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Old 28 May 2008, 10:07 PM
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Silas Sparkhammer Silas Sparkhammer is offline
 
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Whalephant General quarters bugle call -- words?

I was reminded of this by snopes thread under "history" about the origin of taps...

In "Norstrilia," an elegant if quirky sci-fi novel by Cordwainer Smith, a character sings a song:

"Light a lantern --
Light a lantern --
Light a lantern --
Here we come!"

He adds, "That's the oldest song you ever heard, my boy. It's prespace and it used to be called 'General Quarters' when ships like big iron houses floated on the waters of earth and fought each other."

I've been curious about this for decades now, and have never found any other reference to "General Quarters" having words. I've also searched for a long time for the musical notes to "General Quarters." I heard it, once, in a John Wayne WWII movie, and it sounded roughly like this:



The meter of the music matches the meter of the words. But...

Is this actually "General Quarters?" And where the devil did Smith get the words?

Silas

P.S. those who are interested in such things might also enjoy this music stream by Boccherini, "The Musical Retreat of the Military Nightwatch of Madrid," based on a trumpet call. (You have to wait through about twenty seconds of the eerie buzzing of the violin before the melody begins.)
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  #2  
Old 28 May 2008, 11:37 PM
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I wouldn't be surprised if someone somewhere created words for it, but I doubt that it has official lyrics.
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  #3  
Old 29 May 2008, 12:06 AM
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UEL UEL is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
In "Norstrilia," an elegant if quirky sci-fi novel by Cordwainer Smith, a character sings a song:

"Light a lantern --
Light a lantern --
Light a lantern --
Here we come!"
Reminds me of the words for Hail to the Chief in the film Dave that the main character made up.

"Hail to the Chief
He's the one we all say hail to
Hail to the Chief
'Cause he keeps himself so clean.
He's got the power
That's why he's in the shower."

No official lyrics, just something someone made up.
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  #4  
Old 29 May 2008, 12:28 AM
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UEL UEL is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
I've been curious about this for decades now, and have never found any other reference to "General Quarters" having words. I've also searched for a long time for the musical notes to "General Quarters." I heard it, once, in a John Wayne WWII movie, and it sounded roughly like this:

Try this. It's the second call from the top:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive...639C94699ED7CF

My personal favourite is the Post Horn Gallop (although not technically a bugle call).
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  #5  
Old 29 May 2008, 01:16 AM
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diddy diddy is offline
 
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Originally Posted by UEL View Post
Reminds me of the words for Hail to the Chief in the film Dave that the main character made up.

"Hail to the Chief
He's the one we all say hail to
Hail to the Chief
'Cause he keeps himself so clean.
He's got the power
That's why he's in the shower."

No official lyrics, just something someone made up.
I actually think that is from the movie "My Fellow Americans" where Jack Lemmon and James Garner claim to have made up lyrics to "Hail to the Chief"
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  #6  
Old 29 May 2008, 01:24 AM
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Silas Sparkhammer Silas Sparkhammer is offline
 
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Whalephant

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Originally Posted by UEL View Post
Try this. It's the second call from the top:

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive...639C94699ED7CF

My personal favourite is the Post Horn Gallop (although not technically a bugle call).
Aye! That's very clearly the call I was trying to approximate from memory. Thank you!

I believe I have a recording in my collection of the Post Horn Gallop; I'll go search of it. One piece I'm fond of is the "Wood Up Quickstep." I once saw it performed by a live brass ensemble. The cornet solo is so difficult, the soloist did not turn red... he did not turn blue... the poor man turned orange with the exertion! I have never, before or since, seen a man turn that color!

Silas
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  #7  
Old 29 May 2008, 01:36 AM
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ASL ASL is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
I heard it, once, in a John Wayne WWII movie, and it sounded roughly like this:

In Harms Way? One of the few surface Navy movies out there that doesn't involve a mutiny or a tyrannical captain. I've always preffered Mister Roberts myself.

ETA: And as for the lyrics, I'm not exactly sure why you'd want to light a lantern when going to GQ. If anything, you'd want to darken the lights if it was night (which you're supposed to do at night anyways) and if we're talking a couple hundred years ago w/ wooden ships and real lanterns you'd want to put out anything that might start a fire.

Last edited by ASL; 29 May 2008 at 01:44 AM.
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  #8  
Old 29 May 2008, 03:42 AM
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Originally Posted by diddy View Post
I actually think that is from the movie "My Fellow Americans" where Jack Lemmon and James Garner claim to have made up lyrics to "Hail to the Chief"
I've got ever line in Dave memorised. I have it on VHS. This line is definitely from Dave. He's singing it when he's showering and gets cut off when the First Lady rips open the door to the shower to accuse him of cutting off funding to one of her projects.

Although, I do like the made up lyrics in "My Fellow Americans", too.
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  #9  
Old 29 May 2008, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Silas Sparkhammer View Post
I believe I have a recording in my collection of the Post Horn Gallop; I'll go search of it.
The Post Horn Gallop is a Regimental tradition for my Regiment. Typically, it is played half way through a formal dinner, then again during coffee after dinner. Usually, the one after dinner is a lot more fun. I've seen it where the musician has been carried on the shoulders of the officers and carried around the room while playing. On another occasion, an antique rifle was brought out (without breech block) and the tune was played on the rifle.

I love the tune.
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  #10  
Old 29 May 2008, 03:55 AM
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Lachrymose Lachrymose is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by diddy View Post
I actually think that is from the movie "My Fellow Americans" where Jack Lemmon and James Garner claim to have made up lyrics to "Hail to the Chief"
Heh..Jack Lemon's version:

Hail to the Chief, he's the chief and he needs hailing
He is the chief so everybody hail like crazy.

James Garner's version:

Hail to the Chief, if you don't I'll have to kill you
I am the chief, so you'd better watch your step, you bastards
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  #11  
Old 29 May 2008, 04:52 AM
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Silas Sparkhammer Silas Sparkhammer is offline
 
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Whalephant

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Originally Posted by ASL View Post
In Harms Way? One of the few surface Navy movies out there that doesn't involve a mutiny or a tyrannical captain. I've always preffered Mister Roberts myself.
I couldn't properly enjoy Mister Roberts. James Cagney's character, as bad as he was, didn't really seem to deserve the awful things that happened to him. I couldn't help but over-intellectualize the movie, and couldn't get into the proper frame of mind to take it as a comedy. To me, it just wasn't funny...and without the humor, it is not a very nice movie.

Quote:
ETA: And as for the lyrics, I'm not exactly sure why you'd want to light a lantern when going to GQ. If anything, you'd want to darken the lights if it was night (which you're supposed to do at night anyways) and if we're talking a couple hundred years ago w/ wooden ships and real lanterns you'd want to put out anything that might start a fire.
Good points! I wonder where the heck Cordwainer Smith got those lyrics!

Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post
. . . On another occasion, an antique rifle was brought out (without breech block) and the tune was played on the rifle.
Grin! I played the trumpet in high school band, and, aye, you can play bugle calls on all sorts of things! Sections of copper plumbing pipe, lengths of hose, a soda bottle with the bottom broken off, etc. etc. Ever have the joy of blowing a conch shell? What a lovely noise!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Lachrymose View Post
Heh..Jack Lemon's version:

Hail to the Chief, he's the chief and he needs hailing
He is the chief so everybody hail like crazy.

James Garner's version:

Hail to the Chief, if you don't I'll have to kill you
I am the chief, so you'd better watch your step, you bastards
My version (probably very commonplace) back during the Nixon years:

Jail to the Thief, he's the bleeder of the nation,
Jail to him, jail to him, toss his butt in jail....

Silas
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  #12  
Old 29 May 2008, 09:54 AM
Mycroft Mycroft is offline
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UEL View Post

My personal favourite is the Post Horn Gallop (although not technically a bugle call)
There is a British 1943 propoganda-ish film called Millions like us about factory workers. In one scene there is an air-raid on the factory, and the control-room first plays a record of an air-raid siren, then when they need to go to ths shelters he puts on The Post-Horn Gallop. (After the raid he plays Colonel Bogey, better known now for its use in The Bridge on the River Kwai)
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