been long enough since this original
history-documenting LP has been available – missing reprint
or later CD formats – that it needs a brief twenty-first
note itself. In the early 1970s, I was asked to sing and play on a
American history recordings in the run-up to the Bicentennial,
including album sets
for The National Geographic Society and Oscar Brand, who published a
book and several albums of
American Revolution period songs. Throughout, I found it peculiar that
almost all the material was political, as if singing about the war was
the only music on American lips at the time, which was very much not
So, after a year or so of poring over period music collections,
sailor’s companions, broadsheets, and contemporary musical
biographies at the
New York Public Library, Julliard, and elsewhere, I came up with a
of what were actually the most commonly found songs in the historical
the late Colonial and early post-Revolution periods. From these I
the political songs (already recorded) and with the generous help and
of Gene Rosenthal at Adelphi Records,
went into the studio and recorded the
cream of the crop. They were the songs of love, drinking, hunting,
entertainment and even wry cultural commentary that
The reasons this effort has fallen into obscurity, without reprint, are both technical and economic. When the final mix was taken for disc mastering, it turned out the construction and electronics of the 8-track studio we used had conspired to hide serious distortion above about 12,000 Hz (it was a rock ‘n’ roll studio, nobody had noticed before), so we had to roll off everything above that level, turning it into a seriously lo-fi product – well, Martha Washington might have mastered it with one of her knitting needles, so perhaps there’s something vaguely historical there. Second, when release time for the spate of Bicentennial records came along in the spring of 1976, the press raised a terrific hue and cry about the “commercializing” of the event (in contrast to the mercantile bonanza of the 1876 Centennial), and the result was almost nobody made any money doing so. Even the most lavishly-funded and promoted productions lost money – indeed, this album was not even reviewed by a major newspaper, until it became the front-page pick of the New York Times art section exactly an entire year later.
So here it is, well-served by the .mp3 format so many years later. It contains many songs never before recorded, to this day. Indeed, Charles Dibdin’s jewel “The Hare Hunt” is no longer even available in his English sheet music collections and was fortunately saved by its reproduction in a contemporary American songster. The most obvious hit became “The Star Spangled Banner” for which we have also devoted an extra page here. Now to the original introduction, from the last century…
But what of earlier and simpler days before the rattle of Tin Pan Alley evolved into quadraphonic stereo? What songs rekindled memories of the birth struggles of a young nation for an aging George Washington or Thomas Jefferson? Or memories of mixing wenching with diplomacy for a greying, bespectacled Ben Franklin?
Although the 18th century is now generally better known for works by Mozart, Handel, and Haydn than for its top 40, far more money and energy was spent on producing and publishing the hit tunes of the day than was ever afforded to the works of the great masters.
Wherever good fellowship and jovial harmonizing was to be found—in the local tavern, on the popular musical stage, or in the drawing room—there was a constant turnover of new songs, ballads, and humorous ditties that rivals the output of today's monolithic record corporations.
center of the tangled
web of the 18th century
music business was
But as with our own century, out of the prodigious output of the pop
songwriters of the time comparatively few songs were memorable
enough to survive in the later song collections of the
1790's and early 1800's. During the war years,
very little music
was published in
the same time, musical periodicals
chronicling all the latest hits, like
Songs at that time were performed by small groups of musicians singing and playing on the popular instruments of the time—the pianoforte, violin, cello, German flute, and guitar. The instruments were very like their modern counterparts except for the guitar, which was strung in six unison courses of two, more like the lute or folk 12-string guitar than the more modern 6-string Spanish guitar.
Full written instrumental arrangements were rare—most of the harmonization was left to the musicians with a basic pianoforte arrangement or simple bass line to refer to. Sometimes suggested flute or guitar harmonies would accompany a tune at the end of the manuscript, but often as not only the melody itself was included or simply the words alone if it was assumed everybody knew the tune.
The recorded performances here are a reflection of the fluid style of the day. Some parts were arranged, others simply made up on the spot by the performers, but all within the context of the popular harmony of the time. Likewise, the melodies themselves are the most common of the sometimes multiple variants to be found in different contemporary collections.
is a curious note on
popular music in general
that so few of these wonderful tunes
maintained their popularity into the 20th
"Drink To Me Only
With Thine Eyes" and
"To Anacreon In
"The Star Spangled
still in current usage in the
But good songs have a way of resurfacing. The recent revival of long-forgotten renaissance and Elizabethan tunes is a good example. So perhaps the renewed interest in the history and politics of the 18th century will bring back its music as well—not just the formal classics but the love songs and drinking songs that suffused the lives of the people that built the age. Truly they are the songs that memories are made of—"Golden Oldies" from the childhood of a nation.
Anacreon In Heaven — Written
in 1780 by John
Stafford Smith, this was the constitutional song of the Anacreontic
London, with words written by Ralph Tomlinson, an early
president of the Society. The
Society was a group
of mostly amateur musicians, with a sprinkling
of professionals, that met every two weeks at the
Crown and Anchor Tavern in the
in heav'n, where he sat in full glee,
A few sons of harmony sent a petition
That he their inspirer and patron would be;
When this answer arrived from the jolly old Grecian –
Voice, fiddle, and flute, no longer be mute,
I'll lend you my name and inspire you to boot;
And besides, I'll instruct you like me to entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.
songs of Anacreon, then, join hand in hand:
Preserve unanimity, friendship, and love;
'Tis yours to support what's so happily planned:
You've the sanction of gods, and the fiat of Jove,
While thus we agree, our toast let it be,
May our club flourish happy, united, and free!
And long may the sons of Anacreon entwine
The myrtle of Venus with Bacchus's vine.
1 A Greek poet (563-478 B.C.) given to the pleasures of wine, women, and song, who reputedly died at 86 from choking on a grape seed.
by Charles Dibdin,
I'm jolly Dick, the
Lamplighter, they say the Sun's my dad;
And truly I believe it sir, for I'm a pretty lad;
Father and I the world delight and make it look so gay,
The difference is, I lights by night, and Father lights by day.
But Father's not the likes of I for knowing life and fun,
For I strange tricks and fancies spy folks never show the
Sun. Rogues, owls, and bats can't bear the light I've heard your wise ones say;
And so, d'ye mind, I sees at night things never seen by day.
At night men lay aside all art as quite a useless task,
face and many a heart
will then pull off the mask;
Each formal prude and holy wight will throw disguise away,
And sin it openly at night who sainted it all day.
His darling hoard the miser views, misses from friends decamp,
And many a statesman mischief brews to his country o'er his lamp.
So Father and I, d'ye take me right, are just on the same lay;
I bare faced sinners light by night and he false saints by day.
Down Among The
as an anonymous copperplate half-sheet
a health to the King, and a lasting peace
To faction an end, to wealth increase;
Come let's drink it while we have breath,
For there's no drinking after death,
And he that will this health deny,
Cho: Down among the dead men, down among the, dead men,
Down, down, down, down, down among the dead men let him him lie.
charming beauty's health go round,
In whom celestial joys are found,
May confusion still pursue
The selfish woman-hating crew;
And they that women's health deny, Cho:
In smiling Bacchus' joys I'll roll,
Deny no pleasure to my soul;
Let Bacchus' health round briskly move,
For Bacchus is a friend to Love,
And he that will this
health deny, Cho:
May love and wine their rites maintain,
And their united pleasure reign,
While Bacchus' treasure crowns the board,
We'll sing the joys that both afford;
And they that won't with us comply, Cho:
The Hare Hunt
century writers were fond of allegories, and this one really takes the cake,
stretching a blast at the inhumanity of hare
hunting into a
cosmic justification for the ascendancy of evil. Another Dibdin jewel
from Castles In The Air,
performed at the Royal Polygraphic
Rooms in the
Since Zeph'rus first tasted the charms of coy Flora,
Sure nature ne'er beamed on so lovely a morn;
sweet birds court the smile of
And the woods loudly echo the sound of the horn.
Yet the morn's not so lovely, so brilliant, so gay
As our splendid appearance in gallant array,
When already mounted we number our forces
the wild boar and the tiger to scare;
Pity fifty stout beings count dogs, men, and horses,
Should encounter such peril to kill one poor hare.
wretch, they fate's hard, thou were gentle and blameless,
Yet a type of the world in thy fortune we see;
And Virtue by monsters as cruel and shameless,
Poor, defenceless and timid is humbled like thee.
See vainly each path how she doubles and tries,
If she 'scapes the hound Treachery, by Slander she dies,
To o'ercome that meek fear for which men should respect her,
Every art is employed, every sly, subtle snare,
Pity those that were born to defend and protect her,
Should hunt to her ruin, so timid a hare.
it fares with poor Merit, which mortals should cherish,
As the heav'n gifted spark that illumines the mind;
As reason's best honor left with it should perish,
Every grace that perfection can lend to the mind.
Hark! envy's pack opens, the grim lurcher Fear,
And the mongrel Vexation skulk sly in the rear,
The rest all rush on, at their head the whelp Slander,
The fell mastiff Malice, the greyhound Despair,
Pity beings best known by bright truth and fair candour,
Should hunt down, shame to manhood, so harmless a hare.
sport's at an end, harsh reflection's beguiler,
To some thoughtless oblivion their souls they resign,
The seducer takes pleasure to revenge the reviler,
The hunter's oblivion more harmless is wine;
Thus having destroyed every rational joy
That can dignify reason they reason destroy,
And yet not in vain is this lesson in spirit,
Ought of reverence for genius, respect for the fair,
So the tear of lost virtue and poor ruined merit
The sad spirits shall appease — of the innocent hare.
5. Banks Of The Dee — Written in 1775 by John Tait, an Edinburgh judge, upon the occasion of the departure of some friends to fight the Colonial rebels at the beginning of what came to be called the War of American Independence. According to Robert Burns, the tune is a slowed version of a popular Irish jig, but it certainly was intended to be played in the style of a Scots air or strathspey. The tune was very popular among American Tories and provoked many Rebel parodies.
summer and softly the breezes were blowing,
And sweetly the nightingale sang from the tree.
At the foot of a hill, where the river was flowing,
I sat myself down on the banks of the
Flow on, lovely
They banks, purest stream, shall be dear to me ever,
For there I first gained the affection and favor,
Of Jaimie, the glory and pride of the
now he's gone from me and left me thus mourning,
To quell the proud Rebels, for valiant is he,
But ah! there's no hope of his speedy returning,
To wander again on the banks of the
He's gone, hapless youth, o'er the rude roaring billows,
The kindest, the sweetest, of all his brave fellows,
And left me to stray 'mongst these once-loved willows,
The loneliest lass on the banks of the
But time and my prayers may
perhaps yet restore him,
Blest peace may restore my dear lover to me;
And when he returns, with such care I'll watch o'er him,
He never shall leave the sweet banks of the
The lambs on its banks will again be seen playing,
Whilst I, with my Jamie, am carelessly straying,
And tasting again all the sweets of the
is the ship that under sail
Spreads her white bosom to the gale;
Sweet, ah sweet's the flowing can;
Sweet to poise the lab'ring oar
That tugs us to our native shore,
When the boatswain pipes the barge to man;
Sweet sailing with a fav'ring breeze,
But oh much sweeter than all these
The needle faithful to the north,
To show of constancy the worth,
A curious lesson teaches man;
The needle time may rust, a squall
Capsize the binnacle and all;
Let the seamanship do all it can,
My love in worth shall higher rise,
Nor time shall rust, nor squalls capsize
My faith and
truth to lovely
the bilboes I was penned
For serving of a worthless friend,
And every creature from me ran;
No ship performing quarantine
Was ever so deserted seen.
None hailed me, woman, child, nor man;
But though false friendship's sails were furled,
Though cut adrift by all the world,
I'd all the world in lovely
I love my duty, love my friend,
Love truth and merit to defend,
To moan their loss who hazard ran;
I love to take an honest part,
Love beauty with a spotless heart,
By manners love to show the man,
To sail through life by honour's breeze;
'Twas all along of loving these
made me doat on lovely
hunting and the pleasures
of and particularly after the chase were the passion of the
gentleman on both sides of
Batchelor's Hall we
To partake of the chase that makes up our delight,
We have spirits like fire and of health such a stock
That our pulse strikes the seconds as true as a clock,
Did you see us you'd swear, as we mount with a grace,
That Diana had dubbed some new gods of the chase:
away, hark away,
mounted upon a
A better fleet gelding ne'er hunter did back;
Tom Trig rode a bay, full of mettle and bone,
And gayly Bob Buxom rode proud on a roan;
But the horse of all horses that rivalled the day
Was the Squire's Neck or nothing, and that was a gray.
for hounds there was Nimble, so well that climbs
And Cock-nose, a good one at scenting a fox;
Little Plunge, like a mole, who will ferret and search,
And beetle-browed Hawk's-eye, so dead at a lurch;
Young Sly looks, that scents the strong breeze from the south,
And musical Echowell, with his deep mouth.
Hark away, etc.
thus all of the very best
Tis not likely you 'II easily find such a stud;
And for hounds, our opinions with thousands we 11 back
Thus having described you dogs, horses, and crew,
Away we set off, for the fox is in view.
Hark away, etc.
home, while the
horns sound a call,
And now you're all welcome to Batchelor's Hall,
The savory sirloin grate full smoaks on the board,
And Bacchus pours wine from his favorite hoard;
Come on then, do honor to this jovial place,
And enjoy the sweet pleasures that spring from the chase.
Hark away, etc.
2. The Women All
first appeared as
an anonymous copperplate half-sheet
women all tell me I'm false to my lass;
That I quit my poor Chloe and stick to my glass:
But to you, men of reason, my reasons I'll own;
And if you don't like them, why leave them alone.
Although I have left her, the truth I'll declare;
I believe she was good, and I'm sure she was fair:
But goodness and charms in a bumper I see
That makes it as good and as charming as she.
Her lilies and roses were just in their prime,
Yet lilies and roses are conquered by time:
But, in wine, from its age such benefit flows,
That we like it the better the older it grows.
She, too, might have poisoned the joy of my life
With nurses, and babies, and squalling, and strife:
But my wine neither nurses nor babies can bring,
And a big-bellied bottle's a mighty good thing.
like her sex, ever false to their word,
She has left me to get an estate or a lord;
But my bumpers (regarding nor titles nor pelf)
Will stand by me when I can't stand by myself.
let my dear Chloe no longer complain,
She's rid of her lover, and I of my pain:
For in wine, mighty wine, many comforts I spy,
Should you doubt what I say, take a bumper and try.
Anderson, My Jo —
first and last verses, two simple
but touching stanzas by Robert
Burns, have inspired countless
of extra verses, and musical settings by composers
as diverse as Turnbull and Karl Maria Von
tune here is the most common, a
melody dating back to
Queen Elizabeth's Virginal
and which may be an altered form
Am The Duke of
John Anderson my jo, John,
when we were first acquaint,
Your looks were like the raven, your bonnie brow was brent
But now you're turned bald, John, your locks are like the snow,
My blessings on your frosty brow, John Anderson, my jo.
John Anderson, my jo, John, you were my first conceit,
And aye at church and market I've kept you trim and neat;
There's some folk say you're failing, John, but I scarce believe it's so,
For you're aye the same kind man to me, John Anderson, my jo.
John Anderson, my jo, John,
from year to year we've past,
And soon that year must come, John, will bring us to out last;
But let that not affright us, John, our hearts were ne'er our foe,
While in innocent delight we lived, John Anderson, my jo.
John Anderson, my jo, John, we
climbed the hill
And many a happy day, John, we've had with one another,
Now we must totter down, John, but hand in hand we'll go,
And we'll sleep together at the foot, John Anderson, my jo.
late 18th century
characterized the black man as a pathetic figure, torn from his
by rapacious slavers and then infected by all
the ills, both moral and physical, of his greedy
exploiters. Certainly here are the seeds of abolitionism,
already thriving in
On Afric's wide plains where the lion now roaring,
With freedom stalks froth the vast desert exploring,
I was dragged from my hut and enchained as a slave,
In a dark floating dungeon upon the salt wave.
Cho: Spare a halfpenny, spare a halfpenny,
Spare a halfpenny to a poor Negro.
on the wild main, I all wildly despairing,
Burst my chains, rushed on deck, with my eyeballs all glaring,
When the lightning's dread blast struck the inlets of day,
And its glorious bright beams shut forever away.
The despoiler of man then his prospect thus losing.
Of gain by my sale, not a blind bargain choosing,
As my value compared with my keeping was light,
Had me dashed overboard in the dead of the night.
And but for a bark to Britannia's coast bound then,
All my cares by that plunge in the deep had been drowned then,
But by moonlight descryed, I was snatched from the wave,
And reluctantly robbed of a watery grave.
disastrous my fate,
freedom's ground though I tread
Torn from home, wife and children, and wandering for bread now,
While seas roll between us which ne'er can be crossed,
And hope's distant glimmerings in darkness are lost.
But of minds foul and fair
when the judge and the Ponderer
Shall restore light and rest to the blind and the wanderer.
The European's deep dye may outrival the sloe,
And the soul of an Ethiop prove white as the snow.
How Stands The
Should we be melancholy, boys?
Why, soldiers, why?
Whose business is to die!
What, sighing? Fie!
Don't fear, drink on, be jolly, boys!
'Tis he, you or I!
Cold, hot, wet, or dry,
We're always bound to follow, boys,
And scorn to fly!
Drink To Me Only
With Thine Eyes
hit of the 18th century—hardly a songster
is without it. Still popular
date back to the 2nd
century Greek poet
Johnson translated in his
to me only with thine eyes and I will pledge with mine
Or leave a kiss within in the cup and I'll not ask for wine
thirst that from the soul doth rise doth ask a drink divine,
But might I of Jove's nectar sup, I would not change for thine.
thee late a roseate wreath, not so much honouring thee,
As giving it a hope that there it could not withered be.
thou there thereon didst only breath and sent it back to me,
Since when it looks and tastes I swear not of itself, but thee.