De Boatman Dance

DESCRIPTION: A minstrel song about a boatman's life, observing that there is no one like a boatman. "O dance, de boatman, dance all night 'till broad daylight, And go home wid de gals in de morning. Hi, ho, de boatman row, Floating down de ribber on de Ohio"
AUTHOR: Daniel Decatur Emmett
EARLIEST DATE: before 1835 (broadside, Bodleian Firth c.22(54)), but reportedly copyrighted 1843
KEYWORDS: dancing river minstrel ship sailor
FOUND IN: US(Ap,SE) Britain(Scotland(Aber))
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Hugill, pp. 492-493, "Dance the Boatman" (1 text, 1 tune)
GreigDuncan3 484, GreigDuncan8 Addenda, "The Boatman's Dance" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
BrownIII 223, "Hi You Boat Row" (1 fragment)
Sulzer, p. 13, "Dance, Boadman, Dance" (1 text, 1 tune)
Botkin-MRFolklr, p. 566, "De Boatman Dance" (1 text, 1 tune)
Scott-EnglishSB, pp. 78-79, "De Boatmen's Dance" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber-FSWB, p. 39, "Boatman's Dance" (1 text)
DT, BOATDANC*
ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Dance the Boatman Dance" is in Part 1, 7/14/1917.

Roud #5898
RECORDINGS:
Elizabeth Cotten, "Boatman Dance" (on Cotten02)
Byrd Moore & his Hot Shots, "Boatman's Dance" (Gennett, unissued, 1930)
Eleazar Tillet, "Come Love Come" (on USWarnerColl01) [a true mess; the first verse is "Nancy Till", the chorus is "Come, Love, Come, the Boat Lies Low," and it uses part of "De Boatman Dance" as a bridge.)

BROADSIDES:
Bodleian, Firth c.22(54), "The Boatman of de Ohio" ("De boatman dance, de boatman sing"), G. Walker (Durham), 1797-1834; also Firth b.25(239), "Dance de Boatmen"; Harding B 15(81b), Harding B 11(352), Firth b.28(38) View 1 of 2 [almost entirely illegible], "[De] Boatman Dance"; Firth b.25(595/596) View 1 of 2, "The Boatmen Dance"; Harding B 11(1117), "Boatman's Dance"
LOCSheet, sm1844 390930, "De Boatman Dance, Ethiopian Ballad," C. G. Christman (New York), 1844 ["by Philip Ernst"]; also sm1848 441710, "De Boatmen's Dance" (tune)

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Seeing the Elephant (When I Left the States for Gold)" (tune)
SAME TUNE:
Seeing the Elephant (When I Left the States for Gold) (file: Beld347)
The Shaker Dance (Grimes, p. 58)
Oh! Boatman Haste (words by George Pope Morris, 1843; cf. Jon W. Finson, _The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song_, Oxford University Press, 1994, p.31)
NOTES: Jon W. Finson, The Voices That Are Gone: Themes in Nineteenth-Century American Popular Song, Oxford University Press, 1994, p. 181, says that the melody of this piece may derive from a fiddle tune, "Ohio River," which was credited to George Knauff and supposedly composed 1839. This would precede the copyright of "De Boatman Dance" but follow what is said to be the oldest broadside, so there something of an historical tangle to be resolved in that case. - RBW
Last updated in version 4.1
File: BMRF566

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