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Origins/ADD: Can't You Dance the Polka?

DigiTrad:
NEW YORK GIRLS
NEW YORK GIRLS (2)


Related threads:
Lyr Req/Add: New York Girls (Black Irish Band) (7)
Lyr Add: Scott's 'Can't You Dance the Polka?' (7)
Lyr Req: New York Girls--from a female viewpo (8)
Tune Add: DRAKE (4)
Tune Req: New York Girls (8)


Roberto 13 Aug 04 - 01:41 PM
Les from Hull 13 Aug 04 - 01:44 PM
Roberto 13 Aug 04 - 02:05 PM
Joe Offer 13 Aug 04 - 04:27 PM
Charley Noble 13 Aug 04 - 04:31 PM
Roberto 13 Aug 04 - 05:17 PM
Joe Offer 13 Aug 04 - 06:04 PM
Roberto 14 Aug 04 - 01:47 AM
Leadfingers 14 Aug 04 - 05:09 AM
Roberto 14 Aug 04 - 07:30 AM
DaveA 16 Aug 04 - 12:25 AM
Roberto 16 Aug 04 - 01:43 AM
GUEST,Captain Swing 16 Aug 04 - 06:34 PM
Compton 16 Aug 04 - 06:49 PM
GUEST,petr 16 Aug 04 - 08:12 PM
DaveA 17 Aug 04 - 06:06 AM
GUEST,Mingulay 17 Aug 04 - 09:00 AM
Dead Horse 17 Aug 04 - 03:57 PM
GUEST,Lighter (w/o cookie) 17 Aug 04 - 08:29 PM
Snuffy 18 Aug 04 - 08:39 AM
GUEST,Lighter at work 18 Aug 04 - 09:08 AM
Snuffy 18 Aug 04 - 09:16 AM
Snuffy 18 Aug 04 - 06:59 PM
GUEST,Lighter w/o cookie 18 Aug 04 - 07:09 PM
GUEST,Kingston Trio 18 Dec 04 - 01:55 PM
Lighter 18 Dec 04 - 03:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Jun 07 - 08:34 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 11 Jun 07 - 08:51 PM
EBarnacle 11 Jun 07 - 11:41 PM
Q (Frank Staplin) 12 Jun 07 - 12:06 AM
GUEST,Lighter 12 Jun 07 - 07:37 AM
GUEST,baz parkes 13 Jun 07 - 07:36 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 13 Jun 07 - 01:09 PM
GUEST,Pete 13 Jun 07 - 05:52 PM
Schantieman 14 Jun 07 - 05:37 AM
Q (Frank Staplin) 14 Jun 07 - 03:52 PM
Rog Peek 14 Jun 07 - 04:21 PM
Rog Peek 14 Jun 07 - 04:28 PM
irishenglish 20 Oct 09 - 05:08 PM
JWB 21 Oct 09 - 10:02 PM
Amos 21 Oct 09 - 10:58 PM
meself 22 Oct 09 - 12:12 AM
irishenglish 22 Oct 09 - 02:28 PM
JWB 22 Oct 09 - 10:23 PM
Gibb Sahib 22 Oct 09 - 10:37 PM
shipcmo 17 Oct 10 - 12:14 PM
GUEST,alfred 21 Oct 12 - 04:23 PM
threelegsoman 22 Oct 12 - 07:23 AM
threelegsoman 22 Oct 12 - 07:24 AM
Gibb Sahib 09 Aug 13 - 11:46 PM
GUEST,SqueezeMe 10 Aug 13 - 02:05 AM
Rumncoke 10 Aug 13 - 07:34 PM
Lighter 10 Aug 13 - 08:26 PM
Amos 11 Aug 13 - 12:54 AM
Gibb Sahib 11 Aug 13 - 02:20 AM
Lighter 11 Aug 13 - 08:26 PM
Amos 12 Aug 13 - 02:35 AM
GUEST,Dave H 04 Jun 17 - 07:38 AM
the lemonade lady 21 Jul 17 - 03:00 PM
Dave the Gnome 22 Jul 17 - 05:19 AM
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Subject: Lyr Add: CAN'T YOU DANCE THE POLKA (from S Slade)
From: Roberto
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 01:41 PM

Stanley Slade, Bristol sailor, Folktrax 207, recorded in 1975. I can't get a word where I've put the question mark. Please, help me to complete it (and correct it, if needed). Thanks. Roberto

CAN'T YOU DANCE THE POLKA (from S Slade)

As I walked down the Broadway one evening in July
I met a maid who asked my trade – A sailor John - says I

And away you Johnnie – My dear Annie
O you New York girls, can't you dance the polka?

To Tiffany's I took her, I did not mind expense
An' I bought her two gold ear-rings, and they cost me fifty cents

And away you Johnnie – My dear Annie
O you New York girls, can't you dance the polka?

Says she - You lime-juice sailor, now see me home you may
But when we reached her cottage door, she unto me did say

And away you Johnnie – My dear Annie
O you New York girls, can't you dance the polka?

She says her man's a Yankee, with his hair cut short behind
And he wears a tarry jumper and he ... (?) in the Blackball Line

And away you Johnnie – My dear Annie
O you New York girls, can't you dance the polka?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Les from Hull
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 01:44 PM

sails?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Roberto
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 02:05 PM

Thanks Les from Hull, but it doesn't seem he sings "sails". R


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 04:27 PM

Version 2 in the DT has "sails in the Blackball Line." the DT does not identify a source for its text.
I don't have the recording, but I'd say this makes sense. I guess I'd more likely say "sails on the Black Ball Line."
-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Charley Noble
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 04:31 PM

And he's bosun in the Black Ball Line? That's Hugil's alternative wording for "sails," SHANTIES FROM THE SEVEN SEAS, p. 282.

Cheerily,
Charley Noble


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Roberto
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 05:17 PM

Yes, "bosun" is the word. Thanks to everybody and many thanks to Charley Noble. R


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 13 Aug 04 - 06:04 PM

Aha!! The Wisdom of Mudcat strikes again!
I really enjoy these joint efforts.
-Joe Offer-
Here's what the Traditional Ballad Index has to say about this song:

Can't You Dance the Polka (New York Girls)

DESCRIPTION: The sailor meets a girl, who offers to take him home to her "family." He sits down to dinner, is drugged, and goes to bed with the girl. In the morning he awakens to find himself naked and without his money. He is forced to go to a boarding master
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1882
KEYWORDS: sailor whore robbery drink drugs shanghaiing
FOUND IN: US(MA)
REFERENCES (7 citations):
Doerflinger, pp. 58-60, "Can't They Dance the Polka!" (1 text, 1 tune)
Colcord, pp. 108-109, "Can't You Dance the Polka?" (1 text, 1 tune)
Harlow, pp. 37-38, "Can't You Dance the Polka?" "Santy" (2 texts, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 369-376, "Away Susanna!" "Can't Ye Dance the Polka?" "The New York Girls" (4 texts, 4 tunes -- also includes a fragment from the Swedish shanty book _Sang under Segal_ titled "Seafarers", the words being the same as Hugill's first version of "Can't You Dance the Polka")
Silber-FSWB, p. 87, "Can't You Dance the Polka" (1 text, which appears truncated, with an ending in which the girl puts off the man by saying she has a husband)
DT, NYGIRLS* (NYGIRLS2? -- this looks like a modern parody; compare Silber's version)
ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). Robinson called his version (in Part 1, 7/14/1917) "Oh My Santi"; the verse has with words very similar to "My Irish Jaunting Car" though the meter, tune, and chorus are from this song.

Roud #486
RECORDINGS:
Bob Roberts w. Peter Kennedy, "Can't You Dance the Polka?" (on LastDays)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "Gold Watch" [Laws K41] (plot) and references there
NOTES: The Martin Churchill mentioned in the last verse of some versions was a boarding master of the mid-Nineteenth century. (For background on boarding masters, see the notes to "Dixie Brown" [Laws D7]). - RBW
File: Doe058

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2013 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Roberto
Date: 14 Aug 04 - 01:47 AM

I've made a mistake: Slade was recorded in 1942. 1975 is when the recordings were first published, by Folktrax. R


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 14 Aug 04 - 05:09 AM

According to my mate Tom Lewis , this is the 'Modern' version of the song , dating from the eighteen-eighties . Before the popularity of the Polka at this time the same song had a last line in the chorus of "You Loves Us For Our Money".

So if you want to sing the 'Old' words there you are .


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Roberto
Date: 14 Aug 04 - 07:30 AM

John Roberts & Tony Barrand sing this chorus (And away, you Johnny, my dear honey / Oh, you New York girls, you love us for our money)
on their recording of New York Girls, on the CD titled Across the Western Ocean, Songs of the North Atlantic Sailing Packets. R


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: DaveA
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 12:25 AM

Just in passing..

There is a good version of this in "Gangs of New York".
Does anyone know who sings it???

Dave


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Subject: ADD Version: New York Girls
From: Roberto
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 01:43 AM

Finbar Furey, and here is what he sings:

New York Girls
Finbar Furey, in Gangs of New York (Soundtrack, 2002)

As I walked down through Chatham Street
A fair maid I did meet
She asked me to see her home
She lived in Bleecker Street

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

And when we got to Bleecker Street
We stopped at forty-four
Her mother and her sister there
To meet us at the door

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

When I got inside the house
The drinks were passed around
The liquor was so awful strong
My head went round and round

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

And then we had another drink
Before we sat to eat
The liquor was so awful strong
I quickly fell asleep

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

When I awoke next morning
I had an aching head
There was I Jack all alone
Stark naked in the bed

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

Me gold watch and me pocket book
And lady friends were gone
And there was I Jack all alone
Stark naked in the room

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

On looking round this little room
There's nothing could I see
But a woman's shift and apron
That were no use to me

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

With a flour barrel for a suit of clothes
Down Cherry street forlorn
There Martin Churchill took me in
And sent me round Cape horn

To Me Way You Santy
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?

To Me Way my honey
My dear Annie
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Captain Swing
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 06:34 PM

Surely the title should read "Can't U Dans The Polka?" released circa 1974.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Compton
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 06:49 PM

Did everyone know Peter Sellers plays the Ukelele on the Steeleye version!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,petr
Date: 16 Aug 04 - 08:12 PM

by the way that's boatswain (bosun)
as I read somewhere this song New York Girls
was one of the first polkas sung in the US. and I believe dates to the
1840s or 30s.

the reference to Santy Anna

the polka originated from Bohemia or what is now primarily the Czech Republic in the early 1800s


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: DaveA
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 06:06 AM

Thanks Roberto for the quick answer. it is a fine version of what I only knew from Steeleye Span.

Dave


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Mingulay
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 09:00 AM

I looked at this thread heading and immediately thought when on earth did Noddy Holder sing such a song?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Dead Horse
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 03:57 PM

Just you try singing "You love us for our money" just try!
Or "Raise tacks, sheets & mainsail haul" or any other version of chorus that aint been "folkied". You're on a loser for sure.
Being real polite, I always wait till the shantyman has sung HIS chorus before I drown him out with mine, but others aint as courteous as meself ;-) (I do sometimes sing my own version anyway, just to drive folks nuts)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Lighter (w/o cookie)
Date: 17 Aug 04 - 08:29 PM

Ahoy, Dead Horse !

Try this (essentially from Harper's Magazine, about 1880, IIRC):

                Oh, Shenandoah is my native valley,
                   Ah ha! you rolling river!
                Oh, Shenandoah is my native valley,
                   Ah ha ha! you Shenandoah!

But inciting to riot is a felony.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Snuffy
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 08:39 AM

Or this chorus from the Carpenter collection

And away you Santy
My dear honey
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka
The polka, the polka
Can't you dance the polka
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Lighter at work
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 09:08 AM

Snuffy, but what about the preceding verse? I get only,

          My father w........
          My mother..........(store?)
          My sister plays (the) piano,
          And (I? either?)..........

The rest of the song isn't much clearer. At least the chorus is okay.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Snuffy
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 09:16 AM

My transcription is at home, but from memory I hear something like

My father he's a ......
My mother she's a (whore?)
My sister ...........
And I .... (your back door?)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Snuffy
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 06:59 PM

Faulty memory. Here's what I had written down

My father he was a [fettler?]
And my mother [she'd adore?]
My sister she's a [runner?]
And I [lend?] your back door

The [fish?] goes down to Soho
The [aim?] goes down to [Sound?]
The [bath chair?] is so very cold
You would not [buff?] them up


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Lighter w/o cookie
Date: 18 Aug 04 - 07:09 PM

Hi, Snuffy ! Will spend some time this eve. listening some more. Am reasonably sure about "My sister plays (the) piano ('peeanna')." First line could start "My father 'was a' or 'wears a.'" Was a "baker"? "beggar"? "Wears a medal?"

Final line is a real mystery to me. More tomorrow.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Kingston Trio
Date: 18 Dec 04 - 01:55 PM

When I was a little girl I used to listen with my family to the Kingston Trio sing a rousing rendition of this song on a record player. It may have been The Kingston Trio at The Hungry I, but I am not sure. I was delighted to hear this song again after about 40 years, in the movie, Gangs of New York. But until now I never really knew all the words. I still don't understand, "And sent me round Cape Horn?"


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Lighter
Date: 18 Dec 04 - 03:34 PM

Might as well mention that my final, still imperfect transcription is on another thread: "LYR ADD: Scott's version of "Can't You Dance the Polka."

As was the custom of the day, the boarding-house master, Martin Churchill, signed the hapless sailor aboard a ship bound round Cape Horn and sold him an outfit for the amount of his advance. Thus the sailor is victimized a second time. Instead of arriving home, he's forced to sail on a long and dangerous voyage for little money.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CAN'T YOU DANCE A POLKA
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 08:34 PM

Lyr. Add: CAN'T YOU DANCE A POLKA
Davis and Tozer, 1887, "Sailors' Songs
or "Chanties."

1.
Solo
Oh, once I loved a pretty girl
That I called Rosie mine,
Her cheeks were red, her hair did curl,
She was as straight as a line.
Chorus
And away Rosie,
My own Ro':...
Oh, my New York girls,
Can't you dance a polka?
2.
Solo
She lived down in a little street
Close by the old clock tower;
And ev'ry eve we used to meet
And wander by the hour.
Cho
3.
Solo
One night I went unto her house,
And knocked low at the door;
And heard my Rosie's little feet
A-tripping o'er the floor.
Cho
4.
Solo
She ope'd the door and whispered low
"I can't come out tonight,
My father's here, you'd better go,
Oh! dear, I'm in a fright."
Cho
5.
Solo
I said, "I'll not go off like this
So do not be afraid;
Just ope the door, give me a kiss,
Rosie, my pretty maid."
Cho
6.
Solo
"Oh leave me quick, be off my dear
If you care for my life;
The man whose footsteps you now hear
Calls me his wedded wife."
Cho
7.
Solo
And so I wandered quick away,
Before her husband came;
I thought unwise 'twould be to stay,
Not knowing Rosie's name.
Cho
8.
Solo
I wedded then a New York girl
As true to me as steel;
She puts my brain quite in a whorl
So happy I do feel.
Cho

No. 6, pp. 12-13, with score. The authors remark that this Chanty will be better and easier to play if transposed down a half note to key of D (two sharps).
Davis and Tozer, 1887, "Sailors' Songs or Chanties," Boosey & Co., Ltd. London. Taken from the 3rd, revised ed., 1906, with 50 chanties and songs, but also in the 1st ed. of 1887. Listed with anchor songs.

Versions in the DT are modern.
A number of chanteys show descent from popular songs, and this seems to be one of them.
Sometimes related to the 1843 minstrel song, "New York Gals," but only the name is similar.

The polka was introduced to Prague society in 1835; it became popular in Vienna in the 1840's and in the 1850's took both New York and London by storm. Band arrangements were popular during the Civil War.


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Subject: Lyr Add: CAN'T YOU DANCE THE POLKA?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 08:51 PM

Lyr. Add: CAN'T YOU DANCE THE POLKA?
W. B. Whall, 1910, "Sea Songs and Shanties."

1.
Solo
As I walk'd down the Broadway
One ev'ning in July,
I met a maid who axed my trade,
"A sailor John," says I;
Cho
And a-way you santee,
My dear Annie.
O you New York girls,
Can't you dance the polka?
2.
Solo
To Tiffany's I took her,
I did not mind expense;
I bought her two gold earrings,
They cost me fifty cents.
3.
Solo
Says she, "You lime-juice sailor,
Now see me home you may."
But when we reached her cotage-door
She unto me did say-
Cho
4.
Solo
"My flash man he's a Yankee,
With his hair cut short behind;
He wears a tarry jumper,
And he sails in the Black Ball Line."
Cho

pp. 47-48, with score.
W. B. Whall, harmonized by R. H. Whall and Ernest Reeves. 1910, "Sea Songs and Shanties," Brown, Son & Ferguson, Ltd., Glasgow.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: EBarnacle
Date: 11 Jun 07 - 11:41 PM

Now, I don't mind the money
As some other sailors might,
But I wish someone would tell me,
Did I have some fun that night?


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Subject: Lyr Add: CAN'T THEY DANCE THE POLKA! (R Maitland)
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 12 Jun 07 - 12:06 AM

Lyr. Add: CAN'T THEY DANCE THE POLKA!
Sung by Richard Maitland

1.
Shipmates, if you'll listen to me,
I'll tell you in my song
Of things that happened to me
When I came home from Hong Kong'
Cho.
To me way, you santy,
My dear honey!
Oh, you New York gals,
Can't they dance the polka!
2.
As I walked through Chatham Street,
A fair maid I did meet,
Who kindly asked me to see 'er safe home,
She lived on Bleeker Street.
3.
Says I, "My dear young lady,
I'm a stranger here in town!
I left my ship just yesterday
And for Boston I am bound."
4.
"Now, if you'll only come with me,
You can have a treat.
You can have a glass of brandy, dear,
And something nice to eat.
5.
"And if you'll only come with me-
The distance is not far!"
This fair maid seemed so kind to me
I hailed a passing car.
6.
When we got up to Bleeker Street
We stopped at No. 44,
Her "mother" and her "sister" were there
To meet us at the door.
7.
When we got inside of the house,
The drinks were passed around.
The liquor was so awful strong
My head went round and round!
8.
My lady friend said she'd a brother
Who was then away at sea,
The last time that they heard from him
His ship was in Shanghee.
9.
Just before we sat down to eat
We had another drink.
The liquor was so awful strong
I quickly fell asleep.
10.
When I awoke next morning,
I had an aching head.
There I was, Jack all alone,
Stark naked in the bed!
11.
My gold watch and my pocketbook
And lady friend were gone.
There I was, Jack all alone,
Stark naked in the room.
12.
On looking round the little room,
Nothing could I see
But a woman's shift and apron,
Which were no use to me.
13.
With a flour barrel for a suit of clothes,
I went down to Cherry Street.
There Martin Churchill took me in
And sent me around Cape Horn.

In the refrain, Dick Maitland sometimes sang: Oh, you New York girls, can't you dance the polka!

This modern version, plot borrowed from older songs such as "The Shirt and the Apron*," is more to the taste of current singers of sailors' songs. Also reminiscent of the story line in "The Winnipeg Whore" as sung by Oscar Brand.
Pp. 58-60, with score. W. Doerflinger, 1951, "Shantymen & Shantyboys, Songs of the Sailor & Lumberman," The Macmillan Co., NY.

*Greenleaf and Mansfield, 1933 (2004 facsimile), "Ballads and Sea Songs of Newfoundland," no. 112, pp. 222-223. Memorial Univ. of Newfoundland.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Lighter
Date: 12 Jun 07 - 07:37 AM

The familiar stanza quoted by EBarnicle was almost without doubt written by Oscar Brand. Just as clearly, the version sung by Brand was modernized from Maitland's text.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,baz parkes
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 07:36 AM

Having read all this thread I am severely disappointed.

As a Black Country boy, I was looking forward to someone pointing me in the direction of Noddy Holder's version....:-))

Baz


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 01:09 PM

Hmmmm....


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Pete
Date: 13 Jun 07 - 05:52 PM

I had "He wears a pair of red topped boots and he sails on the Blackball Line".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Schantieman
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 05:37 AM

or red sea-boots

Or maybe Red Sea boots (which perhaps could be worn with the rest of Red Sea Rig).

Hugill gives the following as the original chorus, if I remember correctly...

And it's oh, you Santee
My fair maid
Oh you New York girls
Can't you dance the polka?


Steve


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Q (Frank Staplin)
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 03:52 PM

Original?

Hugill gives several versions of the chorus.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Rog Peek
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 04:21 PM

Really takes me back, this was a favourite at the Brunel University Folk Club in Acton W. London in 1966/67. (The version posted by Roberto as far as I can remember.)

There was another thread asking 'what got you into folk music', or something like that. Well I suppose for me, it was going to these folk sessions.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: Rog Peek
Date: 14 Jun 07 - 04:28 PM

Another favourite was this one:
@displaysong.cfm?SongID=5047


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Slade's Can't you dance the Polka?
From: irishenglish
Date: 20 Oct 09 - 05:08 PM

Slow day here...so thought I would revitalize this thread to ask a question about it. I have heard many versions of this over the years, most notably the Steeleye, Oysterband, and Finbar Furey ones. I know in the Digitrad there are two versions, but what I am asking is what "Santy" or "Santee", or any other variant of it is refering to? I can find no reference to what this means and have always wondered. Sailor slang?


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: JWB
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 10:02 PM

Irishenglish,

I went straight to the source, and here's what Stan Hugill writes in "Shanties from the Seven Seas".

"The older Packet ship words were: Away you Santi, my dear honey... or Away you Santi, my dear Annie... Sometimes too one would hear 'Away you Johnnie, my dear honey' or 'my fair man' (Bullen), but in the main 'Santi' was sung. Now no one as ever given a real reason, or meaning, for this word; it just appears to be a meaningless name of some sort. I thought so too, until I came across a version giving 'Away you Santa, my dear Anna' and the explanation become clear – the mysterious 'Santi' or 'Santa' being nothing more than the two first syllables of our friend 'Santi-anna' or 'Santa-anna' or, as it was usually written, 'Santiana'!"

Santiana is another chantey, the subject of which is the 19th-century Mexican general Santa Aña. So, according to the author of the chantey bible, Santi is a mustachioed Mexican military man.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Sl
From: Amos
Date: 21 Oct 09 - 10:58 PM

It would seem the provenance of the song was around the period when Santyanna was Pubilc Enemy#1 in these United States. It seems to me Hugill's explanation is quite in keeping with the tendency toward jocularity in American songs, especially salty ones.


A


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: meself
Date: 22 Oct 09 - 12:12 AM

Would it be too much of a stretch to suppose that in the era under consideration - when Santa Anna was "Pubilc Enemy#1 in these United States" - a woman named Anna might be nicknamed "Santa Anna", or "Santie Annie" (particularly, a woman of dubious character, or a madame)? (Was this perhaps the implication of Hugill's note?)

Keep a weather-eye out for other examples of same, shipmates.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: irishenglish
Date: 22 Oct 09 - 02:28 PM

Gentlemen, and especially Jerry, I thank you for your efforts very much!!!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: JWB
Date: 22 Oct 09 - 10:23 PM

You're welcome. Looking back over the earlier postings, I find that on 16 Aug 04 - 08:12 PM "Guest petr" noted that the song refered to Santa Anna. S/he beat me to the punch by 5 years.

Jerry


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Sl
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 22 Oct 09 - 10:37 PM

Pure speculation, but I'd be inclined to think that the "original" lyric was something else -- perhaps "Susanna," as in one of the other versions offered by Hugill -- and that it was later cross contaminated by the Santianna chantey.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: shipcmo
Date: 17 Oct 10 - 12:14 PM

refresh


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: GUEST,alfred
Date: 21 Oct 12 - 04:23 PM

Theres also the Santee river in south carolina an area populated by Gaelic speaking scotsmen could the river of gotten its name from the scottsman too!


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: threelegsoman
Date: 22 Oct 12 - 07:23 AM

My won version of this shanty can be found with lyrics and chords at:

Can't You Dance The Polka (threelegsoman)


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: threelegsoman
Date: 22 Oct 12 - 07:24 AM

Sorry got a touch of dyslexia there. Should have read My own ........


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 09 Aug 13 - 11:46 PM

Looking back a few years at my comment...
Pure speculation, but I'd be inclined to think that the "original" lyric was something else -- perhaps "Susanna," as in one of the other versions offered by Hugill -- and that it was later cross contaminated by the Santianna chantey.

I have a new theory, though I still think the "Santy Annie" bit is cross-contamination or the imagination of late-period presenters (including Mr. Hugill and his Bible!).

I have been looking over the various original renditions on record. In this thread we have some texts. Davis and Tozer's (which is surely filled with a lot of nonsense), which FWIW has 'Rosie.' Whall has,

And a-way you santee,
My dear Annie.

And you know what? His is the only one that matches "santee" with "Annie." The others, if they have some form of "Santy," finish off with "honey" or something else.
(Hugill mixed Whall's version into his melting pot of ingredients from every book he'd read, so you'll also find a "Santy-Annie" in there.)
Nor is there any consensus that "Can't you dance the polka?" was the standard line. It is a variation, that was sung by some. Also common was the line of "they love us for our money" (or whatever)—which actually rhymes with "honey."

Alden, in his 1882 article, had:

As I was lumbering down the streets of bully London town,
I spied a Yankee clipper ship to New York she was bound.
And hurrah, you Santy, my dear honey;
Hurrah, you Santy, I love you for your money.

So, a few things:
1) "Annie" does not confirm "Santy" as "Santa Anna," because "Annie" is only attested the once.
2) "Honey" is the most consistently cited, and one can see how Whall's "Annie" and Bullen's "man" could be derived from that. FWIW, Alden thought the use of the word "honey" earmarked it as an African-American song—or, more accurately, a song with slang that he perceived as Black slang. He may not be correct, but i think these *perceptions* by contemporary observers are notable.
3) "Honey" helps to confirm the "money" one as the last line, at least in some common version. Though I can't say what happened, it seems likely that the "money" line came first, and then the "polka" one developed from that.

4) Some people would agree (as I think Q stated above) that the song has the feel of a minstrel song. (And I think this is essentially what Alden, who said the song was "unmistakably negro" was getting at; he made little effort to distinguish minstrel material from what we might call "authentic" Black singing.) But *which* minstrel song, if any, was it based in?

5) Even if "Santy" does not match "annie," and therefore was not "Santianna" split in two, what was "Santy"? Hugill's passage, quoted by Jerry above:

"The older Packet ship words were: Away you Santi, my dear honey... or Away you Santi, my dear Annie... Sometimes too one would hear 'Away you Johnnie, my dear honey' or 'my fair man' (Bullen), but in the main 'Santi' was sung. Now no one as ever given a real reason, or meaning, for this word; it just appears to be a meaningless name of some sort. I thought so too, until I came across a version giving 'Away you Santa, my dear Anna' and the explanation become clear – the mysterious 'Santi' or 'Santa' being nothing more than the two first syllables of our friend 'Santi-anna' or 'Santa-anna' or, as it was usually written, 'Santiana'!"

Now here is my suggestion for the minstrel song inspiration. Note that, per my view of chanties, the varying solo lyrics are not very important, because in chanties they would either be improvised or themes from elsewhere would be spliced in. Chorus and tune are what's important, with perhaps the solo lyrics providing a general "feel."

"Cynthia Sue" was a song sung by Christy's Minstrels. Mahar (_Behind the Burnt Cork Mask_, 1999) dates it to 1844.

Here's a link to one version of lyrics, as they appeared in _Christy's Nigga Songster_ (1850). It begins,

Long 'fore dis time, dis nigger dwell
In a place called Tuscanoe;
I loved a gal with tarry [tawny?] skin—
Her name was Cynthia Sue.

Oh, Cynthia, my darlin' honey,
Oh, Cynthia, I lub you more den money!


http://books.google.com/books?id=W2ZCAAAAYAAJ&pg=PA80&dq=%22Cynthia+Sue%22+chris

Here's sheet music of a LATER version of some sort. The lyrics have changed (in the chorus, notably), but you can see the tune of the chanty.

http://www.thehackley.org/viewer/?nam=Cynthia+Sue+%3A+as+sung+by+Christy's+Minst

And here's a rendition of this (1859 version?) by Timothy Twiss:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a6PX-rzD1q8

So my theory....dun dun dun!.... is that "Santy" came from the two-syllable "Cynthia".


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: GUEST,SqueezeMe
Date: 10 Aug 13 - 02:05 AM

Somewhere in the very dim and equally distant past, I was told (possibly by the late Eric Ilott???) that the "Away, you santy, my dear Annie" was a corruption of the name of several seaports or maritime locations.

Just another theory....

MC


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: Rumncoke
Date: 10 Aug 13 - 07:34 PM

I know this from way back. with Santy and Annie - it is very like the version posted on 11th of June 07 but the emergency attire is flour sacks, not a flour barrel.


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Subject: RE: Lyr Req: Can't You Dance the Polka? (from S Slade)
From: Lighter
Date: 10 Aug 13 - 08:26 PM

> So my theory....dun dun dun!.... is that "Santy" came from the two-syllable "Cynthia".

Very plausible, esp. if "Cynthia" was pronounced "Cinthy/ Cinty/ Cindy," as the other dialect spellings seem to suggest.

And the next step (not universal) would have been "Santy...Annie" - via "Santa Anna."


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Can't You Dance the Polka?
From: Amos
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 12:54 AM

I am sure they are derived from Santa Ana, the Mexican general. DUring the period when AMericanseafaring was booming into legendary status.

Remeber this? "The Battle of the Alamo (February 23 – March 6, 1836) was a pivotal event in the Texas Revolution. Following a 13-day siege, Mexican troops under President General Antonio López de Santa Anna launched an assault on the Alamo Mission near San Antonio de Béxar (modern-day San Antonio, Texas, USA). All of the Texian defenders were killed. Santa Anna's perceived cruelty during the battle inspired many Texians—both Texas settlers and adventurers from the United States—to join the Texian Army. Buoyed by a desire for revenge, the Texians defeated the Mexican Army at the Battle of San Jacinto, on April 21, 1836, ending the revolution."

Hundreds of American songs from the period use Santa Ana's name as a refrain, a target of obloquy, or a nonsense syllable.


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Can't You Dance the Polka?
From: Gibb Sahib
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 02:20 AM

Amos--

I am sure...

You missed the part where I said that there is only one reputable source that has anything like "Santa Ana." It has "santee ... Annie." I have probably looked at as many or more documented versions of this song as anybody, and them's the not-so-exciting results.

All the evidence points to something else being sung originally. It is plausible that somebody who heard that "something else" was thinking "Santa Ana" and so turned it into "santee---Annie". But this random misunderstanding only yielded the one documented version (Whall)—and Whall makes no note he was thinking of "Santa Ana." "Santa Ana" being a popular character in songs is a truism that, given the evidence we have, appears to have no relevance to the origin of this chanty.

But then Hugill comes along. If he had not read Whall's version, there is a great chance he'd have never had any cause to speculate about "Santa Ana." "Santa Ana" would never be on the table in the first place, and we wouldn't be talking about it. I challenge you NOT to think about a monkey.

This is a repeated pattern in the chanty discourse. Some early 20th non-historian produces a random variation or throws in a fun idea. Then that is all churned up in Hugill's book like "And BTW FWIW IIRC, so and so uncritiqued or unnamed source says *this*.... Just sayin'!" Then people read the Hugill as the Bible (or one of its offshoots)...the guy was blessed with a lovable personality, ...do a little "folk process" in their minds (= taking the Folkie equivalent of a roofie) such that what they read in that book becomes what they seem to remember they "heard." When some one asks for proof of what they "heard," Hugill's book is produced and it appears to corroborate the information. I did this once as a kid with my friend and a Quija board. We asked the Quija a question, and I pushed it to the answer I knew was in a book I owned. Then I of course produced the book and my friend got some nice chills down his spine...Whoah, the Spirit had actually spoken!

Seen it a hundred times... Jack Ketch the Hanging Johnny, A-roving to the Rape of Lucrece, the Elizabethan Bowline haul, the 'Blood' Red Roses, the British sailors that loved the Mexican Army, the 19th century Scots lament of Lowlands, Hunting for Huckleberries in Maine, The endless punishments of the Drunken Sailor and the Captain's Daughter and her Cat 'o' Nine, Black Ball officers blowing men down, Yankee slave ships going down the Congo River, Irish Wild Geese, Samoan refrains, Dutch 'hoeker' boats, Sicilian Ranzos... Someone oughta make a Snopes.com for this stuff =)


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Can't You Dance the Polka?
From: Lighter
Date: 11 Aug 13 - 08:26 PM

Just to be clear, I'm not saying that "santee...Annie" *means* "Santa Anna" in some magical-mystical-shantical way. Only that "Cynthia...honey" could plausibly have taken the final step to "santee...Annie" because of the familiarity of "Santa Anna." But it could just as easily have come straight from "Annie." The word we academics use for this common phenomenon is "coincidence." I believe that is Gibb's take as well. (What Whall may have thought about it or not is beside the point.)

BTW, S. D. Saunders's pop song, "Can't You Dance the Polka?" (with different words but a somewhat reminiscent tune) was in print by Feb. 22, 1845. The chorus goes:

Can't you dance the Polka?
Won't you dance the Polka?
The joys of earth are little worth,
Unless you dance the Polka.

Evidently it was a long-standing chart-topper. The operatic soprano Dame Nellie Melba recalled it as one of the most popular songs in Melbourne around 1870.


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Can't You Dance the Polka?
From: Amos
Date: 12 Aug 13 - 02:35 AM

Well, there's no question, for example, about who they're talking about in "All On the PLains of MEX-i-co", which in turn probably descends from the bloodlines of several more widely known shanties. But you are correct--I am not ahistorian, just an enthusiastic amateur with an ear for tongues.


A


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Can't You Dance the Polka?
From: GUEST,Dave H
Date: 04 Jun 17 - 07:38 AM

Santy simply means Saint. Saint Anne is patron saint of sailors, amongst other things.
There you have it.


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Can't You Dance the Polka?
From: the lemonade lady
Date: 21 Jul 17 - 03:00 PM

Fascinating discussion here. Loved reading this as we're thinking of adding it to our repertoire
Sal


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Subject: RE: Origins/ADD: Can't You Dance the Polka?
From: Dave the Gnome
Date: 22 Jul 17 - 05:19 AM

I always spoonerise the last line.

Oh, you New York Gals, can't you poke the dancer.

:D tG


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