Raging Canal (I), The
DESCRIPTION: "Come listen to my story, ye landsmen one and all, I'll sing to you the dangers of that raging canal." When the mules trip on a stormy night, the crew faces a wreck. The usual exaggerations, e.g. the cook's dress on a pole, are employed
EARLIEST DATE: 1851 (Journal of the Three Brothers); probably published 1844 (cf. Dichter/Shapiro)
KEYWORDS: canal storm humorous cook
FOUND IN: US
REFERENCES (6 citations):
Sandburg, pp. 178-179, "The Raging Canawl" (1 text)
Lomax-ABFS, pp. 464-465, "(Erie Canal)" (2 texts, the second of which goes here; the first is "A Trip on the Erie (Haul in Your Bowline)"); pp. 471-474, "The Raging Can-all" (1 text)
Huntington-Gam, pp. 214-215, "The Raging Canal" (1 text, 1 tune)
ThompsonNewYork, pp. 238-241, "The Raging Canal" (1 text)
WolfAmericanSongSheets, #1952, p. 131, "Raging Canal" (1 reference)
cf. "The E-ri-e" (theme) and references there
A Life on the Raging Canawl (parody presumably to this tune) (ThompsonNewYork, p. 254)
NOTES: The Erie Canal, as originally constructed, was a completely flat, shallow waterway. The barges were drawn along by mules. Thus, apart from getting wet, storms posed little danger. As for needing a distress signal, one could always step off onto dry land....
The Lomaxes, in American Ballad and Folk Songs, thoroughly mingled many texts of the Erie Canal songs (in fairness, some of this may have been the work of their informants -- but in any case the Lomaxes did not help the problem). One should check all the Erie Canal songs for related stanzas.
Harry Dichter and Elliott Shapiro, Early American Sheet Music: Its Lure and Its Lore, 1768-1889, R. R. Bowker, 1941, p. 48, mention sheet music of a song, "The Raging Canal!" This was published by C. G. Christman in 1844, and is described as "A Comic Song. Written and Sung by that Most Celebrated omi Singer P. Morris." Badly printed, the illustration shows a boat being tossed about by high waves on the canal. I would assume that is the ancestor of this song, but I cannot prove it. - RBW
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