I learned "Coplas" from Theodore Bikel, and "Oh, You New York Gals" from the Trio, and sang them early in my days learning folk musiic. From Michael Cooney, a brilliant multi-instrumentalist I learned another sea shanty, called "Ratcliffe Highway", which was a warning to young sailors, not to patronize the girls found on the Ratcliffe Highway in Chatam England. It's the sad story of a young man who finds the right girl at the right time with the wrong disease.
"She was naught but a fire ship wrapped up in disguise. / Set fire to his rigging and likewise his hold, / And it was off to the Hospital Jack he did scull./ To my rigging grey,/ Come rattle my rigging down./ Come rattle my rigging down Ratcliffe Highway." There was a bit about his bowsprit being all bent over too. That's a legitimate 18th or 19th Century song "New York Gals" is 19th Century. He encouraged American audiences to act more like British audiences and sing along on choruses, working out harmonies. If you ever heard the Young Tradition or Robin and Barry Dransfield or the High Level Ranters, you know how great that can be. I have a few records by the Copper family who when the records were made were in their 50's and 60's but still had wonderful harmonies, and the Watersons from Yorkshire, one of whom married the King of British traditional folk, Martin Carthy. Their daughter is now a killer act too.
Speaking of things that still lurk around the corners.
Michael is now living up in Maine, and isn't communicating, though I'll give him another try. I think he has me confused with somebody else. He was Folksinger in Residence at Guelph University, which I thought was a wonderful thing to be until we moved here and visited Guelph University. I knew him from the Ark in Ann Arbor and from Folk festivals like Philadelphia and Fox Hollow. He did some of the best Huddie Leadbetter I ever heard, not least because he used a Stella 12 string just like Leadbelly did.
but maybe not.
I found a song in some old vinyl that may still have some relevance today though the names of the countries may need to change. I have it by The Kingston Trio though others performed it. This isn't the original group though Bob Shane, a founding member (full gray and white head and doing the whistling), is present in the center.
The Merry Minuet
Written in '58. Some things haven't changed much.