Friday, July 29, 2011

Musical Poverty

I’m wondering if I can attribute my total lack of musical talent to my New England birth. I’ve always envied other parts of our country where a popular musical style was developed and is today's heritage of that culture. The Appalachians have their ballads and fiddle-banjo bluegrass, the deep South it’s spirituals and gospel music, the South and South Central birthed blues, rhythm and blues, and American jazz, and the West took cowboy music and morphed it into Country and Western and more recently into the chart-busting Country music genre.

So what music do you think of when you think about New England? The only thing I can come up with is Sea Shanties. Sea Shanties for Pete’s sake! When was the last time a Sea Shanty cracked the Billboard Top 40?

My relatives boarded whaling vessels in New Bedford and Nantucket and put out to sea for years on end, traveling all through the Pacific and Arctic. With all that time on their hands, you think they could come up with something more than Sea Shanties, wouldn’t you? We can only conclude that they must have been too preoccupied with attending scrimshaw classes on the arts & crafts deck to focus on music. How else can you explain little gems like:

Cape Cod Girls

1. Cape Cod girls they have no combs,
Haul away, haul away!
Combs their hair with cod fish bones.
And we're bound for south Australia!

2. Heave her up me bully, bully boys.
Haul away, haul away!
Heave her up and don't ye make no noise.
And we're bound for south Australia!

3. Cape Cod cats don't have no tails,
Haul away, haul away!
Lost them all in southeast gales.
And we're bound for south Australia!

4. Cape Cod kids don't have no sleds,
Haul away, haul away!
They slide down hills on cod fish heads.
And we're bound for south Australia!

5. Cape Cod ladies don't have no frills,
Haul away, haul away!
Skinny and light as codfish gills.
And we're bound for south Australia!

6. Cape Cod folks don't have no ills,
Haul away, haul away!
Cape Cod doctors feed 'em Codfish pills.
And we're bound for south Australia.


Assistant Village Idiot said...

Hymns. We sang hymns up here, usually based on the Psalter. But we didn't write that many. Same with the Shanties. Most of those were written in England as well.

You're right. We didn't create much music up here. Don't know why.

Gringo said...

One New England song with English roots is Three Jolly Rogues of Lynn. Some things never change: “Lynn, Lynn, city of sin. You won’t come out the way you came in”….. chop shops.. the Lynnway…. : )

Whatever its reputation, Lynn is still rather photogenic. Not to mention inexpensive compared to Boston.