Where Am I To Go

This is seemingly a lesser known song in the sea music genre.  Stan Hugill in his “Shanties From The Seven Seas” (1961) tells that he had learned this song from one of his favourite sources (Harding the Barbarian from Barbadoes) and that it was a halyard chantey.  It, therefore, is considered to date to the very early 20th century although some musicologists have mused that they believe it to date some 40 or 50 years earlier… but without any printed proof.  Stan does write that he was unable to find it in print anywhere before he himself published it.  It morphed – like so many of these chanteys do – into something of a folk song although in its work-song form it has been recently revived, most notably in the latest Assassin’s Creed video game and the sea music spin-off recording.  One can find lovely recordings by David Littlefield and by Gordon Bok and by the X-Seamens Institute and by Stuart Markus of the more folk-song version (minor change in the melody) versus the Stan Hugill version performed by The Shanty Crew or by Sean Dagher (I believe that is the gent who sings it in the Assassin’s Creed recording). In every case, it is sung in a 4/4 time.  However, when I present the song and play the concertina to it, it seems to want to slip more into a slow but lively 6/8 walking song; this, in turn, makes it sound more like a pumping chantey.

Jos. Morneault

C                       F
Where am I to go, me Johnnies,
G                        C
Where am I to go?
C        G     C
To me way, hey, hey,
G                            F
Hey, the roll and go.
F                        C
Where am I to go, me Johnnies,
F                        G
Where am I to go?
C       G           C       F
l’m a young sailor lad,
C                        G     C
And where am I to go?

 

Way out on that tops’l yard,
That’s where you’re bound to go….
To me way
Way out on that tops’l yard
To furl the tops’l O!
I’m a young…

Now way out up that t’gallant yard
That’s where you’re bound to go…
Way out on the t’gallant yard
To take the gan’sul in…

Way out on that royal yard,
That’s where you’re bound to go….
Way out on that royal yard
That royal for to stow.

You’re bound away around Cape Horn
That’s where you’re bound to go…
You’re bound away around Cape Horn
Through gale and ice and snow.

Now where am I to go, me Johnnies,
Where am I to go…
Where am I to go, me Johnnies,
Where am I to go…