Robert Palomo - New Old Sea Songs

Bound for the Rio Grande - Audio, Video, Lyrics

According to my English shantymate Peter, this is a traditional windlass and capstan shanty that was one of the most popular of shanties on British merchant ships when leaving port and pulling up the anchor. Not surprisingly therefore, the traditional words are about saying goodbye. Departure was a big deal back in those days, because the chances of a sailor not returning were much greater. 

Like most traditional songs, there are variations on both the the words and the melody floating around. I've stayed with the melody that I've heard most often recorded and sung at festivals. As for the lyrics, maybe it was due to the long dark northern winter "blahs", but I decided to start with a couple of traditional verses, and follow with some of my own (which nonetheless borrow snatches from traditional verses I've heard sung), to make the song a circular story. That is, not merely the uncertainty of leaving, but also the joy of sea voyaging, and the hope of returning.  Yes, I have taken artistic liberties. I hope King Neptune will be Ok with it. 

Fair Warning! 
Both Banjo and Accordion (actually Concertina) are present in this recording! 

The musical arrangement is deliberately "schmaltzy". You are welcome to make cow-milking gestures while listening to it. 

P.S. In case you are wondering, the Rio Grande in this song is not the one along the US-Mexico border, but rather a port in the most southerly state of Brazil, which was and still is an important sea trading port.

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Song art image - Bound for the Rio Grande

Lyrics

I shall sing ye a song
Of the fish of the sea 
Away for Rio 
I shall sing ye a song
Of the fish of the sea 
For I'm bound for the Rio Grande 

And it's away, my love, away 
Away for Rio 
Fare you well, my pretty young girl 
I am bound for the Rio Grand 

I said farewell to Kitty my dear 
Away for Rio 
She waver her small hand 
As we left the south pier 
Bound for the Rio Grand 

And it's away, my love, away 
Away for Rio 
Fare you well, my pretty young girl 
I am bound for the Rio Grand 

Now out ship's gone a-sailing 
Out over the bar 
Away (Hey!) for Rio 
And we've pointed her nose 
To the southern star 
We are bound for the Rio Grande 

And it's away, my bullies, away 
Away for Rio 
Fare you well, our Liverpool girls 
We are bound for the Rio Grande 

And what shall we do here 
My bully boys all? 
Away down Rio 
We shall laden this ship 
As the seagulls call 
Down on the Rio Grand 

And sail away, bullies, away 
We're away from Rio 
Oh wait for us, ye Liverpool girls 
We are bound from the Rio Grand 

And it's away, my love, away 
I'm away for Rio 
Oh fare you well, my pretty young girl 
I am bound for the Rio Grande


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Written, performed and produced by Robert Palomo. Copyright ©2020 - All rights reserved.