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Bobby Shaftoe

[ Roud 1359 ; Ballad Index FSWB170A ; trad.]

Shirley Collins recorded Bobby Shaftoe during a two day session in London in 1958 for her 1960 LP False True Lovers. She and Alan Lomax commented in the album's notes:

One of the best known British folk songs, is here sung with vigour and snap as it was when John Stokoe found it in Northern England. In the North the tune has been played for country dancing. What one usually hears is a sentimentalised, slowed-down reworking of the song, from which all the Northern dialect has been deleted, along with the child which the girl friend is carrying against Bobby Shaftoe's return.

And Melanie Harrold sang Bobby Shaftoe on Tim Hart and Friends' album My Very Favourite Nursery Rhyme Record; this track was later reissued on the compilation CD Favourite Nursery Rhymes and Other Children's Songs.

Lyrics

Shirley Collins singsMelanie Harrold sings

Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
Silver buckles on his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's neat and slim,
He's always dressed so fine and trim;
The lasses they all keek at him,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's tall and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair;
He'll be mine for ever more,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's getting a bairn,
For to dangle on his arm;
On his arm and on his knee,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's fat and fair,
Combing down his yellow hair;
He's my love for ever mair,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's tall and slim,
Always dressed so neat and trim;
The ladies they all look at him,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's been to sea,
Silver buckles on his knee;
He's come back and marry me,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!

Bobby Shaftoe's gone to sea,
Silver buckles at his knee;
He'll come back and marry me,
  Bonny Bobby Shaftoe!