Origin of a Sea Shanty

Mar 28, 2013

Black Ball Liner Montezuma by Antonio Jacobsen, 1917
Credit Wikimedia Commons

"Blow the Man Down" is a popular song of the sea, or a sea shanty.  But what does it mean? 

When a sailor said that a man was blown down, it meant that he was knocked to the ground. 

The song is about the unfair beating of sailors aboard sailing ships during the 19th century, especially those on the American Black Ball Line that sailed between New York and Liverpool, England.  Ouch!