Boney was a warrior

Leggi in italiano

A sea shanty  originally born as a street ballad on the Napoleonic wars: Napoleon embodied the hopes for independence and the revolutionary demands of the European populations and the American colonies (Ireland in the lead); loved by the poorer layers as well as by intellectuals, it is the romantic hero par excellence, in its greatness and its fall. Nowadays, no one siding with Napoleon, but two centuries before, the spirits flared up for him!

Napoleone Bonaparte

SEA SHANTY VERSION

AL Lloyd wrote “A short drag shanty. These simple shanties were uses when only a few strong pulls were needed, as in boarding tacks and sheets and bunting up a sail in furling, etc. Boney was popular both in British and American vessels and in one American version Bonaparte is made to cross the Rocky Mountains.”: there are many text versions that all portray the victories and defeats of Napoleon in a few lines. The melody recalls the Breton maritime song “Jean François de Nantes” (with text in French)
C’est Jean François de Nantes OUE, OUE, OUE
Gabier sur la fringante Oh mes bouées Jean François
(here)
The adventure “Asterix in Corsica” pays homage to the shanty giving the name Boneywasawarriorwayayix to the chief of the resistance in Corsica

Paul Clayton


Boney(1) was a warrior,
Wey, hay, yah
A warrior, a tarrier(2),
John François (3)
Boney fought the Prussians,
Boney fought the Russians.
Boney went to Moscow,
across the ocean across the storm
Moscow was a-blazing
And Boney was a-raging.
Boney went to Elba
Boney he came back again.
Boney went to Waterloo
There he got his overthrow.
Boney he was sent away
Away in Saint Helena
Boney broke his heart and died
Away in Saint Helena

NOTES
1) Boney diminutive for Napoleon. The origin of the name is uncertain may mean “the Lion of Naples”, the first illustrious name was that of Cardinal Napoleone Orsini (at the time of Pope Boniface VIII)
2) terrier = mastiff
3) or Jonny Franswor! quote from the Breton maritime song Jean-François de Nantes

.. the punk-rock version with irony
Jack Shit in Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI 2006

I
Boney(1) was a warrior
A warrior a terrier(2)
Boney beat the Prussians
The Austrians, the Russians
Boney went to school in France
He learned to make the Russians dance
Boney marched to Moscow
Across the Alps through ice and snow.
II
Boney was a Frenchy man
But Boney had to turn again
So he retreated back again
Moscow was in ruins then
He beat the Prussians squarely
He whacked the English nearly
He licked them in Trafalgar’s Bay(1)
Carried his main topm’st away
III
Boney went a cruising
Aboard the Billy Ruffian(2)
Boney went to Saint Helen’s
He never came back again
They sent him into exile
He died on Saint Helena’s Isle
Boney broke his heart and died
In Corsica he wished he stayed

NOTES
1) The battle of Trafalgar saw the British outnumbered but Nelson’s unconventional maneuver (a position called in military jargon to T) displaced the enemy line up arranged in a long line (the excellent study in see), the only blow inflicted by the French was the death of Nelson. England was an unequaled naval power for the French and the Spanish, so Napoleon renounced the invasion of Great Britain who became the mistress of the seas until the First World War
2) the ship that brought Napoleon into exile on Saint Helena was Bellerephon but the name was crippled in Billy Ruffian or Billy Ruff’n by his sailors not sufficiently well-known to appreciate the references to Greek mythology.

JOHN SHORT VERSION


The authors write in the short Sharp Shanties project notes “Short’s words were few—a mere two and a half verses—but sufficient to indicate that his, like every other version of the shanty, essentially followed Napoleon Bonaparte’s life story to a greater or lesser extent depending on the length of the job in hand (although, as Colcord points out, some versions introduced inventive variations on his life). We have simply borrowed some (of the true) verses from other versions—but by no means all that were available!.. Perhaps, we are again dealing with a shanty that changed its purpose—Jackie has chosen a slower rendition which may be more appropriate to the time. Sharp noted: “Mr. Short sang ‘Bonny’ not ’Boney’, which is the more usual pronunciation; while his rendering of ’John’ was something between the French ’Jean’ and the English ’John’.” (tratto da qui)

Jackie Oates from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2

Boney was a warrior,
Wey, hay, yah
A bulling fighting tarrier,
John François
First he fought the Russians
then he fought the Prussians.
Boney went to Moscow,
Moscow was on fire oh.
We licked him in Trafalgar’s
Billy ??
Boney went to Elba
he came back to make another show
Boney went to Waterloo
and than he maked his overthrow.
Boney went to a-cruising
Aboard the Billy Ruffian.
Boney went to Saint Helena
Boney he didn’t get back
Boney broke his heart and died
in Corsica he should stay
Boney was a general
A ruddy, snotty general.

An interesting version in the folk environment comes from Maddy Prior who sings it like a nursery rhyme with the cannon shots and the drum roll in the background
Maddy Prior from Ravenchild 1999


Boney was a warrior
Wey, hey, ah
A warrior, a terrier
John François
He planned a distant enterprise
A great and distant enterprise.
He is off to fight the Russian bear
He plans to drive him from his lair.
They left with banners all ablaze
The heads of Europe stood amazed.
He thinks he’ll beat the Russkies
And the bonny bunch of roses. (1)

NOTES
1) english soldiers

FRENCH SHANTY: Jean-François de Nantes

Les Naufragés live

C’est Jean-François de Nantes
Oué, oué, oué,
Gabier de la Fringante
Oh ! mes bouées, Jean-François
Débarque de la campagne
Fier comme un roi d’Espagne
En vrac dedans sa bourse
Il a vingt mois de course
Une montre, une chaîne
Qui vaut une baleine
Branl’bas chez son hôtesse
Carambole et largesses
La plus belle servante
L’emmène dans la soupente
En vida la bouteille
Tout son or appareille
Montre et chaîne s’envolent
Attrape la vérole
A l’hôpital de Nantes
Jean-François se lamente
Et les draps de sa couche
Déchire avec sa bouche
Il ferait de la peine
Même à son capitaine
Pauvr’ Jean-François de Nantes
Gabier de la Fringante.

LINK
https://anglofolksongs.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/boney-was-a-warrior/
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/boney.html http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/boney.html http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/boneywas.htm http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=84540 https://mudcat.org/detail_pf.cfm?messages__Message_ID=1560890
http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/french.htm

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