Michael Watson – The Powder Monkey (1885)

Michael Watson – The Powder Monkey

I read about this beautiful song of the sea from Stan Hugill’s greatest book “Shanties from the Seven Seas”. In his book, on page 148 of the first edition, he gives us only the chorus of this song. It seems to be based on the chant of “Donkey Riding”, he did not remember the source or composer of this song. The song according to Stan Hugill’s description points to this song at the time in the 1850s. Unfortunately, in “Shanties from the Seven Seas” we can only find the chorus. Here is the oldest source of this beautiful song I could get.

This is the 59th edition written and composed by Michael Watson “The Powder-Monkey” (An Old Salt’s Story), published by London: Patey & Willis, [n / a]. Interesting information on the cover says that “this song may be sung in public free of charge”. However, two things are most important to me, the first one – is this is the first song in Stan Hugill’s book, which is not a sea shanty or a forebitter, it is a full-blooded “shore sea-song”, two – is the melody of the verses spectacularly changes the whole song, the refrain itself sounds like a sea shanty.

Do you want to be more involved?

You can find excellent records of sea shanties here. If you want to discuss this book or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or below post in the comment section.

Related to The Powder Monkey

Halina Stefanowska – Rozspiewane Morze (1975)

Jim Mageean – Sail Away (2021)

Gibb Schreffler – Boxing The Compass (2018)

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