Lyrics

Blow the Man Down

Halyard or Capstan Shanty

Traditional

Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea,
To me way hey, blow the man down,
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,
To me way hey, blow the man down,
Give me some grog, I’ll sing you my song,
Give me some time to blow the man down. (Chorus)

(Chorus)
Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
To me, way hey, blow the man down
Blow the man down back to Liverpool town,
Give me some time to blow the man down.

‘Twas on a Black Baller I first served my time,
To me way hey, blow the man down,
And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime,
Give me some time to blow the man down.

When that Black Baller is clear of the land,
To me way hey, blow the man down,
Our Boatswain then gives out the word of command
Give me some time to blow the man down. (Chorus)

‘Tis larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl,
To me way hey, blow the man down,
For “Kicking Jack” Williams commands the Black Ball.
Give me some time to blow the man down.

Pay attention to order, now you one and all,
To me way hey, blow the man down,
For right there above you flies the Black Ball.
Give me some time to blow the man down. (Chorus)

WHERE TO FIND IT

Song Notes

“Blow” refers to knocking a man down with a fist or belaying pin. Chief Mates in Western Ocean Packets were known as “blowers,” second mates as “strikers” and third mates as “greasers.” The Black Ball Line was founded by a group of Quakers in 1818. It was the first line to take passengers on a regular basis, sailing from New York, Boston and Philadelphia on the first and sixteenth of each month. The ships were famous for their fast passage and excellent seamanship. However, they were also famed for their fighting mates and the brutal treatment of seamen. (Western Ocean seamen were called “Packet Rats”). — Stan Hugill, Shanties of the Seven Seas.

This song was recorded by Bounding Main with Dean Calin performing the solo. It was intended to go on the album, Kraken Up, but it was decided after the studio session that the depth of the vocal arrangement was not up to Bounding Main standards. The plan was to write a fuller arrangement of the piece and include it in a later CD. As of 4/11/2020 it remains unpublished, and with the closure of SurroundInSound Studio where it was recorded, it is likely lost forever.