Mudcat Café message #1510184 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #82388   Message #1510184
Posted By: Janice in NJ
26-Jun-05 - 09:13 AM
Thread Name: Cheerful Folk Songs
Subject: RE: Cheerful Folk Songs
In response to Richard's statement:

While I'm on that list, I'm puzzled by the inclusion of Santa Ana "Heave away, Santa Ana, they're killing your soldiers below...(etc)", and while I enjoy a bit of skiffle, I don't think Putting on the Agony or Rock Island Line really qualify (although I have a friend who does quite a lot of enjoyable material from the extended category of folk-meets-skiffle (sometimes dubbed "Fiffle")). Drunken Sailor is of course a list of the Navy's more unpleasant punishments: some idea of cheerful!

You have a different song in mind from the Heave Away, Santy Ano that I listed. The song I refer to is not about the Battle of the Alamo, but is about the California gold rush. It is very cheerful indeed:

There's plenty of gold, so I've been told,
Heave away, Santy Ano!
Plenty of gold, so I've been told,
We're bound for Californ-I-O!


Both Putting on the Style, as we call it in the USA, and The Rock Island Line are considered traditional folk songs on this side of the Atlantic. The former may have derived from a 19th century pop song, and the latter may have been composed by Huddie Ledbetter (at least the version we are all used to), but they are both accepted as in the North American tradition.

Yes, The Drunken Sailor describes some rather nasty punishments, but it is always sung tongue-in-cheek with a rollicking humor. The good cheer comes from imagining how the sailor got so piss ass drunk in the first place. But technically you are right.