New York Girls

Capstan or Pump Shanty

Traditional, pre-1840 (when polkas became popular)

Shanghaied in San Francisco, we fetched-up in Bombay,
They set us afloat in a leasehold boat that steered like a bale of hay.

Away you Santee, my dear Annie, Oh, you New York girls, you love us for our money!

We know the track to Auckland, the light at the Kinsale Head,
We’ve crept close-hauled while the leadsman bawled the depth of the Channel bed. (Chorus)

We’ve panted in the tropic, while the pitch boiled-up on deck,
We saved our hides, little else besides from an ice-cold, North Sea wreck.

We know the quays of Glasgow, the boom of the lone Azores,
We’ve had our grub from a salt-horse tub condemned by the Navy stores. (Chorus)

We’ve drunk our rum in Portland, we’ve thrashed through the Bering Strait,
We’ve ‘toed the mark’ on a Yankee barque, with a hard-case, Down-East Mate.

We know the streets of Santos, the river at Saigon,
We’ve had a glass with a Chinese lass in houseboat in Canton. (Chorus)

They’ll pay us off in Liverpool then after a spell ashore,
Again we’ll ship on a southern trip in a week or barely more.
So – Goodbye Sal and Lucy, it’s time we were afloat,
With a straw-stuffed bed, an aching head, a knife and an oilskin coat. (Chorus)

Sing:  “Time for Us to Leave Her”, sing: “Bound for the Rio Grande”,
As the tug turns back we’ll follow her track for a last long look at land.
As the purple disappears and only the blue is seen,
Commend our bones to Davy Jones, our souls to Fiddler’s Green. (Chorus)

Song Notes

“I first heard this song in 1976 on a Steeleye Span album. This was many years before I ever dreamed I’d be singing shanties with Bounding Main. Maddy Prior’s version of the chorus is still the one I prefer today.” — Dean Calin

“This early version (i.e. from before the polka arrived in the New World) is respectfully taken from Stan Hugill’s: SHANTIES FROM THE SEVEN SEAS.” — Tom Lewis

“Santee, ” per Stan Hugill, is a corruption of “our old friend ‘Santi-Anna . . . or as it was usually written, ‘Santiana!'” “I did finally find a song called Santiana!” — Dean Calin

The Kingston Trio did a version of this song that all of the “Old Time Folk Singers” default to.