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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
JWB Lyr Add: Huckleberry Hunting (Pumping Chantey) (51* d) RE: Lyr Add: Huckleberry Hunting (Pumping Chantey) 23 Mar 11

A glance at the bibliographies of the later collections, such as Hugill and Doerflinger, bolsters your assertion about the way collectors borrowed from each other. Colcord and Harlow do not provide bibliographies, but they mention other collectors in their notes to the songs.

Doerflinger was particularly comprehensive, listing in the notes for Huckleberry Hunting these citations: Bullen & Arnold; Colcord; Davis & Tozer; Harper's Magazine July,1882; Mackenzie; Robinson in The Bellman; Sharp; L.A. Smith; Terry; Whall. He also refers the reader to "The Ethiopian Glee Book" of 1849 as an example of the appearance of the Wild Goose Nation in minstrel songs.

So if the collectors borrowed from each other, what's our best chance of finding the "purest" version? How about if we go to the earliest collection? In the case of Huckleberry Hunting that may be Smith's "Music of the Waters", published in 1888. Thanks to Google Books, I found her entry on page 21. She gives one verse/chorus set, with tune. The solo runs, "I've just come down from the wild goose nation/I've left a wife on a big plantation" The first chorus is, "To me way ay e-oh-yah" and the second chorus, "And sing hilo, my Randso, way." So no mention of huckleberries.

Her tune is very similar to the versions in Hugill, Harlow and Colcord, with what seem to be regulation phrases at the end of the first and second choruses. The first chorus in all these versions ends with the same two intervals between three notes: an ascending fourth followed by a descending octave. The second chorus in all four versions ends with three notes descending stepwise, from the third to the tonic. None of these authors cite a specific individual source for the song.

Doerflinger, however, states that he collected Huckleberry Hunting from former sailor Richard Maitland at Sailor's Snug Harbor in the 1930s. The tune is dramatically different, and the two chorus are identical in tune and lyric. No mention of wild geese in Maitland's version, just the berries, the boys and the girls.

So, Gibb, would you posit that Colcord, Harlow and Hugill all lifted the song from Smith for their own collections, while Doerflinger collected it in the field?

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