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All for Me Grog / Across the Western Ocean/Plains

[ Roud 475 ; G/D 3:580 ; Ballad Index K274 ; Wiltshire Roud 475 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang All for Me Grog in 1956 on his Riverside album English Drinking Songs (and in 1961 on the Topic EP All for Me Grog which is just an extract of the LP). He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

Here we have a sailor's song from the last bitter days of sail; a hard-scrubbed, threadbare relic of hearty “Yo-ho-ho” songs of old. Jack Tar is no longer jolly—his boots are scuffed, the rags of his shirt-tail flog him in the breeze, the alcoholic horrors are not far off and it's time to look for a ship again.

An Australian variant of this is the title track of Lloyd's 1958 album, Across the Western Plains. He commented in the sleeve notes:

In the latter days of sail the seamen had a song called Noggin Boots or Across the Western Ocean. It was a bitter song about the sailor with his boots scuffed and his shirt-tail “looking out for better weather,” who has spent all his money on girls and gin, and now with the horrors not far off he has to take a ship across the Western Ocean once again. The song drifted to Australia, and some ingenious bushwhackers remade it to suit local conditions, and called it Across the Western Plains. The Sydney Bulletin printed a version of the Australian re-make in May 1916, at it was included in the 1926 edition of Paterson's Old Bush Songs.. No doubt, many country workers learned it from these two sources. The tune, well-known among seafarers, was not hard to come by. Sung straight, the song never seemed to me wildly exciting, but I once heard a drunken shearer named White sing it on a station near Bethungra, N.S.W., in a way that would make the hair stand on end. Ever since, I've tried to release this song from its hobbles, but I've never been as successful as Mr White.

Martyn Wyndham-Read sang Oh for Me Grog in 1966 on his album Australian Songs and in 1971 on his eponymous Trailer album Martyn Wyndham-Read.

The Watersons sang quite a different version of All for Me Grog in 1966 on their eponymous album The Watersons and on the Topic Sampler Sea Songs and Shanties. Like all but one track from The Watersons, it was re-released in 1994 on the CD Early Days. Once again, A.L. Lloyd commented in the original album's sleeve notes:

Once again, the Watersons got this song from the collections of Frank Kidson. Helen Creighton, the distinguished Canadian collector, found a version in Nova Scotia and suggests that the song was originally a music-hall favourite. As Across the Western Plains, the song is well-known in Australia, in versions relating to the adventures of a pastoral worker. As a sea shanty, the song was used in English ships for both capstan and halyard work.

Lea Nicholson sang this song as All Through the Beer in 1971 on his Trailer album Horsemusic.

Roy Harris sang All Through the Ale in 1972 on his Topic album The Bitter and the Sweet.

Then 90-years old George ‘Tom’ Newman of Clanfield, Oxfordshire, sang All for the Grog at home on August 5, 1972 to Mike Yates. This recording was included in 1975 on the Topic album of countryside songs from Southern England, When Sheepshearing's Done, and, as My Old Hat That I Got On, in 1998 on the Topic anthology They Ordered Their Pints of Beer and Bottles of Sherry (The Voice of the People Series Volume 13). Mike Yates commented in the first album's liner notes:

Until recently it was a custom in southern English pubs to perform All for the Grog as an ‘action’ song: the singer removing his clothes as the song progressed! The collector Alfred Williams did not appear to have witnessed such a performance, when, in 1923, he wrote, “An old song, though not a particularly inspiring one. Nevertheless, in spite of the poet's poverty, he could be optimistic, though I fear such optimism was rather feigned than real.”

Louis Killen, Jeff and Gerret Warner and Dud Benson sang All for Me Grog in 1976 on the Collector album Steady As She Goes. This track was also included in 2004 on the Smithsonian Folkways anthology Classic Maritime Music. Louis Killen also sang it in 1977 at the Philadelphia Folk Festival and in 2003 on the Fellside anthology Song Links: A Celebration of English Traditional Songs and Their Australian Variants. Dave de Hugard sang the corresponding Australian variant, Across the Western Plains.

Cyril Tawney sang All Through the Beer on his 1994 Neptune cassette of songs about drink and drinkers, Down the Hatch. It was included as All Through the Grog on his 2007 anthology The Song Goes On.

Walter Pardon sang Here's to the Grog in a recording made by Mike Yates that was included in 2000 on his Musical Traditions anthology Put a Bit of Powder on It, Father. Mike Yates commented in the accompanying booklet:

This song is almost only found in England—scattered the length and breadth of the country—aside from three examples from Australia and one each from Canada and Scotland. Only George ‘Tom’ Newman of Clanfield, Oxfordshire, and George Collinson of Hull, Yorkshire, are known to have recorded it apart from Walter.

Magpie Lane with Ian Giles in lead sang My Old Hat That I Got On in 2002 on their CD Six for Gold. They commented in their liner notes:

From Tom Newman of Clanfield in Oxfordshire. Born in 1882, Tom seems to have been quite a character. He played drums in a local dance band, and in later life often took his one-man band to Bampton on Whit Monday. John Baldwin, in the 1969 Folk Music Journal, wrote that he “tends to become very excited when singing: sitting in a chair and pumping the floor with his feet alternately, and similarly his knees with clenched fists”.

The All for Me Grog chorus turns up with various sets of words all over England, and as far afield as Australia. It was sometimes used as part of a Mummers’ play, as for example at Sapperton in Gloucestershire. Mike Yates’s recording of Tom Newman singing the song can be heard on Volume 13 of the Voice of the People set.

We have been unable to find a definition of ‘gone for a sutter’. The meaning is obvious but what is a sutter? John Baldwin suggests it is a corruption of ‘asunder’; if you know better, do please let us know!

Jon Loomes sang All for Me Grog in 2005 on his Fellside CD Fearful Symmetry.

Jim Moray sang Across the Western Ocean in 2008 on his CD Low Culture.

Jon Boden sang the Watersons' version of All for Me Grog as the October 21, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Belinda O'Hooley and Heidi Tidow sang All for Me Grog in 2015 on their CD Summat's Brewin'. They commented:

Traditionally a sailor's song which we heard sung by Louisa Killen. The chorus and first verse are traditional, and we've written the other verses to include some more, err, modern references!

Granny's Attic sang All for Me Grog on their 2014 CD Better Weather, taking the album's title from a phrase in this song. They commented in their liner notes:

This is a tradition song from the perspective of the sailor who, having spent all of his money on women and alcohol, must once more take a ship across the Western (Atlantic) Ocean. Our version is based on the one documented in Yorkshire in 1929 by Frank Kidson and Alfred Edward Moffat.

Jon Wilks sang My Old Hat That I Got On on his 2017 album Songs from the Attic.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings All for Me Grog

Chorus (after each verse):
All for me grog, me jolly jolly grog
All for me beer and tobacco
For we spent all our tin with the lassies drinking gin
And across the western ocean we must wander

Where are me boots, me noggin', noggin' boots
All gone for beer and tobacco
And the heels they are worn out and the soles are knocked about
And me toes are looking out for better weather

I'm sick in the head for I haven't been to bed
Since first I came ashore with me plunder
I see centipedes and snakes and I'm full of pains and aches
So I better make a push out over yonder.

Where is me shirt, me noggin', noggin' shirt
All gone for beer and tobacco
And the collar is wore out and the front is knocked about
And the tail is looking out for better weather

A.L. Lloyd sings Across the Western Plains

Chorus (after each verse):
Oh for me grog, oh me jolly jolly grog
Oh for me beer and tobacco
Well I spent all me tin on a shanty drinking gin
Now across the Western Plains I must wander

I'm stiff stoney broke and I've parted with me moke
And the sky is looking black as flaming thunder
And the shanty boss is too for I haven't got a sou
That's the way you're treated when you're down and under

Well I'm crook in the head for I haven't been to bed
Since first I touched this shanty with me plunder
I see centipedes and snakes, and I'm full of pains and aches
So I'd better make a push out over yonder

I'll take that Old Man Plain and I'll cross it once again
Until me eyes the track no longer see, boys
And my beer and whisky brain looks for sleep but all in vain
And I feel as if I had the Darling Pea, boys

So hang that blasted grog, that hocussed shanty grog
And the beer that's loaded with tobacco
Grafting humour I am in and I'll stick the peg right in
And I'll settle down once more for some hard yakka

The Watersons sing All for Me Grog

Chorus (after each verse):
All for me grog for me jolly jolly grog
All for me grog and tobacco
For I spent all my store with the lassies on the shore
And it's all for me grog and tobacco

When I come home then my sweetheart I shall see
All for me grog and tobacco
And me sweetheart'll sing when she sees the wedding ring
And it's all for me grog and tobacco

When she's a son for to dandle on her knee
All for me grog and tobacco
And she's sing him to sleep while a sailor's stormy deep
And it's all for me grog and tobacco

When he's a man then a sailor he shall be
All for me grog and tobacco
With his pipe and his can like a proper sailor man
And it's all for me grog and tobacco

George ‘Tom’ Newman sings My Old Hat That I Got On

My old hat that I got on, the crown of him is gone
And the rim's all gone to a sutter.
If I only had one more, if I only had a score,
I would keep my old hat in remembrance.

Chorus (after each verse):
Here's all for the grog, the bonny, bonny grog,
(And) It's/Here's all for the beer and tobacco.
I've spent all my blooming tin with the lasses drinking gin,
And across the briny ocean I must wander.

My old coat that I got on, the sleeves of them are gone
And the tail's all gone to a sutter.
If I only had one more, if I only had a score,
I would keep my old jacket in remembrance.

My old waistcoat that I got on, the front of him are gone
And the back's all gone to a sutter.
If I only had one more, if I only had a score,
I would keep my old waistcoat in remembrance.

My old shirt that I got on, the tail of him are gone
And the front's all gone to a sutter.
If I only had one more, if I only had a score,
I would keep my old shirt in remembrance.

My old socks that I got on, the feet of them are gone
And the top's all gone to a sutter.
If I only had one more, if I only had a score,
I would keep my old socks in remembrance.

My old shoes that I got on, the soles of them are gone
And the tops all gone to a sutter.
If I only had one more, if I only had a score,
I would keep my old shoes in remembrance.

Final chorus:
It's all through the grog, the bonny, bonny grog,
It's all through the beer and tobacco.
I've spent all my blooming tin with the lasses drinking gin,
And across the briny ocean I must wander.

Walter Pardon sings Here's to the Grog

I've got a good old cap, boys, a cap boys, you see
A cap that you wear in cold weather
With the peak all out and the lining flying about
Was done through the cold frosty weather.

Chorus (after each verse):
Here's to the grog, boys, jolly, jolly grog
Here's to the wine and tobacco
I've spend all my tin on the ladies drinking gin
An' across the briny ocean I must wander.

I've got a good old coat, boys, a coat boys, you see
Coat that you wear in cold weather
With the pockets all out and the lining flying about
Was done through the cold frosty weather.

I've got a good old jacket, boys, a jacket boys, you see
Jacket you wear in cold weather
With the pockets all out and the lining flying about
It's done through the cold frosty weather.

I've got some good old trousers, boys, trousers boys, you see
Trousers you wear in cold weather
With the flies all out and the buttons flying about
It is done through the cold frosty weather.

Acknowledgements and links

The Watersons' All for Me Grog was transcribed by Garry Gillard. The Across the Western Plains lyrics I borrowed from Mark Gregory's Australian Folk Songs website.

See also the Mudcat Café thread Origin: All for me grog.