The Saucy Sailor

The Canadian “roots” trio The Wailin’ Jennys have included this English folksong on their latest recording 40 Days. According to notes collected on Mainly Norfolk , the song was recording Cecil Sharp’s collection Folksongs of Somerset having learned it off a Mr. Thomas Henry of Ilminster. It’s also found George Butterworth’s addition to the 1907 edition of the Journal of the Folk Song Society, which is where the band Steeleye Span learned it, and their version is likely the source for the Jennys’ interpretation.

The Saucy Sailor

Come my own one, come my fair one
Come now unto me
Could you fancy a poor sailor lad
Who has just come from sea?

You are ragged love, you are dirty love
And your clothes smell much of tar
So be gone you saucy sailor lad
So be gone, you Jack Tar
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The Jolly Plough Boys

The song collector Cecil Sharp said of this song, “I find that almost every singer knows it; the bad singers often know but little else.” It’s a broadside ballad published by Henry Such of the Borough, London. The song may have originated in Somerset, but this is uncertain. Here’s a melancholy version by Kate Rusby.

Alternate titles: The Ploughboy; We’re All Jolly Fellows That Follow the Plough

The Jolly Plough Boys

‘Twas early one mornin’, at the break of the day
The cocks they were crowing and the farmer did say,
Rise up my jollw fellows, arise with good will,
Your horses want something their bellies to fill.

When four o’clock came me boys, it’s up we did rise,
And off to the stable we merrily flies
With a rubbin’ and a-scrubbin’ our horses we’ll go,
For we’re all jolly fellows what follers the plough

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