Whiskey Johnny

Halyard Shanty


Oh, whisky is the life of man
Resp: Whiskey, Johnnie!
Oh, whiskey from an old tin can,
Resp: Whiskey for me Johnnie!

Whiskey her, whiskey there,
Oh, whiskey almost everywhere!

I’ll drink it hot, I’ll drink it cold,
I’ll drink it new, I’ll drink it old!

Whiskey made me sell me coat,
Whiskey’s what keeps me afloat.

Whiskey fills a man with care,
Whiskey makes a man a bear.

Whiskey killed me poor ol’ Dad,
Whiskey drove me mother mad.

Whiskey made me pawn me clothes,
Whiskey gave me this big red nose.

Whiskey made the bosun call,
“Oh, hang together one and all!”

Song Notes

This song is a typical example of the halyard shanty form with a call and response. It had endless verses to continue as long as the lines were being hauled. There is some discussion that this song was, in Elizabethan times called “Malmsey Johnnie,” possibly making this the oldest documented English sea shanty. If researched one will find many variations on these lyrics.