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Shadow Boats

Words and Music by Bill Gallaher © SOCAN, 1991

With a few word changes by Charlie Ipcar, 2017

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Cigarette Rum Runner 1921 – c/o Mariners Museum Image Collection
Cigarette Rum Runner 1921 – c/o Mariners Museum Image Collection

I remember, just south of the line, when the law up and closed all the bars,
Them government people made some folks so thirsty, they were drinking their whiskey from jars;
Just another American Plan, so down from the Island we'd run
Dodging the driftwood, the police and the bullets, when out of the nighttime we'd come,
With a boat-load of whiskey and rum!

We flew on the night sea so fast that we outran those blazing American guns,
And it wasn't for the money or the rum or the whiskey, it was making those shadow boats run!

Like shadows we ran in the night, with no moon to speak of at all,
And respect was the first thing you learned, for the sea has its own way to make you feel small;
It'll grab you and never let go, as fast as a dog grabs a bone,
With her rip tides and currents and waves just like mountains, that tear into white sheets of foam;
It's a wonder we ever made home.


They were good times those times that we had, though we knew we were breaking the rules,
But some rules, you know, are made to be broken, by rebels and rum-running fools;
Now I often look back on those years, there's little ahead that remains,
And if time weren't a river and I had the chance, I'd do it all over again,
The same way we did it back then!

Chorus x2

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Inspired by the book Rumrunner – The Life and Times of Johnny Schnarr by Marion Parker and Robert Tyrell, Orca Book Pub, 1988.

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