#01082
Newfoundland Sealers (Bill Gallaher) MIDI
See also: Death On The Ice (Margo St John)
And also: I Will Bring You Home (Marion Parsons)
And also: The Newfoundland Sealing Disaster
(Marion Parsons)
And also: The Newfoundland Disaster
(Kenneth Peacock)
And also: The Newfoundland Disaster
(George Humby)
And also: Death On The Ice - The Story
(Everett Adams)
midi1   alt: midi2

In 1914, when the old sealer Newfoundland
laid in her coal and fired up her steam,
We were boys from the outports who vied
for a berth to the ice for the rituals of spring;
Though we knew of the hardships of life as a sealer,
the black tea and hardtack for meals,
It was a time when the life of a good man
was worth less than profits from seals.

Out from St John's on a course for the ice fields,
the wind in her spars, the seas rolling high,
We'd be the highliner, the first to the main patch
where seals were just waiting to die;
Hell bent for leather, we steamed to the north'ard,
all hands in the hold for the run,
None of us knew of the fate waiting for us
or dreamed of the hell yet to come.

We'll never go swilin' again,
Never again will we sail to the ice;
We'll dance with the ghosts of the
Greenland boys,
For the Newfoundland merchantmen,
we've paid the price.

We reached the ice
and burned down for the evening,
made ready our gaffs for the rise of the sun,
The harps and the whitecoats
were there for the taking,
and we'd try to take every one;
But first light came slow
for the glass showed foul weather
as a wind blew a gale from the north,
Still, we slipped o'er the side of the ship to the ice
to go swilin' for what it was worth.

The ice heaved beneath us
as we ranged from the Newfoundland,
skulping the whitecoats and earning our pay,
We labored hard till we turned the ice crimson
and thought we were done for the day;
But after our tea, the skipper said,
"Right boys, there's plenty of seals on the floe."
And he sent us back out to the rafters and pads
while the air became thicker with snow.

We'll never go swilin' again,
Never again will we sail to the ice;
We'll dance with the ghosts of the
Greenland boys,
For the Newfoundland merchantmen,
we've paid the price.

For the rest of the day we roamed on the ice pans
in fear of our lives in the oncoming storm,
The whitecoats knew better and turned to the water,
but when we turned to our ship it was gone;
Do you know what it's like to be lost in a blizzard,
when you don't even know where you've been?
You'd trade your soul just to hear a ship's whistle
instead of the wail of the wind.

For two soul-weary days and bone-freezing nights
we were left just like whitecoats to die on the ice,
You'd swear there was no one in heaven above,
my God, that was no paradise;
And the ghosts of the Greenland
came calling to haunt us,
they sailed on the wind and they danced in the dark,
But the will to survive in us burned like a candle
and gave us some warmth in our hearts.

We'll never go swilin' again,
Never again will we sail to the ice;
We'll dance with the ghosts of the
Greenland boys,
For the Newfoundland merchantmen,
we've paid the price.

Each moment we spent on the ice was a year,
we'd frozen our limbs and were blinded by snow,
So lost in that white hell that went on forever
with no one to say where to go;
And then one by one we fell to the ice
though we tried everything to keep warm,
Some died while singing, others died praying,
and some wandered off in the storm.

When a ship finally found us and took us aboard,
we'd lost all our courage and run out of time,
And sixty-nine dead men
were stowed on her steel decks
along with the crippled and blind;
And we sailed from the ice in a following sea
with a cargo so grim that we cried,
And those bastards in St John's
did nothing for the families
of those who had suffered and died.

We'll never go swilin' again,
Never again will we sail to the ice;
We'll dance with the ghosts of the
Greenland boys,
For the Newfoundland merchantmen,
we've paid the price.

We'll never go swilin' again,
Never again will we sail to the ice;
We'll dance with the ghosts of the
Greenland boys,
For the Newfoundland merchantmen,
we've paid the price.

####.... Bill Gallaher ©1987. Performance rights administered by SOCAN. All rights reserved ....####

Recorded by or with Bill Gallaher (The Grand Illusion, 1989; The Last Battle - The Best of Bill Gallaher and Jake Galbraith, 1995; Across The Divide - Bill Gallaher With Harmony Road, 1997.)

See more songs by Bill Gallaher.


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