I can relate to Jon’s comment on this, “I was a bit obsessed by Mike Waterson’s performance of this and wore the vinyl out listening to it obsessively.” The Watersons’ version, massed chorus and all, is really very good and Jon follows their version faithfully. Mainly Norfolk has The Watersons’ version and Bert Lloyd’s Aussie alternative. It’s interesting to spot in the various sleeve notes that this was also found in Nova Scotia and the suggestion of a Music Hall link. This is definitely a seafarers’ song though, as the reference to grog is nautical through and through. For those that don’t know, the mixing of the ration of rum with water was made by Vice Admiral Sir Edward Vernon who was nickname Old Grog because of an impressive grogam cloak he wore on deck in all weather. He made it response to epidemic drunkenness across the fleet and the order was hugely unpopular with the men. We’ve been here before with shanties, but you can immediately find a different set of verses for this, such as this link. It’s also interesting to see this claimed as Irish and I note videos of performances by the Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers & Tommy Makem are also prominent. I’d suggest this as another song that travelled the world as a work song and may have had many variations, to suit the singers, the situation and the task in hand. There is much ado on Mudcat about this should you wish to explore at length. That thread mentions Roud index no. 475 as instructive, as this being mostly collected in England, once in Scotland, but not in Ireland.
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