> Peter Bellamy > Songs > Barbaree

(High) Barbaree

[ Roud 134 ; Child 285 ; Laws K33 ; G/D 1:38 ; Ballad Index C285 ; trad.]

High Barbary was the romantic name of the Rif Coast of North Africa. It was the home of the Barbary pirates or Barbary corsairs who preyed on European shipping to capture Christian slaves from the 16th century up to 1830.

Bob Robert sang High Barbaree in a BBC archive recording made by Peter Kennedy that can be found on the 1955 anthology Folk Song Today. and on the 1994 compilation CD Sea Songs and Shanties. A later recording made in Bob Roberts' cottage on the Isle of Wight was published in 1981 on his Solent album Breeze for a Bargeman. The CD notes commented:

This classic story of pirate encounter was published by Ashton in 1891, though it is likely to have been extant before then, and has also been found in versions on the Eastern seaboard of the United States.

Peter Bellamy recorded Barbaree in 1979 for his Topic LP Both Sides Then. He accompanied himself on concertina and Dave Swarbrick played fiddle. According to the sleeve notes, this version is

A hybrid of Bob Robert's East Anglian version and a Carolina variant collected by the late Frank Warner.

Brian Peters and Gordon Tyrall sang High Barbary, “found in a book of American sailors' songs published in the 1920s”, in 2000 on their CD The Moving Moon.

Joseph Arthur sang Coast of High Barbary in 2006 on the theme album Rogue's Gallery: Pirate Ballads, Sea Songs & Chanteys.

Jon Boden sang High Barbaree with his brother Tom as a bonus track of the September 16, 2010 entry of his project A Folk Song a Day.

Chris Sarjeant learned Coast of Barbary from Peter Bellamy's album and sang it in 2012 on his CD Heirlooms.

Lyrics

Bob Roberts sings High Barbaree

There were two lofty ships that from old England came,
Blow high, blow low, and so a-sailed we.
One was the Prince o' Luther and the other Prince o' Wales,
Sailing down along the coast of High Barbaree.

“Aloft there, aloft,” our jolly bosun cried,
Blow high, blow low, and so a-sailed we.
“Look ahead and look astern, a-weather and a-loo,
Look down along the coast of High Barbaree.”

“Oh there's naught upon the stern and there's naught upon the lee,”
Blow high, blow low, and so a-sailed we.
“But there's a lofty ship to wind'ard and she's sailing fast and free,
Sailing down along the coast of High Barbaree.”

“Oh hail 'er, oh hail 'er,” our gallant captain cried,
Blow high, blow low, and so a-sailed we.
“Are you a man-o'-war or a privateer,” says 'e,
Sailing down along the coast of High Barbaree.

“Oh I'm not a man-of-war, nor a privateer,” says 'e,
Blow high, blow low, and so a-sailed we.
“But I'm a salt-sea pirate, a-looking for my fee
Looking down along the coast of High Barbaree.”

So 'twas broadside and broadside, as hour on hour we lay,
Blow high, blow low, and so a-sailed we.
Until the Prince o' Luther shot the pirate's mast away,
Sailing down along the coast of High Barbaree.”

“Oh quarter! Oh quarter!” the pirate then did cry,
Blow high, blow low, and so a-sailed we.
The quarter that we gave them, we sunk 'em in the sea,
Sailing down along the coast of High Barbaree.”

And oh, it was a cruel sight and grieved us full sore,
Blow high, blow low, and so a-sailed we.
To see 'em all a-drowning as they tried to swim ashore,
Sailing down along the coast of High Barbaree.”

Peter Bellamy sings Barbaree

Now there was two jolly ships from out of England came,
Blow high, blow low, and so sail we.
One she was the Queen of Russia and the other Prince of Wales,
Cruising down along the coast of Barbaree.

“Step aloft, step aloft,” then our jolly bosun cried,
Blow high, blow low, and so sail we.
“Look ahead and look astern, look aweather, look alee,
And look down along the coast of Barbaree.”

“Well, there is no ship astern and there is no ship alee,”
Blow high, blow low, and so sail we.
“But there's a lofty ship to wind'ard, she's a-sailing fast and free,
She's a-sailing down along the coast of Barbaree.”

“Oh hail 'er! Oh, hail 'er!” then our jolly captain cried,
Blow high, blow low, and so sail we.
“Oh, youse a man-o'-war or a privateer,” says he,
“A-cruising down along the coast of Barbaree?”

“I'm not no man-of-war, nor a privateer,” says he,
Blow high, blow low, and so sail we.
But I'm a salt-sea pirate, I'm a-seeking for me fee,
“I'm a-seeking down along the coast of Barbaree!”

So broadside to broadside, a long hour we lay,
Blow high, blow low, and so sail we.
Till at length the Queen of Russia blew the pirate's mast away,
Cruising down along the coast of Barbaree.

And “For quarters! For quarters!” the jolly pirate cried,
Blow high, blow low, and so sail we.
“Oh, the quarter I will give you, I will sink you in the tide,
I will sink you down along the coast of Barbaree.”

So we tied them up by twos and we tied them up by threes,
Blow high, blow low, and so sail we.
Yes, we tied them up by dozens and we chucked them in the sea,
Yes, we drowned them down along the coast of Barbaree.

Acknowledgements

I found the lyrics in the Mudcat Café thread Lyr Req: Peter Bellamy's Barbaree. See also Lyr Add: The Coasts of Barbary.