Mudcat Café message #3080810 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #135160   Message #3080810
Posted By: Lighter
23-Jan-11 - 02:03 PM
Thread Name: A Little-Known Shanty Collection
Subject: A Little-Known Shanty Collection
Shipcmo has graciously sent me a copy of an important American shanty collection that has never been reprinted in full, though Harlow acknowledges reprinting two items and Hugill quotes from it extensively in one of his later Spin articles.

Fred H. Buryeson (not "Burgeson" as Harlow's editor understandably has it) had been Secretary of the Boston branch of the International Seamen's Union during the 1890s. In 1910 he made an unsuccessful run for the California State Legislature on the Socialist ticket.

Buryeson's article, titled simply "Sea Shanties," contains the texts of twenty-one shanties and appeared in the June 23, 1909, edition of "Coast Seamen's Journal" (San Francisco).

Here's a list of the shanties in Buryeson's collection. All are in "full" texts of several stanzas. His words frequently differ somewhat from today's most familiar versions. I don't know just when Buryeson went to sea, but it may well have been as long ago as the late 1860s.

Sally Brown
Rio Grande
Dixie's Isle
Blow for California
Santa Ana
Mister "Stormalong"
Maid of Amsterdam
Homeward Bound ("Goodbye, Fare You Well")
Heave Away, Lads ("Heave Away, My Johnnies")
The Dreadnought
Ten Thousand Miles Away
Tom is Gone to Ilo
'Ranzo, Boys, 'Ranzo
Whiskey, Johnny
Blow, Boys, Blow
Blow the Men [sic] Down
John Francois
Johnny Bowker
Haul on the Bowline
Haul Away, Joe.

Harlow seems to have known Buryeson personally. His text of "Dixie's Isle" was given to him by "a friend" who had rounded Cape Horn in the '60s in the ship Young America. Harlow's text is identical in every word to the version Buryeson published; though the 1909 version has no tune, Harlow indicates that it was sung to the tune of "O, Susannah!" It would appear that the most likely source of this information was Fred H. Buryeson himself.

Harlow reprints Buryeson's unique version of "Maid of Amsterdam" as well as his "Heave Away,Lads." He also appears to have taken a handful of lines from Buryeson's versions of "Mister 'Stormalong,'" "Johnny Bowker," and "Haul on the Bowline." The evidence for borrowing is that the lines in question are identical to Buryeson's, are all grouped in Buryeson's order, and come toward the end of Harlow's versions, as though tacked on.