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Shanghai Passage

Lyrics from Sailors’ Delight, edited by Cicely Fox Smith, published by Methuen & Co., London, UK, 1931, pp. 9-10; first published in Punch magazine, Volume 180, May 20, 1931, p. 546.; Music by Alan Fitsimmons. Stan Hugill had some wonderful tales on this theme – and told them with a sparkle in his eye!

  1. “Shanghai Brown, Shanghai Brown!”
    The Skipper o’ the Harvest Moon is rampin’ round the town
    Looking for some sailormen to beg or steal or borrow —
    Can’t get a crew an’ he wants to sail tomorrow!
    “Prime seamen’s very scarce just now — but where’s his money down,
    An’ I’ll see what I can do for him,” says Shanghai Brown.
  2. “Shanghai Brown, Shanghai Brown,”
    He’s sent his touts an’ runners out all around the town;
    He’s raked in men both high an’ low, he’s got both black an’ white;
    He’s got the Lauderdale ‘s port watch that only berthed last night;
    He’s got a brace of farmhands with the hayseeds in their hair;
    He’s got a bridegroom and best man, for what does Shanghai care?
  3. An’ he’s shipped ’em in the Harvest Moon, the toughest packet goin’,
    (That never gets a sailorman’ to sign aboard her, knowin’),
    With a hardcase drivin’ skipper, an’ a bull-voiced bucko mate,
    By the Shanghai passage from the Golden Gate.
  4. They’ll be wonderin’ in the mornin’ what it was they drank las’ night;
    They’ll be wonderin’ what’s hit ’em if they show an ounce of fight;
    They’ll be scoffin’ seaboot duff, they’ll be suppin’ handspike gruel,
    An’ dodgin’ the belayin’-pins, and cursin’ Shanghai cruel;
  5. But there’s one won’t wake nor wonder, nor scoff no grub at all,
    Nor drag his achin’ bones along to tally on the fall,
    Nor jump to please the toughest mate New England ever bred,
    Not stand no trick nor lookout — an’ for why? Because he’s dead!
  6. “Shanghai Brown, Shanghai Brown!”
    The Skipper o’ the Harvest Moon is rampin’ round the town,
    Looking for some sailormen to beg or steal or borrow —
    Can’t get a crew an’ he wants to sail tomorrow!
    “Prime seamen’s very scarce just now!,” says Shanghai Brown,
    So he’s took an’ shipped a corp away, has Shanghai Brown,
    By the Shanghai Passage, outer ‘Frisco Town!
Lyrics from the recording: