Mudcat Café message #3713676 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157369   Message #3713676
Posted By: Lighter
01-Jun-15 - 12:51 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Chanteys in Greig-Duncan
Subject: Lyr Add: Chanteys in Greig-Duncan
Working in Aberdeenshire around 1905, the Gavin Greig and the Rev. James B. Duncan collected thousands of songs and tunes. The songs were published in eight volumes, edited by Patrick Shuldham-Saw and Emily Lyle, beginning in 1981.

Remarkably, in spite of their ceaseless collecting activities, the published Greig-Duncan collection includes only a five chanteys (and four tunes), far less than one percent of the song total.

They may be of interest to chantey singers, and because published chanteys collected in Scotland are quite rare.

Three of the songs were collected from George Innes, Jr.


"Haul Away Your Bowline"

Haul away your bowline, our ship she is a-rolling,
Oh, haul away your bowline, your bowline haul!

Oh, haul away your bowline, our skipper he's a-growling,
Oh, haul away your bowline, your bowline haul!

Haul away that bowline, and belay, belay that bowline,
Oh, haul away that bowline, that bowline haul!

The first two stanzas seem like the most widely sung of all.
Interestingly, as the editors note, Innes's tune was not the usual one but the related but more melodic air of Lady Nairne's "Caller Herrin."


"Blow, Boys, Blow"

Blow today and blow tomorrow,
Blow, boys, blow!
And blow today and blow tomorrow,
Blow, my bully boys, blow!

Blow away our griefs and sorrows.

A Yankee ship sails down the river.

How do ye know she's a Yankee liner?

The Stars and Stripes they fly behind her.

She is one of the olden timers.

This suggests to me that any verses following that of the Stars and Stripes were likely to be improvised or idiosyncratic. Innes's tune is not much like the favorite popularized by MacColl and Lloyd. It is much closer to Colcord's, which is less dramatic and apparently was more frequent.


"Roll the Cotton Down"

Oh, across the west'ard I served my time,
Oh, roll the cotton down!
Oh, across the west'ard I served my time,
Oh, roll the cotton down!

Oh, it was in one of the Blackball line.

To the familiar tune, which is also used for the now popular but historically rare chantey, "The Alabama." Variants of these lines seem to have been among the most often sung chantey lines.


A fourth chantey came from Mrs. Margaret Gillespie:

"The Drunken Sailor"

What will we do wi' the drunken sailor? (3x)
Early in the mornin?

Oh, ro, an' up she rises (3x)
Early in the mornin.

The subtitle is "The Glasgow Lasses," so presumably Mrs. Gillespie had heard lines about them as well. Note "early" instead of the now compulsory "ear-lye."


"Good-bye, Farewell" from "Mr. Coolle" is a melody only. It may be an imperfect recollection of the familiar "Goodbye, Fare Ye Well," or it may be different tune altogether.

And from an unrecorded source, Greig and Duncan include

"Good-bye, fare ye well"

Good-bye, fare ye well,
Good-bye, fare-ye-well,
We're outward bound from Peterhead town.
Hurrah, by boys, we're outward bound.

This sounds like an attempt to recollect a fairly standard-form version with the "outward bound" line repeated. The chantey is now almost exclusively sung as "homeward bound," but at least one of Carpenter's singers preferred "outward." One could sing whichever was appropriate.

As is the case with almost all field collected chanteys, the solo line is sung just once per stanza in these examples, even when it rhymes with the solo in the following stanza.

The brevity of these texts again resembles that of many others. Extended versions presumably were made up mostly of improvised or borrowed lines. That's far from a novel observation, but it's worth emphasizing that the standardized versions of most chanteys, as sung today, were not very typical - though of course any chanteyman might customarily sing his own extended versions.