Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come To Thread - Forum Home

The Mudcat Café TM
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=13706
29 messages

Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come

13 Sep 99 - 10:05 PM (#114023)
Subject: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: dcoffin@cove.com

I'm in the process of recording this incredible song. My research has led me to certain beliefs about what "Wellerman" means. Before I tip my hand, I'm wondering if anyone in cyberspace has any ideas. I"d love to hear them. Thanks. P.S. A free cd to whoever corroborates my research.


13 Sep 99 - 10:34 PM (#114029)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Joe Offer

From Gordon Bok's notes for the And So will We Yet CD by Bok, Muir, and Trickett:
From a book Chris Morgan lent (Bok), called (he thinks) Folk songs of New Zealand. It's a shore-whaler's song, made by the New Zealanders who went to live on the archipelagos to catch whales from small boats. They got their "stake" from an agent of the big companies (like the Weller Company) - hence, any agent of those companies became a "Wellerman." they were paid in staples, not money, so many of them never made enough to return home, and ended up farming or fishing on the little islands upon which they were "set down."
This is a fanciful tale they put together about big-ship whaling: the picture of a 3-master being towed on some Nantucket sleigh ride by a single whale has some startling implications.
Click here for lyrics and the opinions of others, including the esteemed R. Greenhaus.
-Joe Offer-


14 Sep 99 - 09:58 AM (#114096)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From:

Since they were paid in staples, at least they could keep their song books together


14 Sep 99 - 12:16 PM (#114127)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: bigJ

From 'Songs of New Zealand - Songs of a Young Country' edited by Neil Colquhoun p10, notes to the song 'Soon May the Wellerman Come' 'Shore whalers, unlike the whalers on ships, could not return to their native land. Even if there were a ship, they couldn't afford the passage; for they saw no money. Whaling companies such as Wellers' of Sydney, sent agents across the Tasman to collect the bone and oil; and to pay the men in sugar and rum.'


14 Sep 99 - 10:00 PM (#114259)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: David Coffin

Thanks for the input. That's pretty much what I had but the route I had to take was very different. Email me your address and I'll send you a cd if you'd like. (bigJ and Joe Offer) I appreciate it. David.


14 Sep 99 - 10:15 PM (#114263)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Joe Offer

So, David, now that we've posted what we know, how 'bout telling us what you learned in your research?
BigJ, tell us more about this New Zealand songbook. Is it one we shouldn't be without?
-Joe Offer-


15 Sep 99 - 12:29 AM (#114314)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: BK

here's thread creep - sort of; Joe's link song has a note mentioning an american cowboy analog called "High-Chin Bob" it's about a cowboy roping a mountain lion, taken from a poem, "The Glory Trail," by the same poet who wrote "A Border Affair," the source of "Spanish Is A Loving Tongue," Charles Badger Clark, Jr, (who, as it turns out, called himself just "Badger Clark").

Does any body know where to hear a recording of High-Chin Bob? I've got a compilation of Badger Clark's first 2 books, & am nosing abt w/the idea of finding out more abt his other poems reportedly set to music, & maybe setting a few to a tune myself (already got a couple started).

Cheers, BK


15 Sep 99 - 01:54 AM (#114333)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Stewie

BK

Glenn Ohrlin records 'High Chin Bob' on his album 'Cowboy Songs' Philo 1017.


15 Sep 99 - 02:05 AM (#114336)
Subject: Charles Badger Clark
From: Joe Offer

Click here for lyrics to "HIGH CHIN BOB" and here for "SPANISH IS THE LOVING TONGUE."
-Joe Offer-


15 Sep 99 - 03:17 PM (#114484)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: bigJ

Joe, the songbook by Neil Colquhoun is certainly worth keeping an eye out for. I don't know how many New Zealand songbooks have been published, but this is the only one that I have. It was published by Bailey Brothers And Swinfen Ltd of Folkstone, England in 1972 price 1.35 ($2.10). The layout is very like the Oak Publications of the time, and it contains pertinent illustrations from photographs and engravings. It contains 52 songs with melody lines and it's the first book that I saw with the words of the song Davy Lowston in. SBN 561 00189 8. It's long out of print, of course, but the New Zealand Folklore Society in Auckland might be able to help. Regards


16 Sep 99 - 08:21 PM (#114817)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: David Coffin

I would love to get my grubby little hands on that book. If anyone has info please let me know. dcoffin@cove.com Sorry I haven't posted my research. It really isn't any different than what has been written here. What was inspiring to me was how I discovered it. Not wanting to go look at someone elses recording of the song and steal their research I went search engining (new word) for Wellerman. Somehow I ended up in New Zealand and happened to see an archeological page and niticed Wellers Rock. Wellers Rock was named and inscribed to commerate the whaling outpost in Otakou NZ by the three Weller brothers, Goerge, Edward, and Joseph. They arrived from Australia on the Lucy Ann in Sept. of 1831. The family enterprise included whaling, flax and timber. The plaque was laid by the then Governor Lord Bledisloe. Thanks for your input and interest. The cd release date looks like mid November.


17 Sep 99 - 03:48 AM (#114867)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Joe Offer

There are several copies of the book available through www.bookfinder.com, but all through Australian booksellers. I still haven't gotten up the gumption to send credit card numbers overseas (or to pay overseas shipping).
-Joe Offer-


17 Mar 00 - 10:23 AM (#196736)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: harpgirl

...when sung "Wellerman" is only considered a hit if the Halifax mariners cry in their beer...


04 Aug 03 - 03:14 AM (#996260)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Billy the Bus

G'day from NZ,

A lot's happened since this thread thread started. Music, lyrics, comments and sound-clips for Wellerman are on the NZ Folk Song website. There's a link to the Weller Family website, with more information on Weller's Whaling Station.

To locate the main Weller Brother's base, go to Expedia and type Otakou in the Placename box. They had another station at Tautuku, where I worked from 1976-80. More to come...

Cheers - Sam - Stewart Island (NZ)


05 Aug 03 - 05:04 AM (#996935)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Billy the Bus

Whewww....

If you want a good yarn about a black American who was involved in NZ shore-whaling in the early days, check out Kenneth Gardner's book Rich Man's Coffin. It's the best part of 400 pages, and in PDF format, so 'open in new window' - it may take time to arrive. - Sam


02 Oct 03 - 10:17 AM (#1027953)
Subject: RE: Help: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,StuMarkus1@aol.com

I'm a performing chantey-singer, and fell in love with this chantey when I heard David Coffin's recording of it. Some chanteys talk of killing whales, some of the whale killing the sailors, but this is the only one I've seen that talks of a stalemate!
Can anyone tell me what "tounging" refers to? I'm experienced on tall ships and I pride myself in knowing the meaning of everything I'm singing about. Thanks!


03 Oct 03 - 03:09 AM (#1028581)
Subject: Lyr Add: COME ALL YOU TONGUERS
From: Little Robyn

The tonguers were part of the shore whaling team that would cut up and boil down the whale. This song, known as "Come all you tonguers" tells some of the story.

"Come all you tonguers and land-loving lubbers,
There's a job cutting in and boiling down blubbers,
A job for the youngster, the old and the ailing,
The Agent will take any man for shore whaling.
Chorus:
I am paid in soap and sugar and rum,
For cutting in whale and boiling down tongue,
The agent's fee makes my blood so to boil,
I'll push him in a hot pot of oil.

Go hang the Agent, the Company too!
They are making a fortune off me and you.
No chance for a passage from out of this place,
And the price of living's a b***** disgrace!"

Some of the rusty old boiling pots can still be seen lying around the beaches where the whaling stations used to be.
Robyn


13 May 10 - 07:44 PM (#2906434)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Jamie Marshall

It's nice to know that there are still people singing about my ancestors the Wellers. I am the 5th G-Grandson of William Weller, brother of Joseph Weller who's sons established the whaling company in New Zealand. I am also a musician, and have performed this song at festivals.

Thank you one and all! Please don't let this song fade into the history books.


13 May 10 - 08:20 PM (#2906450)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Charley Noble

Jamie-

Thanks for checking in.

Was Robyn correct about who the "tonguers" were?

Charley Noble


14 May 10 - 08:02 PM (#2907207)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Charley Noble

refresh for more nibbles!


15 May 10 - 07:00 AM (#2907413)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Little Robyn

Charley, if you don't believe me, go to the link Sam gave 7 years back and look for the song, or click here.

Robyn


15 May 10 - 09:49 AM (#2907477)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Charley Noble

Robyn-

I certainly do believe you. It's just that the word "tonguing" had seemed so like an enduring mystery ever since I first herd Gordon Bok et al sing the song.

Charley Noble


13 Jan 21 - 10:00 AM (#4087752)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: GUEST,Juan Zanela

Just wow...

Read the tread and came across with this gem

"I went search engining (new word)"

Now makes me wonder, when did the term "googlin'" became common use?


14 Jan 21 - 05:59 PM (#4087990)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler

Becoming a trend on TiTok at the moment according to Radio 4 this morning and ITV news tonight.

Robin


15 Jan 21 - 12:45 AM (#4088025)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: EBarnacle

Everybody's getting into the act. Lady Hillary found this about an hour ago.


https://variety.com/2021/music/news/tiktok-sea-shanties-trend-1234884030/

My niece, who a heavy metal buff, told us about this this morning and now it's all over the place.


15 Jan 21 - 03:34 AM (#4088039)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: rich-joy

And there's this :

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jan/15/shantytok-how-a-19th-century-seafaring-epic-inspired-a-covid-generation


Cheers, R-J


15 Jan 21 - 07:32 PM (#4088202)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: vectis

Neil Colquhoun (Auckland, NZ) collected "Soon May the Wellerman Come" in about 1966 from someone called F. R. Woods.
Mr. Woods, who was then in his 80s, told Colquhoun he had learnt this song and also the song "John Smith A.B.," from his uncle.

"John Smith AB" was printed in The Bulletin Sydney in 1904, where it was attributed to D. H. Rogers (and contributed by F. R. Woods?)

It is possible that D. H. Rogers was the uncle of F. R. Woods' and that it was he who composed "Soon may the Wellerman Come" and "John Smith A.B."

If Rogers had been born around about 1820, then he could have been a teenaged sailor and/or shore whaler around NZ in the late 1830s, settled in Australia, written the shanties in his later years as his composing skills developed, and then taught them to his nephew in his 70s-early 80s, some time between 1890 and 1904.


15 Jan 21 - 07:34 PM (#4088203)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: vectis

This is considered to be the only English language New Zealand song to be Traditional because its source cannot be confirmed.


16 Jan 21 - 07:47 AM (#4088261)
Subject: RE: Origin: Soon May the Wellerman Come
From: Gibb Sahib

@vectis

Nice copy and paste.