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Desert Dancer Lyr Add: We'll Go to Sea No More (11) RE: Lyr Add: We'll Go to Sea No More 25 Mar 18

I heard it from a long-defunct west-coast (U.S.) folk group (whose name escapes me), and definitely with "whores" not "horses"! Ha!

A Google search on "when first I came to Liverpool" amuses me by showing only that The Byrds and Jerry Garcia & Dave Grisman both recorded it, the former under the title, "Jack Tarr the Sailor".

Jerry Garcia and Dave Grisman have it on their fine album of traditional songs, "Shady Grove" (1996 - Acoustic Disc ACD-21). (The track was recorded in 1991.) Their album notes say that it "comes from the singing of Ewan MacColl, the great Scottish balladeer/composer, on the Riverside LP "Thar She Blows: Whaling Ballads and Songs". ... According to folk singer A.L. Lloyd's liner notes, 'Rapper Brown was a well-known Liverpool boarding master...who figures in folk song as a shanghai exper...because singers have confused him with another, more wicked, Brown who was a boarding master in Frisco.' The song is from the 1880s and was collected from sailors around the Liverpool docks in the 1930s."





Grateful Dawg
Grateful Dawg

The Warfield, 05/08/1992
The Warfield, 12/09/1991
The Warfield, 12/07/1991
Goldcoast Concert Bowl, 08/25/1991


When first I came to Liverpool
I went upon a spree
Me money alas I spent too fast
Got drunk as drunk could be
And when my money was all gone
'Twas then I wanted more
But a man must be blind to make up his mind
To go to sea once more

I spent the night with Angeline
Too drunk to roll in bed
My watch was new and my money too
In the mornin' with 'em she fled
And as I roamed the streets about
The whores they all would roar
Here comes Jack Rack, the young sailin' lad
He must go to sea once more

As I was walkin' down the street
I met with Rapper Brown
I asked for him to take me in
And he looked at me with a frown
He said "Last time you was paid off
With me you jobbed no score
But I'll take your advance and I'll give ya's a chance
And I'll send you to sea once more

I hired me aboard of a whaling ship
Bound for the Artic seas
Where the cold winds blow through the frost and the snow
And Jamaican rum would freeze
And worst and bear I'd no hard weather gear
For I'd lost all my money ashore
'Twas then that I wished that I was dead
So I'd gone to sea no more

Some days we're catching whales me lads
And some days we're catching none
With a twenty foot oar cocked in our hands
From four o'clock in the morn
And when the shades of night come in
We rest on our weary oar
'Twas then I wished that I was dead
Or safe with the girls ashore

Come all you bold seafarin' men
And listen to my song
If you come off of them long trips
I'd have ya's not go wrong
Take my advice, drink no strong drink
Don't go sleeping with no whores
Get married lads and have all night in
So you'll go to sea no more

My sea song book collection leans American, so I don't know the particular British source that Lloyd was referring to. However, I find it in William Main Doerflinger's "Shantymen & Shantyboys, Songs of the Sailor and Lumberman". He gives two versions, both of which provide "nice" alternatives to "whores": people, or lasses. His notes describe the San Francisco crimps, in particular Shanghai Brown.

Off to Sea Once More (I) (p. 107)
(From Frank Vickery, mate of the schooner Avon Queen)

The first time I went to Frisco, I went upon a spree.
My money at last I spent it fast, got drunk as drunk could be;
I was fully inclined made up my mind I'd go to sea no more.

That night I slept with Angeline, drunk for to turn in bed.
My clothes was new and my money was, too; next morning with them she fled.
And as daily I walked the streets around you'd hear the people say,
"There goes Jack Rack, poor sailor lad, he must go to sea once more!"

The first one that I came to was a son-of-a-gun called Brown.
I asked him for to take me in; he looked on me with a frown.
He says, "Last time you were paid off with me you chalked no score!
But I'll take your advance and I'll give you a chance to go to sea once more."

He shipped me on board of whaler bound for the Arctic seas.
The wintry wind from the west nor'wet Jamaica rum would freeze!
With a twenty-foot oar in each man's hand, we pulled the lifelong day.
It was then I swore when once on shore I'd go to sea no more!

Come all you young seafaring men that's listening to my song!
I hope in what I've said to you that ther is nothing wrong.
Take my advice and don't drink strong drinks or go sleeping on the shore,
But get married my boys, and have all night in, and go to sea no more!

Off to Sea Once More (II) ("...the version of a Nova Scotia fishing captain")

When first I came to Frisco, boys, I went upon a spree.
I spent up all my money and got drunk as drunk could be.
But when my money was all gone, oh, then I wanted more.
When a man is blind he makes up his mind to go to sea once more.

Once more, once more, once more, once more, once more!
Oh, there goes Ben Breezer, poor sailor boy, must plough the sea once more!

Oh, when the shades of night came down, I went to take a bed,
But in the morning when I awoke my watch and chain was fled.
As I was passing through the street the lasses all did roar,
Saying, "There goes Ben Breezer, poor sailor boy, must plough the seas once more!"

I shipped on board of a whale ship, boys, bound to the Arctic sea,
Where the cold wind blows, and the frosts and snows, and Jamaica rum goes free.
And worst of all, I had no clothes--I spent all my money on shore.
Oh, it's then I wished that I was dead, or back once more on shore!

Some days we're catching whalefish, boys, and more days we're getting none,
With a twenty-foot oar placed in our hand from four o'clock in the morn.
But when the shade of night comes down we not on our weary oar.
Oh, it's then I wished that I was dead or back with the girls on shore!

Come all you jolly fishermen, a warning take by me!
When you come off of a very long trip, oh, don't go on no spree.
Drink no bad rum, smoke no cigars, but lay up your money in store,
And get married, my boys, and have all night in, and go to sea no more!

I think it's interesting that the Nova Scotia version loses the mention of the crimp.

The Mainly Norfolk web page on the song (found by googling "off to sea once more") has good notes from MacColl's, Lloyd's, and Lou Killen's versions. Lyrics are given for the version A.L. Lloyd recorded on "Leviathan!" (Topic, 1967/1998).

~ Becky in Long Beach

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