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Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll

DigiTrad:
ALABAMA'S CREW
ROLL ALABAMA ROLL


Related threads:
Happy! - Sept 27 (Roll 'Alabama!') (2)
Lyr Req: The Alabama (Victorious) (8)


Lighter 27 Mar 18 - 09:15 AM
Lighter 22 Mar 18 - 11:59 AM
Steve Gardham 14 Mar 18 - 05:51 PM
beardedbruce 13 Mar 18 - 08:32 AM
beardedbruce 13 Mar 18 - 08:04 AM
Lighter 12 Mar 18 - 07:37 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Mar 18 - 06:42 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Mar 18 - 06:34 PM
beardedbruce 12 Mar 18 - 04:54 PM
beardedbruce 12 Mar 18 - 04:48 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Mar 18 - 04:30 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Mar 18 - 03:30 PM
Steve Gardham 12 Mar 18 - 03:17 PM
Lighter 12 Mar 18 - 11:59 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Mar 18 - 11:40 AM
Lighter 12 Mar 18 - 11:17 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Mar 18 - 10:34 AM
Steve Gardham 12 Mar 18 - 10:17 AM
Lighter 11 Mar 18 - 06:26 PM
GUEST,A. Fred 10 Mar 18 - 09:59 AM
Lighter 09 Mar 18 - 07:01 PM
GUEST 09 Mar 18 - 04:59 PM
radriano 09 Mar 18 - 03:38 PM
GUEST,Ebor Fiddler 09 Mar 18 - 03:17 PM
GUEST 09 Mar 18 - 11:40 AM
GUEST 09 Mar 18 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,Adirondack Fred 09 Mar 18 - 09:23 AM
Lighter 09 Mar 18 - 09:22 AM
Lighter 08 Mar 18 - 08:46 PM
GUEST 02 Feb 17 - 10:33 AM
GUEST,Wee Jock 01 Feb 17 - 07:10 AM
GUEST 31 Jan 17 - 09:59 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Mar 12 - 02:40 PM
GUEST,Lighter 06 Mar 12 - 02:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 06 Mar 12 - 02:31 PM
Gibb Sahib 05 Mar 12 - 08:40 PM
Charley Noble 05 Mar 12 - 07:53 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 05 Mar 12 - 02:19 PM
Gibb Sahib 04 Mar 12 - 07:45 PM
GUEST 04 Mar 12 - 04:48 PM
Peter C 04 Mar 12 - 04:14 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Mar 12 - 03:46 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 04 Mar 12 - 03:30 PM
GUEST,Lighter 03 Mar 12 - 08:23 PM
Charley Noble 03 Mar 12 - 11:50 AM
Gibb Sahib 02 Mar 12 - 11:37 PM
Charley Noble 02 Mar 12 - 09:15 PM
GUEST,Lighter 02 Mar 12 - 06:01 PM
Gibb Sahib 02 Mar 12 - 05:54 PM
GUEST,Lighter 02 Mar 12 - 05:11 PM
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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 27 Mar 18 - 09:15 AM

Case closed:

Irwin Silber's "Songs of the Civil War" (1960) prints "Roll, Alabama, Roll" in the form "as sung by Hermes Nye."

The text comes from Nye's 1954 Folkways album.

According to Silber's source notes (p. 367), "Hermes Nye tells me that this is his own free adaptation of printed versions."

In other words, Nye rewrote the lyrics on the inspiration of the texts of Colcord and Doerflinger.

The chantey, by the way, may or may not date from the Civil War itself. Maitland said he learned it in 1870-71. In 1869, five years after her sinking, the Alabama was again in the news owing to American claims against Great Britain for damages done by Alabama and other British-built Confederate raiders to American shipping during the war (the "Alabama Claims").

In 1872 an international commission awarded the U.S. $15.5 million in damages to be paid by Great Britain.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 22 Mar 18 - 11:59 AM

Another modern version. It is sung by Hank Cramer on his album "The Shantyman."

Pretty good for a rewrite, but the final stanza makes the Alabama sound more like a submarine than a surface vessel!


In eighteen hundred sixty-one,
Roll, Alabama, roll!
The Civil War had just begun,
Oh, roll, Alabama, roll!

At Birkenhead her keel was laid....
Her hull of the finest oak was made....

In sixty-two she sallied forth....
To destroy the commerce of the North....

It was many the Yankee prize she seized....
To become the terror of the seas....

In a port in France in sixty-four....
For to give her crew some leave ashore....

Up sailed the little Kearsarge to say....
"You're a fightin' ship, come fight with me!"

They sallied forth for a fight at sea....
The pride of the North and the South Navee....

At the three-mile limit they fought that day....
Alabama's stern was shot away....

It was many the sailor met his doom....
When she sank into her watery tomb....

Off of Cherbourg, France, in sixty-four....
The Alabama rose no more....


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 14 Mar 18 - 05:51 PM

Fascinating stuff.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 Mar 18 - 08:32 AM

Some info on John A Winslow:

He entered the navy as a midshipman on 1 February 1827, became a passed midshipman, 10 June 1833, and was commissioned a lieutenant on 9 February 1839. During the Mexican War he took part in the expeditions against Tabasco, Tampico, and Tuxpan, and was present at the fall of Vera Cruz. For his gallantry in action he was allowed to have command of the schooner USS Union, which had been captured at Tampico in November 1846 and was taken into service, but she was poorly equipped and was lost on a reef off Vera Cruz on 16 December 1846. While serving at Tabasco during the Mexican-American War, he was commended for gallantry in action by Commodore Matthew Perry.

>>>>>> He shared a shipboard cabin with his later adversary, Raphael Semmes. The two officers served together on Cumberland, Semmes as the ship's flag lieutenant and Winslow as a division officer. The two, however, never mention this fact in their respective autobiographies.<<<<<<

He was executive of the sloop Saratoga in the Gulf of Mexico in 1848-1849, at the Boston Navy Yard in 1849-1850, and in the frigate St. Lawrence of the Pacific Squadron, in 1851-1855. He was promoted to commander, 14 September 1855.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: beardedbruce
Date: 13 Mar 18 - 08:04 AM

From wiki:

Herbert Winslow (1848 – September 25, 1914) was a rear admiral in the United States Navy.

He was born in 1848 in Roxbury, Massachusetts to John Ancrum Winslow. He entered the Navy Academy in July 1865 and graduated four years later. He married Elizabeth Maynard (December 1854 - March 3, 1899), daughter of Lafayette Maynard, in 1876. He commanded the USS Fern at the Battle of Santiago de Cuba on July 3, 1898. His wife died in 1899.[3] He retired on September 22, 1910 on account of his age and moved to Cherbourg, France.

He was a hereditary companion of the Massachusetts Commandery of the Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States by right of his father's service in the Union Navy during the American Civil War.

He died in Florence, Italy on September 25, 1914.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 07:37 PM

John was captain of Kearsarge.

Herbert was his son.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 06:42 PM

Rear Admiral Herbert Winslow, is he related to or the same as the Winslow the captain of the Kearsarge?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 06:34 PM

100


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: beardedbruce
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 04:54 PM

Thread drift-

USS Kearsarge (BB-5), the lead ship of her class of pre-dreadnought battleships, was a United States Navy ship, named after the sloop-of-war Kearsarge. Her keel was laid down by the Newport News Shipbuilding Company of Virginia, on 30 June 1896. She was launched on 24 March 1898, sponsored by the wife of Rear Admiral Herbert Winslow, and commissioned on 20 February 1900.

Between 1903 and 1907 Kearsarge served in the North Atlantic Fleet, and from 1907 to 1909 she sailed as part of the Great White Fleet. In 1909 she was decommissioned for modernization, which was finished in 1911. In 1915 she served in the Atlantic, and between 1916 and 1919 she served as a training ship. She was converted into a crane ship in 1920, renamed Crane Ship No. 1 in 1941, and sold for scrap in 1955. She was the only United States Navy battleship to not be named after a state.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Kearsarge_(BB-5)#/media/File:Kearsarge_(BB5),_converted_to_craneship_in_1920._Port_bow,_at_wha


https://images.search.yahoo.com/search/images?p=kearsarge+crane&fr=yfp-t&imgurl=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.ibiblio.org%2Fhyperwar%2FOnlin


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: beardedbruce
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 04:48 PM

USS Kearsarge, a Mohican-class sloop-of-war, is best known for her defeat of the Confederate commerce raider CSS Alabama during the American Civil War. Kearsarge was the only ship of the United States Navy named for Mount Kearsarge in New Hampshire. Subsequent ships were later named Kearsarge in honor of the ship.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 04:30 PM

As a matter of interest where does the name 'Kearsarge' come from?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 03:30 PM

Okay, got it, thanks.

Tried to print some of the broadsides off but they're printing pretty faint. Barely readable. I'll have to see if I can save them into something that will allow me to strengthen the ink. Any suggestions welcome. I have a Canon MG4250.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 03:17 PM

Hi Jon
Thanks for that. I tried cut and paste into my browser but all I got was a chat room or a list of meeting minutes.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 11:59 AM

Steve, here's the complete text:

https://digital.librarycompany.org/islandora/object/digitool%3A46701?solr_nav%5Bid%5D=ea74a38184da74823926&solr_nav%5Bpage%5D=46&solr_nav%5Boffset%5D=17


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 11:40 AM

I have a reference to 'The Last of the Alabama' broadside, printed by Johnson of Philadelphia. First line 'Off Cherbourg port one summer's day' in Edwin Wolf 'American Song Sheets, Slips and Ballads' 1963 Vol II. I think it's just a reference rather than a copy. I'll try to find it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 11:17 AM

Hi, Steve.

Ordinary Seaman Frank Townshend, described as an "Irish fiddler and wit," wrote a poem on the fight between his ship and USS Hatteras.

The poem was set to a variant of the tune "Brennan on the Moore" not long ago by Dan Milner, Frank Coffin, and the fortuitously named Jeff Davis:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZF3swX6kv_A

They also perform the parlor song "The Alabama," by E. King and F. W. Rosier (1864):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zw-QY5s4FHs

And R. B. Nicol's 1864 broadside "The Fate of the Pirate Alabama":

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F7lFv50E-Ec

The 97th Regimental String Band has recorded Frank Wilder's "Alabama and Kearsarge" (1864):

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lmp4DLzHveI

I don't detect any real similarities between any of these songs and the chantey. Unfortunately.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 10:34 AM

BTW at least 3 of the singers in our group Spare Hands sing it as a chantey and when we perform at our Maritime Museum we usually try to give it an airing as there is a painting there with the Alabama and the Kearsage in it.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 12 Mar 18 - 10:17 AM

Might be relevant. Colcord gives the 3 stanza version in 'Roll and Go' 1924 and the same 3 stanzas in Songs of American Sailormen 1938, but in the notes to the latter adds 'which my father used to sing'. Her father was Lincoln A. Colcord captain of the barque Harvard from 1891 to 98 .


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Mar 18 - 06:26 PM

Pedantry alert. Non-pedants stay out!:

Doerflinger published a third text and tune in the Southern Literary Messenger (Oct., 1939), pp. 696-97. It's clearly from Maitland, but - as was usual at the time - not even the singer's name is mentioned.

Doerflinger says, "The following stanzas were all sung by the same shantyman, but on two different occasions" (i.e., in differing but overlapping versions). Collected in 1938, it appears to be a combination of most of the two versions Doerflinger later printed in his book.

Alan Lomax recorded one more version from Maitland in 1940, published in Duncan Emrich's "Folklore on the American Land" (1972). After the first two stanzas about the keel and Jonathan Laird, it becomes noticeably different:

And away down the Mersey she sailed one day....
And across to the Westward she ploughed her way....

'Twas at the island of Fayal....
Where she got her guns and crew on board....

Then away across the watery world....
To sink, to burn, and to destroy....

All the Federal comers that came her way....
'Twas in the harbor of Cherbourg one day....

There the little Kearsarge she did lay....
When Semmes and Winslow made the shore....

Winslow challenged Semmes out to sea....
He couldn't refuse, there was too many around....

Three miles outside of Cherbourg....
There the Kearsarge sunk her down below....

Maitland said he'd learned the shanty when he was about fifteen, in 1870-71, nearly seventy years before he was recorded. I suggest that in all these cases he was struggling to remember the words, but much of the time could only summon up their substance.

The specificity of the historical detail - possibly unique in a chantey - may help to explain Maitland's plural versions as well as the inability of Colcord's father to remember more than the lines about the keel, Birkenhead, Laird, and the Mersey.

Hugill's version (learned in 1925) has most of Maitland's substance, but (except for a misprinted line) everything rhymes!

Maitland appears to be the only source for the obscure detail that Alabama had originally been called Hull No. 292 (in fact, "290"). A headline in the San Francisco Daily Evening Bulletin (Nov. 8, 1862) reads,

Doings of "No. 290" or the "Alabama."

The article never explains the name, implying that it was well known at the time. Several other papers mention "No. 290" in the fall of 1862.

As has been mentioned, a further version, Nye's, which he sang in 1954 on a Folkways LP, is largely rewritten from Doerflinger.

A search of various newspaper databases turns up no early mention of the chantey.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST,A. Fred
Date: 10 Mar 18 - 09:59 AM

In the view of the U.S. Government, they had not violated the laws of war.

No, they just committed treason by waging war against the United States to protect slavery and white supremacy.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Mar 18 - 07:01 PM

Note for singers:

All prisoners taken by Semmes and the Alabama were released to neutral ships or in neutral ports - as was prescribed by the law of war in the nineteenth century.

That included over 100 Union sailors captured from USS Hatteras at Galveston, the only warship sunk by the Alabama. These were "paroled," as legal language had it, in Jamaica. That is, they were released on their solemn oath not to rejoin the war. Noncombatant prisoners were released without an oath.

After the war, the Government of the United States found no legal basis to try Semmes or any member of his crew for any crime. In the view of the U.S. Government, they had not violated the laws of war.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Mar 18 - 04:59 PM

How would they have got there?

Possibly because that's where prisoners taken were sent- that and other hell holes like Salisbury- unless they were African Americans who were summarily killed on the spot.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: radriano
Date: 09 Mar 18 - 03:38 PM

Every time I hear someone sing this it is in 2/4 or 4/4.

It's interesting to note that Hugill, in his Shanties from the Seven Seas, gives it in 3/4, or waltz time. Sounds good that way.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST,Ebor Fiddler
Date: 09 Mar 18 - 03:17 PM

How would they have got there?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Mar 18 - 11:40 AM

Ah yes. Blog-O-Paedia.

and took more than 2,000 prisoners

Oh, well that's all right then......how many died in Confederate prison camps like Andersonville?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST
Date: 09 Mar 18 - 11:03 AM

A murderous band, killing innocent civilians?

I don't think so: from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CSS_Alabama

Upon the completion of her seven expeditionary raids, Alabama had been at sea for 534 days out of 657, never visiting a single Confederate port. She boarded nearly 450 vessels, captured or burned 65 Union merchant ships, and took more than 2,000 prisoners without a single loss of life from either prisoners or her own crew<\B><\U>.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST,Adirondack Fred
Date: 09 Mar 18 - 09:23 AM

I never could understand why a song about a Confederate pirate murdering innocent merchant seamen was so popular with anyone other than the neo-Conederate crowd.

We don't get many U.S. songs praising the gallant German U-Boats & their crews.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 09 Mar 18 - 09:22 AM

The following lines come to mind. The process of elimination suggests I'm responsible for them, but I have no conscious recollection of it. I can't even say how long I've "known" that.

Many a sailorman was drowned...
But Semmes escaped in the little Deerhound.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Lighter
Date: 08 Mar 18 - 08:46 PM

Here's another version (rewritten by Oscar Brand on the basis of Colcord and Doerflinger). It comes from the 1960 album "Civil War Almanac: Rebels," sung by the Cumberland Three. They called it "Number Two-Nine-Two." The Cumberland Three were sometimes rousing performers on the Kingston Trio pattern. In fact, John Stewart was a Kingston alum.

You can hear the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Qi1KQi1jjE

When the Alabama's keel was laid,
Roll, Alabama, roll!
It was in the city of Birkenhead,
Roll, Alabama, roll!

They called her Number Two-Nine-Two...
In honor of the merchants of Liverpool....

Roll, Alaba-ama!
Roll, Alabama! Ro-o-o-ol!
Roll, Alaba-ama!
Roll, Alabama, roll!

To the Western Isles she made her run...
To be fitted out with shot and gun....

From sixty-two to sixty-four...
She took sixty Yankee ships or more....

Roll, Alaba-ama! [etc.]

It was early on a summer's day....
Cap Semmes he docked in Sherbrook [sic] Bay....

It was there she met the little Kearsarge...
With Captain Winslow in her charge....

Roll, Alaba-ama! [etc.]

Outside the three-mile limit they fought...
Brave Navy steel and British shot....

Till a shot from the forward pivot, they say...
Took the Alabama's gear away....

Then the British did the crewmen save...
From sharing their vessel's watery grave....

Roll, Alaba-ama! [etc.]


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST
Date: 02 Feb 17 - 10:33 AM

Thank you John.
That is brilliant.
"Nice arse" was a phrase he used often.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST,Wee Jock
Date: 01 Feb 17 - 07:10 AM

Dave, John Matthews of Border Crossing here i have a CD of Pete Hicks
called Nice Arse which was done after Pete died and that includes Roll Alabama Roll plus some other great stuff.


Cheers

John


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST
Date: 31 Jan 17 - 09:59 AM

Does anybody know of a recording of Roll Alabama Roll sung by Pete Hicks/Skinners Rats/Crayfolk?
I have Skinners Rats and Crayfolk on vinyl, but Roll Alabama Roll is on neither.
Dave Webb (Swinging the Lead.)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 02:40 PM

"I guess I'll just be rollin' along..."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 02:34 PM

Well, Alabama and the Jordan River are both geographical locations.

And why would you want the ship Alabama to "roll"?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 06 Mar 12 - 02:31 PM

The old hymn "Roll, Jordan, Roll" pops into my mind but I can see no connection other than similarity of title form.

From Ballanta-(Taylor), St. Helena Island spirituals-
Chorus:
Roll, Jerdon, roll
Roll, Jerdon, roll
My Soul arise in heben Lawd
To hear sweet Jerdon roll.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 05 Mar 12 - 08:40 PM

Charley,

Read the next line in my post! :)

In short, no.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Charley Noble
Date: 05 Mar 12 - 07:53 PM

Gibb-

"Dawson's novel mentions "Roll, Alabama, Roll" by title only, along with the titles of several other chanties and the lyrics of some. The funny thing is that all of the lyrics he gives match Masefield's collection of 1906, verbatim. The way he works in the chanties is slightly off, as if he wasn't terribly familiar with them. "

Are you suggesting that "Roll Alabama Roll" can be found in Masefield's Sailor's Garland, 1906? If so I can't find it there among the traditional shanties.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 05 Mar 12 - 02:19 PM

From the Athenaeum, 1903, p. 206, a brief cut reproduced of the page, so incomplete reference:

".....open book for all to read and understand, it contains many chanties, but seagoing readers will miss such old favourites as "Roll, Alabama, Roll," and "We'll Roll the Old Chariot Along." The work may be cordially recommended."

Google Books, see Gibb Sahib link of this fragment of a review of Lubbock's book, 13 Aug 10.

Others mention that this was a Civil War time song, but I have found no citations.
Colcord suggested that the song was based on "Roll the Cotton Down."

R. B. Nicol published a broadside in 1864, "The Fate of the Pirate Alabama," with the tune "The Heights of Alma" (Copy at American Memory, Gibson Bros. Printers, Washington, D. C.). No similarity in text.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 07:45 PM

Just to add to the historiography of this song -- though not adding much info: Here's another source that mentions it, which I didn't have in my notes earlier and I don't think has been noted around here:

Dawson, Alec John. 1907. _The Genteel A.B._ London: E. Grant Richards.

Dawson's novel mentions "Roll, Alabama, Roll" by title only, along with the titles of several other chanties and the lyrics of some. The funny thing is that all of the lyrics he gives match Masefield's collection of 1906, verbatim. The way he works in the chanties is slightly off, as if he wasn't terribly familiar with them.

The interesting thing is that every chanty he mentions was present in Masefield's book (he even uses idiosyncratic titles of Masefield) EXCEPT for "RAR".

If Dawson's knowledge was only text based, and the only source we've seen to mention RAR up to that point is the 1903 review in the Atheneum (of Bullen's book), was there another pre-1907 publication out there?

On the other hand, Dawson evidently made a couple voyages as a merchant sailor. Based on his Wikipedia article, I'd guess those occurred in the late 1880s, and included voyages to Australia. So it seems he probably would have had some familiarity with practical chanties, and for whatever reason elected to use Masefield's info when he wrote. RAR may have been one song in particular that he remembered from personal experience.

The Wikipedia article mentions that Dawson also once wrote reviews from The Atheneum. There seems to me a good chance that he was the anonymous reviewer of Bullen's book, who lamented it did not mention RAR -- perhaps a pet favourite?


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 04:48 PM

The main reason I accepted this as a chantey/shanty when I first heard it is the repeated single burden, "Roll, Alabama, Roll," which seems to match the pattern of other chanteys and similar work songs, whether the burden is "Go down, ye blood-red roses, go down," or "Roll the woodpile down" or whatever.

And yes, I know you get repeated single burdens in non-worksongs as well, since they work well with any call-and-response song. And of course you get burdens of two alternating lines in chanteys as well, as with "Away, you rolling river/.../Across the wide Missouri."

But it's my impression that I've heard a far higher proportion of single-line burdens in chanteys and other work songs than in other ballads, lyrics, and other traditional songs.

--Nonie


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Peter C
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 04:14 PM

I have a great EP 45 rpm of the Tom Topping Band doing this song, I think on 'Folk on Two' for an event perhaps at Liverpool/Birkenhead long before I was born! I will make a MP3 of it when I have a moment


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 03:46 PM

Brief note on Hermes Nye, from
http://neglectedbooks.com/?p=193

From a review of "Fortune Is a Woman," a novel of Nye's.

"Hermes Nye was born in Chicago, but became a legendary East Texas character as a lawyer, folksinger, folklorist, novelist, humorist and local liberal activist. Nye clearly never took anything, including himself, too seriously. When, in the midst of the 1960s folk boom, he published a guide to folk songs, he gave it a triply-redundant title that included his own punchline: How to be a folksinger; How to sing and present folksongs; or, The folksinger's guide; or, Eggs I have laid."


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 04 Mar 12 - 03:30 PM

Lyrics rom the Smithsonian Folkways liner notes (mentioned above)

Roll Alabama Roll

When the Alabama's keel was laid,
Roll, Alabama, roll.
'Twas laid in the yard of Jonathan Laird,
Roll, Alabama, roll.
"Twas laid in the yard of Jonathan Laird,
Roll, Alabama, roll.
'Twas laid in the town of Birkenhead,
Roll, Alabama, roll.
-------------------
Down the Mersey ways she rolled then,
Liverpool filled her with guns and men.

From the Western Isles she sailed forth,
To destroy the commerce of the North.

To Cherbourg port she sailed one day,
To take her count of prize money.

Many a sailor lad he saw his doom,
When the Ke-arsarge it hove in view.

Till a ball from the forward pivot that day
Shot the Alabama's stern away.

Off the three mile limit in '65
The Alabama went to her grave.

The notes include clippings from the papers of the times, contemporary illustrations, and elucidation. Very interesting, an album worth having.

Ballads of the Civil War, sung by Hermes Nye with Guitar." FP5004, Folkways. 1954, 21 songs, all lyrics in liner.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 03 Mar 12 - 08:23 PM

But no matter how you slice it, the familiar "lyrics look like a 1950s pastiche.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Charley Noble
Date: 03 Mar 12 - 11:50 AM

Gibb-

There's more to this story about who Hermes Nye was, I'm convinced. In my Google searches there seems to be some association with Richard Dyer-Bennet, and I wouldn't be surprised to learn he also was associated with Frank Warner, in addition to Maitland. When it comes to creative work, no one really functions in a vacuum.

Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 02 Mar 12 - 11:37 PM

Liner notes for Nye's album can be downloaded here:

http://www.folkways.si.edu/albumdetails.aspx?itemid=930

He wasn't a scholar or anything like that. He probably just worked up versions from wherever he could find them.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Charley Noble
Date: 02 Mar 12 - 09:15 PM

Interesting. I'll have to listen to the record again but my impression was that it was done in shanty format.

Frank Warner, of course, was a collector of ballads and other traditional songs, and was well known for presenting the songs as closely as he could in the way his informants presented them. I've never run across Hermes Nye before. What do we actually know about him?

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 02 Mar 12 - 06:01 PM

Works for me.


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 02 Mar 12 - 05:54 PM

So Lighter,

May I interest you in my "Nye spruced up Maitland" theory? :)


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Subject: RE: Origins: Roll, Alabama Roll
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 02 Mar 12 - 05:11 PM

Hold on to your gorges, gentlemen.

The Harris Collection is described on BU's website as follows:

"The Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays is composed of approximately 250,000 volumes of American and Canadian poetry, plays, and vocal music dating from 1609 to the present day. It is perhaps the largest and most comprehensive collection of its kind in any research library. The works of most well-known (and many thousands of little-known) American and Canadian poets and playwrights, from the 18th century to the present day, are held comprehensively. There are significant holdings of early American literature, hymnals, songsters, little magazines, contemporary fine printing, extensive collections on Walt Whitman and Edgar Allan Poe, women's writings, gay and lesbian literature, modern first editions, Yiddish-American literature, and French-Canadian literature. The Collection is fully cataloged, with records available in Josiah, the Library's online catalog.. Includes periodicals, broadsides, recordings, films, electronic resources, manuscripts, prints and photographs."

No mention of shanty manuscripts or recordings. Except:

"Songs of the Civil War [electronic resource]...N[ew] Y[ork]
C[ity] : Folkways Records, [1960]."

Sung by Hermes Nye.

Unfortunately typical. Or am I being "too cynical"?


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