Mudcat Café message #3509437 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #150417   Message #3509437
Posted By: Lighter
26-Apr-13 - 10:15 PM
Thread Name: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
Subject: RE: Origins: Child Ballads: US Versions Part 5
The first couplet of Ridge's songs is likewise the first couplet of Lead Belly's well-known take on "The Old Chisholm Trail."

In its issue for Feb. 21, 1953 _Billboard_ (p. 34) listed a song by Charles R. Grean & Tom Glazer called "Home Came a Sailor," rec. by Elton Britt & Rosalie Allen on the RCA Victor label.

This a "pop" version, with altered words, of a version of 274, possibly "inspired" by the six four-line stanzas in Frank Shay's "More Pious Friends and Drunken Companions" (N.Y.: Macaulay, 1928, pp. 104-105). Shay calls his version "a sterilization of a ribald ballad." He offers no tune. Eric Posselt ("Edgar Palmer") included it w/o attribution in "G.I. Songs" (N.Y.: Sheridan House, 1944).

About 1960 a trio called The Four Sergeants recorded Shay's/Posselt's words - or similar ones - to "Son of a Gambolier" for the sailor's verses and "Sailing, Sailing" for the wife's. Good choice!

Anyway, I suspect Shay, who I believe was very briefly a U.S. merchant sailor himself ca1914, learned the song with the characteristic opening words and then bowdlerized it to an unknown degree. The first line of each of the husband's stanzas, as follows, is lifted almost verbatim from Robert Louis Stevenson:

"Home came the sailor, home from the sea,
And there in the X a strange Y did see...."