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Yangtze River Shanty

[Hamish McLaren]

Ye Mariners All (John Roberts, John Rockwell and Larry Young) sang Yangtse River Chantey on their 2003 CD Songs of the Sea and, also in 2003, at the 24th Annual Sea Music Festival at Mystic Seaport. John Roberts noted:

Hamish MacLaren included the Yangtse River Chantey in his book of verse, Sailor with Banjo. Charlie Ipcar of Portland, Maine is responsible for the musical setting, and also did a nice job of making the text more singable. I learned it from our good friend Barry Finn (with much patience on his part).

Danny Spooner sang Yangtze River Shanty in 2009 on his CD Bold Reilly Gone Away. He noted:

The Yangtze River runs into the Pacific Ocean at Shanghai. Shanghai is both the name of the great Chinese port, and a verb, meaning to be placed aboard a ship against one's will by force, a practice common in the days of sailing ships of the 18th and 19th centuries. Shanghai was about as far away from the major ports of America and Britain in those days and was not a place that sailors relished visiting. Essentially it was too far away. But sailors, like the shanties, had to be flexible too so a consolation was the idea of a girl in every port. How much they may have learned from these cultures and those women…

This shanty started life in a folk opera written by Hamish McLaren and called Sailor with Banjo. McLaren had attended the Royal Naval College at Dartmouth at the age of twelve and after graduating served as a gunnery officer. After a posting to a naval station in Shanghai for a while he left the navy to follow his star as a writer. McLaren's words were adapted and set to a mix of the tops'l shanty tunes Tom's Gone to Hilo and the Congo River by Charlie Ipcar of Maine. Having used shanties, it would also work well on the pumps or for loading I'd reckon. So open yer lung, bend yer back to the Yangtze River Shanty.

Lyrics

Ye Mariners All sing Yangtse River Chantey

My lotus lady I'll see no more,
    Away, boys, away-o
Since I left her on the China shore.
    Away, boys, lift and walk away.

Chorus (after each verse):
Away, boys, away-o
Blow me down that Yangtse River
Away, boys, lift and walk away.

When we first met she was like a queen,
Prettiest little thing that I'd ever seen.

She'd flashing eyes and long black hair,
All I could do was stand and stare.

The sweetest flower, my Yangtse honey,
My own good gal she spent my money.

I bought her silks and a golden comb,
Trouble's over now the anchor's home.

I blowed my silver for to win her,
Now there's nothing left but pork for dinner.

We're outward bound, cookie's in the galley,
Farewell, young Moon of the Yangtse Valley.

Danny Spooner sing Yangtze River Shanty

My lotus lady I will see no more
    Away, boys, away-o
Since I left her on the China shore
    Away, boys, lift and walk away

Chorus (after each verse):
Away, boys, away-o
Blow me down that Yangtze River
Way, boys, lift and walk away

When first I met her she was like a queen,
Prettiest little thing that I had ever seen.

She'd flashing eyes and a-long black hair
All I could do was a-stand and stare.

My sweetest flower, my Yangtze honey,
A home-good girl, she spent my money.

Well, I bought her silks and a golden comb,
Trouble's over now the anchor's home.

Well, I'd blowed my silver for to win her,
But nothing's left but pork for dinner.

Well, we're outward bound and the cook is in the galley,
Farewell, young Moon of the Yangtze Valley.