Mudcat Café message #3714187 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #157373   Message #3714187
Posted By: Lighter
03-Jun-15 - 07:48 AM
Thread Name: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
Subject: RE: Lyr Add: Chanteys in the R.W. Gordon papers
Speaking of "Blow the Man Down":

BLOW THE MAN DOWN.

(Topsail Halliard)

Oh, blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down,
(Chorus) To me way, hay, blow the man down,
We'll blow the man down right down to the ground,
(Chorus) Oh, give us some time to blow the man down.

Now as I was a-walking on Paradise Street,
(Chorus) To me way, hay, blow the man down,
Yes, as I was a-walking on Paradise Street,
(Chorus) Oh, give us some time to blow the man down.

[Similarly:]

There [was] an old skipper I happened for to meet....

I said, Captain Hutchins have you shipped your crew?...

He said, no I haven't, nor I wouldn't ship you....

I can see you're a bucko from the cut of your hair....

And I know you're a hard-case from the coat that you wear....

I can see that you've been into some Dutchman's bag....

And I know you've not left the poor beggar a rag....

I said, Captain Hutchins, you're accusin' me wrong....

I'm a flyin' fish sailor just home from Hong Kong....

Now I thought that I heard the chief mate just say....

A long pull, a strong pull, and then we'll belay....

(As always, I've improved spelling and punctuation.) Gordon adds the following note:

"The first verse usually stands as it is, although sometimes the third line runs, 'Heave 'er up full, lads, we're bound for Che Foo.' Each succeeding verse is sung as the second verse is written here, that is, with the first and third lines the same....As this makes rather tedious reading, it is better to incorporate two lines into one verse....

"The rhythm of the chorus is of such a nature as to make the two long pulls on the halliard which occur as it is sung, come naturally, thus causing the task of setting the tops'l to seem less irksome. The first pull occurs on the word 'way' and the second on the word 'blow' in the second line, and on the words 'give' and 'blow' in the fourth line. It is often said that a chantry is worth ten men."

The nature of the note and the popularity of "Blow the Man Down" suggest that this was one of the first chanteys Gordon heard. It's clearly based on the common "Irish policeman" version.

Chefoo (now Yantai) is on the coast of north central China. It seems to have become an important port for Westerners in the 1860s and '70s.