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Go to sea no more

Or: Jackie Brown

  • (Trad)

    When first I landed in Liverpool I went upon a spree
    My money at last I spent it fast, I got drunk as drunk could be
    And when my money it was all spent, it was then that I wanted more
    But a man must be blind to make up his mind to go to the sea once more

    I spent the night with Angeline, too drunk to roll in bed
    My watch was new and my money was too, in the morning with them she had fled
    And as I roamed the streets about, the whores to me they did roar
    Here comes Jack Sprat the poor sailor lad, he must go to the sea once more

    So as I roamed the streets about, I meet with Rapper Brown
    I asked him for to take me in, he looks at me with a frown
    Last time ye was signed off, says he, with me you chalk no score
    But I'll give youse a chance and I'll take your advance, and I'll put you to the sea once more

    So he ships me on board of this whaling ship bound for the Arctic seas
    Where the wind did blow through the frost and the snow, where Jamaica rum it would freeze
    But worse to bear I'd no weather gear, I'd spent all my money on the shore
    It was then that I wished that I were dead, or safe with the girls on the shore

    So come all ye bold sea-faring lads that listen to my song
    For when you come off of them long trips, I'd have you do no wrong
    Take my advice, drink no strong drink, don't go sleepin' with no whore
    Get married, lads, spend all night in, and go to the sea no more

    No more, no more
    Get married, lads, spend all night in, and go to the sea no more

    (as sung by The McCalmans)

Susannes Folksong-Notizen

  • [1967:] In the hard years of 1850-75 [...] competition between sailing ship lines was at its fiercest and at the same time the companies were trying to cut back their overheads [...] in the face of the rowing threat of steam. Companies whose ships had a reputation for being hard and hungry found [it?] difficult to man their vessels, and as a consequence this period [...] was the high era of the rimping game. The unscrupulous sailor boarding-house master would render the seaman unconscious with drink, drug or blackjack, deliver the body to a waiting ship, and pocket his fee. Or more commonly, he might arrange for the man to be robbed, put the penniless fellow in his debt, and - in return for the seaman's advance note, loaned by the company to buy gear for the voyage - he would 'use his influence' to sign the man aboard any hard ship that was wanting hands. [...] The system was so well-established that crimps would sometimes circularize those companies with manning troubles, setting out their conditions for providing crew. From that time comes [this] common ballad ('known to every seaman', says knowledgeable Stan Hugill). [...] Ted Howard of Barry called his version: Go to sea no more. He set the locale in Liverpool and insisted that the vengeful boarding-house master was 'Rapper' Brown. Other texts have the seaman stranded in San Francisco at the mercy of Shanghai Brown, and this is more feasible since, by that time, the English whaling industry with hand harpoon and rowboat, had dried up. It was to re-start later, after the business had been revolutionized by the harpoon gun; but not till the twentieth century did Liverpool's Bromborough Dock become important in whaling history, whereas in the 1870s a large number of vessels were sailing out of San Francisco bound for the bowhead whaling-grounds of the Bering Sea, a trip repugnant to most seamen unless hard-pushed. (Lloyd, England 266)

  • [1967:] Chase of the bowhead whale, Bering Sea, c. 1850.
    Particularly during the latter days of sail, many lodging house keepers encouraged seamen to fall in debt to them, then signed them aboard a hardcase ship in return for the 'advance note' loaned by the company to the sailor ostensibly to buy gear for the voyage. Paddy West of Great Howard Street, Liverpool, was well-known for this, likewise John da Costa of the same seaport. But we do not find a Rapper Brown in this rogues' gallery. Perhaps there's some confusion here with the fearsome Shanghai Brown of San Francisco, through whose ministrations many a British seaman woke from a drunken or drugged sleep to find himself aboard a vessel bound for the bowhead whaling grounds of the Bering Sea, a trip few men in their senses signed for, unless desperately hard pushed. Our version is from Ted Howard of Barry. (Notes A. L. Lloyd, 'Leviathan!')

  • [1978:] The rather quiet and reflective way in which Jackie Brown (more usually named Go To Sea No More) is sung here lends itself more to dogwatch singing than to muscular effort - although it was used at the capstan. (Notes The Spinners, 'Songs of the Tall Ships')

Quelle: England

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