DESCRIPTION: "In eighteen hundred and ninety-two, Bant Breau and George Elliot they started a crew." Life in the camp, and the various characters there, are described. The singer talks about the combative men and the long hours
EARLIEST DATE: 1916 (Gray-SongsAndBalladsOfTheMaineLumberjacks)
KEYWORDS: logger work
FOUND IN: US(NE) Canada(Mar)
REFERENCES (4 citations):
Gray-SongsAndBalladsOfTheMaineLumberjacks, pp. 60-61, "Mell Whitten" (1 text)
Lomax/Lomax-OurSingingCountry, pp. 226-228, "Moosehead Lake" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 58, "Moosehead Lake" (1 text, 1 tune)
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia 122, "In the Month of October" (1 text, 1 tune)
cf. "Blue Mountain Lake (The Belle of Long Lake)" [Laws C20] (floating lyrics)
cf. "Derry Down" (tune) and references there
NOTES [283 words]: This song as found in Lomax shares several verses with "Blue Mountain Lake" (with which Roud lumps it) as well as the "Derry Down" tune, and may well have sprung from the same roots. The overall feeling is just different enough, however, that I have very tentatively decided to keep them separate.
Laws offers another explanation: "Lomax seems to have added some stanzas from [Blue Mountain Lake] to... 'Moosehead Lake.'" - RBW
Creighton-SongsAndBalladsFromNovaScotia begins "In the month of October eighteen-eight-two, Billy Williams from Bangor he scared up a crew, And forty brave fellows of us he did take, And he landed us over across head Moose Lake" - BS
The crew chief seems to vary more than the lake -- e.g. Gray-SongsAndBalladsOfTheMaineLumberjacks's text megins "In the month of October eighteen eighty-two, Mell Whitten from Bangor he started a crew. A crew of young fellows with him he did take, And he landed them safely upon Moosehead Lake." Gray-SongsAndBalladsOfTheMaineLumberjacks's version also claims to have been composted by "Heyward the chopper, "White-headed Bob," and "Marshall the sled-tender."
All these versions seem to refer to Moosehead Lake in Maine, which is the largest lake in that state. There is also a Moosehead Lake in Minnesota, however, somewhat south and west of Duluth. I have seen no signs that this song was localized to the Minnesota lake. On the other hand, there is a legend that a Moosehead Lake is "the imprint of [Paul Bunyan's] 'broad shape behind'" (see Daniel Hoffman, Paul Bunyan: Last of the Frontier Demigods, 1952; Bison Books edition with a new Introduction by the author 1983, p. 40). That seems more likely with the Minnesota lake. - RBW
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