“The Liverpool Song”


"'Twas in the' cold month of December... I shipped in the clipper ship 'Defender....'" The singer complains of sailing along with a lot of foreigners who "didn't know a word of English But answered to the name o' 'Month's advance.'"

Supplemental text

Liverpool Song, The
  Partial text(s)

          *** A ***

From David W. Bone, Capstan Bars, 1932. Informant not listed; said
to have been heard in 1900.

Twas in the' cold month of December
When all my money I had spent,
I shipped in the clipper ship "Defender,"
An' away to the west-ard I went.

  An' it is "Get ye back." Ho!
    "Take in yer slack." Ho!
      Heave away th' capstan. Heave a pawl.
        Heave a pawl!
      'Bout ship: stations, boys, be handy.
      Raise tacks, sheets, an' mains'l haul!

There was Dutchmen an' Roossians an' Spanish,
An' Johnny Creepaws straight across from France,
An' most didn't know a word of English,
But answered to the name o' "Month's Advance.

(Stanzas 1, 5 of 7)


Roud lumps this with "Paddy, Get Back," which clearly inspired it, but Bone notes that a sailor used each shantey "for its own special purpose on deck and it was rarely heard within the fo'cas'le, for entertainment...."

"[T]he elder hands maintained that the rousing of a chanty 'when ther worn't no call' could not but offend some presiding deity. But there were fo'cas'le ditty that could be sung in lieu and they had, in words and tune, a close resemblance to the chanty proper."

On that basis, I split them, though this hardly seems to exist in its own right.

There was an American clipper named _Defender_, launched in Boston in 1855 and wrecked in the South Pacific in 1859; I doubt it is the same ship. - RBW

Cross references

  • cf. "Paddy, Get Back" (form, lyrics)


  1. Bone, pp. 140-144, "The Liverpool Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. ST BonCB140 (Partial)
  3. Roud #653
  4. BI, BonCB140


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1932 (Bone); he reports learning it in 1900