"Cheer Up, My Lively Lads" - windlass chantey w/ Koldewey/Thornton





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Published on Jun 15, 2010

Chris Koldewey and Carl Thornton lead this windlass chantey, with the help of volunteers, on the schooner L.A. Dunton at Mystic Seaport, 13 June 2010.

The song, I believe, comes out of Harlow's collection. It's verses are of "It's Advertised in Boston" or "Blow Ye Winds" in its whaling-themed version. That was something that, I think, Joanna Colcord was first to dredge up from a whalerman's logbook and put into her 1924 volume. However, hers had the (now) more familiar chorus of "Blow Ye Winds in the Morning..." F.P. Harlow, though writing ABOUT the 1870s (when he sailed) part of the time, published his collection after Colcord and others, with sections of culled songs that were added as late as the 1940s. In his work, "It's Advertised in Boston" appears with this chorus, heard in the video:
"Cheer up my lively lads, in spite of stormy weather,
Cheer up my lively lads, we'll all get drunk together."

The tune is also different from "Blow Ye Winds," and Harlow lists it as a windlass song. It's unclear whether Harlow learned the song through oral tradition or if he culled it from elsewhere. I am willing to give the benefit of the doubt that he got it orally, and I have found no other direct written sources yet from which he might have otherwise have got it.

The chorus (not sure about the tune!) is an old one, and one would imagine that the verses familiar from "Blow Ye Winds" have just been spliced onto the "Cheer Up" tune. I find a reference from as early as 1822, a gathering of Republicans, in which the speaker mentions hearing a parody of the "Cheer Up" chorus in his youth and which made fun of Thomas Paine! The "Cheer Up" chorus appears much in the 1850s and after as a temperance song, too.

This is probably one of the very few videos of the operation of a a (small) windlass that you'd see publicly available. This is the great thing about Mystic Seaport that at certain times, too, they allow the public to try the device. The demonstration are sometimes hit or miss depending on various factors, but here having the two expert chanteymen and volunteers that caught on quickly made for a well done, educational scene of how the anchor was raised aboard such a vessel.

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