However, whereas I think there are a fair number of people that have some sense of what the "actual" verses and implications of "Hog Eye" are/might be, there still seems to be a taboo-like lack of discourse on "Jamboree." Moreover, I think that as a result, the "real" lyrics and/or tone/meaning of "Jamboree" have gone unknown by most. Therefore, while it's not my desire to be crude, I think its time that *somebody* cracked open the taboo, as, to my knowledge the explicit lyrics have never been recorded or published.

Granted, there are not necessarily any absolutely "correct" or "authentic" lyrics to chanteys. It has been noted that, within the earshot of the wrong audience, chantey singers would self-censor—seen from a different perspective, they are choosing an alternate set of "clean" lyrics. I actually think that this song may have started out from a "clean" source: scraps of minstrel songs. Hugill mentions that earlier author Whall thought it was a "minstrel ditty" though "on what grounds I know not." Well, the word "jamboree," the name "Jinny," and the ambiguous "black man" all suggest it to me. There is also the variant chorus line which is close to "Jenny, get your hoe-cake done," a line of an 1840 minstrel song by Joel Walker Sweeney. Then there is there is the title. "Whoop Jamboree Jig" is the title of a minstrel banjo composition, though the melody is unrelated to the chantey.
"Whoop Jamboree" is also a minstrel song, dating from circa 1950, by Dan Emmett [quoted by Charley above]. The tune of it is unknown. The meter of the lyrics (wholly different, as expected, from the sea chantey, which follows more the "landmarks" theme of "Spanish Ladies") has similarities to this chantey. The chantey may have been a bawdy parody version of that song.

Despite the disclaimer that bawdy lyrics were somewhat optional, in this case they were customary. Two points: First, this was a homeward bound chantey. It being dirty destroys the myth, Hugill notes, that homeward bound chanteys were always kept "clean." Second, "Jamboree" also upsets the theory that bawdy lyrics only came in the solo verses of chanteys, i.e. that part of the song of lower volume and which could be varied at will. The choruses, according to this theory, being loud and set in a conventional form were not to be bawdy. However, in "Jamboree," "the final and noisiest line of the shanty's chorus IS unprintable!"

On to deciphering the text. The last line, just mentioned, is found in print and on record in such variants as:
1. "Jinny get your oatcakes done"–probably a misunderstanding of hoe-cake from the minstrel song, a Southern U.S. food, by British Isles folk for whom "oatcake" is more familiar. English collectors Terry and Sharp had versions of this.
2. "I wonder if my clothes are out of pawn." -- an obviously bowdlerized version.
3. "Come and get your oats, my son" – What seems to have been an attempt to re-create a sexually suggestive phrase out of the rubble of the "oatcake" line.
The Spinners, who popularized "Jamboree" in the folk revival, used this line. Given their audience, they obviously had to totally bowdlerize the song (theirs is a further degeneration of Cecil Sharp's). Indeed, it is comical, seeing their audience singing along, to imagine anything true to the authentic chantey! See video.
4. The line Hugill uses: "Jinny keep your ringtail warm." Importantly, he notes that, "I have endeavoured to get nearer to the original than other writers." Since his strategy is "camouflage" it is clear that he has changed one word to "ringtail"–a clever nautical double-entendre. A ring-tail was a small jib-shaped sail set aft-most. The allusion is clearly to "asshole" or some other synonym for a 2-syllable rear part. Indeed, as independent confirmation, Barry Finn [on another thread] mentioned hearing how Stan Hugill intimated to another that "arsehole" was the camouflaged word.

In the variations on other parts of the chorus, it is clear that other phrases have been covered. A common phrase is "long-tailed black man" (e.g. in Sharp). That it is unclear in itself suggests bowdlerizing. Hugill camouflages the phrase as "ringtailed black man," letting us know that the "black man" part should stay whereas a different phrase should come instead of "ringtailed" (and instead of "long-tailed," assuming that Sharp could not have been more explicit than Hugill). Actually, Sharp's version seems the most explicit about what that man does, "poke it up behind (me)." Hugill puts double-entendre here: "sheet it home behind." Perhaps Sharp was free to be explicit on that phrase since his earlier cover up (or John Short, his informant's) was sufficiently vague. (Sharp actually collected three versions of this chantey. The others had the phrases "…step it up behind me" and "Long time a-comin' that pretty little yeller gal", the latter probably being closer to the hypothetical minstrel origins.) Incidentally, the popular version by the Spinners had "oh your pigtail, sailor hangin' down behind," effective removing both sexual and racial connotations. (Even more incidentally, they seem to have adopted a 4/4 metrical feel, rather than the 2/2 meter of a capstan chantey, as well as the rollicking banjo, which was further enshrined by the MacColl/Lloyd recorded versions…and which gives a rather four-square feel rather than a jaunty one.)

While the focus is often on the "unprintable" nature of the chorus, note that Hugill also says, "The last line of each verse too had an unprintable rhyme." Although individual verses will vary—and mine lay no claim to authentic 19th century language—one can more or less guess what was intended, based on the limited pool of rhyming words.

recording is here:   **WARNING: Explicit language**


14 Mar 09 - 04:47 AM (#2588569)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Richard Bridge

It is interesting to see an attempt to deconstruct the camouflage and get back to what might have been the original, and it would also be worth re-recording that recording, Gibb, when the song has "settled" in your mind and flows more readily.

You have explained above why your timing differs from the commonplace, but you have also varied the tune considerably - the tune I use is the same as that from the recently deceased Pete Hicks who was there and fairly central during the revival (his seat on tenor banjo with the Barber band came immediately after a certain Mr Donegan) and the happily not deceased Jim Radford who was in the wavy navy during WWII and still gets booked for some shanty festivals.

Where do your tune variants come from?

14 Mar 09 - 11:22 AM (#2588745)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Gibb Sahib

Hi Richard,

It seems that a few different people collected first-hand versions of the chantey. I have access to Hugil, Sharp, and Harlow, while Whall and Terry also collected it but I don't have access to those texts. It seems the oral tradition did continue for this one, independent of the published texts, however I suspect that most people singing the chantey now have learned versions that were ultimately adapted from the published texts and recorded by people like the Spinners and Ewan MacColl.

The tunes for all the collectors' versions are different. In ENGLISH FOLK CHANTEYS (1914), Cecil Sharp, notated a version from John Short. The tune is in aeolian mode and maybe closest to the popular versions.

Sharp also notated two versions in Journal of the Folk-Song Society, Vol. 5, No. 20 (Nov., 1916). The first, sung by Harry Perrey, is similar to the last, but with the variations that I think you'd normally find between two different singers performing something that they learned aurally. The second, by George Conway, is in a major key.

Harlow's, from "Captain Nye," has an opening phrase is like the similar Sharp versions, but his second phrase is different, especially for using the raised seventh scale degree.

Incidentally, the Spinners' version has to my ear what I call a "Scottish" sound (though I'm aware there may not be anything particularly Scottish about it!). It avoids the third scale degree on descent, giving a cadence pattern like 4th-2nd-tonic. All the printed versions I've seen go 3rd-2nd-tonic. Hugill thought the melody had a "Near Eastern" touch about it, which I disagree with, but which, like my "Scottish" interpretation, serves to convey some general traits-- namely: stepwise scalar motion, not the skipping of the 3rd done by the Spinners.

Hugill's, from a Welshman "Mr. Jones," has the now striking first phrase in the relative major key, before shifting to the minor mode. Because I am making an effort to learn a lot of Hugill's versions (in spite of the strong influence of other popular versions), I decided to use this one! Tom Sullivan also recorded a version of "Jamboree" with this particular tune.

I think one tune is as good as the next, but with one small qualification. The "Scottish" scale pattern is decidedly not "American" to my ear (not that that necessarily matters; it does to me because I think the chorus has an American origin)... and what's more, was likely made up by the Spinners (even A.L. Lloyd didnt sing it like that), so that's just sometime to be aware of.


25 Mar 09 - 04:13 PM (#2597239)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: GUEST,IanA

I find one of the most infuriating things about Hugill's books is how coy he is regarding the words of shanties. There is a suggestion that he sent off an unpublished MS to a G. Legman, a publisher of erotic books. Hugill also mentions 'A Collection of Sea Songs and Ditties' - the only known copy being in the Kinsey Institute. Anyone know anything further about either of these documents?


25 Mar 09 - 04:33 PM (#2597254)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Gibb Sahib

Ian A,

For what it's worth, I've learned to live with Hugill's style of bowdlerization. I've tried to look at it from the standpoint that in many (most?) chanteys, the verses/ lyrics were variable/optional. The "professional" chanteyman would be able to make his lyrics as clean or as dirty as he wished, at the moment. I get the feeling that even if I were to see the supposed "uncovered" versions of all these songs in print, I would still view them with suspicion because I could come up with something way more dirty!....and if I could, I'd suspect that some singers did. Otherwise, I'd be forced to admit that my mind is more debased! I am mostly kidding here, but there may be something to this, about what we view as obscene and why leave certain things unsaid.

Many of the earlier collectors printed only 1 or 2 verses on the grounds that there were no set verses, "so why pretend to set them down?" That being said, I am glad for all the variety of verses that Hugill gives. I agree that he is a tease, but at least he often provided rhyming equivalents or double entendre so you can guess, as opposed to wholesale bowdlerization.

I can deal quite well with "ringtailed black man sheet it home behind," but I really dislike "your pigtail, sailor, hanging down behind"!


25 Mar 09 - 05:08 PM (#2597289)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: GUEST,IanA

Aye, Gibb, but the thought of that MS lying about somewhere makes my mouth water.

The problem with 'explicit' lyrics, of course, is that it takes some gumption to sing them. I tried to sing a bawdy version of 'A Roving' but, to save MY feelings, had to bowdlerise one verse and omit two altogether.


25 Mar 09 - 05:31 PM (#2597304)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Gibb Sahib

Ha ha, indeed!
I've sung an extra bawdy version of "A Rovin" at a party...people were in tears laughing...though one or two probably also thought I was a sexist bastard!

This is kind of unrelated, but it makes me think about why people (or so some have theorized) started performing in "blackface" -- I mean a different reason than they were simply "white guys imitating/parodying/trying to be black." At that point in time, at first, performing such material must have been too much; it was stepping outside of the zone of what was considered appropriate for white singers. The black "mask" as it were "allowed" them to perform and have their performance interpreted as a different kind of expression.

After I recorded the version of Jamboree, above, I put a funky visual effect on it, as if it "hide" my identity. Of course, everyone will know it is me, but it is a gesture nonetheless that makes it as it it is not me in my "normal" mode. When I watched back the video, it made me feel that I was performing in a form of "blackface."

To try to answer your question, I know I've seen that Legman collection discussed on many a thread here, by people who move in circles that were close to Hugill.   I think the most and latest info on that so far is in this thread here.

25 Mar 09 - 06:00 PM (#2597321)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: GUEST,IanA

Thanks for that link, Gibb. It seems I'm not alone.

Your 'blackface' theory sounds reasonable to me.


25 Mar 09 - 06:00 PM (#2597323)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Richard Bridge

Of course there is a downside to unbowdlerising. My daughter, who acquired some local notoriety for singing Whip Jamboree when she was 8 (but hit it harder than anyone else locally) refuses to sing the Hogseye Man after I directed her to the thread here on its meaning, and she is no prude.

As to the tune, unfortunately while I can derive pitch from dots I cannot derive timing, but the chords that I use (pitching to Am for convenience) run

(Am)Whip Jambor(C)ee Whip (Am)Jambor(G/D)ee
Ah you (Am)Pigtail (G/D)Sailors (Am)stay away from (G/D)me
(Am)Whip Jambor(C)ee Whip (Am)Jambor(G/D)ee
Ah (Am)Come and get your (G/D)oats my (Am)son

26 Mar 09 - 04:16 AM (#2597561)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Keith A of Hertford

Unusual to provide guitar accompamiment?

26 Mar 09 - 07:20 AM (#2597639)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Richard Bridge

Well, Pete Hicks did it that way, and he was pretty much there at the time of the "soup" even to the exent of replacing LD when LD left Barber's band, and recording with Dickie Bishop and the Sidekicks.

But yes, guitar accompaniment on shanties is less than wholly common.

26 Mar 09 - 05:12 PM (#2598067)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)

Sometimes forgotten is that the American Minstrel songs and shows were also popular in England; a number of the songs appear on songsheets printed in England, and some were changed in content to provide an English setting.
Of course they would be familiar to sailors since the shows were reasonably-priced entertainment.

"Jenny, Get Your Hoecake Done" was printed in several forms, one English printing has been posted in thread 62528: Jenny get

The first verse and chorus:
I left Ole Virginny one very fine day,
The sea was wide, and I sail'd all the way
The wind blew high, & blow'd so cold,
It blow'd the ship to ole Liverpool.

O, Jenny, get your hocake done, my lady
Jenny get your hocake done.

"Hop Light Ladies (Lou)," mentioned above by Charlie, also was printed in England; one it called "Hop Light Loo." Harding B15(131), Fortey, Seven Dials, London. The song was revised into a pseudo-Irish version called "Jig Light Sue," Ballads Coll. 2806 b.9(132) Both are in the Bodleian Collection.
I have not found an English songsheet of "Whoop, Jamboree," but I would not be surprised if one turned up.

Not surprisingly, portions ended up in chanteys.

26 Mar 09 - 06:13 PM (#2598116)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Lighter

James M. Carpenter recorded three or four versions of "Jamboree" from old sailors in 1928. You can hear them singing through the scratches and static on the Folktrax CD.

"Oatcakes" and "hoecakes" are what they sing about in the choruses, though not all of Carpenter's British informants showed familiarity with the originally American word "Jamboree." (One man sang "Kangaroo, oh kangaroo!" though that version didn't make it to CD.)

And one old shantyman sings the final line as "Johnny let the bullgine run!" And why shouldn't he?

26 Mar 09 - 06:45 PM (#2598158)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Jack Campin

Gibb, how did you do that video effect?

26 Mar 09 - 09:11 PM (#2598236)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Gibb Sahib


It was just one of the built-in effects in the iMovie (Apple) software. I think maybe it's called "Edge Work" (?)


26 Mar 09 - 10:29 PM (#2598258)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Gibb Sahib

I'm starting to feel more and more like the "obscene" version of this may have been just a parody version.

Although of course there were no "correct" lyrics, we can hopefully agree that there were "customary" ones. That being said, the narrative that I have received is that the customary lyrics were obscene, and that they were often disguised for one reason or another.

The more I think about the available information, however, I am starting to lean towards thinking a "clean" version was in fact the original and the default. This would not be contradicted by great popularity of a bawdy version, but I think that version, however popular by Hugill's era (1920s-1940s), may have simply been parody.

The hoecake/oatcake line is just too pervasive to be a bowdlerization, I think; in the days of purely oral transmission, I doubt that a "phony" line would have become so standardized.

The existence of the minstrel song(s) with a "hoecake" line makes it a reasonable line.

Harlow gives "oatcake," but says in his youth he also knew it as "hoecake." He never says anything about obscenity, which is significant since he often notes which chanteys were "filthy."

Sharp, in his three versions ("oatcake") never says anything about obscenity -- but to be fair, he never really does in any case.

The recordings that Lighter just cited have hoecake/oatcake.


Now it's down to Whall and Hugill who mention obscene versions. I wonder if Hugill didn't play up the "obscenity" of it a bit much. There was indeed such a version (Whall is corroborating proof), but the narrative that presuming the "real" "authentic" version was the obscene one probably gets most of its steam from Hugill. Thoughts?


27 Mar 09 - 09:11 AM (#2598495)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Charley Noble


I note an unfortunate typo above with reference to the minstrel song "Whoop Jamboree":

"Whoop Jamboree" is also a minstrel song, dating from circa 1950, by Dan Emmett..."

Which should read:

""Whoop Jamboree" is also a minstrel song, dating from circa 1850, by Dan Emmett..."

I do have an original copy of the minstrel songster CHRISTY'S PANORAMA SONGSTER but it's strictly lyrics, no musical notation; the lyrics are about a steamboat rather than a ocean sailing ship.

Charley Noble

27 Mar 09 - 09:23 AM (#2598507)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: GUEST,HughM

What's the "bullgine" referred to in an earlier posting, and also in a song we sang at school?

27 Mar 09 - 10:09 AM (#2598529)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Gibb Sahib

Thanks, Charley!

I'm inclined to think --though I can't prove it-- that the chantey is not based in any single song, but rather that it used little catch phrases from minstrel songs. My reason for this is that a lot of chanteys seem like a jumble of minstrel song phrases, and rarely do they seem to match up to any minstrel song very well.

"Jamboree" is pretty similar in melody and feel to "Clear the Track," so I'm not surprised about the final line cited by Lighter "Johnny let the bullgine run!" -- substituting one minstrel catch phrase for another.


"Bullgine" / "buljine" / "bulgine" is a steam engine. This slang term is used in several minstrel songs,including the original version of Stephen Foster's "Oh, Susanna." It's also in at least 4 sea chanteys at my present count:

Clear the Track / Eliza Lee
Run, Let the Bulgine Run
The Arabella
Hilo, Boys, Hilo

The last two have the odd phrase, "bulgine-pie"! Of course, the word could probably be added to lots more songs in the improv process! It seems like the word was a bit of a fashion in the time period of these songs, say 1840s (but don't take my word for that; seek an historical dictionary).

Which song did you sing in school, HughM?

27 Mar 09 - 08:58 PM (#2598969)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Charley Noble

"Bulgine" is a reference to a steam engine but it's not clear to me if it's a reference to a steam engine aboard ship, i.e. a "donkey" engine for helping to work the sails or yards, or a steam engine on the dock helping to deliver bales of cotton or sacks of grain. Maybe it's a reference to all steam engine afloat or ashore.

Charley Noble

16 Nov 10 - 09:25 AM (#3033480)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: shipcmo


16 Nov 10 - 10:33 AM (#3033529)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: doc.tom

"Hugill... mentions a version from Sharp that goes; "Oh, you long-tailed black man poke it up behind me" & another version from Terry that goes; "O! ye long-tailed black man poke it up behind" "

"And there it is, a version of Whip Jamboree, "Somerset Folk-Song, collected and arranged by Cecil J Sharp" - with the chorus:
"Whip jamboree, whip jamboree,
O you long-tailed black man, poke it up behind me,
Whip jamboree, whip jamboree,
O - Jenny get your oat-cake done." "

These are all the same version - collected by both Sharp and Terry from John Short of Watchet in 1914 [see the Short Sharp Shanties projects - again!] - apart from Whall [different text] this is the only version up to Hugill that I am aware of.

With the 'long-tailed' line being freely sung by Short, it seems unlikely that he would then bowdlerise the 'oat-cakes' line. Which leads us to believe that 'oat-cakes' does not need 'ammendment' or 'restoring' - besides, reference to 'getting oat-cakes done' is not uncommon in minstrel texts! Methinks the revival has decided to re-invent a bolder last line while censoring the line before it.


16 Nov 10 - 10:52 AM (#3033540)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Lighter

The fact that Sharp printed, and Short did not censor, "poke it up behind" suggests that neither was primed to give it a second thought.

See also my post of March 26, 2009.

16 Nov 10 - 02:21 PM (#3033716)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Gibb Sahib

I'd guess there were two different last-lines current:

1. Jenny get your hoe-cakes -- revised by Britishers as oat-cakes, and based in the minstrel chorus -- nothing 'obscene' about it.
2. 'Dirty' version, 'Jenny keep your ---hole warm', which can be understood as a parody of #1.

Hugill knew of #2, and was being coy about it -- perhaps leading Revivalists to guess (and leading to "get your oats my son". Short may have known #2, but was too much of a gentleman to offer that, and offered the 'original' instead.

I realize this scenario does not explain the 'long tailed Black man' -- the reference may have been too opaque to raise any eyebrows. Although I have a 'dirty' interpretation of it, I'm by no means sure of that. If I wasn't told the song was supposed to be obscene, or if I was presented the song with "hoecakes", I would probably rationalize the long tailed black man in some other way.

I think all these things are true:
--Sharp did not bowdlerize, i.e. there was a fairly harmless version
--There was a bawdy version, too
--The song *has* been bowdlerized in some/various cases, too!
--The song has been re-bawdified, too!

16 Nov 10 - 02:50 PM (#3033744)
Subject: RE: Jamboree: Oat Cakes?
From: Lighter

That's my analysis too.

Lloyd's version (origin unknown - and I'm afraid we know what that means) has "ring-tailed" and "come up behind."

Since the minstrel lines that apparently inspired the lyrics are "clean," I feel that the clean versions of the shanty are closer to the original and that the dirty versions are parodies. They could have been created at any time, though, including ten seconds after the shanty was first sung.