The Nipper

Words and music: Ian Geddes
(Recorded by Tom Lewis on 360 All Points of the Compass)

Now way back when I was a nipper,
Before them steam engines came along
Great ships was drove by the power of the wind,
Sails blossomed aloft to the lilt of a song,
Anchors was heaved up by manpower,
Sometimes took half of the crew,
There was songs for that capstan-work also.
Aye, Jack Tar knew a shanty or two.

Now sometimes there might be a fiddle,
Or maybe a sailor lad pounding a drum,
But you never did get the whole story,
'Cos the song would stop when the hauling was done.
Then boxes for phonograph records,
With a windlass clapped on at the side,
Replaced "foo-foo bands" in the fo'c'sle,
And the old sailor songs nearly died.

For a while there were whole generations
Who never heard "Ranzo" or "Blow The Man Down".
You might sometimes hear "Drunken Sailor",
Never knowing 'twas sung as the capstan went round.
These days we're singing the shanties,
They're twice as much fun as back then,
'Cos we don't have to stamp round no capstan,
And we sing 'em right up to the end!

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