Fairport Convention - A Sailor's Life Lyrics




A sailor's life, it is a merry life
He robs young girls of their heart's delight
Leaving them behind to weep and mourn
They never know when they will return

"Well, there's four and twenty all in a row
My true love he makes the finest show
He's proper, tall, genteel withal
And if I don't have him, I'll have none at all"
"Oh, father build for me a bonny boat
That on the wide ocean I may float
And every Queen's ship that we pass by
There I'll inquire for my sailor boy"

They had not sailed long upon the deep
When a Queen's ship they chanced to meet
"You sailors all, pray tell me true
Does my sweet William sail among your crew?"

"Oh no, fair maiden, he is not here
For he's been drownded, we greatly fear
On yon green island, as we passed it by
There we lost sight of your sailing boy"

Well, she rung her hands and she tore her hair
She was like a young girl in great despair
And her little boat against a rock did run
"How can I live now? My sweet William is gone"





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Fairport Convention A Sailor's Life Comments
  1. Mary Chris

    🦋ヽ♡`♪ `、 💕 `、•♪`、`、•♪`、
    A sailor's life, it is a merry life
    He robs young girls of their heart's delight
    Leaving them behind to weep and mourn
    They never know when they will return

    "Well, there's four and twenty all in a row
    My true love he makes the finest show
    He's proper, tall, genteel withal
    And if I don't have him, I'll have none at all"
    "Oh, father build for me a bonny boat
    That on the wide ocean I may float
    And every Queen's ship that we pass by
    There I'll inquire for my sailor boy"

    They had not sailed long upon the deep
    When a Queen's ship they chanced to meet
    "You sailors all, pray tell me true
    Does my sweet William sail among your crew?"

    "Oh no, fair maiden, he is not here
    For he's been drownded, we greatly fear
    On yon green island, as we passed it by
    There we lost sight of your sailing boy"

    Well, she rung her hands and she tore her hair
    She was like a young girl in great despair
    And her little boat against a rock did run
    "How can I live now? My sweet William is gone"

  2. peter ryder

    It's one of those perfect moments in music. To take the essence of American psychedelic/acid rock and then, without losing any of its soul or what it sought to express, transpose that essence on a hundreds year old English folk song about lost love within an English navy setting, and make the whole thing sound as though it was meant to be, a totally natural marriage, and that it just rose up like a phoenix in a jam session of masterful musicians and Sandy Denny using all the scope of that incredible voice. Amazing.

  3. feral mario

    Me to !

  4. R F

    Rats get fat while Brave Men Die. Stay free. ❤

  5. Enarbee1

    Ric Sanders i love you and your comedy turn, but please tone down the political content as it is tiresome

  6. Jason Walsh

    I heard this album reviewed by Dave Fanning on RTE2 ( Irish presenter who launched U2!!) I had heard and bought a few FC earlier albums. This one with Sandy is incredible. It is a classic in every way. I bought it as soon as I could. One of my jewels in the crown. We won’t see her like again. Dedicated rare voice to folk!

  7. stub mandrel

    Eat your heart out Grateful Dead, THIS is how to do it :-)

  8. Alain Galiana

    Fairport convention,,que c’est bon,,

  9. Denis Williams

    38 morons

  10. Butterfly Collector

    A bit like Matty Groves, the superb voice of Sandy for the first halves, then great musicianship for the seconds 😍🤩

  11. CJ W

    11 minutes of bliss...

  12. Luca Savino

    Eleven minutes of pure musical bliss...i'm never tired of listen it.

  13. Geoff Strum

    The Fairport Convention are magnificent conjurors who can bring forth the characters and tales of the past into focus

  14. Julian Vickery

    Greaet job; here's an update...

    "A Sailor's Life" by Fairport Convention featuring Sandy Denny, from the wonderful 1969 album "Unhalfbricking" https://youtu.be/szrGtFxtWXU

    A brilliant fusion of a traditional form with all the dynamic, exploratory approach of modern rock playing, this song had been a part of Sandy Denny's repertoire when she joined Fairport. As a traditional song it had been known in many forms.

    "A Sailor's Life2 starts as a plaintive lament on the fickleness of sailors and the agonised waiting endured by their sweethearts until their return. The terrible irony of her rather bitter condemnation of the sailor's life as 'merry' is brought home by the subsequent tragedy. The singer extols her beloved's virtues before she sets off to find him. She hails a passing ship and is told that he is feared drowned. Beside herself with grief and despair, she runs her boat against a rock. This could be seen as a metaphor for another tragedy as she takes her own life.

    The song then echoes the stormy course of the bereaved woman's grief, as it takes off into a passage of terrific ensemble playing, all instruments interweaving, building to an overwhelming intensity, before settling to a sombre resolution. There are echoes of everything from dirges to hornpipes in an extraordinary composition.

    The "Unhalfbricking" album, from which "A Sailor's Life" comes, foreshadowed the more overtly folk-rock album "Liege & Lief", often considered a classic of its kind. The title "Unhalfbricking" was taken from a word Sandy Denny came up with in the word game Ghost. Amazingly, the track "A Sailor's Life" was recorded in just one take!

    Personnel
    Sandy Denny - lead vocals
    Richard Thompson - electric & acoustic guitars,
    Ashley Hutchings - bass
    Simon Nicol - electric & acoustic guitars, electric dulcimer
    Martin Lamble - drums
    Dave Swarbrick - fiddle

    Sandy Denny (6 January 1947 – 21 April 1978) lead vocals, guitar, & piano (1968–1969, 1974–1975) who composed many great and enduring songs. One of the greatest of English folk artists, she died aged just 31, following a fall in her home.

    Richard Thompson OBE (born 3 April, 1949), guitar & vocals (1967–1971), who has composed many acclaimed songs and tours regularly. He appears in many polls for the greatest guitarists of all time.

    Ashley Hutchings, MBE (born 26 January 1945), an outstanding bassist (1967–1969) who has been a major force in music and helps make folk accessible to younger listeners.

    Simon Nicol (born 13 October, 1950), guitar & vocals (1967–1971, 1976–1979, 1985–present)

    Martin Lamble, a talented drummer; he died in 1969 in a crash while returning from a gig, aged 19.

    Dave Swarbrick (5 April 1941 – 3 June 2016), a highly influential fiddle player

    Lyrics (as sung by Sandy Denny:)
    A sailor's life, it is a merry life.
    He robs young girls of their hearts' delight.
    Leaving them behind to weep and to mourn,
    They never know when they will return.

    "Well, there's four-and-twenty all in a row,
    My true love he makes the finest show.
    He's proper tall, genteel withal,
    And if I don't have him, I'll have none at all."

    "Oh father, build for me a bonny boat,
    That on the wide ocean I may float.
    And every Queen's ship that we pass by
    There I'll enquire for my sailor boy."

    They had not sailed long on the deep
    When a Queen's ship they chanced to meet.
    "You sailors all, pray tell me true,
    Does my sweet William sail among your crew?"

    "Oh no, fair maiden, he is not here.
    For he's been drownded we greatly fear.
    On yon green island as we passed it by,
    There we lost sight of your sailor boy."

    Well, she wrung her hands and she tore her hair.
    She was like a young girl in great despair.
    And her little boat against a rock did run.
    "How can I live now my sweet William is gone?"

    SEAKPhotog

    Thanks for that.

  15. Pat Foreman

    OUT.STAND.ING! (Being a bit hard of hearing, I've just ordered some headphones and I'm wondering if this will sound even better, if poss... ;))

    Phil Garlic

    Not as good as a couple of tweeters and a big fat woofer.

  16. Neil Pearson

    Me too!

  17. Mary Finelli

    My all-time favorite female singer.

  18. danilo corona

    Bellissimo brano e Sandy strepitosa.

    Luca Savino

    Un gruppo ed un disco, Unhalfbricking, leggendari.

  19. Joe

    A mellow way to spend my day while missing the sea.

  20. Keith Burgess

    Thank you very much for posting the explanation and lyrics alongside the recording - now lets listen to everything Fairport did, especially with Sandy Danny.

  21. audiophile man

    Beautiful video, MrSpudTuber, thank you for putting this lovely collection of seafarer art and music together. Fairport Convention's A Sailor's Life is a perfect folk rock song to use. I really enjoyed this!

  22. CHARLES NOLAN

    Leige and Leif was the first Fairport I knew about- Tam Lin at Halloween, etc. I did see the Fairports once- in August, 1988 opening for Jethro Tull.
    It has been a great legacy of British folk rock!

  23. Edward Austin

    Mr Spud Tuber.. a fantastic write up and visual presentation of this amazing song...thanks so much

  24. Van-gabond,Ramblin'Rose

    Everything about this song is just so sublime! Sandy's voice is perfect and soaring and tears at your heart, as it lifts you to heaven. Those drums, so reminiscent of crashing waves, the almost tender quietness of the guitars rising to a crescendo of emotion and Dave's plaintiff fiddle playing. Always stirs deep emotions in me when I hear this.

  25. Scott MacPherson

    One single take, eh? Amazing.

  26. pykkervots

    Did Martin Lamble really write this? Extraordinary talent if he did. Tragic hardly describes what followed at the age of 19

    David Johnson

    Er, no. It is a traditional tune arranged by the band.

  27. Antonín Vojáček

    I am listening this song for the first time now and I really enjoy it! I have to find more songs from Fairport Convention from the 70's.

  28. James Marshall

    Mr spud Tuber: I see you disguise as apotato! I will find you and then offer my thanx!!!

    James Marshall

    I also imply: have you a couch?

  29. Paul Gardiner

    Cracking Bass Line

  30. revelwoodie

    I'm busy for eleven minutes.

  31. Agadir Store

    sublime

  32. Joe

    The best

  33. Mike Beeton

    ANOTHER CLASSIC ! but then ---------they all were.

  34. Eric Wandersleben

    Wish I had discovered this group in my college years...amazing stuff.

  35. 67psych3

    50 years old! Still so amazing and beautiful! The late 60/early 70's produced the most amazing creative music ever! The golden era i think!

    paul benson

    Some of the new wave stuff that came out in the 80s was pretty good too.

  36. I Stand Alone

    One of the best "Psychedelic? guitar jams of all time. I don't know if Fairport thought of themselves as a psychedelic band but if they'd had exposure widely to people into that guitar jam kind of music they would have been huge.

  37. Олег Горбунов

    Great band!

  38. Олег Горбунов

    The Lonely Rocker digs this kinda music!

  39. city zen

    Martin Francis Lamble (28 August 1949 – 12 May 1969) was the drummer for British folk rock band, Fairport Convention, from just after their formation in 1967, until his death in the band's van crash in 1969. He joined the band after attending their first gig and convincing them that he could do a better job than their current drummer, Shaun Frater.

    The eldest of three brothers, Martin was educated at Priestmead primary school, Kenton, and later at University College School, Hampstead.

    He played on the band's first three albums, but shortly after recording Unhalfbricking on 12 May 1969,[1] Fairport's van crashed on the M1 motorway, near Scratchwood Services, on the way home from a gig at Mothers. Lamble was killed outright in this accident at the age of 19.[1][2]

    He also played on Al Stewart's album Love Chronicles, released in September 1969.

    Snowfire Sunwind

    Such a remarkable drummer for sure, his performance on this track is phenomenal - and such a tragic loss at such a young age .

  40. city zen

    Lyrics
    A sailor's life, it is a merry life.
    He robs young girls of their hearts' delight,
    Leaving them behind to weep and mourn,
    They never know when they will return.
    Well, there's four and twenty all in a row
    My true love he makes the finest show.
    He's proper tall, genteel and all,
    And if I don't have him, I'll have none at all.
    Oh father, build for me a bonny boat,
    That on the wide ocean I may float
    And every Queen's ship that we pass by,
    There I'll enquire for my sailor boy
    They had not sailed long on the deep
    When a Queen's ship they chanced to meet.
    "You sailors all, pray tell me true,
    Does my sweet William sail among your crew?"
    "Oh no, fair maiden, he is not here
    For he's been drownded we greatly fear
    On yon green island as we passed it by,
    There we lost sight of your sailor boy."
    Well, she wrung her hands and she tore her hair.
    She was like a young girl in great despair.
    And her little boat against a rock did run.
    "How can I live now my sweet William is gone?"
    Source: LyricFind
    Songwriters: Traditional / Ashley Hutchings / David Mattacks / Eddie Upton / Graeme Taylor / John Rodd / John Sothcott / John Tams / Michael Gregory / Phil Pickett / Shirley Collins / Simon John Nicol

  41. Denis Williams

    1 take...can you imagine

  42. Sajeev Panakal, V.

    why does my mind humm the bass line on TNK by Bill Macormic ( 801 live ) here on this here. Hmm...

  43. sausage legs

    Superb track and great video

  44. Julie July

    A great folk rock track! #juliejuly #ladyofthefirstlight

  45. Peter Hoghead

    Light years ahead of it's time , the best Fairport line up with the incomparable sandy at the helm, I am in love with sandy Denny , also listen to swarb on top form , great band. Hoghead 08.02am -15-06-19 xxx to sandy

    Giulio Grifi

    Peter Hoghead...I think the song was perfectly placed in the right time, the '60s and the '70s, among many other masterpieces which were flourishing during those magical years !...Nowadays magic does not dwell anymore in the musical scene !

  46. Matt Quay

    Proper Legend.

  47. 7grijeha

    Hell yeah! Been craving this for more then awhile. Thx!

  48. Susie Ascroft

    I have loved this song since i first played it in 1973.i really love her voice and all the sound around .its so powerfull
    So sad she passed away so young.

  49. Agadir Store

    in full flow here..

  50. steve hewitt

    Beautiful.

  51. Estelle Ste-Croix

    This one of the most beautiful video ever!!! I salute you!

  52. chicklets4ever

    Fantastically good.

  53. Jan Trieger

    beautiful! just so moving, great pixs too.

  54. Mary Kyle

    SD always brings a tear to my eye....

  55. TheDenny2

    The day you think you're old is the day you will die....I'll never grow old, I'm almost 68, in my mind I'm 20.....to hell with what they tell you.....I think for myself....

  56. Ruud de Meij

    the best there is

  57. Charles Claessens

    The best folkband ever. Wat a Great song

  58. ann watt

    Thank you so much for your awesome curation.

  59. MsMiika13

    I will always thank Ronnie- my first husband's next brother. I learned a lot about noise from him.

  60. peter empson

    Still my favorite band !!!

  61. peter empson

    Watched them preform at Redcar jazz club probably 69, best night ever I has at a live concert !!!

  62. Rex Mobilgas

    Thanks for uploading.

  63. Kevin Brady

    A beautiful voice on a swelling sea of outstanding music.

  64. Mark Overton

    Ironic that such a sad hauntingly beautiful start ends up in an orgasmic rock jam.

  65. Michał Dobrowolski

    8:00 Im William im still fighting...

  66. Clive Radford

    Fairport Convention's best ever track, poignant lyrics, solid rhythm section and that duelling between lead guitar and violin is as good as any jam I've ever heard. Perfect.

  67. Bob Atkins

    What a line Up! this was at a time when Fairport were at their very best.

    Snowfire Sunwind

    Couldn't agree more - at this particular time they were the ultimate 'folk rock' band easily competing (and surpassing) with American West Coast bands of the same period.

  68. Denis Williams

    and just who are the 25 gits that don't like this or Fairport??🤔

    albusal

    Deaf people 😃

  69. Andrew Graham

    Perhaps the seminal British folk-rock track. Swarbrick's addition on fiddle obviously proved agreeable to all involved. The music's evoking of the rolling sea is palpable. Unhalfbricking, for my money, is Fairport Convention's best album, just a nod ahead of the marvelous What We Did on Our Holidays. Liege and Lief gets all the ink, and its ground-breaking import is undeniable. But Unhalfbricking has this, plus Who Knows Where the Time Goes, plus Genesis Hall, plus all those great Dylan covers. Masterwork.

  70. Paul Fitzpatrick

    Darkness visible captain

  71. Denis Williams

    23 assholes

  72. Billy Hunter

    Sandy Denny is the crest of a magnificent wave of talent called Fairport Convention.
    Our brotherhood here in this thread attests to how FP shaped our awareness in the 60s and 70s.
    It is just a great WOW!

  73. David A

    So look at some of the You Tube stuff with tens of millions of views....this has less than half a million? I wonder what this tells us?

  74. toulds

    Folk jamming at it's finest!

  75. Michael Handley

    Absolutely fabulous.

  76. Jean-françois Bertrand

    j'adore, su per B

  77. jacquesbrelfan

    Absolutely hynotic in its brilliance ...this track changed folk rock and set it on a new path ..possibly Fairport at their best ?

  78. James Bond

    For some reason this reminds me alot of The End by the Doors. Both great tracks taking you to a place deep inside your soul. Personal journeys. Heart of Darkness....

  79. stevestudiosteve

    Amazing recording; 6 musicians free forming but jelling fantastically in such an emotive piece of music and maybe the recorded birth of Richard Thompson brilliant unique lead style

  80. Rallabhandi Prabhakar

    Phenomenal song by the folk rock giants . May be their best together with Matty Groves

  81. matthew coombs

    Is there anything as perfect as Sandy's voice and Richard's guitar?

    Flo Jo

    Not a lot. Maybe ..... maybe perfectly made mashed potato? Not joking.

  82. Taffy Jones

    Stunning, all the more so for more or less being the first real example of "Folk Rock". I loved it then and still do nearly 50 years on. Who knows where the time goes?!!!

  83. LeGrognard

    Breathtaking music.

  84. Angusta Restaurant

    Time travelling

  85. Colin Clews

    That bass!!!!!!!!!!

    Snowfire Sunwind

    The bass and drums are such an important part to this masterpiece.

  86. hectorlp

    Thank you!

  87. Incomplete6230

    Back in the day this was "far out"...It still is!

  88. KER JI

    PERFECTION

  89. David A

    Fairport and Sandy need no plaudits from me, but I do think this stands up as one of the finest pieces of music of all time.

  90. Denis Williams

    thank you for your insightful comments I saw them in NYC in 1971 they were amazing then and almost 1/2 century later they have passed into legend like one of their songs

  91. Kermit

    FC has a similar sound to Jefferson Airplane, yes?

  92. pjbrennanbas

    Listen to this and then Televisions's Marquee Moon

    Giulio Grifi

    pjbrennanbas...Both wonderful songs, but...what do they have in common ?

  93. Allan Briggs

    The greatest folk-rock group of all time..

  94. Kirk Felix

    Hauntingly beautiful.

  95. geatorella

    Listen to the beginning of this, and then listen to the beginning of D'Angelo's THE CHARADE

  96. Giuliana Rubino

    Fairport Convention
    Album: Unhalfbricking
    Data di uscita: 1969

  97. wezaldo

    Ash Hutchings inventing heavy metal...