WE’RE ALL BOUND TO GO: BLOOD RED ROSES

Ho Molly, come down
Come down with your pretty posy
Come down with your cheeks so rosy
Ho Molly, come down”

Per introdurre due nuovi sea shanties nell’archivio parto dal film Moby Dick girato da John Huston nel 1956 che mostra l’equipaggio della “Pequod” impegnato in due manovre per uscire dal porto di New Bedford, grande centro baleniero sull’Atlantico: Starbuck l’ufficiale in seconda saluta la moglie e il figlio (e la camera stacca spesso sulle mogli e le fidanzate andate a salutare i marinai che non vedranno più per 6-7 mesi). La nave dopo aver doppiato il capo Horn si dirigerà verso il mare del Giappone.

Come riportato nelle note di commento alla traccia video “contained some great chanteys, led by the famed English folklorist and singer, A.L. Lloyd. He himself had experience working as a whaler in the Antarctic for 7 months back in the 1930s. This scene contains two chanteys (shanties). The first is “Blood Red Roses,” which is being used to haul up a tops’l yard. Then we hear “Heave Away My Johnnies,” being used for the old fashioned spoke windlass to warp the ship out of the dock. (The montage superimposes some hauling over this song, which doesn’t go?)

BLOOD RED ROSES

A.L. Lloyd scrive nelle note all’album A Hundred Years Ago (1963): “One of the best of halyard shanties, undeservedly little known until it became current in the folk song clubs fairly recently. Old Cape Horners have been unable to suggest the meaning of the refrain. Stan Hugill, in his excellent Shanties from the Seven Seas quotes a fragment that may be relevant:
Ho Molly, come down
Come down with your pretty posy
Come down with your cheeks so rosy
Ho Molly, come down

e ancora in Classic (1994) “For a halyard shanty this one is unusually well evolved. Stan Hugill thinks it probably started life early in the nineteenth century. I’d have thought later, by its shape. Its first mention in print is 1879. Old Cape Horners have been unable to suggest the meaning of the refrain. In some Napoleon ballads the British army is referred to as “the bunch of roses.” More probably it’s an image garbled from a scrap quoted by Hugill: Come down with your pretty posy Come down with your cheeks so rosy”

ASCOLTA Albert Lancaster Lloyd, Ewan MacColl & Peggy Seeger

It’s round Cape Horn we all must go
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down
For that is where them whalefish blow
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down
Oh, you pinks and posies
Go down, you blood red roses, Go down
It’s frosty snow and winter soul(?)
under’s(?) many ships they ‘round Cape Horn
It’s your boots to see again
let you them for whaler men

ASCOLTA Sting in “Rogues Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys” 2006. La versione testuale riprende quella di Louis Killen e l’interpretazione musicale è decisamente caraibica, cadenzata e ipnotica..


Our boots and clothes are all in pawn(1)
Go down, you blood red roses(2),
Go down

It’s flamin’ drafty(3) ‘round Cape Horn(4)
Go down, you blood red roses,
Go down

Oh, you pinks and posies
Go down,
you blood red roses,
Go down

My dear old mother said to me,
“My dearest son, come home from sea”.
It’s ‘round Cape Horn we all must go
‘Round Cape Horn in the frost and snow.
You’ve got your advance, and to sea you’ll go
To chase them whales through the frost and snow.
It’s ‘round Cape Horn you’ve got to go,
For that is where them whalefish blow(5).
It’s growl you may, but go you must,
If you growl too much your head they’ll bust.
Just one more pull and that will do
For we’re the boys to kick her through(6)
TRADUZIONE ITALIANO DI CATTIA SALTO
I nostri stivali e i vestiti sono ancora da pagare,(1)
andate giù, voi rose rosso sangue,(2)
andate giù
i venti ruggiscono(3) nei pressi di Capo Horn(4)
andate giù, voi rose rosso sangue,
andate giù
o voi rose e viole del pensiero
andate giù,
Oh voi rose rosso sangue,
andate giù.
La mia cara vecchia mamma mi disse
“Caro figlio, fai ritorno a casa dal mare”.
A doppiare Capo Horn tutti dobbiamo andare,
a doppiare Capo Horn con il gelo e la neve.
Hai preso il tuo anticipo e per mare devi andare
a inseguire le balene tra gelo e neve.
A doppiare Capo Horn devi andare
perchè è dove vanno le balene(5).
Puoi brontolare, ma devi andare,
se brontoli troppo ti spaccheranno la testa.
Ci vuole solo un altro tiro e sarà fatto
perchè noi siamo quelli che la fanno ripartire

NOTE
1) come ci insegna Italo Ottonello ” All’atto della firma del contratto d’arruolamento per i viaggi di lungo corso, i marinai ricevevano un anticipo pari a tre mesi di paga che, a garanzia del rispetto del contratto, era erogato in forma di pagherò, esigibile tre giorni dopo che la nave aveva lasciato il porto, “sempre che detto marinaio sia salpato con detta nave”. Tutti, invariabilmente, correvano a cercare qualche ‘squalo’ compiacente che comprasse il loro pagherò ad un valore scontato, di solito del quaranta per cento, con molta parte dell’importo fornito in natura. Gli acquirenti, procuratori d’imbarco e procacciatori vari, – gli ‘arruolatori’, com’erano soprannominati – erano indotti a ‘sequestrare’ i marinai e portarli a bordo, ubriachi o drogati, con poco o niente vestiario oltre quello che avevano indosso, e sperperare o rubare loro tutto l’anticipo. In questo senso, fino a quando non avevano restituito l’anticipo ricevuto, essi avevano tutto “impegnato” (all in the pawn).
2) scritto anche come “Hang down”; con buona pace di tutte le speculazioni avanzate sull’origine dell’insolito verso molto probabilmente esso è stato creato dallo stesso A.L. Lloyd per il film di Mody Dick, rimaneggiando il verso tradizionale “come down, you bunch of roses“. Non credo proprio che in questo contesto ci siano riferimenti ai soldati inglesi (in epoca napoleonica ci si riferiva alla Gran Bretagna come il ‘Bonny bunch of roses’, i francesi anche si riferivano ai soldati inglesi come i “bunch of roses” per via delle loro divise rosso acceso) né tantomeno alle balene, quanto piuttosto sia un vezzeggiativo riferito alle ragazze (un pensiero fisso dei marinai, ovviamente appena dopo il drinking). Secondo alcuni vecchi marinai you blood red roses è riferito alla morte delle balene: “a whale was harpooned from a rowing boat, unless it was penetrated and hit in a vital organ it would swim for miles sometimes attacking the boats. When it died it would be a long hard tow back to the ship, something they did not enjoy. If the whale was hit in the lungs it would blow out a red rose shaped spray from its blowhole. The whalers refered to these as Bloody Red Roses, when the spray became just frothy bubbles around the whale as it’s breathing stopped it looked like pinks and posies in flower beds” (tratto da mudcat qui)

oswald-brierly

Oswald Brierly, “Whalers off Twofold Bay” da Wikimedia Commons. Il dipinto è datato 1867 ma mostra la caccia alla balena e la Baia com’era negli anni del 1840

3) Tutta la canzone in questa versione è tinta di rosso con “flaming draughty” al posto di “mighty draughty”. E tuttavia anche se flaming ha come primo significato “Burning in flame” significa anche  “Bright; red. Also, violent; vehement; as a flaming harangue” Così Italo Ottonello cita il (WEBSTER DICT. 1828) per tradurre più propriamente   come “i venti ruggiscono”
In 1879, Captain R.C. Adams, in On Board the Rocket, gave the chorus (text only) of “Come Down, you bunch of roses” as heard sung some decades earlier by an all African-American crew headed out of Boston for Virginia; they followed it by the quintessential Caribbean shanty, “Sally Brown” (1879:65). We do not read of this shanty again until 1924 when, in obvious reference to Adam’s text (as well as to Dana 1869), shanty scholar Joanna Colcord wrote, What would lovers of shanties not give to hear “Captain Gone Ashore,” or “Come Down, You Bunch o’ Roses, Come Down”? They were sung once, and their names survive, but there is in all probability no one living today who ever heard those tunes lifted to halliards or windlass. (Colcord 1938:35) Colcord would be proven wrong; however, her statement demonstrates the great rarity of the shanty—at least in Anglo-American circles. A version of this song, although not used as a shanty, was recorded by Alan Lomax in the Bahamas in 1935 (Lomax 1999), entitled “Come Down, You Roses.” Lomax recorded what seems to be another related song, “Coming Down with a Bunch of Roses” in Trinidad in 1962 (Lomax 1997). It was a play song sung by schoolgirls, but this would not be the first time Caribbean play songs correlate with shanties (e.g. “Little Sally Rackett”). Doerflinger (1990 [1951]) was the first collector to print a full text and melody for the shanty form, “Come Down, You Bunch of Roses.” He called it “very rare,” getting it not from an oral source, but rather finding it only in an 1893 manuscript of a sailor from Salem, Mass., Nathaniel Silsbee, who had learned it in the late 1880s. The solo verses have a particularly “downhome” African-American, Southern or minstrel-song flavor, for example:         Oh, what do yer s’pose we had for supper?         Black-eyed beans and bread and butter.         Oh, Poll’s in the garden picking peas. She’s got fine hair way down to her knees. (Doerflinger 1990:22) A couple other song samples seem to be of a related strain. Harlow documented a sing-out (a form of short shanty or work-chant) “of negro origin,” that he heard in 1875 aboard the Akbar out of Boston, having the phrase “Oh Mary! Come down with your bunch of Roses!” (2004:29). And a Gordon Grant book from circa 1931 has, “Ho, Molly come down, Come down with your pretty posey, Come down with your cheeks so rosy. Ho, Molly, come down.” This, then, was an uncommon shanty with a curious connection to trade with Massachusetts and that only seemed lived on in, if it was not derived from, music of the Afro-Caribbean world. The phrase, “bunch of roses,” if not literal, is perhaps a term of endearment. The trajectory of the song changes drastically with A.L. Lloyd’s rendition of the shanty, as “Go Down, You Blood Red Roses,” on a 1956 album, The Singing Sailor. In June of that year, more significantly, Lloyd appeared in the film adaptation of Moby Dick. The tune of his rendition matched that printed by Doerflinger, a text that he clearly utilized on occasion (i.e. as seen from a pattern of other renditions in his recordings). However, the phrases “go down” and “blood red roses” were new. Some now believe these lines were inspired by the image of killing whales, but that legend probably derives from the song’s strong association with the film. The performance and picturization of the song in the film are excellent, which is probably one reason why “Blood Red Roses” comes off so convincingly as something “traditional.” Other folk revival singers followed Lloyd with similar renditions, such as Paul Clayton, who, being present as a performer at the Moby Dick premiere in New Bedford (Coltman 2008:68-9), was inspired to record it in 1956 on an album in reference to the Moby Dick theme. Apparently it gained such momentum in the late 50s Revival that Alan Lomax included “Blood Red Roses” in The Folk Songs of North America (1960), stating that the song was, “As sung by A.L. Lloyd and Paul Clayton, rarely published.” Thus gaining the seal of such luminaries as Lloyd, Clayton, and Lomax, along with the legitimizing effect of popular media, “Blood Red Roses” became a convincing simulacrum of a shanty that once was. Doerflinger, the collector whose book had introduced the shanty to revival singers, recognized this. In the revised edition of his text, 1972, he added to his notes about “Come Down, You Bunch of Roses”: “I doubt that the movie version, with a ‘blood-red roses’ chorus, is authentic folklore. “Blood Red Roses,” however, had already been canonized in the Revival, and Hugill was not immune to its influence. In SFSS, he gave what we have seen to be the original refrain, “Come down, ye bunch o’ roses.” His version was distinctive, having come from the Barbadian shantyman, Harding. However, he gave an alternate title for the shanty as “Blood-Red Roses.” It is a clear possibility that that came from the influence of Lloyd and company, as Hugill mentions both the Moby Dick film and The Singing Sailor LP. He goes one step further in remarking that, “it appears to be a British shanty, probably derived from a song about Napoleon and the British soldiers—’Redcoats’ or ‘Blood-red Roses’ as they were called on account of the red jackets they invariably wore” (1994:274-5).   While I find that to be pure speculation with little to support it, I am nonetheless comforted by the fact that the reader is free to take or leave this opinion. What really counts, Harding’s shanty, is there to speak for itself. Moreover, while Hugill did not believe the chantey had African-American origins, on the grounds that “bunch o’ roses” was allegedly a phrase characteristic of “true English folk-song,” he did allow that, “Of course, the shanty may have passed, like many others, through the Gulf Ports’ shanty mart” (275). However, in his 1969 book, Hugill switched over to calling the shanty just “Blood Red Roses” (also preferring the phrase, “hang down”). More disappointingly, the notated tune now pretty much matched Lloyd’s rendition. With it, the “Redcoats” theory is stated as strong probability, with none of the other messy details about the shanty’s provenance. In addition, he cites “Blood Red Roses” as supposed evidence that this shanty, being allegedly about Napoleon, may be one of the few extant shanties to have originated in the 18th century (1969:33-4; 184). I believe this is an unfortunate case of faith in the Revival dynamics being so strong as to compromise even the “last” representative of pre-Revival shanties.” (tratto da Mudcat vedi)
4) un tempo passaggio obbligato delle baleniere che dall’atlantico si dirigevano verso il pacifico a volte è scritto “Cape Stiff” che è un modo marinaresco per indicare Capo Horn
5) blow= “soffiare”
6) tipici versi fluttuanti

(prosegue seconda parte)

FONTI
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/bloodredroses.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=34080 http://www.well.com/~cwj/dogwatch/chanteys/Blood%20Red%20Roses.html http://www.wtv-zone.com/phyrst/audio/nfld/36/blood.htm http://will.wright.is/post/1367066738/jon-contino

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