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Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal

GUEST,Julia L 30 Nov 19 - 11:33 AM
GUEST,Starship 30 Nov 19 - 01:32 PM
GUEST,Julia L 30 Nov 19 - 09:00 PM
GUEST,Starship 01 Dec 19 - 08:01 AM
GUEST,Julia L 01 Dec 19 - 09:46 AM
GUEST,Starship 01 Dec 19 - 10:37 AM
GUEST,Julia L 01 Dec 19 - 08:42 PM
Ross Campbell 02 Dec 19 - 07:10 PM
GUEST,Julia L 02 Dec 19 - 11:39 PM
GUEST,John Moulden 03 Dec 19 - 09:15 AM
GUEST,Phil d'Conch 03 Dec 19 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,Julia L 03 Dec 19 - 10:22 PM
Gibb Sahib 04 Dec 19 - 12:07 AM
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Subject: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 30 Nov 19 - 11:33 AM

Having found a Maine version of "Yellow Meal" aka Tapscott/ Tabscott in Horace Beck's unpublished thesis, I did some research about the song. In the DT, and other sources the "yellow meal" is explained as a corruption of the Irish pronounciation of "mail". However, in thinkiong about how the Irish were "saved" by the importation of grain during the famine, I did a little digging. It seems that Tapscott was, in fact, an importer of feedstuffs, not a packet ship as assumed by others.
In The Northwestern Miller, 1900 - Volume 49 - Page 902 we find "Notes- The firm of Tapscott, Kitchen & Neville, Liverpool, importers of feedingstuffs, has just been turned into limited liability company and will henceforth be known as Tapscott, Kitchen and Neville Ltd. The directors are John Tapscott, chairman; W.O. Blott, secretary,; Benjamin Blott and J. B. Neville."

-------------------

The version recorded by Beck is presented with a "Irish music hall" style chorus rather than as a shanty (although he calls it one). Sadly there is no tune included

Tab Scott
From Mrs. Dalton Raynes, Matinicus, ME

One morning as I went walking down Clarance Dock
I overheard an Irishman conversing with Tab Scott
"Good morning, Mr. Tab Scott, " "Good morning, Sir " said he
"Have you any ships bound for New York in the states of America?"

Chorus
Hailey go wailer go lay down my shay
Say me down hitch a back Mrs. McKay
Say me down hitch a back Hash Nither Hoilgan
Jenny go love Fire away laddie right bully for you

"My good kind Mr Irishman I have a ship or two
One is the Georgie Walker and the other is the Kangaroo
One is the Georgie Walker and the other is the Kangaroo
Both are down at Waterloo dock taking in yellow mail"

Bad luck to the Georgie Walker and the day that she set sail
Ba d luck to Mr Tab Scott and all of his yellow mail
Bad luck to the Georgie Walker for the day that she set sail
The sailors got drunk. stove open the trunks and stole all the yellow mail

Now I landed in New York a-working on the canal
To cross the sea in your packet ships I think I never shall
I go in one of the White Star line which carries both steam and sail
And there I'll get plenty to eat and drink and none of your yellow mail.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 30 Nov 19 - 01:32 PM

There's a book out called 'The Folklore of Maine' and part of the song is mentioned in it. It's about 2/3 way through the book. No page numbers were listed. (Book published in 2018.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 30 Nov 19 - 09:00 PM

The original book was actually published in 1957 and in fact the whole song is there pp182-183 but no tune. Strangely, he does not note his sources in the book, but does in his unpublished thesis.

There is a lot of great stuff in this book, though not every song has a tune or source.

You can get the whole ebook here for 2.99
https://books.google.com/books?id=SombDwAAQBAJ


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 01 Dec 19 - 08:01 AM

Thanks, Julia.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 01 Dec 19 - 09:46 AM

You're welcome

Just as a side bar, I was wondering about this line and it's relationship to the song John B Sails...

Tapscott
The sailors got drunk, stove open the trunks and stole all the yellow mail

John B Sails
The first mate he got drunk and broke in the captain's trunk
Then he took and he ate up all of my corn

any thoughts?
J


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Starship
Date: 01 Dec 19 - 10:37 AM

I've heard that sung as "people's trunk" also. To go with that thought, I'll look to determine when 'corn' was used by UK people as a catch-all word for grains of various sorts and when it differentiated to mean sweet corn (maize) as opposed to grain crops. I know a few occasions when misunderstandings arose because of that distinction.

S


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 01 Dec 19 - 08:42 PM

Ha- just realized I had two verses of John B combined

It's
The poor he got fits and threw away all my grits
Then he took and he ate up all of my corn

The captain/people's trunk is in another verse

Oh well... all that excitement for nothing!

Still, the meal / mail thing is interesting
cheers- J


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: Ross Campbell
Date: 02 Dec 19 - 07:10 PM

I always understood that the "indian buck" mentioned in the emigrant song "By the Hush" was the same "yellow male" formerly imported as animal feed and eventually offered to the starving Irish populace as famine relief. Thomas Keneally's book "Three Famines: Starvation and Politics" mentions both terms.

https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=Cag4DgAAQBAJ&pg=PT146&lpg=PT146&dq=indian+buck+yellow+corn&source=bl&ots=rrTY-B5QzM&sig=ACfU

Ross


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 02 Dec 19 - 11:39 PM

Thanks Ross for that- it really corroborates my theory that it's about grain, not postage.

J


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,John Moulden
Date: 03 Dec 19 - 09:15 AM

This song appears in the Sam Henry Collection #827. Sam Henry's 'Songs of the People' page 100 where it is called Yellow Meal.The sources were local and Manus O'Connor's 'Irish Com-All-Yes' In fact the word meal/mail means both simultaneously. As I point out in my "Thousands are Sailing: a brief song history of Irish Emigration"(1994)

"The song tells a story typical of the experience of many emigrants; they were lied to. The pronunciation of 'meal' allows it to be mistaken for 'mail'. The Emigration agent would do nothing to discourage the emigrant from thinking he had bought passage in a fast mail boat."
"The Tappscott brothers were perhaps the biggest rogues on either side of the Atlantic; one who sold passages unscrupulously in Liverpool; the other whose runners (touts recommending boarding houses) met the emigrants on the other side and fleeced them of whatever they had left. They may be read about in Terry Coleman: Passage to America (Penguin, Harmondsworth, 1974). Many Irish people went to Liverpool to emigrate because it was cheaper but they paid in other ways."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Phil d'Conch
Date: 03 Dec 19 - 02:40 PM

Yalla male sweet bread... yummy. Sorta like New England's Thomas Toast-R-Cakes. Makes for good conch fritters too btw.

The Liverpool cargo appears bound for America though. Seems Ireland should be a local or the ferry itself. Perhaps they mean rations for the Atlantic crossing, ergo in the passenger trunks. ie: hasty pudding stuff.

Either way it would have been received a bit differently by the English/Protestant v. the Irish/Catholic... re: the so-called 'Corn Laws.'


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: GUEST,Julia L
Date: 03 Dec 19 - 10:22 PM

Yes, it would seem that perhaps the "meal" was going one way (from America to Ireland) while the "mail" (and the emigrants) went the other. And it could be that said emigrants were fed yellow corn bread on the passage over.
J

So the next question is when, and how, did this song (Tapscot) become a work song /shantey, evolving into "Yaller Gals"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Tapscott/yellow meal
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 04 Dec 19 - 12:07 AM

>So the next question is when, and how, did this song (Tapscot) become a work song /shantey, evolving into "Yaller Gals"?

The chanty is a different song, "Heave Away [my johnnies, my jolly boy, yellow girl]". It takes the typically Afro-American form. Here is my rendition of a form ascribed to Black firemen from Savannah, from the famous 1867 collection, _Slave Songs the United States_.
https://youtu.be/iJXXW94LLbI

I have theorized (in writing, in a presentation at the Mystic Music of the Sea Symposium) that songs of Black firemen, which they used to pump their handtubs, found ready applicability to work on the lever windlass (an invention that came to prominence on ships in the 1840s). "Heave Away my johnnies" (etc) is one such lever windlass song. But that's a different story...

The documented "yellow meal" way of singing "Heave Away," later to be seen as canonical (I believe, due to its placement in some of the "standard" collections of chanties) was perhaps a variation created by Euro-American sailormen. Being a chanty, "Heave Away" can be fitted with couplets, in the solo part, either improvised or coming from wherever one wishes (i.e. provided they fit the meter).

The historical record of chanties provides numerous examples of ballads or other such narrative songs from the English song repertoire whose verses were transposed onto chanty frameworks.

Generally speaking, we can see that African American chanty singers were more liable to create non-narrative and/or very improvisational solo verses (though by NO means was this limited to that ethnic group), whereas there was, perhaps, some preference among singers of European heritage to adopt the pre-set narratives. The chanty genre, natively, calls for the non-narrative/improvised, but there is no reason why one can't transpose a narrative onto one's performance. There are many other dimensions to this, which I won't go into. Just an example: Singers who didn't have the knack for improvisation, perhaps, may have preferred to opt for set narratives that they could repeat each time they were called on to sing. Spinning out the narrative would take a while -- you could get a lot of mileage out of it, without having to invent novel rhymes. The editors of chanty collections certainly preferred to publish such seemingly more cohesive narratives rather than the disjointed rhymes that characterized the "original" art of chanty singing -- where such created rhymes, arguably, were important to the aesthetics and pride of chantymen.

"Heave Away" with the "yellow meal" narrative transposed upon it existed at least as early as 1868. I don't recall offhand when the original Tapscott song is supposed to have originated.

Both "Irish" popular song and chanty song genres co-existed on packet ships.


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