“Johnny Walk Along to Hilo”


Shanty, with chorus, "Johnny walk along to Hilo, Oh, poor old man, Oh, wake her, oh, shake, her, Oh, wake that gal with the blue dress on!" The verses usually consist of a scattering of lines from assorted Black and minstrel songs


Doerflinger says of this song that it was "doubtless invented by colored shellbacks, but [was] just as popular with whites" -- and indeed, Doerflinger's version is in white dialect while Lomax has a Black text. Even more interestingly, they don't have any lyrics in common except the chorus -- Doerflinger's only lyric is from "Uncle Ned," which the Lomax version does not quote. - RBW

Cross references


  • Pete Seeger, "Johnny Come Down to Hilo" (on PeteSeeger04)


  1. Doerflinger, p. 72, "Johnny Walk Along to Hilo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. Colcord, p. 102, "Johnny Come Down to Hilo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Hugill, pp. 266-268, "Johnny Come Down to Hilo," "The Gal With the Blue Dress" (3 texts, 3 tunes) [AbEd, pp. 196-197]
  4. Sharp-EFC, XVI, p. 19, "O Johnny Come to Hilo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Lomax-ABFS, pp. 483-485, "Johnny Come Down to Hilo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Roud #650
  8. BI, Doe072a


Alternate titles: “Johnny Come Down the Backstay”; “Johnny Come to Hilo”; “Shake Her, Johnny, Shake Her!”
Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1914 (Sharp-EFC)
Keywords: shanty nonballad
Found in: US(MA)