Sea-shanties were a type of work song sung by sailors to economize labor on wind driven packet and clipper ships in the 19th century. Singing helped to coordinate tasks like raising anchor, hauling rope and setting sail. In May 1939, Alan recorded some thirty-seven deepwater shanties and fo’c’sle songs sung by Captain Richard Maitland
who lived at Sailors Snug Harbor, a retirement home for sailors, on Staten Island.
2 “Shenandoah” was among them. Some speculate it came from French-Canadian voyageurs. It tells the story of a Missouri river trader who courted the daughter of Native American Chief Shenandoah for seven years.
3 I’ve always been confused about whether “Shenandoah” refers to the name of the river or the chief, but it works poetically either way. As Captain Maitland explains in the field recording’s introductory remarks,
from Jayme Stone's Lomax Project
released March 3, 2015
Margaret Glaspy (voice), Brittany Haas (fiddle), Julian Lage (guitar), Joe Phillips (bass),
Nick Fraser (drums), Jayme Stone (banjo)
all rights reserved