The Raging Canal Cover

The Raging Canal Sheet Music Cover (PDF)

The Raging Canal by P Morris

The Raging Canal (or The Raging Canawl) written in 1844 is one of the most famous songs about life on the Erie Canal. The Raging Canal is a comic song about how dangerous boating on the canal was.

Sung by P. Morris, composer, lyricist and arranger. Pub. Horace Waters, NYC, 1844. Another copy pub. C. G. Christman, NYC, 1844. Levy Collection, sheet music.

This song is widely believed to have inspired The Aged Pilot Man, a parody by Mark Twain (written by 1871).

The Raging Canal Lyrics

Note: Like most folk songs there are many versions. This version appeared in The Canaller's Songbook, Hullfish

Come listen to my story, ye landsmen one and all
I'll sing to you the dangers of that raging canal.
For I am one of many who expects a watery grave,
For I've been at the mercy of the wind and of the wave.

A modern recording of The Raging Canal on a Banjo.

I left Albany harbor 'bout the break of day,
And if I rightly remember 'twas the second day of May
We trusted to our driver, altho' he was but small
For he knew all the windings of that raging canal.

It seemed as if the Devil had his work in hand that night,
For all our oil was gone, and our lamps they gave no light,
The clouds began to gather and the rain began to fall
And I wished myself off of that raging canal.

The captain told his driver to hurry with all speed,
And his orders were obeyed, for he soon cracked up his lead;
With the fastest kind of driving, we allowed by twelve o'clock
We'd be on old Schenectady right bang against the dock.

But sad was the fate of our poor devoted bark,
For the rain kept on pouring and the night it grew dark;
The horses gave a stumble and the driver gave squall
And they tumbled head over heels into the raging canal.

The Captain came on deck, with a voice so clear and sound,
Saying, "Cut the horses loose, my boys, or else we'll all be drowned
The driver swam to shore, altho' he was but small
While the horses sank to rise no more in the raging canal.

The cook she wrung her hands, and she came upon the deck
Saying, "Alas, what will become of us, our boat it is a wreck?"
The steersman knocked her over, for he was a man of sense
And the bowsman jumped ashore and he lashed her to a fence.

The Captain came on deck with a spy glass in his hand
But the night it was so dark he could not discover land;
He said to us with a faltering voice, while tears began to fall
Prepare to meet your death this night on the raging canal.

The sky was rent asunder, the lighting it did flash
The thunder rattled up above, just like eternal smash
The clouds were all upsot, and the rigging it did fall
And we scudded under bare poles on that raging canal.

We took the old cook's pettycoat, for want of better dress
And rigged it out upon the pole as a signal of distress
We pledged ourselves hand to hand aboard the boat to bide
And not to quit the deck while a plank hung to her side.

At last that horrid night cut dirt from the sky,
The storm it did abate, and a boat came passing by,
It soon espied our signal as each on his knees did fall
Thankful we escaped a grave on the raging canal.

We each of us took a nip and signed the pledge anew
And wonderful as danger ceased, how up our courage grew,
The craft in sight bore down on us and quickly was 'long side
And we all jumped aboard, and for Buffalo did ride.

Now, if I live a thousand years, the horrors of that night
Will ever in my memory be a spot most burning bright;
For nothing in this whole wide world will ever raise my gall
Except the thoughts of my voyage on the raging canal.

Shorter Alternative Version of The Raging Canal

Come listen to my story, ye landsmen one and all,
I'll sing to you the dangers of that Raging Canal,
For I am one of many who expects a watery grave
For I've been at the mercy of the wind and of the wave.

When we left New York harbor it was the middle of the year,
We put our helm hard a port and for Buffalo did steer,
But when we gor in sight of Albany we met a heavy squall,
And we carried away our mizzen mast on that Raging Canal.

She minded her helm just like a thing of life,
The mate got on his knees uttering prayers for his wife,
We throwed the provisions over board it was blowing such a squall
And we were put on short allowance on that Raging Canal.

It seemed as if the Devil had work in hand that night,
For our oil it was all gone, and our lamps they gave no light,
The clouds began to gather and the rain began to fall,
And we had to reef our royals on that Raging Canal.

Loud roared the dreadful thunder, the rain in deluge showered,
The clouds were rent asunder, by lightnings vivid powers,
The bowsman gave a bellow, and the cook she gave a squall,
And the waves run mountain high on that Raging Canal.

The Captain came on deck and then began to rail,
He bellowed to the driver to take in more sail,
The driver knocked a horse down and then gave a bawl,
And we scudded under bare poles on that Raging Canal.



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