> A.L. Lloyd > Songs > Goodbye Fare You Well
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> Waterson:Carthy > Songs > Goodbye Fare You Well

Goodbye Fare Thee Well / Homeward Bound

[ Roud 927 ; G/D 1:5 ; Henry H53a ; Ballad Index Doe087 ; Bodleian Roud 927 ; Wiltshire 244 , 1017 ; trad.]

Thames barge skipper Bob Roberts sang the capstan shanty Home’ard Bound in 1960 on his Talking Book / Methuen EP Windy Old Weather. The album’s booklet commented:

This is a capstan shanty used when getting up anchor for the last time in a foreign port. (Windlasses replaced capstans about 1860). Sometimes a ceremony rather like “The Dead Horse” was carried out the night before sailing. A blazing tar barrel was hoisted aloft and the homeward bound vessel serenaded the others with singing and cheering. The following day this shanty was sung and on a sailing ship it might be a year or more before the sailors finally reached home.

Ewan MacColl and A.L. Lloyd sang Goodbye Fare You Well in 1962 on the Folkways album of the musical score of the film Whaler Out of New Bedford.

Louis Killen and chorus sang Goodbye Fare Thee Well, accompanied by Dave Swarbrick on fiddle, in 1964 on the Topic anthology Farewell Nancy: Sea Songs and Shanties. This album was reissued with bonus tracks in 1993 as the CD Blow the Man Down: A Collection of Sea Songs and Shanties. A.L. Lloyd noted:

Traditionally, this one was sung at the capstan when the anchor was raised for the homeward run, a big moment for men who might have been away for a year or more. W.M. Doerflinger says that when the shantyman led the gang in this song, “cheering from other vessels in port rang across the water to wish the homeward-bounders luck.” There are countless verses to this song. Those sung here are mostly from Stan Hugill’s Shanties From the Seven Seas.

Roy Harris and chorus sang Goodbye, Fare Ye Well in 1974, ten years later, on another Topic anthology, Sea Shanties.

Johnny Collins with Dave Webber and Pete Watkinson sang Goodbye Fare The Well in 1996 on their CD Shanties & Songs of the Sea.

Louis Killen returned to Good Bye, Fare Thee Well in 1997 on his CD A Seaman’s Garland.

The Barrouallie Whalers sang Goodbye, Fare You Well at the 23rd Annual Sea Music Festival at Mystic Seaport.

Waterson:Carthy sang the less raunchy verses of Goodbye Fare You Well with Eliza Carthy in lead in 2004 on their fifth album, Fishes & Fine Yellow Sand. This track was also included on the anthology Evolving Tradition 4. The original album’s notes commented:

The album is topped and tailed by Goodbye Fare You Well and Twenty-One Years on Dartmoor. Liza put the former together from the mountain of verses to be found in Stan Hugill’s master collection Shanties From the Seven Seas and had to leave out some beautiful verses otherwise we would have been at it all night. It’s the one song on this CD which has no baddies in it and instead has singing fishes. Who needs Walt bloody Disney I say. (OK, Finding Nemo was fun).

Roger Watson and chorus sang Homeward Bound (Goodbye, Fare Thee Well) in 2012 on the WildGoose album of shanties collected by Cecil Sharp from John Short, Short Sharp Shanties Vol. 3.

Sharp did not publish a version of Homeward Bound, although virtually every other publisher does (his reasons are explained in the notes to Blow Boys, Blow / Banks of Sacramento. All publishers refer to its popularity and sentiment and often to its use: “one of the regulation songs when getting the anchor aboard” (Whall), “probably more frequently sung than any other Chanty [sic] when getting under weigh” (Bullen), “Traditionally sung when heaving up anchor, homeward bound. …a song consecrated to the occasion.” (Doerflinger).

Hugill says “I know of 4 versions common to seamen the world over. (a) Usual Homeward-bound sentiments, (b) Verses taken from forebitter Homeward Bound, (c) Milkmaid, (d) Verses from The Dreadnought.” Short gave only limited verses but enough to indicate that Short’s version was type (a)—the verses have been supplemented from other versions of the same type.

The Andover Museum Loft Singers sang Homeward Bound on their 2012 WildGoose album The Bedmaking. They noted:

Versions of this shanty abound, from Hampshire, Somerset, and elsewhere in Britain and the New World. This one is from David W. Bone’s Capstan Bars (1931).

Mossy Christian sang Homeward Bound on his 2020 CD Come Nobles and Heroes, giving Bob Roberts as his source.


Bob Roberts sings Home’ard Bound

We’re home’ard bound across the blue sea,
    Good-bye fare-you-well, we wish you well,
We’re home’ard bound to the old counterie,
    Good-bye fare-you-well, we’re home’ard bound!

Oh did you not hear the old man say,
We’re home’ard bound this very day.

So good-bye to Sally and good-bye to Sue,
And you married ladies good-bye to you.

The topsails are loosed and the anchors a-weigh,
She heels to the breeze as the gathers her way.

Louis Killen sings Goodbye Fare Thee Well

Oh, we’re homeward bound to Liverpool town,
    Goodbye fare the well, goodbye fare the well,
Well them Liverpool judies they are welcome down,
    Hurrah, me boys, we’re homeward bound!

Them gals there on Lime Street we soon hope to meet,
And soon we’ll be a-rolling both sides of the street.

We’ll meet those fly girls and we’ll ring the old bell,
With them judies we’ll meet there we’ll raise bloody hell.

Then I’ll tell me old women when I gets back home,
The gals there on Lime Street won’t leave me alone.

We’re homeward bound, to the gals of the town,
So stamp up, me bullies, and heave it around.

Oh, we’re homeward bound, we’ll have yiz to know,
And over the water to Liverpool we’ll go.

Waterson:Carthy sing Goodbye Fare You Well

Our anchor we’ll weigh and our sails we will set,
    Goodbye fare you well, goodbye fare you well,
Our friends we are leaving, we leave with regret,
    Hurrah, me boys, we’re homeward bound!

We’re homeward bound, oh joyful sound,
Come ready the capstan and turn quick around.

We’re homeward bound, we have you know,
And over the water to England must go.

We’re homeward bound to Liverpool town,
The boys and the girls to the pier flock down.

Oh, then one to the other you hear them all say,
Here comes I and Jacky with eighteen month’s pay.

So heave with a will and heave long and strong,
And sing a good chorus for it’s a good song.

So, it’s now we come home from the far foreign lands,
Where the bottom’s all fishes and fine yellow sand.

And the fishes all sing as they swim to and fro,
She’s a Liverpool packet, oh Lord, let her go.

So tell my old mother that I get back home,
The girls upon Lime Street won’t leave me alone.


Transcribed by Reinhard Zierke with the help of Roberto Campo. Thank you!