American Ballads and Folk Songs: page - 0583

Complete Text, Lyrics & Sheet Music

Home Main Menu Singing & Playing Order & Order Info Support Search Voucher Codes



Share page  Visit Us On FB

Previous Contents Index Next
JOHNNY COME DOWN TO HILO *
"Shanties which were originated by the Negro stevedores in the Gulf ports form a large class. . . . These songs were developed as an aid in stowing cotton, the bales being rammed tightly into the ship's hold. • . . As the shanties proved useful, either for hauling or for the windlass, they were picked up by the ships' crews and be­came part of the shantyman's repertoire. . . .
"There can be no doubt of the Negro origin of the next shanty 5 as to how, when or where, there is no trace. The lines are a mixture taken from other shanties 5 scarcely one is peculiar to this shanty alone, al­though the melody is distinctive enough. Bullen says that it 'brings to my mind most vividly a dewy morning in Garden Reach where we lay just off the King of Oudh's palace waiting our permit to moor. I was before the mast in one of Berat's ships, the Herat, and when the order came at dawn to man the windlass I raised this shanty and my shipmates sang the chorus as I never heard it sung before or since. There was a big ship called the Martin Scott lying inshore of us and her crew were all gathered on deck at their coffee when the order came to 'Vast Heaving,' the cable was short. And that listening crew, as soon as we ceased singing, gave us a stentorian cheer, an^ un­precedented honor. I have never heard that noble shanty sung since, but sometimes even now I can in fancy hear its mellow notes rever­berating amid the fantastic buildings of the palace and see the great flocks of pigeons rising and falling as the strange sounds disturbed them."
*The descriptive paragraphs and the shanty are quoted from Joanna Colcord?* Roll and Go (In-dianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill Co.)-
[483]






E-Book - An Annotated Compendium of Old Time American Songs by James Alverson III