King Edwards

DESCRIPTION: "There never was a king so great, but love cause him to abdicate. Ch: Love, love alone, cause King Edwards to leave the t'rone (repeat)." Verses sung in first person as Edward explains reasons for abdicating and marrying Wallace Simpson.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1937 (recording by The Caresser)
KEYWORDS: shanty love royalty marriage
HISTORICAL REFERENCES:
1936 - Abdication of Edward VIII and his marriage to Wallis Simpson
FOUND IN: West Indies
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Colcord, pp. 186-187, "King Edwards" (1 text, 1 tune)
ST Colc186 (Partial)
Roud #4707
RECORDINGS:
Blind Blake Higgs, "Love, Love Alone" (on WIHIGGS01)
The Caresser [Rufus Callender], "Edward the VIII" (1999, on "Roosevelt in Trinidad," Rounder CD 1142 [recorded 1937])
Duke of Iron [Cecil Anderdson], Lord Invader[Rupert Grant], Macbeth the Great[Patrick McDonald], and Gerald Clark and the Band, "Edward VIII" (1999, on Calypso at Midnight," Rounder CD 11661-1840-2 [recorded 1946])

CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Edward's Abdication" (theme of Edward VIII)
cf. "Baby It Must Be Love" (subject, form of some lines)
NOTES: I don't have a copy of Thomas-Makin', but based on the description of "Edward's Abdication" I'd say that even though they are covering the same subject, these are two different songs. [Yes, they are. And this is pretty definitely the better one. - RBW] Colcord gives a tune for the chorus but says that the verses were song in a droning monotone. The chorus tune, by the way, is not "House Carpenter," which was the tune supposed for "Edward's Abdication."
Brought back from the West Indies by a Prof. Samuel E. Morison, and said to have been sung by Negro boatmen in Basse Terre, St. Kitts. - SL
Morison is, of course, the great American historian who was particularly involved in naval history. I believe he published this in one of his own books also, though I don't know which one; I'm sure I've seen the text before.
For additional information on Edward VIII and his marriage, see the notes to "Edward's Abdication." This song in addition mentions the Duke of York, Edward's brother, who became George VI (reigned 1936-1952). Stanley Baldwin (1867-1947) was Conservative Prime Minister 1923-1924, 1924-1929, and 1935-1937. The Abdication Crisis of 1936 was in some ways his finest hour; by consulting with the royal family, his own party, the opposition, and the Dominions, he found an answer everyone could accept. He resigned immediately after, leaving the post to Neville Chamberlain -- and you *know* how that turned out....
To tell this from "Edward's Abdication," consider the first few lines of text:
King Edwards:
Love, love alone, Cause King Edwards to leave the t'rone
Love, love alone, Cause King Edwards to leave the t'rone.
Edward's Abdication:
Come hearken good friends to this story so tre
Of a lord of high degree;
Concerning the love of this bonny young prince.
The King of his own countree. - RBW
Colcord writes, "That folk-song is still being made and sung is evidenced by the following comment on current events [viz., "King Edwards"] which was brought back from the West Indies last winter [1937-1938] by Professor Samuel E. Morison .... The song was sung by a Negro boatman in Basse Terre, St. Kitts. The air to the chorus was furnished by another member of Professor Morrison's party..." [p. 186]. Fast work indeed, especially if Hill is correct and this song was crafted and recorded in New York in 1937: "The large metropolitan dailies reported the doings at the [Village] Vanguard [a folksinger-friendly night club in Greenwich Village] as the calypsonians, especially the New York-based singers, created songs for American audiences.... Another popular song in America was 'Edward VIII,' recorded by Caresser at the same session [February 16, 1937]" (Donald R. Hill, Calypso Calaloo (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1993), pp. 162-163). Colcord's tune is close to Caresser's and the text leaves out some of Caresser's verses, and adds none. It is interesting to see how some of Caresser's lines, that could use clarification for me, have been changed by either the singer or the recorder. For example, where I hear Caresser singing
They could take my throne they could take my crown/ But leave me and Miss Simpson renoun'
Colcord has
They may take my crown they may have my tr'one/ But leave Mistress Simpson and me alone
On the other hand, I think Caresser sings
I'm sorry my mother is going to grieve/ But I cannot help, I'm bound to leave.
Colcord has
I'm sorry to make my mother grieve/ But just the same I'm bound to believe.
- BS
Last updated in version 4.0
File: Colc186

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