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Penguin: A Sailor's Life

DigiTrad:
A SAILOR'S LIFE
PINERY BOY


Related thread:
Lyr Add: One Fine Morning Early in Spring (2)


In Mudcat MIDIs:
A Sailor's Life (from The Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs)


Alan of Australia 02 Jul 00 - 03:10 AM
Malcolm Douglas 02 Aug 00 - 08:36 PM
Art Thieme 05 Aug 00 - 11:49 PM
Malcolm Douglas 24 Sep 00 - 09:02 PM
Joe Offer 30 Jul 03 - 07:34 PM
Roberto 31 Jul 03 - 03:43 AM
Malcolm Douglas 31 Jul 03 - 10:03 AM
Roberto 02 Aug 03 - 11:23 AM
Allan C. 15 Feb 04 - 05:10 PM
GUEST 24 Mar 16 - 07:38 AM
GUEST 25 Mar 16 - 09:56 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: A SAILOR'S LIFE (Traditional English)
From: Alan of Australia
Date: 02 Jul 00 - 03:10 AM

G'day,
From the Penguin Book Of English Folk Songs, Ed Pellow's rendition of the tune of A Sailor's Life can be found here.

A SAILOR'S LIFE

A sailor's life is a merry life.
They rob young girls of their heart's delight,
Leaving them behind to sigh and mourn.
They never know when they will return.

Here's four and twenty all in a row.
My sweetheart cuts the brightest show;
He's proper, tall, genteel withal,
And if I don't have him I'll have none at all.

O father, fetch me a little boat,
That I might on the ocean float,
And every Queen's ship that we pass by,
We'll make enquire for my sailor boy.

We had not sailed long upon the deep,
Before a Queen's ship we chanced to meet.
'You sailors all, come tell me true,
Does my sweet William sail among your crew?'

'Oh no, fair lady, he is not here,
For he is drowned, we greatly fear.
On yon green island as we passed by,
There we lost sight of your sailor boy.'

She wrung her hands and she tore her hair,
Much like a woman in great despair.
Her little boat 'gainst a rock did run.
How can I live now my William is gone?'


Sung by Henry Hills, Lodsworth, Sussex (W.P.M. 1899)

Click here for a slightly different version.

Previous song: A Sailor In The North Country.
Next song: Salisbury Plain.


Cheers,
Alan


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Subject: RE: Penguin: A Sailor's Life
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 02 Aug 00 - 08:36 PM

From the notes to the Penguin Book (1959):

"This favourite song has an obscure connection with another popular piece sometimes called  Died For Love   (from which the students' song  There is a Tavern in the Town   has descended).  Though it lacks the central story of the girl's ocean search for her sweetheart, Died For Love has a similar tune, and some versions use the opening stanza of A Sailor's Life.  In revenge, some sets of A Sailor's Life borrow the conclusion of the other song, with the girl directing that her grave be dug wide and deep, and a white turtle dove be put on it, to show that she "died for love".  In fact, various singers seem to have "cross-pollinated" the two songs in several ways.  Mr. Hills' version has a story at once completer and more concise than usual, and less contaminated with Died For Love.  In England, the song has been reported, sometimes under the titles of Sweet William, or Early, Early all in the Spring, from Lincolnshire (FSJ vol.II [issue 9] pp.293-4), Dorset (FSJ vol.VIII [issue 34] p.212), Worcestershire (English County Songs, L.E. Broadwood, 1893), Somerset (English Folk Songs, vol.II, Cecil Sharp, 1921), and Suffolk (Six Suffolk Folk Songs, E.J. Moeran, 1932).  Kidson (A Garland of English Folk Songs, 1926, p.92) prints a set of unidentified origin.  Pitts and Catnach both published broadsides of the song (the latter called it The Sailor Boy and his Faithful Mary ).  It seems particularly common in the United States, and has been adapted to the life of timber-raftsmen."  -R.V.W./A.L.L.

This version was collected by W. Percy Merrick from Henry Hills of Lodsworth, Sussex, in 1899, and was first published in the Folk Song Journal, vol.I, [issue 3], p.266.

There are two other versions on the DT:

A Sailor's Life   Transcribed from Fairport Convention's recording, tune ditto.   Probably derived from the Penguin version.
The Pinery Boy  American version, with tune.

DT #403
Laws K12
@love @parting @sailor @drown

There are four American versions at the  Max Hunter Folk Song Collection:

Sailor Boy  As sung by Mrs. Ed. Newton in Gainesville, Missouri on July 1, 1958.
Willie Boy  As sung by Mrs. Lucy Quigley, Eureka Springs, Arkansas on June 3, 1958.
Sailor Boy  As sung by Mr. Harrison Burnett in Fayettville, Arkansas on June 15, 1959.
Black, Black, Was The Color Of My True Loves Hair  As sung by May Kennedy-McCord in Springfield, Missouri on September, 23, 1958.

There is also a fragment,  Black is the Color of My True Loves Hair  (As sung by Mrs. "Bobbie" Barnes, Eureka Springs, Arkansas on June 21, 1958), which may belong to this song.  See also, however,  Black is the Color of my True Love's Hair  on the DT, which, in spite of the overlap, is probably best considered a quite separate song.

There is an entry at  The Traditional Ballad Index:
The Sailor Boy (I)

Some other titles:

Papa, Papa, Build Me a Boat
A Shantyman's Life
I Have No One to Love Me
Captain Tell Me True
I'll Sit Down and Write a Song
The Sailor's Sweetheart

There are several broadside texts at  Bodleian Library Broadside Ballads.  Where duplicate copies exist, I have linked to the most easily legible.

The Sailor Boy and his Faithful Mary  Printed between 1840 and 1866 by J. Harkness, 121, Church Street, Preston.

On the same sheet is Sailor Boy, printed between 1819 and 1844 by J. Pitts, Wholesale Toy and Marble Warehouse. 6 Great St Andrew Street, Seven Dials, London.

A New Song call'd the Young Lady's Lamentation for the Loss of her True Love  Printed c.1867 by P. Brereton, 1, Lower Exchange St., Dublin.

These last are all large images.

In connection with Died For Love, see also  I Wish, I Wish

Malcolm


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Subject: RE: Penguin: A Sailor's Life
From: Art Thieme
Date: 05 Aug 00 - 11:49 PM

Pat Foster did an album for Riverside Records with this in the 1849 California gold rush version of the song that was titled "THE CALIFORNIA BOY".

I recorded the American lumber camp version, "The Pinery Boy", on my album called Art Thieme -- On The Wilderness Road. (Folk Legacy Records FSI-105) This album is still available as a cassette tape from Sandy Paton at Folk Legacy. [see Franz Rickaby's book Ballads and Songs Of The Shanty-Boy--page 85.

Art Thieme


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Subject: RE: Penguin: A Sailor's Life
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 24 Sep 00 - 09:02 PM

Snuffy has now posted another version, here: One Fine Morn All Early In Spring  which was recorded between 1985 and 1987 by John Howson from Fred Whiting of Kenton, Suffolk.  Tune given in miditext and .abc format.


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Subject: ADD Version: A Sailor's Life
From: Joe Offer
Date: 30 Jul 03 - 07:34 PM

Here's one that Sharp calls "Sweet William."
-Joe Offer-

SWEET WILLIAM

A sailor's life is a merry life
He'll rob young girls of their heart's delight
Then go and leave them to sigh and moan
No tongue can tell when he will return

O father, father, build me a boat
That on the ocean I may float
And the first king's ship that I chance to meet
I will enquire for my William sweet.

She had not sail-ed far on the deep
Before a king's ship she chanced to meet
O all you sailors come tell me true
Is my sweet William on board with you?

Oh, no, fair lady, he is not here
For he is drown-ed I greatly fear
On yonder island as we passed by
There we lost sight of your sailor boy

She kneel-ed down and she wrote a song
She wrote it neat and she wrote it long
At every line, O, she shed a tear
And at the end: Fare you well, my dear

The grass it groweth on every lea
The leaf it falleth from every tree
How happy that small bird doth cry
That hath her true love close to her side.

Source: One Hundred English Folksongs (Cecil Sharp - Dover Publications)
Here's the Traditional Ballad Index entry on the song:

Sailor Boy (I), The [Laws K12]

DESCRIPTION: A girl asks her father to build her a boat so that she may search for her lover. She describes the boy to a passing captain, who tells her he is drowned. She gives directions for her burial, then dies of grief or dashes her boat against the rocks
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1847 (Journal from the Elizabeth)
KEYWORDS: ship death lover drowning loneliness separation sailor
FOUND IN: Britain(England(Lond,South,West)) US(Ap,MW,NE,SE,So) Canada(Mar,Queb) Scotland
REFERENCES (18 citations):
Laws K12, "The Sailor Boy I"
Belden, pp. 186-191, "The Sailor Boy" (6 texts, 1 tune)
Randolph 68, "The Sailor's Sweetheart" (3 text plus 2 fragments, 4 tunes)
Eddy 33, "Sweet William" (6 texts, 3 tunes)
Rickaby 18, "The Pinery Boy" (1 text, 1 tune; also a fragment in the notes)
Leach, pp. 736-737, "The Sailor Boy" (1 text)
Warner 53, "I'll Sit Down and Write a Song" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sharp-100E 72, "Sweet William" (1 text, 1 tune)
Sharp/Karpeles-80E 35, "Sweet William" (1 text, 1 tune -- a composite version)
Vaughan Williams/Lloyd, p. 94, "A Sailor's Life" (1 text, 1 tune)
JHCox 110, "Sweet William (The Sailor Boy)" (3 texts plus mention of 6 more)
BrownII 104, "The Sailor Boy" (5 texts, mostly short, plus excerpts from 4 more and mention of 2 more and 1 very short fragment; several texts, notably "C," are mixed with "The Butcher Boy"; "E" is a mix with something unidentifiable as only part of the song is printed; "H" is apparently a mix of floating material, only partly printed; "J" is mostly from some unidentified ballad; "L" appears to mix this with "The Apprentice Boy" [Laws M12])
Scott-BoA, pp. 39-40, "Sweet William" (1 text, 1 tune, a composite version)
Lomax-FSNA 55, "The Pinery Boy" (1 text, 1 tune)
Huntington-Whalemen, pp. 272-273, "A Sailor's Trade Is a Roving Life" (1 text, with the manuscript damaged by water)
MacSeegTrav 25, "Sweet William" (2 texts, 2 tunes)
Darling-NAS, pp. 97-98, "Sweet Soldier Boy" (1 text)
DT 403, PINERYBY* SAILIFE*

RECORDINGS:
Dock Boggs, "Papa, Build Me a Boat" (on Boggs2, BoggsCD1) (a complex version, with this plot but many floating verses, e.g. from "The Storms Are On the Ocean")
Mrs. Otto Rindlisbacher, "The Pinery Boy" [instrumental] (AFS, 1941; on LC55)
Art Thieme, "The Pinery Boy" (on Thieme04)
CROSS-REFERENCES:
cf. "The Butcher Boy" [Laws P24] (lyrics)
cf. "The Deep Blue Sea" (plot)
cf. "Taven in the Town" (lyrics)
ALTERNATE TITLES:
The Pinery Boy
Papa, Papa, Build Me a Boat
A Shantyman's Life
I Have No One to Love Me
Captain Tell Me True
Notes: Paul Stamler suggests that "The Deep Blue Sea" is a worn-down version of this song. He may well be right, but I believe that the characteristic of Laws K12 is the girl's request of a boat. Since "Deep Blue Sea" lacks that feature, I tentatively separate the songs. - RBW
File: LK12

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2003 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.


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Subject: ADD Versions: A Sailor's Life
From: Roberto
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 03:43 AM

Four recordings of A Sailor's Life, Martin Carthy's; A. L. Lloyd's; Ewan MacColl's and Cran's. Bye. Roberto

a) Sailor's Life, Martin Carthy, Second Album, Topic TSCD341 (1993), first released on Fontana STL 5362 (LP, 1966)

SAILOR'S LIFE

A sailor's life is a merry life
They robs young girls of their hearts' delight
Leaving them behind for to weep and mourn
They never know when they will return

Oh there's four-and-twenty all in a row
My sweetheart cuts the finest show
He's proper tall genteel withal
If I don't have him I'll have none at all

O father build me a bonny boat
That on the wide ocean I may float
And every queen's ship that we pass by
There I'll enquire for my sailor boy

Now they had not sailed long upon the deep
Before the queen's ship they chanced to meet:
You sailors all pray tell me true,
Does my sweet William sail among your crew?

Oh no fair maid he is not here
For he's been drowned, we greatly fear
On yon green island as we pass by
There we lost sight of your sailor boy

Now she wrung her hands and she tore her hair
Much like a damsel in great despair
Her little boat 'gainst a rock did run,
How can I live now my William is gone!



b) A Sailor's Life, A. L. Lloyd, England & Her Traditional Songs, A selection from the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs, Fellside FECD173 (original Collector LP and EP, 1960)


SAILOR'S LIFE

A sailor's life is a merry life
They rob young girls of their hearts' delight
Leaving them behind to sigh and mourn
They never know when they will return

Here's four-and-twenty all in a row
My sweetheart cuts the brightest show
He's proper tall and gente withal
If I don't have him ?She said- I'll have none at all

O father fetch me a little boat
That I might on the wide ocean float
And every queen's ship that we pass by
We'll make enquire for me sailor boy

We hadn't sailed long upon the deep
Before a queen's ship we chanced to meet:
You sailors all come tell me true
Does my sweet William sail among your crew?

Oh no fair lady he isn't here
For he has drowned, we greatly fear
On yon green island as we passed by
There we lost sight of your sailor boy

She wrung her hands and she tore her hair
Much like a woman in great despair
Her little boat against a rock did run,
How can I live now my William is gone!



c) My Sailor Boy (My Boy Willie), Ewan MacColl, Matching Songs of the British Isles and America, Riverside RLP 12-637


MY SAILOR BOY

One morning early in the year
I parted from my dearest dear
The night was dark and the wind blew high
And the tears did blind me as he passed by

O, father, father, build me a boat
It's on the wild sea that I must go
Where I can watch the big ships go by
And where I can search for my sailor boy

She sailed away on the rolling tide
She sailed away on the ocean wide
She sailed by night and she sailed by day
Till a man-of-war came by that way

She cried and called in the wind so high
She hailed that ship as it passed her by
O, captain, captain, pray tell me true
Is my boy Willie aboard with you?

What sort of boy is your Willie, dear?
What sort of rig does your Willie wear?
He wears a suit of the royal blue
And you'll ken him fine for he's leal and true

I know him well and the other day
I saw him lying as cold as clay
By yon green isle that we passed by
He was lying there in the terror's eye



d) Early, Early, Cran, Music from the edge of the world, Black Horse Records BRRCD004, 2002


EARLY, EARLY

It was early, early all in the spring
When my love Willie went to serve the king.
The night being dark and the wind being high,
And they parted me and my sailor boy

Right well he knows that I can wash and wring
Right well he knows that I can card and spin.
I can make up his linens, be they coarse or fine
But the want of money leave s me behind

Come get me into a little wee boat
Where on the ocean that I might float
To view the French fleet as they pass by
That I might enquire for my sailor boy

O, she hadn't been long sailing on the deep
When the lofty French fleet she chanced to meet:
Come tell to me now, my bold ship's crew,
Does my love Willie sail on board of you?

O, no, fair maiden, you love's not here.
He has been drownded of late, I fear.
Near yon dark island that we passed by,
It is there that we lost your fine sailor boy

She wrung her hands and she tore her hair
Saying, I'm a maid that's in deep despair.
Against the rocks her wee boat she flung
Saying, What will I do now my love is gone?

Come get me ink, pen and paper too.
And with her pen, these few lines she drew,
And every word sure she shed a tear
And at every tear she cried, Willie dear!

Come dig my grave and dig it wide and deep
With a marble stone at my head and feet
And around my neck, place a turtle dove
For to warn the world that I died for love


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Subject: RE: Penguin: A Sailor's Life
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 31 Jul 03 - 10:03 AM

Both Martin Carthy and A.L. Lloyd recorded arrangements of Henry Hills' set, as published in Penguin and already quoted. They are not traditional variants in their own right. The set recorded by Ewan MacColl was collected by him from Betsy Henry of Auchterarder, Perthshire (n.d.) and published in MacColl and Seeger, The Singing Island, 1960, p. 28. A final verse is omitted on the record:

"O, dig my grave both wide and deep,
And lay a rose at my head and feet,
And on my breast a turtle dove,
To show the world that I died of love."

The set recorded by Cran will be one from Irish tradition (the opening lines seem to be typical of Irish variants, and appeared on Brereton of Dublin's broadside editions of the song; perhaps borrowed from The Croppy Boy). I gather that Cran are generally good about acknowledging their sources, so probably the liner notes will say where they got the above text; could you perhaps quote the relevant bit?

The Sharp set is a collation; the tune, and verse 2, were noted from Mr Gordge at Bridgwater, Somerset, 2 January 1906. Verse 1 (and perhaps 3 and 5, altered) is from Tom Sprachlan, Hambridge, Somerset, September 1903. Some modifications appear to have been made with reference to Mr Hills' set (notably in verses 3 and 4; verse 4 may have been taken directly from his version), and the final verse is a mystery.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: A Sailor's Life
From: Roberto
Date: 02 Aug 03 - 11:23 AM

Cran write they had the song (Early, Early) from Johnny Magee, from Rosgor, Co. Fermanagh.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: A Sailor's Life
From: Allan C.
Date: 15 Feb 04 - 05:10 PM

I found a version that is much like the d) version posted above by Roberto. One main difference is the inclusion of this verse:

"A deep blue jacket he used to wear,
With rosey cheeks and coal black hair,
His lips were of a velvet fine,
And oft time used to meet with mine."

Source: "Heart Songs Dear to the American People"; 1909, Chappele Publishing.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: A Sailor's Life
From: GUEST
Date: 24 Mar 16 - 07:38 AM

"Rosgor" mentioned above should, I am sure, be "Roscor"; it is near Belleek (home of the famous Belleek Pottery), in the far west of County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. I came across this thread (though previously aware of Mudcat) when Googling for the words "When my Love Willie went to serve the King". Last week at a local "Open Mic" I heard a woman sing a song which I found very nice; she didn't known the name of the song but gave me a few words of it which has led me to this forum.

The song she sang MAY be the song "Early Early" by Cran; I can remember the last, "floating" verse (she sang, about a marble stone at the head and feet, snow-white dove, etc, which also appears in "Rake and Rambling Boy" and I suspect other songs); however I will need to show her the words to see if this was true.

I had been listening to a version of (A) Sailors Life not long before (and have heard Sandy Denny's version of Sailor's Life with Fairport Convention about the late 1960s) but did not notice any similarity with the words of this at the time the woman sang the song, though perhaps I wasn't paying enough attention.


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Subject: RE: Penguin: A Sailor's Life
From: GUEST
Date: 25 Mar 16 - 09:56 PM

I looked on the Internet including You Tube for Cran performing "Early Early" without success, although came across a John Doyle singing "Early Early" at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ObtqjBnrJWQ (although he called at "Early In the Spring"; he said that he got it from a Robert Cinnamond who lived near Lough Neagh in Northern Ireland - Cinnamond in turn told him it was a Child Ballad which he got from an English singer. There is also a version by Judy Collins at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ujx69_shh6Q


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