Mudcat Café message #3713771 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157373   Message #3713771
Posted By: Lighter
01-Jun-15 - 07:01 PM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
Subject: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
Correspondence of the important American collector Robert W. Gordon is filed away, largely unpublished, in the Archive of Folk Culture (formerly "of Folk Song") at the U.S. Library of Congress.

I had the opportunity to examine these many years ago.

From about 1922-24 Gordon collected a good many sea songs, including chanteys, from old sailors in the San Francisco Bay area. According to his notes, most of them had been at sea in the 1870s and '80s.

Most of Gordon's chantey texts date from this period. Few if have been published complete. Gordon recorded on wax cylinders, many of which are now inaudible or broken. There are, unfortunately, almost no tunes among his correspondence.

Perhaps transcribed from one of his recordings, this chantey is also a Child ballad.


A LONG TIME AGO

(Topsail halliard)

(Also sung to the tune of "Blow the man down")

There was an old farmer in London did dwell,
Chorus: A long time, a long time.
There was an old farmer in London did dwell,
Chorus: Oh, a long, long time ago.

[Similarly:]

He'd a scolding old wife and he wished her in hell....

The devil came to him one day at the plow....

Said farmer I've come for your old woman now....

The devil he bundled her into a sack....

And like a gay peddler he peddled his pack....

He carried her down to the gates of hell....

And all the little devils let out such a yell....

One little devil he started to cry....

Then she lifted her fist and blackened his eye....

The devil he bundled her back in the sack....

And to the old farmer he carried her back....

Mr farmer to you the truth I will tell....

This woman would raise mutiny in hell....

Come all you young fellows and take my advice....

Never you take an old maid for a wife....

For she's sure to torment you the rest of your life....



Besides "A Long Time Ago" and "Blow the Man Down," versions of "The Farmer's Curst Wife" were also sung to "Good-bye, Fare Ye Well" - and presumably any other chantey tune it could be fitted to.

More to come.