Music Of The Waters - online book

Sailors' Chanties, Songs Of The Sea, Boatmen's, Fishermen's,
Rowing Songs, & Water Legends with lyrics & sheet music

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TOO              Music of the Waters.
and " The Boatie Rows," there is not another water-song amongst the ordinary editions of Scotch Melodies, whereas in similar editions of English Standard Songs, a very large proportion are of a nautical nature, though certainly not sufficiently so to please sailor-men. They may seem to us all that can be desired in the way of " go " and salt-like vigour. We may feel that the " Arethusa," the " Bay of Biscay," or " Hearts of Oak," surpass themselves in their heartiness and national pride, and so they do, and when we hear them we are carried away by them, and think what is there in the world to equal them. Well, the sailor evi­dently does not agree with us. I remember an old " salt" once saying to me that "The Bay of Biscay" was a good song in its way, but not to be compared to " Blow the Man down." I wished to humour the speaker, and for-more reasons than one to keep him in tune, so I did not contradict him, but merely changed the subject, and mar­velled not a little at the strangeness of taste that could find so much inspiration in a tune associated with such words as—
" Give me some time to blow the man down! "
and fail to see the grandeur in Davy's song.
I am afraid Mr. Stephen Adams will scarcely thank me if I narrate some of the encomiums I have heard passed upon his favourite drawing-room sea-songs. " Nancy Lee " is admitted to be somewhat of the right sort, but " Jack's Yarn " they look upon with very mixed feelings ; the com­poser has, however, many admirers and singers of his songs in the young gentlemen in swallow-tailed coats, who delight after-dinner audiences with their yearnings to become bold buccaneers, and can afford to dispense with the approval of the blue-jackets.
Speaking of Scotch songs, there is an old song attributed to Dunbar of a very plaintive character, used when heaving the anchor. The tune is the same as that of " Old Storm-along" :—

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