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Oooh! Poor ol' Reuben Ranzo,
(Chorus: Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!)
Oooh! Poor ol' Reuben Ranzo,
(Chorus: Ranzo, boys, Ranzo!)

O Ranzo wuz no sailor,
He wuz a New York tailor.

Though Ranzo wuz no sailor,
He shipped aboard a whaler.

Ranzo couldn't steer 'er,
Did ye ever hear anything queerer.

The mate he wuz a dandy,
Far too fond of brandy.

They put him holystonin',
And cared not for his groanin'.

They said he wuz a lubber,
And made him eat whale-blubber.

He washed once in a fortnight,
He said it was his birthright.

They took him to the gangway,
An' gave him lashin's twenty.

They gave him lashes thirty,
Because he wuz so dirty.

The Capten gave him thirty,
His daughter begged for mercy.

She gave him cake an' water,
An' a bit more than she outer.

She taught him navigation,
An' gave him eddication.

Ranzo is now a skipper,
Of a Yankee whaler.

He married the Ol' Man's daughter,
An' still sails on blue water.

He's known wherever them whalefish blow,
As the toughest bastard on the go.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Hugill, Stan, (1969), Shanties and Sailors Songs, London, Herbert Jenkins

SBN 257-65768-1

Unverified tradition has it that Reuben Ranzo was a Boston tailor who was shanghaied aboard a whaling vessel, and subjected, as the song states, to the hardships and indignities of life at sea on a long voyage. Other variants of the halyard shanty are kinder to poor Reuben: the daughter of the skipper intercedes for him, he becomes a good sailor, and marries her. References: Doerflinger, p. 23; Colcord, p. 70.

Other versions of the lyrics can be found in the discusssion thread.

Roud: 3282 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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