> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Do Me Ama
> Martin Carthy > Songs > Domeama / Jacky Tar
> Eliza Carthy > Songs > Jacky Tar
> Nic Jones > Songs > Jackie Tar

Do Me Ama / Jacky Tar

[ Roud 511 ; Laws K40 ; Ballad Index LK40 ; trad.]

George ‘Pop’ sang Jack the Jolly Tar-O at his home in Copthorne, Sussex, on December 3, 1955 to Peter Kennedy. This recording was included in 1976 on Maynard's Topic album Ye Subjects of England.

A.L. Lloyd recorded Do Me Ama, a fo'c'sle song from probably the 18th century, in 1956 for his and Ewan MacColl's albums The Black Ball Line (1957), Haul on the Bowlin' (1958), and Blow the Man Down (1963), and and on the compilations Sea Songs and Shanties (Topic Sampler No 7) and Sailors' Songs & Sea Shanties. Lloyd commented in the sleeve notes:

A fo'c'sle song that probably came into being during the 18th century. It derives its story from from an old chapbook tale of The Squire and the Farm Servant. The song has appeared in print a few times, most recently as Jack the Jolly Tar in the Penguin Book of English Folk Songs. It is still occasionally to be heard from traditional countryside singers, and may own its survival to the fact that in its story, the common sailor most cheekily gets the better of the squire—a theme for which country singers show lasting affection.

Lloyd recorded it again in 1957 on his and Ewan MacColl's album Blow Boys Blow where he added in the sleeve notes:

The tune, an unusual one in English folksong, may derive from some languorous melody heard on a Mediterranean trip.

Cyril Tawney sang Pull the String in 1963 on his EFDSS album of songs and shanties of a sub-mariner, Between Decks. He recorded it again for his 1992 cassette In Every Port; this track was included in 2003 on his anthology Nautical Tawney.

Martin Carthy sung Domeama on his and Dave Swarbrick's 1967 album Byker Hill. He commented in the album notes:

When sailors were away on long voyages, the various deprivations must have put them under a colossal strain, but their imaginations appear to have been equal to it even if their bodies sometimes weren't. The mind at work on Domeama smacks strongly of seafaring, Chaucer, or Decameron and indeed it has a basic similarity with the English ballad Glasgerion. There is probably no direct connection between this and Domeama as the theme is very old and very widespread. It is, incidentally, the only song I have ever learned on one hearing only (without the aid of tape-recorder or pencil and paper). I've tried since but to no avail.

Martin Carthy sang it as Jackie Tar live in December 2004 at Ruskin Mill; and he and Dave Swarbrick recorded Jacky Tar for their 2006 album Straws in the Wind. This album's notes say:

On the face of it, there are enough similarities between Jacky Tar and the big ballad Glasgerion as far as the basic plot line goes, for it to be thought of as a gutter version of the latter song. Bowing to A.L. Lloyd's wider knowledge (and he was always clear that in his view it was simply not the case), I retain a feeling that these things cannot be entirely unconnected: I like the idea that people rework such themes over and over. Cecil Sharp met the singer William Nott in Meshaw in Devon in 1904 and it's his beautiful tune which I sing here. The words come from a friend called Neville—who refused to let me have the song in 1958 but whose entire rendition I remembered at home later that night as I sat furious with my guitar in bed: furious because of his refusal to part with the words.

His daughter Eliza Carthy sang this song as Jacky Tar on her 1996 album Heat Light & Sound and on the English folk anthology And We'll All Have Tea. She commented in her album's sleeve notes:

A Jacky Tar is a name for a sailor. This seems to be another “trick the lass and run off” song, except that he doesn't get the chance to run off. I learned it from my Dad and it appears in Cecil Sharp.

Freda Palmer of Witney, Oxfordshire, sang a fragment of Jack and the Squire on October 15, 1972 to Mike Yates. This recording was included in 2004 on the Musical Traditions anthology of songs and tunes from the Mike Yates collection, The Birds Upon the Tree. The album's booklet commented:

Freda could only remember a fragment of this song (the 5th verse she remembered later), one that Cecil Sharp titled Jack the Jolly Tar. There are four versions printed in Sharp's collection, as well as a version, Do Me Ama, that was collected by Captain W.B. Whall and published in his book Ships, Sea Songs and Shanties (Glasgow, 1913, pp. 23-24).

Barry Skinner sang The Sailor and the String in 1978 on his Fellside album Bushes & Briars.

Yorkshire Relish (Derek, Dorothy and Nadine Elliott) sang Jack the Jolly Tar in 1980 on their Traditional Sound Recordings album An Old Family Business.

Jolly Jack sang Jack the Jolly Jack Tar in 1983 on their Fellside album Rolling Down to Old Maui. This track was included in 2001 on the Fellside anthology Voices in Harmony. They commented in their sleeve notes:

We've been singing this song regularly since we named the group after the impudent hero of the ever popular 18th century story. According to A.L. Lloyd it was derived from an old chapbook tale of ‘the squire and the farm servant” and was still commonly known by seamen in modern times, usually in the version Do Me Ama. A sailor ashore overhears a conversation between the squire and a merchant's daughter and takes full advantage of his piece of luck. These words were collected by Cecil Sharp from Mr William Nott in Meshaw, Devon, in 1904.

George Withers of Donyatt, Somerset (born in 1924) sang Jack the Jolly Tar on his 1995 Veteran cassette The Fly Be on the Turmut (VT133), recorded by to John Howson. This track was also included in 2004 on the Veteran anthology of folk songs sung in the West Country, Old Uncle Tom Cobleigh and All. John Howson commented:

This is a humorous version of Jack on the Shore which was a popular song in both Britain and America although it wasn’t published by many broadside printers. The earliest of them was 1830. Cecil Sharp collected a version of the song from William Nott at Meshaw, Devon in 1904. Bob Copper of Rottingdean sang the song and he knew it as Pull on the String.

Keith Kendrick sang Jack the Jolly Tar in 1997 on his Fellside CD Home Ground.

Louis Killen sang Do Me Ama in 1997 on his CD A Seaman's Garland.

John Kirkpatrick sang Do Me Ama in 1998 on his CD One Man and His Box. He commented in his liner notes:

Learned in my formative years at Folk Camps in the 1960's when The Yetties would play endless tapes of what Cyril Tawney had been singing at Sidmouth Folk Festival that year. When I later asked Cyril where it came from, he told me that he thought it was probably from somewhere in the southern half of England.

Brian Peters sang Jack the Jolly Tar in 2001 on his CD Lines.

Jon Loomes sang Jacky Tar in 2005 on his Fellside CD Fearful Symmetry. His liner notes tell the story:

Peg-leg Pete staggers ashore. After six months at sea, he's only got one thing on his mind. But, before he gets to the pub he overhears this fabulous chick planning a little light bondage with her chinless yuppie boyfriend. A wicked plot hatches in his feeble mind, and under the cover of darkness he tugs on her bit of string. It is only when the sun comes up that the myopic Cynthia observes that he is not her regular nocturnal companion but a total stranger covered in assorted nautical detritus.

The Devil's Interval sang this song as Blow Me Jack in 2006 on their WildGoose album Blood and Honey. They commented in their liner notes:

John Kirkpatrick pulled our string with this cheeky little ditty! We arranged this song one night at Emily's house aided by a few bottles of raspberry wine—the result included a synchronised dance routine. Unfortunately we couldn't recreate this in the studio but Doug [Bailey] did insist on a swift half at the village pub before recording this track, for purely artistic reasons of course!

The Askew Sisters sang Jack the Jolly Tar in 2010 on their CD Through Lonesome Woods. They commented in their liner notes:

We found this version in Roy Palmer’s Book of British Ballads and it was originally sung by William Nott of Meshaw, Devon, and collected by Cecil Sharp in 1904, although we’ve taken some words from other sources.

Andy Turner heard Do Me Ama first on Byker Hill. He sang it as the April 1, 2016 entry of his project A Folk Song a Week.

Bob Copper collected a version of this story, as The Squire's Lost Lady, in about 1954 from Ben Butcher in Popham, Hampshire—a song he had learnt from his father George Butcher in Storrington, Sussex: see Chapter Fourteen, pp. 114-122, of Songs and Southern Breezes for the details—and wonderful story about a shoot; see also the appendix for the words.

Nic Jones played Jackie Tar as an instrumental in 1977 on his third album, The Noah's Ark Trap.

Lyrics

A.L. Lloyd sings Do Me Ama Martin Carthy sings Domeama

As a sailor was walking one fine summer day,
The squire and their lady were making their way.
And the sailor he heard the squire say,
“Tonight with you I mean to stay
With me do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.”

As Jack went out walking all on a fine day,
A squire and his lady came a-walking that way.
Jack heard him to the lady say,
“Tonight with you, love, I mean to lay
With me do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.”

“You must tie a string all around your finger,
With the other end of the string hanging out the window,
And I'll slip by and pull the string,
And you must come down and let me in
With me do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.”

“Just tie the string all around your finger
And let the other end dangle down from your window,
And I'll come by and I'll pull the string,
And you come down, love, and let me in
With me do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.”

Says Jack to himself, “I've a mind to try,
To see if a poor sailor he can't win that prize.”
So he stole up and he pulled the string
And the lady come down and she let old Jack in
With that do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.

Jack says to himself, “I've a mind for to try,
And see if a poor sailor he can't win that prize.”
So Jack walked by and he pulled the string
And she come down and she let old Jack in
With his do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.

Well the squire came by, he was humming a song,
Thinking to himself how it wouldn't be long.
But when he got there no string he found.
Behold, his hopes was all dashed to the ground
With that do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.

Now the squire he came a-riding, he was singing a song,
He was thinking to himself how it wouldn't be long.
But when he got to the window, no string he found.
Behold his hopes was all dashed to the ground
And his do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.

Well, early next morning, it was just getting light,
The lady jumped up the bed in a terrible fright.
For there lay Jack in his tarry old shirt,
Behold his face was all covered in dirt
And that do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.

It was early next morning, it was just getting light,
The lady sat up with a terrible fright.
For there lay Jack in his tarry old shirt,
And behold his face was all covered in dirt
And his do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.

“Oh what do you want, you tarry sailor,
Breaking in a lady's bedroom to steal her treasure?”
“Well no,” says old Jack, “I just pulled that string
And you come down, ma'm, and let me in
With me do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.”

“Oh what do you want, oh, you tarry sailor,
A-stealing in a lady's chamber to steal her treasure?”
“Oh no,” says Jack, “I just pulled your string
And you come down love and let me in
With me do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.”

The sailor he says, “Oh, forgive me I pray,
I'll steal away very quiet at the dawn of the day.”
“Oh no,” says the lady, “don't go too far
For I never will part from me jolly Jack Tar
And that do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.”

Jack says to the lady, “Your pardon I pray,
And I'll steal away very quiet at the break of the day.”
“Oh no,” she says, “don't you go too far
For I never will part from me jolly Jack Tar
And his do me ama, dee me ama, do me ama day.”

Eliza Carthy sings Jacky Tar Martin Carthy sings Jacky Tar

Well, a young Jacky Tar out one day a-walking,
He heard a squire and the lady talking.
Jack heard him to the lady say,
“Tonight with you, love, I mean to lay
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.”

Young Jacky Tar, out one day a-walking,
Heard a squire and the lady talking.
Jack heard him to the lady say,
“Tonight with you, love, I mean to lay
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.”

“Just tie a string all around your finger
Let the other end dangle down from your window,
And I'll come by, pull on the string
You come down and you'll let me in,
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.”

“Just tie the string all around your finger
Let the other end dangle down from your window,
I'll come by, pull on the string,
You come down, love, you let me in
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.”

“Damn me,” says Jack, “Oh, why don't I fetch her,
See if a poor sailor can't win this treasure.”
So he went by, pulled on the string;
She came down and she let him in,
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.

“Blow me,” says Jack, “Well, why don't I fetch her,
See if a poor sailor can't win this treasure.”
So he went by, pulled on the string;
She came down and she let him in,
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.

Jack never had seen such a sight before-a,
String round her finger was all she wore-a.
Opened up the door when he pulled on the string,
Pulled up the covers and she let Jack in
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.

The squire came by, he whistling a song-a,
Thinking to himself how it wouldn't be long-a,
But when he got there, no string he found,
Behold, his hopes were all dashed to the ground,
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.

Squire he come by, he was singing a song-o,
Thinks he to himself it's not going to be long-o,
When he got there no string he found.
Behold his hopes was all dashed to the ground
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.

Jack lay in her arms all the livelong night-a
And she woke up in a terrible fright-a!
For there lay Jack in his tarry shirt
Behold, his face was all covered with dirt,
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.

Jack lay in her arms all the livelong night-a
And she woke up in a terrible fright-a!
For there lay Jack in his tarry shirt
Behold, his face was all covered with dirt,
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.

“Why what d'ya want, oh you nasty sailor
Stealing in my chamber to steal my treasure?”
“Oh no,” he says, “I pulled on the string,
You came down and you let me in
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.”

“What do you want, oh you nasty sailor
Steal in my chamber for to steal my treasure?”
“No,” he says, “I pulled on the string,
You come down, love, you let me in
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.”

And then, says Jack, “Why I beg your pardon
But I'll steal off quiet first thing in the morning.”
“Oh no!” she says, “Don't you go far
For I never will part from my little Jack Tar
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.”

Jack says to her, “Pardon I pray-a,
I'll steal away at the break of day-a.”
“No,” she says, “don't you go far
For I never will part from me little Jack Tar
Fol la la doo, right falero, right fol lol a doo.”

(repeat first verse)

Freda Palmer sings Jack and the Squire

Now Jack he heard the squire say,
That he that night with her would lay.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Da dum diddle um di do.
Da dum diddle um dee.

Now Jack he went and pulled the string,
And she came down and let him in.

But in the morn, when this fair maid awakened,
She looked at Jack with heart forsaken.

For Jack he had a ragged shirt,
His hands and face were covered in dirt.

“No”, said Jack, “it's no such thing,
For you came down and let me in.”

But Jack he loved the girl so well,
He told the squire to go to hell.

George Withers sings Jack the Jolly Tar

Oh, I am Jack and a jolly tar,
And I just came back from the sea so far.
Oh, I am Jack and a jolly tar,
And I just came back from the sea so far.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Hey diddley ding dong,
Hey diddley ding.

Now when Jack was walking through London city,
He heard a squire talking to a lady.
And Jack he heard that squire say,
“Tonight with you, love, I'm going to stay.

“You must tie a long string all around your finger,
And dangle the other the end hanging out the window,
And I'll slip by and pull the string,
And you must come down love and let me in.”

“Damn me,” says Jack, “If I don't venture ,
For to pull this string hanging out this window.”
So Jack slips by and he pulls the string,
And the lady came down and she let him in.

Along came the squire all hot with passion,
Saying, “Curse the women through all the nation!
For here am I, no string I've found,
And all my plans have gone to ground.”

Well the morning came and the sun was streaming,
The lady woke up and started screaming.
'Cos there's our Jack in his tarry shirt,
And his old face all streaked with dirt.

“Oh what is this, you tarry sailor?
Did you break in for to steal my treasure?”
“Well no,” says Jack, “I just pulled that string,
And you came down, ma'am, and let me in.”

“I'm sorry ma'am will you please forgive me?
And I'll run away so no-one shall see me.”
“Oh no,” says she, “Don't you stray too far,
For I never will part from my Jack Tar.”

Acknowledgements

Transcribed by Garry Gillard and Reinhard Zierke.