Sailor Likes His Bottle-O, The
DESCRIPTION: Shanty. "So early in the morning the sailor likes his bottle-o! A bottle of rum, a bottle of gin, a bottle of old Jamaica Ho!" Verses carry on about all the things a sailor might love: women, tobacco, fighting, etc...
EARLIEST DATE: 1831 (Alexander)
KEYWORDS: shanty drink sailor
FOUND IN: Britain West Indies US(MA) Guyana
REFERENCES (8 citations):
Colcord, p. 75, "Bottle O!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 55-57, "So Early in the Morning" (3 texts, 3 tunes) [AbEd, pp. 52-53]
Sharp-EFC, XLVI, p. 51, "The Sailor Loves His Bottle-O" (1 text, 1 tune)
Abrahams-WIShanties, p. 17, "De Neger Like de Bottley Oh" (1 fragment)
ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). "Sailor Like the Bottle O!" is in Part 2, 7/21/1917.
E.I. Barra, _A Tale of Two Oceans_ (San Francisco: Eastman & Co., 1893 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), p. 84, ("The ladies like Madeira wine") (1 text)
J.E. Alexander, _TransAtlantic Sketches, Vol. 1_ (London: Richard Bentley, 1833 ("Digitized by Internet Archive")), p. 131, ("De bottley oh! de bottley oh!") (1 text)
The Sailor Loves
NOTES: Barra heard his "hoisting song" text -- "So early in the morning -- The sailor likes his bottle oh!" -- in Rio de Janeiro from a crew fitted out in Philadelphia in 1849. Apparently, the crew was white -- "as villainous a looking twenty men as I ever was shipmates with" -- excluding two Black cooks (pp. 54, 75).
Abrahams's version is quoted from Alexander, who heard his version -- "Right early in de morning, de neger like de bottley oh!" -- in 1831 from Black slaves of a British Guiana estate assigned to row his canoe.
There is a point to these comparisons. This is one of the early deep-water chanteys and there are still open questions about the origins of deep-water chanteys. For example, barring capstan chanteys and forecastle songs, are the call-response and lined-out forms based on African song forms never lost during slavery? To what extent are deep-water chanteys affected by the minstrel theatre, the Black hymns outside the church, the Irish famine, rowing songs, and the hardly ever recorded English work-song tradition. Do we start the clock in Africa, on United States docks where Black stevedores worked and sang in the 18th century, or only when the American packet ships were sailing after the War of 1812. Perhaps "The Sailor Likes His Bottle-O" details can help guide the discussion. - BS
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