Whisky Johnnie
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Lesley Nelson-Burns


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Lyrics
The name John was used from the time of Packet Ships for merchant seamen and particularly for mariners from Liverpool. The name Jack was also sometimes used for navy tars and a ship's company was referred to as "the John's." So the name John is used in many shanties.

There is some debate over what work this shanty was used for. Hugill says it is a halyard shanty, used at the t'gallant or tops'l and sometimes as a capstan shanty. Hugill states that some sources date the shanty to Elizabethan times and that the original words were "Malmsey Johnny."

This is also known as Whisky, Whisky for my Johnny or Whisky Johnny.

Whisky is the life of man,
Whisky Johnnie.
Oh! whisky is the life of many,
Whisky for my Johnnie.

I'll drink whisky when I can,
Whisky Johnnie.
I'll drink it out of an old tin can,
Whisky for my Johnnie.

Whisky gave me a broken nose,
Whisky Johnnie.
Whisky made me pawn my clothes,
Whisky for my Johnnie.

Whisky drove me around Cape Horn,
Whisky Johnnie.
It was many a month when I was gone,
Whisky for my Johnnie.

I thought I heard the old man say,
Whisky Johnnie.
'I'll treat my crew in a decent way,'
Whisky for my Johnnie.

A glass of grog for every man,
Whisky Johnnie.
And a bottleful for the chanteyman,
Whisky for my Johnnie.
Related Links
From Folk Songs of Old New England and
Shanties from the Seven Seas
See Bibliography for full information.