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On Board the Kangaroo

[ Roud 925 ; G/D 6:1211 ; Ballad Index MA060 ; Bodleian Roud 925 ; trad.]

This capstan shanty is printed in Stan Hugill's Shanties from the Seven Seas.

Planxty recorded The Good Ship Kangaroo for their 1979 album After the Break. Several live recordings from between 1979 and 1982 were released in 2016 on their DVD Between the Jigs and the Reels Break and in 2018 on their CD One Night in Bremen. Their original album's notes commented:

The Good Ship Kangaroo was learned from the singing of the late Mrs. Elizabeth Cronin of Macroom, Co. Cork. In the penultimate verse, ‘hottentot’ probably means opium.

Nic Jones learned On Board the Kangaroo from a recording of Elizabeth Cronin of Macroon, County Cork, made by Séamus Ennis. A live performance by him of unspecified origin was included on his 1998 anthology, In Search of Nic Jones.

Tony Rose recorded On Board the Kangaroo with one more verse in 1999 for his CD Bare Bones.

Lyrics

Planxty sing The Good Ship Kangaroo

Once I was a waitin' man that lived at home at ease,
Now I am a mariner that plows the angry seas.
Oh I always loved seafarin' life, I bid my love adieu,
I shipped as steward and cook, my boys, on board the Kangaroo.

Chorus (after every other verse):
Oh I never thought she would prove false or either prove untrue
As we sailed away through Milford Bay on board the Kangaroo.

“Think of me, oh think of me,” she mournfully did say,
“When you are in a foreign land and I am far away.
Take this lucky thrupenny bit, it'll make you bear in mind
That lovin' trustin' faithful heart you left in tears behind.”

“Cheer up cheer up, my own true love, don't weep so bitterly.”
She sobbed, she sighed, she choked, she cried and could not say goodbye.
“Oh I won't be gone for very long 'tis but a month or two
When I will return again of course I'll visit you.”

Our ship it was homeward bound from many's the foreign shore
And many's the foreign present unto me love I bore.
I brought tortoises from Tenerife and toys from Timbuktu,
A china rat, and a Bengal cat, and a Bombay cockatoo.

Paid off I sought her dwellin' on a street above the town
Where an ancient dame upon the line was hangin' out her gown.
“Where is my love?”—“She's vanished, sir, about six months ago
With a smart young man that drives the van for Chaplin, Son and Co.”

Here's a health to dreams of married life to soap suds and blue,
Heart's true love and patent starch and washin' soda too.
Oh I'll go unto some foreign shore, no longer can I stay,
And with some China hottentot I'll throw myself away.

My love she is no foolish girl, her age it is two score,
My love she is no spinster, she's been married twice before.
Oh I cannot say it was her wealth that stole me heart away,
She's a washer in a laundry for one and nine a day.

Nic Jones sings On Board the Kangaroo

First I was a waiting man that lived at home at ease,
And now I am a mariner that ploughs the angry seas.
I thought I'd like seafaring life, so I bid my love adieu,
And shipped aboard as steward, my boys, on board the Kangaroo.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
But I never thought she would prove false, or even prove untrue,
Till we sailed away from Milford Bay on board the Kangaroo.

“Cheer up! Cheer up! my own true love, don't weep so bitterly.”
Well, she sobbed, she sighed, she mourned, she cried, she would not say goodbye.
“I won't be gone so very long, maybe a month or two,
And when that I return again, fair maid, I'll marry you.”

Now I wasn't gone so very long upon these foreign shores,
And many's the fine presents unto my love I bore.
I bought tortoises from Tenerife, toys from Timbuktu,
And a China rat and a Bengal cat and a Bombay cockatoo.

So, paid up, I sought her dwelling in the southern part of town
Where an ancient dame upon a line was hanging out her gowns.
“Where is my love?”—“She's married, sir, about a month ago,
To a fine young man that drives a van for Chapman Son & Co.”

So here's health to the dreams of married life, and the soap and the suds and blue.
And a heart's true love and patent starch, I'll bid you all adieu.
I'll go on to some foreign land, no longer can I stay,
And on some Chinese Hottentot I'll throw myself away.

Tony Rose sings On Board the Kangaroo

Oh once I was a waiting man and I stayed at home at ease,
But now I am a mariner and plough the angry seas.
Well, I thought I'd like seafaring life, so I bid my love adieu,
And I shipped as steward and cook, my boys, on board the Kangaroo.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Oh I never thought she would prove false, or even prove untrue,
Till we sailed away from Milford Bay on board the Kangaroo.

“Cheer up! Cheer up! my own true love, don't weep so bitterly.”
But she sobbed, she sighed, she choked, she cried, she could not say goodbye.
“Oh I won't be gone so very long, about a month or two,
And when that I return again, then I'll marry you.”

My love she is no foolish girl, oh her age it is two score,
My love she is no spinster, she's been married twice before.
And I cannot say it was her wealth that held my heart in sway,
She's a starcher at a laundery for eighteen pence a day.

Our vessel she was homeward bound for many's the foreign shore,
And many's the foreign presents unto my love I bore.
I bought tortoises from Tenerife, toys from Timbuktu,
And a China rat and a Bengal cat and a Bombay cockatoo.

Paid off I sought her dwelling in a suburb of the town
Where an ancient dame upon the line was hanging out her gown.
“Where is my love?”—“She's married, sir, about a month ago,
To a fine young man that drives a van for Chapman Son & Co.”

Here's a health to the dreams of married life, to soap, to suds and blue.
Heart's true love and patent starch, washing soda too.
I'll take me to some foreign shore, no longer will I stay,
And on some Chinese Hottentot I'll throw myself away.

Links

See also the Mudcat Caf'e thread Origins: Good Ship Kangaroo.