17 August 2011

Bold Riley-o

Sometimes I awaken from a night’s sleep and carry into the waking life a tune that must have played in the dream, and I bring that song along with me into the day and it becomes the day’s original soundtrack. I awoke this morning to the Wailin’ Jennie’s version of “Bold Riley.” Kate Rusby has a version of this song as well, but it was certainly the Wailin’ Jennies I carried into the day. I don’t remember the dream. 
Bold Riley is the ship heading out on its long voyage, and as it slowly leaves the harbor, the sailors sing as they work. 
We're outward bound for the Bengal Bay,
Bold Riley-o, Bold Riley,
Get bending, me lads,
It's a hell-of-a-way,
Bold Riley-o has gone away. 
It is a song of regretgoodbye my sweetheart, goodbye my dear-oand also one of promiseWhite Stocking Day, when we’ll drink our rum, refers to the day the sailors would return to port and receive their pay. In honor of that celebration, the sailor’s female relatives would dress in their finest clothes (including white stockings) and collect the money earned on the voyage. 
“Bold Riley” is a work song, sung by the sailors as they lifted and lowered the sails. I read (http://welove1997.blogspot.com/2005_09_01_archive.html) that the men would pull on the chorus and rest on the verses. I doubt they sounded like the Wailin’ Jennies. 
But perhaps my dream can be, if not remembered, at least understood from its soundtrack. I pass now into my 65th year heading out still I hope for the Bengal Bay busy raising and lowering the sails. And though this endeavor requires considerable effort, the gorgeous harmonies of the Wailin’ Jennies suggest that great beauty accompanies it. 
The day has dawned magnificently; the sky is already a deep blue and Bold Riley-o has gone away.


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