“Reuben Ranzo”


Shanty. Characteristic line: "Ranzo, boys, Ranzo." Typically concerns the life of Reuben Ranzo, a landlubber who "was no sailor" but wound up aboard ship and had to learn fast -- or, perhaps, had enough schooling to turn to navigation


Linscott speculates that "Renzo" is a corruption of "Lorenzo," which is at least reasonable -- but then comments that "It is probable too that Lorenzo may be a mythical hero." For this supposition there is not a shred of evidence that I can find.

Hugill mentions the "Lorenzo" possibility, but notes that "Reuben" doesn't fit well in that case. He lists three other theories: That it refers to the Danish sailor Daniel Rantzau, that it was an Eastern European Jew with a name like Reuben Ronzoff, or that Reuben derives from the description "Rube" for an inexperienced hand. Evidemce is, of course, lacking.

The ending also varies; Terry mentions Ranzo marrying the Captain's daughter, or being thrown overboard (and having additional adventures undersea), and him being flogged as a thief.

Bone, who has the virtue of actually getting this from sailors, was "inclined to think that [Ranzo] was in the word alone," noting that the word somehow seems to suit the action of hauling. - RBW

Same tune

  • Brindisi Di Marinai (File: Hugi245)

Cross references

  • cf. "Brindisi Di Marinai' (tune)


  • Noble B. Brown, "Reuben Ranzo" (AFS, 1946; on LC26)


  1. Doerflinger, pp. 23-25, "Reuben Ranzo" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
  2. Bone, pp. 54-56, "Ranzo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  3. Colcord, p. 70, "Reuben Ranzo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  4. Harlow, pp. 89-91, "Reuben Ranzo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. Hugill, pp. 240-244 "Reuben Ranzo" (2 texts & fragments, 1 tune - second text is in Swedish & English) [AbEd, pp. 175-178]
  6. Sharp-EFC, XXXII, p. 37, "Poor Old Reuben Ranzo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  7. Linscott, pp. 144-146, "Reuben Renzo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  8. Shay-SeaSongs, pp. 50-53, "Reuben Ranzo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  9. Mackenzie 101, "Reuben Ranzo" (1 text)
  10. Botkin-NEFolklr, pp. 560-561, "Reuben Renzo" (1 text, 1 tune)
  11. Darling-NAS, pp. 313-314, "Reuben Ranzo" (1 text)
  12. Silber-FSWB, p. 83, "Reuben Ranzo" (1 text)
  14. ADDITIONAL: Captain John Robinson, "Songs of the Chantey Man," a series published July-August 1917 in the periodical _The Bellman_ (Minneapolis, MN, 1906-1919). A fragment of "Reuben Ranso" is in Part 2, 7/21/1917.
  15. Roud #3282
  16. BI, Doe023


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1882
Keywords: shanty sailor
Found in: US(MA,NE) Canada(Mar)