The Fishes – W. B. Whall

Interesting Facts about The Fishes – W. B Whall

Here are The Fishes – W B Whall, forebitter version of the great shanty, sang usually at the capstan and at the pumps “The Fishes”. This version mentioned by Stan Hugill belonging to the W. B. Whall, and comes from his book “Sea Songs Ships & Shanties” (4th extended edition 1913). According to Captain Whall:
…”this song, probably owed much of its popularity to the good chorus. This song has a good opportunity for the improviser. Even if he got off the beaten track it did not matter much, as any verse gave an opportunity for the chorus. Out
of many such I remember hearing:

” The next came the conger as long as a mile,
He gave a broad grin and continued to smile.”

Sometimes the improviser broke down, but the chorus promptly chipped in and saved the situation.
According to Stan Hugill, the version of W. B. Whall appears to have been used as a forebitter rather than as a shanty, and in this way, I will reconstruct it.

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 198).

The lyrics:  “Sea Songs Ships & Shanties” by W. B. Whall (4th extended edition 1913).

Mentioned in: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed p 197,198).

The Record of The Fishes – W. B Whall

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

The musical notation

The Fishes (Whall) - music notation

The full lyrics

The Fishes (Whall)

Oh, a ship she was rigg’d, and ready for sea,
And all of her sailors were fishes to be

– Windy weather! Stormy weather!
– When the wind blows we’re all together.

* 2 *

O, the first came the herring, the king of the sea,
He jumped on the poop, “I’ll be captain,” said he.

* 3 *

The next was a flat-fish, they call him the skate,
“If you be the captain, why sure, I’m the mate.”

* 4 *

The next came the hake, as black as a rook,
Says he, “I’m no sailor, I’ll ship as the cook.”

* 5 *

The next came the shark, with his two rows of teeth,
“Cook, mind the cabbage and I’ll mind the beef.”

* 6 *

And then came the codfish, with his chuckle-head,
He jumped in the chains: began heaving the lead.

* 7 *

The next came the flounder, as flat as the ground,
“Chuckle-head, damn your eyes, mind how you sound.”

* 8 *

The next comes the mack’rel, with his stri-ped back,
He jumped to the waist for to board the main tack.

* 9 *

And then came the sprat, the smallest of all,
He jumped on the poop, and cried, “main topsail haul.”

Related to this Forebitter

Roll Alabama Roll! – Forebitter

Rolling Home – W. B. Whall

The Limejuice Ship (Long Chorus)

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