I got this version of the song from Danny Spooner which he had recorded on his 2002 album “Launch Out Onto The Deep”. That wonderful day that he spent largely on my porch trying so patiently – and eventually successfully – to help me break my mental block to understand his concertina style, this was the song we worked on the most. Stan Hugill wrote that it is a focsul forbitter that occasionally saw use as a chantey when stomping ’round the capstan. Based on when Cecil Sharp collected it the song dates at least as far back as 1900-ish and many variations abound.
. Em D Em D
Ye Western Ocean labourers I’d have you all beware,
Em D Em D Em
When ye join with a packet ship, no dungaree jumpers wear;
. G Em G D
But get you a good set of oilskins all ready to your hand,
. Em D Em D Em
For there blow some cold nor’westers on the Banks of Newfoundland!
. G Em
We’ll scrape her and we’ll scrub her
. G D
With holystone and sand,
And remember them cold nor’westers
D Em D Em
On the Banks of Newfoundland.
There’s Barney Lynch from Ballynahinch, Spud Murphy and some more,
By Christ, they worked like hell, me boys, on the road to Baltimore;
They pawned their gear in Liverpool and they shipped as they did stand,
And there blows some cold nor’westers on the Banks of Newfoundland.
Well the mate he comes on the deck, me boys, and loudly he do roar:
“Come rattle her in, me lucky lads! We’re bound for America’s shore!
Go wipe the blood off that dead-man’s face and heave to beat the band,
For there blows some cold nor’westers on the Banks of Newfoundland!”
So now it’s reef and reef, me boys, with the topsul frozen hard,
It’s mount and pass every mother’s son on a ninety-foot tops’l yard.
It’s lay aloft you lazy whores and heave or you’ll be damned!
For there blows some cold nor’westers on the Banks of Newfoundland.
Well now we’re off of the Hook, me boys; the land is white with snow,
We’ll get some time at the pay table and have some time below;
And the pretty girls will come down in flocks and to us they will stand,
Saying, “It’s snugger with me than it is at sea on the Banks of Newfoundland.”