Johnny Come Down to Hilo

 

I nebber see de like since I been born,
When a big buck nigger wid his sea boots on,
Says "Johnny come down to Hilo,
Poor old man!"

Chorus:
Oh! wake her, Oh! shake her,
Oh! wake dat girl wid de blue dress on!
When Johnny comes down to Hilo,
Poor old man.

I lub a little girl across de sea,
She's a Badian beauty, and she says to me,
"Oh! Johnny come down to Hilo,
Poor old man!"
Chorus:

O, was you ebber down in Mobile Bay,
Where dey screws cotton on a summer day?
When Johnny comes down to Hilo,
Poor old man.
Chorus:

Have you ebber seen de old Plantation boss
Wid de long tailed filly and de big black hoss?
When Johnny come down to Hilo,
Poor old man!
Chorus:

I nebber seen de like since I been born,
When a big buck nigger wid his sea boots on,
Says "Johnny come down to Hilo,
Poor old man!"
Chorus:

 


 

One of the many purely negro shanties, 'Johnny Come Down to Hilo' is also a windlass and capstan one. The great early twentieth-century writer on the subject of the sea, Frank Bullen, has rosy memories of hearing it on "a dewy morning in the Garden keach where we lay just off the King of Oudh's palace awaiting our permit to moor. I was before the mast in one of Bates' ships, the Herat, and when the order came at dawn to man the windlass I raised this shanty and my shipmates sang the chorus as I never heard it sung before or since.-. sometimes, even now, I can in fancy hear its mellow notes reverberating amid the fantastic buildings of the palace and see the great flocks of pigeons rising and falling as the strange sounds disturbed them."