Mudcat Café message #3714183 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157373   Message #3714183
Posted By: Lighter
03-Jun-15 - 07:27 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
> English ballad narratives were particularly common.

But I've never had this impression. Interestingly, when Gordon asked for all versions of "The Farmer's Curst Wife" in his column, he may have received more from his readers than of any other song! (The number might not have been statistically significant - but he got plenty!)

Surely "Our Goodman" must have been "chanteyized" on occasion as well. But without a sprightly tune, the average ballad would have been too heavy-going for use as a work song. As you know, "The Golden Vanity" was sometimes used at the capstan, but its tunes are catchy and the song is about seafaring.

My impression is that "Blow the Man Down" became so popular that various other lyrics were sometimes fit to it.

> I just meant that we're missing even the basic information of who sang these

Debora Kodish's dissertation-bio of Gordon (available online) lists "ex-sea captains" Jack Schickel, Andy Turner, and (wait for it) Leighton Robinson as being among his sources in Berkeley in 1923-24.

Gordon's transcribed lyrics (at least the ones I've seen) are all in standard orthography rather than in any attempt at African-American dialect, which even John Lomax and (IIRC) Carl Sandburg employ.

> Gordon may have *liked* to find renditions of chanties that contained narratives from English ballads.

Undoubtedly he'd have loved it, but "The Devil's Curst Wife" looks like the only one he discovered!