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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Gibb Sahib Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo (88* d) RE: Origin: Johnny Come Down to Hilo 10 Mar 15

Joe, I sympathize with your dilemma!
For what it's worth, my remarks were not intended to address your dilemma (which I wasn't aware of at the time), but rather more the fact that the historical versions had been mostly posted yet we were getting hung up on Revival version wordings--fine in their own right but evidence of nothing historical. Sorry about that.

I would add, idly:
- "big buck sailor" doesn't make much sense to me, since the "big buck" part is part of the phrase "big buck nigga"
- "Arkansas farmer", while not historical, is in the spirit of the couplet. For example, another rendition of this couplet is "Never seen the like since I been born, nigga on the ice and a hoeing up corn," i.e the thing seen is remarkable/unusual/incongruous.

Incidentally, in at least two reports of African-American song that I know of, the line is, "big buck n* with a derby on," i.e the "sea boots" may have been an extrapolation by mariners.

As to the dilemma:
When performing publicly with young people, SCRIPTED, I have used the wording published by Bullen, re-quoted by Joe Offer.
Otherwise, I'd go with a different line entirely. Or ad lib : [singling out a person present] "…[Name] with [item of clothing] on"

I'm likely one of very few that feels so…this is one of those "my 2 cents" remarks...but I can hardly tolerate the word "sailor" as a blatant substitute for "nigga." To me, it speaks to a re-imagining of the genre that, on principle, I am against. As I opined earlier, the effort to avoid offense to a people ends up, in the long run, erasing said people from the face of the genre-- a worse offense IMO.

Besides, you can often tell an "inauthentic" (ahistorical) chanty when it sings too much about ocean and sailor stuff!

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