Notes

Original poem by
William McFee

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Drink to the Men Who've Gone Ashore

Poem by William McFee, 1909
From Songs of the Sea and Sailors' Chanteys, edited by Robert Frothingham,
published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Cambridge, US, 1924, p. 208;
first published in The New York Evening Post.

Verses by Charles Ipcar, 8/14/2011
Tune: Charles Ipcar, 2011

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photo of Singapore's East Quay, circa 1904 Now the Skipper and Chief have gone ashore
They're off to Sailortown,
So I'll tell you a tale of Old Singapore,
While we pass the bottle round.
I'll tell you a tale of Old Singapore,
Of famous Malay Street,
With its samshu dives by the score,
And the rick-sha girls so sweet.

Chorus:
So drink to the men who've gone ashore,
With a one-two-three rum-tum!
Half a dozen men on the mess room floor,
Drink to the men who've gone a-shore,
Six good men with their throats all sore
Yo ho for a bottle o' rum!

As I was cruising down the Street,
After a drop or twa,
I spied a girl just like a pearl,
Alone in a Jin-rick-sha.
So pretty and neat with long black hair,
Dressed in silks so fine,
She smiled at me and waved her hand,
And her jade green eyes did shine.

Chorus

So I climbed aboard and off we rolled,
Through the shadows of the night;
Till we fetched up to her compound gate,
Gleaming in the pale moonlight.
She pulled the cord and a gong did sound,
The dragon gate swung wide;
She took my hand and led me on
To her chamber deep inside.

Chorus

She brought me a glass of samshu wine,
And smiled at me again;
She knelt beside me on the mat
And my head began to spin;
Now when I awoke, late next morn,
My head was still aflame;
I was lying naked on the quay,
Bruised and in great pain.

Chorus

So heed my warning, one and all,
If you're cruising Singapore,
Don't cha spend your nights with the rick-sha girls,
They'll rock and roll you sure;
Don't cha spend your nights with the rick-sha girls,
Don't cruise Old Singapore,
But get married, lads, and settle down,
And go to sea no more,
And go to sea no more!

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Drink to the Men Who Have Gone Ashore

By William McFee, 1909
From Songs of the Sea and Sailors' Chanteys, edited by Robert Frothingham, published by Houghton Mifflin Co., Cambridge, US, 1924, p. 208; first published in The New York Evening Post.

The Skipper and Chief have gone ashore
And each is a married man,
So I'll tell you a tale of Singapore,
Of the ladies of old Japan;
The Second Mate's guitar will twang
And everyone must sing
While Geordie Muir o' Cambuslang
Will gi' ye a Hielan fling:

O drink to the men who have Gone Ashore
With a one-two-three rum-tum!
Half a dozen men on the Mess Room Floor,
Drink to the men who have Gone Ashore
Yo ho for a bottle o' rum!

I told the tale of Singapore
And they laughed till the tears ran down,
So I told another (they asked for more)
Of dear old London Town:
Then Geordie Muir, who'd been to Japan,
He told us a tale or twa
Of a little brown woman and a big brown man
Alone in a Jin-rick-sha:

O drink to the men who have Gone Ashore
(I 'spect they're drinkin' some).
Half a dozen men on the Mess Room Floor,
Six good men with their throats all sore
Drinkin' to the men who have Gone Ashore
(Both of 'em married O dear Lor!
Yo ho for a bottle o' rum!

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Notes:

Karayuki-san

The development of the Japanese enclave in Singapore was connected to the establishment of brothels east of the Singapore River, namely along Hylam, Malabar, Malay and Bugis streets during the late 1890s. The Japanese prostitutes or Karayuki-san dubbed Malay Street as Suteretsu, a transliteration of the English word "street." A Japanese reporter in 1910 described the scene for the people of Kyushu in a local newspaper, the Fukuoka Nichinichi:

Around nine o'clock, I went to see the infamous Malay Street. The buildings were constructed in a western style with their facades painted blue. Under the verandah hung red gas lanterns with numbers such as one, two or three, and wicker chairs were arranged beneath the lanterns. Hundreds and hundreds of young Japanese girls were sitting on the chairs calling out to passers-by, chatting and laughing... most of them were wearing yukata of striking colours... Most of them were young girls under 20 years of age. I learned from a maid at the hotel that the majority of these girls came from Shimabara and Amakusa in Kyushu....

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