> Folk Music > Songs > Cawsand Bay

Cawsand Bay

[ Roud 22827 ; Ballad Index OBB168 ; DT CAWSAND ; Mudcat 171250 ; trad.]

Dave Burland sang Cawsand Bay, accompanying himself on dulcimer and with Nic Jones on guitar, in 1972 on his eponymous Leader album Dave Burland. He noted:

Whilst I was idly leafing through a tome in Cecil Sharp House this song leapt off the page. The words are superb and appear to be tongue in cheek.

Strawhead sang Cawsand Bay in 1977 on their Traditional Sound album Farewell Musket, Pipe & Drum. They noted:

A sea song from the tradition, with an unexpected happy ending. We have added a characteristic eighteenth century sounding tune and given it a breezy arrangement. A song for optimists!

Words: Naval Songs and Ballads, C.H.Firth, Naval Records Society, 1908, p. 328—as modified by 30 years of performance. We appear to have made the last half-verse up.

Tune: Gregg Butler (There is a traditional tune, unknown to us when we recorded this one, and preferred by us since.)

The House Band sang Cawsand Bay in 1985 on their eponymous Topic album The House Band.


Strawhead sing Cawsand Bay

In Cawsand Bay lying with the Blue Peter flying
And all hands on deck the anchor to weigh
When up comes a lady as fresh as a daisy
And modestly hailing our captain did say
Ship ahoy lend a hand there I wants a young man there
So heave us a man-rope and send him to me
His name’s Henry Grady and I am the lady
Desired to prevent him from going to sea

Our captain his honour when he looked upon her
He ran down the side for to hand her on board
Said he with emotion what son of the ocean
Can thus be looked after by Helena Ford
Then the lady made answer that there is the man sir
I’ll make him as free as a duke or a lord
Oh no says the captain that can’t very well happen
We’ve got sailing orders you sir stop on board

Then up spoke the lady don’t you mind him Hal Grady
He once was your captain but now you’re at large
You shan’t stop on board her for all that man’s order
Then out of her bosom she pulled his discharge
Says the captain I’m damned now, I’m cool and I’m banged now
Says Hal, here old Weatherface, take all your clothes
And ashore then he steered her and his messmates all cheered her
But the captain was jealous and looked down his nose

And she got a shore tailor to fix up her sailor
In white nankeen trousers and a long blue-tailed coat
And he looked like a squire for all to admire
With a dimity handkerchief tied round his throat
They’d a house that was greater than any first-rater
With footmen in livery handing the drink
And a garden to go in where all things was growing
The buttercup the daisy the lily and the pink

And he got education befitting his station
For all of us know that we’re not too old to learn
And his messmates they found him with the little ones all around him
All chips off the old block from the stem to the stern
So all ye that have notions to sail o’er the oceans
Make sure that your voyaging will do you no harm
And use tactics shady to find a rich lady
And she’ll keep you safe home far from tempest and from storm