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Come-all-ye

Posted by Shae on April 23, 2003

In Reply to: Re: Well, blow me down posted by ESC on April 23, 2003

: : : I'm curious to know the origin of the phrase "Well, blow me down" or just "Blow me down."

: : It means knock me down. It's common in sea shanties and I think it means a physical blow rather than a gust of wind.

: From the archives:

: "'Blow the Man Down' originated in the Western Ocean sailing ships. The tune could have originated with German emigrants, but it is more likely derived from an African-American song 'Knock a Man Down.'" From http://www.contemplator.com/folk4/blowdown.html

: BLOW THE MAN DOWN

: Come all ye young fellows that follow the sea,
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: And pray pay attention and listen to me,
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

: I'm a deep water sailor just in from Hong Kong,
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: if you'll give me some grog, I'll sing you a song,
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

: 'Twas on a Black Baller I first served my time,
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: And on that Black Baller I wasted my prime,
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

: 'Tis when a Black Baller's preparing for sea
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: You'd split your sides laughing at the sites (sights?) that you see.
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

: With the tinkers and tailors and soljers and all
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: That ship for prime seaman on board a Black Ball.
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

: 'Tis when a Black Baller is clear of the land,
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: Our Boatswain then gives us the word of command
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

: "Lay aft," is the cry,"to the break of the Poop!
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: Or I'll help you along with the toe of my boot!"
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

: 'Tis larboard and starboard on the deck you will sprawl,
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: For "Kicking Jack" Williams commands the Black Ball.
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

: Pay attention to order, now you one and all,
: to my way haye, blow the man down,
: For right there above you flies the Black Ball.
: Give me some time to blow the man down.

And that's a nice example of one of those endless ballads known as a 'come-all-ye.'

COME-ALL-YE, n. (pejor), a traditional ballad, especially a long-drawn-out one < 'Come all ye lads and lassies,' etc., a common opening line of such ballads. 'Well, he got up to sing a come-all-ye, twenty verses or more - we thought he'd never sit down!' - A Dictionary of Hiberno-English.