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Shanghai Passage

from Blue Divide by William Pint & Felicia Dale

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Shanghai Passage involves "shanghaiing" the 19th Century 'enhanced recruiting technique' that struck fear into sailors and landsmen alike. Anyone could fall prey to characters like 'Shanghai' Brown who supplied crew members for a captain willing to pay the price. Unsuspecting innocents would wake up aboard a ship outward bound for China and not see home again for years. Some men never woke up at all...


From the poem by C. Fox Smith

"Shanghai" Brown, "Shanghai" Brown!

The Skipper of the Harvest Moon is rampin' round the town

Looking for some sailormen to beg or steal or borrow-

Can't get a crew an' he wants to sail tomorrow!'
Prime seamen's very scarce just now- but where's his money down,

An I'll see what I can do for him', says "Shanghai" Brown

"Shanghai" Brown, "Shanghai" Brown,

He's sent his touts an' runners out all around the town;

He's raked in men both high and low, he's got both black and white;

He's got the Lauderdale's port watch that only berthed last night;

He's got a brace of farmhands with the hayseeds in their hair;

He's got a bridegroom and best man, -- what does "Shanghai" care?

An' he's shipped 'em in the Harvest Moon, the toughest packet goin',
That never gets a sailor man to sign aboard her, knowin',

With a hardcase drivin' skipper, an a bull-voiced bucko mate,

By the Shanghai Passage from the Golden Gate

They'll be wonderin' in the mornin' what it was they drank last night;
They'll be wonderin' what hit 'em if they show an ounce of fight;

They'll be scoffin' seaboot duff, they'll be suppin' handspike gruel,

An' dodgin' the belayin'-pins, and cursin' Shanghai cruel;

But there's one won't wake or wonder, nor scoff no grub at all,

Nor drag his achin' bones along to tally on the fall'

Nor jump to please the toughest mate New England ever bred,

Won’t stand no trick, nor lookout - --- why? Because he's dead!

"Shanghai" Brown, "Shanghai" Brown!

He's took an' shipped a corpse away, has "Shanghai" Brown,

"Shanghai" Brown, "Shanghai" Brown!

The Skipper of the Harvest Moon was rampin' round the town

He couldn’t get a crew and he had to sail today

Shanghai knew a desperate man would pay

Prime seamen's very scarce these days!', says "Shanghai" Brown,

So he took an' shipped a corpse away, has "Shanghai" Brown,

By the Shanghai Passage, outer 'Frisco Town!


from Blue Divide, track released July 1, 2012
William: lead vocal, octave mandolin, acoustic guitar
Felicia: vocals, whistle
Dan: bass, chorus vocals
T.J.: drums, chorus vocals
Jay: keyboards, chorus vocals


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William Pint & Felicia Dale Seattle, Washington

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