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Songs of Ireland

Big Strong Man (My Brother Sylveste)

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From:
Songs of Ireland

words and music Traditional

Have you heard about the big strong man?
He lived in a caravan.
Have you heard about the Jeffrey Johnson fight?
Oh, Lord what a hell of a fight.
You can take all of the heavyweights you’ve got.
We’ve got a lad that can beat the whole lot.
He used to ring bells in the belfry,
Now he’s gonna fight Jack Demspey.

That was my brother Sylvest’ (What’s he got?)
A row of forty medals on his chest (big chest!)
He killed fifty bad men in the west; he knows no rest.
Think of a man, hells’ fire, don’t push, just shove,
Plenty of room for you and me.
He’s got an arm like a leg (a ladies’ leg!)
And a punch that would sink a battleship (big ship!)
It takes all of the Army and the Navy to put the wind up Sylvest’.

Now, he thought he’d take a trip to Italy.
He thought that he’d go by sea.
He dove off the harbor in New York,
And swam like a great big shark.
He saw the Lusitania in distress.
He put the Lusitania on his chest.
He drank all of the water in the sea,
And he walked all the way to Italy.

He thought he take a trip to old Japan.
They turned out a big brass band.
You can take all of the instruments you’ve got,
We got a lad that can play the whole lot.
And the old church bells will ring (Hells bells!)
The old church choir will sing (Hells fire!)
They all turned out to say farewell to my big brother Sylvest’.

KEY G

verse:
G G G G
G G G D
D D D D7
D7 D7 G G (repeat)

chorus:
G G G G
G G G D
D D D D7
D7 D7 G G
G...
G G G G
G G G D
D D D D7
D7 D7 G G

Background: Big Strong man is a song written in the middle of the 20th century that very much dates itself with references to the Lusitania, Jack Dempsey, and Mae West.

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