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Hourra les Filles

[French trad.]

Ye Mariners All (John Roberts, John Rockwell and Larry Young) sang Hourra les Filles on their 2003 CD Songs of the Sea. John Roberts noted:

The French chantey Pique la Baleine, like many of the English songs, is found in several quite different versions. If my recollection is correct I first heard this version from William Pint and Felicia Dale. It is printed (and recorded) in Marc Robine's Anthologie de la chanson française, where we also found the rowing song Hourra les Filles, a cheer for the ladies of the port.

Danny Spooner sang Hourra les Filles with the same verses as Ye Mariners All on his 2009 CD Bold Reilly Gone Away. He noted:

When I went to Brittany in 2002 I heard wonderful shanties and songs from the canals, the rivers, the coast and the sea. The Breton maritime festivals had sung English and American shanties for years and wondered why—“If we are a maritime nation, which we are, where are our shanties?” Now we all benefit from hearing the immense repertoire researched, collected and published by Le Chasse Marée.

So while we are in the Southern Pacific we might as well join a French whaling crew as they chase sperm whales using the ‘chants a ramer’ (rowing songs) Pique la Baleine and Hourra les Filles, then we will help strip the blanket piece from a whale using a “chant a hisser” (hauling song, probably a halyard shanty). Then raising a shanty like Le Capitaine de St Malo, the men would start hauling on the halyard or barring over the windlass, then the whale would be rolled so the blubber peeled off like an orange. This blanket piece might be fifteen feet long and three feet wide and weigh in at 2,000 pounds.

Lyrics

Ye Mariners All sing Hourra les Filles Translation

Hourra les filles à cinq deniers.
    Hourra les filles à cinq deniers.
A cinq deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.
    A cinq deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.

Hurrah for the five dollar girls,
Five dollars, these girls.
Pull, boys, on the oars.

Hourra les filles à quatre deniers.
    Hourra les filles à quatre deniers.
A quatre deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.
    A quatre deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.

Hurrah for the four dollar girls,
Four dollars, these girls.
Pull, boys, on the oars.

Hourra les filles à trois deniers.
    Hourra les filles à trois deniers.
A trois deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.
    A trois deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.

Hurrah for the three dollar girls,
Three dollars, these girls.
Pull, boys, on the oars.

Hourra les filles à deux deniers.
    Hourra les filles à deux deniers.
A deux deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.
    A deux deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.

Hurrah for the two dollar girls,
Two dollars, these girls.
Pull, boys, on the oars.

Hourra les filles à un deniers.
    Hourra les filles à un deniers.
A un deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.
    A un deniers les filles en sont,
    Tirons les garçons sur les avirons.

Hurrah for the one dollar girls,
One dollars, these girls.
Pull, boys, on the oars.