New York Girls

Also known as 'Can't You Dance the Polka?' this song achieved considerable popularity to the folk song revival of the late fifties and early sixties. On the packets it was used as a capstan shanty, though here it is sung more as a forebitter. This set is culled from one of the versions given by Hugill, and, in common with many other forebitters, gives an account of Jack Tar's treatment on shore at the hands of the "doxies," ladies whose livelihood depended on keeping him entertained, but whose honesty and trustworthiness as companions was sometimes questionable. Other versions are given by Colcord and Doerflinger

As I walked out an South Street, a fair maid I did meet,
Who asked me then to see her home, she lived on 14th Street,
     And away, you Johnny, my dear honey,
     Oh, you New York girls, you love us for our money.

I said: My dear young lady, I'm a stranger here in town,
I left my ship just yesterday, from Liverpool I was bound.

She said: Come with me, my dearie, and I'll stand you a treat,
I'll buy you rum and brandy, dear, and tab-nabs for to eat.

And when we got to 14th Street we stopped at Number Four,
Her mother and her sister came to greet us at the door.

Then when we got inside the house the drinks was handed round,
That liquor was so awful strong, my head went round and round.

When I awoke next morning, I had an aching head,
And there was I, Jack-all-alone, stark naked on the bed.

I looked all around the room, but nothing could I see,
But a lady's shift and pantaloons, not worth a damn to me.

With a flour barrel for a suit I wished I'd never been born,
A boarding master picked me up and he shipped ma round Cape Horn.

So come all you bully sailormen, take warning when ashore,
Or else you'll meet some charming girl who's nothing but a whore.

Your hard-earned cash will disappear, your rig and boots as well,
For Yankee girls are tougher than the other side of Hell

© Golden Hind Music