> Louis Killen > Songs > Cruising Round Yarmouth
> Cyril Tawney > Songs > Cruising Round Yarmouth

Cruising Round Yarmouth

[ Roud 2432 ; Ballad Index RcCRYar ; trad.]

Harry Cox of Catfield, Norfolk sang Cruising Round Yarmouth on December 2, 1953 to Alan Lomax. A truncated version was released on the album Songs of Seduction (The Folk Songs of Britain Vol. 2, Caedmon 1961; Topic 1968) but not on the extended Rounder CD reissue that was published in 2000. The full recording with one and two half more verses was included in 1994 on the Saydisc anthology Sea Songs and Shanties: Traditional English Sea Songs and Shanties from the Last Days of Sail. The original album's notes commented

The Maid of Amsterdam is the best known folk song to exploit the sexually symbolic features of the sailing ship and the sailor's life. There are, however, other songs of this type, including The Roving Kind, Maggie May, The Cruise of the Calebar and the most obscene of all, The Good Ship Venus. None of these can compare in aptness of imagery, in simplicity and strength of language to this masterpiece from Harry Cox of Norfolk.

Ewan MacColl sang While Cruising Around Yarmouth in 1957 on his and A.L. Lloyd's Tradition Records album Blow Boys Blow. A.L. Lloyd commented in the album's liner notes:

This ballad, as rough as sailcloth and as sharp-flavoured as salt-horse, probably began its life among the “flying-fish sailors” who voyaged to the Orient in East Indiamen and Blackwall frigates. The men in the Western Ocean packets learned this song too, but they changed it into a shanty, well-known as Blow the Man Down. The present version, which pulls no punches, is from one of the best of English folk singers, Harry Cox of Catfield, Norfolk.

Louis Killen sang Cruising Round Yarmouth at a midnight folk concert recorded in London in May 1963 for the Decca album Hootenanny in London. He also recorded it in 1995 for his CD Sailors, Ships & Chanteys. He commented in the latter album's notes:

From the “low end” of Sam Larner's repertoire, which had many boisterous songs filled with humorous innuendo. In this one, the humour is increased by the use of shipboard terms to describe behaviour and anatomy, a practise used in many sailors songs.

Cyril Tawney recorded Cruising Round Yarmouth in 1989 for his maritime cassette Sailor's Delight: Songs of Seafarers and the Fairer Sex. This track was also included in 2007 on his 2 CD anthology The Song Goes On.

Lyrics

Harry Cox sings Cruising Round Yarmouth

Harry Cox sings Cruising Round Yarmouth on
Songs of Seduction
Harry Cox sings Cruising Round Yarmouth on
Sea Songs and Shanties

While cruisin' round Yarmouth one day for a spree
I met a fair damsel, the wind blowing free.
“I'm a fast-going clipper, my kind sir,” said she.
“I'm ready for cargo, my hold is quite free.”

While cruisin' round Yarmouth one day for a spree
I met a fair damsel, the wind blowing free.
“I'm a fast-going clipper, my kind sir,” said she.
“I'm ready for cargo, my hold is quite free.”

Chorus (after each verse):
Song fal de ral laddie and fal de ral dey,
Fal de ral laddie and fal de ral dey
Chorus (after each verse):
Song fal de ral laddie and fal de ral dey,
Fal de ral laddie and fal de ral dey

What country she came from I could not tell which,
By her appearance I thought she was Dutch.
Her flag wore rich colours, her masthead was low,
She was round at the quarter and bluff at the bow.

I gave her the rope and I took her in tow,
From yardarm to yardarm a-towing we go.
I lift up her hatches, found plenty of room,
And into her cabin stuck my jib-boom.

I gave her the rope and I took her in tow,
From yardarm to yardarm a-towing we go.
We towed on together till we came to the Head,
We both towed together through Trafalgary Bay.

We towed till we came to the House of Expire,
We gave her old horse with plenty of ire.
I lift up her hatches, found plenty of room,
And into her cabin stuck my jib-boom.

She took me upstairs and her topsails she lowered,
In a neat little parlour she soon had me moored.
She laid in her foresails, her staysails an' all,
With her lily-white hand on my reef-tackle fall.

She took me upstairs and her topsails she lowered,
In a neat little parlour she soon had me moored.
She laid in her foresails, her staysails an' all,
With her lily-white hand on my reef-tackle fall.

I said, “Pretty fair maid, it's time to give o'er,
Betwixt wind and water you've ran me ashore.
My shot locker's empty and powder's all spent,
I can't fire a shot for it's choked at the vent.”

I said, “Pretty fair maid, it's time to give o'er,
Betwixt wind and water you've ran me ashore.
My shot locker's empty and powder's all spent,
I can't fire a shot for it's choked at the vent.”

Here's luck to the girl with the black curly locks.
Here's luck to the girl who ran Jack on the rock,
Here's luck to the doctor who eased all his pain.
He's squared his mainyards; he's a-cruisin' again.

Here's luck to the girl with the black curly locks.
Here's luck to the girl who ran Jack on the rock,
Here's luck to the doctor who eased all his pain.
He's squared his mainyards; he's a-cruisin' again.

Louis Killen sings Cruising Round Yarmouth

Chorus (after each verse):
Song fal de ral laddie and fal de ral dey,
Fal de ral laddie and fal de ral dey

While cruisin' round Yarmouth one day for a spree
I met a fair damsel, the wind blowing free.
“I'm a fast-going clipper, my kind sir,” said she.
“I'm ready for cargo, my hold is quite free.”

What country she come from, I could not tell which,
But by her appearance I thought she was Dutch.
And her flag wore the colours, her masthead was low,
She was round in the quarter and bluff in the bow.

I gave her my rope and I took her in tow,
Yardarm to yardarm towing we'd go.
We both towed together till we came to the Head,
We both towed together through Trafalgary Bay.

She took me upstairs and her tops'ls she lowered,
In her neat little parlour she soon had me moored.
She laid in her fores'ls, her stays'ls and all,
With her lily-white hand let my reef-tackle fall.

The watch being ended I said, “Maid, give o'er,
'Twixt wind and water you've run me ashore.
My shot-locker's empty, my powder's all spent,
I can't fire a shot for it's choked at the vent.”

Well, here's luck to that girl with the black curly locks.
Here's luck to that girl who ran Jack on the rocks,
Here's luck to the doctor who eased all his pain.
He's squared his mainyards; he's a-cruisin' again.

Links

See also the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Cruising Round Yarmouth, where Eliza noted:

There was indeed a pub called the Trafalgar Tavern in Yarmouth, in Victoria Road, and the King's Head situated in Row 139 (rows being narrow streets between fishermen's cottages in the old part of the town). Both pubs are now closed. There were over a hundred pubs there at the time of this song.
… and the Two-Necked Swan used to be in Market Place.