Introduced by Matthew Byrne
Variant of a traditional ballad called “The Lumber Camp Song” found all over northeastern North America. Evidence collected on its background suggests a New Brunswick or Maine origin. This variant was arranged and recorded by Jim Payne & Fergus O’Byrne on their 1995 album Wave Over Wave: Old And New Songs Of Atlantic Canada (SingSong Inc). A very similar variant was collected in 1959 from Martin Deveau of Upper Ferry, NL, by Kenneth Peacock and published as Hurling Down The Pine in Songs Of The Newfoundland Outports, Volume 3, pp.750-751, by the National Museum of Canada (1965) Crown Copyrights Reserved.
Listen to Jim Payne & Fergus O’Byrne sing the tune:
Come all you jolly fellows, come listen to me song,
It’s all about the lumber boys and how they get along;
A crowd of jolly good fellows as ever you may find,
It’s how they spend their winter months in hurling down the pine.
Snap crack goes me whip, I whistle and I sing,
I jumps up on me double sled so happy as a king;
Me horse is always ready, and I am never sad,
There’s no one here so happy as a double sledder lad.
At four o’clock in the morning the boss he will shout:
“Arise all ye teamsters, it’s time that ye are out!”
Those teamsters they all get up in a frightened way:
“O where are me shoes and pants? Me socks are gone astray!”
The next to get up are the choppers, their socks they cannot find,
They blame it on the teamsters and swear it with all their mind;
Some other man might have them on and him be very near,
We’ll pass it off all as a joke and have a hearty cheer.
Six o’clock is breakfast and every man is out,
And every man if he’s not sick, he’s sure to be on the route;
Oh, you should hear those axes ring until the sun goes down,
“Hurry me boys! the day is o’er, a-shanty we are bound.”
We all arrive at the shanty, cold hands and wet feet,
We then pull off our logans, our supper for to eat;
We’ll sing and dance till nine o’clock and to our bunks we’ll climb,
I’m sure those months don’t seem so long in hurling down the pine.
The sawyers and choppers they lay the timber low,
The teamsters and the swampers drag them to and fro;
The next to come in are the loaders, all at the break of day:
“Load up your sleds five hundred feet, to the riverside away!”
Springtime will roll around, our boss he will say:
“Heave up your saws and axes, boys, and help to clear the way;
The floating ice it is all gone and business has arrived,
Two hundred able-bodied men are wanted on the drive.”
Springtime will roll around, and glad will be the day,
When fellows who left their girls at home will wander back that way;
And now me song is ended and don’t you think it’s true?
And if you doubt one word of it, just ask one of the crew.
Matthew Byrne is a traditional singer from St. John’s, Newfoundland, with a lineage of singing and song-finding that runs deep into Placentia Bay. Since bursting on to the trad scene in 2010 with his debut recording, Ballads, Matthew has swiftly earned his place as one of Canada’s most authentic and vital traditional voices. In that time, Matthew’s music has traveled well beyond the rugged shores of his homeland. His role as singer and song-finder in The Dardanelles has brought him to many major international festival stages. Matthew is currently completing his third full-length solo recording, Horizon Lines, which was released in August 2017. His 2015 release, Hearts & Heroes, won “Traditional Album of the Year” at the 2015 Canadian Folk Music Awards.