Holy stone and sand

Great Big Sea’s new album, Fortune’s Favour, debuts tomorrow — and I just noticed that Track 7 is "Banks of Newfoundland," which happens to be the first Newfoundland song that I ever learned! The chorus, as it’s sung by the Irish Rovers (iTunes link here), goes like this:

We’ll rub her ’round and scrub her ’round
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll say farewell to the Virgin Rocks
On the Banks of Newfoundland!

My father had (and presumably still has) a vinyl record of the 1969 Irish Rovers album The Life of the Rover, which had "Banks of Newfoundland" on it, and he would play it frequently on our old record player when I was a little kid. It was one of my favorites; I used to love singing that chorus when I was, oh, maybe 5 years old. :) I was also a big fan of the end of the final verse — "And to the docks, they come in flocks / The pretty girls will stand / Sayin’ it’s snugger with me than it is at sea / On the banks of Newfoundland!" — though of course I had no idea what those lyrics meant. ;) In the words of Grandpa Loomer, albeit referring to a different bawdy Irish tune that I famously sung at an even earlier age: "What kind of song is that for a three-year-old?" Heh.

Anyway, as is typical for traditional Irish/Maritime music, there are various different versions of the lyrics floating around, and probably different tunes, too. The snippet of an early Great Big Sea demo of "Banks of Newfoundland" that’s played in Canada.com Webisode 11, Part 1, from 5:32 to 6:20, certainly sounds very different from the version I know. (Hat tip: Between The Rock And A Hard Place.) So I really don’t know what Track 7 of Fortune’s Favour will sound like. But I can’t wait to find out! The prospect of hearing my favorite band belt out the hearty chorus of a song that I’ve known for almost my entire life, a childhood favorite, makes me even more excited than I already was for tomorrow’s big debut.

I’ll definitely be using a portion of one of my Father’s Day presents from Becky — an iTunes gift certificate — to buy the album tomorrow. Great Big Sea rocks!

P.S. After the jump, I’ve posted the lyrics of the Irish Rovers’ version of "Banks of Newfoundland," since I couldn’t find that particular lyrical rendition online anywhere.

One or two words may be wrong; the lyrics are based on this version, as modified by me upon listening to the Irish Rovers’ recording.

Ye bully boys of Belfast-town
I’ll have yous to beware
When you sail on them packet ships,
No denim jumpers wear
But have a monkey jacket
And cover up your hands
For there blows cold nor’westerers
On the banks of Newfoundland

We’ll rub her ’round and scrub her ’round
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll say farewell to the Virgin Rocks
On the Banks of Newfoundland!

Well, we had Joe Lynch from Ballynahinch,
Mike Murphy and some more
I’ll tell you boys, they suffered like hell
On the way to Baltimore
They pawned their gear in Liverpool
And sailed as they did stand
And they froze to death up there aloft
On the banks of Newfoundland

We’ll rub her ’round and scrub her ’round
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll say farewell to the Virgin Rocks
On the Banks of Newfoundland!

The mate he stood on the fo’c’sle deck
And loudly he did roar
Saying’, rattle her in, me lucky lads,
We’re bound for America’s shore
Ay, and wipe the blood off that dead man’s face
And heave for to beat the band
For there blows cold nor’westerers
On the banks of Newfoundland

We’ll rub her ’round and scrub her ’round
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll say farewell to the Virgin Rocks
On the Banks of Newfoundland!

And now we’re off the hook me boys,
The land’s all white with snow
Soon we’ll see the pay table
And spend all nights below
And to the docks, they come in flocks,
The pretty girls will stand
Sayin’ it’s snugger with me than it is at sea,
On the banks of Newfoundland

We’ll rub her ’round and scrub her ’round
With holy stone and sand,
And we’ll say farewell to the Virgin Rocks
On the Banks of Newfoundland!

3 Responses to “Holy stone and sand”

  1. Barbara says:

    From the reasons to visit Buffalo file: Friday, August 15th – Great Big Sea Performs in a free open air concert in Lafayette square.

    :)

  2. JD says:

    Oh yeah, you just had your first Father’s Day as a father, didn’t you? Belated congratulations.

  3. Joe Loy says:

    And if you’re still in a nostalgically Celtic mood (paleo-hibernian? pseudo-keltoid? :) , then play this ~ quick, before midnight!

    ;>