A.L. Lloyd >
The Trim-Rig Ducksie
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> Louis Killen > Songs > The Trim-Rigged Doxy
The Rambling Sailor / The Trim-Rigged Doxy
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The Rambling Sailor/Soldier (Roud 518) is a widely spread song in which a roving ex-sailor makes a living of seducing women. My Ducksie Has Fled or Gold Watch (Roud 1901) is the opposite where an amorous sailor is betrayed by a lady of negotiable affection; she robs him of his valuables while he is asleep and leaves him with an STD.
It was probably A.L. Lloyd who took the first-and-a-half verses of The Rambling Sailor and put them in front of My Ducksie Has Fled. All other recordings shown here seem to come from his initial version; and they are usually called either The Rambling Sailor or The Trim-Rigged Doxy.
A.L. Lloyd sang The Trim-Rig Ducksie in 1962 on his and Ewan MacColl's album A Sailor's Garland. This track was also included in 2006 on Fellside's 40th anniversary anthology The Journey Continues. Lloyd noted on the original album:
This wry and saucy song is also known as The Rambling Sailor. In fact it began life as The Rambling Soldier, and as such was a favourite song with fairground singers in the 18th century. In 1818, perhaps capitalising on the wave of popularity enjoyed by British tars in the years following Trafalgar, the ballad-sheet printer James Catnach (father of the more famous Jemmy) published an altered version of the song, with the saucy soldier now become a sailor. The song's unbuttoned text seems to have worried the folk song collectors. The Rev. Baring-Gould, H.E.D. Hammond and Cecil Sharp all obtained several versions of it, but found its wit and point “not very choice”, and suppressed most of the text as unfit for polite ears. Less polite country singers remain devoted to the song, whose swinging mixolydian melody is also that of a West Country hornpipe.
Martin Carthy sang Ramblin' Sailor in 1966 on his Second Album. He noted:
Also known as Young Johnson, this is a typical story of a sailor home from a long voyage and a rather frisky whore who robs him of all his possession, leaving him with a physical reminder of the exchange; or, as Measure for Measure puts it, “Impiety makes a feast of him.”
Tony Rose sang Rambling Sailor with very similar verses at the Cheltenham Folk Club in 1967. This recording was included in his posthumous CD Exe.
Louis Killen sang this as The Trim-Rigged Doxy in 1970 on the South Street Seaport Museum's album 50 South to 50 South and in 1995 on his CD Sailors, Ships & Chanteys. He commented in the first album's liner notes:
This forebitter was originally a landsman's song called The Rambling Soldier which told the tale of a young man who had a commission from the king to wander the country seducing young ladies. In the sailor's version he gets his comeuppance with a dose of the dreaded social disease.
The Albion Country Band, with Royston Wood and Steve Ashley on vocals, sang Rambling Sailor at the BBC “Top Gear” show recorded on 19 June 1972 and broadcast on 4 July 1972. This recording was included in 1995 on the Ashley Hutchings anthology The Guv'nor Vol. 2.
The Tees-side Fettlers sang The Rambling Sailor in 1974 on their Traditional Sound Recordings album Ring of Iron. They noted:
Mac [Stewart McFarlane] says he learned this one when he was young and thin (which takes us back a bit) from Martin Carthy. It has stood the test of time as far as the group's concerned and the theme fits in nicely with the instrumentals which follow it here—Drowsie Maggie & Dingle Regatta.
Tony Hall sang The Trim-Rig Doxie in 1977 on his Free Reed album Fieldvole Music.
Barry Lister sang The Trim-Rigged Doxy in 2006 on his WildGoose CD Ghosts & Greasepaint. He noted:
Again, a long-time favourite of mine, though I can’t remember where I got it. Many years ago I sang it for Alan Dilly of Great Western Morris to dance to in the Sidmouth Jig Competition. He didn’t win.
Pete Wood sang The Rambling Sailor on his 2014 CD Young Edwin. He noted:
A classic theme of a sailor being robbed by “a lady of the night”. It has a particularly jaunty tune, a variant of an Irish hornpipe called The Chanter's Tune.
Steve Turner sang The Rambling Sailor on his 2018 Tradition Bearers CD Late Cut. He noted:
One of the most famous stories in the folk song tradition is of Jack the sailor coming home from the sea, blowing all his wages. Usually in a tavern on Radcliffe Highway in London, or the American equivalent, the Bowery, being robbed of his wages and clothes by the “trim rigged doxy” who he meets along the way and ending up the following morning, penniless, scantily clad and with a horrible disease! I must like this story as at the last count this is the third version of it that I've recorded over the years!
|Martin Carthy sings Ramblin' Sailor||Tony Rose sings Rambling Sailor|
Oh, I am a sailor brisk and bold,
I am a sailor brisk and bold,
Oh, it's off to a village then I went
Now it's off to the village then I went
“Oh, I can't and I won't go along with you,
“Oh, I can't and I shan't and I won't go with you,
Oh, it was haul on the bowline, let your stays'ls fall,
Well it's haul on the bowline, let the stays'ls fall,
And it's when I awoke in the morning bright,
But it's when I awoke in the morning bright
|Louis Killen sings The Trim-Rigged Doxy|
I am a sailor brisk and bold
Now as I walked out one fine day
“Now I can't and I shan't and I won't go with you
It was haul out the bow and let the stays'ls fall
And when I'd found that she was gone
Garry Gillard transcribed Martin Carthy's singing, with thanks to Wolfgang Hell and Neil Spurgeon.