Songs & Ballads Of The Maine Lumberjacks

A Collection Of Traditional & Folk Songs of the area with Lyrics & Commentaries -online book

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Introduction                   xvii
the ballads came to be made to Mr. Perkins, previously referred to. He replied: "In general, some one person in the group or gang has ability superior to the others in singing or in story-telling. He started a song, the rest often aiding by adding a word here and there, sometimes a line or more. One Frenchman, I remember, would ask them [the lumberjacks] to give him an incident or accident or character; then he would rapidly improvise a story, I think, in prose. This man would hold the men's interest for a long period at a time, relating a story based on what was given him."
In seeking information concerning the mythical Paul Bunyan, the super-Herculean creation of the lumberjacks of Maine, I received from Mr. J. S. Baird of the United States Forest Service in Montana a copy of a ballad called 'The Shanty Boy," which originated about 1847 near Muskegon, Michigan. Of the fifteen verses, I quote the first and the last. Here is the only instance known to me where a ballad relates the number of persons who took part in its composition. The authors are not known.
Come boys, if you will listen, I '11 sing to you a song, It's all about the pinery boys and how they get along; A set of jovial fellows, so merry and so fine, They spend a jovial winter in cutting down the pine. *******
So now my song is ended, you '11 find those words are true, But if you doubt one word of this, just ask Jim Lockwell's
crew. 'T was in Jim Lockwell's shanty this song was sung with glee, And that's the end of "The Shanty Boy," and it was com-
posed by three.

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