04 December 2011

#40 Oh, Aye, Rio

From the vantage point of what we know today, this one appears as a sort of "hybrid" song. Its melodic and chorus phrases seem to draw from the ubiquitous "Rio Grande" and "A Long Time Ago" chanties. However, while all shades of "in between" seem to have been possible with chanties, this one doesn't appear to be documented by anyone other than Stan Hugill in Shanties from the Seven Seas. Or was it?

The lyrical theme it contains belongs to a wider family of better-known songs. It's the pattern of "Three German Officers Crossed the Rhine," maybe better known in the later WWI incarnation, "Mademoiselle from Armentieres." An example of the former comes in the Robert W. Gordon Collection. In 1926, Gordon was sent this expurgated submission from Illinois from a R.W. Yearley:

A young Dutch soldier came over the Rhine,

     Schnapoo, schnapoo,

A young Dutch soldier came over the Rhine,

     Schnapoo, schnapoo,

A young Dutch soldier came over the Rhine,

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -,
Schnapoo, schnapoo,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - Schnapoo.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

No, my daughter is too young,

Schnapoo, schnapoo,
- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

O no, mother, I'm not too young,

O no, mother, I'm not too young,

Oh no mother, I'm not too young,

It's often been tried by Richard and John,

If this is the case, then there is indeed some other documentation of a chanty using this theme.

The first is the
milestone Once a Week 1868 article, "On Shanties": 
There are many more capstan shanties, which I can only mention by name, such as Lowlands, Oceanida, Johnny's gone, The Black-ball Line, and Slapandergosheka, which contain a wild melody all their own; the last named, with the incomprehensible title (repeated at the end of every line) is addressed to All you Ladies now on Land, and may seem rather egotistical. It commences,
Have you got, lady, a daughter so fine,

That is fit for a sailor that has crossed the Line,
       Slapandergosheka, &c.
It's certainly a lyrical match.  The nonsense syllables in the refrains varied throughout this family of songs. However, the tune is not known. The 1869 Chambers's Journal and L.A. Smith's The Music of the Waters (1888) both lifted this information.

Also, F.P. Harlow claimed to have heard it / sung it for tacks and sheets during his 1875/6 voyage on the Akbar. He called it "Slapander-gosheka"; the chorus was: 

Slappoo, slapeter, slap-an-der-go-she-ka, slappoo!

The tune given for this—at last—helps make a connection to yet another chanty—one which does not have the solo-lyric theme, but which best matches the chorus phrase: the so-called "Slav Ho." But that is a story for a later time.

Here's the not-actually-so-odd version from Hugill's collection. I've yet to hear it revived by singers elsewhere.
Ranzo :{

1 comment:

  1. What a happy, rollicking chanty to start the week with on a particularly gray Monday! Thanks, Ranzo. Welcome back! J.