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Tommy's gone to Hilo Town
(away you Hilo!)
Where all them gals they do come down
(Tom's gone to Hilo!)

Hilo town is in Peru,
It's just the place for me an' you.

Tommy's gone to Liverpool,
To Liverpool, that packet school.

Yankee shellbacks ye'll see there,
Wild red-topped boots an' short cut hair.

He signed for two pound ten a month,
No more than two pound ten a month.

Tommy's gone to Baltimore,
To dance upon a sandy floor.

Tommy's gone to Mobile Bay,
A-screwin' cotton all the day.

Tommy's gone to far Quebec
A-stowin' timber on the deck.

Tommy's gone to Cally-o
He won't come back from there I know.

Tommy's gone to Vallipo,
He'll dance them Spanish gals, y'know.

Tommy's gone to Pernambuck
He's gone to get a nip an' tuck.

Tommy's gone to Montreal,
In a packet ship wid skys'ls tall.

Tommy's gone to Rye-o Grand,
He's rollin' in the yellar sand.

Tommy's gone to Singapore,
Oh, Tommy's gone for evermore.

Oh, haul away, my bully boys.
Oh haul away, kick up some noise.

Now hoist 'er up an' show 'er clew,
Oh we're the barstards to kick 'er though!

One more pull, lads, then belay,
Ooh! One more pull an' then belay.

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Source: S Hugill, 1994, Shanties from the Seven Seas,Mystic Seaport Museum, Conn.

The song tempo is given as 'Slowly'; I have picked a tempo that seems to roughly match the version I learnt at school.

Stan Hugill wrote:

The game played by the shantyman was to take Tom (or John) to as many ports of three syllables as he could think of. Harlow gives a couplet:

To Hilo Town we'll see her through,
For Tom has gone with a ruling crew

in which the phrase 'ruling crew' smacks of South Australia. Terry has an unusual pair of stanzas:

Tommy fought at Trafalgar (Repeat)
Brave old Victory lead the way (Repeat)


The place name 'Hilo' - whether in Hawaii or Peru - is pronounced with a soft 'i', but seamen always pronounced these soft 'i's' - in songs - as 'eye' e.g. Rio - 'Rye-O', California - 'Californye-O', etc. Therefore 'Hilo' was sung 'High-low', that is in the second refrain and in the dolos, but in the first refrain I feel that I am right in saying that the soft sound was used - 'hee-lo-o-o', in this case it being a sort of yodel aimed at the good singers of shanties.

Roud: 481 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

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