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Blow the Man Down

[ Roud 2624 ; Ballad Index Doe017 ; trad.]

This halyard shanty was sung in the 1950s in classical style with alternate solo (by Harry H. Corbett) and chorus lines on A.L. Lloyd and Ewan MacColl's LPs The Singing Sailor, Row Bullies Row, Shanties and Fo'c'sle Songs (Wattle Records) and Haul on the Bowlin' (Stinson Records) and as title track of their EP Blow the Man Down, on the French compilation album Chants de Marins IV: Ballads, Complaintes et Shanties des Matelots Anglais, and on the compilation CD Blow the Man Down. The latter album's notes comment:

Hoisting the yards was often a long, heavy job. Accordingly, the halyard shanties were likely to be long, rambling songs. They were usually made up of alternate solo and chorus lines. The crew would rest on the rope while the shantyman sang his solo line and then take a good pull (sometimes two) as they bawled the refrain. Blow the Man Down is a classical halyard shanty that originated in the ships of the Black Ball Line. It is led here by Harry H. Corbett in true Liverpool style.

The Young Tradition sang Blow the Man Down on November 17, 1968 at their concert at Oberlin College, Ohio. It was published in 2013 on their Fledg'ling CD Oberlin 1968.

Maddy Prior & the Girls (Rose Kemp and Abbie Lathe) sang a shorter version of Blow the Man Down with just three verses on their 2002 album Bib & Tuck.

Lyrics

Harry H. Corbett sings Blow the Man Down

As I was a-walkin' down Paradise Street
    To me way, hay, blow the man down!
A flash looking packet I chanced for to meet
    Oh, gi' me some time to blow the man down!

Chorus (after each verse):
Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
To me way, hay, blow the man down!
Blow him right back to Liverpool town
Oh, gi' me some time to blow the man down!

She was bowlin' along with the wind blowin' free
She clewed up her courses an' waited for me

She was round in the counter and bluff in the bow
So I hold in all sailing, cryin', well enough now

Where she did hail from I really can't tell
But I gave her my flipper, we're both bound for hell

Come all you young sailors, take warning by me
Never take a young Liverpool gal on your knee

Maddy Prior & the Girls sing Blow the Man Down

Now when the Black Baller is clear of the land
    To me way, hay, blow the man down!
The bosun he gives out the word of command
    Gimme some time to blow the man down!

Lay aft there, lads, to the break of the poop
Or I'll help you along with the toe of me boot

Chorus:
Blow the man down, bullies, blow the man down
To me way, hay, blow the man down!
Blow him right back to Liverpool town
Gimme some time to blow the man down!

It's larboard to starboard, on deck we will sprawl
For kicking Jack Rogers commands the Black Ball

Chorus