One of the most popular sea shanties, with many variations. It was a capstan or windlass shanty and an outward-bound song. Hugill states it was commonly sung on ships leaving the West Coast of England and Wales. These ships often stopped in Newfoundland or Cadiz for salt or salt cod. Alternate titles include Away for Rio and Bound for the Rio Grande. The Rio Grande referred to is not the Rio Grande between Texas and Mexico, but the Rio Grande do Sul, in Brazil. Some versions of the song refer to "golden sand." Both banks of the Rio Grande in Brazil have high sand dunes and gold was found in the district. In the 18th century gold was found in southern Brazil. Although gold was also found in the Mexican Rio Grande area, it was not until later, when the song was already well established.
Was you ever in Rio Grande?
Heave away for Rio!
It's there that the river flows down golden sand!
And we're bound for the Rio Grande!
Then away, boys, away,
Away down Rio,
So fare thee well, my pretty young girl,
We're bound for the Rio Grande.
So it's pack up your sea-chest an' get underway,
The girls we are leavin' can have our half-pay.
Our ship went sailin' over the bar,
We've pointed her bow to the southern stars.
You Liverpool judies, we'll have you to know,
We're bound to the south'ard and glad for to go.
We're a Liverpool ship & a Liverpool crew,
You can stick to the coast but I'm damned if we do!
Goodbye to Ellen & Molly & Sue,
You park lane judies, it's goodbye to you.