The Dreadnought shanty

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A sea song about The Dreadnought an American packet ship launched in 1853, flagship of the “Red Cross Line”, dubbed “The Wild Boat of the Atlantic”: competing companies like the Swallow Tail and the Black Ball never succeeded in exceed its performance. Yet the era of the great sailing ships was over and her life seems to be the swan song.

A red cross, the company’s logo, was drawn on her fore-topsail, and she could carry up to 200 passengers.

Montague Dawson (1890–1973) The Red Cross – ‘Dreadnought

The Dreadnought sailed into the Atlantic, mostly on the New York-Liverpoo route, to her sinking to the infamous Cape Horn after she set sail from Liverpool to San Francisco (1869).

Derry Down, Down, Derry Down

According to Stan Hugill this song was a forebitter sung on the melody known as “La Pique” or “The Flash Frigate” (which recalls “Villikins and His Dinah”). Even Kipling in his book “Captains Courageous” has it sing by fishermen on the Banks of Newfoundland.
In the capstan shanty version a longer refrain is added, sung in chorus
Bound away! Bound away! 
where the wide [wild] waters flow,
Bound away to the west’ard
in the Dreadnaught we’ll go!

The melody with which the shanty is associated is not univocal, since the “The Dom Pedro” tune is also used. The forebitter version bears the refrain of a single verse, a nonsense phrase sometimes used in the most ancient ballads. The melody is sad, looking like a lament to the memory of a famous wrecked ship; while praising her merits it’s a farewell at the time of sailing ships, now outclassed by steam ships.

Ewan MacColl

Iggy Pop & Elegant Too  from “Son Of Rogues Gallery ‘Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys” ANTI 2013


The Dreadnoughts,
the Vancouver band took its name not from the nineteenth-century packet ship but from an innovative battle ship called “armored monocaliber” developed since the early twentieth century (Dreadnought, from English “I fear nothing”)
(stanzas I, III, IV, V)

full version (here)
I
There’s a flash packet,
a flash packet of fame,
She hails to (from) New York
and the Dreadnought’s her name;
She’s bound to the westward
where the strong winds blow,
Bound away in the Dreadnought,
to the westward we go.
Derry down, down, down derry down.
II
Now, the Dreadnought
she lies in the river Mercey,
Waiting for the Independence
to tow her to sea;
Out around the Rock Light
where the salt tides do flow,
Bound away to to the westward
in the Dreadnought, we’ll go.
III (1)
(O, the Dreadnought’s a-howlin’
down the wild Irish Sea,
Her passengers merry,
with hearts full of glee,)
As sailors like lions
walk the decks to and fro,
She’s the Liverpool packet,
O Lord, let her go!
 

IV (2)
O, the Dreadnought’s a-sailin’
the Atlantic so wide,
While the high roaring seas
roll along her black sides,
(With her sails tightly set
for the Red Cross to show,
She’s the Liverpool packet,
O Lord, let her go!)
V
Now, a health to the Dreadnought,
to all her brave crew,
To bold Captain Samuel (3),
his officers, too,
Talk about your flash packets,
Swallowtail and Black Ball (4),
The Dreadnaught’s the flier
that outsails them all.

NOTES
1)  TheDreadnoughts sings:
With the gale at her back/ What a sight does she make
A skippin’ so merry/With the west in her wake
2)  the Dreadnoughts sings:
With her sails tight as wires/And the Black Flag to show
All away to the Dreadnought/To the westward we’ll go
3) her first captain was called Samuel Samuels,, “In his own words: “Swearing, which appeared to me so essential in the make-up of an officer, I found degrading in a gentleman and I prohibited its indulgence. I also insisted that the crew should be justly treated by the officers.” He seems to have known when to turn a blind eye to the particular brand of justice which had to be handed out to over-troublesome “packet rats” by his mates. To the passengers and his officers he was the model of the young clipper captain, respected, well-groomed and quietly spoken, but always perfectly self-confident and calm in an emergency. The Dreadnought undoubtedly owed her conspicuous success at a difficult time to the personality of her master.(from here) the Dreadnoughts sings ” To bold captain Willy”
4) companies competing in the “Red Cross Line”

STAN HUGILL VERSION

Hulton Clint sings it on the tune “Dom Pedro.” It is the most extensive version of the previous one, with some variations

I
There’s a saucy wild packet,
a packet of fame;
She belongs to New York,
and the Dreadnought’s her name;
She is bound to the westward
where the wide water flow;
Bound away to the west’ard
in the Dreadnought we’ll go.
Chorus
Derry down, down, down derry down
II
The time of her sailing
is now drawing nigh;
Farewell, pretty maids,
we must bid you good-bye;
Farewell to old England
and all we hold dear,
Bound away in the Dreadnought,
to the west’ard we’ll steer.
III
And now we are hauling
out of Waterlock dock,
Where the boys and the girls
on the pierheads they do flock;
They will give us their cheers
as their tears they do flow,
Saying, “God bless the Dreadnought, where’er she may go!”
IV
Now, the Dreadnought she lies
in the Mersey so free,
Waiting for the Independence
to tow her to sea,
For to around that rock light
where the Mersey does flow,
Bound away in the Dreadnought,
where’er we’ll go.
V
Now the Dreadnaught’s a-howling
down the wild Irish Sea,
Where the passengers are merry,
their hearts full of glee,
her sailors like tigers
walk the decks to and fro,
Bound away in the Dreadnought,
to the west’ard we’ll go
VI
Now, the Dreadnought’s
a-sailing the Atlantic so wide,
While the high rolling seas
roll along her black sides,
With her topsails set taut
for the Red Cross to show
Bound away in the Dreadnought,
to the west’ard we’ll go
 

VII
Now the Dreadnought’s has reached the banks of Newfoundland,
Where the water’s so green
and the bottom so sand;
Where the fish in the waves
They swim to and fro,
Bound away in the Dreadnought,
with the ice and the snow
VIII
Now the Dreadnought’s lying
on the long .. shore
??
as we have done before
? your main topsail ?
Bound away in the Dreadnought,
to the west’ard we’ll go
IX
And now we arrived
in New York once more,
We’ll go to the land we adore,
we call for strong liquors
and merry we’ll be
Drink to the health to the Dreadnought, where’er she may be.
X
So here’s health to the Dreadnought
and all her brave crew;
To bold Captain Samuels
and his officers too.
Talk about your flash packets, Swallowtail and Black Ball,
but the Dreadnought’s
he clipper to beat one and all
XI
Now my story is finish
and my tale it is told
forgive me, old shipmates,
if you think that I’m bold;
for this song was composed
while the watch was below
and at the health
in the Dreadnought we’ll go.

LINK
http://www.fresnostate.edu/folklore/ballads/LD13.html
http://www.shippingwondersoftheworld.com/dreadnought.html
http://www.traditionalmusic.co.uk/sea-shanty/Dreadnought.htm
http://www.contemplator.com/sea/dread.html
http://www.musicanet.org/robokopp/shanty/isingofa.htm
http://czteryrefy.pl/data/dskgrtx/teksty/eteksty/eng_flashfrigate.html
http://www.boundingmain.com/lyrics/dreadnaught.htm
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=62355
https://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=85200

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