Wisconsin Work Songs (J. Guy Stalnaker)

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  • (Posted 2019-06-30)   CPDL #54648:    1. Pick and Shovel   2. Shantyman's Life   3.  
Editor: J. Guy Stalnaker (submitted 2019-06-30).   Score information: Letter, 5 pages, 174 kB   Copyright: CPDL
Edition notes: Source for the melodies and texts used is "Folk Songs Out of Wisconsin" published in 1977 (see link), used with permission (email from Drexler, Diane T - Wisconsin Historical Society, December 20, 2013). Single score with all three carols, individual midi files, one for each carol.

General Information

Title: Wisconsin Work Songs
Composer: J. Guy Stalnaker
Lyricist: Traditional

Number of voices: 4vv   Voicing: SATB
Genre: SecularFolksong

Language: English
Instruments: A cappella

Published: 2019

Description: Three arrangements of three folk carols from "Folk Songs Out of Wisconsin."

External websites: https://uwdc.library.wisc.edu/collections/millsspcoll/wiscfolksong/

Original text and translations

English.png English text


Pick and Shovel

The pick and the shovel are all that I know.
I'm workin' the dayshift away down below.
A mile under ground I keep pickin' all day.
I work for a livin' but not for much pay.
From Cornwall we have come to explore.
Yes, we are the men with an eye for ore.
We've got to find ore and plenty much more,
Or we'll be hittin' the road;
or we'll be hittin' the road.

The mine whistle blows and the men start to sing.
There's fear in their thinkin'. They don't say a thing.
Goin' down, down the mineshaft the echo of song
Wipes out fear or worry. Together we're strong.
Since lads of six, we've worked with our picks
Learnin' all of mining's deceiving tricks.
And so we dig ore and plenty much more
Or we'll be hittin' the road;
or we'll be hittin' the road.

The airblast is li'ble to come any day,
And when it comes blowin', it goes on its way.
It snatches your breath, lays you out in your tomb.
A sociable death, we all lie in one room.
From Cornwall we have come to explore.
Yes, we are the men with an eye for ore.
We've got to find ore and plenty much more,
Or we'll be hittin' the road;
or we'll be hittin' the road.

To my wife I'm a hero she pieces my pay,
Takes care of the children the long workin' day.
She says I'll be foreman, but that won't be so.
The pick and the shovel are all that I know.
Since lads of six, we've worked with our picks
Learnin' all of mining's deceiving tricks.
And so we dig ore and plenty much more
Or we'll be hittin' the road;
or we'll be hittin' the road.

The Shantyman's Life

The shantyman's life is a worrisome one.
Though some call it free from care.
It's the ringing of the ax from morning 'til night
In the middle of the forest fair.

Chorus:

While life in the shanties, bleak and cold,
While the wintry winds do blow,
As soon as the morning star does appear,
To the wild woods we must go.

Chorus

Then far are we from the maidens fair,
On the bank of Wisconsin's streams
Where the wolves and owls with terrifying howls
Disturb our nightly dreams.

Chorus

At three in the morning the early cook cries,
Boys, 'tis the break of day.
When broken slumber thus we pass
The long Winter nights away.

Chorus

It's in the spring when the hardships begin,
The waters are piercing and cold.
Our limbs are almost frozen, and wet our clothes,
And our oars we can scarcely hold.

Chorus

The rapids we run, we think only fun,
Devoid of all slav'ry and fear.
And the rocks, shoals and sands give work to all hands,
Our well banded rafts to steer.

Chorus

We've ale, wine, or beer our spirits for to cheer
Whilst in the forests alone,
No friends have we here to wipe 'way a tear
When our troubles and trials come on.

Chorus

The Jam on Gerry's Rock

Come all ye true born shanty boys, whoever that ye be.
I would have you pay attention and listen unto me.
Concerning a young shanty boy so tall, genteel, and brave.
'Twas on a jam on Gerry's Rock he met a wat'ry grave.

It happened on a Sunday morn as you shall quickly hear.
Our logs they piled up mountain high, no one to keep them clear.
Our boss he cried, Turn out, brave boys. Your hearts are void of fear.
We'll break that jam on Gerry's Rock and for Agonstown we'll steer.

Some of them were willing enough, but others they hung back.
'Twas for to work on the Sabbath they did not think 'twas right.
But six of our brave Canadian boys did volunteer to go
And break the jam on Gerry's Rock with their foreman, young Monroe.

They had not rolled off many logs when the boss to them did say,
I'd have you be on your guard, brave boys. That jam will soon give way.
But scarce the warning had he spoke when the jam did break and go
And it carried away these six brave youths and their foreman, young Monroe.

When the rest of the shanty boys these sad tidings came to hear,
To search for their dead comrades to the river they did steer.
One of these a headless body found, to their sad grief and woe,
Lay cut and mangled on the beach, the head of young Monroe.