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Save Your Money While You're Young

[ Roud 2325 ; Ballad Index BE040 ; Mudcat 109508 ; trad.]

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sang Save Your Money While You're Young on their 1975 album Mellow With Ale from the Horn. They noted:

Save Your Money While You're Young is a native American song which was common in the lumber camps of the North-East, as well as in Michigan and Ontario, where this variant was recovered by Edith Fowke. It came to us along a chain of revival singers, through Barry O'Neill and Sara Grey.

Margaret Christl and Ian Robb sang Save Your Money While You're Young on their 1976 Folk-Legacy album of traditional songs found in Canada, The Barley Grain for Me, and Ian Robb returned to it in 2021 on his and James Stephens' album Declining With Thanks. He noted:

Edith Fowke recorded Jim Doherty singing this song and included it on the 1961 Folkways album, Lumbering Songs From the Ontario Shanties. Being an admirer of bold women, I just can’t bring myself to sing Mr Doherty’s line, “just court some pretty young girl that is not overbold”, so I’ve done a little tinkering. Martin Carthy assures us that you can’t hurt a folk song. I hope he’s right.

Lyrics

John Roberts and Tony Barrand sing Save Your Money While You're Young

Come all you jolly good fellows, I'll sing to you a song,
It's all about the shantyboys and it won't take me long.
For it's now I do regret the day, while I'm working out in the cold,
Save your money while you're young, my boys, you'll need it when you're old:

Chorus (after each verse):
For once I was a shantey boy, oh wasn't I a lad?
And the way I spent me money, oh wasn't it too bad?
For it's now I do regret the day, while I'm working out in the cold,
Save your money while you're young, my boys, you'll need it when you're old.

Well, if you are a single man, I'll tell you what to do:
Just find some pretty young girl who to you will prove true,
Just find some pretty girl who is not over bold
Who'll stick to you through life and be a comfort when you're old:

And if you are a married man, I'll tell you what to do.
Be good to you're wife and family, as you are sworn to do.
Stay away from the grog shops where liquor is bought and sold,
Save your money while you're young, my boys, you'll need it when you're old:

Ian Robb sings Save Your Money While You're Young

Come all you jolly good fellows, I'll sing to you a song,
It's all about them shanty boys and it won't take me long,
For it's now that I regret the day, while I'm working out in the cold;
Save your money while you're young, me boys, you'll need it when you're old.

For once I was a shanty boy, now wasn't I a lad?
And the way I spent me money, oh, wasn't it too bad?
But it's now that I regret the day, while I'm working out in the cold;
Save your money while you're young, me boys, you'll need it when you're old.

And if you are a married man, I'll tell you what to do,
Be good to your wife and family, as you have sworn to do.
Stay away from all grog shops where liquor is bought and sold;
Save your money while you’re young, me boys, you'll need it when you're old.

Ah, but if you are a single man, I'll tell you what to do,
Just find yourself a pretty young girl that to you will prove true;
Just find yourself a likely lass, both beautiful and bold;
That will stick to you through life and be a comfort when you're old.

For once I was a shanty boy, now wasn't I a lad?
And the way I spent me money, oh, wasn't it too bad?
But it's now that I regret the day, while I'm working out in the cold;
Save your money while you're young, me boys, you'll need it when you're old.