Blow the Man Down
is a song that I grew up with and could often be heard on radio in the late 1940's when I became aware of it. In my memory of those times, it would be sung by some arty chamber music type baritone accompanied by a delicate tinkling pianist, their combined efforts resulting in definitely non-nautical performance as far removed from life-at-sea as possible. It may sound strange to people outside RN circles that such a song was never sung in the Royal Navy and certainly not in my time. It was only when getting my teeth into folk-music that I found it wasn't such a bad song after all.
The version I sing is the first choice of two lyrics given by W.B. Whall, Master Mariner in one of my most prized songbooks Sea Songs Ships and Shanties
. He declares that the shanty comes from the old Atlantic sailing packet ships.
Such a fine song could not and is not excluded from Roy Palmer's The Oxford Book of Sea Songs