23 February 2012

#93-101 Roll the Cotton Down (Series)

What a great and, I think, “classic” sounding chanty this is, but I have not observed it to be popular in the revival era. It’s in “the books.” Yet only the Germans seem to sing a version regularly! My wild guess as to why it is not more popular: its evocation of the Antebellum South, which has vague connotations, for some modern Americans, of plantation slavery. Perhaps it sounds a bit too minstrel-y, too much Stephen Fosterish nostalgia. But this was the case with many of the chanties. Chanties, after all, seem to have been born out of work with cotton in the deep South, and sung in a time when these types of lyrics were in the air. They couldn’t all be about jib sheets and spankers and Valparaiso.

In my current tally, this chanty turns up twice for the 1860s, five times for the ‘70s, four times for the ‘80s, once in the 90s, once in the 1900s, and eight times for an unspecified period before the 1920s. This gives a total of 21 over time.

The 1860s instances are based only on my speculation of what is suggested by J.M. Carpenter’s informants from the 1920s. One of his other informants, David Atkinson, who first shipped in 1872, sang the following:

O have you been in New Orleans!
Roll the cotton down!
O-O-O, rolling cotton day by day
O roll the cotton down!

It’s there I worked on the old levee,
Roll the cotton down!
A-screwing cotton by the day,
O roll the cotton down!

Carpenter published this in a 1938 article, with an accompanying note that such chanties originated among Black stevedores. Perhaps it was this that influenced a similar statement in 1944’s Music of the new world: handbook:

With his gift for rhythmic song, the Negro proved to be an excellent shanty singer. Many shanties were originated by the Negro stevedores who loaded cotton on ships in the Gulf ports. A famous shanty which was taken over by sailors from these Negro stevedores is “Roll the Cotton Down”.

Adding to the data that this chanty was probably at least sung by the 1870s are inclusions by Harlow (1962), Williams (1909), and Stanton H. King (1918). Another 1870s sailor, Dick Maitland (Doerflinger 1951), sang two versions:

Down in Alabama I was born,
Roll the cotton down;
Way down in Alabama I was born,
And I rolled the cotton down.

When I was young and in my prime;
I thought I'd go and join the Line

And as a sailor caught a shine;
I shipped on board of the Black Ball Line;

Now the Black Ball Line is the line for me;
That's when you want to go on a spree

In the Black Ball Line you can cut a big shine;
For there you'll wake at any old time,

Now see the Black baller preparing for sea;
You'll split your side laughing, the sights to see,

There's tinkers and tailors, shoemakers and all,
They're all shanghaied on board the Black Ball


Way down South where I was born
Roll the cotton down;
I worked in the cotton and the corn,
[Oh, roll the cotton down.]

When I was young and in my prime,
I thought I'd go and join the Line,

And for a sailor caught a shine,
I joined on a ship of the Swallowtail Line.

This “Black Ball Line” theme, shared of course with other chanties, makes up Stan Hugill’s Version (D) in Shanties from the Seven Seas. And because “Roll the Cotton Down” had the usual “framework” quality of many chanties, other themes were spliced in wholesale. There is one from “Paddy on the Railway” (Version (E)) and from a “Long Time Ago” (Version (F)). I’ve rendered these as follows:

RW Gordon collected it from “an old Irishman,” perhaps first sailing ca.1870s.

Oh, when last I was in Frisco Town

Roll the cotton down,

I never ever will forget

Oh, roll the cotton down.

A 1951 Library of Congress recording of Capt. Leighton Robinson (?) offers a very typical lyrical version:

Oh, away down South where I was born,
Oh, roll the cotton down,
Away down South where I was born,
Oh, roll the cotton down.

A dollar a day is the white man's pay,
Oh, a dollar a day is the white man's pay,

I thought I heard our old man say.

We're homeward bound to Mobile Bay.

Oh, hoist away that yard and sing.

(The recording is exciting, however, because it’s one of few field recordings with a chorus singing along.)

The first published mention I have comes in Patterson’s “Sailors’ Work Songs,” Good Words 41(28) (June 1900).  The author attributes it to capstan and windlass work, by which he may be suggesting the version with a grand chorus. The versions thus far have been halliard ones without such a chorus.

I’ve created the following with the grand chorus, which Hugill gives as an option. His Version (A) has a nostalgic “good old days” (minstrel-y) feel, while Version (B) is more focused on the stevedore’s life. As can been seen in many of the documented versions, these lyrics tend to get blended—which is what I’ve done here:

Masefield was next to publish a version in 1906—a halliard version, with a "Black voice" to it:

Come all you little nigger-boys, 

And roll the cotton down;
O come all you little nigger-boys, 

And roll the cotton down.


Come roll the cotton down, my boys,
     Roll the cotton down;

Come roll the cotton down, my boys,
    O roll the cotton down.

A dollar a day is a white man's pay,

Ten dollars a day is a black man's pay,

The white man's pay is rather high,

The black man's pay is rather low,    

Around Cape Horn we're bound to go,

So stretch it aft and start a song,

As “Cape Horn” has snuck in here, I present Hugill’s Version (C), which has lyrics of the international deepwater generic sailor type! This incidentally, was one of the earlier recordings I made, with my more nasal voice of the time!

It was Bullen (1914), whose version is probably from the 1870s, who was first to supply a musical score.

Oh I’m bound to Alabama
Ter roll the cotton dow-own
I’m bound ter Alabama
Ter roll the cotton down.

The next version, collected by R.R. Terry (1920), actually gives the same verse as Bullen and a note about African-American influence:

Another source of shanties was undoubtedly negroid. The following well-known shanty is a type with which sailors would necessarily become familiar at cotton seaports :—


I'm bound to Alabama
Oh roll the cotton down,
I'm bound to Alabama
Oh roll the cotton down.

Colcord (1924) simply had the same!

As commercial recordings go, Stanley Slade evidently made a recording of this for the BBC ca.1942, which I don’t have. I wonder though, what later versions it may have informed.

One of the early folk revival recordings came before Hugill’s publication. This was Paul Clayton and the Foc’sle Singers’ Foc’sle Songs and Shanties (Folkways, 1959). One gets the feeling they may have not actually heard it anywhere, for they sing both refrains on exactly the same pitch—somewhat odd. See here.

As I’d mentioned, the chanty seems to be more popular with German singers now, who have their own versions. One of these is a composition in Low German called “De Runer von Hamborg,” which we can call traditional so far as Hugill claims to have actually sung it in a German barque. It has the variable chorus, “Kööm un Beer for mi!”

Yet another Low German version goes by the name of its opening lyrics,

No den Süden to, dor foort een Shipp,
Verprovianteert mit schlauem Kniff
(“Away to the South there sailed a ship,
Provisioned by a cunning trick”)

The German renditions I have heard usually included the grand chorus, but Hugill, saying they are halyard versions, says that the chorus would not go with them.

The last bit related here is a fragment of a chanty, which Hugill reprinted from Colcord’s collection. This “Lower the Boat Down” is given in one verse without tune, but I followed Hugill in presuming it would be similar to “Roll the Cotton Down.”

Rolling the cotton with Moses,

Ranzo :{

22 February 2012

#92 Roll the Old Chariot

The style of chanty called a “walkaway” or “runaway chorus” or “stamp and go” seems to be well-known these days. I believe this is so due to the writing of Stan Hugill and a few others—because the historical record before them doesn’t say that much about it. And in terms of actually naming songs that were used for this maneouver, the earlier texts (as far as I can remember at least) only name the example of “Drunken Sailor” and, in one instance, “A-Roving.” That is, “Drunken Sailor” is the chanty around which discussion of this chanty form took place.

However, Hugill, in Shanties from the Seven Seas, added a few more to the repertoire of “walkaway” chanties, including the recently discussed “Hieland Laddie.” “Roll the Old Chariot,” according to him, was another.

This, in some form, was a spiritual used by the Salvation Army of the late 19th century. Before that, it is reported to have been an African-American song, but I’m unable to find the details right now. Anyway…

As a chanty, "We'll roll the old chariot along" was referred to once as an “old favourite”—but not until 1903.

The song was collected by Robert W. Gordon in the San Fransisco Bay area ca.1922/3 and, happily, that recording is with us. It can be heard here.


Roll the old chariot along

And we'll roll the old chariot along

And we'll roll the old chariot along

And we'll all hang on behind.

If the devil's in the way,
We'll roll it over him

If the devil's in the way,
Why we'll roll it over him,

If the devil's in the way,
We'll roll it over him.

And we'll all hang on behind.

J.M. Carpenter, too, collected it in the 1920s from sailors in the U.K. George Simpson’s (first shipped in 1888) version began,

If the devil's in the way we will roll it over him
If the devil's in the way we will roll it over him
If the devil's in the way we will roll it over him
And we'll all hang on behind.

Row, row, carry him along
And we'll row, row, carry him along
And we'll row, row, row, carry him along
And we'll all hang on behind.

Doerflinger (1951) collected it from Dick Maitland (first shipped ca.1869/70), Staten Island.

We’ll roll the golden chariot along (x3)
[cho.] And we’ll all hang on behind!

If the devil’s in the road we’ll roll it over him,

As with “Donkey Riding,” this also appeared in The Oxford Song Book II (Wood 1927), as follows:

Roll the old chariot along (x3)
And we’ll all hang on behind

A plate of hot scouse wouldn’t do us any harm (x2)
It would roll, roll, roll the old chariot along

A new plum duff wouldn’t do us any harm,

A glass of whiskey hot wouldn’t do us any harm, [etc.]

It may not be a coincidence that the melodic shape and the lyrical form resemble “Drunken Sailor.” In my rendition, I include both Hugill’s major mode melody and the minor mode melody given elsewhere.

Hanging on behind,

Ranzo :{

20 February 2012

#88 Donkey Riding

A donkey engine does its work without a chorus…
(W. Clark Russell, The Romance of Jenny Harlowe, 1889)

This chanty is essentially a variation of “Hieland Laddie” that has obtained its own identity, I think, in the modern era. Very little historical info exists about it.

The “donkey” is nowadays popularly "understood" to refer to a “donkey engine” or steam donkey, which was a steam-powered winch that came into use aboard some ships (according to my brief research) by the late 1850s. Such was one of the devices that took the “manual” out of labor and, eventually, would be said to spell the end of chanties. “Riding on a donkey” is interpreted as letting the donkey engine do the work, and as such seems to have been a humorous parody. Perhaps sailors, working the old fashioned way, wished they could be “riding on a donkey”! However, there is no real evidence for any of this.

F.P. Harlow, an American sailor of the 1870s, mentions “Riding on a Donkey” in his Chanteying Aboard American Ships (1962). Now, there is some confusion about what Harlow actually experienced all those years earlier and what he re-imagined in the interim. So here he says that a shipmate named Brooks sang the chanty at the halyards, but the version he presents is credited to a Capt. J.L. Botterill of the barque Samantha. Botterill evidently sang a number of chanties to Harlow in the 1930s.

Stan Hugill, in his Shanties from the Seven Seas, is the only other I know to describe this chanty. He says it was popular among timber droghers  in Liverpool and Canadian ports, and he learned it from a shipmate named Spike Sennit. Hugill also notes that the song appeared in the Oxford Song Book (Vol. II, by Thomas Wood, 1928), but I have not seen that—will have to track down a copy.
[Edit, May 12: Thanks to the kindness of Charles Biada, I have been able to see this. It's immediately recognizable as the source of the popular "children's" version of the song. There are three verses, which the author got from a Walter Raby. I presume Raby also gave the author the info that it was sung in timber ships and schooner between Liverpool and Canada circa 1890s.]

Here's my rendition. For a complicated reason, I did not get around to recording myself singing it until the end of the project, and it is the very last of Hugill's chanties that I did. [This is actually an edit I am making on 30 March 2012. This blog post was first made on 20 Feb.]

In addition, I made this great recording of the Mystic Seaport squad at work at the capstan during the Sea Music Festival of 2009. It was so good that I asked if I could post it; I feel it's one of the few great examples of chantying at the capstan that one can find on-line.

Playing hong-ki-kong,

Ranzo :{

#86-87, 89-91 Hieland Laddie / My Bonnie Highland Lassie-O (series)

I consider “Hieland Laddie” to be one of the very important songs in the history of the development of chanties. This is because, first of all, it turns up among the earlier references to activities that seem to be nearly or fully developed as chanty performances. Second, it’s seemingly obvious Scottish origins complicate (in a healthy way, I suppose) the discussion of ethnic/national origins. Most of the major writers on chanties have acknowledged an African-American contribution to the genre, more or less significant. As can be gleaned from prior blog posts, my position is different in that I consider African-American practice to be the main root of chanties. Yet African-American does not mean “African”; it is, in the main, an English-speaking culture that also inherited and participated in creating products of English-language heritage. A song of Scottish origin, whether in “adapted” form or not, could have well been sung by African-Americans prior to it being turned into a chanty. Indeed, interestingly, the early historical references to this song always use a “highland” form, rather than the more distinctively Scots “hieland.” “Highland” has some affinity to “hi-lo,” which has been seen as a distinctive chorus feature of Afro-American songs, later to become a chanty cliché. And yet, this song’s presence will suggest to many (including me) the possibility of a Scottish/British formative influence which would seem to mar the strong image created by the rest of my evidence (i.e. the evidence that suggests African-American origins). “Hieland Laddie” also supports Stan Hugill’s theory, in Shanties from the Seven Seas, of the Gulf ports acting as a “shanty mart” where European and African-American sailors shared their (already conceived) chanties. I don’t disagree with Hugill that such an exchange may have taken place, but my belief is that it was in such contexts that the very genre of chantey was being created. Black workers may well have learned “Hieland Laddie” from Europeans only at this point, but it was the former who had already developed the paradigm for chanties and who gave it to the latter IMO. Still, I have to consider all the evidence, including how “Hieland Laddie” may affect this idea.

The chanty seems to have been common, but perhaps not as common as its popularity today would have us imagine. It comes in among the top 25 chanties (in frequency) to appear in my historical survey of the age of sail up to the 1920s, however it is not mentioned in many of the major collections. Here is historiographic info about the song in its life as a chanty.

Both in the timeline of events and the timeline of publications the song (as a chanty) first appears in Howland’s Steamboat Disasters and Railroad Incidents in the United States (1840). There is a description (from an officer’s journal) of an incident in September 1835 where a U.S. ship, Peacock, has been grounded near the Gulf of Mazeira off Arabia. The hands are dragging the ship into deeper water by means of both a capstan and manual hauling. When the work was going tough—perhaps in intermittent blasts of force—the men sang “Cheer’ly Man,” which is one of the few definite work-songs we know was already common by the 1830s. But as the work got easier, perhaps allowing for a continuous march-like pace…

…those at the capstan, sang to the tune of the 'Highland Laddie,'
'I wish I were in New York town,'
    Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,' &c.

It’s notable that even though “Hieland Laddie” was a preexisting song, this one is clearly in a chanty form, for it has the “round the world” device in the verse pattern. Though I don’t want to speculate on it here, some idea of when and where the idea of the “were you ever in XYZ?” pattern originated might tell us something about where chanties were emerging, too. 1832’s The Quid, with its mention of rudimentary capstan songs used in a British East Indiaman, contained a chorus to a song that was later connected by Doerflinger to the song “Were you ever in Dumbarton?”—a song that was called “a windlass chorus” in Melville’s Omoo (related to the early 1840s). This all suggests a possible style of capstan song in Euro-American ships that had a Scottish flavor and the “round the world” device for spinning out choruses.

If this were the case, I must admit that it seems more likely that the same sort of Euro-American sailors brought this work song to the task of cotton-screwing, rather than it emerging as a chanty from that context. It is attested for the mid-late 1840s in the cotton-screwing context by two authors. Erskine (1896) was one of those Euro-American sailors who tried his hand at the work, in New Orleans, Sept. 1845. He remembered singing the song as follows:

“Were you ever in Boston town,
Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie?
Yes, I've been in Boston town,
Where the ships sail up and down,
My bonnie Highland laddie, ho!

“Were you ever in Mobile Bay,
Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie?
Yes, I've been in Mobile Bay,
Screwing cotton by the day,
My bonnie Highland laddie, ho!

“Were you ever in Miramichi,
Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie?
Yes, I've been in Miramichi,
Where you make fast to a tree,
My bonnie Highland laddie, ho!

“Were you ever in Quebec,
Bonnie laddie, Highland laddie?
Yes, I have been in Quebec,
Stowing timber on the deck,
My bonnie Highland laddie, ho!"

[Erskine, Charles. 1896. Twenty Years Before the Mast. Philadelphia: George W. Jacobs & Co.]

Around that time or within a few years after, Nordhoff also observed the song sung by  cotton-stowers of Mobile Bay. In the way he described it, it sounds as if it was a new song, in other words he did not connect it to a Scottish original. Here are the lyrics he gave:

Were you ever in Quebec,
Chorus—Bonnie laddie, highland laddie,
       Stowing timber on the deck,
Chorus—My bonnie highland laddie, oh.
       Were you ever in Dundee,
Chorus—Bonnie laddie, highland laddie,
       There some pretty ships you'll see,
Chorus—My bonnie highland laddie, oh.
       Were you ever in Merrimashee.
Chorus—Bonnie laddie, highland laddie,
       Where you make fast to a tree,
Chorus—My bonnie highland laddie, oh.
       Were you ever in Mobile Bay,
Chorus—Bonnie laddie, highland laddie,
       Screwing cotton by the day,
Chorus—My bonnie highland laddie, oh.

This is of course an example of what Nordhoff famously called chants or “capstan and cotton songs.”

When Gosse observed this type of work and its songs in 1838, he did not yet note the involvement of White workers. And “Hieland Laddie,” incidentally, was also not among the songs he noted. This silence may add to the idea that European sailors actually contributed the song in the 1840s after they joined the profession.

There is not a lot of detailed evidence following that sailors used the song onboard ship. So many of the references in my tally come from J.M. Carpenter’s informants, recorded in the 1920s, who may have learned the song within a range of any time between the late 1840s and the early 20th century. Edward Robinson and Mark Page, both or which began their sailing careers in the late 1840s and finished up in the late 1870s, knew the song.

The fiction writer and ex-seaman Elijah Kellogg of Portland (ME)/Boston mentioned the song in his 1869 The Ark of Elm Island. Although he remained active in shipping affairs, Kellogg’s sailing years were the 1830s. His writing in this and other stories puts emphasis on Afro-Americans/Caribbeans singing chanties. At some point in this story there is an exchange between American sailors where one sings the following verse:

Was ever you in Aberdeen,
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
To see the duke in his Highland green,
My bonny Highland laddie?

The song’s use in the 1870s is suggested by Robinson’s article (1917), wherein he gives lyrics (w/ score) as follows:

Where have you been all the day?
Bonny laddie! Highland laddie!
Where have you been all the day?
My bonny Highland laddie!
Oh! Oh! my heart is sair,
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie!
Oh! Oh! my heart is sair,
My bonny Highland laddie!

A Detroit newspaper, ca. late 1880s, decribed sailors hauling a shark to deck with a chanty, to the following song, in which the chorus of “highland laddie” seems to have been reduced to a nonsense form that may have transmuted with “hi-lo.”

Were you ever in Quebec, 
Ho, la! ho, la! 
Hoisting timber on the deck! 
Ho, la! ho, la! 

With a will now—Heave, oh!

[In: Barrere, Albert, and Charles G. Leland, ed. 1890. A Dictionary of Slang, Jargon & Cant. Vol. 2. The Ballantyne Press.]

For whatever reason, Davis and Tozer did not have the song in the first edition of their chanty collection, 1887. They added it in the 1890/1891 2nd/3rd edition. The later edition is notable for being obviously (in some spots) influenced by L.A. Smith’s The Music of the Waters, which had been published in the interim (1888). Smith, however, did not have “Highland Laddie.” What she did have, reproduced from earlier authors, was the so-called “Hilonday” chanty. Now, here is what Davis and Tozer had for lyrics:

There was a laddie came from Scotland,
Highland laddie, bonnie laddie.
Bonnie laddie from fair Scotland,
Highland laddie, ho!

It seems more like the “original” Scots song, rather than the chanty versions we’ve been seeing. Well, it just does not seem like a sailor’s version; IMO it sounds rather made up. So where did they get this from, “suddenly”? I’d speculate that, since they did not include it in their first edition, it was not a song in their personal experience of chanties. Nor was the song provided in any versions in print that they would have seen. However, they may have been inspired by seeing Smith’s mention of “Hilonday” (“Highland day and off she goes”), after which they presumed to include a version. Additionally, Davis and Tozer file it as a “setting sail” song, rather than a heaving/capstan song—suggesting a confusion of how it was used. Lastly, they melody they give seems a bit off. Hmmm...

The chanty in fact does not turn up much in publication after this. It may be notable that earlier versions quoted did not include a grand chorus. And now, along with that, we start to see the “hieland” pronunciation. Doerflinger (1951) had it from Capt. James P. Barker who would not have learned it until 1889 or later, I believe. He gave,

Ay, Ay, and away she goes,
Bonnie laddie, Hieland laddie,
Ay, ay, and away she goes,
Bonnie Hieland laddie!

'Way she goes, heels and toes,

This is the day we sail this way,

Eckstorm and Smyth gathered two versions for their study of Maine songs (1927). The first was taken down ca.1904 from the singing of Captain William Coombs of Islesboro and was considered a “fishermen’s chantey” for hoisting light sails.

Was you ever on the Isle o’ Holt,
Bonnie laddie, Hielan’ laddie?
Where John Thompson swallowed a colt,
Bonnie laddie, Hielan’ laddie?
Hurroo, my dandies O!
Bonnie laddie, Hielan’ laddie;
Hurroo, my dandies O!
Bonnie Hielan’ laddie.

I opened an orange and found a letter,
Bonnie laddie, Hielan’ laddie.
And the more I read it grew better and better,
Bonnie Hielan’ laddie.
Hurroo, my dandies O!
Bonnie laddie, Hielan’ laddie,
Hurroo, my dandies O!
Bonnie Hielan’ laddie.

The second came from Susie C. Young of Brewer, Main, 1926. It has the “traditional” chanty ring to it:

Was you ever to Quebec,
Halan’ Laddie, bonnie Laddie!
Where they hoist their timber all on deck,
With a Halan’ bonnie Laddie?
Heave-O! me heart and soul,
Halan’ Laddie, Bonnie Laddie,
Heave-O! me heart and soul,
To me Halan’, Bonnie Laddie.

Was you ever to the Isle of France,
Where the girls are taught to dance

[Eckstorm, Fannie Hardy and Mary Winslow Smyth. 1927. Minstrelsy of Maine: Folk-songs and Ballads of the Woods and the Coast. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin. ]

Colcord’s collection (1924) had this set of lyrics:

Was you ever in Quebec?

Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,

Loading timber on the deck,

My bonny Highland laddie.

High-ho, and away she goes,

Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,

High-ho, and away she goes,

My bonny Highland laddie.

Was you ever in Callao

Where the girls are never slow?

Was you ever in Baltimore

Dancing on the sanded floor?

Was you ever in Mobile Bay,

Screwing cotton by the day?

Was you on the Brummalow,

Where Yankee boys are all the go?

At last we come to Stan Hugill’s presentation, which begins “PART TWO” of his great collection. He says it was very popular as both a walkaway and capstan song. The walkaway bit is interesting, because so far only “Drunken Sailor” has really been attributed to this arguably obsolete technique. One presumes this was part of Hugill’s personal experience. He also says this was the case in “the old Dundee whalers”—facts about which he did have from an informant, but I suspect also he may be trying hard to make the “story” of this chanty most elegant. For his first version, (A), has a Scottish whaling theme. And while several of the verses correspond to Davis and Tozer’s version, Hugill simply claims he learned it all from “Bosun Chenoworth” who had served in such ships. I think something fishy/whaley is going on. Anyway, here is my rendition of this item.

About Version (B), Hugill says it was as used when “timber droghers” were stowing lumber in the northeast U.S./Canada. How he knows this, he does not say. We may assume it was personal experience, then again he may just be assuming himself based on the “regulation” verse about Quebec and the Miramichi one about lumbering. I had some help in my rendition, that went a little creative with the “round the world” theme—contained in this version, and making it, I think, more in-line with the common historical versions.

[At this point Hugill introduces “Donkey Riding,” which is the subject of a separate blog post.]

Then he mentions "The Powder Monkey"— a 19th century music hall song, "[Little] Powder Monkey Jim," which evidently gained some popularity among sailors. No evidence it was a chantey, however. Hugill merely mentioned it in passing, as he thought maybe it was based on the “Hieland Laddie” chantey.  He gives the chorus, which I have rendered here:

Then comes “My Bonnie Highland Lassie-O,” which Hugill got from the Irish song-collector Seamus Ennis (1919-1982). Ennis collected it from a family in County Galway, Ireland—seemingly one of the few chanties collected in Ireland itself. It’s lyrical theme has affinities, I note, with the English traditional song “Billy Boy.”

Also related to “Billy Boy,” I think, is the last in the series, a "Timber drogher's shanty" that Hugill reproduced from Whall’s collection’s 4th edition (1920). Whall gave only this excerpt, which has an entirely different melody but the same “Quebec” couplet as “Hieland Laddie.”

Though the cotton-stowers’ story is much discussed, more, I think, should be said about the lumber-stowers.

On my balcony in Long Beach,
Where all the books are in my reach,
Your bonnie highland laddie,

Ranzo :{

01 February 2012

Completion, of sorts (YouTube phase)

Just a note to mark my completion of (subject to some double-checking!) learning all the chanties in Stan Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas. I finished learning and recording the last one yesterday, 31 Jan. 2012. I do have yet to record, to satisfy my own sense of completion, one well-known chanty that for reasons of a time in the past I did not make my own version of.

There are also a couple more "songs used as chanties" that Hugill merely mentioned in passing but which I'd like to learn and record.

After that I will probably turn my attention back to this blog and the reassessment ('second pass') of the YouTube recordings, in order.

Ranzo in Long Beach