Archivi tag: halyard shanty

A fierce song for halyard: Bully in the Alley

Leggi in italiano

“Bully in the Alley” is a halyard shanty with origins referable to the black slaves involved in loading and unloading cotton bales in the ports (cotton screwing).
The bully here is a boozing sailor left in an alley by his still “sober” companions, who will move on to pick him up when returning to the ship.

Shinbone Alley is an alley in New York but also in Bermuda, but metaphorically speaking it is found in every “sailor town”. More generally it is an exotic indication for the Caribbean, the alley of a legendary “pirates den” , where every occasion is good for a fist fight! (first meaning for bully). Or it is the alley of an equally generic port city of the continent full of pubs and cheerful ladies, where if you get drunk, you end up waking up “enlisted” on a warship or a merchant ship (second meaning for bully). So our victim in love with Sally instead of marrying her, he goes to sea!
And finally a last interpretation: a “very good”, or “first rate” sailor (the rooster of the henhouse!)
According to Stan Hugill “Bully in the Alley” has become a seafaring expression to indicate a “stubborn” ship that wants to go in its direction in spite of the helmsman’s intention
This song is nowadays among the most popular “pirate songs”!
Take a look to these bully boys!

Assassin’s creed IV black flag

Chorus
Help me, Bob(1),
I’m bully in the alley,
Way, hey, bully in the alley!
Help me, Bob, I’m bully in the alley, Bully down in “shinbone al“!
I
Sally(2) is the girl that I love dearly,
Way, hey, bully in the alley!
Sally is the girl that I spliced dearly(3),
Bully down in “shinbone al
 II
For seven long years I courted little Sally,
But all she did was dilly and dally(4).
III
I ever get back, I’ll marry little Sally,
Have six kids and live in Shin-bone Alley.

NOTES
1)  God
2) Sally (or Sal) is the generic name of the girls of the Caribbean seas and of South America
3) also written as “Spliced nearly” means “almost married”, and yet the meaning lends itself to sexual allusions
4) to wastetime, especially by being slow, or by not being able to make a decision

Morrigan

Text version identical to the previous one but with an additional stanza before the last closing that says:
I’ll leave Sal and I’ll become a sailor,
I’ll leave Sal and ship aboard a whaler.

Three Pruned Men from Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys  ANTI 2006.

Text version identical to the previous one but with a closing stanza that says:
Sally got down and dirty last night,
Sally got down and she spliced(5),
The sailors left last night,
The sailors got a ball of wax(6),

NOTES
5) in slang to splice it means having sex (uniting parts of the body in sexual activity) but also uniting with marriage
6) It is an idiom that means the totality of something; a hypothesis on the origin of the term: This is a form of initiation of freemasons. The freemasons took it from the scarab beetle, which is said to roll a ball of earth, which is a microcosm of the universe. I believe it is thought to spring from the ancient mysteries of Egypt. There was much amateur Egyptology during the 19th and early 20th century. The ball of wax has transcendental meaning. It represents a mystery of human godlike creativity which a person aspiring to the mystery of masonic lore carries with him. In the initiation, the person was given a small ball of earwax or some such, which would represent the cosmos. Reference to this ball of wax was a secret symbol of brotherhood. (from here)

Paddy and the Rats

LINK
https://terreceltiche.altervista.org/sally-brown/
http://mainlynorfolk.info/watersons/songs/bullyinthealley.html http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/bully-in-the-alley.html http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=31335
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=43912

Hanging Johnny : hang, boys, hang

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“Hanging Johnny” is an halyard shanty in which we talk about the hangman who hangs all those who bother him! Immediately, the scholars wanted to find a historical figure who incarnated this executioner in Jack Ketch notorious executioner in the seventeenth century London.

But for the sailors the phrase “hanging Johnny” has a whole other meaning.

THE WORK OF THE HANGED SAILOR

In order to hoist the heavier sails, they followed a strange procedure : the younger and nimble sailors (and less paid as they were apprentices) climbed up on the masthead and, after grabbing a halyard, jumped in the air, hanging like so many hangers. As they descended, they were helped by the efforts of the remaining sailors to slowly reach the deck.
Joys explained that “hanging Johnny” did not refer to a sheriff’s hangman, but instead to nimble young sailors who, when a topsail was to be hoisted, would climb to the masthead and “swing out” on the proper halyard. They would then ride to the deck as the men at the foot of the mast brought them down by their successive pulls. Joys recalled one chanteyman who would always tell the boys when to swing out by shouting up to them, “Hang, you bastards, hang!” Then, while the boys were hanging on the halyard fifty feet or more above the deck, he’d start his song and the crew would make two pulls on each chorus. When the boys hit the deck, they would tail on behind the other men and pull with them until the work was finished.
Joys added that the word “hang” was “the best goddamn pullin’ word in the language, especially on a down haul.” Ashley said the tune was “a bit mournful, but a good one for hoisting light canvas,” noting that the words enabled the sailors to find fault, good-naturedly, with all their real and fancied enemies, “if the work lasted long enough.”
 (from “Windjammers: Songs of the Great Lakes Sailors” by Ivan H. Walton and Joe Grimm, 2002 here)

So on Mudcats a heated debate has opened up: “The words “Hang, boys, hang,” are used in a topsail-halliard hoist, when sweating up the yard “two blocks” where, in swaying off, the whole weight of the body is used. The sing-out, from some old shellback, usually being words such as “Hang, heavy! Hang, buttocks! Hang you sons of ——-, Hang.” After setting the topsails, we gave her the main-topgallant sail, which was all she could carry in a heavy head-sea. The decks were awash all day. “…. the chantey was sung with a jerk and a swing as only chanteys in 6/8 time can be sung. While the words were of Negro extraction, yet it was a great favorite with us and sung nearly every time the topsails were hoisted.” (from Frederick Pease Harlow, 1928, The Making of a Sailor, Dover reprint of Publication Number 17 of the Marine Research Society, Salem, MA here)

Definitely a perfect “pirate song”! I found this piece of film about the golden age of the great vessels in which the song is sung.

Oh they call me hanging Johnny.
Away, boys, away.
They says I hangs for money.
Oh hang, boys, hang.
And first I hanged my Sally
and then I hanged my granny.

JOHN SHORT VERSION

Sharp publishes a set of words in which the shantyman does not himself hang people and indeed sings, I never hung nobody. Hugill is adamant (as is Terry) that no shantyman ever claimed that anyone other than himself was the hangman, and that “Sentimental verses like some collectors give were never sung – Sailor John hanged any person or thing he would think about without a qualm.” Checking these ‘some collectors’, one finds several who elect only to hang the bad guys – liars, murderers, etc. – are these the verses Hugill means by ‘sentimental’ or is he having a go at Sharp for the shantyman not being the hangman himself? Sharp’s notebooks show that he recorded from Short the same as he published. It could be that Short is self-censoring but it seems unlikely given that Short seems happy, in various other shanties, to sing text that might not be regarded as genteel (e.g. Nancy, Lucy Long, Shanadore). Short was, however, a deeply religious man and, if this is not simply an early and less developed form of the shanty, then he may have deliberately avoided casting himself as hangman – we will never know! Notwithstanding, and contrary to Hugill’s assertion, there was at least one shantyman who actually sang I never hung nobody.

Collectors’/publishers’ reactions to the shanty are curiously mixed: Bullen merely notes that “shanties whose choruses were adapted for taking two pulls in them… were exceedingly useful”, Fox-Smith that it had an “almost macabre irony which is not found in any other shanty”, and Maitland that “This is about as doleful a song as I ever heard” but, in an almost poetic description points out that “there’s a time when it comes in. For instance after a heavy blow, getting more sail on the ship. The decks are full of water and the men cannot keep their feet. The wind has gone down, but the seas are running heavy. A big comber comes over the rail; the men are washed away from the rope. If it wasn’t for the man at the end of the rope gathering in the slack as the men pull, all the work would have to be done over again.” – Horses for courses! (from here)

Tom Brown from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 1


They called me hanging Johnny,
urrhay-i-, urrhay-i-,
They called me hanging Johnny
so hang, boys, hang
They hanged me poor old father
They hanged me poor old mother
Yes they hanged me mother
Me sister and me brother
They hanged me sister Sally
They strung her up so canny
They said I handeg for money
But I never hanged nobody
Oh boys we’ll haul and hang the ship
oh haul her ropes so neat
We’ll hang him forever,
We’ll hang for better weather,
A rope, a beam, a ladder,
I’ll hang ye all together

ADDITIONAL VERSIONS

Stan Ridgway from  Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI 2006. Masterful interpretation that transforms the shanty into a melancholy folk song

The Salts live in a jaunty version

 Stan Ridgway lyrics
I
They call me hanging Johnny,
yay (away )-hay-i-o
I never hanged nobody
hang, boys, hang
Well first I hanged your mother
Me sister and me brother
I’d hang to make things jolly
I’d hang all wrong and folly
A rope, a beam, a ladder,
I’ll hang ye all together
Well next I hanged me granny
I’d hang the wholly family
They call me hanging Johnny,
I never hanged nobody
II
Come hang, come haul together,
Come hang for finer weather,
Hang on from the yardarm
Hang the sea and buy a big farm
They call me hanging Johnny,
I never hanged nobody
I’d hang the mates and skippers,
I’d hang ‘em by their flippers
I’d hang the highway robber,
I’d hang the burglar jobber;
I’d hang a noted liar,
I’d hang a bloated friar;
They say I hung a copper,
I gave him the long dropper

LINK
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=72779
http://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/songs/hangingjohnny.html
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20774/20774-h/20774-h.htm#Hanging_Johnny
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/hanging.html
http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/thycalme.htm

Blow the man down sea shanty

Leggi in italiano

“Blow  the man down”, that is to knock a man down or strike with a fist, belaying pin or capstan bar, is a popular sea shanty.

There are a great variety of texts of this halyard shanty, with the same melody, and after the version for the cartoon character “Popeye” it has also become a song for children!

Billy Costello the voice of the first Popeye

According to Stan Hugill “the shanty was an old Negro song Knock A Man Down. This song, a not so musical version of the later Blow The Man Down, was taken and used by the hoosiers of Mobile Bay, and at a later date carried by white seamen of the Packet Ships.

Knock a man down

The original version probably comes from African-American workers, but ended up in the repertoire of liners along the transatlantic route. In his video Ranzo combines the melody of Stan Hugill with that of John Short: in the first text the shantyman would prefer to be on the ground, to enjoy themselves with drinks and girls.
Hulton Clint

There are three main themes.

FIRST VERSION: prime seamen onboard a Black Ball

The oldest version is the one in which the novice sailors are soon aware of the harsh and violent climate on the Black Baller.

black-ball
In addition to the flag the Black Ball of the Black Ball Line was drawn on the fore-topsail

As Hugill says ” Chief Mates in Western Ocean ships were known as “blowers”, second mates as “strikers”, and third mates as “greasers.”
Packets and Blowers
A Packet ship was one which had a contract to carry packets (formerly “paquettes”) of mail. The earliest and most famous transatlantic packet route was the Liverpool service, started in 1816 by the Black Ball Line, with regular departures from New York on the 1st and 16th of every month without fail, regardless of weather or other inconveniences. These early ships of 300 to 500 tons averaged 23 days for the eastward voyage and 40 days to return westward. Cabin passengers were usually gentlefolk of good breeding, who expected to find courtesy and politeness in the captains with whom they sailed. Packet captains were remarkable men, hearty, bluff, and jovial, but never coarse, always a gentleman.
The mates, on the other hand, had no social duties to distract their attention, and devoted their time and energies to extracting the very maximum of performance from both their vessel and its crew, so it is no surprise that it was on board the Black Ball liners that “belaying pin soup” and “handspike hash” first became familiar items of the shipboard regime. A hard breed of sailor was required to maintain the strict schedules whatever the weather, and it took an even harder breed of mate to keep this rough and ready bunch in some sort of order. If all else failed then then Rule of the Fist applied: to “blow a man down” was to knock him down with any means available – fist, belaying pin, or capstan bar being the weapons most often preferred. (from here)

“Capstan Bars” di David Bone 1932
CHORUS
oh! Blow the man down, bullies.
Blow the man down W-ay! hey?
Blow the man down!
Blow the man down bullies.
Blow him right down, give us the time and we’ll blow the man down!
Come all ye young fellers that follows the sea.
W-ay! hey? Blow the man down!
I’ll sing ye a song if ye’ll listen t’ me.
Give us the time an’ we’ll blow the man down!
‘Twas in a Black Baller I first served my time.
and in a Black Baller I wasted my prime.
‘Tis when a Black Baller’s preparin’ for sea.
Th’sights in th’ fo’ cas’le(1) is funny t’ see
Wi’ sodgers (2) an’ tailors an’ dutchmen an’ all,
As ships for prime seamen(3) aboard th’ Black Ball.
But when th’ Black Baller gets o’ th’ land
it’s then as ye’ll hear th’ sharp word o’ command.
oh! it’s muster ye sodgers an’ tailors an’ sich.
an’ hear ye’re name called by a son of a bitch.
it’s “fore-topsail halyards”(4), th’ Mate(5) he will roar.
“oh, lay along smartly you son of a whore”.
oh, lay along smartly each lousy recroot.
Wor it’s lifted ye’ll be wi’ th’ toe of a boot.

NOTES
1 )the forward part of a ship below the deck, traditionally used as the crew’s living quarters.
2) sodger vvariant of soldier is used as an insult in the sense of ambush, slacker, one who always tries to escape from work, that when there is work, goes away or retires
3) the inexperienced and the novices are good only for the easy maneuvers
4) fore-topsail halyards= In sailing, a halyard or halliard is a line (rope) that is used to hoist a ladder, sail, flag or yard; fore-topsai  the sail above the foresail set on the fore-topmast
5) Mate= first officer

The Seekers


I
Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea
To me weigh hey blow the man down
And pray pay attention and listen to me
Give me some time to blow the man down
I’m a deep water sailor just in from Hong Kong
If you’ll give me some rum I’ll sing you a song-
II
T’was on a Black Baller I first spent my time
And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime
T’is when a Black Baller’s preparing for sea
You’d split your sides laughing at the sights that you see
III
With the tinkers and tailors and soldiers and all
That ship for prime seamen onboard a Black Ball
T’is when a Black Baller is clear of the land
Our boatswain then gives us the word of command
IV
“Lay aft” is the cry “to the break of the poop
Or I’ll help you along with the toe of my boot”
T’is larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl
For Kicking Jack Williams commands the Black Ball
Aye first it’s a fist and then it’s a pall
When you ship as a sailor aboard the Black Ball

SECOND  VERSION: I’m a `Flying Fish’ sailor

The second version tells the story of a “flying-fish sailor” just landed in Liverpool from Hong Kong, swapped by a policeman for a “blackballer”. The sailor reacts by throwing the policeman on the ground with a sting and obviously ends up in jail for a few months.

Stan Hugill& Pusser’s Rum from Sailing Songs  (1990)


I’ll sing you a song if you give some gin
To me wey-hey, blow the man down
?? down to the pin
Gimme some time to blow the man down
As I was rolling down Paradise street(1)
a big irish scuffer boy (2) I chanced for to meet,
Says he, “You’re a Blackballer from the cut of your hair(3);
you’re a Blackballer by the clothes that you wear.
“You’ve sailed in a packet that flies the Black Ball,
You’ve robbed some poor Dutchman of boots, clothes and all.”
“O policeman, policeman, you do me great wrong;
I’m a `Flying Fish’ sailor(4) just home from Hongkong!”
So I stove in his face and I smashed in his jaw.
Says he, “Oh young feller, you’re breaking the law!”
They gave me six months in Liverpool town
For bootin’ and a-kickin’ and a-blowing him down.
We’re a Liverpool ship with a Liverpool crew
A Liverpool mate(5) and a Scouse(6) skipper too
We’re Liverpool born and we’re Liverpool bred
Thick in the arm, boys, and thick in the head
Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
With a crew of hard cases(7) from Liverpool town

NOTES
1) once the fun way for sailors, the 19th century Paradise street left today the place for Liverpool One,
2 sassy policeman or big Irish copper: scuffer is a typical nineteenth-century term for policeman
3) all the Black Baller line sailors wore their hair cut short
4) According to Hugill a flying-fish sailor is a sailor ” who preferred the lands of the East and the warmth of the Trade Winds to the cold and misery of the Western Ocean
5) first mate
6) scouse is a term used by the people of Liverpool which is also the name given to the local dialect. Originally born from the habits of the sailors of Liverpool to eat the stew of lamb and vegetables probably derived from the Norwegian “skause”. It refers to the English spoken language typical of Irish immigrants
7) hard cases: a tough or intractable person, a person who is hard to get along with.

JOHN SHORT VERSION: Knock a man down

The shantyman John Short sings a very personal version compared to the “Blow the man down” reported in the shanties archives, in the arrangement for the Short Sharp Shanties the authors write ” ” Fox-Smith, Colcord and Doeflinger all comment on the number of different texts which the shanty carried.  Hugill gives six different sets of words and Short’s words are not really related to any of them – so we have added ‘general’ verses from other versions.  Specifically, we’ve added the ‘Market Street’, ‘spat in his face’ and ‘rags are all gone’ verses – the rest are Short’s.”
Sam Lee from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2 


As I was a-walking down Market street
way ay knock a man down, 
a bully old watchman I chanced for to meet
O give me some time to knock a man down.
Chorus

Knock a man down, kick a man down ;
way ay knock a man down,
knock a man down
right down to the ground,
O give me some time to knock a man down.

The watchman’s dog stood ten feet high (1),
The watchman’s dog stood ten feet high.
So I spat in his face by gave him good jaw
and says he “me young  you’re breaking the law!”
[chorus]
I wish I was in London Town.
It’s there we’d make them girls fly round.
She is a lively ship and a lively crew.
O we are the boys to put her through
[chorus]
The rags are all gone and (?the chains they are jam?)
and the skipper he says  (? “If the weather be high”?)
[chorus]

NOTES
A transcription still incomplete because I can not understand the pronunciation of the final verses
1) it was not unusual that the watchmen since the Middle Ages were accompanied with a dog, as can be seen from many vintage illustrations

THIRD VERSION: Beware of the drink whenever it’s free

000brgcf
The most widespread version is about an unfortunate meeting in Paradise street with a young “damself” sometimes compared to a ship in which, metaphorically, the sailor would want to embark.
The awakening is bitter, because he was shanghaiing on a Yankee ship. (see more)

the Haunted Saloon

I’ll sing you a song, a good song of the sea
Way – hey, blow the man down.
I trust that you’ll join in the chorus with me; Give me some time to blow the man down.
Chorus
Blow the man down, bully, blow the man down; Way – hey, blow the man down.
Blow the man down, boys, from Liverpool town; 
Give me some time to blow the man down.

As I was a-walking down Paradise street
A handsome young damsel I happened to meet
At the pub down on Lime street I then went astray
I drank enough stout for to fill Galway Bay
The next I remember I woke in the dawn
On a tall Yankee clipper that was bound round Cape Horn.
Come all ye young fellows who follow the sea
Beware of the drink whenever it’s free

Woody Guthrie from Songs of American Sailormen, 1988 version collected by Joanna Colcord


As I was out walkin’ down Paradise street(1),
To me way, hey, blow the man down!
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet,
Give me some time to blow the man down!

She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow,
So I took in all sail and cried “way enough now”(2)
I hailed her in English, she answered me clear
“I’m from the Black Arrow bound to the Shakespeare”
So I tailed her my flipper(3) and took her in tow
And yard-arm to yard-arm(4), away we did go
But as we were a-going she said unto me
“There’s a spankin’ full rigger(5) just ready for sea”
That spankin’ full rigger to New York was bound
She was very well mannered and very well found
But as soon as that packet was clear of the bar(6)
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar
As soon as that packet was out on the sea
‘Twas devilish hard treatment of every degree
So I give you fair warning before we belay
Don’t never take heed of what pretty girls say.

NOTES
1) once the fun way for sailors, the 19th century Paradise street left today the place for Liverpool One,
2) way enough now from Weigh enough – Take the stroke, put the blades on the water and relax. “Weigh enough” (or “Wain…’nuff”, or “Way enough”) (USA) The command to stop what ever the rower is doing, whether it be walking with the boat overhead or rowing.
3) flipper= hand
4) yard-arm to yard-arm= Very close to each other.
5) rigger=packet
6) The bar of Mersey river.

Allen Robertson for the cartoon version of Jack Sparrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Swashbuckling Sea Songs 2007

I
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
Way aye blow the man down
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow him away
Give me some time to blow the man down!
II
As I was a walking down Paradise Street
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet.
III
So I tailed her my flipper and took her in tow
And yardarm to yardarm away we did go.
IV
But as we were going she said unto me
There’s a spanking full-rigger just ready for sea.
V
So just as that lass I reached not to far
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar.
VI
It’s starboard and larboard on deck you will sprawl
For Captain Jack Sparrow commands the Black Pearl
VII
So I was shangaiing aboard this old ship
she took off me money and gave me to sleep
VIII
So I give you fair warning before we belay,
Don’t ever take head of what pretty girls say.

CARRIBEAN VERSIONS

Two variants from the Nevis and Carriacou islands so Ranzo writes in the notes: “The variation from Nevis, with its repeated phrase “in the hold below”, suggests the song was once associated with stevedores loading cargo. This is fascinating, because it is consistent with (my reading of the) evidence that “Blow the Man Down” was initially a stevedore song, in which the act of blowing “the man down” was perhaps a metaphor for stowing each piece of cargo. Also, the many variations, “hit,” “knock,” “kick,” “blow” are consistent with other historical data that “knock a man down” was an/the early form. The variation was sung by Roy Gumbs and party of Nevis in 1962. Lomax recorded it, and Abrahams transcribed it in his 1974 book. The second variation is from Carriacou. It refers to a vessel named _Cariso_. It was sung by Daniel Aikens and chorus in 1962.”

LINK
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/blowdown.html
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/btmd/index.html
http://shanty.rendance.org/lyrics/showlyric.php/blowdown
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/blow-the-man-down.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/flying-fish-sailor.html http://www.acousticmusicarchive.com/blow-the-man-down-chords-lyrics
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/blowthemandown.htm
http://www.umbermusic.co.uk/SSSnotes.htm

Blood Red Roses, a whale shanty

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Ho Molly, come down
Come down with your pretty posy
Come down with your cheeks so rosy
Ho Molly, come down”
(from Gordon Grant “SAIL HO!: Windjammer Sketches Alow and Aloft”,  New York 1930)

To introduce two new sea shanties in the archive of Terre Celtiche blog I start from Moby Dick (film by John Huston in 1956) In the video-clip we see the “Pequod” crew engaged in two maneuvers to leave New Bedford, (in the book port is that of Nantucket) large whaling center on the Atlantic: Starbuck, the officer in second, greets his wife and son (camera often detaches on wives and girlfriends go to greet the sailors who will not see for a long time: the whalers were usually sailing from six to seven months or even three – four years). After dubbing Cape of Good Hope, the”Pequod” will head for Indian Ocean.
It was AL Lloyd who adapted  “Bunch of roses” shanty for the film, modifying it with the title “Blood Red Roses”. It should be noted that at the time of Melville many shanty were still to come

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 snow
under’s many ships they ‘round Cape Horn
It’s your boots to see again
let you them for whaler men

oswald-brierly
Oswald Brierly, “Whalers off Twofold Bay” from Wikimedia Commons. Painting is dated 1867 but it shows whaling and the Bay as it was in the 1840s

Assassin’s Creed Rogue (Nils Brown, Sean Dagher, Clayton Kennedy, John Giffen, David Gossage)


Me bonnie bunch of Roses o!
Come down, you blood red roses, come down (1)
Tis time for us to roll and go
Come down, you blood red roses, Come down
Oh, you pinks and posies
Come down, you blood red roses, Come down
We’re bound away around Cape Horn (2), Were ye wish to hell you aint never been born,
Me boots and clothes are all in pawn (3)/Aye it’s bleedin drafty round Cape Horn.
Tis growl ye may but go ye must
If ye growl to hard your head ill bust.
Them Spanish Girls are pure and strong
And down me boys it wont take long.
Just one more pull and that’ll do
We’ll the bullie sport  to kick her through.

NOTES
1) this line most likely was created by A.L. Lloyd for the film of Mody Dick, reworking the traditional verse “as down, you bunch of roses”, and turning it into a term of endearment referring to girls (a fixed thought for sailors, obviously just after the drinking). I do not think that in this context there are references to British soldiers (in the Napoleonic era referring to Great Britain as the ‘Bonny bunch of roses’, the French also referred to English soldiers as the “bunch of roses” because of their bright red uniforms), or to whales, even if the image is of strong emotional impact:“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” (from mudcat here)
2) Once a obligatory passage of the whaling boats that from Atlantic headed towards the Pacific.
3) as Italo Ottonello teaches us “At the signing of the recruitment contract for long journeys, the sailors received an advance equal to three months of pay which, to guarantee compliance with the contract, it was provided in the form of “I will pay”, payable three days after the ship left the port, “as long as said sailor has sailed with that ship.” Everyone invariably ran to look for some complacent sharks who bought their promissory note at a discounted price, usually of forty percent, with much of the amount provided in kind. “The purchasers, boarding agents and various procurers,” the enlisters, “as they were nicknamed,” were induced to ‘seize’ the sailors and bring them on board, drunk or drugged, with little or no clothes beyond what they were wearing, and squandering or stealing all sailor advances.

Sting from “Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys” ANTI 2006. 
The textual version resumes that of Louis Killen and this musical interpretation is decidedly Caribbean, rhythmic and hypnotic ..


Our boots and clothes are all in pawn
Go down, you blood red roses,
Go down

It’s flamin’ drafty (1) ‘round Cape Horn
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 she 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(2).
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

NOTES
1) song in this version is dyed red with “flaming draughty” instead of “mighty draughty”. And yet even if flaming has the first meaning “Burning in flame” it also means “Bright; red. Also, violent; vehement; as a flaming harangue”  (WEBSTER DICT. 1828)

Jon Contino

“Go Down, You Blood Red Roses” is a game for children widespread in the Caribbean and documented by Alan Lomax in 1962

(second part)

LINK
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/11/debunking-myth-that-go-down-you-blood.html
http://pancocojams.blogspot.com/2013/11/coming-down-with-bunch-of-roses-lyrics.html

http://songbat.com/archive/songs/english-americas/blood-red-roses
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

Billy Riley sea shanty

Leggi in italiano

The halyards shanties were very common on nineteenth-century ships (postal, merchant or whaler).

National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation
“Blackwall frigate” National Maritime Museum; Supplied by The Public Catalogue Foundation

OLD BILLY RILEY

The song “Billy Riley” is considered one of the first sea shanties, probably born of a cotton-hoosiers song sung by black slaves. The vessels on which it was sung were of the “Blackwall frigate” type, a three-masted ship built between the end of 1830 and the mid-1870s.
The sea shanty “Billy Riley” fits the rhythm of fast pulling and quick breathing.
Stan Hugill writes in his Shanty Bibble “They used Jackscrews to pack the cotton into the holds of vessels, to ram them up tight and so get more in the cargo hold. Lots of negroes were used in this labour, and their chants turned into shanties when the sailors used them for other jobs, often the tune remained and the words were changed to suit Sailor John. Negroes formed a large part of the crew of some vessels, and took their chants to sea with them, and a hell of a lot of ‘white mans shanties’ had negro origins.”

Stevedores (un)loading a ship in the late 19th century. There may have been some steam-driven winches but most of it was brute strength from man and beast using ropes and pulleys. from the Library of Congress collection

THE SARCASM

The shantyman plays on the words and teases Billy the commander of the ship, the degree of “master” is compared to that of a “dancing master”, but certainly captain is a rude and authoritarian kind and certainly not a dandy!
The term “master” is however little used in the sea songs in which the name “Captain” prevails or as in the sea shanty that it’s preferred “Old man”. What about unchaste thoughts that come to mind to the crew, addressed to Billy Riley’s wife (or daughter), while they were loading the ship?

Assassin’s Creed

Johnny Collins

AC Black Flag version
Old Billy Riley was a dancing master(1).
Old Billy Riley, oh, Old Billy Riley!
Old Billy Riley’s master of a drogher(2).
Master of a drogher bound for Antigua.
Old Billy Riley has a nice young daughter(3).
Oh Missy Riley, little Missy Riley.
Had a pretty daughter,
but we can’t get at her.
Screw her up(4) and away we go, boys.
One more pull and then belay, boys
Johnny Collins version
Oh Billy Riley, Mister Billy Riley
Oh Billy Riley oh
Billy Riley, Mister Billy Riley
Oh Billy Riley oh
Old Billy Riley was a dancing master(1).
Oh Billy Riley shipped aboard a droger(2)
Oh Billy Riley wed the skipper’s daughter(3)
Oh Mrs Riley didn’t like sailors
Oh Mrs Riley had a lovely daughter
Oh Missy Riley, pretty Missy Riley
Oh Missy Riley, screw her up to Chile(4)

NOTES
Droger1) it’s referred to the captain in an ironic sense
2) drogher was a slow cargo ship for transport along the West Indies coast, more properly a triangular fishing boat. More generally, the West Indies for Europeans of the fifteenth century were one with the American continent, so even in 1507 Amerigo Vespucci sensed that the Europeans had “discovered” a new continent the term remained in use for many centuries. Thus the drogher is located in the Caribbean and sails to Antigua, the island of the Lesser Antilles, where sugar and cotton are produced. I think the term is used in a derogatory sense always against the commander because his is not really a ship that plows the oceans !!
3) droger- daughter word games for assonance
4) “screw her up to Chile” is probably a modegreen for “screw her up so cheerily”. Cheerily is a typical seafaring expression for “with a will” or “quickly.” The word screw though two-way has the primary meaning of “tighten up” (compress). “Cotton was” “screwed”. Cotton was “screwed” into the hold of a ship using a kind of enormous horizontal jack. Stan Hugill says: “They are used to pack the cotton into the vessels of vessels.”

JOHN SHORT VERSION

Jeff Warner from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 3

Both Sharp and Terry comment that they have not come across any version other than Short’s – although Fox-Smith and Colcord (who published later) both give versions.  Hugill notes the “remarkable resemblance between Billy Riley and Tiddy High O!” and feels that “it probably originates as a cotton-hoosiers song.” It may be that it was an early shanty that became less and less used, for Fox-Smith states that: “I have come across very few of the younger generation of sailormen who have heard it. All versions seem fairly consistent and what words there are in Short’s text fit the usual pattern and so have been augmented from the other sources.  Sharp’s notes, after the text, say: “and so on, sometimes varying ‘walk him up so cheer’ly’ with ‘screw him up etc”. (from here)

Oh Billy Riley, little Billy Riley
(Oh Billy Riley oh)
Oh  Billy Riley walk her up so cheerily
Oh Billy Riley, little Billy Riley
Oh  Billy Riley screw her up so cheerily
Oh Mister Riley, oh Missy Riley.
Oh Missy Riley screw her up so cheerily
Oh Billy Riley was a boardinghouse master
Oh Billy Riley had a lovely daughter
Oh Missy Riley how I love your daughter
Oh Missy Riley I can’t get at her
Oh Missy Riley, little Missy Riley
Oh Missy Riley, screw her up so cheerily
Oh Billy Riley hauling and hung together
Oh  Billy Riley walk her up so cheerily

LINK
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/oldbillyriley.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=46593 http://www.exmouthshantymen.com/songbook.php?id=92

Impiccalo Johnny, sea shanty

Read the post in English

“Hanging Johnny” è una canzone marinaresca (sea shanty) del tipo  halyard shanty  ( i lavori di tiro di scotte e drizze per issare e ammainare vele e pennoni) in cui si parla di un presunto boia che impicca (ovvero manda a quel paese bonariamente) tutti coloro che gli danno fastidio! Subito gli studiosi hanno voluto trovare una figura storica che incarnasse questo boia giustiziere e così è spuntato il nome di Jack Ketch famigerato boia nella Londra seicentesca.

Ma per i marinai la frase ” hanging Johnny” ha tutto un altro significato.

IL LAVORO DEL MARINAIO IMPICCATO

Per issare le vele più pesanti si seguiva una strana procedura:  i marinai più giovani e agili (e meno pagati essendo degli apprendisti) si arrampicavano sui pennoni e dopo aver agguantato una drizza  saltavano nel vuoto restando appesi come tanti impiccati. Man mano che scendevano erano coadiuvati dagli sforzi dei restanti marinai che li facevano arrivare piano piano sul ponte.
“Joys ha spiegato che “hanging Johnny” non si riferiva al boia di stato, ma piuttosto agli agili giovani marinai che, quando una vela doveva essere issata, si arrampicavano sull’albero e “dondolavano” sulla relativa drizza. Correvano poi verso ponte mentre gli uomini ai piedi dell’albero li portavano giù con le loro prese successive. Joys ha ricordato che uno chanteyman avrebbe sempre detto ai ragazzi quando dondolare urlando loro: “Appendetevi, bastardi, appendetevi!” Poi, mentre i ragazzi erano appesi alla drizza cinquanta piedi o più sopra il ponte, iniziava la sua canzone e l’equipaggio faceva due tiri su ogni coro. Quando i ragazzi raggiungevano il ponte, si sarebbero accodati dietro agli altri uomini e tirato con loro fino al termine del lavoro.
Joys ha aggiunto che la parola “hang” era “la miglior maledetta parola per tirare una drizza”. Ashley ha detto che la melodia era “un po ‘lugubre, ma buona per sollevare delle vele leggere”, sottolineando che le parole hanno permesso ai marinai di prendersela, bonariamente, con tutti i veri e presunti nemici, “se il lavoro durava abbastanza a lungo”
  (tradotto da “Windjammers: Songs of the Great Lakes Sailors” Ivan H. Walton e Joe Grimm, 2002 qui)

Così su Mudcats si è aperto un acceso dibattito tra chi interpreta l’hanging come una vera e propria esecuzione e chi invece propende per il gergo marinaresco: “The words “Hang, boys, hang,” are used in a topsail-halliard hoist, when sweating up the yard “two blocks” where, in swaying off, the whole weight of the body is used. The sing-out, from some old shellback, usually being words such as “Hang, heavy! Hang, buttocks! Hang you sons of ——-, Hang.” After setting the topsails, we gave her the main-topgallant sail, which was all she could carry in a heavy head-sea. The decks were awash all day. “…. the chantey was sung with a jerk and a swing as only chanteys in 6/8 time can be sung. While the words were of Negro extraction, yet it was a great favorite with us and sung nearly every time the topsails were hoisted.” (tratto da Frederick Pease Harlow, 1928, The Making of a Sailor, Doverristampa della pubblicazione numero 17 del Marine Research Society, Salem, MA qui)

Sicuramente una  perfetta “pirate song”! Ho trovato questo spezzone di film sull’epoca d’oro dei grandi vascelli in cui viene cantata la canzone.

Oh they call me hanging Johnny
Away, boys, away.
They says I hangs for money.
Oh hang, boys, hang.
And first I hanged my Sally
and then I hanged my granny.
Mi chiamano Johnny“patibolo”[1]
tirate ragazzi, tirate
e dicono che mi appendo per denaro[2]

appendetevi, ragazzi, appendetevi
per prima impiccherei Sally
e poi impiccherei  mia nonna

LA VERSIONE DI JOHN SHORT

Sharp publishes a set of words in which the shantyman does not himself hang people and indeed sings, I never hung nobody. Hugill is adamant (as is Terry) that no shantyman ever claimed that anyone other than himself was the hangman, and that “Sentimental verses like some collectors give were never sung – Sailor John hanged any person or thing he would think about without a qualm.” Checking these ‘some collectors’, one finds several who elect only to hang the bad guys – liars, murderers, etc. – are these the verses Hugill means by ‘sentimental’ or is he having a go at Sharp for the shantyman not being the hangman himself? Sharp’s notebooks show that he recorded from Short the same as he published. It could be that Short is self-censoring but it seems unlikely given that Short seems happy, in various other shanties, to sing text that might not be regarded as genteel (e.g. Nancy, Lucy Long, Shanadore). Short was, however, a deeply religious man and, if this is not simply an early and less developed form of the shanty, then he may have deliberately avoided casting himself as hangman – we will never know! Notwithstanding, and contrary to Hugill’s assertion, there was at least one shantyman who actually sang I never hung nobody.

Collectors’/publishers’ reactions to the shanty are curiously mixed: Bullen merely notes that “shanties whose choruses were adapted for taking two pulls in them… were exceedingly useful”, Fox-Smith that it had an “almost macabre irony which is not found in any other shanty”, and Maitland that “This is about as doleful a song as I ever heard” but, in an almost poetic description points out that “there’s a time when it comes in. For instance after a heavy blow, getting more sail on the ship. The decks are full of water and the men cannot keep their feet. The wind has gone down, but the seas are running heavy. A big comber comes over the rail; the men are washed away from the rope. If it wasn’t for the man at the end of the rope gathering in the slack as the men pull, all the work would have to be done over again.” – Horses for courses! (tratto da qui)

Tom Brown in Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 1


They called me hanging Johnny,
urrhay-i-, urrhay-i-,
They called me hanging Johnny
so hang, boys, hang
They hanged me poor old father
They hanged me poor old mother
Yes they hanged me mother
Me sister and me brother
They hanged me sister Sally
They strung her up so canny
They said I handeg for money
But I never hanged nobody
Oh boys we’ll haul and hang the ship
oh haul her ropes so neat
We’ll hang him forever,
We’ll hang for better weather,
A rope, a beam, a ladder,
I’ll hang ye all together
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Mi chiamano Johnny patibolo
urrhay-i-, urrhay-i
Mi chiamano Johnny patibolo

appendetevi, ragazzi, appendetevi
Impiccarono il mio povero vecchio  e impiccarono la mia povera vecchia
Si! Impiccarono mia madre,
mia sorella e mio fratello,
impiccarono mia sorella Sally
l’appesero, così scaltra
dicono che mi appendevo per denaro
ma non ho mai impiccato nessuno.
oh ragazzi isseremo e appenderemo la nave tireremo le drizze per bene.
Lo appenderemo per sempre
lo appenderemo per il bel tempo
Una cima, una trave e una scala
e vi appenderò tutti insieme.

ULTERIORI VERSIONI

Stan Ridgway in  Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI 2006. Magistrale interpretazione che trasforma la shanty in una canzone folk un po’ malinconica

The Salts live in una versione sbarazzina

VERSIONE Stan Ridgway
I
They call me hanging Johnny,
yay (away )-hay-i-o
I never hanged nobody
hang, boys, hang
Well first I hanged your mother
Me sister and me brother
I’d hang to make things jolly
I’d hang all wrong and folly
A rope, a beam, a ladder,
I’ll hang ye all together
Well next I hanged me granny
I’d hang the wholly family
They call me hanging Johnny,
I never hanged nobody
II
Come hang, come haul together,
Come hang for finer weather,
Hang on from the yardarm
Hang the sea and buy a big farm
They call me hanging Johnny,
I never hanged nobody
I’d hang the mates and skippers,
I’d hang ‘em by their flippers
I’d hang the highway robber,
I’d hang the burglar jobber;
I’d hang a noted liar,
I’d hang a bloated friar;
They say I hung a copper,
I gave him the long dropper
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Mi chiamano Johnny patibolo
yay(away )-hay-i-o
ma non ho mai impiccato nessuno.
hang, boys, hang
Così prima impiccherò tua madre,
mia sorella e mio fratello,
mi appenderei per far andare meglio le cose e impiccherei tutte le cose sbagliate e folli.
Una cima, una trave e una scala
e vi appendo tutti insieme; poi impiccherò la nonna e l’intera famiglia.
Mi chiamano Johnny patibolo
ma non ho mai impiccato nessuno.
II
Vieni ad aggrapparti e tiriamo insieme, vieni ad aggrapparti perchè il tempo migliori, aggrappati al pennone,
‘fanculo il mare e compra una fattoria!
Mi chiamano Johnny patibolo
ma non ho mai impiccato nessuno.
Impiccherei compagni e comandante,
li appenderei per le pinne;
impiccherei il brigante
impiccherei lo scassinatore; appenderei un bugiardo illustre
appenderei un frate tronfio,
dicono che ho impiccato un poliziotto e l’ho purgato

FONTI
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=72779
http://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/songs/hangingjohnny.html
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20774/20774-h/20774-h.htm#Hanging_Johnny
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/hanging.html
http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/thycalme.htm

CHEERLY MAN

seashantyNella sua versione essenziale il canto marinaresco “Cheerly Man” equivale a una serie di ordini “gridati” con un ritmo, per coordinare gli sforzi della ciurma..  ovvero per spremere ogni goccia d’energia dai muscoli!!

Stan Hugill scrive nella sua “Bibbia”: “Cheerily Man—a halyard shanty—is only just faintly removed from singin’-out and is probably the most primitive, and one of the oldest of all these heaving and hauling songs of the sea.” (vedere sea shanty)

in Assassin’s Creed il testo è molto simile a quello pubblicato da Joanna C. Colcord che in “Songs of American Sailor Man “ripulisce” il canto”: “the words are too racy to reproduce without considerable editing.


Oh, Nancy Dawson,
Hi-oh! Cheerly, man!
She rubbed the Bo’sun,
Hi-oh! Cheerly, man!
That was a caution,
Hi-ohCheerly, man, O!
Haulee, Hi-oh, Cheerly, man.

Oh, Sally Racket,
Pawned my best jacket,
And sold pawn the ticket,
Oh, Kitty Carson,
Jilted the parson,
Married a mason,
Oh, Betsy Baker,
Lived in Long Acre,
Married a Quaker,
Oh, Jenny Walker,
Married a hawker,
That was a corker,
Oh, Polly Riddle,
Broke her new fiddle(1),
Right through the middle, 
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Oh, Nancy Dawson,
Hi-oh! Svelto, ragazzo!
si fece il Nostromo,
Hi-oh! Svelto, ragazzo!
che avvertimento,
Hi-oh! Svelto, ragazzo!
Alare, Hi-oh! Svelto ragazzo
Oh, Sally Racket,
si è impegnata la mia giubba migliore,
e ha venduto il biglietto,
Oh, Kitty Carson,
abbandonò il parroco,
e sposò un muratore.
Oh, Betsy Baker,
visse a Long Acre,
e sposò un quacchero.
Oh, Jenny Walker,
sposò un venditore ambulante,
che era uno fenomeno.
Oh, Polly Riddle,
ruppe il nuovo violino,
proprio nel mezzo.

NOTE
1) nelle canzoni popolari il violino non è solamente uno strumento musicale

ASCOLTA Barbara Brown in Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 1 (su spotify)


Haulee, aye yeo Cheerly, man!
??? Cheerly, man!
Haulee, aye yeo, Haulee, aye yeo
Cheerly, man!

Oh to the cathead, aye yeo,
Cheerly, man!

Oh ship the dead, Cheerly, man!
heavy as lead, heavy as lead
Cheerly, man!
Oh Forthy chocks Cheerly, man!
Oh glitter blocks Cheerly, man!
oh on the blocks oh on the blocks
Cheerly, man!
Oh, rouse an’ shake her, Cheerly, man!
oh, shake an’ wake her, Cheerly, man!
Go we’ll make her, Go we’ll make her
Cheerly, man!
Traduzione italiano
Ala aye yeo Svelto, ragazzo!
Svelto, ragazzo!
Ala aye yeo, Ala aye yeo
Svelto, ragazzo!
Alla gru di capone,
Svelto, ragazzo
Oh imbarca il carico, Svelto, ragazzo
pesante come piombo, pesante come piombo, Svelto, ragazzo
oh 40 passacavi Svelto, ragazzo
oh lucida i i bozzelli Svelto, ragazzo!
oh ai bozzelli, ai bozzelli
Svelto, ragazzo!
oh, metteteci forza e spostatela, Svelto, ragazzo!
oh, spostatela e sollevatela, Svelto, ragazzo!
dai, che la sistemeremo, dai, che la sistemeremo
Svelto, ragazzo!

continua “Little Sally Racket

FONTI
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=129532
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=27618
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/cheerily_man/index.html
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/cheerily_man/colcord.html

BLOW, BULLIES, BLOW

Blow Bullies Blow, conosciuta anche con il titolo di “Blow boys blow”, “The Yankee Clipper” e “Congo River” è un canto marinaresco (in particolare un halyard shanty) classificato da Stan Hugill in tre principali filoni testuali: 1) The Guinea Slaver; 2) The Bucko Ship (Yankee China Clipper); 3) Harry Tate Ship (English skit on Yankee packet)
Alcuni studiosi ritengono che il canto abbia avuto origine nelle navi utilizzate per il traffico degli schiavi, ma Hugill è più propenso a credere che l’inizio risalga ai traffici mercantili.

UN CLIPPER PER OGNI ROTTA

Agli inizi Ottocento per i traffici mercantili si richiedono navi sempre più veloci e non più “armate” come nel secolo precedente (epoca di galeoni, vascelli e fregate): nascono così i clippers, navi addette principalmente al trasporto delle merci, ma senza tanti fronzoli e con più vele per andare sempre più veloci. Sono i clippers dell’Oppio che tra il  1830 e il 1850 correvano per la Compagnia delle Indie; i tea clippers americani che videro la loro stagione tra il 1845 e il 1860 in concomitanza con l’aumento del consumo di thè negli Stati Uniti a cui fecero concorrenza i tea clippers inglesi (varati tra il 1850 e il 1875); i clippers dei passeggeri più comunemente detti “packets” che tra il 1820 e il 1865 univano i porti di New York, Boston, Filadelfia e Baltimora con il nord Europa; i Colonial (o wool) clippers costruiti in Inghilterra e negli Stati Uniti tre il 1865 e il 1890 per assicurare i collegamenti commerciali con l’Australia, la Nuova Zelanda e la Tasmania.
I clipper  percorrevano le due rotte commerciali più importanti : Cina – Inghilterra per il tè e Australia – Inghilterra per la lana; il prezzo più vantaggioso veniva fissato dalla prima nave che raggiungeva il porto ed ecco il motivo della gara sulla velocità, perché la prima nave ad attraccare era quella che spuntava il prezzo più alto. Inevitabile la concorrenza tra i clipper inglesi e quelli americani. (vedi classificazione e descrizione)

un Tea clipper americano

A CUP OF TEA

L’uso del tè ha avuto, in Cina, grande diffusione fin dai tempi più antichi estendendosi dalle rive del Mar Giallo in tutto l’impero con un infuso che intendeva correggere la fangosa e malsana acqua dei fiumi. Se ne sentiva a parlare in Europa già nel 1500 come panacea, ma è nel 1600 che arrivano quantità ragguardevoli da Macao per opera degli Olandesi. Con la fine della guerra dell’oppio del 1842 comin­ciavano le regolari esportazioni in Occidente, ed erano gli Americani a portare inizialmente il tè in Inghilterra facendosi attivissimi sulla piazza di Londra. La Casa inglese Black Ball Line si dimostrava presto interessata e due ditte specializzate cominciarono ad ordinare velieri veloci ai cantieri di Aberdeen, con pieno successo. Veniva superata una vecchia legge fiscale (la “tonnage law”) causa di certe arretra­tezze costruttive e gli Americani perdevano presto la prevalenza. I loro velieri, infatti, costruiti con legname meno resistente dei velieri inglesi non potevano sopportare eccessive forzature veliche imposte dalle traversate veloci. Dal 1853 al 1870 i cantieri di Aberdeen, Geenock, Glasgow, Guernesey, Liverpool, Londra e Sunderland vararono circa cento clipper i cui nomi sono entrati nella storia della marineria inglese.   (tratto da qui)

Thermopylae il tea clipper inglese

In questo canto marinaresco lo shantyman ci va pesante con gli insulti al capitano e al primo ufficiale “Gli shanty possono anche fornire ai marinai un mezzo per esprimersi senza paura di punizioni. Un buono shantyman, nel cantare certe canzoni, spesso riesce a fare satira sui superiori, con un linguaggio tanto diretto quanto efficace. Egli sceglie i punti deboli, fisici e morali del capitano o di uno degli ufficiali, consapevole che la responsabilità ricade unicamente sulle sue spalle, e nessun altro corre seri rischi d’essere punito, il coro, su cui si basa l’azione del lavoro, infatti, non è coinvolto, essendo ripetitivo e senza variazioni.” (Italo Ottonello) La disciplina a bordo era molto severa e alcune compagnie, come la Black ball line) erano rinomate per la crudeltà dei loro ufficiali.

LA VERSIONE DI JOHN SHORT

Così scrivono nelle note gli autori del progetto Short Sharp Shanties: Short’s verses are effectively for the second pattern and we have taken lines to complete Short’s couplets from other versions of that set. Short used several of the stanzas usually associated with Hugill’s ‘Guinea Slaver’ pattern for his version of Shallow Brown.”

Keith Kendrick in Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 1 


Blow boys come blow together
Blow, boys, blow
Blow boys come blow together
Blow, my bully boys, blow!
A Yankee ship came down the river
her masts and spars they shone like silver.
T’was a Yankee mate and a limejuice skipper,
he make her fly like a chine clipper.
And who do you think was the mate of her?
oh Tommy Brown the big (?belly shiver?)
And who’s the man who knows no pity?
Bully Brage of New York city.
And what do you think we had for supper?
(?lime pine?) soup and a roll in the gutter
What do think we had for cargo?
shot and (?shelt?) that (?? the embargo.
Blow today and blow tomorrow
and Blow me boys for better weather.
Blow me boys and blow for ever
and blow around to the London river.
[non riesco a capire la pronuncia di alcune parole]
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Forza ragazzi, tirate tutti insieme
forza, ragazzi, forza
Forza ragazzi, tirate tutti insieme
Forza bravacci, tirate tutti insieme
Una nave yankee scendeva il fiume
i suoi alberi e le aste brillavano come argento
era un primo ufficiale americano e un capitano inglese,
la fa volare come un clipper sulle rotte della Cina.
E chi pensi fosse il suo primo ufficiale?
Tommy Brown il grande (?)
E chi è l’uomo che non conosce pietà?
Bully Brage di New York City
E cosa pensi che abbiamo avuto per cena?
zuppa di (?) e un involino di spazzatura
Cosa pensate che abbiamo per carico?
fucili e (?) che sfuggono all’embargo
Soffia oggi e soffia domani
forza ragazzi per un clima migliore
forza ragazzi e forza per sempre
forza per il fiume di Londra

LE VERSIONI YANKEE CHINA CLIPPER

Peter Webster 

 


A Yankee(1) ship comes down the river
Blow, boys, blow(2)!
a Yankee ship and a Yankee skipper,
Blow, my bully(3) boys, blow!
And how do you know that she’s a yankee clipper(4)?
Her masts and yards they shine like silver.
And who do you think is the captain of her?
Oh, it’s Bully Haines(5), th’ hoodlum scoffer(6).
And who do you think is the mate aboard her?
Santander James is the mate aboard her.(7)
Santander James, he loves us sailors
Yes he does, like hell and blazes(8).
Santander James, he’s a rocket from hell(9) boys
He’ll ride you down as you ride the spanker(10).
Blow, boys, blow – the sun’s drawing water
Three cheers for the cook and one for his daughter.
Oh, blow ye winds(11). I long to hear you
Oh, blow ye winds. I long to hear you.
traduzione italiano Cattia Salto
Una nave yankee discende il fiume
forza ragazzi, forza!
Una nave yankee e un capitano yankee
forza, miei bravacci, forza!

Come sapete che si tratta di un clipper yankee?
Perchè albero e pennoni brillano come l’argento.
Chi pensate che sia il suo
capitano?
E’ “Bully” Haines un bandito ingordo.
Chi pensate che sia il suo primo ufficiale?
Santander James è il suo primo ufficiale.
Santander James ama noi marinai
come fossimo tizzoni ardenti(8).
Santander James è una scheggia d’inferno, ragazzi
Ti calpesterà mentre ali
la randa!
Forza, ragazzi, forza il sole sta calando nel mare,
tre evviva per il cuoco e uno per sua figlia.
Tirate forte, vorrei sentirvi
Tirate forte, vorrei sentirvi.

NOTE
1) la Terra Yankee corrisponde alla Nuova Inghilterra, e yankees sono detti i suoi abitanti. Sembra che il termine sia la corruzione indiana del francese anglais.
2) il verbo to blow significa sia colpire che soffiare; ci si aspetterebbe un “pull” o “haul” ma trattandosi di velature potrebbe essere un incitazione perchè si alzi il vento. Ma anche nel significato di colpire, come monito della dura disciplina che vigeva sulle navi. Del resto in termini colloquiali anche in italiano “suonargliele” a qualcuno significa picchiarlo per bene!
3) bully aveva in passato un significato positivo
4) CLIPPER: nave a vela, con spiccate attitudini per la velocità (arrivavano anche a 18 nodi), usata tra gli anni venti e la fine del XIX secolo, per lunghi percorsi con carichi pregiati (tè con la Cina, lana con l’Australia, passeggeri come postali -tea clipper -colonial clippers, Yankee packet).   Yankee packet è un clipper americano per il trasporto di posta e passeggeri
5) il soprannome di Bully dato al capitano è da intendersi qui nel significato negativo di bullo, persona prepotente e crudele, non per niente era conosciuto come “Bully Hayes, the Down East bucko.” 
6) in altre versioni è Old Holy Joe, the darky lover.
7) in altre versioni “a bowery tough that’s never sober
8) la traduzione è a senso più che letterale
9) a tal proposito Italo Ottonello riporta due citazioni Scriveva, si sfogava a scrivere, e schizzava fuoco dalla penna, schegge d’inferno; poi s’arrabbiava, poveretto” (L. Pirandello)
Il cavallo scartava nervoso, quando il carico gemeva con la sua voce metallica, come se fosse consapevole di trasportare schegge d’inferno.” «Apritela porta … (G. Leoni)
10) spanker= randa è la prima (ed oggi praticamente l’unica) vela dell’albero di maestra, ovvero l’albero più importante di una barca, nei vascelli ottocenteschi a vele quadrate era la vela inferiore dell’albero di maestra, la vela quadrata più grande di tutto il vascello. Nella velatura moderna con le vele triangolari è posizionata a poppavia dell’albero di maestra e attaccata all’albero maestro in un’apposita canaletta. La base della randa è mantenuta tesa dal boma. Alare (verbo) dal francese haler. In marina, compiere una manovra di alaggio. Generalmente, tirare una cima, un cavo.
11) l’espressione richiama il soffiare dentro uno strumento come la cornamusa

Phil Beer (in un’ulteriore variante testuale)

Di questa versione esistono molte varianti che sono simili alla versione Yankee packet (vedi)

VERSIONE CONGO RIVER

FONTI
http://culturamarinara.com/classificazione-dei-clipper/
http://shanty.rendance.org/lyrics/showlyric.php/yankeeship
http://www.boundingmain.com/lyrics/blow_boys.htm
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/blowboys.html
http://ingeb.org/songs/ayankesh.html http://www.cherini.eu/cherini/Marineria/Index.htm
http://www.phrases.org.uk/bulletin_board/20/messages/1096.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17013 http://www.jsward.com/shanty/blow_boys_blow/shay.html http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/blowboysblow.html http://www.contemplator.com/sea/blowboys.html http://www.acousticmusicarchive.com/blow-boys-blow-chords-lyrics
http://www.kinglaoghaire.com/site/lyrics/print.php?id=83 http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/congoriv.htm http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/blowboys.htm http://www.contemplator.com/sea/blowboys.html http://www.8notes.com/scores/3589.asp

 

WHISKEY JOHNNY

maglione guernseySottotitolato “Whiskey is the life of man”, Whiskey Johhny è una sea shanty  diventata popolare anche nel circuito folk. Dato il tema non poteva diventare che una favorita drinking song irlandese!

A.L. Lloyd commenta nelle note “This halyard shanty was most often sung when the men were working aft near the skipper’s quarters, in the enduring hope that his heart might melt, and he would order a tot for all hands.” (Blow Boys Blow 1957).
Per alare la cima all’unisono i marinai si distendono lungo la drizza trascinano all’unisono la parola Whisky! fino a Whiski-i-i-i. alla successiva, John-ny! Enfatizzata come un segnale, la squadra ala con tutte le forze riunite, iniziando a sollevare il pennone lungo l’albero, trascinando con sè la vela.” (da Italo Ottonello)

ALTRI TITOLI: Whisky Johnny, Whisky for my Johnny, Whiskey O, Whiskey oh and Johnny oh, John, Rise Her Up, Rise’r Up, Rise Me Up From Down Below

ASCOLTA da Assassin’s Creed


Whiskey(1) is the life of man,
Whiskey, Johnny(2)!
O, whiskey is the life of man,
Whiskey for my Johnny O!
O, I drink whiskey when I can(3)
Whiskey from an old tin can(4),
Whiskey gave me a broken nose!
Whiskey made me pawn my clothes,
Whiskey drove me around Cape Horn(5),
It was many a month when I was gone,
I thought I heard the old man say:
“I’ll treat my crew in a decent way(6)
A glass of grog(7) for every man!
And a bottle for the Chantey Man”
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Whiskey(1) è la vita dell’uomo,
Whiskey, marinaio!(2)
Whiskey è la vita dell’uomo,
Whiskey, per il mio marinaio!
Oh bevo whiskey a più non posso(3)
Whiskey da una vecchia lattina(4)
per il Whiskey mi sono rotto il naso
per il Whiskey ho impegnato i vestiti
il Whiskey mi ha portato a Capo Horn(5)
e sono molti mesi che sono partito.
Credo di aver sentito il capitano dire:
“Tratterò bene l’equipaggio(6)
Un bicchiere di grog(7) per ogni uomo
e una bottiglia per il cantante”

NOTE
1) Gli Irlandesi si attribuiscono l’invenzione del whiskey partendo nientemeno che da San Patrizio che, nel V sec, avrebbe portato dal suo viaggio in Terra Santa l’alambicco, all’epoca utilizzato per distillare solo i profumi, e convertito dai monaci irlandesi in divina macchina per produrre l’Uisce Beathe (in gaelico) ossia “l’acqua di vita”, dal latino “aquavitae” pronunciata come “Iish-kee” e inglesizzato a partire del XII secolo in whisky. Fu sempre un monaco, San Colombano, a insegnare i segreti della distillazione agli Scozzesi. Tuttavia gli Scozzesi si ostinano a dire che loro distillavano già tre secoli prima della nascita di Cristo! Così whiskey è il termine più appropriato per indicare il whisky irlandese. (vedere le differenze)
2) Il marinaio per antonomasia è  Johnny una nota in contemplator.com che dice “The name John was used from the time of Packet Ships for merchant seamen and particularly for mariners from Liverpool.”
3) Joanna Colcord in Songs of American Sailormen, scrive “I’ll drink whiskey while I can,”
4) si riferisce all’alambicco rudimentale con cui si  distilla whisky illegale. Al poitin (come dicono gli irlandesi) si attribuiscono poteri di guarigione da tutti i mali (utilizzato più comunemente come digestivo o per la cura del raffreddore), è considerato più genericamente un elisir  contro l’invecchiamento, ma il suo scopo principale è quello di “deliziare il cuore” o più   poeticamente “bring a shock of joy  to the blood” ( in italiano: “dare una scossa di gioia al sangue”).
5) il marinaio si è ubriacato ed è stato arruolato a forza oppure ha finito i suoi soldi e ha ripreso il mare. Un vero peccato per un così appassionato amante di whisky perchè sulle navi si beveva rum (diluito con acqua)!
6) capitano e ufficiali facevano rispettare una dura disciplina a bordo delle navi, ma da loro dipendevano i premi consistenti soprattutto in razioni extra di grog!
7) grog
: colloquiale termine usato in Irlanda come sinonimo di drinking; è un termine molto antico e ha il significato di “liquore” o “bevanda alcolica”, ma nello specifico è una bevanda introdotta nella Royal Navy nel 1740, dopo la conquista britannica della Giamaica: ai marinai venivano date varie razioni giornaliere di rum diluito con l’acqua. continua

ASCOLTA Jim Mageean in Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2 (su spotify)


Whisky—Johnny

O whisky is the life of man
Whisky for me Johnny
Oh I wish I had some whisky now
Whisky—Johnny
Oh I wish I had some whisky now
Whisky for me Johnny
whisky gave my this red nose
whisky made me pawn my clothes.
O if whisky comes here me now
it’s something that comes and goes
O whisky killed my mam and dad
And whisky drove my brother mad
whisky killed my sister Sue
whisky killed the all ship crew
I whish I was in London town
Till make that girl fly high
A girl for every sailor man
and Whisky in an old tin can
Whisky here whiskey there
whisky whisky everywhere
Oh whisky made the old man say
“One more pull and than belay”
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Whisky, marinaio!
Whisky è la vita dell’uomo,
Whisky per il mio marinaio!
vorrei avere del whisky,
Whisky, marinaio!
vorrei avere del whisky
Whisky per il mio marinaio!
il whisky mi ha dato questo naso rosso
per whisky ho impegnato i vestiti
se il whisky venisse da me
è qualcosa che va e viene
il whisky ha ucciso mamma e babbo
e ha fatto impazzire mio fratello
il whisky ha ucciso mia sorella Sue
il whisky ha ucciso tutta la ciurma della nave, vorrei essere a Londra
per far volare in alto quella ragazza
una donna per ogni marinaio
eil  whisky in una vecchia lattina
whisky su e whisky giù
whisky dappertutto
whisky fece dire al vecchio
“Ancora un tiro e poi lasciare”

WHISKEY, O (JOHN, RISE HER UP)

Una seconda versione ha un coro che si sviluppa su più versi e viene ripetuto dopo ogni due frasi dello shantyman; la versione, resa popolare da Louis Killen e i Clancy Brothers, si presenta in un’infinità di varianti

ASCOLTA The Clancy brothers & Tommy Makem

Whiskey is the life of man
Always was since the world began
Whiskey, O, Johnny, O
Rise her up from down below.
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey, O
Up aloft this yard must go,
John rise her up from down below.
Now whiskey made me pawn me clothes
And whiskey gave me a broken nose
Now whiskey is the life of man
Whiskey from an old tin can
I thought I heard the first mate say
I treats me crew in a decent way
A glass of whiskey all around
And a bottle full for the shanty man
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Il Whiskey è la vita dell’uomo,
da che mondo è mondo
Whiskey, marinaio!
Issala in alto.
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey
in alto questo pennone (8) deve andare
John portala (9) su dal basso.
per il Whiskey ho impegnato i vestiti
per il Whiskey mi sono rotto il naso
Il Whiskey è la vita di un uomo,
Whiskey da una vecchia lattina
Credo di aver sentito il primo ufficiale dire:
“Tratterò bene l’equipaggio
Un bicchiere di whisky per tutti
e una bottiglia piena per il cantante”

NOTE
8) yard= pennone; è l’asta orizzontale messa in croce con l’albero che regge le vele e prende il nome dalla relativa vela.
9) si riferisce alla vela trascinata in alto con il pennone

LA VERSIONE FOLK

e così diventa una canzone d’intrattenimento ..

ASCOLTA Bob Roberts in Sea song and shanties 1950

ASCOLTA Michael Gira in “Son of Rogues Gallery – Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys” ANTI 2013


O whisky is the life of man
Whisky—Johnny
O I’ll get whisky where I can
Whisky for me Johnny
O whisky here and whisky there,
Whisky—Johnny
O I’ll get whisky everywhere
Whisky for me Johnny
O whisky made me pawn my clothes
And whisky gave my this red nose
O whisky killed my poor old dad
And whisky drove my mother mad
O whisky hot and whisky cold
O whisky new and whisky old
O whisky up and whisky down
O whisky all around the town
O champagne’s good and rum is free
But whisky’s good enough for me
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Il whisky è la vita dell’uomo
Whisky – marinaio
e avrò whisky a go-go
whisky per me marinaio
whisky qui e whisky là
Whisky — marinaio

ci sarà whisky ovunque
whisky per me, marinaio
per whisky ho impegnato i vestiti
e il whisky mi ha dato questo naso rosso
il whisky ha ucciso il mio povero babbo
e ha fatto impazzire mia madre
whisky caldo e whisky freddo
whisky giovane e whisky invecchiato
whisky su e whisky giù
whisky per tutta la città.
Lo champagne è buono e il rum è gratis, ma il whisky è il meglio!

…e una irish song
ASCOLTA Gaelic Storm – Whiskey Johnny in The Boathouse che riprende in gran parte la versione dei Clancy Brothers (1973)


Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
Rise her up from down below
I
Oh whiskey is the life of man
Always was since the world began
O whiskey made me pawn me clothes
And whiskey gave me a broken nose
Chorus
Whiskey-o, Johnny-o
Rise her up from down below
Whiskey, whiskey, whiskey-o
Up aloft this yard must go
John rise her up from down below
II
O whisky killed my poor old dad
And whisky drove my mother mad
III
Whiskey from an old tin can(4)
Oh whiskey for the celtic man
Whiskey here whiskey there
whiskey almost everywhere
IV
I thought I heard the first mate say
I treats me crew in a decent way(6)
whisky up and whisky down
A glass of whiskey all around
V
Oh whiskey is the life of man
Always was since the world began
traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Whiskey, marinaio
issala su
I
Oh Whiskey è la vita dell’uomo,
da quando il mondo ha avuto inizio
per il Whiskey ho impegnato i vestiti
per il Whiskey mi sono rotto il naso
CORO
Whiskey, marinaio!
issala su
Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey,
in alto questo pennone deve andare
John portala su.

II
Il whisky ha ucciso il mio povero babbo
e ha fatto impazzire mia madre
III
Whiskey da una vecchia lattina(4)
whiskey per il celtico
whisky qui e whisky là
whisky dappertutto
IV
Credo di aver sentito il primo ufficiale dire:
“Tratterò bene l’equipaggio”(6)
Whisky su e whisky giù
un bicchiere di whisky per tutti
V
Whisky è la vita dell’uomo
così è da che mondo è mondo

FONTI
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/whiskeyjohnny.html
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/WhiskeyJohnny/colcord.html
http://shanty.rendance.org/lyrics/showlyric.php/whiskey2
http://www.kinglaoghaire.com/lyrics/330-whiskey-is-the-life-of-man
http://anitra.net/chanteys/whiskey.html

Blow (knock) the man down

Read the post in English

“Blow (knock) the man down” nel gergo marinaro significa picchiare sodo fino a far cadere a terra il malcapitato, in genere bastavano i pugni ma all’occorrenza i marinai maneggiavano una caviglia o un’aspa d’argano.

Esistono una grande varietà di testi di questa halyard shanty, sulla stessa melodia, che dopo la versione per il personaggio cartoon “Braccio di ferro” è diventata anche una canzone per bambini!

Billy Costello la voce del primo Braccio di Ferro

Secondo Stan Hugill “la shanty era una vecchia canzone dei neri “Knock A Man Down”. Questa canzone, una versione non così musicale della successiva “Blow The Man Down”, è stata presa e usata dagli scaricatori portuali di Mobile Bay, e in un secondo momento dai marinai bianchi delle navi postali”

Knock a man down

La versione che ha influenzato la shany proviene canti di lavoro afro-americani, ma è finita nel repertorio delle navi di linea lungo la rotta transatlantica. Nel suo video Ranzo accosta la melodia di Stan Hugill con quella di John Short: nel primo testo lo shantyman preferirebbe essere a terra, a sollazzarsi con drink e ragazze.

Si distinguono tre temi principali.

PRIMA VERSIONE: prime seamen onboard a Black Ball

La versione più antica è quella in cui gli i marinai novellini si accorgono presto del clima duro e violento sulle Black Baller.

black-ball
Oltre che sulla bandiera la Palla nera della Black Ball Line era disegnata sulla vela di parrochetto

Come dice Hugill “I Primi Ufficiali nelle navi transatlantiche erano conosciuti come “blowers”, i secondo come “strikers”, e i terzi come”greasers.”
Una Packet ship era una nave che trasportava i pacchi di posta (“paquettes”). La tratta transatlantica più antica e più famosa era il servizio di Liverpool, iniziato nel 1816 dalla Black Ball Line, con partenze regolari da New York il 1 e il 16 di ogni mese senza cancellazioni, a prescindere dalle condizioni meteorologiche o da altri inconvenienti. Queste prime navi da 300 a 500 tonnellate avevano una media di 23 giorni per il viaggio verso est e di 40 giorni per ritornare a ovest. I passeggeri delle cabine erano solitamente gentiluomini di buona educazione, che si aspettavano di trovare cortesia e buone maniere nei capitani con cui navigavano. I Capitani dei postali erano uomini notevoli, generosi, sinceri e gioviali, ma mai volgari, sempre gentiluomini.
Gli ufficiali, d’altra parte, non avevano doveri sociali che distraevano la loro attenzione e dedicavano il loro tempo e le loro energie a spremere il massimo delle prestazioni sia dalla loro nave che dal suo equipaggio, quindi non sorprende che bordo delle  Black Ball “belaying pin soup” e “handspike hash” siano diventate per la prima volta elementi familiari del regime di bordo. Era necessaria una dura razza di marinai per mantenere gli orari rigidi a prescindere dalle condizioni meteorologiche, e ci voleva una razza di ufficiali ancora più dura per mantenere la disciplina in questo branco di duri e allenati uomini. Se tutto il resto falliva, allora si applicava la Regola del Pugno (Rule of the Fist): “blow a man down” significava buttarlo a terra in qualunque modo: il pugno, una caviglia o un’aspa d’argano, erano le armi più spesso preferite.“(tratto da qui)

“Capstan Bars” di David Bone 1932
CHORUS
oh! Blow the man down, bullies.
Blow the man down W-ay! hey?
Blow the man down!
Blow the man down bullies.
Blow him right down, give us the time and we’ll blow the man down!
Come all ye young fellers that follows the sea.
W-ay! hey? Blow the man down!
I’ll sing ye a song if ye’ll listen t’ me.
Give us the time an’ we’ll blow the man down!
‘Twas in a Black Baller I first served my time.
and in a Black Baller I wasted my prime.
‘Tis when a Black Baller’s preparin’ for sea.
Th’sights in th’ fo’ cas’le(1) is funny t’ see
Wi’ sodgers (2) an’ tailors an’ dutchmen an’ all,
As ships for prime seamen(3) aboard th’ Black Ball.
But when th’ Black Baller gets o’ th’ land
it’s then as ye’ll hear th’ sharp word o’ command.
oh! it’s muster ye sodgers an’ tailors an’ sich.
an’ hear ye’re name called by a son of a bitch.
it’s “fore-topsail halyards”(4), th’ Mate(5) he will roar.
“oh, lay along smartly you son of a whore”.
oh, lay along smartly each lousy recroot.
Wor it’s lifted ye’ll be wi’ th’ toe of a boot.
Traduzione italiano di Italo Ottonello
CORO
Buttate giù l’uomo, ragazzi. abbattetelo
Buttate giù l’uomo! W-ay! hey?
Buttate giù l’uomo!
Abbattete l’uomo, ragazzi.
Buttatelo giù
all’occasione abbatteremo l’uomo!

Venite tutti, voi giovani che andate per mare
W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo!
Se mi ascolterete vi canterò una canzone/ all’occasione abbatteremo l’uomo!
Fu su un Black Baller il mio primo imbarco
e su un Black Baller sprecai la mia gioventù
Quando il Black Baller si appresta a salpare
è divertente dare uno sguardo all’equipaggio nel castello
con soldataglia, sarti, olandesi e tutto il resto,
imbarcati da novellini
sul Black Ball
Ma quando il Black Baller lascia la terra
allora udrete l’aspra parola
di comando
voi soldati, sarti e simili,
sarete riuniti per udire
il vostro nome chiamato da figli di buona donna
“la drizza di parrocchetto”, griderà il “primo”
“Su arriva sparato,
figli di p……a
vada arriva sparato ogni pidocchioso novizio.
o ci sarà fatto arrivare dalla punta di uno stivale”

NOTE
1) Sui velieri il cassero si estende dalla poppa fino all’albero di mezzana. La sua parte prodiera, dotata di ringhiera, costituisce il ponte di comando della nave a vela. Lo spazio coperto dal cassero è solitamente destinato agli alloggi. Il castello (forecastle) è il “locale equipaggio”, che ha conservato tale denominazione anche quando l’equipaggio dormiva in tuga. Quindi prora>castello>equipaggio mentre poppa>cassero>ufficiali. In merito Italo Ottonello cita Ishmael, il protagonista di Moby Dick, secondo il quale ” il commodoro sul cassero riceve di seconda mano l’aria dai marinai del castello
2) sodger variante di soldier è usato come insulto nel senso di imboscato, scansafatiche, uno che cerca sempre di sfuggire al lavoro, che quando c’è da lavorare, si allontana o si ritira
3) gli inesperti e i novellini sono buoni solo per le facili manovre
4) fore-topsail halyards= Drizza: cavo con funzione di sollevamento (di pennone, di fiocco, di picco). Parrocchetto: secondo pennone a partire dal basso dell’albero di trinchetto e nome della vela relativa. Trinchetto: l’albero prodiero di un veliero a più alberi
5) Mate= il primo ufficiale

The Seekers


I
Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea
To me weigh hey blow the man down
And pray pay attention and listen to me
Give me some time to blow the man down
I’m a deep water sailor just in from Hong Kong
If you’ll give me some rum I’ll sing you a song-
II
T’was on a Black Baller I first spent my time
And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime
T’is when a Black Baller’s preparing for sea
You’d split your sides laughing at the sights that you see
III
With the tinkers and tailors and soldiers and all
That ship for prime seamen onboard a Black Ball
T’is when a Black Baller is clear of the land
Our boatswain then gives us the word of command
IV
“Lay aft” is the cry “to the break of the poop
Or I’ll help you along with the toe of my boot”
T’is larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl
For Kicking Jack Williams commands the Black Ball
Aye first it’s a fist and then it’s a pall
When you ship as a sailor aboard the Black Ball
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Venite tutti, giovani compagni che andate per mare,
con me, W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo!
State attenti
e ascoltatemi
all’occasione abbatterò l’uomo!
Sono un marinaio d’alto mare appena arrivato da Hong Kong
e se mi darai del rum ti canterò una canzone
II
Fu su un Black Baller il mio primo imbarco
e su un Black Baller  sprecai la mia gioventù.
Quando il Black Baller si appresta a salpare
ci si sbellica dalle risate
nel godere il panorama
III
Con calderai e  sarti e soldati e tutto il resto
imbarcati da novellini sul
Black Ball
Ma quando il Black Baller lascia la terra
allora il nostro comandante ci darà gli ordini
IV
“Andate a poppa”
è il grido
“o vi farò arrivare a poppa dalla punta del mio stivale”
A babordo e a tribordo sul ponte si ammucchieranno
perchè  Jack Williams lo Spaccone, comanda il Black Ball
si prima sono pugni e poi funerali
quando navighi come marinaio a bordo del Black Ball

SECONDA VERSIONE: I’m a `Flying Fish’ sailor

La seconda versione racconta la storia di un “flying-fish sailor” appena sbarcato a Liverpool da Hong Kong, scambiato da un poliziotto per un “blackballer” e insultato o quantomeno apostrofato in malo modo. Il marinaio reagisce gettando il poliziotto a terra con un pungo e ovviamente finisce in prigione per qualche mese.

Stan Hugill & Pusser’s Rum in Sailing Songs  (1990)


I’ll sing you a song if you give some gin
To me wey-hey, blow the man down
?? down to the pin
Gimme some time to blow the man down
As I was rolling down Paradise street(1)
a big irish scuffer boy (2) I chanced for to meet,
Says he, “You’re a Blackballer from the cut of your hair(3);
you’re a Blackballer by the clothes that you wear.
“You’ve sailed in a packet that flies the Black Ball,
You’ve robbed some poor Dutchman of boots, clothes and all.”
“O policeman, policeman, you do me great wrong;
I’m a `Flying Fish’ sailor(4) just home from Hongkong!”
So I stove in his face and I smashed in his jaw.
Says he, “Oh young feller, you’re breaking the law!”
They gave me six months in Liverpool town
For bootin’ and a-kickin’ and a-blowing him down.
We’re a Liverpool ship with a Liverpool crew
A Liverpool mate(5) and a Scouse(6) skipper too
We’re Liverpool born and we’re Liverpool bred
Thick in the arm, boys, and thick in the head
Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
With a crew of hard cases(7) from Liverpool town
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Vi canterò una canzone se mi date del gin con me, W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo! (incomprensibile)
all’occasione abbatterò l’uomo!
Mentre veleggiavo per Paradise street
ebbi la ventura di incontrare un poliziotto irlandese
Dice “Sei un Blackballer per il taglio dei capelli
Sei un Blackballer per i vestiti che porti.
Hai navigato su un postale della Balck Ball,
e hai derubato qualche povero olandese di stivali vestito e altro.”
“Poliziotto, poliziotto ti sbagli di grosso:
sono un “pesce volante” appena arrivato da Hong Kong”.
Così lo colpisco in faccia e gli fracasso la mascella
dice “giovanotto stai infrangendo la legge”.
Mi diedero sei mesi nella città di Liverpool
per averlo pestato, preso a calci e steso!
Siamo una nave di Liverpool con una ciurma di Liverpool,
un primo di Liverpool e un comandante mangia-stufato.
Siamo nati a Liverpool e cresciuti a Liverpool,
forti di braccia, ragazzi
e forti di testa.
Buttate giù l’uomo, ragazzi, abbattetelo
con una ciurma di casi difficili dalla città di Liverpool

NOTE
1) la Paradise street ottocentesca ha lasciato oggi posto alla Liverpool One, un tempo la via  del divertimento per i marinai
2) anche sassy policeman oppure big Irish copper: scuffer è un termine tipicamente ottocentesco per poliziotto
3) tutti i marinai della Black Baller line portavano i capelli tagliati corti
4) Secondo Hugill un flying-fish sailor è un marinaio “che preferiva le terre dell’est e il calore degli alisei al freddo e alla miseria dell’Oceano Occidentale
5) primo ufficiale
6)scouse è un termine usato dalla gente di Liverpool che è anche il nome dato al dialetto locale. In origine nasce proprio dalle abitudini dei marinai di Liverpool di mangiare lo stufato di agnello e verdure derivata probabilmente dal norvegese “skause”. Si riferisce alla parlata inglese tipica degli irlandesi immigrati
7) hard cases: una persona dura, poco accomodante, difficile da tenere sotto controllo e arrogante

LA VARIANTE DI JOHN SHORT: Knock a man down

Lo shantyman John Short canta una versione molto personale rispetto alla “Blow the man down” riportata negli archivi delle shanties, nell’arrangiamento per lo Short Sharp Shanties gli autori scrivono ” Fox-Smith, Colcord e Doeflinger commentano sul gran numero di testi della shanty. Hugill fornisce sei diversi gruppi di parole e le parole di Short non sono effettivamente correlate a nessuno di essi, quindi abbiamo aggiunto versetti “generali” di altre versioni. In particolare, abbiamo aggiunto rispetto a Short, i versi ‘Market Street’, ‘spat in his face’ e ‘rags are all gone’
Sam Lee in Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2 


As I was a-walking down Market street
way ay knock a man down, 
a bully old watchman I chanced for to meet
O give me some time to knock a man down.
Chorus

Knock a man down, kick a man down ;
way ay knock a man down,
knock a man down
right down to the ground,
O give me some time to knock a man down.
The watchman’s dog stood ten feet high (1),
The watchman’s dog stood ten feet high.
So I spat in his face by gave him good jaw
and says he “me young  you’re breaking the law!”
[chorus]
I wish I was in London Town.
It’s there we’d make them girls fly round.
She is a lively ship and a lively crew.
O we are the boys to put her through
[chorus]
The rags are all gone and (?the chains they are jam?)
and the skipper he says  (? “If the weather be high”?)
[chorus]
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Mentre passeggiavo per Market street
W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo!
ebbi la ventura di incontrare una vecchia guardia prepotente
datemi un po’ di tempo per abbattere l’uomo
Coro

Buttate giù l’uomo, ragazzi. abbattetelo
W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo!
Abbattete l’uomo,
proprio dritto a terra
datemi un po’ di tempo per abbattere l’uomo
Il cane della guardia era alto
dieci piedi
Il cane della guardia era alto
dieci piedi
così gli assestai un bel colpo sulla mascella
dice lui “Giovanotto, state infrangendo la legge!”
Coro
Vorrei essera e Londra
è là dove portiamo a spasso
le ragazze
E’ una nave vivace e un equipaggio vivace
siamo i ragazzi che la faranno passare
Coro
(versi incomprensibili)

NOTE
Una trascrizione ancora incompleta perchè non riesco a capire la pronuncia dei versi finali
1) non era inconsueto che le guardie notturne  fin dal medioevo si accompagnassero con un cane, così come si evince da molte illustrazioni d’epoca

TERZA VERSIONE: Beware of the drink whenever it’s free

000brgcfLa versione più diffusa è quella in cui il protagonista incontra invece in Paradise street una giovane “damigella”  a volte paragonata a una nave nella quale, sempre metaforicamente, egli si vorrebbe imbarcare, e finisce immancabilmente lungo disteso a terra (dal bere o dal colpo ben assestato dal “compare” di lei) continua.
Il risveglio è amaro, perchè il malcapitato si trova imbarcato a forza su una nave (a volte più genericamente un Yankee clipper o un packet, ma anche un Black Ball)

the Haunted Saloon


I’ll sing you a song, a good song of the sea
Way – hey, blow the man down.
I trust that you’ll join in the chorus with me; Give me some time to blow the man down.
Chorus
Blow the man down, bully, blow the man down; Way – hey, blow the man down.
Blow the man down, boys, from Liverpool town; 
Give me some time to blow the man down.
As I was a-walking down Paradise street(1)
A handsome young damsel I happened to meet
At the pub down on Lime street I then went astray
I drank enough stout(2) for to fill Galway Bay
The next I remember I woke in the dawn
On a tall Yankee clipper that was bound round Cape Horn.
Come all ye young fellows who follow the sea
Beware of the drink whenever it’s free
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Vi canterò una canzone una bella canzone del mare
con me, W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo!
e confido che vi unirete con me nel coro
all’occasione abbatterò l’uomo!
CORO
Buttate giù l’uomo, ragazzi. abbattetelo
W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo!
Abbattete l’uomo, ragazzi di Liverpool
datemi un po’ di tempo per abbattere l’uomo!
Mentre passeggiavo per Paradise street
ebbi la ventura di incontrare una bella damigella
allora mi fiondai dritto nel pub di Lime Street
e bevvi abbastanza stout
da riempire la Baia di Galway.
Il mio secondo ricordo al mio risveglio all’alba,
fu che ero imbarcato su un clipper americano diretto a Capo Horn.
Venite tutti voi, giovani compagni che andate per mare
attenti alle bevande soprattutto quando sono gratis

NOTE
1) Paradise street, una mitica strada di Liverpool il cui nome è tutto un programma, molto frequentata dai marinai
2) birra scura

Woody Guthrie Songs of American Sailormen, 1988 la versione collezionata da Joanna Colcord


As I was out walkin’ down Paradise street(1),
To me way, hey, blow the man down!
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet,
Give me some time to blow the man down!
She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow,
So I took in all sail and cried “way enough now”(2)
I hailed her in English, she answered me clear
“I’m from the Black Arrow bound to the Shakespeare”
So I tailed her my flipper(3) and took her in tow
And yard-arm to yard-arm(4), away we did go
But as we were a-going she said unto me
“There’s a spankin’ full rigger(5) just ready for sea”
That spankin’ full rigger to New York was bound
She was very well mannered and very well found
But as soon as that packet was clear of the bar(6)
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar(7)
As soon as that packet was out on the sea
‘Twas devilish hard treatment of every degree
So I give you fair warning before we belay
Don’t never take heed of what pretty girls say.
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
Mentre passeggiavo per Paradise street
con me, W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo!
ebbi la ventura di incontrare
una bella e giovane damigella
datemi un po’ di tempo per abbattere l’uomo!
Era tonda a poppa
e dritta a prua
così ammainai tutte le vele e gridai “Tira i remi in barca”
La salutai in inglese e lei mi rispose in modo comprensibile
“Sono della Black Arrow imbarcato sulla Shakespeare”
Così la legai alla mia mano
e la presi a rimorchio
e vicini-vicini siamo
andati al largo
ma mentre stavamo andando lei mi disse
” C’è una rigger nuova di zecca pronta per il mare”
Quella rigger nuova di zecca era in partenza per New York
si dava un contegno
ed era ben messa
ma non appena quel postale ebbe superato il banco di sabbia
il primo ufficiale mi stese con una legnata
non appena il postale
fu al largo
iniziarono i dannati maltrattamenti di ogni tipo!
Così vi do un buon avvertimento, prima di arruolarvi
non date mai retta a quello che dicono le belle ragazze

NOTE
1) Paradise street, una mitica strada di Liverpool il cui nome è tutto un programma, molto frequentata dai marinai
2) way enough now deriva da un’espressione marinaresca Weigh enough – Take the stroke, put the blades on the water and relax. “Weigh enough” (or “Wain…’nuff”, or “Way enough”) (USA) The command to stop what ever the rower is doing, whether it be walking with the boat overhead or rowing. Mi viene da tradurre con un’espressione idiomatica italiana  “Tira i remi in barca”: il marinaio alla vista di cotale bellezza subito si ferma per parlarle, ovvero l’abborda!!
3) flipper  è uno slang marinaresco per mano
4) yard-arm to yard-arm letteralmente da pennone a pennone in italiano potrebbe essere equivalente all’espressione vicini-vicini
5) rigger? come termine nautico significa attrezzature, ma qui è chiaramente riferito alla nave: più sotto la nave viene chiamata packet
6) La barra del fiume (la Mersey dato che si parla di Liverpool) così uscendo in mare aperto.
7)  Italo Ottonello traduce “il primo ufficiale mi stese con una legnata” e precisa: dorma o droma, l’insieme delle parti di rispetto per alberi, pennoni ed aste varie. In questo caso (end of a spar), un pezzo asta della dorma.

Allen Robertson per la versione cartoon di Jack Sparrow in Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Swashbuckling Sea Songs 2007


I
Oh, blow the man down, bullies,
blow the man down
Way aye blow the man down
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow him away
Give me some time to blow the man down!
II
As I was a walking down Paradise Street
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet.
III
So I tailed her my flipper and took her in tow
And yardarm to yardarm away we did go.
IV
But as we were going she said unto me
There’s a spanking full-rigger just ready for sea.
V
So just as that lass I reached not to far
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar.
VI
It’s starboard and larboard on deck you will sprawl
For Captain Jack Sparrow commands the Black Pearl
VII
So I was shangaiing aboard this old ship
she took off me money and gave me to sleep
VIII
So I give you fair warning before we belay,
Don’t ever take head of what pretty girls say.
Traduzione italiano di Cattia Salto
I
Buttate giù l’uomo, ragazzi,
Buttate giù l’uomo!
W-ay! hey? Buttate giù l’uomo!
Buttate giù l’uomo, ragazzi,
fatelo fuori,
datemi un po’ di tempo per abbattere l’uomo!
II
Mentre passeggiavo per Paradise street
ebbi la ventura di incontrare
una bella e giovane damigella
III
Così la legai alla mia manoe la presi a rimorchio
e vicini-vicini siamo
andati al largo
IV
ma mentre stavamo andando lei mi disse ” C’è una rigger nuova di zecca pronta per il mare”
V
Così non mi accostai a quella ragazza
il primo ufficiale mi stese con una legnata
VI
A babordo e a tribordo sul ponte si ammucchieranno
perchè  capitano Jack Sparrow comanda la Perla Nera
VII
Così fui coscritto a forza a bordo di quella vecchia nave
lei mi prese i soldi e mi mandò a dormire
VIII
Così vi do un buon avvertimento, prima di lasciarci
non date mai retta a quello che dicono le belle ragazze

BLOW THE MAN DOWN: VARIANTE CARAIBICA

Due varianti dalle isole Nevis e Carriacou così Ranzo scrive nelle note: “la variazione dall’isola di Nevis, con la sua frase ripetuta “nella stiva sottostante” (“in the hold below”), suggerisce che la canzone fosse una volta associata agli stivatori che caricavano la stiva. Questo è affascinante, perché è coerente con la prova che “Blow the Man Down” fosse inizialmente una canzone degli scaricatori portuali, in cui l’atto di “buttare  giù l’uomo” era forse una metafora per riporre ogni pezzo di carico . Inoltre, le molte varianti, “hit”, “knock”, “kick”, “blow” sono coerenti con altri dati storici che “knock a man down” era una / la prima forma. La variante fu cantata da Roy Gumbs di Nevis nel 1962. Lomax la registrò e Abrahams la trascrisse nel suo libro del 1974. La seconda variante è di Carriacou. Si riferisce a una nave chiamata “Cariso”. E ‘stato cantato da Daniel Aikens e coro nel 1962.”

FONTI
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/blowdown.html
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/btmd/index.html
http://shanty.rendance.org/lyrics/showlyric.php/blowdown
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/blow-the-man-down.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/flying-fish-sailor.html http://www.acousticmusicarchive.com/blow-the-man-down-chords-lyrics
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/blowthemandown.htm

http://www.umbermusic.co.uk/SSSnotes.htm