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Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)

28 Mar 07 - 07:45 PM (#2010071)
Subject: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: mossiemay

Does anyone know the meaning of this line in Lowlands low; Our junk's as salt as Baylin's ass? It comes after the line 'They gives us bread as hard AS BRASS. dOES JUNK REFER TO MEAT?


28 Mar 07 - 08:27 PM (#2010114)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: Declan

Came into this thread thinking of a different song.

I suspect the line is Our junk's as old as Baylam's Ass, and the junk is a kind of ship, but I'm only guessing.


28 Mar 07 - 09:38 PM (#2010173)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: leeneia

Balaam's ass (donkey) has a speaking part in the Bible, see Numbers 22

http://www.bartleby.com/108/04/22.html

But why would an ass be salt?


28 Mar 07 - 10:56 PM (#2010233)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: Malcolm Douglas

There are several completely different and unrelated songs sometimes called 'Lowlands Low', so it will help if you say which one you are talking about. Presumably you mean the song found in the DT as THE ISLAND LASS?


28 Mar 07 - 10:59 PM (#2010234)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: Malcolm Douglas

Oh, I forgot: 'junk' is meat preserved in salt.


28 Mar 07 - 11:32 PM (#2010252)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: Anglo

Biblical (see above): Balaam's ass, intermingled with Lot's wife (turned to salt), with the possible interpolation of Lot's wife's ass - now you're on your own.


29 Mar 07 - 07:20 AM (#2010463)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: GUEST,Jim

I know the line from this (from the digitrad):

The Ebeneezer

(check out the last line and extrapolate)


29 Mar 07 - 08:06 AM (#2010495)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: bubblyrat

What has the rectum of a Baa Lamb got to do with salted beef ?? Is it to do with genetic engineering ??


29 Mar 07 - 08:15 AM (#2010506)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: Charley Noble

Anglo has it right, with regard to "Balaam's ass" as should be expected from such an astute biblical scholar and Malcolm is correct that "junk" was old sailor slang for salted "preserved" meat.

Some "junk" was so well preserved that sailors used to carve it into sculpture. It had a texture and grain similar to mahogany according to C. Fox Smith and Stan Hugill.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


29 Mar 07 - 01:13 PM (#2010854)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low
From: Joe Offer

Not much but a couple of lines to tie "Island Lass" with "Ebeneezer," but I've linked them temporarily because they seem to be of the same genre - interesting little songs about insignificant little tubs that nobody's ever heard of. Any other songs that fit into that category?

And does anybody know the source for the "Island Lass" song?

-Joe-


29 Mar 07 - 01:20 PM (#2010860)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)
From: Old Grizzly

< Some "junk" was so well preserved that sailors used to carve it into sculpture. It had a texture and grain similar to mahogany according to C. Fox Smith and Stan Hugill.>

... and as testament to the longevity of naval stores these carvings still appear occasionally in antique auctions

....whereas if you eat a chinese meal, you are ready for another one in about half an hour.. :o)


Dave


29 Mar 07 - 01:54 PM (#2010904)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)
From: Barry Finn

Hugill says it's West Indian & used at the hal'ards. Every thing on board an old sailing vessel is always damp & salty, hence the complaints about tasting more salt.

When I started on this one trip I was told by the skipper to use salt water for every thing, "we can't afford to use up good fresh drinking water". So my 1st round as cook I boiled up a pot of seawater for the pasta. Everyone started spitting & gagging & I couldn't stop laughing, no one else thought it funny until the next day when I gave them a decent meal. I still can't help laughing, I'm laughing right now thinking about it.

Barry


29 Mar 07 - 02:11 PM (#2010924)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)
From: Charley Noble

Barry-

What did they think of your coffee? ;~)

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


29 Mar 07 - 04:24 PM (#2011041)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)
From: Dead Horse

I suspect the original words to have been "the junk's as salty as Lot's wife's arse" but a more religeous sounding substitute would have been preferable for singing in mixed company, and more importantly, for committing to print.
As said countless times before, there were only a few standard verses for most shanties. The rest would be filled in by the shantyman as he thought of them, hence so many verses transferring from one shanty to another, and so many slight variations in the wording.
Even now, with so many groups performing shanties in folk clubs, wording is even more likely to change to suit the audience. This is not just for sexual content, but also in the interests of the dreaded Politically Correct Brigade who bend over backwards to avoid any reference to colour or creed. In several cases this detracts from the whole flavour of a shanty, turning it into a nice clean respectable folk song, and losing the original robustness of the whole thing.
Such is modern life, eh?


30 Mar 07 - 12:53 AM (#2011413)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)
From: leeneia

Do you know the cartoon "Shoe"? It involves anthropomorphized birds. Today someone asked a waitress for an oxymoron, and she replied "politically correct."


01 Apr 07 - 05:05 PM (#2013756)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)
From: GUEST,Lighter

Sharp printed a single stanza in "English Folk-Chanteys" in 1914. he colected it from Richard Perkins of St. Ives, Cornwall. Singing an introductory chorus was also the usual practice in the better-known "Lowlands, Lowlands, Away, My John") :

Cho.:
Lowlands, Lowlands,
Lowlands, lowlands, low.

Solo:
Our Captain is a bully man;
Cho.:
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands low;
Solo:
He gave us bread as hard as brass;
Cho.:
Lowlands, lowlands, lowlands low.

Stan Hugill's "Shanties from the Seven Seas" (1961) provides the ultimate source of all other versions I know of.

Hugill says, "I had it from Old Smith of Tobago, a fine old coloured shantyman who gave me many little-known shanties, in the thirties...."

Sharp notes, "I do not know of any other variant of this beautiful chantey." Obviously he was thinking of the tune, which, more clearly still in Hugill's version, is a form of Thomas Arne's tune for Isaac Bickerstaffe's lyric, "The Miller of Dee," the smash hit of Bickerstaffe's comic opera, "Love in a Village" (1762).

Hugill also used "The Miller of Dee" for the otherwise unrelated but now well-known "Rolling Down to Old Maui."


16 Jun 10 - 08:15 AM (#2928976)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)
From: GUEST,Paul

I think its "bailer's ass" which at least makes sense


16 Jun 10 - 08:25 AM (#2928985)
Subject: RE: Origins: Lowlands Low (Island Lass?)
From: Dave Hanson

It's already been established, it's a biblical reference, Balaam's ass.

FFS

Dave H