> Nic Jones > Songs > Barrack/Patrick/Peter Street

Barrack/Patrick/Peter Street

[ Roud 1902 ; Laws K42 ; Ballad Index LK42 ; DT PETERST ; Mudcat 11273 ; trad.]

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang Peter Street, on their 1973 album Across the Western Ocean. They noted:

It might seem, from the number of such songs on this record, that sailors ashore were in constant danger of losing all their clothes, as well as the rest of their possessions. This probably was the case–if the proliferation of songs on the subject is any indication, they certainly enjoyed singing about such indignities. This particular song is of the “Shirt and Apron” family, and tells essentially the same story as New York Girls. Hugill prints a text entitled Jack-all-Alone but gives no tune. This set comes to us from the singing of Enoch Kent, now living in Toronto, though Tony has changed the words slightly to pot the song in a Liverpool context.

John Roberts also sang this song as Francis Street on his 1989 album Songs From the Pubs of Ireland.

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.

Patrick Street sang Patrick Street, as the title track of the eponymous first Green Linnet album Patrick Street.

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.


John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing Peter Street

Oh now people, pay attention, and listen to my song,
It isn’t my intention to detain you very long:
I came home from sea the other night, and a lassie I chanced to meet,
She invited me to dance with her, down on Peter Street.

Oh I said: “My pretty fair maid, I do not dance too well,
And I am bound for Wigan town, where my parents they do dwell,
I have been at sea for seven long years, and I’ve saved up fifty pounds,
And my parents are expecting me tonight, in Wigan town.”

“Oh sir, if you were to go with me, you would surely have a treat,
We would have a glass of brandy, and something nice to eat,
And at 6 o’clock in the evening, I would convey you to the train,
And you’d be sure to call on me when you’re in town again.”

Well, this lassie was persuasive, and so nice to old Jack tar,
So I agreed to go with her, and so we hired a car,
And the neighbours, they all stopped and stared, and I heard one of them say:
“Bejasus! He’ll need the jaunting car before he gets away.”

Well now, when we got inside the house, oh then the whisky was brought in,
And when every man had had his fill, the dance it did begin,
And my love and I, we danced a reel to a good old-fashioned tune,
And I did a couple of double-shuffles all around the room.

When the dancing it was over, boys, then for bed we did prepare,
And when I awoke next morning, the truth I will declare,
My gold pocket-watch, and 50 pounds, and my lady-friend had fled,
And left me there Jack, all alone, stark naked on the bed.

Well, I looked all around me, but nothing could I spy,
But a lady’s shift and apron, a-hanging up to dry,
I tore my hair and I cursed the drink, Oh Lord! What will I do?
The Lord forgive me! Wigan town, will I ever again see you?

When the daylight was departing, and night was drawing near,
I put on the shift and apron, and I walked down to the pier,
And as I crept on board the ship, I heard one sailor say:
“Bejasus! Old Jack has got the ducks before he got away.

“Oh, is that the new spring fashion, Jack, that you have brought from shore?
Where is the shop you bought it, boy, oh have they any more?
The last time that I spoke to you, you said you were homeward bound,
Christ, you might have got a better suit than that for 50 pounds!”

“Well, I might have got a better suit, if I had had a chance,
But I met a pretty fair maid who invited me to dance,
And I danced my own destruction with that lassie that was so neat,
So no more will I go dancing, boys, down on Peter Street.”

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, my 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, my 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 my 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 my 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.

Patrick Street sings Patrick Street

You sailor lads, come lend an ear, and listen to my song
It’s of a trick ’twas played on me, and won’t detain you long:
I came home from see the other day and a girl I chanced to meet
And she’s asked me up along with her to dance in Patrick Street.

“Well” says I, “Me pretty fair maid, I cannot dance too well,
Besides I’m bound for Newry town where my parents they do dwell.
I’ve been at sea these last few years and I’ve saved up fifty pounds,
And my parents are expecting me, tonight in Newry town.”

“Well since you cannot dance too well then you shall have a treat:
You can have a glass of brandy, and something nice to eat.
At nine o’clock this evening I’ll lead you to your train,
But don’t forget to call on me when you come back again.”

Well she seemed to be so friendly, I went and hired a car.
We both went down to Patrick Street and on arrival there,
Some people on the other side, I thought I heard them say
“He’ll sure be in need of a jaunting car, before he gets away.”

We had not been long in the room when whiskey it came in,
And when everyone had had their fill, the dancing did begin.
Me and my love we danced around all to a merry tune,
While the other couples did the double-shuffle ’round the room.

And when dancin’ it was over, for bed we did prepare –
And after that, I fell asleep—the Truth I do declare,
My darling and my fifty pounds—me gold’n’all had fled!
And there was I myself alone stark naked lying in bed!

In gazing all around me nothing could I spy
But a woman’s skirt and jumper at the foot of the bed did lie.
I wrung my hands and tore my hair cryin’ “Oh what will I do?
Oh fare the well sweet Newry town, I’m sure I’ll ne’er see you!”

When night-time it had come again and daylight was away
I put on the skirt and jumper and I set off for the quay,
And when I got on board the ship the sailors all did say
“Oh Jack has grown much prettier since last she went away!

“And is this the new spring fashion that you went to buy on shore?
And where’s the shop that sells them, d’you think they may have more?”
The captain says, “Now Jack, I thought you were for Newry town;
You might have bought a better suit than that for fifty pounds!”

“Well I might have bought a better suit if I had had the chance.
I met a girl in High Street and she’s asked me to a dance.
I danced my own destruction and I’ve done it so complete,
That I swear I’ll never go back again to dance in Patrick Street.”

Come all of you young sailor lads, a warning take by me,
And always keep good company when you go on a spree.
Be sure’n stay clear of Patrick Street or else you’ll rue the day
In a woman’s skirt and jumper they will ship you back to sea!