Saturday 2 July 2011

13: We're All Bound To Go

This is an interesting combination of sea shanty and emigration ballad; I take the words (slightly abridged - feel free to contact me or leave a comment below if you're after the full set) and tune from Mersey shantyman Stan Hugill's Shanties and Sailor Songs. He writes: "This greatly liked windlass shanty came into being about the time of the Irish Potato Famine, when thousands of migranting Irish were passing through Liverpool heading for 'Amerikee'. Tapscott was a well-known packet agent of Oldhall Street, Liverpool, and publisher of the famous Tapscott's Emigrant Guide." Windlass shanties (also known as Capstan shanties - as far as I understand it, they're the same thing anyway) were work songs sung during the raising of the anchor.

Liverpool was, of course, a major point of departure for those setting sail for the New Worlds, with some estimates suggesting that between 1830 and 1930 nine million emigrants passed through the docks en route to the United States, Canada, and Australia. A plaque on the gateway to the Clarence docks commemorates in particular those Irish emigrants who passed through Liverpool during the time of the potato famine; it reads, "Through these gates passed most of the 1,300,000 Irish migrants who fled from the Great Famine and 'took the ship' to Liverpool in the years 1845–52. Remember the Great Famine".

In the Roud folksong index, We're All Bound To Go is lumped in with other shanties with the "Heave away my Johnny" refrains as #616.

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