Mudcat Café message #3084544 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #46147   Message #3084544
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
29-Jan-11 - 04:53 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Huckleberry Hunting (Pumping Chantey)
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Huckleberry Hunting (Pumping Chantey)

Can you picture it? It's the early minstrel era. A blackface group calling itself The Luminaries creep out on stage in a comic, maudlin style. As they come out, they begin their signature opening number:

We am de niggers from de wild goose nation,
    Come dis night to sing to you;
We're just arrived from de old plantation,
    Down on the banks of de O-hi-o.

Subsequently, that catchy opening cliche gets adopted by work-singers. They discard the grand chorus, which is superfluous to this particular chanty form.


I'm shantyman of the Wild Goose nation
    Timme way, timme hay, timme hee-ho hay!
Got a maid that I left on the big plantation
    An' sing Hilo, me Ranzo way!


I'm the Shanty-man of the Wild Goose Nation.
    Tibby Way-ay Hioha!
I've left my wife on a big plantation.
    Hilo my Ranzo Hay!


I'm Ranzo Jim from the Southern cotton growing belt
    To me way, hay, oh hi o!
De sun am so hot dat you'd think a man would melt
    And sing, Hilo, my Ranzo way

Harlow's version is straight up minstrel. The Mystic version, at the beginning of the thread, is composed of pieces from Hugill and Colcord -- the latter whose verses sound very prim and Cecil Sharpy. The lads at Mystic have effectively "whitened" the song by omitting any obvious race-related language. Hey, I can understand 100% why they'd do that. They have to. My only word of caution is that this particular Revival version shouldn't become the "go to" version if someone is *seeking lyrics*, because I think it inadvertently contributes to erasing Black people from the face of the chanty genre.