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Origin: Shenandoah

DigiTrad:
OH, MY ROLLING RIVER
SHENANDOAH


Related threads:
Lyr Add: 'Shenandoah' in the U.S. army (39)
Singing 'Shenandoah' for Brits (65)
Lyr Add: Shenandoah (41)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah (Fisherman's Friends) (21)
Shenandoah Origin (29)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah en francais (7)
Help: Land of Misery (Shenandoah) (10)
Shenandoah (11) (closed)
Shenandoah and free melodies (8)
Origin: Shenandoah (8) (closed)
Lyr Req: Shenandoah (12) (closed)


Downeast Bob 05 Aug 00 - 08:50 AM
Peter T. 05 Aug 00 - 04:07 PM
Shanti 05 Aug 00 - 04:47 PM
DougR 05 Aug 00 - 08:34 PM
Downeast Bob 05 Aug 00 - 10:40 PM
DougR 05 Aug 00 - 10:44 PM
Abby Sale 05 Aug 00 - 11:20 PM
GUEST,leeneia 06 Aug 00 - 12:00 AM
Snuffy 06 Aug 00 - 07:55 AM
George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca 06 Aug 00 - 08:06 AM
Snuffy 06 Aug 00 - 08:09 AM
Downeast Bob 06 Aug 00 - 08:18 AM
GUEST,Barry Finn 06 Aug 00 - 09:36 AM
GUEST,Barry Finn 06 Aug 00 - 09:43 AM
Abby Sale 06 Aug 00 - 11:46 AM
Shanti 06 Aug 00 - 12:07 PM
Downeast Bob 07 Aug 00 - 11:22 AM
Dave (the ancient mariner) 07 Aug 00 - 02:50 PM
JedMarum 07 Aug 00 - 10:58 PM
Abby Sale 09 Aug 00 - 10:03 PM
Abby Sale 30 Aug 00 - 10:40 AM
Sourdough 30 Aug 00 - 08:50 PM
GUEST,adamhall@btinternet.com 09 Aug 02 - 09:12 AM
IanC 09 Aug 02 - 09:44 AM
GUEST,adam again 11 Aug 02 - 04:37 PM
John Minear 19 Aug 02 - 07:22 PM
EBarnacle1 20 Aug 02 - 09:46 AM
John Minear 20 Aug 02 - 10:06 AM
Venthony 21 Aug 02 - 08:42 AM
John Minear 22 Aug 02 - 08:18 AM
fogie 23 Aug 02 - 06:35 AM
GUEST,JTT 23 Aug 02 - 01:11 PM
ard mhacha 23 Aug 02 - 01:52 PM
GUEST,John Hoad 06 Apr 03 - 08:55 PM
GUEST,Q 10 Apr 03 - 10:37 PM
masato sakurai 10 Apr 03 - 11:32 PM
masato sakurai 10 Apr 03 - 11:35 PM
GUEST,Q 10 Apr 03 - 11:52 PM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 11 Apr 03 - 06:48 AM
GUEST,Vince 11 Apr 03 - 11:35 AM
GUEST,Larry 21 Oct 03 - 12:53 AM
LadyJean 21 Oct 03 - 01:03 AM
EBarnacle1 21 Oct 03 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,Larry 22 Oct 03 - 06:02 PM
GUEST,Cynthia 01 Dec 03 - 05:36 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Dec 03 - 06:21 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Dec 03 - 06:31 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 01 Dec 03 - 07:17 PM
Nancy King 01 Dec 03 - 07:31 PM
GUEST,Art Thieme 01 Dec 03 - 10:46 PM
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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Downeast Bob
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 08:50 AM

Lee Murdock, in his Folk Songs of the Great Lakes Region study guide says "This song is thought to have come from boatmen on the Ohio, Mississippi and Missouri Rivers during the mid 1800s. It was also sung by Great Lakes sailors and, eventually found its way onto the salt seas in an adapted form." Then he claims the song was used as a "capstan shanty."

His first statement makes sense to me, but this ain't no capstain chantey. Sailing ships on the lakes must have had capstans, which are big winches used primarily to raise heavy anchors. Riverboats had no need for them. In any case, the rhythym of "Shenandoah" is nothing at all like the rhythm of a capstant chantey.

In 1969, I spent some time in the crew of a full-rigged ship and I know from experience that capstan chanteys have a rather fast almost staccato rhythm. Six crew nenbers would insert six heavy spokes into the capstan and use these to turn the capstan as we marched around it in a circle, with short, powerful steps, our feet pushing against wooden slats attached to the deck as treads.

Our bosun was folksinger Jody Gibson, of Newport, R.I, and when we had to man the capstan, he used chanteys with a fast, regular beat, like Santy Ano, or Clear the Track Let the Bullgine Run. The graceful, slow and flowing lines of Shenandoah would have been useless.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Peter T.
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 04:07 PM

Well, whatever the truth is, Eric's theory is totally terrific. I love it. yours, Peter T.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Shanti
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 04:47 PM

According to Lomax, "Shenandoah, the most beautiful of all sea songs in English, probably began as a voyageur song on the rivers west of the Mississippi, taking its title from the Indians for whom the great valley of Virginia was named. It became, somehow, a capstan chantey and then a favourite song of the regular cavalry who sometimes fought the Indians out west, but also fell in love with and married Indian women."


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: DougR
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 08:34 PM

Wow! Interesting thread. Downeast Bob, I found your posting particularly so. Never having had ANY experience on a sea going or even river or lake going vessel, I learned a lot. The crew ACTUALLY sang as they performed their duties? I thought that was just something out of the movies.

I knew an old Arizona cowboy, and he said he had never heard any cowboys sing as they went about their work. Said by the time they bedded down at night, nobody had the strength to sing around the campfire. Sorry for the creep. Had they sung, though, maybe they would have sung Shenandoah! That gets us back on track. DougR


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Downeast Bob
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 10:40 PM

I think the main reason we sang was because Jody Gibson was the bosun and, being a lover of chanteys and other sea songs, he wasn't about to miss a chance to actually use chanteys to get work done. But I still can't imagine anyone tramping around a capstan singing Shenandoah.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: DougR
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 10:44 PM

Never having knowlingly seeing a capstan, Downbeat Bob, I just can't comment. I will, however, take your word for it as you are obviously well acquainted with them. DougR


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Abby Sale
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 11:20 PM

"Shenandoah" has any number of chanty versions. See, eg "Solid Fas'" in the database. The saddest rerndition I ever heard of it, however, was a duo that learned the chanty but thought it too harsh for the modern audience so they took the chanty words but applied the Western, lilting tune. Sad.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 12:00 AM

I went to a house concert abt 10 years ago where a man and wife named Nash sang songs of the sea. He was retired Navy, and they've been collecting for years. He sang a version of Shenandoah which he got from a sailor over 90 years old, and the sailor's last line went:

away, I'm bound away, across this wide world of mis'ry.

Makes more sense than the Missouri any day.

Hey, I live on the Missouri, and I know that going across it doesn't get you anywhere but Kansas, the beginning of the Great American Desert.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Snuffy
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 07:55 AM

'Solid Fas' is one of 3000+ songs in the DT with no tune. Could anyone post a midi to Alan of Australia or an ABC or MIDITEXT to this thread. Thanks

Wassail! V


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: George Seto - af221@chebucto.ns.ca
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 08:06 AM

Snuffy, Shenandoah is the tune Solid Fas is sung to. It's REALLY great. A friend of mine sings Solid Fas, and you can't tell the difference, if there is any.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Snuffy
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 08:09 AM

Thanks, George

Wassail! V


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Downeast Bob
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 08:18 AM

Thanks, Abby. I have always been amazed at your knowledge of chanteys. Even sailed with you once aboard a gaff-rigged ketch once, back in about 1961 I think, but it wasn't a large enough boat to require chanteys to get the work done. Anyway. I knew nothing about Solid Fas' and it's a great chantey. I can even, for the first time, imagine it being sung in a fast 2/4 time as a capstan chantey. In fact, the title "Solid Fas'" suggests a line being made fast. (A Mainer might say "Wicked Fas'")


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: GUEST,Barry Finn
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 09:36 AM

Solid Fas' is a (west Indian) term to mean the Blackfish is caught fast to the line ("solid fas? Yes, she's solid fas"). A close version of this tune I believe has been recorded by the boarding party though their tune is closer to what Abraham's calls "All Through The Cold & Squally Weather" than how he's got "Solid Fas" recorded. I can't do the midi thing or post tunes but if Joe O or someone else can take it off their answering machine I'd be happy to put what I've got on it.

Hi Leeneia, Solid Fas' is also known as "World Of Misery".

Hugill says that Shenandoah this was one of the most popular shanties at capstan & windlass. I'd say that ships of today don't use the capstan in the same fashion as was done 100 yrs ago. They no longer sail with heavy cargo & short handed crews, you won't find 4 masted vessels of 3 to 4000 tons releying on capstan alone for raising anchor nor anchoring in deep water to off load that cargo with a scope of chain laid out at a 7 or 8 to 1 ratio so that when the tide & wind is working against the ship she's got to pull in a good 1000' of chain. This was very slow & took upwards of 8 hrs sometimes so I can't see that they'd being doing a power walk behind the capstan till maybe when the hook broke free & was up & down & by that time I can't see that they'd be capable of speeding up the process after all that.
Many other of the capstan shanties collected (Banks Of Newfoundland, The Liverpool Packet, The First Of The Emigrants).
Slower capstan shanties are far fewer than the ones with a quicker pace, I'd think that the conditions that would call for long, slow capstan shanties would be what a skipper would do his best to avoid too, alot easier for vessels of today. Barry


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: GUEST,Barry Finn
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 09:43 AM

Sorry, that should've read 'many of the other capstan shanties collected ( ) were also sang at a slow pace'. Barry


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Abby Sale
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 11:46 AM

Bob: Thanks.  But I just say a lot about them.  It's Barry Finn that actually knows a lot about them.  (Him sing good, too.)    Also, as suggested, buying the two Boarding Party tapes from Camsco is a solid one-year course in sea songs.

I'm trying to think back - didn't we use a hamburger-hauling chantey on inputting supplies?

Here's another (below) - also in the database.  The Abrahams book is very good & I much recommend it.  The rowing chanteys intrigue me much.  The savants are reluctant to see anything as a "chantey" not strictly associated with work-time-setting on the great sailing ships.  The argument is good and consistant among several whose opinions I respect.  The legit rowing chantey (say, for rowing up to wind) seems a grey area.  But not being a savant, or a professional of any kind, I have no trouble seeing, say, "C'est L'Aviron" as a chantey.

The Caribbean rowing songs are generally 1) derived from tall ship sailors 2) derived from, based on or in the style of known chanteys & 3) used to set time at sea.  But the really important part of this (regardless of definitions) is the image/reality of a boatload of rowers on the open sea & going after large fish and even regularly after whale.  These were gutsy guys.  Or: Hey fellers, let's just row over to St. Thomas and see the girls ("Fine Time of Day").

They are still known and used in building construction!

Oh, My Rolling River^^^

All through the rain and squally weather
    Oh, my rolling river
All through the rain and squally weather
    We are bound away from this world of misery

Misery, I come to tell you
All through this rain and wind all squally

Salambo, I love your daughter
Salambo, this white mulatta

Seven long years we toiled the ocean
Seven long years I never wrote her

All through the rain and squally weather
All through this rain and windy squally

Misery, my captain cry out
Solid fas', my bowman cry out

I courted Sally, no pen no paper
I courted Sally with foolscap paper^^^

From Roger Abrahams's Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore.
 


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Shanti
Date: 06 Aug 00 - 12:07 PM

Thanks Abby Sale, for posting those lyrics to "Oh, My Rolling River." Will have to try singing that version sometime, and add them to my collection. Think most sailors (or seamen, "Sailor is a landlubbers word.") went to sea to get away from troubles on land. I'm sure many of them saw this as a worls of misery. At sea, no one but the captain had any authority over them...and nothing could reach them. Somehow, I've always associated chantys not so much with actual work, but with time "off watch" when the men thought about home and what they'd left on shore.

Leeneia, what part of the Missouri do you live on? Are you in Nebraska or NW Missouri? Crossing the river to get to Kansas leads me to believe you're in one or the other? I'm in SE Ohio now, but before I went to NYC (the last place before here) I spent 5 years in KC. That's a nice area. Had spent 9 years growing up there as well.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Downeast Bob
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 11:22 AM

Barry, your comments about long, slow capstan chanteys make sense. Thanks for shedding new light on this.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Dave (the ancient mariner)
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 02:50 PM

Shenandoah is one of the most loved Sea Songs or Shanties ever.. Sung slowly as a capstan shanty, or just as a forebitter to relax and entertain, with loving thoughts of girls ashore.... Barry has the right point in his post above. One technical point from an "Old Salt" this was also a "warping shanty". Before ships could leave dock and set sails, they were "Warped" out into river, by hauling slowly on hawsers laid out on the piers to turn the ship around. This was how they were pulled out of dock into main channel before setting sail or taking a tug; on some ships large oars called "Sweeps" were used to assist. Sometimes ships boats towed them round to a position where sails could be set. The men would be leaving loved ones, and usually suffering hangovers, which accounts for the slowness of the shanty; as well as its melancholy tone. Yours, Aye. Dave


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: JedMarum
Date: 07 Aug 00 - 10:58 PM

agreed - I've always loved this song, and have wondered about its alleged sea chanty origins. Good stuff here!


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Abby Sale
Date: 09 Aug 00 - 10:03 PM

One more thing. I went back to Deep the Water today to look up the song. The several pages before it give a fascinating, frightening and detailed account of going after whale (Blackfish) in just a long boat with 6 men. Couple of small details in the account:

The "All through the rain & squally weather" words are sung while rowing out after the whale but the "Solid fas'" words (still the same tune) are sung "after a long rowin' or coming home late at night and we must pull hard." The source explains that "Solid fas'" is said when you strike the "fish." Usually by the captain but maybe by the bowman first.

Sometimes they went after sperm whale which is incredible to me in a 22-26 foot rowboat. Many times one of these would attack the boat & sometimes sink it. The men would have to swim home. In open ocean! These were (are) tough men.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Abby Sale
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 10:40 AM

By the way, the St. Vincent tunes used for "Solid Fas'" and for "All Through The Cold & Squally Weather" are about the same to my ear. But it is a significant (but easily recognizable) variation on the usual tune. The slow rhythm also makes it a good rowing chantey. Sorry to reopen this old thread...the St. Vincent song captivates me.


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Subject: RE: Song info:
From: Sourdough
Date: 30 Aug 00 - 08:50 PM

For those interested in the skills leading up to a Nantucket Sleigh Ride, a whaleboat being towed by a whale with a harpoon n is back, an obvious but nonetheless excellent suggestion is Moby Dick. There is a lot of wonderful detail.

Sourdough


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,adamhall@btinternet.com
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 09:12 AM

I believe the song to have been written by John Short 'Yankee Jack', who lived in a small village called Watchet in the county of Somerset in England. He got his name because he was on a ship that blockaded ships during the Amercian civil war. I also believe he wrote the song to Rio Grande.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: IanC
Date: 09 Aug 02 - 09:44 AM

Adam

Seems unlikely as Sharp was collecting shanties from Short in 1914 and Whall clearly knew the song from the 1860s.

:-)
Ian


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,adam again
Date: 11 Aug 02 - 04:37 PM

I suppose so, but Short was born in the 1830s, so it's possible he wrote it. This is at least the claim made by Watchet museum. I suppose what really happened was that Short new the song and changed the lyrics.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: John Minear
Date: 19 Aug 02 - 07:22 PM

Frank T. Bullen's SONGS OF SEA LABOUR has two short versions of "Shenandoah". He says that he "was before the mast in sailing ships from 1869 to 1880." He goes on to say why he only gives the opening verse and a chorus:

"The stubborn fact is that they had no set words beyond a starting verse or two and the fixed phrases of the chorus, which were very often not words at all. For all Chanties were impromptu as far as the words were concerned. Many a Chantyman was prized in spite of his poor voice because of his improvisations. Poor doggerel they were mostly and often very lewd and filthy, but they gave the knowing and appreciative shipmates, who roared the refrain, much opportunity for laughter."

He says, "Being possessed of a strong and melodious voice and a tenancious memory, Chanty singing early became a passion with me, and this resulted in my being invariably made Chantyman of each new vessel I sailed in, a function I performed until I finally reached the quarter-deck, when of course it ceased."

Bullen calls the first version a "negro Chanty" and he may have learned it while discharging "general cargo in the Demerara River off Georgetown", when he was a "first voyage laddie". He says that he had "never heard them anywhere else. They are negro chanties all right enough, but they were not in common use on board ship." (Bullen is referring to the first four Chanties in his collection, of which this song is the fourth).

[Chantyman] O Shenandoh my bully boy I long to hear you holler;
[Chorus]Way ay ay ay ay
[Chantyman] Shenando I lub ter bring er tot er rum en see ye make a swoller;
[Chorus] Way ay ay ay Shenandoh.

The tune is "brisk" and quite different from the more widely known one.

The other Chanty is called "Rolling-River". It is sung "slow, and with expression". It has the more familiar tune. He says that this "is a fine Chanty of the ordinary windlass or pump type, the main word of which is again Shanandoah, the old Southern name that the negroes would drag in, on account of its melody I suspect."

[Chantyman] Shanandoh, I long ter hear ye;
[Chorus] Away, you rolling river;
[Chantyman] Oh Shanandoh-o I can't get near ye
[Chorus] Ha ha! I'm bound away on the wide Missouri!


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 09:46 AM

I was pleasantly surprised last night, as I was listening to the New Golden Ring (5 ddays singing) albums, to hear World of Misery. It can still be gotten from the Patons [just drop Sandy and Caroline a note here on Mudcat and I am sure he will be happy to help you].


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: John Minear
Date: 20 Aug 02 - 10:06 AM

In their AMERICAN BALLADS AND FOLK SONGS, John and Alan Lomax give a version collected from a Major Isaac Spalding, Office Chief of Staff, Washington, D.C., called "The Wild Miz-zou-rye" as an "old Cavalry song"(pp. 544-546).

For seven long years I courted Nancy,
Hi! Ho! the rolling river!
For seven long years I courted Nancy,
Ha! Ha! I'm bound away for the wild Miz-zou-rye!

She would not have me for a lover -

And so she took my fifteen dollars -

And she went to Kansas City -

And there she had a little sh-sh-baby
["When this is sung by a group of army men, the chorus sings "sh-sh" while one lone man breaks out irrepressibly with "baby."]

She must have had another lover - He must have been a - th Cavalry Soldier -

I'm drinkin' of rum and chawin' tobacco -

I learned this song from Tommy Tompkins (!)- ,br>

------

And Carl Sandburg, in his THE AMERICAN SONGBAG gives us "The Wide Missoura" (p. 408), saying that "regular army men were singing this in 1897".

O Shannadore, I love your daughter,
Hi-oh, you rolling river.
I'll take her 'cross the rolling water,
Ah-hah, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Mizzoura.

For seven years I courted Sally,
For seven more I longed to have her,

She said she would not be my lover,
Because I was a dirty sailor,

A-drinkin' rum and a-chewin' t'baccer,
A-drinkin' rum and a-chewin' t'baccer,


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: Venthony
Date: 21 Aug 02 - 08:42 AM

Either way -- any way -- you take it, it seems almost impossible to put a bad set of lyrics with such a great melody. What a gem -- truly a hell of a song.

Tony


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: John Minear
Date: 22 Aug 02 - 08:18 AM

I found this reference to a contemporary "Chief Shenandoah" very interesting, Shenandoah. There are many other sites for this Chief Shenandoah on Google. And here is some interesting information about the origins of the name "Shenandoah" as it applies to the Shenandoah Valley, which is over the mountain from meShenandoah Valley. Tantalizing, but no real connections to the song other than the name. If Virginians could end up in Wyoming, then they must have seen the wide Mizzouri. I find it very interesting that the song is bounded by the two rivers, and their valleys.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: fogie
Date: 23 Aug 02 - 06:35 AM

Just to say I have enjoyed this discussion immensely, which is why I tune in to this site.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,JTT
Date: 23 Aug 02 - 01:11 PM

I understand that the song is properly "O Seanadoir, I love your daughter". The protaganist has fallen in love with the daughter of Seanadoir David Norris and fled to the fledgling American Union of States. Can't remember any more, maybe someone else can fill the rest in.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: ard mhacha
Date: 23 Aug 02 - 01:52 PM

Over fifty years ago at a school concert I heard for the first time this great song, I am always taken back to those happy days when I hear Shennadoah, bye the way I am surprised no one has mentioned the beautiful rendition by the great Paul Robeson. A great thread, and on goes my old LP of the mighty Paul. Ard Mhacha.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,John Hoad
Date: 06 Apr 03 - 08:55 PM

Sorry to come late to this discussion of the song Shenandoah, but this is my take on the story.

A VERSION OF SHENANDOAH There are, as is well known, many versions of this song. My version of Shenandoah attempts to conflate certain traditions. (1) Shenandoah is named as a river in most of the traditional songs. So I have kept this tradition. It's the Shenandoah river that is addressed and longed for, even in departure from it. (2) Shenandoah was also reported as the name of the Indian chief who was father of the daughter in the song. So one verse recognizes that. (3) The song tells of a departure that can't be avoided. (4) There is no reason given in the traditional ballad for crossing the wide Missouri. In my version, we have given a reason, namely, that the young man had to make his fortune elsewhere. (5) Most traditional versions leave the ending up in the air. One version speaks of the hero being a "rover." In this version, the young man and his lady love return to the beloved Shenandoah valley after he has made his fortune further West. This is somewhat of a similar sequence to that of Danny Boy.

Old traditional songs take on new life repeatedly. It has been so with "Greensleaves" and similar tunes. Whatever the history, whatever the versions, we can have our own shot at keeping them alive. So here is my version:

SHENANDOAH

Oh, Shenandoah, I long to hear you,
Look away, my rollin' river.
Oh, Shenandoah, I would be near you:
Look away, we're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.

Chief Shenandoah, beside the water,
Look away, you rollin' river.
Chief Shenandoah, I love your daughter:
Look away, we're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, we're bound to leave you,
Look away, you rollin' river.
Oh, Shenandoah, we won't deceive you:
Look away, we're bound away
'Cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, we'll do some tradin',
Look away, our rollin' river.
Oh, Shenandoah, we'll come back laden:
Look away, we're bound your way,
'Cross the wide Missouri.

Oh, Shenandoah, we love your valley,
Look away, our rollin' river.
Oh, Shenandoah, we will not dally
Look away, we will not stay
'Cross the wide Missouri.

Version by John Hoad
3.30.03


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Apr 03 - 10:37 PM

Lyr. Add: SHENANDOAH (Whall 1910?)

Oh, Missouri, she's a mighty river,
Away you rolling river.
The Red-skins' camp lies on its borders,
Ah-ha, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.

The white man loved the Indian maiden,
Away you rolling river.
With notions sweet his canoe was laden.
Ah-ha, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.

"O Shenandoah, I love your daughter,
Away you rolling river.
I'll take her 'cross yon rolling water."
Ah-ha, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.

The chief disdained the trader's dollars:
Away, you rolling river.
"My daughter never you shall follow."
Ah-ha, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.

At last there came a Yankee skipper,
Away you rolling river.
He winked his eye, and he tipped his flipper.
Ah-ha, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.

He sold the chief that fire-water,
Away you rolling river.
And 'cross the river he stole his daughter,
Ah-ha, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.

"O Shenandoah, I long to hear you,
Away you rolling river.
Across that wide and rolling river."
Ah-ha, I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.

This thread is long, with several versions and much speculation, but surprisingly no one has posted the version printed by Whall, the first in print (1910). The music and text printed by the Fifes purports to be Whall's; I don't have his volume, so I print from the Fifes' book.
In a posting above, someone claimed that Whall states that the song was heard in the 1860s, but not having seen the book, I don't know if that is true, or if Whall was just speculating. No quote is given. As Malcolm Douglas has stated, there is no printed evidence of the song before 1910.

A post by Abby Sale opens up another possible line of investigation, dealing with Caribbean rowing songs.

Fife, Austin E. and Alta S., 1969 (and reprints), "Cowboy and Western Songs," #1, pp. 2-3.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: masato sakurai
Date: 10 Apr 03 - 11:32 PM

From Ships, Sea Songs and Shanties, collected by W.B. Whall, Master Mariner, 3rd edition (Glasgow: James Brown & Son, pp. 1-3) [1st ed. was published in 1910]:
                      Shenandoah

    The seaman of to-day knows nothing of this old song but the tune and one line, "O Shannadore,* I love your daughter." There must be some merit in it to have lasted so long, even in a debased form.
    Originally it was a song, not a shanty, and had nothing to do with salt water, for the "wide Missouri" is (like Alcala in another song) "nowhere near the sea." It is given here as a good specimen of the American sea song, of which there used to be a number. It must be quite fifty years since it was sung as a song. It probably came from the American or Canadian voyageurs, who were great singers; Thomas Moore drew inspiration from them in his "Canadian Boat Song." In the early days of America, rivers and canals were the chief trade and passanger routes, and boatmen were an important class. Shenandoah was a celebrated Indian chief in American history, and several towns in the States are named after him. Besides being sung at sea, this song figured in old public school collections. When very young, I heard a Harrow boy sing it. That must be nearly fifty years ago.

*"Mizzourah," and "Shannadore," were the usual pronunciations by American singers.

    This was not the only "song," by any means, which was used as a shanty. Dana told us long ago that one of the shanties used in his day was--
                   "Cheer up, Sam,
                   Don't let your spirits go down," etc.
which was made familiar to us by the old Christy Minstrels.
The 1st stanza of the version quoted (with tune) is as follows ("Oh" at the beginning is lacking):
(SOLO) Missouri, she's a mighty river
(REFRAIN) Away you rolling river.
(SOLO) The red-skins' camp lies on its borders.
(REFRAIN) Ah-ha I'm bound away 'cross the wide Missouri.
~Masato


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: masato sakurai
Date: 10 Apr 03 - 11:35 PM

The 3rd edition I referred to was published in 1913.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,Q
Date: 10 Apr 03 - 11:52 PM

Thanks, Masato for clearing up what Whall actually wrote. I take it that I was correct in assuming the words printed by the Fifes were those previously printed by Whall (or close thereto).
The solo vs. refrain definition clarifies the delivery of the song.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 11 Apr 03 - 06:48 AM

Q
The quote from Whall (by me) was there, alright - even if it was five years ago!

Regards


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,Vince
Date: 11 Apr 03 - 11:35 AM

I'm pretty sure the first time i ever heard Shenandoah sung as a sea shanty was on an LP of shanty songs i had years & years ago (maybe 30) by Colin Wilkie & Shirley Hart. Anyone remember them?? Great LP! Recently heard it nicely sung as a shanty by Dave Wetherill (sorry 'bout spelling) at the joiners in Miggy!


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,Larry
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 12:53 AM

Replying to a post on this thread by "Txon," dated 26 Mar 98, yes, there was a one season western titled "A Man Called Shenandoah," which ran from 1965 to 1966. It starred Robert Horton, who had made a name for himself playing the trail scout, Flint McCullough, on the tv series "Wagon Train."

Although the critics liked "A Man Called Shenandoah," it was up against "The Andy Griffith Show," and "The Andy Williams Show," and died of poor ratings.

I believe the show opened each week with the title character, wearing a great overcape, riding his horse slowly through a snowy landscape among towering pines, accompanied by the melody of "Shenandoah."


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: LadyJean
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 01:03 AM

I'm not sure which of the "Golden Ring" recordings includes a version that begins:
Shananadoah I love your daughter,
way hey you rolling river.
Shananadoa the bright mulatta.
We are bound away from this world of misery.

I believe they placed it in the West Indies.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: EBarnacle1
Date: 21 Oct 03 - 10:10 AM

Going back to the origins and geographical contradictions, consider that by the early 19th century, it is likely that Shanadore's band or tribe had been displaced to the West, which then would have been at or near the Missouri River. "World of Misery" could be simple folk process or a reflection on the ways of civilization. At this point, who knows what is original and what is process?


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,Larry
Date: 22 Oct 03 - 06:02 PM

A note regarding Robert Horton, of the tv series, "A Man Called Shenandoah," and the song, "Shenandoah."

If you go to www.roberthorton.com/awards.htm , you will find the following:

"The Royal Command Performance for Queen Elizabeth II (19 May 1960)

On December 27, 1959, Bob was invited to perform at the world famous London Palladium. He was such an overwhelming success that in May of 1960, he was invited back to England to perform for the Queen in a Royal Command Performance at the Victoria Palace Theater, an honor accorded few Americans at the time. The song he chose to sing for her Majesty started out as an English sea chanty, but it is now known as an American folk song, the lovely ballad, 'Shenandoah'."

If you visit the above mentioned webpage, and wait patiently for it to load (may take several minutes), you will hear Mr. Horton singing "Shenandoah" in what appears to be a live performance, presumably the Royal Command Performance. He has a good voice, which explains his starring in a number of Broadway musicals during the sixties.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,Cynthia
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 05:36 PM

I'm looking for an a capella version of this song. Does anyone have any information as to where I could find it?


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 06:21 PM

Go to: A-cappella
and enter Shenandoah in the Search. Several arrangements of this so-called traditional song (Music by Dvorak, words by several).


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 06:31 PM

In finding information, use both a cappella and a capella in a search for information. Both spellings are O. K., but the sheet music company uses a cappella.


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 07:17 PM

Yikes! Both "Going Home" and Shenandoah running through my mind and the wires crossed. Sorry!


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: Nancy King
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 07:31 PM

The recording LadyJean refers to is on "Five Days Singing: the New Golden Ring" (Folk-Legacy CD-41).

Closely related is the song "Solid Fas'," as recorded by The Boarding Party on their album " 'Tis Our Sailing Time" (Folk-Legacy CD-97). This version was collected by Roger Abrahams in Barouallie on the Caribbean island of St. Vincent in 1966, still in use there as a rowing shanty. It appears in Abrahams' wonderful but out-of-print book, "Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore." In this version, all reference to the Missouri and Shenandoah have disappeared, but the tune is the same, and it contains the refrain line, "We are bound away from this world of misery." Jonathan Eberhart of The Boarding Party agreed with the theory outlined above by EBarnacle on the "Missouri/Misery" connection. Abrahams was kind enough to send Jonathan a copy of his original field recording, and the BP guys fell in love with its unusual harmonies, which they reproduce in their own version.

It's a beautiful song, in any of its many variants.

Cheers, Nancy


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Subject: RE: Song info: Shenandoah
From: GUEST,Art Thieme
Date: 01 Dec 03 - 10:46 PM

Jo Stafford did a grand arranged record of this fine song.

Art Thieme


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