> The Albion Band > Songs > I'll Go and List for a Sailor
> Martin Carthy > Songs > Unfortunate Tailor

I'll Go and List for a Sailor / Unfortunate Tailor

[ Roud 1614 ; Wiltshire 235 ; trad.]

John Kirkpatrick sang the lament I'll Go and List for a Sailor in 1972 on Ashley Hutchings and Friends' first Morris dance album Morris On. Another version by the Albion Country Band recorded on 9 May 1973 for BBC's Bob Harris Show was released on the CD The BBC Sessions.

Martin Carthy sang this song as Unfortunate Tailor in 2006 on his and Dave Swarbrick's album Straws in the Wind. He commented in the sleeve notes:

Unfortunate Tailor is the one song not from the Penguin collection. I learned it from John Kirkpatrick one day when he wasn't looking and am very grateful to him for not turning round before the end. Don't know why it is that tailors are so ridiculed in songs and story but they are, and this luckless sod is genuinely pathetic. Can't imagine why he thinks he'll have a better time in the navy either.

Andy Cutting and Tim Harries played I'll Go and List for a Sailor as a Morris dance tune on June Tabor's 2011 CD Ashore.

Lyrics

John Kirkpatrick sings I'll Go and List for a Sailor Martin Carthy sings Unfortunate Tailor

Oh list, oh list to me sorrowful lay,
And attention give to me song, I pray,
When you've heard it all you'll say
That I'm an unfortunate tailor.

Oh list, oh list to me sorrowful lay,
And attention give to my song, I pray,
When you've heard it all you will say
There goes an unfortunate tailor.

For once I was happy as a bird in a tree,
My Sarah was all in the world to me,
Now I'm cut out by a son of the sea,
And she's left me here to bewail her.

Oh, once I was happy as a bird in a tree,
My Sarah was all in the world to me,
Now I'm cut out by a son of the sea,
She's left me here to bewail her.

Why did Sarah serve me so?
No more will I stitch and no more will I sew;
Me thimble and me needle to the winds I'll throw
And I'll go and 'list for a sailor.

Why did Sarah serve me so?
No more will I stitch and no more will I sew;
Thimble and my needle to the winds I'll throw
And I'll go and 'list for a sailor.

Oh, my Sarah was the daughter of a publican,
A generous kind-hearted sort of a man,
Who spoke very plain what he thought of a man,
And he never looked bad on the tailor.

Now me days were honey and me nights were the same,
Till a man called Cobb from the ocean came
With his long black beard and his muscular frame,
A captain on board of a whaler.

Oh, my days were honey and my nights were the same,
Till a man named Cobb from the ocean came
Great long beard and his mighty frame,
Captain on board of a whaler.

Well he spent his money both frank and free,
With his tales of the land and his songs of the sea,
And he stole me Sarah's heart from me,
And blighted the hopes of a tailor.

And he spent his money both frank and free,
With his tales of the land and his songs of the sea,
Stole me Sarah's heart from me,
And he blighted the hopes of a tailor.

Well, once I was with her, when in came Cobb
“Avast!” he cried, “you blubbery swab.
If you don't knock off I'll scuttle your knob!”
And Sarah smiled at the sailor.

He come swaggering down, this Captain Cobb,
“Avast!” he cries, “you blubbery swab.
If you don't knock off I'll scuttle your knob!”
Sarah smiled at the sailor.

So now I'll cross the raging sea,
For Sarah's proved untrue to me.
Me heart's locked up and she's the key;
What a very unfeeling gaoler.

So now I'll cross this raging sea,
For Sarah's who proved untrue to me.
My heart's locked up and she's the key;
Such a very unfeeling gaoler.

And so now, kind friends, I'll bid you adieu,
No more me woes shall trouble you;
I'll travel the country through and through,
And go and 'list for a sailor.

Oh now, kind friends, I'll bid you adieu,
No more my woes will trouble you;
Travel the country through and through,
I'll go and 'list for a sailor.

Acknowledgements

Transcribed by Reinhard Zierke and Garry Gillard