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I met John Hurt through Mike Seger in Newport in '63. His agent, Tom Hopkins said we could sit and talk. Of course it was a festival and I was sitting backstage with him and a few people. A month or so later he was playing at the Philadelphia folk festival. I saw him approaching me and I started walking briskly to him to ask if he remembered me, I was in my early 20s, and when I got near enough, he said 'Hey Man! Do you remember me!?' hehe! That explains Mississippi John Hurt! Instead of me asking, he did! - Jerry Ricks, http://www.blueschat.com/tscripts/bc062198.htm

Author Topic: The Titanic  (Read 11699 times)

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Online Johnm

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2007, 06:04:26 PM »
Hi all,
I just found "Titanic Blues" on Bill Jackson's "Long Steel Rail" CD on the Testament label.  Jackson's version is exceptionally bluesy, probably the most bluesy version I have heard of that song, along with Hi Henry Brown's.
All best,
Johnm

Offline natterjack

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2007, 06:49:28 PM »
Not a new version (well maybe an unrecorded one), but a bit of interesting information none the less.

I got a new biography of Jack Johnson for Christmas (Unforgivable Blackness by Geoffrey C. Ward) from which the following footnote is quoted:

"Memories of the newspaper fuss made over the Johnson's traveling first class on an ocean liner would become confused with reports of the sinking of the Titanic the following spring, and the legend grew that Johnson had been refused passage on the fatal voyage. Blind Lemon Jefferson performed a song about it that was later recorded by Huddie Ledbetter - Leadbelly. In it, Johnson is refused passage by the Titanic's captain who says "I ain't hauling no coal." When Johnson hears that the ship has gone down, he dances on the dock with glee"

I'm afraid I can't help you on where the reference to Blind Lemon comes from.

Offline natterjack

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2007, 07:01:45 PM »
I'm afraid I can't help you on where the reference to Blind Lemon comes from.

Yes I can - Leadbelly's Biography by Charles Wolfe and Kip Lornell

Online Johnm

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2007, 07:38:40 PM »
Thanks for this information, natterjack.  I have been singing the verses about Jack Johnson and the Titanic for years and had never realized that his attempt to book passage on the Titanic was apocryphal.  Boy, Leadbelly's version of that song was great--he had that heavy time!
All best,
Johnm

Offline natterjack

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #19 on: January 08, 2007, 10:41:01 AM »
Ben Andrews does a cover of Leadbelly's Titanic on his album Journey

Offline Bunker Hill

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #20 on: January 03, 2008, 11:33:19 AM »
Some folk hereabouts might like to know that Chris Smith wrote an extremely interesting and detailed examination of the topic in "When That Great Ship Went Down: Black Songs About the 'Titanic'." Talking Blues no. 9/10 (1979, p 24-31, 43) which, of course, took on board all the 'travellin' man' elements and narrative 'toasts'. He updated this for talk he gave at a black music seminar in 1991, "The Titanic, a Case Study of Religious and Secular Attitudes in African-American Song". This was published in the 1996 as a chapter in the book Saints And Sinners (ed. R. Sacre). It's 15 pages long but should anybody require a OCR scan, PM me with an email address and I'll set about doing it.
I find that I still have this on my computer. One or two folk did request it at the time but before I permanently delete are there any other takers? Saturday it will be erased...

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #21 on: February 18, 2008, 09:01:48 AM »
A quick Google search adds to the list "Titanic" by Lesley Riddle (an influence on the Carter Family) on his Rounder album Step By Step and "Titanic (It Was Sad When That Great Ship Went Down)" by Vernon Dalhart (c.1920s).

Thanks for those finds, Greg.  I used to have that Lesley Riddle album.  I wish I had held on to it.  It would be interesting to hear if his melody was the same as that used by the Carter Family.  I know he was a "song-finder" for them.
All best,
Johnm

In the better late than never dept., I've been listening to this Lesley Riddle album lately. His "Titanic" song is not the same as the Carter Family song. Melodically, it's along the lines of the standard "Wasn't It Sad When That Great Ship Went Down" style of songs, like Pink Anderson's. Riddle's version, however, is played as a slide tune in Vestapol tuning.

Offline banjochris

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #22 on: February 18, 2008, 12:41:35 PM »
The Darby and Tarlton "After the Sinking of the Titanic" is the same as the Carter Family/NLCR version, but I don't think it has the "raise the Titanic" verse.
Chris

Offline Richard

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #23 on: February 19, 2008, 10:51:06 AM »
Reminds me that some years back I used to play now and then in great little 20s outfit called "The Titanic Tea Room Quartet" even if there were five of us, but my point was the advertisng always used to say  "Goes down well......."  ;D
(That's enough of that. Ed)

Offline dj

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2008, 03:35:58 PM »
"They Cert'ly Sound Good To Me: Sheet Music, Southern Vaudeville, And The Commercial Ascendancy Of The Blues" by Lynn Abbott and Doug Seroff in Ramblin' On My Mind mentions Butler "String Beans" May, born in Montgomery, Alabama in 1894.  He was known as the "blues master piano player of the world".  Famous not only for his blues piano playing but also for his wit and his dancing ability, he was an acknowledged influence on the likes of Jelly Roll Morton, Ethel Waters, and Butterbeans and Susie.  He was known as "the Elgin Movements Man", and may have originated the phrase "Elgin movements in my hips". 

In 1913 String Beans began performing a song called "Titanic Blues".  According to a contemporary eyewitness, "As he attacks the piano, Stringbeans' head starts to nod, his shoulders shake, and his body begins to quiver.  Slowly, he sinks to the floor of the stage.  Before he submerges, he is executing the Snake Hips..., shouting the blues and, as he hits the deck still playing the piano, performing a horizontal grind..."  String Beans died in 1917 and never recorded, but a fragment of "Titanic Blues was remembered by Abbe Niles:

I was on dat great Titanic
De night that she went down;
Ev'rybody wondered
Why I didn't drown -
I had dem Elgin movements in ma hips
Twenty years' guarantee!
     
« Last Edit: August 26, 2008, 05:38:38 PM by dj »

Offline Pan

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2008, 05:13:54 PM »
FWIW, I recently played on a sweetwater cruise on a blues festival here in Finland. I learned Leabelly's "Titanic" and Clarenece Williams' /Sara Martin's "Shiprecked Blues", mentioned by MTJ3 on this thread: http://weeniecampbell.com/yabbse/index.php?amp;Itemid=128&topic=2831.0 , for the occasion. To quote Richard, they went down well.  ;)

WC has again proven to be a great resource, so thank you guys! :)

BTW, I noticed that "Titanic" has quite a large vocal range to it. I forgot to put my capo on, and was in trouble!  :P

Cheers

Pan


Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2008, 05:31:06 PM »
Bessie Jones & Group with Hobart Smith on guitar is my all time favorite Titanic.
Its a 1959 Lomax Field recording, issued as part of the southern journey series, (The Eastern Shores) on Prestige.
Haunting, moving and super cool.





« Last Edit: November 06, 2013, 09:21:45 PM by Mr.OMuck »
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
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Online Johnm

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #27 on: February 02, 2012, 03:46:26 PM »
Hi all,
Somehow, I remembered more of the versions of "The Titanic" cited in this thread as being transcribed.  Anyhow, here is the version recorded by the Dixon Brothers (Dorsey playing out of D in standard tuning and singing lead and Paul playing lap slide and harmonizing on the chorus) as "Down With The Old Canoe" in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 25, 1938.

   It was twenty-five years ago when the Wings of Death came low
   And spread out on the ocean far and wide
   A great ship sailed away, with her passengers so gay,
   To never, never reach the other side

   CHORUS:  Sailing out out to win her fame, the Titanic was her name
   When she had sailed five hundred mile from shore
   Many passengers and her crew went down with that old canoe
   They all went down to never ride no more

   This great ship was built by man, that is why she could not stand
   "She could not sink" was the cry from one and all
   But an iceberg ripped her side and it cut down all her pride
   They found the Hand of God was in it all

   CHORUS:  Sailing out out to win her fame, the Titanic was her name
   When she had sailed five hundred mile from shore
   Many passengers and her crew went down with that old canoe
   They all went down to never ride no more

   Your Titanic sails today, on Life's Sea you're far away
   For Jesus Christ can take you safely through
   Just obey his great command, over there you'll safely land
   You'll never go down with that old canoe

   CHORUS:  Sailing out out to win her fame, the Titanic was her name
   When she had sailed five hundred mile from shore
   Many passengers and her crew went down with that old canoe
   They all went down to never ride no more

   When you think that you are wise, then you need not be surprised
   That the hand of God should stop you on Life's Sea
   If you go on in your sin, than you'll find out in the end
   That you are just as foolish as can be

   CHORUS:  Sailing out out to win her fame, the Titanic was her name
   When she had sailed five hundred mile from shore
   Many passengers and her crew went down with that old canoe
   They all went down to never ride no more

All best,
Johnm


   
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 10:38:48 PM by Johnm »

Offline uncle bud

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #28 on: February 02, 2012, 08:40:42 PM »
The Ernest Stoneman version of "The Titanic" was mentioned in passing earlier in the thread. I was just listening to it recently. It's a pretty great version played on autoharp and harmonica, and the recording was quite early, in 1924 at his first session, and done again in 1925.

You can listen to it here:

http://www.archive.org/details/ErnestStoneman-TheTitanic1924

It shares some lyrics with the versions by William and Versey Smith and Pink Anderson.
« Last Edit: February 02, 2012, 09:18:25 PM by uncle bud »

Online Johnm

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Re: The Titanic
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2012, 03:38:14 PM »
Hi all,
Bill Jackson was described as a "Maryland Songster" on his album, the first to be recorded by Pete Welding for his Testament label.  The album was re-released on CD and may still be available.  Jackson did "Titanic Blues", accompanying himself out of A position in standard tuning for the song.  He had the ability to play at very slow tempos and keep a degree of liveliness in his rhythm that is pretty unusual.  I've never heard the Captain Smith verse elsewhere.

   Now the Titanic pulled out from England, bound for New York shore
   Now the Titanic pulled out from England, bound for New York shore
   Cryin', when she struck that iceberg, poor old ship was lost
 
   She was sailing 'cross the water, sailing 'cross the deep blue sea
   She was sailing 'cross the water, sailing 'cross the deep blue sea
   
   Now when the Titanic was sinkin', sinkin' in the deep blue sea
   Now when the Titanic was sinkin', sinkin' in the deep blue sea
   Oh, then the band begin to play "Nearer My God To Thee"

   Now Captain Smith walked out with a shotgun under his arm
   Now Captain Smith walked out with a shotgun under his arm
   Cryin', "Let the women get off.  Let the men go down."

   Now wasn't it sad, sad, when the great ship went down?
   Now wasn't it sad, sad, when the great ship went down?
   There was husbands and wives, little children lost their lives

All best,
Johnm
« Last Edit: February 26, 2012, 06:55:18 AM by Johnm »

 


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