Archive for the 'Seafaring' Category



Don’t Forget Your Old Shipmate


h1 Thursday, November 1st, 2018

Lyrics:
Don’t forget yer old shipmate

Safe and sound at home again, let the waters roar, Jack.
Safe and sound at home again, let the waters roar, Jack.

Chorus
Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

Since we sailed from Plymouth Sound, four years gone, or nigh, Jack.
Was there ever chummies, now, such as you and I, Jack?

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

We have worked the self-same gun, quarterdeck division.
Sponger I and loader you, through the whole commission.

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

Oftentimes have we laid out, toil nor danger fearing,
Tugging out the flapping sail to the weather earing.

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

When the middle watch was on, and the time went slow, boy,
Who could choose a rousing stave, who like Jack or Joe, boy?

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

There she swings, an empty hulk, not a soul below now.
Number seven starboard mess misses Jack and Joe now.

Long we’ve tossed on the rolling main, now we’re safe ashore, Jack.
Don’t forget yer old shipmate, faldee raldee raldee raldee rye-eye-doe!

But the best of friends must part, fair or foul the weather.
Hand yer flipper for a shake, now a drink together.

Leaving of Liverpool


h1 Thursday, February 1st, 2018

Camilla and I will be sailing from Valparaíso, Chile to Buenos Aires this month too. I thought another English sea chantey from the 1860’s was in order. Why, because I love them!

I will be giving lectures on board the Silver Sea Muse. One of those lectures will be about sea chanteys.

Here’s a brief description of the trip from the Silver Sea website:

Voyage to the soaring mountain peaks, and slowly scraping glaciers, of Chile. See poetic Valparaiso sprawling bright colors, colonial architecture and history haphazardly across the hills, before sailing amid the finger-like mountains of the staggering Chilean Fjords. Tour the flicking tail of the continent’s southernmost tip, before dropping in on the Falkland Islands, Uruguay, and Argentina.

Lyrics:

Leaving of Liverpool

[D] Fare thee well to you, my [G] own true love,
[D] I am going far [A] away
[D] I am bound for [G] California,
[D] But I know that I’ll be [A] home some [D] day

[A] So fare thee well, my [D] own true love,
For when I return, united we will [A] be
[D] It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that [G] grieves me,
[D] But my darling when [A] I think of [D] thee

I am bound on a Yankee clipper ship,
Davy Crockett is her name,
And Burgess is the captain of her,
And they say that she is a floating shame

So fare thee well, my own true love,
For when I return, united we will be
It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me,
But my darling when I think of thee

Oh the sun is high on the harbour, love,
And I wish I could remain,
For I know it’ll be a long, long time,
Before you see me again

So fare thee well, my own true love,
For when I return, united we will be
It’s not the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me,
But my darling when I think of thee

Roll Alabama Roll


h1 Monday, January 1st, 2018

Camilla and I will be sailing from Valparaíso, Chile to Buenos Aires this month. I thought an English halyard sea chantey from the 1860’s would be appropriate. I will be giving lectures on board the Silver Sea Muse. One of those lectures will be about sea chanteys.

Here’s a brief description of the trip from the Silver Sea website:

Voyage to the soaring mountain peaks, and slowly scraping glaciers, of Chile. See poetic Valparaiso sprawling bright colors, colonial architecture and history haphazardly across the hills, before sailing amid the finger-like mountains of the staggering Chilean Fjords. Tour the flicking tail of the continent’s southernmost tip, before dropping in on the Falkland Islands, Uruguay, and Argentina.

Lyrics:

[F] When the Alabama’s keel was [C] laid
[C] Roll, [Bb] Alabama, [C] roll!
[F] It was laid in the yards of Jonathan [C] Laird
[Bb] Oh, [F] roll, [C] Alabama, [F] roll!

It was laid in the yards of Jonathan Laird
Roll, Alabama, roll!
It was laid in the town of Birkenhead
Oh, roll, Alabama, roll!

Down Mersey way she sailed and then
Roll, Alabama, roll!
Liverpool fitted her with guns and men
Oh, roll, Alabama, roll!

Down Mersey way she sail-ed forth
Roll, Alabama, roll!
To destroy the commerce of the North
Oh, roll, Alabama, roll!

To Cherbourg harbor she sailed one day
Roll, Alabama, roll!
To collect her share of the prize money
Oh, roll, Alabama, roll!

And many a sailor saw his doom
Roll, Alabama, roll!
When the yankee Kearsarge hove in view
Oh, roll, Alabama, roll!

And a shot from the forward pivot that day
Roll, Alabama, roll!
Blew the Alabama’s stern away

And off the three-mile limit, in sixty-four
Roll, Alabama, roll!
Well she sank to the bottom of the ocean floor
Oh, roll, Alabama, roll!

Deep Blue Sea


h1 Monday, August 1st, 2016

These lyrics can be found in many traditional songs. They may be from an old English ballad. The tune suggests West Indian origin. In any case it’s a woman who has lost her loved one to the sea and hopes he will return.

Lyrics:

[G] Deep [C] Blue [G] Sea, Baby, [C] Deep Blue [G] Sea
[G] Deep [C] Blue [G] Sea, Baby, [Am] Deep Blue [D] Sea
[G] Deep [C] Blue [G] Sea, Baby, [C] Deep Blue [G] Sea
It was [Em] Willy [G] what got [Em] drowned in the [G] Deep [D] Blue [G] Sea

Dig his grave with a silver spade (3x)

It was Willy what got drowned in the Deep Blue Sea

Lower him down with a golden chain (3x)

It was Willy what got drowned in the Deep Blue Sea

Wrap him up with a silken shroud (3x)

It was Willy what got drowned in the Deep Blue Sea

Deep Blue Sea, Baby, Deep Blue Sea (3x)

It was Willy what got drowned in the Deep Blue Sea

The Eclipse


h1 Wednesday, July 1st, 2015

Launched from Hall’s yard, Aberdeen, on 3rd January 1867 the ‘Eclipse’ cost almost $12,000, carried eight whale boats and a crew of 55 men.

“The Eclipse” was one of the first seafaring songs to grab my attention. It was on the album “Thar She Blows” By Ewan MacColl and A. L. Lloyd. It tells the true story of three ships whaling in Queen Victoria’s year of Jubilee 1887. The trip was a miserable failure.

A.L. Lloyd commented in the album’s liner notes:

In the year of Queen Victoria’s jubilee, 1887, the steamer Eclipse of Stonehaven went fishing in the Arctic with her sister ships the Eric and the Hope. Her captain, David Gray, was on one of the greatest of nineteenth century whaling skippers. By now the northern waters were nearly fished clean of right whales, and the Scottish fleet was taking whatever it could – white whales, narwhales, bottlenooses (David Gray was the first hunter of bottlenoose whale). The 1887 season was disastrous. The Erik caught one small whale, the Hope none at all. On June 21st, David Gray took a good fat 57-foot cow whose jawbones are still on show in London’s Natural History Museum, but even the Eclipse, that luckiest of whalers, came home light, and with a bonus of only one-and-threepence a ton for oil. Her crew felt the trip had hardly been worth the hardship, and they marched through the streets of Peterhead to tell the owners so. The Eclipse made her first voyage in 1867. When she finished whaling, she was sold to the Russians and, renamed the Lomonosov, she was still being used as a survey ship along the Siberian coast as late as 1939.

Lyrics:
[G] It was the twenty-first of [D] June, me boys it [G] being a glorious [D] day,
[G] The Eclipse she saw a [D] whale-fish and she [Em] lowered all hands away,

Chorus (after each verse):
[G] So blow ye winds of morning, blow ye winds [C] hi-ho,
[G] Clear away your [C] running gear and [G] blow, [C] boys, [G] blow.

The boats they pulled to leeward, went skipping over the sea,
And we killed this noble whale-fish for another jubilee.

Our Captain Davie Gray was kind and he gave his crew a treat,
And that was why we caught this whale that measured fifty feet.

The Eclipse she lies to windward, her colours she does flee,
And the Erik and the Hope also, and this is the jubilee.

The Erik caught a sperm-whale that measured forty-three,
But the Hope has none and shall get none this year of jubilee.

But when this trip is over we’ll not ship for one and three,
Because we didn’t get fair play in the year of jubilee.

We’ll march up to the Custom House where we do all sign clear,
And when we face old Bless-My-Soul we’ll tell him without fear.

We’ll tell him that we’ll never sign again for one and three,
And we’ll march through Commercial Street and sing the jubilee.

Chorus:
And so blew ye winds of morning, blow ye winds hi-ho,
Clear away your running gear and blow, boys, blow.

The Rainbow


h1 Wednesday, April 1st, 2015

This ballad from the 16th century immortalizes a British galleon of the English Tudor Navy named “The Rainbow.” She fought against the Spanish during the “Singeing the King of Spain’s Beard” and the Spanish Armada, including the Battle of Gravelines in 1588.

In the story, as was a maritime tradition the captain’s wife bravely took command of the ship after his untimely demise.

Lyrics:
[D] As we were a-sailing out on the Spanish shore
[Bm] The drums they did beat me-boys and loud [D] cannons did [A] roar
[Bm] We spied our lofty enemy come [D] sailing down the [A] main
[D] With her scarves a-still high to our top sails again

Our captain says be ready oh he says me-boys stand true
To face the Spanish enemy we lately did pursue
To face the Spanish enemy they love the ocean wide
And without a good protection boys we’ll take the first broadside

Ah broadside to broadside – to battle then we went
To sink one another it was our intent
The very second broadside our captain he got slain
And his damsel – she stood up in his place to command

We fought for four hours – four hours – so severe
We scarcely had one man aboard – of our ship that could steer
We scarcely had one man aboard who’d fire off a gun
And the blood from our deck me boys – like a river did run

For quarters for quarters those Spanish lads did cry
No quarters no quarters this damsel did reply
You’ve had the finest quarters that I can afford
And you must sink or swim me-boys or jump overboard

And now the battle’s over – we’ll drink a glass of wine
And you must drink to your own-true-love as I will drink
to mine
Here’s health onto the damsel who fought all on the main
And heres to the royal gallant ship the “Rainbow” by name

Paddy and the Whale


h1 Sunday, February 1st, 2015

Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd sang this on their album “Thar She Blows” accompanied by Peggy Seeger doing an amazing 5-string banjo roll.

A.L. Lloyd had this to say about the song:

“From the latter days of whaling is this jokey remake of the Jonah legend. Presumably Paddy and the Whale originated late in the 19th century, though it’s debatable whether it was a sea-song first and a stage-song after, or t’other way round. Irish stage comedians knew it, and perhaps it was one of them who set the words to the tune of The Cobbler’s Ball.”

Lyrics:
[Dm] Well Paddy O’Brian left [C] Ireland in [Dm] glee;
[C] He had a strong notion for Greenland to see;[Dm]
He shipped on a whaler, for Greenland was bound,
[C] And the whiskey he drank made his head go around,

And it’s [Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee *

[Dm] Now, Paddy had never been [C] whaling [Dm]before;
[C]It made his heart jump when he heard a loud [Dm]roar;
As the lookout he cried there’s a whale he did spy:
[C]”I’m going to get ate,” says old Pat,”by-and-by”
And it’s [Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]O, Paddy run forward [C] caught hold of the [Dm] mast
[C] He grasped his arms round it and held to it [Dm]fast
And the boat give a pitch, and,while losing his grip,
[C]Down in the whale’s belly poor Paddy did slip,
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]He was down in the whale [C]for six months and five [Dm]days
[C]Till one day by luck to his throat he made [Dm]way.
The whale give a snort and then he did a blow,
[C]And out on dry land old Paddy did go.
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

[Dm]Now, Paddy is landed and [C]safe on the [Dm]shore;
[C]He swears that he’ll never go whaling no [Dm]more.
And the next time he wishes old Greenland to see,
[C]It will be when the railroad runs over the sea.
And it’s[Dm] whack, fol da rol doe, [C] fol da rol doe [D] dee lee

Banks of Newfoundland


h1 Friday, February 1st, 2013

Written in 1820 by Chief Justice Francis Forbes, “Banks of Newfoundland” is one of the first published songs about this northeast region of Canada. It was once used as a dance tune and later as a march by the Royal Newfoundland Regiment. I heard it sung by Ewan McColl and A.L. Lloyd on their 1960 L.P. “Blow Boys Blow.”

An explanation of the fourth verse: To “reef” a sail is to furl and lash it to the yard or the long beam that supports the sail. The crew did this while standing on a single line which they would “mount” and sometimes “pass” another shipmate in the process.

Lyrics:
[Em] Me bully boys of Liverpool
I’d have you to [D] beware,
[Em] When you sail on them packet ships,
no dungaree [D] jumpers [Em] wear;
[G] But have a big monkey [C] jacket
[G] all ready to your [D] hand,
[Em] For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the [D] Banks of [Em] Newfoundland.

[G] We’ll scrape her and we’ll [C] scrub her
[G] with holy stone and [D] sand,
[Em] For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the [D] Banks of [Em] Newfoundland.

We had Jack Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more,
I tell you lad, they suffered like mad
on the way to Baltimore;
They pawned their gear in Liverpool
and sailed as they did stand,
But there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

Now the mate he stood on the fo’c’sle head
and loudly he did roar,
Now rattle her in ye lucky lads,
you’re bound for America’s shore;
Come wipe the blood off that dead man’s face
and haul or you’ll be canned,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

So now it’s reef and reef, me boys
With the Canvas frozen hard
And it’s mount and pass every mother’s son
on a ninety foot topsail yard
never mind about boots and oilskins
but sail just as you stand
For there blows some cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

So now we’re off the Hook, me boys,
the land is white as snow,
And soon we’ll see the pay table
and we’ll spend the night below;
And on the docks, come down in flocks,
them pretty girls will stand,
It’s snugger with me than on the sea,
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
with holy stone and sand,
And we’ll think of them cold nor’westers
on the Banks of Newfoundland.

Paddy West


h1 Thursday, March 1st, 2012

A.L. Lloyd sang Paddy West in 1960 on his and Ewan MacColl’s Tradition Records album Blow Boys Blow. He commented in the sleeve notes:

“Mr West is a redoubtable figure in the folklore of the sea. He was a Liverpool boarding-house keeper in the latter days of sail, who provided ship captains with crews, as a side-line. He would guarantee that every man he supplied had crossed the Line and been round the Horn several times. In order to say so with a clear conscience, he gave greenhorns a curious course in seamanship, described in this jesting ballad. It was a great favourite with “Scouse” (Liverpool) sailors.”

Paddy was a resourceful fellow who, with his wife, ran a home school for novice sailors. His methods were rather crude (like having his wife throw a bucket of water on their students to provide ‘sea spray’) but together they created a simulation of real conditions that could instill a sense of confidence in the lads that would most likely help them on an actual ocean voyage.

I accompanied myself on my Martin HD-7 seven string guitar and an English concertina that my wife Camilla gave me.

Lyrics:
[G] As I was walkin’ down [Am] London Street,
[D] I come to Paddy West’s [G] house,
He give me a dish of [C] American [G] hash;
And he called it Liverpool [C] scouse,
[G] He said “There’s a ship and she’s [C] takin’ [G] hands,
And on her you must [C] sign,
[G] Ah the mate’s a tyrant, the [Am] captain’s worse,
[D] But she will do you [G] fine.”
Chorus:
[G] Take off yer dungaree [C] jacket,
[G] And give yerself a [C] rest,
[G] And we’ll think on them cold [Am] nor’westers
That we [D] had at Paddy [G] West’s.

2. When we had finished our dinner lads,
The winds began to blow.
Paddy sent me to the attic,
The main-royal for to stow,
But when I got to the attic,
No main-royal could I find,
So I turned myself around,
And I furled the window blind.
Chorus:

3. Now Paddy he pipes all hands on deck,
Their stations for to man.
His wife she stood in the doorway,
A bucket in her hand;
And Paddy he cries, “Now let ‘er rip!”
And she throws the water our way,
Cryin’ “Clew in the fore t’gan’sl, boys,
She’s takin on the spray!”
Chorus:

4. Now seein’ she’s headed south’ard,
To Frisco she was bound;
Paddy he takes a length of rope,
And he lays it on the ground,
We all steps over, and back again,
He says to me “That’s fine,
If they ask you were you ever at sea
You say you crossed the line.”
Chorus:

5. There’s just one thing for you to do
Before you sail away,
Step around the table,
Where the bullock’s horn do lay
And if they ask “Were you ever at sea?”
Say “Ten times ’round the Horn”
And they’ll think you’re a natural sailor lad
From the day that you was born.
Chorus: X 2

Titanic


h1 Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

When the Costa Concordia capsized last month, people described the panic and chaos during a rather unruly evacuation as reminiscent of the pandemonium on board the Titanic as it sank nearly 100 years ago. I remembered hearing this song in the Harry Smith Anthology of American Music and decided it would be fitting for the Folk Den’s February release.

There are many versions of this. I combined the two that I liked best.

Lyrics:
Riff in A

On a Monday morning, just about nine o’clock
Great Titanic began to reel and rock
Children weep and cry, yes I’m going to die
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down

Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down
Husbands and wives little children lost their lives
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down

When that ship left England, making for the shore
The rich had declared they would not ride with the poor
They put the poor below they were the first to go
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down

Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down
Husbands and wives, children lost their lives
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down

They threw the life boats over, in the dark and stormy seas
The band began to play “O Give Thy Soul To Thee”
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down

Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down
Little children wept and cried as they left their mother’s side
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down

Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down
Husbands and wives, children lost their lives
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down

People on that ship, a long long way from home
Friends all around, didn’t know their time had come
Death come riding by, sixteen hundred had to die
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down

Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down
Husbands and wives, children lost their lives
Wasn’t it sad when that great ship went down