Last month we looked at planes, trains & automobiles;
transportation themed music. This month, we will look at another aspect
of the transportation subject area; songs about boats, ships and songs
of the sea. In addition, we have an essay feature this month that looks
at the tradition of work songs and in particular, the sea shanty. These
great songs originated aboard the clippers and merchant ships of the
British and American marine services in the early 19th century. They
are fascinating songs with interesting lyrics and an interesting history.
Be sure to visit our essay "in search of the sea shanty". We hope you enjoy this
The Ship That Never Returned
Music by: Henry C. Work
Lyrics by: Work
Cover artist: Lithograph by W.J. Morgan, Cleveland
This is one of the older items in the ParlorSongs collection
and has a very nice lithographed cover image. Rarely does a song survive
140 years in the popular repertory but this one has, thanks in large
part to a revival of the tune in 1960 or so by the Kingston Trio. Prior
to that, the song had also been revived by The Original Carters, Sara
& Marybell. In 1958 "Slim" Wilson performed it as well.
I know you will recognize the tune and some of the words although it
appears that the lyrics have been modified over time. As a result, this
song has turned into what is known as an American Folk song but it really
is not. Folk songs are usually culturally specific and come from the
populace and oral and musical traditions. This song was written by an
eminent composer and though popular and lasting, it was not an ethnic
American song that grew out of cultural tradition. It's use over the
years and presentation by a number of "folk" groups have resulted
in it being incorrectly considered a folk song. I even found one reference
listing it as a folk song from Wisconsin!
The composer, Henry Clay Work was born in 1832 in Middletown,
CT and died in 1884 in Hartford. His family moved to Illinois when he
was still a child and he was educated there. The family later returned
to Connecticut and young Henry was apprenticed to a printer. He studied
music and wrote verse on his own and soon began to write songs, both
the music and lyrics. He was inspired by the Civil War to write Marching
Through Georgia, Wake, Babylon is Falling and other songs of the
war that became popular. During the 1870's he wrote a number of temperance
songs that were popular. One of his most popular temperance songs was
Father, Dear Father, Come Home With Me Now. He also was known
for sentimental songs such as The Ship That Never Returned and
wrote the famous, My Grandfather's Clock. A man of many talents,
Work was also an inventor and patented a rotary engine, a knitting machine
and a walking doll. He lost his personal fortune by investing in a fruit
farm that failed and lived in New York before returning to Connecticut
before his death. His primary publishing association was with Cody's
Music Publishing Company though this song was published by a Chicago
publisher, S. Brainerd's Sons.
The sea has always held a fascination for man. It has
always represented a challenge, romance, beauty and even fear. One theme
that often emerges is that of the sailor's love for home and sea which
often creates conflicts for them. Here we have a story of a sailor who
loves the sea and desires to be "out where the billows roll high".
At the same time, though he feels the sea is his home, he feels pain
in parting with his love at home. Once at sea, the sailors thoughts
are for his love and a desire to return home safely. This song has a
very classical feeling and sound to it. It musically complex and very
sophisticated, but not quite as large scale as the next song featured.
W.H. Petrie (Actually, Henry W.) was born in 1857 in Bloomington, Illinois.
Petrie's songs were quite popular and he wrote a number of works that
are still performed from time to time. His first published song, I'm
Mamma's Little Girl was written in 1894. A number of his more popular
works were sea related including his most famous work, Asleep In
The Deep, written with A.J. Lamb . That song was first introduced
by Jean Early in Chicago in a performance with the Havery Minstrels.
He also collaborated with Lamb in writing At The Bottom Of The Deep
Blue Sea in 1900. Petrie died in Paw Paw, Michigan in 1925.
Music by: Carl Heins
Lyrics by: H.W. Petrie-Martell
Cover artist: unknown
Not only was the sea a popular theme in American song, but also in
other countries as well. Here we have an incredible song from Germany.
This song is truly a masterpiece, at least in my opinion. A German lied
(art song) in the tradition of the finest composers, it is musically
something special. The song has a long introduction, an interlude with
lyrics and then a long ending that together make for one of the best
examples of fine music we have published at ParlorSongs. I have been
fascinated with it and hope you will also find it a rare experience.
I cannot find much information on Heins other than a few other titles
from the period, most of which were art songs such as this one. Among
the titles found are, Dance of the Bears from 1907, Fairy of the Roses,
from 1909 and The Shepherd's Idyl. It is interesting to note the lyrics
were written by an H.W. Petrie-Martell. Is it possible that the W.H.
Petrie from the "Billows" song and this one are the same?
Perhaps one of our readers can provide us with information on Heins?
I want to thank our friend George Butler for his assistance again in translating the German
text of this song. I have placed the English translation under the German
words in the scorch score so you can see the translation as it plays.
I have taken a small bit of poetic liberty in the translation in order
to make the words more appropriately fit the music. The meaning has
not been changed, only the way it is phrased. Stop by George's site
(click on his name above), he has an interesting section on D-Day and
the true story of Private Ryan.
Music by: Charles H. Graf
Arranged by: none, piano solo
Cover artist: unknown
From sailing on the high billows we move to the mechanical
age and the steamships of Uncle Sam's Navy. This piece, billed as a
song without words, commemorates the great white fleet's 'round the
world voyage. The "Great White Fleet" was sent around the world by President
Theodore Roosevelt from 16 December 1907 to 22 February 1909 and consisted
of sixteen new battleships of the Atlantic Fleet. The battleships were
painted white except for gilded scrollwork on their bows. The fourteen-month
long voyage was a grand pageant of American sea power. The squadrons
were manned by 14,000 sailors. They covered some 43,000 miles and made
twenty port calls on six continents. The Atlantic Fleet battleships
only later came to be known as the "Great White Fleet." The trip was
from the East Coast of the United States, down the coast of South America,
up the West Coast - the Panama Canal was not yet open - and then a stay
of almost two months in San Francisco harbor. During that time some
of the fleet went to Seattle, then rejoined the rest in San Francisco,
and on 7 July 1908, the fleet composition changed and they headed to
Hawaii. Later stops were: New Zealand, Australia, Manila, Yokohama,
Ceylon, Suez, various ports in the Mediterranean, and finally home to
Virginia. The fleet arrived in Virginia on 22 February 1909. If you
are interested in learning more about this important bit of US Naval
history, visit the Naval
Historical Centers pages about the Great White Fleet.
This grand march is almost as long as the original trip,
taking about twelve pages and 203 measures, settle in for quite a trip
when you listen to it. It is a well done song and though the composer
has called it a song without words, it is more of a tone poem that musically
tells the story of the trip. Charles H. Graf is yet another composer
who has faded into the sunset with nary a trace. By the way, though
we do have a pretty extensive reference library, we often cannot find
any mention of many of the composers represented in our collection.
We are trying to establish a database of composer biographies and if
any of you know anything about some of the composers who we are unable
to find information for, we would sincerely appreciate your sharing
the information with us.
Music by: Lucien Denni
Lyrics by: Roger Lewis
Cover artist: unknown
Here is a less serious look at one of the ships from the Great White
Fleet, The USS Alabama, one of the battleships of the fleet. With this
song we get words and great ones at that. We also get one great ragtime
song that really rocks!
You can find this song at a number of MIDI locations around the web
as it is a pretty popular one. You can also find the lyrics in a number
of places. But by golly, this is the ONLY place that you will find the
musical score, lyrics and hear the music all in one presentation. Be
sure to get your scorch player!.
The composer, Lucien Denni was a native of France having been born
in Nancy in 1886. He came to America sometime around 1900 and of course
wrote this great song in 1911. Oceana Roll was his greatest hit
and he wrote few other songs among them, My Skylark Love and
You're Just A Flower From An Old Bouquet.
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