Spanish Ladies

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Spanish Ladies” is a family of sea chanteys.

  • The British version was the first, apparently arising from the separation of Royal Navy men from their Spanish wives and sweethearts at Gibraltar when the Napoleonic wars ended; its verses give a navigational mnemonic for the English Channel and around Dover to London. This one is always in a minor key.
  • The New England version is very similar, but describes a whaling ship’s return to New Bedford. I’ve heard minor and major key versions of these words.
  • The Newfoundland version seems always to be in a major key, and describes a return trip to Toslow, Newfoundland, Canada.
  • The Australian version is about driving sheep across the Outback.