Pay me my Money Down

Bruce Springsteen’s 2006 album, We Shall Overcome - The Seeger Sessions notes say this originated as a protest song of the black stevedores in Georgia and South Carolina ports. Unscrupulous ship captains would often insist that their ships be loaded or unloaded upon arrival, then try to pay the workers the next day. That night, they'd slip out of the harbor, stiffing the stevedores. The song then got picked up by other sailors, who created verses about daily life on the ship and the longing for shore leave…The song was collected by Lydia Parrish in her book, Slave Songs of the Georgia Sea Islands (Creative Age Press, 1942). The Georgia Sea Islands were largely populated by escaped slaves, and the music and other culture of the area is especially important because it has many more African retentions than anything on the U.S. mainland.”

Pay Me My Money Down

Pay me, Oh pay me,
Pay me my money down,
Pay me or go to jail !
Pay me my money down.

I thought I heard the captain say,
Pay me my money down,
"Tomorrow is our sailing day."
Pay me my money down.

The very next day we cleared the bar,
He knocked me down with the end of a spar,

I wish I was Mr. Howard's son,
Sit in the house and drink good rum.

I wish I was Mr. Steven's son,
Sit on the bank and watch the work done.