Dance, Boatman, Dance

(Written by Dan Emmett, and probably heard in Minnesota in 1855.)

Photograph of Dan Emmett in blackface, probabl...

Photograph of Dan Emmett in blackface, probably early 1860s. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The boatman dance, the boatman sing,
The boatman do ‘most anything,
And when the boatman get on shore,
He spends his cash and works for more.

Chorus:
Dance, boatman, dance, dance, boatman, dance,
Dance all night till the broad daylight,
Go home with the gals in the morning.
Hi, ho, the boatman row,
Sailing down the river on the Ohio,
Hi, ho, the boatman row,
Sailing down the river on the Ohio,

The boatman is a thrifty man,
There’s none can do as the boatman can.
I never saw a pretty girl in my life
But that she was a boatman’s wife.

I went on board the other day
To see what the boatman had to say,
And there I let my passion loose;
They crammed me in the calaboose.

When you go to the boatman’s ball,
Dance with your wife or not at all.
Sky-blue jacket, tarpaulin hat,
Look out, boys, for the nine-tailed cat.

When the boatman blows his horn,
Look out, old man, your daughter’s gone.
He stole my sheep, he stole my goat,
He put ’em in a bag and took ’em to the boat.

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