MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
When A Sailor Comes On Shore
Thomas Williams NFLD 2 Tape 12 Track 4
St. Vincent's Audio:
Ballad

When a sailor comes on shore, he has silver, gold in store
There's no lad can get rid of it faster
Oh, the first thing Jack will do, take a room both neat and true
He will call for his liquor in galore.

And a lassie then likewise, with two dark and a-rolling eyes
The young sailor is pleased to his fancy.
Oh, then Jack will carry on, till his money is all gone
The young lady she’ll come in with a frown.

With a sulky greasy look and her eye cast over Jack
Saying young sailor, "It's time to be gone."
Oh, then Jack is standing by, a quart bottle to let fly
That puts the old woman in amaze.

Puts the girls in a fright, calls the watchman of the night
"Take the sailor away to his cave."
"Oh, then, Jack well understands, there's a frigate to be manned
To the East and West Indies are bound."

With a sweet and a pleasant gale, he crowds on his lofty sail
He bids adieu to the girls of the town
Oh, now she’s on a tack like a cutter or a smack
She do roll from the leeside to the weather.

Oh, keep her full and by, just as close as she can lie
I’ll be bound your good ship shall show you pleasure
Oh, ye rambling b'ys of pleasure, takes delight in a sailor's life
Take a warning by me, never roam.

Take a sober, sturdy wife on, will love you all her life
I’ll be bound that you’ll always find her home.


Notes


Text: This song talks of how sailors arrive in port and spend all their money on a girl. When the money is spent, the girl is sad and the sailor, Jack, plans to be on another ship out to sea. The final advice in the text, is to find a “sober, sturdy wife” to whom a sailor can go home.

Tune: The text is through composed and the melody repeats with each verse. The last word is spoken. Speaking, instead of singing, a final word or phrase is generally thought to indicate Irish influence on the singer or song. The meter is closest to 4/4 although the second and fourth lines of verses are sometimes shortened by up to two beats.

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