Blackbird Get Up

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“Blackbird Get Up” is a sea chantey.

External links

Liner Notes

Blackbird Get Up” is track 9 on Shower Chanteys, recorded 20 December 2017 at Mill Pond Music Studio.[1]

“Blackbird Get Up” is a rowing chantey from St. Vincent,[2] and has one of the most fascinating (to me) stories of all these songs. Yankee whalers would sometimes set sail with a skeleton crew and pick up additional hands in the Caribbean, including French-creole speakers from St. Vincent. The Vincentians learned how to hunt whales from longboats, and they learned some of the English-language chanteys. They didn’t really have the infrastructure to build whaling ships on St. Vincent, but they could and did build whaleboats; they would put to sea in the boats and hunt whales near the shore. In addition to the English chanteys they’d learned, they developed some songs of their own; this is one of them. (Their version of “Shenandoah” is also an amazing example of the folk process.) The Mudcat thread linked above has some more details and discussion.

This video has some retired Barrouallie whalemen rowing a whaleboat, from the Sea Music Festival at Mystic Seaport, 2014. A search for “Barrouallie” will find a bunch of other videos by these guys if you like that.

I found the recording a little painful, as I was coming off a cold, but it came out OK, thanks in part to Jim’s technical wizardry in the studio.[3]


  1. “Blackbird Get Up,” recording by Chris Maden. MusicBrainz.
  2. Roger D. Abrahams. Deep the Water, Shallow the Shore: Three Essays on Shantying in the West Indies. Austin: American Folklore Society, 1974.
  3. Chris Maden. “New rough cuts (1 of 2),” Kickstarter update. 20 December 2017.