A Long Time Ago – Shanties Family

List of the A Long Time Ago – Shanties Family

  1. A Long Time Ago (A)
  2. A Long Time Ago (B)
  3. A Long Time Ago – Cecil Sharp Version
  4. A Long Time Ago (D)
  5. A Long Time Ago (E)
  6. A Long Time Ago (F)
  7. A Long Time Ago (G)
  8. A Long Time Ago – Gordon Hitchcock version
  9. A Long Time Ago – Harding Barbadian melody version

Interesting Facts about the A Long Time Ago – Shanties Family

A Long Time Ago (A) was very popular on English and American Ships. It was probably, in the nineties of XIX century of the most-used halyard shanty of them all. Even the Germans and Scandinavians popularized versions in their own tongues. This song was sung as a halyard shanty.

Stan Hugill, says, the halyard is a word invented by combining two words “Haul” and “Yard” and we have “Halyard”.

According to Stan Hugill, it was two hard pulls, and after every pull, the yard goes up a couple of inches. Three sails have been hoisted (those with raising up yards) to be raised in a single mast: Upper Topsail, Upper Topgallant, and Royal, in those sails, were hoisted to the singing of “Halyard Shanties”. It was one of the hardest work on the ship.

another yard

When Shantyman sings line keeping the line from the top usually with the second mate, he was singing the line of the verse, this was waiting time for a job when the chorus starts on, all crew down bellow, through the patent block (usually 3-4 sailors), did a crazy pull on the rope, and an end, another pull of the rope in end, this happens twice, and this is the base construction on halyard shanty.

Haul the halyard rope

Short story of the A Long Time Ago – Shanties Family

According to Stan Hugill, the patterns sang to this shanty, are:
(1) “The ‘Frisco Ship” (from an A.B. of the New Zeland tops’l schooner Huia);
(2) The “If” version (Captain Kihlberg, ex-scots barque “Fasces”);
(3) The “Noah’s Ark” version (Bosun Chenoweth, ex-“Mount Stewart”);
(4) A “Roll the Cotton Down” version (this version was very popular);
(5) A “Blow the Man Down” version (from the singing of Paddy Delaney);
(6) An “A-rovin’” version (mainly bawdy);
(7) A “Time for us to go” version;
(8) A “China Clipper” version (from the singing of Jock Anderson).

My private collection of books

Shantyman library –  you will see descriptions and recommendations of positions worth diving into, true sources of knowledge about sea shanties. To gain knowledge about sea shanties is the main ultimate purpose of this library, every book in this library is somehow related to sea shanties and before mast songs.

More involvement in Traditional Sea Shanties

You can find this record here or directly listen below. If you want to discuss the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here.