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Pay Me My Money Down


Today on Double Americana we're covering a sea shanty called, "Pay Me My Money Down." You see, we started a Kickstarter Campaign, (have we told you about this yet?) and were looking for folk songs dealing with money, and wouldn't you know it, there aren't all that many traditional folk tunes that deal with raising capital via crowdsourcing in order to independently release music to a techno-savvy audience who is increasingly indifferent to new folk music, and so we settled on this song about getting paid.

"Pay Me My Money Down" is a protest song and sea shanty that originated among the black roustabouts and stevedores around the turn of the 20th century. As the history goes, it wasn't uncommon for ship captains to come into port, demand their ships be loaded or unloaded that very day and insist that they would pay the next day. But of course they wouldn't pay but would instead slip out to sea that very night, cheating the dockhands out of their money. In those days, financial recourse for workers was difficult, especially for African-American workers who found themselves with few options. Given its simplicity and call and response nature, there's a depth to this song as a history of workers rights, the value of black lives and a system in which the rich get richer on the backs of the poor. We submit that this is a relevant song for today.

Given the seriousness of the larger issues, it's still a fun song to sing. In a lot of versions it's even got a grooving calypso beat. So, we had a little fun with it ourselves and added a few verses. We hope you enjoy. And did we mention we have a Kickstarter Campaign?


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