26 December 2011

#83-85 The Gals o' Dublin Town (series)

I find those chanties particularly interesting that Stan Hugill presented in Shanties from the Seven Seas, but which occur just once or twice in other documentation—especially if Hugill was not aware of that documentation. Since Hugill’s work came after a long line of writers (and even after popular recordings had put some chanties “in the air”), it is often hard to say for sure whether what he is writing is based “purely” on his sea experiences and fieldwork, or whether it was significantly influenced by prior works. Some of Hugill’s chanties appear in no other works, which certainly makes those items very interesting, but makes them less “useful” (for lack of a better right word here) for the very fact that they cannot be corroborated. So, those that appeared to be rarely mentioned or unique, but which in fact can be discovered elsewhere are, as I said, of particular interest.

Of “The Gals of Dublin Town,” Hugill wrote:
”I fail to understand why such a popular capstan shanty as this should have been omitted from all collections.” Omitted from the well-known collections it was, but not from the historical record, and nor did others before Hugill fail to collect it.

The earliest reference I have comes in Basil Lubbock’s Round the Horn Before the Mast (1902). Lubbock tells of the voyage of a four-masted barque, Royalshire, from Frisco to Glasgow around Cape Horn, July-October 1899.  He mentions many chanties. However, despite what seems to have been his first hand experience with the genre, he chose in most cases to present lyrics from Davis and Tozer’s published collection. Fascinatingly, he also mentions “The Girls of Dublin Town,” though it did not appear in Davis/Tozer. It appears in a sentence added on—for no obvious reason—after a paragraph naming other chanties from Davis and Tozer. This gesture seems like it would be meaningless to the average reader, but for us it suggests that, after naming the chanties about which he’d read in books (presumed to be well-known), Lubbock is making an addition of a chanty that he knew of but which he had not seen mentioned. He wrote simply,

“The Girls of Dublin Town” is also a very popular chanty.

Two of the veteran sailors recorded by JM Carpenter in the late 1920s also knew this chanty. John Boyd of Belfast sang a version that included the lyric,

We'll scrape her down and scrub her around

James Dwyer, of Glasgow, was the other to sing it for Carpenter.

In a letter to the Wellington Evening Post, 9 June 1934, John Hutcheson mentioned chanties that he had learned while working aboard a packet ship between Liverpool and NY in 1871. Hutcheson mentioned several “obscene Western Ocean” chanties, i.e. those that one might consider to be classic deepwater items. In addition, he mentions some songs he heard sung by “Mississippi Screwmen,” presumably in New Orleans.

I have heard the Mississippi Screwmen (the very aristocrats of labour) screwing cotton in the hold till they raised the decks to the sound of ‘Hurrah for the Bonnie Blue Flag that Flies the Single Star!’ etc.

Strictly speaking, he was not noting “The Gals of Dublin Town,” but rather the related “The Bonnie Blue Flag" (1861). It was a marching song of the Confederacy during the American Civil War. It contains the line,

The songs share a common air, also that of “The Wearing of the Green” and others.

The first version of the chanty presented by Hugill, learned from Paddy Delaney, shares elements of both the Irish independence and Confederate States autonomy themes. It sings about “The Harp without the Crown” and tells of an American ship with an Irish captain, Shenandoah, which flies the Irish flag.

 This was a heaving chanty, and could only be so because its poetic meter/ verse  pattern that I call the “Mary had a little lamb” pattern. This was unlike the more common couplet meter/pattern that was found in most halyard chanties. A few chanties have this MHALL pattern, to which any verses of this type could be fitted. So, Hugill’s Version (B) has a more generic sailor theme of,

Sometimes we’re bound for Liverpool, sometimes we’re bound for France,
But now we’re bound to Dublin Town to give the gals a chance.

 This pattern and style of verses are shared with common versions of (later to be discussed on this blog) “Heave Away, My Johnnies” and “Can’t You Dance the Polka?”

One other chanty fragment, noted by Hugill (but from a different source than the original I have) comes in Gordon Grant’s sketchbook, Sail Ho! (1931). Grant gave these lyrics:

Some say we’re bound for Liverpool,
Some say we’re bound for France,
I think we’re bound for Frisco boys,
To give the girls a chance.
Heave away! my bully boys;
Ho! Heave and bust her!
Hang your beef, my bully boys;
Ho! Heave and bust her!

It’s unclear whether this represents the same song; no tune is given. Because Hugill also presented this, I was obligated to record it, and I chose to fit this "Heave and Bust Her!" to the tune of “Can’t You Dance the Polka?” which it fits better than “The Gals of Dublin Town”—and to which, perhaps, it was more closely related.

In all, a look at this chanty illustrates that Hugill’s was not the last word on chanties and there was/is more to be discovered about their histories.

This marks the end of “Part One” of Hugill’s collection.

Until Part Two,

Ranzo :{

#82 Wat Wi Doht

Stan Hugill, in Shanties from the Seven Seas, managed to slide this one in as part of his little series of songs using “hurrah!”

A capstan chanty, it’s the second in Plattdeutsch that I tackled. Hugill got this from the German chanty collection Knurrhahn (1936). Though I’ve not laid my hands on this book in print form, my understanding is that several volumes were published over the years, culled from different sources, as a repository of the repertoire of the “Knurrhahn” choir. 

moin moin,

Ranso :{

25 December 2011

#81 Hourra, Mes Boués, Hourra!

I’ve not a whole lot to say about this one. (That may end up being the case with most of the non-English chanties!) In any case, most of what I’d say is already in the video description on YouTube. 

Well, it’s a French hauling chanty. The third out of 9, so far, in Stan Hugill’s Shanties from the Seven Seas, that he sourced from Capt. Armand Hayet’s 1927 collection Chansons de Bord(The other two, before this, were hauling songs under the names of  "As-tu connu le père Lancelot?"  and "Nous irons à Valparaiso." In Hayet’s collection, the present chanty is listed as "Y a z'un petit bois.")

As with the earlier French chanties in Hugill’s collection, which were obvious adaptations of the English chanty "Goodbye, Fare You Well,” this one has an English chorus: “Hoorah, me boys!” However, it does not appear to correspond to any particular known English chanty.

Evidently the verses in Chansons de Bord were expurgated and strung-out to cover the gaps, because the narrative’s theme is obviously intended to be bawdy. However, one can find the unexpurgated text in Cahier de Chansons (ca.1935) [PAGE 1, PAGE 2], which is supposed to have been written by Hayet himself under a pseudonym.

Here’s my rendition, which uses some of the unexpurgated text and gives the song a chanty feel that perhaps is lacking in some revival performances since Hayet first offered it.

Farewell and adieu, mon gars

Ranzo :{

23 December 2011

#79-80 Drunken Sailor (series)

Today's most famous chanty of them all?

I am fond of saying that this chanty is unlike 99.5% of chanties (or something like that). What I mean is, there are just 2-3 “stamp and go” chanties that seem to be documented…and those out of several hundred chanties. So in that respect, though “Drunken Sailor” is one of the best known today (or, known by the most people), it does not represent the chanty genre very well.  Much of what one might say about the chanty genre—formally, culturally, historically—does not apply here. And yet it does qualify as a chanty, so it gets lumped in.

A big part of why it appears as an outlier is that it was a “stamp and go” or “walk-away” song. This evidently was a maneuver that was pretty uncommon during the era of what I call chanties (or “modern chanties,” when distinguishing). Indeed, according to the narrative of chanty development that I believe in, small crews on merchant vessels (as opposed to large crews on Navy vessels) were a catalyst for chanty development, and they also made the walk-away maneuver passé.

The tune of “Drunken Sailor”—again, quite dissimilar to other chanties’—is easy to imagine as a bagpipe march or a fiddle or fife tune. The latter instruments were used early on, in British vessels to coordinate labor, so the tune may have come into use, first.

“Drunken Sailor” is rarely mentioned in the 19th century; that does not surprise me. It does get mentioned more after the heyday of chanties, and I wonder if part of that is just continued familiarity with what is an appealing, catchy, and distinctive song. Let’s see. Certainly, after a point, our perception of how common it was got skewed by processes that have gone on since the end of the sailing era, generated through influential publications,  recordings,  revival performances, school textbooks,  and so on. However, I am not going to deal so much with those, but rather stick to the older documentation.

The oldest dating for the song that my information suggests is 1827 or earlier—let’s say the 1820s. Eckstorm and Smyth, in Minstrelsy of Maine (1927), say that one of their grandmothers claimed to have heard it used during tacking (i.e. walking away with braces) on the Penobscot River “probably considerably over a hundred years ago.” The lyrics they offered were:

What shall we do with the drunken sailor?...
So early in the morning?

Put him in the long-boat and let him bail her;

Ay, ay, up she rises!

So, the dating is speculative. The first actual published mention, in the 19th century, is found in an account of an 1839/40 whaling voyage out of New London (CT) to the Pacific.

...But there are many songs in common use among seamen, of a very lively character, which though bereft of all sentiment and sense in many instances, are performed with very good effect when there is a long line of men hauling together. ...Sometimes they all sing together as I have endeavored to represent, although it must appear very tame without the attendant circumstances. One of the songs is as follows:—

Ho! Ho! and up she rises
Ho ! Ho ! and up she rises
Ho! Ho ! and up she rises,
Early in the morning.

[Source: Olmsted, F.A. 1841. Incidents of a Whaling Voyage. New York: D. Appleton & Co. p. 115-6.]

A tune is given, in Dorian mode, with chromatic neighbor tones.

The second reference of the 19th century comes in non-maritime, fiction literature, 1855. An anecdote is related containing a scene of a woman cook at a home who gets drunk, messes up the kitchen, and is found singing the following:

Hee roar, up she rouses,
What shall we do with the drunken sailor?

[Source: Dickens, Charles ed. 1855. "Two Dinner Failures." Household Words No. 256 (15 September 1855): 164-168.]

Davis and Tozer later included it in the 2nd edition (1890) of their collection. Why not in the first edition (1887), I wonder?

What to Do with a Drunken Sailor

What shall I do with a drunken sailor,
What shall I do with a drunken sailor,
What shall I do with a drunken sailor,
Early in the morning
[Cho.] Aye, aye, up she rises,
Oh, aye, up she rises,
Aye, aye, up she rises,
Early in the morning.

Hoist him up in a running bowline,

Put him polishing the brass work,

I’d stop his grog and keep him sober,

That’s what to do with the drunken sailor,

As usual, I don’t put much faith in the authenticity of Davis/Tozer’s verses after the first one or two. Notably, the melody here is in the major mode.

The literature is silent on this song for the rest of the century.

In 1906, after a slew of writers had been discussing chanties with nary a mention of the "walk-away" method, Masefield mentioned it in conjunction with this chanty.

Strictly speaking, there is a fourth variety of chanty, but it is a bastard variety, very seldom used. ...The bastard variety which I have just mentioned has no solo part. It is a runaway chorus, sung by all hands as they race along the deck with the rope. You hear it in tacking ship. It is a good song to sing when the main and mizzen yards are being swung simultaneously. All hands are at the braces straining taut, and at the order they burst into song and "run away with it," bringing the great yards round with a crash. It is a most cheery kind of chanty, and the excitement of the moment, and the sight of the great yards spinning round, and the noise of the stamping feet impress it on the mind. The favourite runaway chorus is:

What shall we do with a drunken sailor? 

What shall we do with a drunken sailor? 

What shall we do with a drunken sailor, 
Early in the morning? 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Early in the moming.
Chuck him in the long-boat till he gets sober,
Chuck him in the long-boat till he gets sober,
Chuck him in the long-boat till he gets sober, 
Early in the morning. 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Early in the morning.

It is sung to a vigorous tune in quick time. It is the custom among sailors to stamp with their feet at each "Way, hay." The effect is very spirited.

Later on in this work, A Sailor’s Garland, Masefield gives a version with more lyrics:

What shall we do with a drunken sailor? 

What shall we do with a drunken sailor? 

What shall we do with a drunken sailor? 
Early in the morning. 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Way, hay, there she rises, 
Early in the morning.

Chuck him in the long-boat till he gets sober, 

What shall we do with a drunken soldier? 

Lock him in the guardroom till he gets sober,

Masefield was definitely influenced by Davis/Tozer’s book, but he obviously didn’t copy lyrics here!

An English sailor of the 1860s-70s, Whall was next to give a version in his 1910 work. He was the first author, I believe, to publish the idea that this was only one of two chanties (along with “Cheerl’y Man”) that was allowed in the Royal Navy. He says that this was particularly the case “in revenue cutters and similar craft,” and, telling us something about the dislike of singing in Navy ships, says it was sung “sotto voce” in larger vessels. He adds that it was sung in the “Indiamen” merchant ships, too. The song went out of usage as a “stamp and go,” Whall says, when crews were reduced and it was no longer possible to "walk away" with anything. He notes that there were only two verses, as follows.

Hoorah! And up she rises [etc…] [chorus, appears before each verse]

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?...
Put him in the long-boat and make him bale her…

What shall we do with a drunken soldier…
Put him in the guardroom till he gets sober….

It was sung entirely in chorus, says Whall. The melody is in D Dorian with one chromatic neighbor tone, similar to the one back in Olmsted’s time.

“Drunken Sailor” was remembered by several other sailors, of the 1870s.

Williams (sea experience c. 1875-1888) (1909) called it a main brace “walk away” chanty.

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
Early in the morning!

Put him in the long-boat 'till he is sober.
Put him in the long-boat 'till he is sober.
Put him in the long-boat 'till he is sober.
Early in the morning!
(Stopper and Belay!)

Belay so soon? I guess it was a short chanty.

Harlow’s (1962), in reference to 1870s on the clipper ship Akbar out of Boston, is designated for hand over hand hauling—that is, for hoisting light sails (incl. topgallant) with 2-3 men on the halyard. Evidently though the “stamp and go” maneuver may have been rather obsolete, this fast chanty could be adapted to the hand over hand action. His verses go through different drunken people to which something should be done, e.g. skipper, chief mate, steward, doctor.

Dick Maitland, a sailor of the 1870s, adds another function. He was recorded by Alan Lomax in 1939, where he explained,

Now this is a song that's usually sang when men are walking away with the slack of a rope, generally when the iron ships are scrubbing their bottom. After an iron ship has been twelve months at sea, there's a quite a lot of barnacles and grass grows onto her bottom. And generally, in the calm latitudes, up in the horse latitudes in the North Atlantic Ocean, usually they rig up a purchase for to scrub the bottom. You can't do it when the ship is going over three mile an hour, but less than that, of course, you can do so. But it all means a considerable walking, not much labor, but all walking. And they have a song called 'The Drunken Sailor' that comes in for that.

So, it seems to have lived on in iron ships—perhaps that is why it is more cited in later days?

Maitland’s lyrics are:

[Now] what shall we do with the drunken sailor, …
Early in the morning?

Oh, chuck him in the long boat till he gets sober,

Ay hey and up she rises,

Oh, what shall we do with the drunken soldier,

Oh, put him in the guardhouse and make him bail her,
Put him in the guardhouse till he gets sober,
Put him in the guardhouse till he gets sober
Way hey and up she rises,

Oh, here we are nice and sober,

Oh, way hey and up she rises,

(He mixes up “make him bail her” and “till he gets sober.”)

Bullen (1914), also of the 1870s, gives this verse, with an interesting eye-dialect that looks like (?) it is supposed to represent African-American English.

What shall we do with a drunken sailor,
what shall we do with a drunken sailor,
what shall we do with a drunken sailor,
Early in de mawnin’
Hooray an up she rises,
hooray an up she rises,
hooray an up she rises,
Early in de mawnin’.

Incidentally, the melody here is the closest match to today’s versions. Perhaps even more interesting about Bullen’s presentation is his note,

…I gladly confess that my most pleasant recollections of it are connected with the Savage Club where its fine chorus used to be uplifted strenuously by the full force of the brother Savages assembled.

So, by the 1910, “Drunken Sailor” was already being sung as a popular shore song. Being well known in this context may have also contributed to its memory being kept alive in the 20th century, even if it had not often been attested in the 19th.

Taking stock of what we have up to this point, the consistent and (if I may) authentic lines appear to be exactly those of Whall:

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?...
Put him in the long-boat and make him bale her…

What shall we do with a drunken soldier…
Put him in the guardroom till he gets sober….
Davis and Tozer ventured a little beyond, with,

Hoist him up in a running bowline,
Put him polishing the brass work,
I’d stop his grog and keep him sober,

The pattern, then, seems to be that one asks what shall be done with a given person (e.g. “drunken sailor” or “drunken soldier”), followed by the answer of what to do with that person. Stan Hugill, in Shanties from the Seven Seas, states that one might also ask such questions as what should be done with “The Queen o’ Sheba” or with “the Virgin Mary.” Only Davis and Tozer’s, so far, suggests a pattern in which one continues on enumerating what should be done to the sailor—and though their verses sound authentic enough, we know that they frequently extrapolated verses according to need and fancy. Is “Drunken Sailor” really about listing punishments?

Sharp (1914) collected the chanty from James Tucker, who seems to have been a sailor of the 1900s or later. He sang,

What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
What shall we do with a drunken sailor?
What shall we do with a drunken sailor
Early in the morning?
Way ay and up she rises,
Way ay and up she rises,
Way ay and up she rises
Early in the morning.

Put him in the long-boat till he gets sober.

Keep him there and make him bail her.

So, Tucker has used the regulation verses plus one more that might seem to be extending the punishment theme—though it is really just one of the two variations of the “longboat” response (i.e. “bail her” or “till he gets sober”). Not entirely convincing.

I’d argue that the paradigm shifts with Terry’s (1921) presentation. He gives it for hand over hand hauling, taken from Sir Walter Runciman.

1. What shall we do with the drunken sailor,

What shall we do with the drunken sailor,

What shall we do with the drunken sailor

Early in the morning?

Hooray and up she rises,

Hooray and up she rises,

Hooray and up she rises

Early in the morning.

2. Put him in the long-boat until he's sober. (thrice)

3. Pull out the plug änd wet him all over. (thrice)

4. Put him in the scuppers with a hose-pipe on him. (thrice)

5. Heave him by the leg in a running bowlin'. (thrice)
[Similar to a Davis/Tozer verse]

6. Tie him to the taffrail when she's yard-arm under. (thrice)

The melody exactly matches Bullen’s, i.e. what people also sing nowadays. We know that it is Terry’s collection that served as a source for many of the early commercial recordings and popular performances. Could this have set a new tone for performances?

The game, in the revival era, seems to be to think of as many punishments for the sailor as possible. Whether this was or wasn’t the paradigm in the sailing ship days may be a moot issue, because evidently very few verses were ever needed to get the job done—those jobs being: stamp and go (to raise yards), hand over hand (for lighter yards), or hauling on braces. It would seem, however, that the newer job mentioned by Maitland—scrubbing the bottom of an iron ship—might have needed more time, which would call for more verses.

Popular verses in the revival include a cutesy one (which doesn’t sound like much of a punishment, IMO): “Shave his belly with a rusty razor.” I’ve not seen this in the documentation of actual sailors’ singing, except for this line from one of JM Carpenter’s informants, George Simpson, in the 1920s:

Shave his chin with a red hot rizor.

Hugill’s variation of this sounds more fierce:

Scrape the hair off his chest with a hoop-iron razor.

I’d don’t recall where I read it, but supposedly this involved using a ring such as that goes around/holds together barrels, sharpening it, and dragging a person through it. However, Hugill does not give a specific source for this and some of his other punishment lyrics. Several of them are obviously culled from Terry, and it’s impossible to say whether the others were sung in tradition or whether they were extrapolated by Hugill or his contemporaries. I guess I’m not convinced whether this string of sailor punishments was the common way of singing it “back in the day.”

Another popular revival lyric, of note, is

Put him in bed with the captain’s daughter…

An explanation of this (urban legend?) is that “captain’s daughter” was euphemism for the cat o’ nine tails, i.e. it meant a beating. But this has not been confirmed, and the line does not appear in the historical record AFAIK.

There was some discussion of this over on the Mudcat Café in February 2011, in which “Lighter” mentions that he previously noted having first heard the line on one of Oscar Brand’s radio shows in 1967 or so. On further reflection, he stated that what he probably actual remembers is Oscar Brand mentioning (although not singing) "What shall we do with the captain's daughter?" This is entirely in line with the paradigm of “What shall we do with X?”, and it’s also suggestive of bawdy or obscene lines that Hugill indicates might have been sung. If this is the case, there is no need to read into “captain’s daughter” as a euphemism.

A study of popular recorded versions may be necessary to sort this out! (Not my field, really.)

Perhaps the real question is: what is the answer to what we shall do with the captain’s daughter?!

Hugill presented two versions. Version (A) is the usual one…except, for some reason, the key signature puts it in Mixolydian mode. Perhap that is a mistake. I treated it as one! My recording was an international collaboration with others on YouTube. My idea was that, because this song is so “played out,” for this video, I should do something special. And, because it is a familiar song, it was a great one with which to get others interested in the project.

I dunno where his Version (B) came from, but it’s different! Only appears in the unabridged edition.

Lastly, there is the issue of the “earl-eye” pronunciation. Hugill states that it was “always” pronounced that way. But—guess what?—I don’t see the other authors making any note of that. Hmm.


Ranzo :{

21 December 2011

#74-78 Hooraw for the Blackball Line

This was a moderately common chanty, for which I have some affection. I guess there’s just something about the idea of “The Black Ball Line”…how it’s presented…that is fun to sing about or inspiring or. in the very least, filled with typical “chanty” sentiments—those that are part of the genre’s charm.

Let’s see…my records note the time-period mapping of this chanty as follows: Once in the 1850s, thrice in the 60s, 7 times in 1870s (the “zenith of chanties”!), twice in 1880s, once in 1890s (dying off?), 3 times in 1900s (now the folkloric collection era begins), and twice in the catch-all “by the 1920s or any time earlier” period.

The Black Ball Line of trans-Altlantic packet ships started in 1916. Though the type of methods and lifestyle in these ships was supposed to have inspired chanties, the modern shanties don’t really get cooking until the 1840s.

The earliest that the direct evidence (well, the evidence that I know of) can suggest this song to have been around is the late 1850s. That’s purely speculation based on the fact that John Short, whose sea career spanned 1858-1875, sang it for Cecil Sharp in 1914. The version presented by Sharp is most likely a composite, combining Short’s tune and some lyrics with lyrics from one or more others. Here’s the text:

In Tapscott's line we're bound to shine ;
     A way, Hooray, Yah;
In Tapscott’s line we’re bound for to shine,
     Hooray for the Black Ball Line.

In the Black Ball Line I served my time.

We sailed away from Liverpool Bay.

We sailed away for Mobile Bay.

It was there we discharged our cargo, boys.

We loaded cotton for the homeward bound.

And when we arrived at the Liverpool Dock.

We ran our lines on to the pier.

We made her fast all snug and taut.

The skipper said: That will do, my boys.

The funny thing is that he has it as a heaving chanty.

Cecil Sharp also got it as a capstan chanty from a Charles Robbins of Liverpool in 1908. Best guess is that Robbins’ career was sometime in the 1860s-80s. Anyway, it looks like some of these lyrics were probably mixed into the 1914 text, above. Robbins sang:

O the Black Ball Line I served my time,
     Haul a way, Haul away O,
The Black Ball Line I served my time,
     Then Hurrah! for the Black Ball Line.

O the Black Ball line is the line for to shine, etc.

We sailed away from Liverpool Bay, etc.

We sailed away with spirits light and gay, etc.

We sailed away for Mobile Bay, etc.

It was there we discharged our cargo, boys, etc.

And we loaded cotton for the homeward bound, etc.

We sailed away with spirits light and gay, etc.

Up aloft this yard must go, etc.

And when we arrived at Liverpool Docks, etc.

We ran our lines unto the pier, etc.

We have around with the same ordle (old) song, etc.

We made her fast all snug and taut, etc.

Now the skipper said, " Now that will do my boys," etc.

Whall, who started his career in the 1860s, didn’t present it until his 1920 expanded collection. For windlass (heaving again!):

In the Black Ball I served my time
     To my way, hoo-ro-ya!
In the Black Ball I served my time
     Hoorah for the Black Ball Line!

1868’s “On Shanties” article is the first actual mention of the chanty in print that I find.

For the 1870s, we have Capt. Robinson’s memory (looking back from 1917)—again a heaving chanty:

I served my time in the Blackball line.
     To my way…Hurrah yah!
In the Blackball line I served my time;
     Hurrah! for the Blackball line.

I've crossed the line full many a time, 

And have seen the line both rise and shine.

You will surely find a rich gold mine, 

Just take a trip in the Blackball Line.

The ships are fast, they make good time. 

With clean long runs and entrance fine.

I’ve sailed the seas full many a mile
In wintry cold and sultry clime.

A few more pulls, and that will do.
A few more pulls to pull her through.”

Symondson, 1876, related an episode of the anchor being weighed to,

“I served my time in the Black Ball Line”.

In 1883, W. Clark Russell phrased it as,

“I served my time in the Blackwall Line”.

And in 1887, Davis and Tozer had the following. It’s likely that after the first few verses the rest was made up for publication.

In the Black Ball Line I serv'd my time
     Hurrah for the Black Ball Line!
In the Black Ball Line I serv'd my time
     Hurrah for the Black Ball Line!

The Black Ball ships are good and true,
They are the ships for me and you.

For once there was a Black Ball ship,
That fourteen knots an hour could slip,

Her yards were square, her gear all new,
She had a good and gallant crew,

One day whilst sailing on the sea,
They saw a vessel on their lee,

They knew it was a pirate craft,
All armed with guns before and aft,

She fired a shot across their bow,
Which was not kind you must allow,

They did not fear as you may think
But made the pirates water drink,

They gave that vessel their sharp stem,
And cut her through; more praise to them,

They seized the pirates' wicked mate,
He was so bad they broke his pate,

The skipper and his wicked crew,
They sunk beneath the waters blue,

It was a plucky thing to do
To cut the Pirate vessel through,

Then drink success to the Black Ball Line,
Their ships are good, their men are fine.

Luce’s version from Naval Songs (revised, 1902) had the regulation verse about “served my time,” but the melody has quite a variation that does not turn up in any other print or recorded version I know of—a bit like Foster’s “Dixie.”

Whitmarsh (1903), finally, clearly indicates it as a halyard chanty.

All these have varations in the melody, which Stan Hugill sought to note in Shanties from the Seven Seas. The following video demonstrates each of the sample variations that Hugill offered.

The “Liverpool” variation, as I noted in the infobox when I posted the video, is similar to what Colcord had in her 1924 collection. Comparing it now to Robinson’s, above, I think that may have been the original source, as we know Colcord to have made great use of Robinson’s articles. Further, I believe that Ewan MacColl and company (on the album The Black Ball Line, 1957), in creating their Revival rendition, may have used Colcord’s text to prepare what we hear here. 

I don’t know the source of  “variation (a).”
“Variation (b)” matches the version in Sharp’s English Folk-Chanteys, mentioned above.
“Variation (c)” corresponds to Whall’s.

Hugill’s main version has yet another melody, not found in prior texts. Sounds a bit like "Sacramento" at the beginning. 

The above was a revision, my attempt to render Hugill’s version more accurately. However, I had first recorded this chanty much earlier—one of the first in this project. At that time, I was more interested in working up versions using the lyrics offered by Hugill, and didn’t mind so much when my melodies, as in this case, slipped into the popular revival forms!

 Hugill got his version from an actual sailor who had once shipped in the Black Ball Line, Paddy Delaney. Delaney said it was a windlass or capstan song. However, for some reason I’ve gotten the impression it was more of a halyard song—probably because it has the typical halyard form. I’ll end with an excellent visual of the song being used as a halyard chanty. Here’s Bay Area chantyman Peter Kasin leading it on the Joseph Conrad at Mystic Seaport.

 Direct from that Yankee School,

Ranzo :{

18 December 2011

#65-73 Goodbye, Fare-Ye-Well (series)

This being one of the more popular chanties, Stan Hugill’s Shanties from the Seven Seas includes several different versions, including borrowings into foreign languages.

“Goodbye, Fare You Well,” though it has the binary, solo-refrain-solo-refrain form of many a halyard chanty, strikes me as a song originating from the side of Euro/American culture. Though it certainly could have existed earlier, we don’t get a sense that it was necessarily prevalent before the 1860s. As I noted in the discussion of “Rio Grande,” I feel that whereas earlier “chanties” had the air of Black American songs, by the time the genre had become ubiquitous in the 1860s—and so, “generalized” or “liberalized” or “shared” or whatever you would call it—new chanties of a “White” character were free to develop (at least for the work outside of halyards). This was a windlass chanty with a jaunty 6/8 feel, a temporary melodic modulation, and a particular style of language that, I think, makes it more likely to have belonged to that category. If it means anything, Frank Bullen would have agreed. For whereas he stated that most chanties were of Black origin, and his comments on chanties in his collection (Songs of Sea Labour, 1914) further detail this belief, for the notes of “Good-bye, Fare-you-well” he says,

…an old, old favourite with the white sailor, but it is full of melancholy…probably more frequently sung than any other Chanty when getting under weigh either outward or homeward bound.

The one verse he gave was as follows:

I thought I heard our old man say
     Good bye fare you well , good bye fare you well
I thought I heard our old man say
     Hurah my boys we’re ho-omeward bound!

By coincidence, the first recorded version I made of this chanty is a bit like Bullen’s.

Several sailors who were active in the 1860s offered versions of this chanty later on.

Buryeson (ca.1861-1880s)
(sans tune)

We are homeward bound, come, let us all sing.
     Good-by, fare you well; good-by, fare you well.
We are homeward bound, strike up with a ring.
     Hurrah, my boys, we are homeward bound.

Then I thought I heard our old man say
That our store of grog gave out yesterday.

So heave her up, we are bound to go
Around Cape Horn through frost and snow.

Hurrah, my boys, we are homeward bound;
We are homeward bound to Liverpool town.

And when we get there we'll have money to spend,
With lots of good cheer, boys, and lashings of rum.

The landlord will greet us with a bow and a smile,
A-saying, "Get up Jack and let John sit down."

But when your money it is all gone
Then in comes the landlord with a frown.

A-saying, "Young man, it is time you were gone,
1 have a ship for you bound out to Hongkong."

So shake her up, bullies; let us be gone,
And sing the good news, we are homeward bound.

[Buryeson, Fred H. [‘El Tuerto’]. 1909. “Sea Shanties.” Coast Seamen’s Journal 22(40) (23 June).]

Buryeson’s version has some verses that evoke the theme of the forebitter, “Outward and Homeward Bound” (to be discussed later), which does seem to get crossed a bit with this chanty due to the “Hurrah! We’re homeward bound!” trope. Or perhaps, as Hugill says, the forebitter is simply being used for material—which would also explain the tendency for the language/lyrics to be more “English” sounding. The earliest known detailed printing of the chanty, which comes in 1968’s “On Shanties,” also has this theme in the lyric:

To Liverpool docks we'll bid adieu,
Good-bye, fare you well; 

To lovely Poll, and pretty Sue;
Hurrah, brave boys, we're outward bound.

A version along these lines is Hugill’s (B):

 For variety (and because Hugill only offers one melody for all his versions), I used the unique melody given in Harlow’s collection for that one.

Whall (ca. 1861-1872)
The opening few bars of melody in this version are distinctly different than those of most others in print version.

O, fare you well, I wish you well!
     Good-bye, fare you well; good-bye, fare you well!
O, fare you well, my bonny young girls!
     Hoorah, my boys, we’re homeward bound!

O, don't you hear our old man say
We're homeward bound this very day?

We're homeward bound, and I hear the sound,
So heave on the capstan and make it spin round.

Our anchor's a-weigh and our sails they are set,
And the girls we are leaving we leave with regret.

She's a flash clipper packet and bound for to go.
With the girls on her tow-rope she cannot say no.

[Whall, W.B. 1913. Ships, Sea Songs and Shanties. Third edition, enlarged. Glasgow: James Brown & Sons.]

Some of the versions from sailors of the 1870s are as follows.

As in some versions (but unlike Hugill’s), its melody’s first bar begins on a high and descends.

Oh Homeward Bound is a joyful cry,
     Goodby, fare you well, Goodby fare you well.
We wish you all well, in this hearty goodby.
     Hurrah my boys, we’re Homeward Bound.

[Robinson, Captain John. “Songs of the Chanty-Man: IV.” The Bellman 23(577) (4 Aug. 1917): 123-128.]

Dick Maitland

"We're homeward bound!" I've heard them say; 

     Good by, fare you well, good bye, fare you well! 

We're homeward bound to Mobile Bay. 

     Hurrah, my boys, we're homeward bound! 

When we get there, won't we fly round! 

With the gals we find there we will raise merry hell. 

When we are hauling in the Waterloo Dock, 

Where the boys and the gals on the pier-head do flock, 

And one to the other you'll hear them say, 

"Here comes jolly Jack and his eighteen months' pay!" 

Then we'll go up to the Dog and the Bell, 

And the landlord he'll come in with his face all in smiles, 

Saying, "Drink up, Jack, for it's worth your while!" 

But when you money is all gone and spent, 

There's none to be borrowed nor none to be lent. 

Then you'll see him come in with a frown, 

And then you'll hear him to the other man say, 

"Get up there, Jack, and let John sit down!" 

When your pocketbook's full and your name it is John, 

But when you are broke then your name it is Jack.

[Doerflinger 1951]

That one also has shades of the “Homeward Bound” forebitter. Calling home as “Mobile Bay” seems to have just been the result of rhyme and the place’s general ubiquity in chanties, since the rest of the “narrative” would indicate Liverpool.
American sailor Capt. Leighton Robinson, on a 1939 recording, sang of an equally popular destination,

We're homeward bound for 'Frisco town.

And in James H. William’s (c. 1875-1888) version, it’s said,

We're homeward bound, from Hong Kong town,
We're homeward bound, heave up and down.

[Williams, James H. “The Sailors’ ‘Chanties’.” The Independent (8 July 1909):76-83.]

Yet still it was “Liverpool” that was most commonly documented, as in this:

We’re homeward bound, ah! That’s the sound!
     Good-by, fare you well, Good-by, fare you well,
We’re homeward bound, to Liverpool town.
     Hurrah! My lads, we’re homeward bound.

[Whitmarsh, H. Phelps. “The Chantey-man.” Harper’s Monthly Magazine 106(632) (Jan. 1903): 319-323.]

This straight-up version is represented by Hugill’s (A). This was my second go at recording it, to better match what Hugill wrote (my earlier attempt, above, being more personalized and whimsical).

Versions documented while chanties were still in wide use include the one in the shipboard newspaper of the steamship Parramatta, from London to Sydney in the fall of 1879 (noted by Haswell, later reproduced in LA Smith’s 1888 collection). It borrowed the narrative theme from “The Dreadnaught”. It’s on the basis of this evidence, I believe, that Hugill decided to offer his Version (D):

 (For variation, again, I chose a different melody for the above—this time, Bullen’s.)

When Luce came out with his Naval Songs (1883), he gave one verse. The funny thing is, he indicates it was a halyard chanty. Not surprising, perhaps, but unusual


We're outward bound this very day.
Goodbye, fare you well, Goodbye fare you well.
We're outward bound this very day.
Hurrah! My boys we're outward bound.

Hugill claimed that, similarly, the “Milkmaid” theme was spliced to this chanty. I’ve not seen that elsewhere. Here’s my rendition of Hugill’s Version (C).

 Moving on to the 1920s era of popular chanty collections, there is the version presented by RR Terry in his first book (1921). Terry’s note that this popular song was never debased with vulgar lyrics is contradicted by Hugill’s above “Milkmaid” version.

1. I thought I heard the old man say

     Good-bye, fare ye well,
Good-bye, fare ye well.

I thought I heard the old man say,

     Hooray my boys we're homeward bound.

2. We're homeward bound, I hear the sound. (twice)

3. We sailed away to Mobile Bay. (twice)

4. But now we're bound for Portsmouth Town. (twice)

5. And soon we'll be ashore again. (twice)

6. I kissed my Kitty upon the pier
And it's oh to see you again my dear.

7. We're homeward bound, and I hear the sound. (twice)

Finally, Hugill notes that there was one other melodic form he’d heard. This is it:

Then come non-English versions, two Norwegian and two French. They retain English-language choruses.

The first Norwegian fragment was lifted from the Norwegian songs section of L.A. Smith’s The Music of the Waters.

The second comes from Brochmann’s 1916 Norwegian shanties collection.

 The first French version keeps the usual form, but replaces the second chorus with a “hourra oh Mexico!” This was the first full French chanty I recorded, and the pronunciation is particularly shoddy, as I was still getting used to the even-more-ridiculous-than-English French orthography!

 The second French version is well known. Evidently it became popular after being spruced up and presented in Capt. Armand Hayet’s 1927 Chansons de Bord collection. As soon after as 1932, it had been recorded by popular French singer Lys Gauty.

There is much to wonder about here, with regards to how authentic this form may have been. It appears to fuse “Goodbye, Fare you well” with melodic phrases of “Blow the Man Down.” Incidentally, this is one of the few (only?) foreign songs I’ve heard on recordings of Stan Hugill (here).

 Here’s my go at it—a great melody, and the French really just rolls off the tongue nicely!

For a last, comparable version, see “Those Girls from Bermuda,” sung by the whalefishers of Barrouallie and documented in Roger Abrahams’ Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore (1974).

Faring well,

Ranzo :{