25 March 2012

#110 Randy Dandy O!

Short story here, as this is a chanty with few sources.

Capt. John Robinson, who began sailing in Liverpool vessels of the nitrate trade to the West Coast of South America in the mid-1860s, prepared a series of articles on chanties published in 1917. As such, he notes several chanties that were rather particular to those ships, that trade. They seem to be chanties of a relatively later time, coming after the “classic,” often African-American-styled songs of the first four or more decades of modern chantying. These nitrate trade chanties were also notably of a brazenly bawdy style, with a bit more of a swaggering Sailor John sentiment than the quirky minstrel fun or longing and separation-themed sentiment of earlier songs. Robinson says,

In point of fact, many of the original words were quite unprintable, and never
intended for delicate ears. For instance, in "Bangidero," "Galloping Randy Dandy"
and "Slav Ho," the words of some verses were really shocking, and the choruses
quite unfit to be written, yet they were three good chanties, too.

Robinson offered just one verse (with score) of the present chanty, in which the word “galloping” is a clear bowdlerization.

Now we’re warping her into the docks,
     Way aye roll and go!
Where the pretty young girls come down in flocks.
     My galloping Randy Dandy o!
Heave and pull and heave away,
     Way aye roll and go!
The anchor’s aboard, and the cables are stowed,
     My galloping Randy Dandy o!

Joanna Colcord, who harvested several of Robinson’s unique chanties for her collection, reprinted this version in 1924. None of the other early chanty collectors or observers noted this song.

Stan Hugill, then, was the only other to claim to represent an authentic version in his Shanties from the Seven Seas. He got it from his Bajan friend Harding (a sea career ca.1870s-90s), who said he’d sung it in a Nova Scotian barque in which he’d once shipped.

As for the lyrics, Hugill also noted that the true lyrics had to be “camouflaged.” He asserted, however, that his bowdlerization left at least one word closer to the original. One presumes he meant the “rollicking” (Robinson’s “galloping”). I guessed the original word was “bollocky,” which is what I sing in my rendition—and which I don’t think is very risqué in this day and age.

This was recorded when I was trying to sing very loudly, but had less consistency and control than I do now! A little embarrassed by this performance, but I’m sure I’ll also be embarrassed by today’s performances tomorrow.

Hugill/Harding’s melody here is nearly the same as Robinson’s. Hugill steals a verse from Robinson’s publication, fleshing it out with more of his own. A couple of these also contain camouflaged versions of something a bit “rough.” I attempted to un-camouflaged them; I figure that somebody has to at least try to “go for it,” whatever it’s worth.

In fact, there is a pretty standard “revival” way of singing this song that has gone around. The English Folk group The Young Tradition (from their 1968 Chicken on a Raft EP) popularized it, in a bleating rendition that is clearly a face-value reading of Hugill’s text.

Here’s to future original renditions of the chanty—not “cover versions”! However, with no direct sources of info at our disposal, one will have to use one’s general knowledge of the chanty genre and some creativity to craft them.

Rounding the Horn with a stinky cargo of guano,

Bollocky Ranzo Danzo :{

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