click to play

I thought I heard the skipper say,
(Leave her Johnny, leave her!)
"Tomorrow you will get your pay:"
(It's time for us to leave her.)

The work was hard and the passage long,
The seas were high and the gales were strong.

The food was bad and the wages low,
But now ashore again we'll go.

The sails are furled and our work is done.
But now on shore we'll have some fun.

abc | midi | pdf
Source: Singing Together, Summer 1968, BBC Publications

Listed simply as 'Capstan Shanty.' This shanty is covered in some detail in Stan Hugill's "Shanties from the Seven Seas", where he says:

The later version Leave Her, Johnnies or as some sang it Leave Her, Bullies was sometimes sung during the voyage - at the pumps - but its better-known function was that of airing grievances just prior to the completion of the voyage either when warping the vessal in through the locks or at the final spell of the pumps (in wooden ships) after the vessal had docked. Many unprintable stanzas were sung, directed at the afterguard, the grub, and the owners. Bullen writes that 'to sing it before the last day or so was almost tantamount to mutiny.' C Sharp sees a resemblance in the tune to the old folk-song from Somerset I'm Seventeen Come Sunday and he also believes it to have hymn connections; and Doerflinger notes that it is like the ballad called the Two Sisters.

I have added a tempo that was not indicated on the music but roughly matches the speed of versions I have heard.

Roud: 354 (Search Roud index at VWML) Take Six

Browse Titles: A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W Y Z