Fo'c'sle Song, "Blow Ye Winds"
This is one of the most famous of the songs relating
to the New England whaling trade. This song was not
a worksong or shanty, but was sung when the sailors
were off duty in the forecastle or on deck. Such
songs are referred to as fo'c'sle (forecastle) songs and were sung by sailors both on ship and off. The song contains an interesting description of recruiting and working a sailor on board a whaler.
To hear a clip of "Blow Ye Winds," click on the "play music" button above.
Tis advertised in Boston,
New York and Buffalo,
Five hundred brave Americans
A-whaling for to go.
Chorus: Singing, blow ye winds in the morning,
Blow ye winds, heigh-o,
Clear away your running gear
And blow ye winds heigh-o.
They sends you to new Bedford,
That famous whaling port,
And gives you to some landsharks there
To board and fit you out.
They sends you to a boarding-house,
There for a spell to dwell;
The thieves there are thicker than
The fleas are thick in Hell.
They tells you of the famous ships
A-going in and out,
And says you'll have 500 sperm
Before you're ten days out.
But now we're out to sea, my boys,
And the winds begin to blow,
And half the watch is sick on deck
And the other half sick below.
The captain he is up aloft,
a-looking for them whales,
the mate he's on the quarterdeck,
a-squinting at the sails.
Now over with my boats, my boys,
And after him we'll travel,
But don't you get too near his tail
Or he'll kick you to the devil.
And when we've got him upside down,
We'll tow him alongside,
And over with our blubber-hooks
To rob him of his hide.
And when our ship is full of oil
And we don't give a damn,
We'll bend on every sail we've got
And steer for Yankee land.
And when our good ship is made fast
And we are through our sailing,
A glass of rum we'll pass around
And damn this greasy whaling.
"Blow Ye Winds" sung by Gale Huntington on 'Folksongs from Martha's Vineyard.' Folkways Records FA 2032, 1958. Provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings (FW02032_202). Used by permission.