BLOW THE MAN DOWN

Posted on Posted in Breedloves's Folk Songs
BLOW THE MAN DOWN
.
“Blow the Man Down” originated in the Western Ocean sailing ships. The tune could
have originated with German emigrants, but it is more likely derived from an African-
American song Knock a Man Down. Blow the Man Down was originally a halyard
shanty. A variant of this is The Black Ball Line (with a more positive view of the
Blackball Line as well). Western Ocean Law was Rule with a Fist.
“Blow” refers to knocking a man down with fist, belaying pin or capstan bar. Chief Mates
in Western Ocean ships were known as “blowers,” second mates as “strikers” and third
mates as “greasers.” By 1880 the sailing ships were being replaced by steamers and the
packets entered other trades or were sold. There are countless versions of “Blow the Man
Down”.
I’ll sing you a song, a good song of the sea
With a way, hey, blow the man down
And trust that you’ll join in the chorus with me
Give me some time to blow the man down
There was an old skipper I don’t know his name
With a way, hey, blow the man down
Although he once played a remarkable game
Give me some time to blow the man down
His ship lay be-calmed in the tropical sea
With a way, hey, blow the man down
He whistled all day but in vain for a breeze
Give me some time to blow the man down