> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Reuben Ranzo

Reuben Ranzo

[ Roud 3282 ; Ballad Index Doe023 ; trad.]

A.L. Lloyd sang the halyard shanty Reuben Ranzo on his and Ewan MacColl's albums Thar She Blows!, The Black Ball Line, and Blow the Man Down, and on the compilations Sea Songs and Shanties (Topic Sampler No 7), Chants de Marins IV: Ballads, Complaintes et Shanties des Matelots Anglais, and Sailors' Songs & Sea Shanties.

A.L. Lloyd commented in the Blow the Man Down sleeve notes:

A great favourite among topgallant halyard shanties. It has been suggested that “Ranzo” is a corruption of the name: Lorenzo. American whaling ships often recruited Portuguese seamen in the Azores, and Ranzo may have been one of these. However, if the song originated in whaling vessels it seems to have spread quickly to ships of other kinds and became as well known to British as to American seamen.

Danny Spooner sang Reuben Ranzo on his 1988 album We'll Either Bend or Break 'Er.


A.L. Lloyd sings Reuben Ranzo

Oh, poor old Reuben Ranzo,
    Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo
Oh, poor old Reuben Ranzo,
    Ranzo, me boys, Ranzo

Oh, Ranzo was no sailor
So he shipped aboard a whaler

Oh, Ranzo was no beauty
So he couldn't do his duty

Oh, because he was so dirty
He give him five and thirty

Oh, the skipper's daughter Suzy
Well, she begged her dad for mercy

Oh, she give him wine and water
And a bit more than she ought to

Well, he got his first mate papers
He's a terror to the whalers

Now he's known wherever them whale-fish blow
As the hardest master on the go

Danny Spooner sings Reuben Ranzo

Oh Jesus Christ Almighty
    Ranzo boys, Ranzo,
Oh Jesus Christ Almighty,
    Ranzo me boys, Ranzo.

Oh Ranzo was no sailor,
But he shipped aboard a whaler.

He washed once in a fortnight,
He said it was his birthright.

Because he was so dirty
The skipper give him thirty.

Aye the skipper give him thirty
But his daughter begged fer mercy.

She took 'im to her cabin,
To try and ease his aching.

She give him rum and water,
And a bit more than she oughta.

She give 'im ejercation,
And taught 'im navigation.

She made him the best sailor,
Aboard a Yankee whaler.

Now he's known wherever the whalefish blow,
As the toughest bastard on the go.

(repeat first verse)