Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Folk Song for November 2024: I's the B'y

“I’s the B’y” (sometimes spelled “I’se the B’y”) is a dance song from the Canadian province of Newfoundland. Its authorship is unknown; it became widely known in the mid-twentieth century after it was published in at least two collections of folk songs. The title, for anyone not understanding the Newfoundland dialect, means “I’m the Boy” or “I’m the Guy.” 

It is not necessary to define all the vocabulary used in the song, or turn the places named into a geography lesson, but it is important to point out that the words are not nonsense but words relating to life in Newfoundland, particularly the business of fishing. There is an interesting article with definitions here. You can also read more about the song here.


1. I's the b'y that builds the boat

And I's the b'y that sails her

I's the b'y that catches the fish

And brings them home to Liza

Chorus: Hip yer partner, Sally Thibault

Hip yer partner, Sally Brown

Fogo, Twillingate, Moreton’s Harbour

All around the circle!


2. Sods and rinds to cover your flake

Cake and tea for supper

Codfish [caught] in the spring o’ the year

Fried in maggoty butter.


3. I don't want your maggoty fish

They're no good for winter

I could buy as good as that

Down in Bonavista.


4. I took Liza to a dance

As fast as she could travel [or, Faith, but she could travel]

And every step that she did take

Was up to her knees in gravel.


5. Susan White, she's out of sight

Her petticoat wants a border

Old Sam Oliver in the dark

He kissed her in the corner.


Video Links

We suggest the following recordings:

Great Big Sea

Ryan’s Fancy, from their album Times to Remember 

“I’se the B’y” is included in Sharon, Lois and Bram’s “Newfoundland Jig Medley.” 

Our helpful intro post is sure to liven up your folk song adventures.

For more information on our folk songs, and for Amazon affiliate 
links to purchase individual songs, see our AO Folk Songs page.
These affiliate links help support AmblesideOnline.

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