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As I was a walking down Paradise Street (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, so was the harsh discipline on sailing ships especially on The Black Ball Line. There are a great variety of texts of this popular halyard shanty,

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

The most widespread version is about an unfortunate meeting in Paradise street with a young “damsell” 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)

Brian of Holcombe signals me this version “This halyard shanty was sung in the 1950s in classical style with alternate solo (by Harry H. Corbett) and chorus lines on A.L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl’s LPs. Hoisting the yards was often a long, heavy job. Accordingly, the halyard shanties were likely to be long, rambling songs. They were usually made up of alternate solo and chorus lines. The crew would rest on the rope while the shantyman sang his solo line and then take a good pull (sometimes two) as they bawled the refrain. Blow the Man Down is a classical halyard shanty that originated in the ships of the Black Ball Line.

Harry H. Corbett – Blow the Man Down The Singing Sailor 1954/5

As I was a-walkin’ down Paradise Street
Timme way, hay, blow the man down!
A flash looking packet I chanced for to meet
Oh, gi’ me some time to blow the man down!
Chorus (after each verse):
Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
Timme way, hay, blow the man down!
Blow him right back to Liverpool town
Oh, gi’ me some time to blow the man down!


She was bowlin’ along with the wind blowin’ free
She clewed up her courses an’ waited for me
She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow
So I hold in all sailing, cryin’, well enough now
Where she did hail from I really can’t tell
But I gave her my flipper, we’re both bound for hell
Come all you young sailors, take warning by me
Never take a young Liverpool gal on your knee

Brian di Holcombe from “SEA SHANTY SEASON

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.

LINK
https://www.exmouthshantymen.com/songbook.php?id=58
https://mainlynorfolk.info/lloyd/songs/blowthemandown.html
http://thejovialcrew.com/?page_id=2525

Pubblicato da Cattia Salto

folklorista delle Terre Celtiche

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