As I walked out on Chatham Street, A woman I did meet.
She asked me to see her home, she lived in Bleecker Street.
And away, you santy, my dear Andy,
Oh you New York girls, can you dance the poker?
When we got to Bleecker street, we stopped at forty-four,
Her mother and her sister there, to greet us at the door.
When we got inside the house, the drinks were passed around.
That liquor was so aweful strong, my head went round n' round.
Then we had another drink, before we sat to eat.
Then I felt the world go round, n' quickly fell asleep.
When I awoke next morning, I had an aching head.
There was I jack-all-alone, stark naked on the bed.
My gold watch and me pocketbook n' ladyfriend were gone,
And there I stood jack-all-alone, stark naked on my own.
Looking round that little room, there's nothing I could see,
‘Cept a womans shift and apron, that were no use to me.
A flour barrel for a suite of clothes, down Cherry Street forlorne.
And Martin Churchill took me in, I’m safer round Cape Horn!
A rollickingly popular tune, "New York Girls", also referred to as "Can't You Dance the Polka", is a frequently sung and oft recorded shanty, much loved by the great and the good of the Folk world. Steeleye's version from their 1975 album "Commoners Crown
" featured a ukelele solo by Peter Sellers, along with various Goon sounding asides. To be honest, the ukelele is the highlight.
Chatham Street and Bleeker Street were, at the time, two mainstays of New York's red light district. The song warns a sailor of the risks he may take in persuing the company of New York doxies who may or may not dance the Polka.