Miss Lucy Long - Shanty U.K. Archive

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Miss Lucy Long

Miss Lucy Long

This seems to be quite a mongrel of a shanty: "Miss Lucy Long" was a massive and long-lived hit in Minstrel Shows - by the mid-1840s it had already become the standard closing number of many shows, and remained so for some twenty or more years, but despite this popularity, it seems to have bequeathed the shanty with very little except its title. Unlike the original, the shanty is very rare, with only two sources known: - Sharp and Terry both collected it from John Short of Watchet, while  Hugill "picked it up in Trinidad in 1931".

All versions consist mainly of floating verses which are also found in other shanties.The Broomielaw verse comes last in Short's version, but first in Hugill, who mentions Glasgow's connection with the Jamaica rum and sugar trades. But it seems likely that many similar "Were you ever in ..." verses commonly found in the Highland Laddie/Donkey Riding family of shanties also often saw service here. Short's verse about the baby dressed in green seems to be unique, and its significance remains unknown, although it may have connections from the original minstrel song, which contained the line "Take your time Miss Lucy Long, rock de cradle Lucy."

Hugill gives it as a capstan shanty, and notes that the tune for the verse is identical to that for The Sailor Loves His Bottle-O. but the two obvious pauses in the chorus give the tune a distinctly Caribbean favour, and could have been the places where the pulls came if it was used for hauling.

Roud Number 8285
Click to play MIDI file
Miss Lucy Long
Miss Lucy Long

Was you never down at the Broomielaw,
Where them Yankee boys are all the go

Timme way hey-ey-ey-ey, ey-ey-ey-aha
My bully Boys, aha
Oh, why don't you try for to woo Miss Lucy Long

Oh, when I went down there one morning fair,
To view the view and take the air

It was there I met with Miss Lucy fair
It was there we met, I do declare

Tipped my hat and told her "How do?". Said she
"I will not be seen with such like you"

"Oh, you sailors, you smell of tar, and besides,
I know well what kind you sailors are."

"My friend is a mate in the Blackball line
With his uniform and peaked cap fine."

Oh I left her there on the quay alone
For that girl was way too smart for me

Timme way hey-ey-ey-ey, ey-ey-ey-aha
My bully Boys, aha
Oh, why don't you try for to woo Miss Lucy Long
Oh, why don't you try for to woo Miss Lucy Long

- + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + - + -

Additional verses from John Short

Oh, I raised my hat and I said "Hello"
Hitched her up and I took her in tow

Well, I wrung her all night and I wrung her all day
I wrung her before she went away

Oh she left me there upon the quay
Left me there and went away

Now Miss Lucy had a baby,
She dressed it all in green-o

As sung by Risor Shantykor
Play MP3
Miss Lucy Long, sung by Risor Shantykor
Take Your Time, Miss Lucy

The original "Miss Lucy Long" was published in 1842, and became an instant hit. It was soon expanded into a comic skit with dialogue and a male actor in drag as a sort of pantomime dame "Lucy" (at this period all the performers in the Minstrel Shows were not only white, but also male). Like most songs of this type, it is nowadays found to be highly offensive, triply so in this case for not only its racist elements, but also for the blatant misogyny and the degrading descriptions of Lucy's physical appearance. White audiences of the time found it hilarious that the "male" singer could fancy someone so unattractive, and whom they knew to be another man as well.

I jist come out afore you,
To sing a little song,
I plays it on the banjo,
And dey calls it Lucy Long.

Oh take your time Miss Lucy,
Take your time Miss Lucy Long.
Oh take your time Miss Lucy
Take your time Miss Lucy Long.

Miss Lucy she is handsome,
And Miss Lucy she is tall,
To see her dance Cachucha
Is death to niggers all.

Oh! Miss Lucy's teeth is grinning
Just like an ear ob corn,
And her eyes dey look so winning!
Oh would I'd ne'er been born.

I axed her for to marry
Myself de toder day,
She said she'd rather tarry
So I let her habe her way.
Pray &c.

If she makes a scolding wife
As sure as she was born
I'll tote her down to Georgia
And trade her off for Corn.

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