Mudcat Café message #3116797 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #135160   Message #3116797
Posted By: Gibb Sahib
18-Mar-11 - 11:20 PM
Thread Name: A Little-Known Shanty Collection
Subject: RE: A Little-Known Shanty Collection
Here's the text for,

DIXIE'S ISLE.

Oh then Susie, lovely Susie, I can no longer stay,
For the bugle sounds the warning that calls me far away.
It ca11s me down to New Orleans, the enemy for to rile;
And to fight the Southern soldiers, 'way down upon Dixie's Isle.

The owners they gave orders no women they were to come.
The captain, likewise, ordered that none of them were to come;
For their waists they are too slender, and their figures are not the style
For to go fight the Southern soldiers, 'way down upon Dixie's Isle.

Oh, my curse attend those cruel wars when first they began;
They robbed New York and Boston of many a noble young man.
They robbed us of our wives, our sweethearts and brothers while
We went fighting the Southern soldiers, 'way down upon Dixie's Isle.

Lighter notes above that,

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.

I agree that is a good possibility. However, another possibility is that the meter of the song itself suggests "Oh Susannah" and Harlow, making that leap, took it upon himself to supply the tune. Harlow says he never heard the song. And although Buryeson may have been a friend, he may be using this article as the actual source. It seems rather suspect that Harlow's "friend" Buryeson would say "Yes, this was sung to the tune of 'Oh Susanna'" but not actually sing it to Harlow.

I also think it is funny that, if this chanty was sung to "Oh Susannah," the chorus of that song is not included. There were other noted chanties sung to the tune *and* chorus of "Oh Susanna," including one noted by Hugill and a Swedish language one.

For "Dixie's Isle," Buryeson notes that "The last line of each verse constitutes the chorus." This, to me, is more indicative of a modified ballad. Then there is also the question why Buryeson didn't say in his own article that this was related to "Oh Susannah."

So again, I think it is a good possibility that the Oh Susanna tune is correct, but I tend to be more skeptical of Harlow's work -- and I would not put it past him to assume certain things.