In November of 1995, James (Roger) Mcguinn began a project for the preservation of the music that he loved, Folk Music. Each month he would record a song, print the lyrics and chords, add a personal note and put it on his web site, mcguinn.com. He wanted everyone to have the opportunity to learn the songs and to be able to sing them with their families and friends, so downloads were offered free of charge.
Roger McGuinn: The Folk Den Project 1995-2005 (5 stars out of 5)
This Byrd has grown: McGuinn's folk shines
Jim Abbott | Sentinel Pop Music Critic
Over the past decade, this former Byrd, technology geek and Orlando resident has been archiving traditional folk songs on his Web site, mcguinn.com. At the interactive Folk Den, musicians and historians could find a captivating time capsule of storytelling and music, complete with free downloads, lyrics, chords and a note from McGuinn.
To mark the project's first 10 years, McGuinn has compiled 100 of his favorite songs into a four-disc package available for purchase at his Web site, amazon.com and cdbaby.com.
It's a lovely extension of McGuinn's 2001 album Treasures from the Folk Den and a far better-sounding collection on a purely audio level than 2004's Limited Edition.
For folk purists, McGuinn's loving treatment of songs such as "Mighty Day'' and "Dink's Song,'' both on Disc 1, is a treasure indeed. The former is a topical song about the Galveston Flood of 1900 that rings truer than ever more than 100 years later in the wake of Katrina.
McGuinn's liner notes are plainspoken, just like the tale itself: "A strong hurricane can do as much damage as a nuclear bomb,'' he writes, "and should be respected.''
"Dink's Song,'' meanwhile, is a duet with Pete Seeger on a traditional song recently covered in rougher fashion by a young Bob Dylan on the No Direction Home documentary soundtrack. The harmonies are far sweeter here, especially when augmented by McGuinn's ringing 12-string guitar.
McGuinn's signature Rickenbacker guitar provides a chiming accompaniment for "Silver Dagger,'' which opens the second disc. It's a twist on the version of the song made popular by Joan Baez in the 1960s, with McGuinn changing the gender of the main character to suit his angle on the story.
The folk tradition is about adaptation, and it's not surprising that these old songs find new life in the shadow of current events. So it is that "Down by the Riverside,'' with its admonition that "I ain't gonna study war no more,'' becomes a gentle anti-war anthem.
Whether it's wrapped around topical songs, spirituals or tall tales, McGuinn's voice on the Folk Den Project is a significant and engaging one in the preservation of this important music.
Haul Away Joe
This is a tack and sheet, short haul chantey. There are many verses and it may have been used as a halyard chantey as well. Sheet chanties were usually no longer than three or four verses. Sometimes the word 'pull' or 'haul' was used instead of Joe.
Although the chantey was known earlier among British sailors, it was not well-known on Yankee ships until the period between 1812 and the Civil War. It was obviously sung after the French Revolution.
Lyrics: [Am] When I was a [Em] little lad And [Dm] so my mother [Em] told me, [Am] Way, haul [Em] away, we'll [Dm] haul [E] away, [Am] Joe! [Am] That if I did not [Em] kiss the gals Me [Dm] lips would all grow [Em] moldy. [Am] Way, haul [Em] away, we'll [Dm] haul [E] away, [Am] Joe! Way, haul away, the good ship is a-bolding, Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! Way, haul away, the sheet is now unfold-ing, Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! King Louis was the king of France Before the revolution… Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! But then he got his head cut off Which spoiled his constitution… Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! Way, haul away, we'll haul for better weather… Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! Way haul away, we'll haul away together Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! The cook is in the galley boys Making duff so handy Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! The captain's in his cabin lads Drinking wine and brandy Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! Way, haul away, I'll sing to you of Nancy… Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! Way, haul away, she's just my cut and fancy… Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! Way, haul away, we'll haul for better weather… Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe! Way haul away, we'll haul away together Way, haul away, we'll haul away, Joe!Ruben Ranzo
Ruben Ranzo, an inexperienced sailor is shanghaied aboard a whaling ship. The captain's daughter takes pity on him, teaches him navigation and the finer points of sailing, marries him and he becomes the finest sailor on the seas.
It has been suggested that Ranzo is a corruption of the name Lorenzo. American whaling ships often recruited Portuguese seamen in the Azores, and Ranzo may have been one of these.
* The holy stone resembled a vacuum cleaner in shape, but weighed around twenty-five pounds. A round stone was at the end of a handle. Sand was put on the deck and sailors scrubbed to get the gunk out of the wood.
Lyrics: Oh, poor old Ruben Ranzo, Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo Oh, poor old Ruben Ranzo, Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo Oh, Ranzo was no sailor, Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo He was a New York tailor Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo He was a New York tailor Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo Shanghaied aboard a whaler, Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo They put him holy-stonin' * Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo And cared not for his groanin' Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo They gave him lashes thirty Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo Because he was so dirty Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo They gave him lashes twenty Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo That's twenty more than plenty Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo Ah Ranzo nearly fainted Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo When his back with oil was painted Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo The captain gave him thirty Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo His daughter begged for mercy Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo She took him to her cabin Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo And tried to ease his moanin' Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo Oh, she give him rum and water, Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo And a bit more than she ought to, Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo She gave him education Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo And taught him navigation Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo She made him the best sailor Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo On board that New York whaler Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo He married the captain's daughter Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo And still sails on salt water Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo Now he's known wherever them whale-fish blow, Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo As the toughest whaler on the go, Ranzo, me boys, RanzoAway Rio
On December 1, 2007 the Old Town School of Folk Music in Chicago celebrated its 50th anniversary. This is a song that I learned there 50 years ago. I love sea chanteys and this is one of my favorites! American sailors who sang this disdained any pronunciation other than “Ry oh.”
Lyrics: [E] Have you ever been out on the [B7] Rio [E] Grande? Away Rio It’s [A] there that the [E] river runs down [B7] golden [E] sand And we’re bound for the [B7] Rio [E] Grande CH [E] Away [B7] boys [E] away Away Rio So [A] fare ye [E] well my [B7] bonny young [E] girl And we’re bound for the [B7] Rio [E] Grande It’s pack up your sea chest and get under way Away Rio The girls we are leaving can take half our pay And we’re bound for the Rio Grande CH Oh the anchor is weighed and the sails they are set Away Rio The maidens we’re leaving we’ll never forget And we’re bound for the Rio Grande CH Sing good bye to Sally and sue Away Rio And all who are listening, it’s good bye to you And we’re bound for the Rio GrandeBlow The Man Down
Blow the Man Down originated in the Western Ocean sailing ships. The tune could have originated with German emigrants, but it is more likely derived from an African-American song Knock a Man Down. Blow the Man Down was originally a halyard shanty. A variant of this is The Black Ball Line (with a more positive view of the Blackball Line as well).
Western Ocean Law was Rule with a Fist. “Blow” refers to knocking a man down with fist, belaying pin or capstan bar. Chief Mates in Western Ocean ships were known as “blowers,” second mates as “strikers” and third mates as “greasers.”
There are countless versions of Blow the Man Down. The one here is from the Burl Ives Songbook and tells of the Blackball Line. The Black Ball Line was founded by a group of Quakers in 1818. It was the first line to take passengers on a regular basis, sailing from New York, Boston and Philadelphia on the first and sixteenth of each month. The Blackball flag was a crimson swallow-tail flag with a black ball.
The ships were famous for their fast passage and excellent seamanship. However, they were also famed for their fighting mates and the brutal treatment of seamen. (Western Ocean seamen were called “Packet Rats”). Many ships bore the name “bloodboat.” Most of the seamen hailed from New York or were Liverpool-Irish.
By 1880 the sailing ships were being replaced by steamers and the packets entered other trades or were sold.
Thanks to www.contemplator.com for this research.
Lyrics: [C] Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea, To my way [Am] haye, [Dm] blow the man [G7] down, And pray pay attention and listen to me, Give me some time to [C] blow the man down. I’m a deep water sailor just in from Hong Kong, to my way haye, blow the man down, if you’ll give me some grog, I’ll sing you a song, Give me some time to blow the man down. ‘Twas on a Black Baller I first served my time, to my way haye, blow the man down, And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime, Give me some time to blow the man down. ‘Tis when a Black Baller’s preparing for sea to my way haye, blow the man down, You’d split your sides laughing at the sights that you see. Give me some time to blow the man down. With the tinkers and tailors and soljers and all to my way haye, blow the man down, That ship for prime seaman on board a Black Ball. Give me some time to blow the man down. ‘Tis when a Black Baller is clear of the land, to my way haye, blow the man down, Our Boatswain then gives us the word of command Give me some time to blow the man down. “Lay aft,” is the cry,”to the break of the Poop! to my way haye, blow the man down, Or I’ll help you along with the toe of my boot!” Give me some time to blow the man down. ‘Tis larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl, to my way haye, blow the man down, For “Kicking Jack” Williams commands the Black Ball. Give me some time to blow the man down. Pay attention to order, now you one and all, to my way haye, blow the man down, For right there above you flies the Black Ball. Give me some time to blow the man down.Drunken Sailor
This song is well known on both sides of the Atlantic, used on sailing ships as a short haul as well as a forecastle (fo'c'sle) shanty.
Lyrics: [Dm] What shall we do with a drunken sailor [C] What shall we do with a drunken sailor [Dm] What shall we do with a drunken sailor Earl-eye in the morning! Chorus: [Dm] Way hay and up she rises [C] Way hay and up she rises [Dm] Way hay and up she rises [Dm] Earl-eye [C] in the [Dm] morning Put him in a long-boat till he's sober (X3) Earl-eye in the morning! Pull out the plug and wet him all over (X3) Earl-eye in the morning! Put him in the bilge and make him drink it (X3) Earl-eye in the morning! Shave his belly with a rusty razor (X3) Earl-eye in the morning! Heave him by the leg with a running bowline (X3) Earl-eye in the morning! Keel haul him until he gets sober. (X3) Earl-eye in the morning! That's what we do with the drunken sailor (X3) Way hay and up she rises Way hay and up she rises Way hay and up she rises Earl-eye in the morning (X3)Catch The Greenland Whale
I first heard this song on a whaling album. I've tried to keep as close to the original as possible, including the key and tempo. The banjo is tuned in an open Dm tuning, and the 12-string is playing melody. It's all in Dm.
Lyrics: On the [Am] twenty-third of [Em] March, my boys, We [Am] hoisted our [Em] topsail, Crying, [Am] 'Heav'n above [Em] protect us With a sweet and a [D] pleasant [Em] gale.' We never was down-[Am] hearted Nor let our courage [Em] fail But [Am] bore away up to [Em] Greenland For to catch the [D] Greenland [Em] whale, For to catch the [D] Greenland [Em] whale. And when we came to Greenland Where the bitter winds did blow, We tacked about all in the north Among the frost and snow. Our finger-tops were frozen off, And likewise our toe-nails, As we crawled on the deck, my boys, Looking out for the Greenland whale Looking out for the Greenland whale. And when we came to Davis Strait Where the mountains flowed with snow, We tacked about all in the north Till we heard the whalefish blow. And when we catch that whale, brave boys, Homeward we will steer. We'll make them valleys ring, my boys, A-drinking of strong beer. We'll make them lofty alehouses In London town to roar; And when our money is all gone, To Greenland go for more, To Greenland go for more.