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Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties

Steve Gardham 21 Feb 21 - 02:07 PM
Lighter 21 Feb 21 - 04:30 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Feb 21 - 05:06 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Feb 21 - 05:18 PM
Lighter 21 Feb 21 - 05:55 PM
Steve Gardham 21 Feb 21 - 06:12 PM
GUEST,Wm 21 Feb 21 - 06:19 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Feb 21 - 08:34 AM
GUEST,Wm 22 Feb 21 - 09:25 AM
Lighter 22 Feb 21 - 10:37 AM
Joe Offer 22 Feb 21 - 12:08 PM
Lighter 22 Feb 21 - 01:33 PM
Steve Gardham 22 Feb 21 - 03:33 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Feb 21 - 10:50 PM
Jack Campin 23 Feb 21 - 04:19 AM
Brian Peters 23 Feb 21 - 04:24 AM
Gibb Sahib 23 Feb 21 - 10:28 PM
Joe Offer 23 Feb 21 - 11:33 PM
Lighter 24 Feb 21 - 08:53 AM
GUEST,# 24 Feb 21 - 09:41 AM
Steve Gardham 24 Feb 21 - 02:24 PM
Lighter 24 Feb 21 - 03:23 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Feb 21 - 04:39 PM
Lighter 24 Feb 21 - 04:46 PM
Steve Gardham 24 Feb 21 - 05:46 PM
GUEST,Wm 24 Feb 21 - 06:11 PM
Lighter 25 Feb 21 - 07:25 AM
Lighter 25 Feb 21 - 07:29 AM
Steve Gardham 25 Feb 21 - 09:43 AM
Lighter 25 Feb 21 - 11:36 AM
Lighter 25 Feb 21 - 11:49 AM
Steve Gardham 25 Feb 21 - 02:56 PM
Lighter 27 Feb 21 - 09:33 AM
Steve Gardham 27 Feb 21 - 09:40 AM
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Subject: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Feb 21 - 02:07 PM

Recently acquired a copy of the 3rd edition. 1891 (first ed 1887)

Not impressed! I know chanties generally only have a couple of stanzas and the rest is improvised and can go off in all sorts of directions, but this set is definitely of its time and class. Davis was a captain and I'm sure he must have heard chanties many a time, but the texts here have obviously been seriously bowdlerised. The bulk of what is here was never ever sung by ordinary seamen. I'm sure Gibb has made this point before, and Davis wasn't the only culprit. Like with the other folk songs being published at the end of the 19th century for a middle-class audience most texts were heavily bowdlerised. To be honest Sharp was one of the least guilty when compared with some of the others.

I'm sure the tunes, choruses and first verses are genuine enough but it's so easy to spot the non-folk stuff. Still that will give me a couple of hours pleasure identifying all the stuff written by
Dibdin, oops, sorry, slip of the finger, Davis. No wonder his versions were not endlessly anthologised like some of the others.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Feb 21 - 04:30 PM

Steve, when genuine chanteyman Stanley Slade recorded a few for the BBC in the '40s, he used Davis & Tozer's texts!


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Feb 21 - 05:06 PM

Oh dear! Strange choice! I did find about half a dozen in there with what appeared to be genuine texts, but to be fair the title page does say
'The Words BY Frederick J. Davis.'

A few are obviously completely from the pen of Davis.

The majority appear to start with 1 or 2 genuine verses and then go off into La La Land. Some have a few genuine verses sprinkled about and yet others have verses with part genuine and part made up elements. Conversely one or two of the songs such as 'Married to a Mermaid' have the original text but with a new first verse.

In light of this, to my shame, I think in the dim and distant past I have been guilty of singing Davis's words. Lowlands for instance, Reuben Ranzo.

His version of the 'Saucy Sailor' follows the theme well enough with a couple of stanzas close to the genuine, but the rest is obviously rewritten.

Similarly 'Golden Vanity' follows the usual plot but elaborated.

His 'Blow the Man Down' develops 'The Fishes' theme of up jumped the cod etc., but more elaborate.

I'm also now wondering if he is responsible for the standard set of Boney.

The whole thing would make a great study comparing with earlier and later versions. We might well find that he was responsible for some of the standard sets we sing today.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Feb 21 - 05:18 PM

I recorded 3 old salts myself back in the 60s, and all 3 had been in sail, 2 of them Cape Horners. They all knew chanties and one of them had actually used chanties. I know they were remembering things from 60 years earlier, but none of them sang any more than 4 verses to a particular chanty. This backs up the statement that only a few verses were regular to launch the chanty and then the rest was improvised from a regular stock. Even Davis appears to have had a few stock verses of his own that were repeated in the book in different chanties.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: Lighter
Date: 21 Feb 21 - 05:55 PM

Those Romantics just couldn't leave well enough alone!


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 21 Feb 21 - 06:12 PM

Very true! It wasn't just a case that Davis was cleaning up pieces that couldn't be published. Golden Vanity is innocuous enough but he had to pretty that up as well.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: GUEST,Wm
Date: 21 Feb 21 - 06:19 PM

I recall seeing a copy of this some time ago, but don't have any notes on it. Can you share some of the more egregious examples?


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Feb 21 - 08:34 AM

Okay, without delving too deep, almost every page turns up something obviously not from an AB.

Here's his text for 'We're all bound to go' (Heave away, me Johnnies)
Excluding tune and chorus which presumably are genuine.

As I was walking out one day down by the Albert docks
I saw the charming maids so gay, a coming down in flocks.

There was fair Pol and Saucy Sue and merry laughing May,
And Sal and Ann and Bessie true, dressed out in bunting gay.

They all were there to see a ship of note and noble fame,
That was about to make a trip, the Bengal was her name.

The day was fine when she set sail, the wind was blowing free,
But it had freshened to a gale ere we were fair at sea.

We snugged her down and laid her to with reef'd maintops'l set,
It was no joke I say to you, our bunks and clothes were wet.

The gale in fury had increased ere night was fairly come,
And every lubber never ceased to wish himself at home.

It clear'd off fine at break of day, the sails were set again,
The Bengal sped like life away across the raging main.

So gaily let your voices ring my Johnnies heave away,
We're bound to go so better sing than pipe your tears away.

(Poor man's Dibdin!) See what I mean.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: GUEST,Wm
Date: 22 Feb 21 - 09:25 AM

That's gruesome.

Very niche short story idea: Frederick Davis sets out to record the genuine verse of Jack Tar, but is thwarted by a command crewed entirely by overconfident lay poets.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanti
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Feb 21 - 10:37 AM

This seems to be as good a thread as any for this tidbit. An impromptu "concert" in the steerage of a packet-ship (Pall Mall Gazette, May 15, 1885).

The "dirtiness" is probably exaggerated, but the attitude of the reporter is of interest:

"THE DIARY OF AN AMATEUR EMIGRANT (From Our Special Correspondent) ...

"A Birmingham man supplied the element of indecency. Right in front of a hundred women he sang one of those abominable chants which have no grace, no wit, no beauty to relieve their dirtiness. I found him to be a good, simple fellow, and I believe he did his best to entertain the company. Strange what kindness and real manliness one finds among men whose vocabulary is all but confined to a selection of oaths and foul phrases! Little by little the disperses, and the hurricane choruses cease."


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Joe Offer
Date: 22 Feb 21 - 12:08 PM

There's a bit of a discussion of Davis & Tozer in this thread (click).

-Joe-


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Feb 21 - 01:33 PM

Should be "little by little the crowd disperses."


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 22 Feb 21 - 03:33 PM

Thanks for the reminder, Joe.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Feb 21 - 10:50 PM

Here, unformatted, is the passage on Davis & Tozer, [copy-pasted] from my manuscript of _Boxing the Compass_.
***

Sailors’ Songs or “Chanties”
- The title of the first anthology published in Britain, 1887

There was another collection of sailor-songs published just before [LA] Smith’s, although Smith would not have been aware of it in time (her introduction is dated June 1887). Yet this, also a British work, would become perhaps the most influential early collection of all: Davis and Tozer’s Sailors’ Songs or “Chanties” (published Aug. 1887). As a reference work it brings its own set of problems. For one, it is not written as a study of chanties, but rather provides a set of twenty-four songs designed to be performed, one can only imagine, as curious entertainment. The musical scores it contains are fleshed out with piano accompaniment, which, beyond being a convention of the time, raises the question of just who would have been interested to perform the songs at that time. Indeed, the use of “chanties” in quotes, as in Smith, confirms that the mainstream public was still not very familiar with the genre in the mid-1880s (whereas, we learned from Russell, they would become rapidly familiar by the end of that decade). What is in fact more notable is that, in order to provide “full” songs for novices to perform, texts of many, connected verses are provided. Earlier publications rarely went beyond a single verse. When they did, reflecting what might have been really sung, the texts made no coherent whole. This does much to explain the lasting popular appeal of Davis and Tozer’s work.

Captain Frederick J. Davis (?-1919) was in the merchant service for thirty years. Yet while that may lead us to assume that he learned the songs firsthand, he says that he consulted members of Royal Navy and Mercantile Marine for the airs of some songs. Of the pair of editors, Davis was the sailor-authority, while Ferris Tozer was responsible for creating the musical settings. On the surface, it would appear (as many later writers would accept) that Davis was sharing authentic knowledge of chanties from his experience. And it is plausible that he was at least familiar with all of them. However, the form of the lyrics is suspicious. When we compare Davis' texts to other documented versions of the same chanties, they often read as artificial or excessively polished in order to sound literary. Some of the seeming “nonsense” verse one finds in chanty texts as actually performed was rationalized to suit what was presumably the need of Davis’ audience for rational texts with literal meanings. Close reading of Davis’ texts and comparison to other sources of evidence further suggests that after the first or second verse of each song, the rest of what was offered may have been entirely invented for publication. Even where verses sound plausibly authentic, there are as many cases where they seem unrealistic. For instance, the evidence now available suggests that the world “hilo” in chanties was something of indeterminate meaning (or with no verbal meaning at all) originating in African-American country songs. Yet in presenting “Tom’s Gone to Ilo [Hilo],” Davis interprets it as the South American port of Ilo, which in turn may have inspired his line, “Hilo town is in Peru.” [11] We may never know for sure if sailors themselves had made this “error,” or if Davis contrived it in the moment, however, enough such suspect instances in the work point to a heavy editorial hand. All this makes the work an unacceptable source for historical evidence of the forms of chanties.

A second edition of Davis and Tozer’s work came out in 1890, quickly followed by a third in 1891. [12] These added twenty-six chanties to the work, bringing the count up to fifty songs of which the editors acknowledge their debt to L. A. Smith. In fact, what they did was take examples from Smith’s collection—several of which really originate with Alden—and extrapolate new lyrics. Later on, at the height of a chanty-singing revival among landsmen, Davis and Tozer’s collection was issued again in a very slightly revised edition (1927). Its new forward invoked the idea of “folk music.” [13]

11. Frederick J. Davis and Ferris Tozer, Sailors’ Songs or “Chanties”, third edition (London: Boosey, n.d. [1891]), 44.
12. I am indebted to Jonathan Lighter for his assistance in working out the editions.
13. Frederick J. Davis and Ferris Tozer, Sailors’ Songs or “Chanties”, revised edition (London: Boosey, n.d. [1927]), 3.
***
Some notes from later:
***
In a January 1906 article, Masefield presented thirteen chanties. With each appear, oddly enough, the corresponding musical scores for piano accompaniment that appeared in Davis and Tozer’s most recent edition. This is strange indeed because the scores do not provide the tunes to the chanties! Perhaps it was an editorial oversight. And yet this is an important clue to Masefield’s process. Davis and Tozer’s versions of chanties were, up to this point, by far the most ballad-like and “literary.” Being as far as possible from the doggerel found in other works, they were also arguably the most culturally “English” in their texts. For instance, whereas in the mouths of sailors on record, “Sally Brown” was a “bright mullata” and a “Creole lady” with a “nigger baby,” Davis’ Sally’s “eyes are blue” and Masefield (elsewhere) says, “Your cheeks are red, your hair is golden.” While sailors certainly may have imagined “Sally” however they wished, Davis and Masefield’s choice to make her White (presumably) stands out, and this is just one example among other ways that they can be read as having an artificial-sounding “high society” cast. Masefield also says that he made use of L. A. Smith, the recent performance-ready eight-chanty collection by Bradford and Fagge (1904), and a few other less-notable articles.
***
For sailors’ chanties, any singing on land has tended to be related to what might be called “revival.” This is because such singing is not of the working practice but rather of laypeople imagining the tradition through leisure-time performance. From this perspective, Davis and Tozer’s performance-ready collection would seem to be first evidence of interest by “landsmen,” though I have no direct evidence of it being used as such. There is, however, an incident on record that shows that at least one group of literary types had taken an interest already in the nineteenth century. In February 1895, at one of the weekly meetings of the Manchester Literary Club, one J. B. Shaw presented a paper on chanties. It was accompanied by performances, with piano accompaniment. He certainly may have made up his own piano accompaniment, but it is quite possible, too, that the men who performed used the only published collection with piano parts at that point: Davis and Tozer. The news brief reporting the event quotes two sentences verbatim from Alden’s 1882 article, which may also have been consulted for tunes, however it is Davis’ spelling of “chanties” that is used. They also speak of “preserving” the songs, which, if it was expected that performing would be apart of this preservation effort, would make this a prototype for the “folk-singing” approach. Were these the first rumblings of a revival?

Another deliberate, early effort to revive chanties, even if as a momentary novelty, resulted in the creation of a British eight-chanty collection by Bradford and Fagge, 1904. It is probably safe to assume that the role of Arthur Fagge (1864-1943), an English organist and choral conductor of note, was that of arranger. While the offerings of familiar chanties look original for the most part, there are numerous verses that are both contrived-sounding and too similar to Davis and Tozer’s collection not to have been borrowed from it. As in that work, all the items are performance-ready with piano accompaniment. And as with effort to recreate chanty performances by the Manchester Literary Club, Bradford and Fagge’s volume was met with enthusiasm for its potential use by laypeople. A review remarked, “All the songs… would be admirable for singing at smoking concerts and other festive gatherings. …an admirable addition to the library of choral societies.” The Musical Times for April 1906 notes that the Dulwich Philharmonic Society devoted the entire second half of a recent performance to these chanties, conducted by Fagge.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Jack Campin
Date: 23 Feb 21 - 04:19 AM

What led to the late 19th century interest? Literary references in Stevenson, Nasefield, Jacobs and Conrad?


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Brian Peters
Date: 23 Feb 21 - 04:24 AM

'when genuine chanteyman Stanley Slade recorded a few for the BBC in the '40s, he used Davis & Tozer's texts!'

That's very interesting JL - can you elaborate? I only discovered the Slade recordings recently at the British Library, and had wondered whether he might have been one of Bert Lloyd's early sources, though I have no evidence for this and I'm not aware that Lloyd ever mentioned him.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 23 Feb 21 - 10:28 PM

Jack,

That could certainly be a contributing factor—especially if the dates of those writers works' align well with the timing.

The brief (perhaps not wholly satisfying) answer I would offer:
In the 1880s, chanties emerged as a "topic of interest" through numerous writings. There wasn't enough critical mass before then for the topic to really come to broad attention.

As a set up to the 80s, by the 1870s (I'm speaking roughly off the top of my head / memory in terms of the dates), writers included the compelling "hook" that the genre was dying along with traditional sailing-- the threat of "steam power" was in the air. This may have motivated more interest in preservation. (The details of when this tone began to be struck are somewhere in my book.)

I think it's accurate to say that the chanty genre was undergoing shift at this time. While the "sailing traditions are dying" narrative sounds a little alarmist, they were definitely changing. And sailors who experienced the chanty genre before the 1880s do seem to have had different perspectives on it. Winches for halyards and the replacement of the lever windlass with the capstan-windlass were two tech changes that altered the landscape. The repertoire of what is often called "capstan chanties" tends to be later material that less accurately reflects the songs of the earlier era.

It might also be notable that writings by British authors appear much more at this point (as opposed to more plentiful American writing, earlier). Hypothetically, British writers were more compelled by the topic as per their particular sense of national heritage. Or, it might have been that the topic blossomed more fully in a different/new sphere of discourse -- the British, as opposed to the American. I would hazard to say that chanties were more romantically conceived by some British commentators and more "matter of fact" for Americans—relatively speaking.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Joe Offer
Date: 23 Feb 21 - 11:33 PM

Any chance the Davis & Tozer book might be available online? It's old enough to be in the public domain, isn't it?


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Feb 21 - 08:53 AM

First ed. only:

https://babel.hathitrust.org/cgi/pt?id=ien.35556012864161&view=1up&seq=7


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: GUEST,#
Date: 24 Feb 21 - 09:41 AM

Lighter's link fixed.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Feb 21 - 02:24 PM

We still don't seem to have established what the last 10 that were added in 1906 were.

I'm in complete agreement with Gibb regarding the publishing of chanties by English sea captains for a middle class audience. By 1900 I think these were becoming staple texts among latter-day sailing men
and increasingly so as we progress into the 20th century with more being published and greater literacy amongst the remaining men of sail. Anything recorded after 1900, I feel any collectors/researchers should take this into account.

I would like to see research into the influence of Davis's (and others') own texts on the revival.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Feb 21 - 03:23 PM

People who were publishing or paying for music in the 1880s were interested in one thing (musically, that is): songs that made sense and were enjoyable to sing and listen to.

I suspect that if D&T had published nothing but field-collected words, the book would have never seen the light of day, even if the words were inoffensive.

So if Davis had to rewrite in order to preserve the "airs" and maybe the basic idea of various songs, no one would have faulted him for it. In fact, he was doing music-lovers a favor - as was Tozer with his piano arrangements.

The point of popular art in the '80s was to improve taste and morals.

Sailors didn't need a book of chanteys, and landlubbers weren't much interested in documentation or authenticity.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Feb 21 - 04:39 PM

Very true.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 24 Feb 21 - 04:46 PM

Steve, here are Slade's chanteys:

https://folktrax-archive.org/menus/cassprogs/207slade.htm

My recollection from years back is that all of them come from D & T, but the one- or two-stanza numbers may not.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 24 Feb 21 - 05:46 PM

Are the texts available online or elsewhere?


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: GUEST,Wm
Date: 24 Feb 21 - 06:11 PM

Recordings of Slade at the British Library and the Alan Lomax Archive.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Feb 21 - 07:25 AM

Thanks for the kink, Wm.

I've listened to those tracks as well as those on the CD.

Slade's "A-Rovin'" is unusual, and a little longer on the CD than online. (Slade's longer version was later covered by Paul Clayton on "Whaling and Sailing Songs from the Days of Moby Dick.")

Other than that, few textual surprises.

I haven't had time to compare all of Slade's other texts with D & T, but "Mobil' Bay" and "We're All Bound to Go" are clearly based on the book.

As a chanteyman, Slade (still in strong voice in 1949) doesn't use many (or any?) of Stan Hugill's "hitches," but he does have a noticeable vibrato.

And, my folkie friends, Slade pronounces "my" as "my," not "me."

Of course, he was never a pirate....


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Feb 21 - 07:29 AM

"A Girl's Asleep with a Blue Dress On" is also Davis's.

Best-case Hypothesis: Slade was given a copy of the book to "refresh his memory" of multi-stanza chanteys that he once knew but couldn't quite recall.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Feb 21 - 09:43 AM

A common occurrence, Jon. Bell Robertson was given copies of Child to 'jog her memory' by Greig, before she sent him all of her many texts. No surprise then that she was the main contributor of Child Ballads to Greig-Duncan! (IMHO)


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Feb 21 - 11:36 AM

The same thing occurred with Aunt Molly Jackson, Robin Hood, and Alan Lomax.

... who also recorded Stanley Slade.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 25 Feb 21 - 11:49 AM

I posted this to the "Lowlands Away" origin thread five years ago:


Here's an important and previously unpublished text.

On September 29, 1917, retired seaman James F. McGinnis, of Brooklyn, N.Y., sent the following text (with tune) to the collector Robert W. Gordon:

"MY LOWLANDS, AWAY."

I dreamt a dream, the other night,
Lowlands, Lowlands, away, my John.
I dreamt a dream the other night
My Lowlands, away.

[Similarly:]

I dreamt I saw my own dear bride...

And she was dressed in shimmering white....

All dressed in white, like some fair bride....

And then she smiled her sweetest smile....

She sang and made my heart rejoice....

The salt sea weed was in her hair....

It filled my heart with dark despair....

And then I knew that she was dead....

Then I awoke to hear the cry....

"All hands on deck!", "Oh, Watch, Ahoy!"


McGinnis added, "P.S. This version I got from "P.G." and written as he sings it. It was sung mostly in ships running between Liverpool and Australian ports. He learned it [in] the early Eighties. I like it best of all the Lowland versions."

McGinnis sent Gordon a fair number of sea ballads but few shanties.

What makes this "Lowlands" especially interesting is its resemblance, in sentimental diction, to a good many lyrics in Harlow's "Chanteying" book. Harlow sailed in the late '70s.

Hugill's chantey versions essentially reflect the sensibility of the 1920s, when sentimentality was no longer thought "manly." But P.G.'s song, combined with Harlow and some others, concurs with many contemporary sources that sentimentality was an accepted feature of all Victorian pop culture.

Think Davis & Tozer. Indeed, P.G.'s lyrics resemble theirs, but are sufficiently different to show they aren't just a crib. His melody too differs a little.

So either D & T's "Lowlands" is fundamentally authentic, or it seemed perfectly acceptable to the chanteymen of the period.

Which in terms cultural acceptability amounts to almost the same thing.

(Recall that chanteyman Stanley Slade sang D & T's versions when he recorded for the BBC in the 1940s. Perhaps he thought they were good enough.)


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 25 Feb 21 - 02:56 PM

Okay I can imagine a sentimental tar making up or singing such a song
in the foc's'l but as a chanty? 'it filled my heart with deep despair'!!! I just can't conceive it. The imaginative dream idea also features in some rather suspect ballads. I do accept I'm the ultimate cynic, but ....

It is well-known that sailors and members of the forces sang and still sing some songs of a sentimental type, even at the sods operas. I have recorded some, but sung as a worksong on a noisy ship, I just can't believe it.


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Feb 21 - 09:33 AM

Since educated people (who'd heard them) considered the words of most chanteys dull, crude, or nonsensical, it's no wonder that D&T were more interested in providing music than in accurate, or even semi-accurate, words.

The degree of Davis's alterations and additions must have had something to do with the quality and "completeness" of the lyrics he knew - at least some of which must have been at second-hand.

The pirate lyrics of "The Black Ball Line," for example, may be based on nothing but Davis's desire to make a good Victorian sea song out of a trivial "fragment."

As usual, we can't know for sure. (What we do know is that Stanley Slade liked them!)


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Subject: RE: Review: Davis & Tozer 50 Sailors Songs or Chanties
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 27 Feb 21 - 09:40 AM

Agree with all that, Jon.


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