Hi Worksongers! Your Weekly Worksong is "Haul Away, Joe" These days I'm teaching a class at Unity College called "Work/Song: Musical Labor in Literature and in Life." It's a blast and so your (occassional) weekly worksongs this fall will be tailored to match the class material as we go along. Hope those of you who aren't in the class enjoy it!
I present this song in honor of Maine's Windjammer Weekend, in Camden Harbor this weekend. It is one of the first worksongs I learned, and it is the very first that I ever tried singing in a farm field, back in 2001 at Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett, NY.
Haul Away Joe is a classic shanty, most often sung in the way Malcom Ward does in this video.
But then there is this extraordinary version done by Lead Belly, which is mysterious strange and worth listening to if not just for the contrast. Scroll down a bit and you'll see it.
The difference between the versions is the folk process on display, overlaid with the genius of the songsters themselves.
Where I learned it Somewhere on Penobscot Bay, sometime between 1995 and 2000, possibly from Susan Hickey aboard the J&E Riggin.
Why it's a great song: Killer refrain. Mischievous lyrics.
If you try it: It works equally well in the fields as on deck- and for that matter it's also good in the pub. Get a bunch of rowdies together and sing it, loud.
Check it out: Haul Away Joe on worksongs.org with two versions to hear Malcolm Ward's home page Lead Belly's recording and many other great tracks from Smithsonian Folkways An interesting discussion of the Lead Belly Lyrics over at mudcat.org
Holler back with any questions or ideas! And let me know if you decide to sing it... -Bennett
PS. If you missed past weeks of Your Weekly Worksong, I've posted them here...
Upcoming Worksong Sessions- Come holler with us! September 21 - Common Ground Fair, Unity, Maine September 29 - 10:30am - "Worksongs: A Singing Service" at the Unitarian Church, Sag Harbor, NY
"Join Edith and Bennett and the Sylvester Manor Worksongers as we spend a joyous morning singing the songs that they use out in the fields. Much singing will be interspersed with discussion of using music to transform the mundane in the fields, and life in general. "