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“Ranzo” is a sea chantey.

Alternate names

  • Poor Old Rubin Ranzo
  • Reuben Ranzo
  • Robin Ranzo
  • Roving Ranzo
  • Rubin Ranzo

External links

Liner Notes

Ranzo” is track 3 on Shower Chanteys, recorded 18 July 2018 at Mill Pond Music Studio.[1][2]

“Ranzo” is a double-pull halyard chantey, used for raising a yard.[3] I first learned this song at the San Francisco chantey sing; my version is mostly modeled after Stan Hugill’s verses,[4] with particular inspiration from the Danny Spooner and Mystic Seaport Chanteymen recordings.

As with “Blood-Red Roses,” this is one of my favorites to use as an actual halyard chantey at Mystic Seaport. It’s got more of a story than “Blood-Red Roses,” but I’ve known it for so long that the verses come automatically. I prefer to use it on the Charles W. Morgan, due to the whaling reference, but it can easily be used on the Joseph Conrad as well.

There are lots of interesting theories about who Reuben Ranzo was. Smith’s version[5] has a bit more of a Solomon Grundy progression, but Colcord’s[6] is closer to the one Hugill gives. Colcord and Hugill both think the name suggests Portuguese (or Azorean) origin. Hugill also notes that the accusations of uncleanliness against Ranzo are similar to anti-Semitic stereotypes of the time, and together with the profession of a tailor, make Hugill think he might have been a Sephardic Jew. In any case, I like that this chantey has a happy ending for the underdog—though of course, the problem with chanteys in an actual working context is you rarely get to hear how the story ends.


  1. “Ranzo,” recording by Chris Maden. MusicBrainz.
  2. Chris Maden. “Double-header! (pt.1),” Kickstarter update. 18 July 2018.
  3. Glenn Grasso, ed. Songs of the Sailor, p. 33. Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport, 1998.
  4. Stan Hugill. Shanties from the Seven Seas, pp. 175–178. New U.S. Edition. Mystic, Conn.: Mystic Seaport, 1994.
  5. Laura Alexandrine Smith. The Music of the Waters, pp. 19–20. London: Kegan Paul, Trench & Co., 1888.
  6. Joanna C. Colcord. Songs of American Sailormen, pp. 69–71. Enlarged and Revised Edition. New York: Bramhall House, 1938.