#02223
Common Sailors (Lehr and Best)

I'm the man before the mast,
that ploughs the raging sea
And on this simple subject
will you please enlighten me:
Common sailors we are called,
come tell me the reason why
And on this simple subject I'll reply;
Don't you call us common sailors any more,
Don't you call us common sailors any more;
Good things to you we bring,
don't you call us common men,
We're as good as anybody that's on shore.

The young girls of this country,
their growing days we bless
We brings them silks and satins
out of which they makes a dress;
To gain the heart of some young man
as fancy dresses do -
Don't never despise the sailor boys
that sails the ocean blue.
Don't you call us common sailors any more,
Don't you call us common sailors any more;
Good things to you we bring,
don't you call us common men,
We're as good as anybody that's on shore.

The young gents of this country,
they're sitting at their ease
Not thinking on the stormy nights
that we spent on the seas;
We brings the leaves to make cigars
to decorate their faces -
They wouldn't call us common
if they were sometimes in our place.
Don't you call us common sailors any more,
Don't you call us common sailors any more;
Good things to you we bring,
don't you call us common men,
We're as good as anybody that's on shore.

####.... Author unknown. Traditional Newfoundand song ....####
Collected by Genevieve Lehr and Anita Best in 1976 from Moses (Uncle Mose) Harris [1911-?] of Lethbridge, NL, and published as #24 in Come And I Will Sing You: A Newfoundland Songbook, pp.41-42, edited by Genevieve Lehr (University of Toronto Press © 1985/2003).

Genevieve Lehr noted that as far as she knew Common Sailors has appeared in print only once before, in the book Manavilins by Rex Clements. The author describes his collection as 'A muster of sea-songs as distinguished from shanties, written for the most part by seamen, and sung on board ship during the closing years of the Age of Sail, 1890-1910.' Mr Clements writes that Common Sailors is 'A ballad of a different calibre and unusual altogether . . . It possessed an interminable number of verses, and was often heard at sea in the early days of the twentieth-century.' He goes on to say that the song 'was popular among Colonial seamen' and that his version 'may represent an Australian version of the original.' Verse two of Mr Clements runs:


When speaking of a man ashore
we never hear you say
He's a 'common' this or 'common' that,
be his calling what it may;
Be he a travelling tinker,
or a scavenger, or sweep,
Then why call us 'common' sailors
who battle with the deep?

Genevieve Lehr closed by commenting that this song would undoubtedly have been a boost to the morale of many's the sea-faring man who was so often derided by disdainful land dwellers.


line

Index Page
GEST Songs Of Newfoundland And Labrador



line

~ Copyright Info ~

~ Privacy Policy ~

Confirm Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Here