> Nic Jones > Songs > Barrack Street

Barrack Street

[ Roud 1902 ; Laws K42 ; Ballad Index LK42 ; trad.]

Nic Jones recorded Barrack Street, a song about a cheated sailor, in 1980 for his last Topic album, Penguin Eggs. A 1980 live recording from the Folk Festival Sidmouth is on the aptly-named anthology Folk Festival Sidmouth.

Paul Wilson sang The Dance on Peter Street on his and Marilyn Tucker’s 2009 Wren Trust album of songs of sea and shore, On the Tide. They noted:

First heard from the singing of Jim Payne, this song will forever remind us of that summer in 1983 when Jim, Rufus Guinchard and Kelly Russell introduced us to Newfoundland music.

Cupola sang Barrack Street in 2015 on their CD Roam. They noted:

Moved by the well-loved version of this song on Penguin Eggs, here is our version of this story of an evening of misfortune en route to Windsor town for one young sailor, intertwined with the Morris Dance tune Saturday Night—seemed appropriate.

A similarly themed song is The New York Gals in Stan Hugill’s book Shanties from the Seven Seas, p. 283. Steeleye Span recorded this in 1975 for their album Commoners Crown.


Nic Jones sings Barrack Street

You sailors all come lend an ear, come listen to my song;
A trick of late was played on me and it won’t detain you long.
I come from sea the other day and a girl I chanced to meet,
“Oh, me friends will be expecting me to a dance in Barrack Street.”

I said, “My young fair maid, I cannot dance so well;
Besides I am to Windsor bound where all my friends do dwell.
Been to sea the past two years; I’ve saved up thirty pounds.
My friends will be expecting me this night in Windsor town.”

“Well if you cannot dance, me love, then you shall stand a treat.
Have a glass or two of brandy and a something for to eat.
At six o’clock this evening I’ll meet you off the train;
So don’t forget to give a call when you come to town again.”

At eight o’clock that evening, then the drinking did begin.
And when we all had drunk our fill the dancing did begin.
Me and my love danced all around to a merry tune;
She says, “My dear, let us retire to a chamber alone.”

So dancing being over and to bed we did repair
And there I fell fast asleep, the truth I will declare.
My darling with me thirty pounds, gold watch and chain had fled;
Left me here poor Jack alone, stark naked in bed.

So I looked all around me and there’s nothing I could spy
But a woman’s shirt and apron all on the bed did lie.
I wrung my hands and tore my hair, crying, “Oh what shall I do?
Fare thee well, sweet Windsor town, I’m sure I’ll never see you.”

Well, everything being silent and the hour but twelve o’clock;
I put on the shirt and apron and I steered for Crowman’s Wharf.
The captain says, “Now Jack, I thought you were to Windsor bound.
You might have got a better suit than that for thirty pound.”

“I might have got a better suit if I’d had got the chance;
I met a girl in Barrack Street, she took me to a dance.
I danced me own destruction, now I’m struck from head to feet,
I swear that I won’t go no more down in Barrack Street.”

So all of you young sailor lads a warning take from me:
Beware of all your company when you go out on a spree.
And keep clear of Barrack Street or else you’ll rue the day:
In a woman’s shirt and apron, oh, they’ll bring you out to sea.