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The Jolly Roving Tar

[ Roud 913 ; Laws O27 ; Ballad Index LO27 ; trad.]

Peter Bellamy sang The Jolly Roving Tar in 1969 on his second LP, Fair England's Shore. This is one of the two songs on the album where he accompanied himself on melodeon. He commented in the album's sleeve notes:

I found two verses of The Jolly Roving Tar deep in my memory, with no idea how they got there. There seem to be several versions around, two of them being in Modern Street Ballads and in the Kidson collection, but the verses I added to make a fuller song come from an American version which was collected by a dear and respected friend, American folklorist Frank Warner.

Lyrics

Peter Bellamy sings The Jolly Roving Tar

Ships may come and ships may go, just as long as the seas do run
And a sailor man, likewise his dad, he loves his pork and rum.
Now a lass ashore he do adore one that is plump and round;
But when your money’s all gone it’s the same old song:

Chorus (after each verse):
Get up Jack, John sit down!
Come along, come along me jolly brave boys,
There’s plenty more grog in the jar;
We’ll plow the briny ocean with a jolly roving tar

When Jack’s ashore he makes his way to some old boarding house
He’s welcomed in with rum and gin, likewise with fork and scouse.
Now he’ll spend and he’ll spend and he'll never offend until he lies drunk on the ground;
But when your money’s all gone it’s the same old song …

He then will ship aboard some ship bound for India or Japan,
Or in Asia there, the ladies fair all loves the sailor man.
He will trip ashore and he won’t scorn to buy some maid a gown
But when your money’s all gone it’s the same old song …

When Jack is old and weather-beat, too old to sail about,
In some grop shop they’ll let him stop ’til eight bells do ring out.
Then he’ll raise his hands high, and loud he’ll cry, “Thank God I’m homeward bound”,
But when your money’s all gone it’s the same old song …