The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #85881   Message #1593876
Posted By: Q (Frank Staplin)
30-Oct-05 - 07:40 PM
Thread Name: C. Fox Smith PermaThread
Across the Rockies (1)
(Pumping Shanty)

Oh the young girl said to me one day-
The young girl goes a-weeping-
"I've got no money and I can't go home"-
Across the Rocky Mountains.

Oh what shall we poor shellbacks do?
The young girl goes a-weeping-
We've got no money and we can't go home
Across the Rocky Mountains.

I thought I heard the Old Man say-
The young girl goes a-weeping-
"I've got no money and I can't go home
Across the Rocky Mountains."

Across the Rockies (2)

Oh the times are hard and the wages low-
Amelia, where you bound to?
The Rocky Mountains are my home
Across the Western Ocean.

The land of promise there you'll see-
Amelia, where you bound to?
I'm bound away across the sea
To join the Irish Army.

There's Liverpool Pat with his tall box hat-
Amelia, where you bound to?
And Yankee John the packet rat-
Across the Western Ocean.

Beware the packet rats, I say-
Amelia, where you bound to?
They'll steal your money and clothes away
Across the Western Ocean.

Pumping shanty, with music. C. Fox Smith, 1927, A BOOK OF SHANTIES, pp. 71-73. Houghton Mifflin Company.

Note by CFS:

This, like several of the most famous shanties, dates from the days of the American emigrant packets of the eithteen-fifties, and the last stanza of version Two is only oe of many uncomplimentary references to the doubtful reputation for honesty of the Liverpool "packet rats" who manned them- drunken, thriftless and turbulent, but more often than not the most hardy and fearless of seamen.

The first version I think does not appear in any other collection. It was given to me by a friend who heard it sung many a time at the old-fashioned brake pump when he was a midshipman in the Blackwall Line in the early fifties (1850's), and he described its wonderfully impressive effect heard through the noise of the wind and all the racket of a ship labouring in a seaway: a leaden sky with low clouds overhead, and the great white-crested seas galloping by with thunderous tramplings. This version I should imagine is probably the original. It has the unmistakable "folk-song" air about it, especially the refrain.

In the music printed with the two versions is a suggestion of a third. A second verse begins "Oh what Mountains- but is cut off. Smith does not say where she obtained the music.

In the DT is a version of "Across the Western Ocean" from Meek, "Songs of the Irish in America." It is very close to version (2).

Compare verses in "Leave Her, Johnny."