Donkey Riding

 

Stan Hugill described the stow-away shanty Donkey Riding in his book Shanties from the Seven Seas, pp. 119-20:

A shanty with words similar to [Hieland Laddie] and the same or almost identical tune is Donkey Riding. This was also very popular among the timber droghers both in Liverpool and Canadian ports, and was used as both a capstan and runaway song when working cargo. I had my version from an old shipmate called Spike Sennit, who said it was just as popular at sea as in port. The compiler of the Oxford Song Book (II), who gives a version very similar to mine, states that it was “not a shanty … but … a song which helped the ship's company stow deck cargo.” I'm afraid this is tying the meaning of the word shanty down a bit too tightly! Many work-songs used by seamen and dockers to stow cargo (in particular lumber and cotton) were the same as those used for capstan and other jobs at sea. And vice versa. Both Bullen and Doerflinger tend to show this, as well as do shanty books in Scandinavian languages. Many Scandinavian shanties used at capstan and pumps were sung when stowing timber aboard Baltic barques and timber droghers. Much improvisation was given to this song and many indecent lines found in the regulation verses.

Often people sing "Way hey and away we go", but Hugill lists it as "Way O" I kinda like it.  Take yer pick: 

Lyrics:

Were you ever in Quebec
Stowin' timber on the deck?
Where ye'd break yer bleedin' neck
Riding on a donkey!

chorus:
Way O and away we go
Donkey riding, donkey riding
Way O and away we go
Riding on a donkey.


Were you ever off the Horn
Where it's always fine and warm?
Where's there's a lion and a unicorn
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever in Cardiff Bay
Where the folks all shout, "Hooray!"?
"Here comes Johnny with his six months pay
Riding on a donkey."

Were you ever in Timbucktoo
Where the gals are black and blue?
And they wriggle their arses, too
Riding on a donkey.

Were you ever in Vallipo
Where the gals put on a show?
Wriggle their arse with a roll and go
Riding on a donkey.

Wuz ye ever down Mobile Bay
Screwin' cotton all the day?,
A dollar a day is a white man's pay.
Ridin' on a donkey.

Wuz ye ever in Canton
Where the men wear pigtails long,
And the gals play hong-ki-kong?
Ridin' on a donkey.

Wuz ye ever in Mirramashee
Where ye tie up to a tree,
An' the skeeters do bite we?
Ridin' on a donkey

Wuz ye ever on the Broomielaw
Where the Yanks are all the go,
An' the boys dance heel an' toe?
Ridin' on a donkey.