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Sailor Boy / What Does the Deep Sea Say?

[ Roud 17950 ; Ballad Index DTdeepse ; Mudcat 30063 ; trad.]

Woody Guthry and Cisco Houston recorded What Did the Deep Sea Say? in c.1944. It was released on his 1962 Folkways album Woody Guthry Sings Folk Songs.

Cara recorded this song as Sailor Boy in 2004 for their first CD, In Colour. They commented in their liner notes:

Gudrun [Walther] wrote a new melody for this haunting song which is an American traditional, adapted and made popular by the legendary Monroe Brothers from Kentucky.

Cara also performed Sailor Boy at the Arsenaal Theater in Vlissingen, Netherlands, on 21 October 2007. This concert was release a year later on their DVD and CD In Full Swing:


Woody Guthrie sings What Did the Deep Sea Say?

Oh captain, tell me true,
Does my sailor sail with you?
No, he does not sail with me,
He sleeps on the bottom of the sea.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
What did the deep sea say?
Tell me, what did the deep sea say?
It moaned and it groaned and it splashed and it foamed
And it rolled on its weary way.

Well he promised he’d write to me,
But his promise be never kept true
Never a word from my sailor have I heard
Since he sailed on that ocean blue.

A beautiful rose every day,
I placed on the crest of the waves
Said, “Take it please, and let the petals fall,
Above his watery grave.”

Cara sing Sailor Boy

Oh, where is my sailor boy?
Where is my sailor boy?
He sleeps at the bottom of the deep blue sea
And he can’t come back to me.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Oh, what does the deep sea say?
What does the deep sea say?
It moans, it groans, it splashes and foams
And rolls on its weary way.

Oh please tell me, deep blue sea,
Is he sleeping peacefully?
The winds from the north are blowing icy cold,
Please keep him warm for me.

If only my dreaming soul
Some token, a sign could find,
If only the waves would show me where he sleeps
I would leave this world behind.

A beautiful rose, one day,
I placed on the crest of a wave,
I said, “Take it please, and let it settle home
Above his watery grave.”

Final Chorus:
Oh, what does the deep sea say?
What does the deep sea say?
It guards and holds two lovers in sleep
As it rolls on its weary way.