The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #126347   Message #2829035
Posted By: Charley Noble
03-Feb-10 - 02:18 PM
Thread Name: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Subject: RE: From SF to Sydney - 1853 Shanties Sung?
Blow Boys Blow (Congo River) seems to be the only shanty that sometimes includes verses related to the slave trade, and most likely when that trade was illegal in the States.

It's interesting that such anachronistic verses actually survived to be written down.

C. Fox Smith in her introduction to the song in A BOOK OF SHANTIES, 1927, says:

This shanty is said to have referred originally to the slave trade, and some versions give a number of stanzas in which the Congo River is mentioned...

Frank Shay in AN AMERICAN SAILOR'S TREASURY, 1948, includes what he describes as a "maverick verse" collected in New England:

Oh, Captain Hall was a Boston slaver,
Blow, boys, blow!
He traded in n*****s and loved his Maker,
Blow, my bully boys, blow!

Charley Noble