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Rolling Home

[ Roud 4766 ; Ballad Index Doe155 ; Mudcat 17029 , 51635 ; trad.]

Bob Roberts sang Rolling Home on his 1981 album Breeze for a Bargeman. He noted:

A rousing homeward-bounder which I heard sung in the forecastle of a barquentine coming up-Channel. An American amongst us said: “Goddam, that song almost makes me wish I was a ‘limey’!”

Jim Mageean, Anni Mageean and Johnny Collins sang Rolling Home on their 1983 Greenwich Village album Strontrace! which was recorded live at the same-named festival in Workum, Friesland.

Archie Fisher sang Rolling Home on his summer tour with Garnet Rogers in Canada and the USA in 1985. It was included in 1988 on their tour album Off the Map.

Iain MacGillivray sang Rolling Home as the title track of his 1986 Fellside album Rolling Home. This track was also included in 1999 on Jolly Jack’s Fellside anthology of shanties and songs of the sea, Rolling Down to Old Maui. He noted on his original album:

A slightly ambiguous title for a song describing the sailors’ long awaited homeward voyage. Probably an even more ambiguous title for an LP!

Cyril Tawney sang Rolling Home on his 1992 Neptune Tapes cassette of songs of seafarers and the fairer sex, In Every Port.

The Revels with Louis Killen, John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang Rolling Home to Old New England in 2002 on their CD Homeward Bound.

Old Blind Dogs sang Rolling Home, with additional verses by lead singer Jim Malcolm, on their 2003 CD The Gab o Mey. They noted:

A homeward-bound shanty with its origins in a 19th century poem by Charles Mackay.

Ivan Drever sang Rolling Home on his 2004 album Tradition. He noted:

I first heard this song by the excellent singer Iain MacGillivray from Inverness. The song has its roots in a poem by Scots poet and songwriter, Charles Mackay. His journal says it was written “on board the Europa, homeward bound, 26 May 1858”.


Iain MacGillivray sings Rolling Home

Call all hands to man the capstan
See the cable running clear
Heave away an’ with a will boys
For our homeland we will steer

Chorus (after each verse):
Rollin’ home, rollin’ home
Rollin’ home across the sea
Rollin’ home to Caledonia
Rollin’ home, dear land, to thee

Fare-you-well you Spanish ladies
We must now bid you adieu
Happy times we spent together
Happy times we spent with you

Round Cape Horn one frosty morning
And our sails were filled with snow
Clear your sheets and sway your halyards
Swing her out and let her go

Now the way we leave behind us
Seems to know the way we go
There’s a hearty welcome waiting
In that land to which we go