Blow the Man Down


'Blow the Man Down' originated in Western Ocean sailing ships.
The tune could have originated with German emigrants, but it is
more likely derived from an African-American song 'Knock a Man
Down'. Blow the Man Down was originally a halyard shanty. Law on
the high seas was basically rule with a Fist, and "Blow" refers to
knocking a man down with a fist, belaying pin or capstan bar. Chief
Mates in Western Ocean ships were known as "blowers", second
mates as "strikers" and third mates as "greasers". There are
countless versions of 'Blow the Man Down'. The one here is from
the Burl Ives Songbook and tells of the Black Ball Line.


Lyrics

Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea,
to my way haye, blow the man down,
And please pay attention and listen to me,
Give me some time to blow the man down.

I'm a deep water sailor just in from Hong Kong,
to my way haye, blow the man down,
if you'll give me some grog, I'll sing you a song,
Give me some time to blow the man down.

'Twas on a Black Baller I first served my time,
to my way haye, blow the man down,
And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime,
Give me some time to blow the man down.

'Tis when a Black Baller's preparing for sea
to my way haye, blow the man down,
You'd split your sides laughing at the sites that you see.
Give me some time to blow the man down.

With the tinkers and tailors and soljers and all
to my way haye, blow the man down,
That ship for prime seaman on board a Black Ball.
Give me some time to blow the man down.

'Tis when a Black Baller is clear of the land,
to my way haye, blow the man down,
Our Boatswain then gives us the word of command
Give me some time to blow the man down.

"Lay aft," is the cry,"to the break of the Poop"!
to my way haye, blow the man down,
Or I'll help you along with the toe of my boot!
Give me some time to blow the man down.

'Tis larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl,
to my way haye, blow the man down,
For "Kicking Jack" Williams commands the Black Ball.
Give me some time to blow the man down.

Pay attention to order, now you one and all,
to my way haye, blow the man down,
For right there above you flies the Black Ball.
Give me some time to blow the man down.



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