Paddy Lay Back

Well known on Liverpool ships, this capstan shanty has survived pretty much intact into our folk idiom, perhaps because of its easy repetitions and vigorous chorus.  Hugill gives no less than 19 verses, though says the last 8 are more recent and from the guano trade.  Five or six are enough for us!

Paddy Lay Back

'Twas a cold and dreary morning in December
 All of me money, it was spent,
Where it went to, Lord, I can't remember
So down to the shipping office I went

Paddy lay back,
Paddy lay back!
Take in the slack,
Take in the slack
Take a turn around the capstan,
Heave a pawl!
Heave a pawl
About ship's stations, boys, be handy
Be handy!
We're bound for Valipariso 'round the Horn!

That day there was a great demand for sailors,
For the colonies, for 'Frisco and for France.
So I shipped aboard a limey barque, the Hotspur,
An' got paralytic drunk on my advance.

There was Spaniards an' Dutchmen an' Rooshians,
An' Johnny Crapoos jist acrost from France.
An' most of them could speak no word of English,
But answered to the name of `Month's Advance!'

I woke up in the mornin' sick an' sore,
I knew I was outward bound again;
I hears a voice a-bawlin' at the door,
``Lay aft, ye sods, an' answer to yer names.''

I wisht I was in the ``Jolly Sailor,''
Along with Irish Kate a-drinkin' beer,
An' then I thought what jolly chaps were sailors,
An' with me flipper I wiped away a tear.