Archivi tag: sea shanty

Hanging Johnny : hang, boys, hang

Leggi in italiano

“Hanging Johnny” is an halyard shanty in which we talk about the hangman who hangs all those who bother him! Immediately, the scholars wanted to find a historical figure who incarnated this executioner in Jack Ketch notorious executioner in the seventeenth century London.

But for the sailors the phrase “hanging Johnny” has a whole other meaning.

THE WORK OF THE HANGED SAILOR

In order to hoist the heavier sails, they followed a strange procedure : the younger and nimble sailors (and less paid as they were apprentices) climbed up on the masthead and, after grabbing a halyard, jumped in the air, hanging like so many hangers. As they descended, they were helped by the efforts of the remaining sailors to slowly reach the deck.
Joys explained that “hanging Johnny” did not refer to a sheriff’s hangman, but instead to nimble young sailors who, when a topsail was to be hoisted, would climb to the masthead and “swing out” on the proper halyard. They would then ride to the deck as the men at the foot of the mast brought them down by their successive pulls. Joys recalled one chanteyman who would always tell the boys when to swing out by shouting up to them, “Hang, you bastards, hang!” Then, while the boys were hanging on the halyard fifty feet or more above the deck, he’d start his song and the crew would make two pulls on each chorus. When the boys hit the deck, they would tail on behind the other men and pull with them until the work was finished.
Joys added that the word “hang” was “the best goddamn pullin’ word in the language, especially on a down haul.” Ashley said the tune was “a bit mournful, but a good one for hoisting light canvas,” noting that the words enabled the sailors to find fault, good-naturedly, with all their real and fancied enemies, “if the work lasted long enough.”
 (from “Windjammers: Songs of the Great Lakes Sailors” by Ivan H. Walton and Joe Grimm, 2002 here)

So on Mudcats a heated debate has opened up: “The words “Hang, boys, hang,” are used in a topsail-halliard hoist, when sweating up the yard “two blocks” where, in swaying off, the whole weight of the body is used. The sing-out, from some old shellback, usually being words such as “Hang, heavy! Hang, buttocks! Hang you sons of ——-, Hang.” After setting the topsails, we gave her the main-topgallant sail, which was all she could carry in a heavy head-sea. The decks were awash all day. “…. the chantey was sung with a jerk and a swing as only chanteys in 6/8 time can be sung. While the words were of Negro extraction, yet it was a great favorite with us and sung nearly every time the topsails were hoisted.” (from Frederick Pease Harlow, 1928, The Making of a Sailor, Dover reprint of Publication Number 17 of the Marine Research Society, Salem, MA here)

Definitely a perfect “pirate song”! I found this piece of film about the golden age of the great vessels in which the song is sung.

Oh they call me hanging Johnny.
Away, boys, away.
They says I hangs for money.
Oh hang, boys, hang.
And first I hanged my Sally
and then I hanged my granny.

JOHN SHORT VERSION

Sharp publishes a set of words in which the shantyman does not himself hang people and indeed sings, I never hung nobody. Hugill is adamant (as is Terry) that no shantyman ever claimed that anyone other than himself was the hangman, and that “Sentimental verses like some collectors give were never sung – Sailor John hanged any person or thing he would think about without a qualm.” Checking these ‘some collectors’, one finds several who elect only to hang the bad guys – liars, murderers, etc. – are these the verses Hugill means by ‘sentimental’ or is he having a go at Sharp for the shantyman not being the hangman himself? Sharp’s notebooks show that he recorded from Short the same as he published. It could be that Short is self-censoring but it seems unlikely given that Short seems happy, in various other shanties, to sing text that might not be regarded as genteel (e.g. Nancy, Lucy Long, Shanadore). Short was, however, a deeply religious man and, if this is not simply an early and less developed form of the shanty, then he may have deliberately avoided casting himself as hangman – we will never know! Notwithstanding, and contrary to Hugill’s assertion, there was at least one shantyman who actually sang I never hung nobody.

Collectors’/publishers’ reactions to the shanty are curiously mixed: Bullen merely notes that “shanties whose choruses were adapted for taking two pulls in them… were exceedingly useful”, Fox-Smith that it had an “almost macabre irony which is not found in any other shanty”, and Maitland that “This is about as doleful a song as I ever heard” but, in an almost poetic description points out that “there’s a time when it comes in. For instance after a heavy blow, getting more sail on the ship. The decks are full of water and the men cannot keep their feet. The wind has gone down, but the seas are running heavy. A big comber comes over the rail; the men are washed away from the rope. If it wasn’t for the man at the end of the rope gathering in the slack as the men pull, all the work would have to be done over again.” – Horses for courses! (from here)

Tom Brown from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 1


They called me hanging Johnny,
urrhay-i-, urrhay-i-,
They called me hanging Johnny
so hang, boys, hang
They hanged me poor old father
They hanged me poor old mother
Yes they hanged me mother
Me sister and me brother
They hanged me sister Sally
They strung her up so canny
They said I handeg for money
But I never hanged nobody
Oh boys we’ll haul and hang the ship
oh haul her ropes so neat
We’ll hang him forever,
We’ll hang for better weather,
A rope, a beam, a ladder,
I’ll hang ye all together

ADDITIONAL VERSIONS

Stan Ridgway from  Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI 2006. Masterful interpretation that transforms the shanty into a melancholy folk song

The Salts live in a jaunty version

 Stan Ridgway lyrics
I
They call me hanging Johnny,
yay (away )-hay-i-o
I never hanged nobody
hang, boys, hang
Well first I hanged your mother
Me sister and me brother
I’d hang to make things jolly
I’d hang all wrong and folly
A rope, a beam, a ladder,
I’ll hang ye all together
Well next I hanged me granny
I’d hang the wholly family
They call me hanging Johnny,
I never hanged nobody
II
Come hang, come haul together,
Come hang for finer weather,
Hang on from the yardarm
Hang the sea and buy a big farm
They call me hanging Johnny,
I never hanged nobody
I’d hang the mates and skippers,
I’d hang ‘em by their flippers
I’d hang the highway robber,
I’d hang the burglar jobber;
I’d hang a noted liar,
I’d hang a bloated friar;
They say I hung a copper,
I gave him the long dropper

LINK
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=72779
http://mainlynorfolk.info/peter.bellamy/songs/hangingjohnny.html
http://www.gutenberg.org/files/20774/20774-h/20774-h.htm#Hanging_Johnny
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/hanging.html
http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/thycalme.htm

My Bonnie Highland Lassie sea shanty

Leggi in italiano

Under the title Hieland laddie (Highland lassie) a series of texts are grouped with the same melody (a traditional Scottish air) entitled “If thou’t play me fair play” or “The Lass of Livingston””The melody appears in the Drummond Castle Manuscript inscribed “A Collection of Country Dances written for the use of his Grace the Duke of Perth by Dav. Young, 1734.” However the earliest printing of the tune is in Robert Bremner’s 1757 collection. A variant appears under the title “Cockleshell’s” in Playford’s Apollo’s Banquet (London, 1690) and the Dancing Master of 1701.” (from here)

MILITARY MARCH

In Scotland, the “marcing song” is synonymous with bagpipes! “Hieland laddie” was the march of all Scottish regiments before “Scotland the Brave”.

THE SCOTTISH DANCE

A particularly energetic dance competition

SEA SHANTY: Bonny Laddie, Heiland Laddie (My Bonnie Highland Lassie)

The melody was also used as a capstan and a “stamp and go” shanty, and (without the grand chorus) as a halyard shanty. It was popular on the Dundee Whalers, then later used (c. 1830’s and 40’s) as a work song for stowing lumber and cotton in the Southeastern and Gulf ports of the United States. Highland Laddie was used for long and slow maneuvers: hoisting sails above (2 pulls per chorus) or hauling up the anchor. It was sung in two voices: a solo asking the question (Where have been ye all the day, my Bonnie Laddie Hieland?) and the answer given in chorus by the crew (Way hay and away we go, Bonnie Laddie, Laddie Hieland). (from here)

Pete Seeger live

I
Was you ever in Quebec?
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
Stowing timber on the deck,
My bonny Highland laddie.
CHORUS
High-ho, and away we goes,
Bonny laddie, Highland laddie,
High-ho, and away we goes,
My bonny Highland laddie.

II
Was you ever in Aberdeen
Prettiest girls that you’ve ever seen(1).
III
Was you ever in Baltimore
Dancing on the sanded floor?
IV
Was you ever in Callao(2)
Where the girls are never slow?
V
Was you ever in Merasheen(3)
Where you stayed fast to tree(4)?

NOTES
1) scottish song and scottish beauty
2) large port of Peru
3) or Merrimashee: there is an island of Merasheen in Newfoundland (Canada), but more likely is Miramichi, a small town in Canada, located in the province of New Brunswick; Merrimashee is also a large river that gives its name to the bay where flows into the Gulf of San Lorenzo. Often the sailors crippled the names of the places that they  did not know.
Italo Ottonello found this note: Merasheen, located on the southwestern tip of Merasheen Island in Placentia Bay, was one of the larger and more prosperous communities resettled. Settled by English, Irish and Scottish in the late 18th century, the community eventually became predominantly Roman Catholic with families of Irish descent. In an ideal location to prosecute the inshore cod fishery along with the herring and lobster fisheries in the ice-free harbour during winter and spring, it appeared that Merasheen would not succumb to the same fate as other small resettled communities.
This is how Ottonello observes: “it seems to hint at a generic stormy place, rather than a particular site”.
4) or “you tie up to a tree”, “Where you make fast to a tree”;

The Kingston Trio.
The checked stanzas are an addition of the group

Was you ever in Quebec
Bonny Laddie, Hielan’ laddie
Stowing timber on the deck
Bonny Hielan’ Laddie

Was you ever in Dundee
There some pretty ships you’ll see
“This Boston town don’t suit my notion
And I’m bound for far away
So, I’ll pack my bag and sail the ocean
And I’ll see you on another day”
Was you ever in Mobile Bay
Loading cotton by the day
Was you ever ‘round Cape Horn
With the Lion and the Unicorn (1)
“One of these days and it won’t be long
And I’m bound for far away
You’ll take a look around and find me gone
And I’ll see you on another day”
Was you ever in Monterey
On that town with three months pay
Was you ever in Aberdeen
Prettiest girls that you’ve ever seen
“Farewell, dear friends, I’m leaving soon
And I’m bound for far away
We’ll meet again this coming June
And I’ll see you on another day”

NOTES
1) it is the royal coat of arms of the United Kingdom, the lion symbolizes England and the unicorn of Scotland;

Bonnie Highland Lassie

Nils Brown, Sean Dagher, Clayton Kennedy, John Giffen, David Gossage from Assassin’s Creed Rogue (sea shanty edition)

I
Were you ever in Roundstone Town (1)?
Bonnie Lassie Hieland Lassie,
Were you ever in Roundstone Town?
My bonnie hieland lassie-o
I was often in Roundstone Town
Drinking milk and eating flour
Although I am a young maid
Come lately from my mammy-o
II
Were you ever in Bombay
Bonnie Lassie Hieland Lassie,
Were you ever in Bombay
My bonnie hieland lassie-o
I was often in old Bombay
Drinking coffee and bohay (2)
Although I am a young maid
Come lately from my mammy-o

III
Were you ever in Quebec?
Bonnie Lassie Hieland Lassie,
Were you ever in Quebec?
My bonnie hieland lassie-o
I was often in Quebec
Stowing timber up on deck
Although I am a young maid
Come lately from my mammy-o
IV
Are you fit to sweep the floor?
Bonnie Lassie Hieland Lassie,
Are you fit to sweep the floor?
My bonnie hieland lassie-o
I am fit to sweep the floor
As the lock is for the door
Although I am a young maid
Come lately from my mammy-o

NOTE
1) Roundstone is a small fishing village near Connemara (County Galway)
2) Roundstone is a small fishing village near Connemara (County Galway)
2) bohea is a blend of black tea originating in the Wuyi mountain region of southeastern China; in practice it was once synonymous with tea

second part

LINK
http://ontanomagico.altervista.org/danze-scozzesi.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/bonnie-hieland-lassie.html
http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/wasuever.htm
http://cornemusique.free.fr/ukhighlandladdie.php
https://thesession.org/tunes/1524
http://www.rampantscotland.com/songs/blsongs_laddiegone.htm
http://compvid101.blogspot.it/2009/11/ktpete-seegertommy-makemludwig-von.html
http://cornemusique.free.fr/ukhighlandladdie.php
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/donkey-riding.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/folk/songs/donkeyriding.html
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=41062
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=54643
http://mysongbook.de/msb/songs/h/hielandl.html
http://www.tannahillweavers.com/lyrics/3031lyr5.htm

Boney was a warrior

Leggi in italiano

A sea shanty  originally born as a street ballad on the Napoleonic wars: Napoleon embodied the hopes for independence and the revolutionary demands of the European populations and the American colonies (Ireland in the lead); loved by the poorer layers as well as by intellectuals, it is the romantic hero par excellence, in its greatness and its fall. Nowadays, no one siding with Napoleon, but two centuries before, the spirits flared up for him!

Napoleone Bonaparte

SEA SHANTY VERSION

AL Lloyd wrote “A short drag shanty. These simple shanties were uses when only a few strong pulls were needed, as in boarding tacks and sheets and bunting up a sail in furling, etc. Boney was popular both in British and American vessels and in one American version Bonaparte is made to cross the Rocky Mountains.”: there are many text versions that all portray the victories and defeats of Napoleon in a few lines. The melody recalls the Breton maritime song “Jean François de Nantes” (with text in French)
C’est Jean François de Nantes OUE, OUE, OUE
Gabier sur la fringante Oh mes bouées Jean François
(here)
The adventure “Asterix in Corsica” pays homage to the shanty giving the name Boneywasawarriorwayayix to the chief of the resistance in Corsica

Paul Clayton


Boney(1) was a warrior,
Wey, hay, yah
A warrior, a tarrier(2),
John François (3)
Boney fought the Prussians,
Boney fought the Russians.
Boney went to Moscow,
across the ocean across the storm
Moscow was a-blazing
And Boney was a-raging.
Boney went to Elba
Boney he came back again.
Boney went to Waterloo
There he got his overthrow.
Boney he was sent away
Away in Saint Helena
Boney broke his heart and died
Away in Saint Helena

NOTES
1) Boney diminutive for Napoleon. The origin of the name is uncertain may mean “the Lion of Naples”, the first illustrious name was that of Cardinal Napoleone Orsini (at the time of Pope Boniface VIII)
2) terrier = mastiff
3) or Jonny Franswor! quote from the Breton maritime song Jean-François de Nantes

.. the punk-rock version with irony
Jack Shit in Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys, ANTI 2006

I
Boney(1) was a warrior
A warrior a terrier(2)
Boney beat the Prussians
The Austrians, the Russians
Boney went to school in France
He learned to make the Russians dance
Boney marched to Moscow
Across the Alps through ice and snow.
II
Boney was a Frenchy man
But Boney had to turn again
So he retreated back again
Moscow was in ruins then
He beat the Prussians squarely
He whacked the English nearly
He licked them in Trafalgar’s Bay(1)
Carried his main topm’st away
III
Boney went a cruising
Aboard the Billy Ruffian(2)
Boney went to Saint Helen’s
He never came back again
They sent him into exile
He died on Saint Helena’s Isle
Boney broke his heart and died
In Corsica he wished he stayed

NOTES
1) The battle of Trafalgar saw the British outnumbered but Nelson’s unconventional maneuver (a position called in military jargon to T) displaced the enemy line up arranged in a long line (the excellent study in see), the only blow inflicted by the French was the death of Nelson. England was an unequaled naval power for the French and the Spanish, so Napoleon renounced the invasion of Great Britain who became the mistress of the seas until the First World War
2) the ship that brought Napoleon into exile on Saint Helena was Bellerephon but the name was crippled in Billy Ruffian or Billy Ruff’n by his sailors not sufficiently well-known to appreciate the references to Greek mythology.

JOHN SHORT VERSION


The authors write in the short Sharp Shanties project notes “Short’s words were few—a mere two and a half verses—but sufficient to indicate that his, like every other version of the shanty, essentially followed Napoleon Bonaparte’s life story to a greater or lesser extent depending on the length of the job in hand (although, as Colcord points out, some versions introduced inventive variations on his life). We have simply borrowed some (of the true) verses from other versions—but by no means all that were available!.. Perhaps, we are again dealing with a shanty that changed its purpose—Jackie has chosen a slower rendition which may be more appropriate to the time. Sharp noted: “Mr. Short sang ‘Bonny’ not ’Boney’, which is the more usual pronunciation; while his rendering of ’John’ was something between the French ’Jean’ and the English ’John’.” (tratto da qui)

Jackie Oates from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2

Boney was a warrior,
Wey, hay, yah
A bulling fighting tarrier,
John François
First he fought the Russians
then he fought the Prussians.
Boney went to Moscow,
Moscow was on fire oh.
We licked him in Trafalgar’s
Billy ??
Boney went to Elba
he came back to make another show
Boney went to Waterloo
and than he maked his overthrow.
Boney went to a-cruising
Aboard the Billy Ruffian.
Boney went to Saint Helena
Boney he didn’t get back
Boney broke his heart and died
in Corsica he should stay
Boney was a general
A ruddy, snotty general.

An interesting version in the folk environment comes from Maddy Prior who sings it like a nursery rhyme with the cannon shots and the drum roll in the background
Maddy Prior from Ravenchild 1999


Boney was a warrior
Wey, hey, ah
A warrior, a terrier
John François
He planned a distant enterprise
A great and distant enterprise.
He is off to fight the Russian bear
He plans to drive him from his lair.
They left with banners all ablaze
The heads of Europe stood amazed.
He thinks he’ll beat the Russkies
And the bonny bunch of roses. (1)

NOTES
1) english soldiers

FRENCH SHANTY: Jean-François de Nantes

Les Naufragés live

C’est Jean-François de Nantes
Oué, oué, oué,
Gabier de la Fringante
Oh ! mes bouées, Jean-François
Débarque de la campagne
Fier comme un roi d’Espagne
En vrac dedans sa bourse
Il a vingt mois de course
Une montre, une chaîne
Qui vaut une baleine
Branl’bas chez son hôtesse
Carambole et largesses
La plus belle servante
L’emmène dans la soupente
En vida la bouteille
Tout son or appareille
Montre et chaîne s’envolent
Attrape la vérole
A l’hôpital de Nantes
Jean-François se lamente
Et les draps de sa couche
Déchire avec sa bouche
Il ferait de la peine
Même à son capitaine
Pauvr’ Jean-François de Nantes
Gabier de la Fringante.

LINK
https://anglofolksongs.wordpress.com/2015/08/17/boney-was-a-warrior/
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/boney.html http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/boney.html http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/boneywas.htm http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=84540 https://mudcat.org/detail_pf.cfm?messages__Message_ID=1560890
http://www.mustrad.org.uk/articles/french.htm

Windy old weather (Fishes Lamentation)

Leggi in italiano

The songs of the sea run from shore to shore, in particular “Windy old weather”, which according to Stan Hugill is a song by Scottish fishermen entitled “The Fish of the Sea”, also popular on the North-East coasts of the USA and Canada.
TITLES: Fishes Lamentation, Fish in the Sea, Haisboro Light Song (Up Jumped the Herring), The Boston Come-All-Ye, Blow Ye Winds Westerly, Windy old weather

A forebitter sung occasionally as a sea shanty, redating back to 1700 and probably coming from some broadsides with the title “The Fishes’ Lamentation“. “This song appears on some broadsides as The Fishes’ Lamentation and seems to have survived as a sailor’s chantey or fisherman’s song. Whall (1910), Colcord (1938) and Hugill (1964) include it in their chantey books. We also recorded it from Bob Roberts on board his Thames barge, The Cambria. It also appears in the Newfoundland and Nova Scotia collections of Ken Peacock and Helen Creighton“. (from here)

A fishing ship is practicing trawling on a full moon night, and as if by magic, the fishes start talking and warning sailors about the arrival of a storm. The fishes described are all belonging to the Atlantic Ocean and are quite commonly found in the English Channel and the North Sea (as well as in the Mediterranean Sea).
The variants can be grouped into two versions

FIRST VERSION  Blow the Man down tune

In this version the fish warn (or threaten) the fishermen on the arrival of the storm, urging them to head to the ground. The text is reported in “Oxford Book of Sea Songs”, Roy Palmer

Bob Roberts, from Windy old weather, 1958

David Tinervia · Nils Brown · Sean Dagher · Clayton Kennedy · David Gossage from Assassin’s Creed – Black Flag
“Windy Old Weather”

Dan Zanes &  Festival Five Folk from Sea Music 2003 a fresh version between country and old time.

I
As we were a-fishing
off Happisburgh(1) light
Shooting and hauling
and trawling all night,
In the windy old weather,
stormy old weather
When the wind blows
we all pull together
II
When up jumped a herring,
the queen (king) of the sea(2)
Says “Now, old skipper,
you cannot catch me,”
III
We sighted a Thresher(3)
-a-slashin’ his tail,
“Time now Old Skipper
to hoist up your sail.”
IV (4)
And up jumps a Slipsole
as strong as a horse(5),
Says now, “Old Skipper
you’re miles off course.”
V
Then along comes plaice
-who’s got spots on his side,
Says “Not much longer
-these seas you can ride.”
VI
Then up rears a conger(6)
-as long as a mile,
“Winds coming east’ly”
-he says with a smile.
VII
I think what these fishes
are sayin’ is right,
We’ll haul up our gear(7)
now an’ steer for the light.

NOTES
1) Happisburgh lighthouse (“Hazeboro”) is located in the English county of ​​Norfolk, it was built in 1790 and painted in white and red stripes; It is managed by a foundation that deals with the maintenance of more than one hundred lighthouses throughout Great Britain. 112 are the steps to reach the tower that still works without the help of man. The headlights at the beginning were two but the lower one was dismantled in 1883 due to coastal erosion. The two lighthouses marked a safe passage through the Haagborough Sands
2) In the Nordic countries herrings (fresh or better in brine or smoked) are served in all sauces from breakfast to dinner. “It is a fish that loves cold seas and lives in numerous herds.The herring fishing in the North Seas has been widespread since the Middle Ages.It is clearly facilitated by the quantity of fish and the limited range of their movements. trawlers and start the fishing season on May 1, to close it after two months.In all the countries of North America and Northern Europe this fishing has an almost sacred character, because it has been for years the providence of fishermen and is a real natural wealth In the Netherlands and Sweden, for example, the first day of herring fishing is organized in honor of the queen and is proclaimed a national holiday ” (from here)
3) Thresher shark thresher, thrasher, fox shark, alopius vulpinus.with a characteristic tail with a very elongated upper part (almost as much as the length of the body) that the animal uses as a whip to stun and overwhelm its prey. The name comes from Aristotle who considered this fish very clever, because he was skilled in escaping from the fishermen
4) the mackerel stanza is missing:
then along comes a mackerel with strips on his back
“Time now, old skipper, to shift yout main tack”
5) perhaps refers to halibut or halibut, of considerable size, has an oval and flattened body, similar to that of a large sole, with the eyes on the right side
6) the “conger” is a fish with an elongated body similar to eel but more robust, can reach a length of two or three meters and exceeds ten kilos of weight. It is a fundamental ingredient in the Livorno cacciucco dish!
7) another translation of the sentence could be: we recover our networks

SCOTTISH VERSION, Blaw the Wind Southerly tune

In this version the fish take possession of the ship, it seems the description of the ghost ship of “Davy Jone”, the evil spirit of the waters made so vividly in the movie “Pirates of the Caribbean”. An old Scottish melody accompanies a series of variations of the same song.
davy-jones

 

Quadriga Consort from Ship Ahoy, 2011 ♪ 

Michiel Schrey, Sean Dagher, Nils Brown from, Assasin’s Creed – Black Flag  titled “Fish in the sea” (stanzas from I to III and VIII)

I
Come all you young sailor men,
listen to me,
I’ll sing you a song
of the fish in the sea;
(Chorus)
And it’s…Windy weather, boys,
stormy weather, boys,
When the wind blows,
we’re all together, boys;
Blow ye winds westerly,
blow ye winds, blow,
Jolly sou’wester, boys,
steady she goes.
II
Up jumps the eel
with his slippery tail,
Climbs up aloft
and reefs the topsail.
III
Then up jumps the shark
with his nine rows of teeth,
Saying, “You eat the dough boys,
and I’ll eat the beef!”
IV
Up jumps the lobster
with his heavy claws,
Bites the main boom
right off by the jaws!
V
Up jumps the halibut,
lies flat on the deck
He says, ‘Mister Captain,
don’t step on my neck!’
VI
Up jumps the herring,
the king of the sea,
Saying, ‘All other fishes,
now you follow me!’
VII
Up jumps the codfish
with his chuckle-head (1),
He runs out up forward
and throws out the lead!
VIII
Up jumps the whale
the largest of all,
“If you want any wind,
well, I’ll blow ye a squall(2)!”

NOTES
1) literally “stupid head” is a common saying among the fishermen that the cod is stupid, because it does not recognize the bait and lets himself hoist docilely on board.
2) the fishermen were / are very superstitious men, in all latitudes, it takes little or nothing to attract misfortune in the sea, it is still a widespread belief that the devil or the evil spirit has power over the sea and storms.

AMERICAN VARIANT: THE BOSTON COME-ALL-YE

Of the second version, the best-known in America bears the title “The Boston as-all-ye” as collected by Joanna Colcord in her “Songs of American Sailormen” which she writes”There can be little doubt that [this] song, although it was sung throughout the merchant service, began life with the fishing fleet. We have the testimony of Kipling in Captains Courageous that it was a favourite within recent years of the Banks fishermen. It is known as The Fishes and also by its more American title of The Boston Come-All-Ye. The chorus finds its origin in a Scottish fishing song Blaw the Wind Southerly. A curious fact is that Captain Whall, a Scotchman himself, prints this song with an entirely different tune, and one that has no connection with the air of the Tyneside keelmen to which our own Gloucester fishermen sing it. The version given here was sung by Captain Frank Seeley.”

Peggy Seeger from  Whaler Out of New Bedford, 1962

I
Come all ye young sailormen
listen to me,
I’ll sing you a song
of the fish of the sea.
Then blow ye winds westerly,
westerly blow;
we’re bound to the southward,
so steady she goes
.
II
Oh, first came the whale,
he’s the biggest of all,
he clumb up aloft,
and let every sail fall.
III
Next came the mackerel
with his striped back,
he hauled aft the sheets
and boarded each tack(1).
IV
The porpoise(2) came next
with his little snout,
he grabbed the wheel,
calling “Ready? About!(3”
V
Then came the smelt(4),
the smallest of all,
he jumped to the poop
and sung out, “Topsail, haul!”
VI
The herring came saying,
“I’m king of the seas!
If you want any wind,
I’ll blow you a breeze.”
VII
Next came the cod
with his chucklehead (5),
he went to the main-chains
to heave to the lead.
VIII
Last come the flounder(6)
as flat as the ground,
saying, “Damn your eyes, chucklehead, mind how you sound”!

NOTES
1) In sailing, tack is a corner of a sail on the lower leading edge. Separately, tack describes which side of a sailing vessel the wind is coming from while under way—port or starboard. Tacking is the maneuver of turning between starboard and port tack by bringing the bow (the forward part of the boat) through the wind. (from Wiki)
2) porpoise is often considered as a small dolphin, has a distinctive rounded snout and has no beak like dolphins
3) it  is the helmsman shouting
4 ) smelt it (osmero) is a small fish that lives in the Channel and in the North Sea; its name derives from the fact that its flesh gives off an unpleasant odor
5) literally “stupid head” is a common saying among the fishermen that the cod is stupid, because it does not recognize the bait and lets himself hoist docilely on board.

Blow the Wind Southerly

LINK
http://www.pubblicitaitalia.com/ilpesce/2013/1/12262.html
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/fishes.html
http://moodpoint.com/lyrics/unknown/song_of_the_fishes.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/windy-old-weather.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/cyril.tawney/songs/windyoldweather.html
http://www.mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=149445
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=49498
https://thesession.org/tunes/11479
http://bestpossiblejob.blogspot.it/2008/09/come-all-ye-young-and-not-so-young.html

Blow away the morning dew sea shanty

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The ballad known as The Baffled Knight is reported in many text versions both in the eighteenth-century collections and in the Broadsides, as well as orally transmitted in Great Britain and America with the titles of “Blow (Clear) (Stroll) Away The Morning Dew” or “Blow Ye Winds in the Morning “: the male protagonist from time to time, is a gentleman, or a shepherd boy / peasant.

It could not miss the sea shanty version of this popular ballad in the text version best known as “The Shephers lad” (The Baffled knight Child’s # 112 version D), summarized in four stanzas

Nils Brown from Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (Sea Shanty Edition, Vol. 2)

I
There was a shepherd boy,
keeping sheep upon the hill,
he laid his bow and arrow down
for to take his fill
Blow ye wind in the morning
Blow ye winds aye-O.
Clear away the morning dew,
and blow boys blow.
II
He looked high and he looked low,
He gave an under look
And there he spied a pretty maid,
Swimming in a brook.
III
“Carry me home to my father’s gate
before you put me down
then you shall have my maidenhead
and twenty thousand pounds”
IV
And when she came to her father’s gate
So nimbly’s she whipt in;
and said ‘Pough! you’re a fool without,’
‘And I’m a maid within.”

JOHN SHORT VERSION

Another sea shanty version comes from the testimony of John Short: [Richard Runciman] Terry [in The Shanty Book Part II (J. Curwen & Sons Ltd., London. 1924)] comments that although Short started his Blow Away the Morning Dew with a verse of The Baffled Knight, he then digresses into floating verses. In fact three of the verses recorded and published by Terry, not one derive from The Baffled Knight! Short sang only the “flock of geese” verse to Sharp. Sharp did not publish the shanty, but other authors also give Baffled Knight versions. The other predominant version in collections is the American whaling version but still using the tune associated with The Baffled Knight and the chorus remaining close to the usual words. (from here)

Jim Mageean  from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 3

I
As I walked out one morning fair,
To view the meadows round,
it’s there I spied a maid fair
Come a-tripping on the ground.
Blow ye wind of morning
Blow ye winds aye-O.
Clear away the morning dew,
and blow boys blow.
II
My father has a milk white steed
He is in the stall
he will not eat it’s hay or corn
And it will not go at all
III
When we goes in a farm’s yard
see a flocking geese
we downed their eyes
and closed their eyes
and knocked five or six
IV
As I was a-walking
down by a river side,
it’s there I saw a lady fair
a-biding in the tide
V
As I was a-walking
out by the Moonlight,
it’s there I saw the yallow girl
and arise (then shown) so bright
VI
(?
into the field of?)
she says “Young man this is the place
for a man must play”
VII
As I was a-walking
down Paradise street
it’s there I met a (junky?) ghost
he says (“Where you stand to a treat”?)
ARCHIVE
TITLES: The Baffled Lover (knight),  Yonder comes a courteous knight, The Lady’s Policy, The Disappointed Lover, The (Bonny) Shepherd Lad (laddie), Blow away the morning dew, Blow Ye Winds in the Morning, Blow Ye Winds High-O, Clear Away the Morning Dew
Child #112 A (Tudor Ballad): yonder comes a courteous knight
Child #112 B
Child #112 D ( Cecil Sharp)
Child #112 D (Sheperd Lad)
Blow Away The Morning Dew (sea shanty)

LINK
http://terreceltiche.altervista.org/venticelli-e-pecore-nella-balladry-inglese/
https://mainlynorfolk.info/eliza.carthy/songs/thebaffledknight.html

http://www.musicnotes.net/SONGS/04-BLOWY.html
https://mainlynorfolk.info/nic.jones/songs/tenthousandmilesaway.html
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/BlowYeWinds/index.html

http://www.contemplator.com/child/morndew.html
https://mudcat.org//thread.cfm?threadid=64609

Rolling Sally Brown!

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In the sea shanties Sally Brown is the stereotype of the cheerful woman of the Caribbean seas, mulatta or creole, with which our sailor  tries to have a good time. Probably of Jamaican origin according to Stan Hugill, it was a popular song in the ports of the West Indies in the 1830s.
The textual and melodic variations are many.

ARCHIVE

WAY, HEY, ROLL AND GO (halyard shanty)
I ROLLED ALL NIGHT(capstan shanty)
ROLL BOYS ROLL
ROLL AND GO (John Short)

 

Roll, boys! Roll boys roll!

In this version the chorus doubles in two short sentences repeated by the crew in sequence after each line of the shantyman, here the work done is the loading of the ship
Roll, boys! Roll boys roll!
Way high, Miss Sally Brown!

Sean Dagher · Clayton Kennedy · Nils Brown from Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (Sea Shanty Edition, Vol. 2)


Oh! Sally Brown, she’s the gal for me boys
Roll, boys! Roll boys roll!
Oh! Sally Brown, she’s the gal for me boys
Way high, Miss Sally Brown!
 
(Oh way down South, way down South boys
Oh bound away, with a bone(1) in her mouth boys)
It’s down to Trinidad(2) to see Sally Brown boys,
She’s lovely on the foreyard, an’ she’s lovely down below boys,
She’s lovely ‘cause she loves me, that’s all I want to know boys,
Ol’ Captain Baker, how do you store yer cargo?
Some I stow for’ard (3) boys, an’ some I stow a’ter
Forty fathoms or more below boys,
There’s forty fathoms or more below boys,
Oh, way high ya, an’ up she rises,
Way high ya, and the blocks (4) is different sizes,
Oh, one more pull, don’t ya hear the mate a-bawlin?
Oh, one more pull, that’s the end of all the hawlin’
Sally Brown she’s the gal for me boys

NOTE
1) “Bone in her teeth” is the expression used for a bow wave, usually implying that the vessel in question was moving pretty fast. (see more here)
2) the southernmost of the Caribbean islands
3) the front and the back of a ship have a specific terminology
4) In sailing, a block is a single or multiple pulley

JOHN SHORT VERSION: ROLL AND GO

Not to be confused with “Spent My Money On Sally Brown”. Cecil Sharp ranks as capstan shanty.
In Short Sharp Shanties the project’s curators write”A
lthough, by Hugill’s time, ‘this shanty had only one theme – Sally and her daughter’, Short’s text is not on this ‘one theme’ – it is based around a less overtly sexual relationship.  Short gave Sharp more text than he actually published. It is always possible that Short may be self censoring – but there is no indication that this is the case, and from other textual evidence in Sharp’s field notebooks (e.g. see the notes to Hanging Johnny), rather the reverse. We have added just two floating verses at the end

Roger Watson from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2


Way, hey, roll and go

Oh Sally Brown, Oh Sally Brown
a long time ago
She promised for to marry me
Way, hey, roll and go
She promised for to marry me.
a long time ago

Oh Sally Brown is the girl for me
Oh Sally Brown has slighted me.
As I walked down one morning fair
it’s there I met her I do declare.
And I asked for to marry me
to marry me or let me be.
She spent me pay all around the town
she left me broken bad and dow.
Than I will pack me bags and go to sea
and I’ll leave my Sally on the quey

LINK
http://shantiesfromthesevenseas.blogspot.it/2012/03/104-105-sally-brown-series.html
http://www.brethrencoast.com/shanty/Roll_Boys.html
http://www.capstanbars.com/time_ashore/taio_lyrics/roll_boys_roll.htm

Sally Brown I rolled all night, capstan shanty

Leggi in italiano

In the sea shanties Sally Brown is the stereotype of the cheerful woman of the Caribbean seas, mulatta or creole, with which our sailor  tries to have a good time. Probably of Jamaican origin according to Stan Hugill, it was a popular song in the ports of the West Indies in the 1830s.
The textual and melodic variations are many.

ARCHIVE

WAY, HEY, ROLL AND GO (halyard shanty)
I ROLLED ALL NIGHT(capstan shanty)
ROLL BOYS ROLL
ROLL AND GO (John Short)

SECOND VERSION: I ROLLED ALL NIGHT

In this version the chorus is developed on several lines and the song is classified, also with the title of “Roll and Go”, in the capstan shanty that is the songs performed during the lifting of the anchor.

Planxty live (which not surprisingly chuckle, given the name of the song)

Irish Descendants from Encore: Best of the Irish Descendants


Shipped on board a Liverpool liner,
CHORUS
Way hey roll(1) on board;
Well, I rolled all night
and I rolled all day,
I’m gonna spend my money with (on)
Sally Brown.

Miss Sally Brown is a fine young lady,
She’s tall and she’s dark(2) and she’s not too shady
Her mother doesn’t like the tarry(3) sailor,
She wants her to marry the one-legged captain
Sally wouldn’t marry me so I shipped across the water
And now I am courting Sally’s daughter
I shipped off board a Liverpool liner

NOTE
1) the term is generically used by sailors to say many things, in this context for example could mean “sail”.
2) it could refer to the color of the hair rather than the skin, even if in other versions Sally is identified as creole or mulatto. The term “Creole” can be understood in two exceptions: from the Spanish “crillo”, which originally referred to the first generation born in the “New World”, sons of settlers from Europe (Spain or France) and black slaves. The most common meaning is that which refers to all the black half-bloods of Jamaica from the color of the skin that goes from cream to brown and up to black-blue. In the nineteenth century with this term was also indicated a small elite urban society of light skin in Louisiana (resident mostly in New Orleans) result of crossings between some beautiful black slaves and white landowners who took them as lovers.
3) tarry is a derogatory term to distinguish the typical sailor. More generally Jack Tar is the term commonly used to refer to a sailor of merchant ships or the Royal Navy. Probably the term was coined in 1600, alluding to the tar with which the sailors waterproofed their work clothes.

Teddy Thompson from Rogue’s Gallery: Pirate   Ballads, Sea Songs, and Chanteys,  ANTI 2006 in a more meditative and melancholic version

Sally Brown she’s a nice young lady,
CHORUS
Way, hay, we roll an’ go.
We roll all night
And we roll all day
Spend my money on Sally Brown.

Shipped on board off a Liverpool liner
Mother doesn’t like a tarry sailor
She wants her to marry a one legged captain
Sally Brown she’s a bright lady
She drinks stock rum
And she chews tobacco

LINK
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/sally_brown/
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=148935
http://pancocojams.blogspot.it/2012/04/sally-brown-sally-sue-brown-sea-shanty.html
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/sallyb.html
http://www.brethrencoast.com/shanty/Roll_Boys.html

Sally Brown roll and go

Leggi in italiano

In the sea shanties Sally Brown is the stereotype of the cheerful woman of the Caribbean seas, mulatta or creole, with which our sailor  tries to have a good time.

Probably of Jamaican origin according to Stan Hugill, it was a popular song in the ports of the West Indies in the 1830s.
The textual and melodic variations are many.

FIRST VERSION: WAY, HEY, ROLL AND GO

In this version the chorus is split into two short sentences repeated by the crew in sequence, after each verse of the shantyman, and is more properly a halyard shanty.

Paul Clayton “Sally Brown” from LP. “Sailing And Whaling Songs Of The 19th Century” 1954

Oh Sally Brown she’s a creole(2) lady,
Way, hey, roll(1) and go
Sally Brown’s a gay old lady,
spend my money on (with)(3) Sally Brown.
Sally Brown she has a daughter,
Sent me sailin’ ‘cross the water.
Oh seven long years I courted Sally,
Then she said she would not marry.
She wouldn’t have no tarry (4) sailor,
Wouldn’t have no greasy whaler.
Sally Brown I’m bound to leave you,
Sally Brown I’ll not deceive you.
Sally Brown she took a notion (5),
Sent me sailin’ ‘cross the ocean.

NOTE
1)The term “Creole” can be understood in two exceptions: from the Spanish “crillo”, which originally referred to the first generation born in the “New World”, sons of settlers from Europe (Spain or France) and black slaves. The most common meaning is that which refers to all the black half-bloods of Jamaica from the color of the skin that goes from cream to brown and up to black-blue. In the nineteenth century with this term was also indicated a small elite urban society of light skin in Louisiana (resident mostly in New Orleans) result of crossings between some beautiful black slaves and white landowners who took them as lovers.
2) the term is generically used by sailors to say many things, in this context for example could mean “sail”.
3) change the article immediately makes the difference “I spend the money on” Sally implies that I pay for his sexual performance “I spend the money with” Sally is more bland ..
4) tarry is a derogatory term to distinguish the typical sailor. More generally Jack Tar is the term commonly used to refer to a sailor of merchant ships or the Royal Navy. Probably the term was coined in 1600, alluding to the tar with which the sailors waterproofed their work clothes.
5) the lady to get rid of the sailor (left without money) sends him back to work, probably on a whaler

Free Women of Color with their Children and Servants in a Landscape, Agostino Brunias

Jim Horne


I shipped on board of a Liverpool liner,
Way, hey, roll and go
bunked long side the 49 ers
spend my money on Sally Brown.
O, Sally Brown, of New York City(1),
O, Sally Brown you’re very pretty
O, Sally Brown’s a bright mulatter,
She drinks rum and chews tobaccer.
O, Sally Brown’shes a Creole lady, (2)
She’s the mother of a yellow baby(3).
Sally’s teeth are white and pearly,
Her eyes are blue, her hair is curly.
Seven long years I courted Sally,
Sweetest girl in all the valley.
Seven long years she wouldn’t marry,
And I no longer cared to tarry.
So I courted her only daughter,
For her I sail upon the water.
Now my troubles are all over,
Sally’s married to a dirty soldier

NOTE
1) the shanty is also widespread on the packet ships in Liverpool-New York routes, so Sally lives in the city of New York
2)in this description the Creole girl is a mulatto from the skin in the clearest gradation, with blue eyes and wavy hair
3) or from the skin with a caramel tinge

ARCHIVE

WAY, HEY, ROLL AND GO (halyard shanty)
I ROLLED ALL NIGHT(capstan shanty)
ROLL BOYS ROLL
ROLL AND GO (John Short)

LINKS
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/sally_brown/
http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=148935
http://pancocojams.blogspot.it/2012/04/sally-brown-sally-sue-brown-sea-shanty.html
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/sallyb.html
http://www.brethrencoast.com/shanty/Roll_Boys.html

Bold Riley oh

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A sea shanty collected by A.L. Lloyd who recordered for his album “A Sailor’s Garland” (1962): “Shellbacks manning the windjammers of the West Indies trade brought back to Liverpool and Bristol more than sugar, bananas and rum; they also brought back many songs. Some of these they kept to themselves, some they handed on to vessels sailing in other waters. Thus the fine hexatonic tune of Bold Riley O, which started life as a Tobago reel, was sung at the halyards of many an East Indiaman bound for Bombay and the Bengal ports.”
Part of the song was found in the Georgia Sea Islands where a work song entitled “Riley” was collected (Roud 18160, also inThe Friends of Old Time Music: The Folk Arrival 1961-1965 – Smithsonian Folkways anthology 2006), but it is only after Lloyd’s recording that the song knew a certain popularity in the folk circuits during the 70s.

A.L. Loyd from “A Sailor’s Garland” 1962

Clayton Kennedy from Assassin’s Creed Rogue

The folk versions prefer a slower melody that emphasizes the farewell / lament mood
Johnny Collins & Jim Mageean from Shanties and Sea Songs (1996) who sing a more extensive version of the one reported

Kate Rusby from Hourglass 1997  who learned the song from Jim Mageean’s version

The Wailin’ Jennys live 2014 (also in  Live at the Mauch Chunk Opera House, 2009) except first stanza


Chorus :
Goodbye, my darling,
goodbye, my dear O,

Bold Riley O, boom-a-lay (1)
Goodbye, my sweetheart(2),
goodbye, my dear O,

Bold Riley O, gone away
I
The anchor is weighed and the rags we’ve all set,
Bold Riley O, boom-a-lay
Them Liverpool judies we’ll never forget,
Bold Riley O, (has) gone away
 
II
The rain it is raining all the day long,
The northerly winds they blow so strong,
III
Cheer up, Mary Ellen (3), and don’t look so glum,
On Whitestocking Day (4) you’ll be drinking (hot) rum.
IV
We’re outward bound for the Bengal Bay (5)
Get bending, my lads, it’s a hell of a way.

NOTES
1) Nautical term in the folk versions is replaced by “Bold Riley”
2) or my darling
3) Kate Rusby sings “Well come on, Mary”
4) also quoted in Rio Grande (Boung for the Rio Grande) the Whitestocking Day was the day when the wives (mothers) of the sailors dressed well to go and collect the advance on the salary accrued by the sailor, the promissory note (advance note) it was only payable if the sailor had actually embarked the month before. The Allotment of Pay was instead issued by the Admiralty (since the Napoleonic wars) to pay in the due month, part of the salary of the sailor to his wife or to the boarding master. A practice spread also at the merchant marine that became mandatory with the Merchant Shipping Acts in the late 1800s. White cotton stockings were synonymous with elegance.
5) typhoons that are formed in the Bengal Bay have two seasonal peaks one in April and the other in October-November in conjunction with the monsoon winds

LINK
https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/boldriley.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/bold-riley.html

https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=50732
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=17866

Blow the man down sea shanty

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“Blow  the man down”, that is to knock a man down or strike with a fist, belaying pin or capstan bar, is a popular sea shanty.

There are a great variety of texts of this halyard shanty, with the same melody, and after the version for the cartoon character “Popeye” it has also become a song for children!

Billy Costello the voice of the first Popeye

According to Stan Hugill “the shanty was an old Negro song Knock A Man Down. This song, a not so musical version of the later Blow The Man Down, was taken and used by the hoosiers of Mobile Bay, and at a later date carried by white seamen of the Packet Ships.

Knock a man down

The original version probably comes from African-American workers, but ended up in the repertoire of liners along the transatlantic route. In his video Ranzo combines the melody of Stan Hugill with that of John Short: in the first text the shantyman would prefer to be on the ground, to enjoy themselves with drinks and girls.
Hulton Clint

There are three main themes.

FIRST VERSION: prime seamen onboard a Black Ball

The oldest version is the one in which the novice sailors are soon aware of the harsh and violent climate on the Black Baller.

black-ball
In addition to the flag the Black Ball of the Black Ball Line was drawn on the fore-topsail

As Hugill says ” Chief Mates in Western Ocean ships were known as “blowers”, second mates as “strikers”, and third mates as “greasers.”
Packets and Blowers
A Packet ship was one which had a contract to carry packets (formerly “paquettes”) of mail. The earliest and most famous transatlantic packet route was the Liverpool service, started in 1816 by the Black Ball Line, with regular departures from New York on the 1st and 16th of every month without fail, regardless of weather or other inconveniences. These early ships of 300 to 500 tons averaged 23 days for the eastward voyage and 40 days to return westward. Cabin passengers were usually gentlefolk of good breeding, who expected to find courtesy and politeness in the captains with whom they sailed. Packet captains were remarkable men, hearty, bluff, and jovial, but never coarse, always a gentleman.
The mates, on the other hand, had no social duties to distract their attention, and devoted their time and energies to extracting the very maximum of performance from both their vessel and its crew, so it is no surprise that it was on board the Black Ball liners that “belaying pin soup” and “handspike hash” first became familiar items of the shipboard regime. A hard breed of sailor was required to maintain the strict schedules whatever the weather, and it took an even harder breed of mate to keep this rough and ready bunch in some sort of order. If all else failed then then Rule of the Fist applied: to “blow a man down” was to knock him down with any means available – fist, belaying pin, or capstan bar being the weapons most often preferred. (from here)

“Capstan Bars” di David Bone 1932
CHORUS
oh! Blow the man down, bullies.
Blow the man down W-ay! hey?
Blow the man down!
Blow the man down bullies.
Blow him right down, give us the time and we’ll blow the man down!
Come all ye young fellers that follows the sea.
W-ay! hey? Blow the man down!
I’ll sing ye a song if ye’ll listen t’ me.
Give us the time an’ we’ll blow the man down!
‘Twas in a Black Baller I first served my time.
and in a Black Baller I wasted my prime.
‘Tis when a Black Baller’s preparin’ for sea.
Th’sights in th’ fo’ cas’le(1) is funny t’ see
Wi’ sodgers (2) an’ tailors an’ dutchmen an’ all,
As ships for prime seamen(3) aboard th’ Black Ball.
But when th’ Black Baller gets o’ th’ land
it’s then as ye’ll hear th’ sharp word o’ command.
oh! it’s muster ye sodgers an’ tailors an’ sich.
an’ hear ye’re name called by a son of a bitch.
it’s “fore-topsail halyards”(4), th’ Mate(5) he will roar.
“oh, lay along smartly you son of a whore”.
oh, lay along smartly each lousy recroot.
Wor it’s lifted ye’ll be wi’ th’ toe of a boot.

NOTES
1 )the forward part of a ship below the deck, traditionally used as the crew’s living quarters.
2) sodger vvariant of soldier is used as an insult in the sense of ambush, slacker, one who always tries to escape from work, that when there is work, goes away or retires
3) the inexperienced and the novices are good only for the easy maneuvers
4) fore-topsail halyards= In sailing, a halyard or halliard is a line (rope) that is used to hoist a ladder, sail, flag or yard; fore-topsai  the sail above the foresail set on the fore-topmast
5) Mate= first officer

The Seekers


I
Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea
To me weigh hey blow the man down
And pray pay attention and listen to me
Give me some time to blow the man down
I’m a deep water sailor just in from Hong Kong
If you’ll give me some rum I’ll sing you a song-
II
T’was on a Black Baller I first spent my time
And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime
T’is when a Black Baller’s preparing for sea
You’d split your sides laughing at the sights that you see
III
With the tinkers and tailors and soldiers and all
That ship for prime seamen onboard a Black Ball
T’is when a Black Baller is clear of the land
Our boatswain then gives us the word of command
IV
“Lay aft” is the cry “to the break of the poop
Or I’ll help you along with the toe of my boot”
T’is larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl
For Kicking Jack Williams commands the Black Ball
Aye first it’s a fist and then it’s a pall
When you ship as a sailor aboard the Black Ball

SECOND  VERSION: I’m a `Flying Fish’ sailor

The second version tells the story of a “flying-fish sailor” just landed in Liverpool from Hong Kong, swapped by a policeman for a “blackballer”. The sailor reacts by throwing the policeman on the ground with a sting and obviously ends up in jail for a few months.

Stan Hugill& Pusser’s Rum from Sailing Songs  (1990)


I’ll sing you a song if you give some gin
To me wey-hey, blow the man down
?? down to the pin
Gimme some time to blow the man down
As I was rolling down Paradise street(1)
a big irish scuffer boy (2) I chanced for to meet,
Says he, “You’re a Blackballer from the cut of your hair(3);
you’re a Blackballer by the clothes that you wear.
“You’ve sailed in a packet that flies the Black Ball,
You’ve robbed some poor Dutchman of boots, clothes and all.”
“O policeman, policeman, you do me great wrong;
I’m a `Flying Fish’ sailor(4) just home from Hongkong!”
So I stove in his face and I smashed in his jaw.
Says he, “Oh young feller, you’re breaking the law!”
They gave me six months in Liverpool town
For bootin’ and a-kickin’ and a-blowing him down.
We’re a Liverpool ship with a Liverpool crew
A Liverpool mate(5) and a Scouse(6) skipper too
We’re Liverpool born and we’re Liverpool bred
Thick in the arm, boys, and thick in the head
Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
With a crew of hard cases(7) from Liverpool town

NOTES
1) once the fun way for sailors, the 19th century Paradise street left today the place for Liverpool One,
2 sassy policeman or big Irish copper: scuffer is a typical nineteenth-century term for policeman
3) all the Black Baller line sailors wore their hair cut short
4) According to Hugill a flying-fish sailor is a sailor ” who preferred the lands of the East and the warmth of the Trade Winds to the cold and misery of the Western Ocean
5) first mate
6) scouse is a term used by the people of Liverpool which is also the name given to the local dialect. Originally born from the habits of the sailors of Liverpool to eat the stew of lamb and vegetables probably derived from the Norwegian “skause”. It refers to the English spoken language typical of Irish immigrants
7) hard cases: a tough or intractable person, a person who is hard to get along with.

JOHN SHORT VERSION: Knock a man down

The shantyman John Short sings a very personal version compared to the “Blow the man down” reported in the shanties archives, in the arrangement for the Short Sharp Shanties the authors write ” ” Fox-Smith, Colcord and Doeflinger all comment on the number of different texts which the shanty carried.  Hugill gives six different sets of words and Short’s words are not really related to any of them – so we have added ‘general’ verses from other versions.  Specifically, we’ve added the ‘Market Street’, ‘spat in his face’ and ‘rags are all gone’ verses – the rest are Short’s.”
Sam Lee from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2 


As I was a-walking down Market street
way ay knock a man down, 
a bully old watchman I chanced for to meet
O give me some time to knock a man down.
Chorus

Knock a man down, kick a man down ;
way ay knock a man down,
knock a man down
right down to the ground,
O give me some time to knock a man down.

The watchman’s dog stood ten feet high (1),
The watchman’s dog stood ten feet high.
So I spat in his face by gave him good jaw
and says he “me young  you’re breaking the law!”
[chorus]
I wish I was in London Town.
It’s there we’d make them girls fly round.
She is a lively ship and a lively crew.
O we are the boys to put her through
[chorus]
The rags are all gone and (?the chains they are jam?)
and the skipper he says  (? “If the weather be high”?)
[chorus]

NOTES
A transcription still incomplete because I can not understand the pronunciation of the final verses
1) it was not unusual that the watchmen since the Middle Ages were accompanied with a dog, as can be seen from many vintage illustrations

THIRD VERSION: Beware of the drink whenever it’s free

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The most widespread version is about an unfortunate meeting in Paradise street with a young “damself” sometimes compared to a ship in which, metaphorically, the sailor would want to embark.
The awakening is bitter, because he was shanghaiing on a Yankee ship. (see more)

the Haunted Saloon

I’ll sing you a song, a good song of the sea
Way – hey, blow the man down.
I trust that you’ll join in the chorus with me; Give me some time to blow the man down.
Chorus
Blow the man down, bully, blow the man down; Way – hey, blow the man down.
Blow the man down, boys, from Liverpool town; 
Give me some time to blow the man down.

As I was a-walking down Paradise street
A handsome young damsel I happened to meet
At the pub down on Lime street I then went astray
I drank enough stout for to fill Galway Bay
The next I remember I woke in the dawn
On a tall Yankee clipper that was bound round Cape Horn.
Come all ye young fellows who follow the sea
Beware of the drink whenever it’s free

Woody Guthrie from Songs of American Sailormen, 1988 version collected by Joanna Colcord


As I was out walkin’ down Paradise street(1),
To me way, hey, blow the man down!
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet,
Give me some time to blow the man down!

She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow,
So I took in all sail and cried “way enough now”(2)
I hailed her in English, she answered me clear
“I’m from the Black Arrow bound to the Shakespeare”
So I tailed her my flipper(3) and took her in tow
And yard-arm to yard-arm(4), away we did go
But as we were a-going she said unto me
“There’s a spankin’ full rigger(5) just ready for sea”
That spankin’ full rigger to New York was bound
She was very well mannered and very well found
But as soon as that packet was clear of the bar(6)
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar
As soon as that packet was out on the sea
‘Twas devilish hard treatment of every degree
So I give you fair warning before we belay
Don’t never take heed of what pretty girls say.

NOTES
1) once the fun way for sailors, the 19th century Paradise street left today the place for Liverpool One,
2) way enough now from Weigh enough – Take the stroke, put the blades on the water and relax. “Weigh enough” (or “Wain…’nuff”, or “Way enough”) (USA) The command to stop what ever the rower is doing, whether it be walking with the boat overhead or rowing.
3) flipper= hand
4) yard-arm to yard-arm= Very close to each other.
5) rigger=packet
6) The bar of Mersey river.

Allen Robertson for the cartoon version of Jack Sparrow from Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean: Swashbuckling Sea Songs 2007

I
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
Way aye blow the man down
Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow him away
Give me some time to blow the man down!
II
As I was a walking down Paradise Street
A pretty young damsel I chanced for to meet.
III
So I tailed her my flipper and took her in tow
And yardarm to yardarm away we did go.
IV
But as we were going she said unto me
There’s a spanking full-rigger just ready for sea.
V
So just as that lass I reached not to far
The mate knocked me down with the end of a spar.
VI
It’s starboard and larboard on deck you will sprawl
For Captain Jack Sparrow commands the Black Pearl
VII
So I was shangaiing aboard this old ship
she took off me money and gave me to sleep
VIII
So I give you fair warning before we belay,
Don’t ever take head of what pretty girls say.

CARRIBEAN VERSIONS

Two variants from the Nevis and Carriacou islands so Ranzo writes in the notes: “The variation from Nevis, with its repeated phrase “in the hold below”, suggests the song was once associated with stevedores loading cargo. This is fascinating, because it is consistent with (my reading of the) evidence that “Blow the Man Down” was initially a stevedore song, in which the act of blowing “the man down” was perhaps a metaphor for stowing each piece of cargo. Also, the many variations, “hit,” “knock,” “kick,” “blow” are consistent with other historical data that “knock a man down” was an/the early form. The variation was sung by Roy Gumbs and party of Nevis in 1962. Lomax recorded it, and Abrahams transcribed it in his 1974 book. The second variation is from Carriacou. It refers to a vessel named _Cariso_. It was sung by Daniel Aikens and chorus in 1962.”

LINK
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/blowdown.html
http://www.jsward.com/shanty/btmd/index.html
http://shanty.rendance.org/lyrics/showlyric.php/blowdown
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/blow-the-man-down.html
http://www.shanty.org.uk/archive_songs/flying-fish-sailor.html http://www.acousticmusicarchive.com/blow-the-man-down-chords-lyrics
http://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/blowthemandown.htm
http://www.umbermusic.co.uk/SSSnotes.htm