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Dance to Your Daddy

[ Roud 2439 ; G/D 8:1562 ; Ballad Index FSWB409 ; VWML CJS2/9/1950 ; Mudcat 124227 ; William Watson]

Katherine Campbell: Songs from North-East Scotland Jean Ritchie: Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians John Stokoe: Songs and Ballads of Northern England

Elizabeth Cronin of Co Cork, Ireland, sang Dance to Your Daddy to Alan Lomax in 1951. This recording was included in 1955 on the Columbia anthology The World Library of Folk and Primitive Music: Ireland. Another recording of her made by Peter Kennedy in 1954 was included in 1995 on the Saydisc anthology Traditional Songs of Ireland.

Fred Lawson of Durham sang the north-east English children's song Dance to th' Daddie, collected by Peter Kennedy, on the 1955 HMV album of songs and ballads of England and Scotland, Folk Song Today. The album notes commented:

Northumbria has a musical tradition and speech of its own. This performer has himself made new songs on old tunes in the Tyneside tradition of the “Geordie”. Here is one such old tune with verses to lull a new-born babe to sleep:

Come here, me little Jackie, now I'll smoke me 'baccy
Have a bit of crackey till the boo-at comes in.

Isla Cameron sang Dance to Your Daddy in 1961 on her album with Louis Killen of Northumbrian songs and ballads, The Waters of Tyne. Ewan MacColl noted:

This song is also known as Dance to Your Minnie, and according to Miss M.H. Mason (Nursery Rhymes and Country Songs, 1877), the “Daddy” text is Scottish and the “Minnie” text is Northumbrian. The traditional text, however, appears to have been abandoned by modern Tyneside singers in favour of the one rewritten by the Tyneside bard William Watson who died in 1840.

Shirley Collins sang Dance to Your Daddy on her 1964 Collector EP English Songs Vol. 2. This recording was also included in 2002 on her 4 CD anthology Within Sound. Colin Meloy sang it in 2006 on his tribute album Colin Meloy Sings trad. arr. Shirley Collins.

Betty Campbell sang Sleep Till Yer Mammy in 1965 on the Campbell family's Topic album The Singing Campbells. Peter A. Hall and Arthur Argo noted:

Best known in the Tyneside version, Dance Ti Th’ Daddy, this is an example of one of the many songs known up and down the East coast. Like the previous song, Betty learned this from Annie Irvine.

Roy & Val Bailey with Leon Rosselson sang it in 1968 on their album of children's songs, Oats & Beans & Kangaroos.

The High Level Ranters played the tune of Dance to Your Daddy in 1968 on their first Topic album, Northumberland For Ever where they noted:

We took this fisherman's dandling song and gave it a ‘semi-Hardanger’ arrangement. It seems to have responded quite well to the treatment!

Johnny Handle also sang Dance to Yer Daddy in 1976 on the High Level Ranters' Topic album Ranting Lads. This recording was also released as one of the very few Topic singles, and it was included in 1998 as a bonus track on the CD reissue of Along the Coaly Tyne. They noted:

Words and tune from the fourth volume of Catcheside Warrington’s Tyneside Songs (1927). Learnt at school; still a very popular song in the area. This is a version of the instrumental which we recorded on our earlier Topic LP Northumberland For Ever in 1968.

Sweeney's Men sang Dance to Your Daddy in 1968 on their eponymous Transatlantic album Sweeney's Men.

Nic Jones recorded Dance to Your Daddy in 1971 for his eponymous second album, Nic Jones. He commented in the album notes:

Like a lot of other people, I learnt to dislike this song at school, along with Oh, No John and The Nightingale. Far more appealing were Rock Around the Clock and Peggy Sue. This could be classed as a re-assessment of the song.

Morag Chetwyn from Inverness sang Dance Tae Tha Daddy to Emily Lyle in 1976. This recording was included in 2006 on the Greentrax anthology of children's songs and rhymes, Chokit on a Tattie (Scottish Tradition 22).

Alex Glasgow sang Dac Ti Thi Daddy (When the Boat Comes In) as the title theme of the BBC TV series When the Boat Comes In (1976-1981). This recording was also released in 1976 as a BBC single (RESL 31) with the B-side Mae Bonny Lad.

Rob Turnbull sang Dance to Your Daddy on the 1982 children's video 70 Golden Nursery Rhymes.

Cilla Fisher sang Dance tae Yer' Daddie in 1983 on her album Songs of the Fishing.

Sisters Unlimited sang Dance to Your Daddy which, while “originally from the North-East of England, is a version from Peggy Seeger” in 1995 on their Fellside CD No Bed of Roses.

Louis Killen sang Dance t' th' Daddy in 1997 on his CD A Seaman's Garland (Sailors Ships and Chanteys Vol. 2). He noted:

This recording is similar to a sailor's garland. It holds a number of ditties such as Dance t' th' Daddy from the fishing village of Cullercoats in Northumberland, […]

Nancy Kerr and James Fagan sang Dance to Your Daddy in 2002 on their Fellside album Between the Dark and Light. They commented in their liner notes:

A great many people love the classic north-east English song Dance to Your Daddy. Here are two versions, the first learned from Peggy Seeger and collected by Cecil Sharp in Berkshire (strangely famous for deep-sea fishing songs). Nancy then plays her own composition The Flaming Drones and sings the more well-known version of the song simultaneously.

They also sang it live in 2000 at the Folk Festival Sidmouth and in 2013 at Bath Folk Festival which is shown on YouTube:

Graham Pirt sang Dance ti' Thee Daddy as the title track of his 2008 Fellside CD with his son Sam, Dance ti' Thee Daddy. He commented:

One of the most popular north-eastern songs. It was written by William Watson and first published in Fordyce's Newcastle Song Book in 1842. I learnt it as a child from my grandmother.

Maggie Sand and Sandragon sang Dance to Your Daddy in 2009 on their WildGoose CD Susie Fair. She noted:

A well-known song from the north-east of England though this version was collected by Cecil Sharp in Berkshire around 1909 [VWML CJS2/9/1950] . It is often performed in a more up-tempo fashion, but we felt that the poignancy of the lyrics, in which a father is wishing his son all the things that he cannot give him, made them fitting to the more subdued treatment that we give the song here.

Bob Fox sang Dance to Your Daddy in 2013 on his Topic album Borrowed Moments. He commented in his liner notes:

When I first ventured out to the North East to sing in Folk Clubs throughout Britain in the mid-70s I was constantly asked for the song When the Boat Comes In because of the success of the TV series of the same name. The song is actually called Dance to Your Daddy and is probably the North East's most well known “dandling” song. Originally sung for the entertainment of a grandchild but with the underlying hopes of the working people that maybe, one day, things would improve for them all. They're still waiting!

Megson sang Dance to Your Daddy, based on the original by William Watson, on their 2012 album of children's folk songs, When I Was a Lad…. They noted:

Popularised by TV adverts and theme tunes, the earliest published version of this (entitled Dance to Thy Daddy) was attributed to a W. Watson in W.&T. Fordyce's Newcastle Songster of 1840.

The Teacups sang My Little Man in 2020 on their third and final album, In Which…. They noted:

A beautiful version of Dance to Your Daddy which tells the story of a young boy growing up. A song Alex [Cumming] has known since childhood which he now sings to his children, Oliver and Felix.

Lyrics

Johnny Handle sings Dance to Yer Daddy

Come here, me little Jacky now I've chowed me baccy
Let us have a crackie till the boat comes in.

Dance to your daddy ma bonny laddie,
Dance to your daddy, to your mommy sing.
Ye shall have a fishy on a little dishy,
Ye shall have a bloater when the boat comes in.

Here's your mommy comin' she's a cunning woman,
Yonder goes your daddy, drunk he can nae stand.

Dance to your daddy ma bonny laddie,
Dance to your daddy, to your mommy sing.
Ye shall have a fishy on a little dishy,
Ye shall have a herrin' when the boat comes in.

Tommy's always fuddling, he's sae fond of ale
But he's good tae me, I hope he winna fail.

Dance to your daddy ma bonny laddie,
Dance to your daddy, to your mommy sing.
Ye shall have a fishy on a little dishy,
Ye shall have a mackerel when the boat comes in.

I like a drop mysel' when I can get it sly,
I hope my bonny bairn will like it weel as I.

Dance to your daddy ma bonny laddie,
Dance to your daddy, to your mommy sing.
Ye shall have a fishy, on a little dishy,
Ye shall have a salmon when the boat comes in.

May we get a drop, oft as we stand in need;
Weel may the keel row that brings the bairns their bread.

Dance to your daddy ma bonny laddie,
Dance to your daddy, to your mommy sing.
Ye shall have a fishy on a little dishy,
Ye shall have a salmon when the boat comes in.

Nic Jones sings Dance to Your Daddy

Dance to your daddy, my little laddie,
Dance to your daddy, my little man.
Dance to your daddy, my little laddie,
Dance to your daddy, my little man.

You shall have a fish and you shall have a fin,
You shall have a herring when the boat comes in.
Dance to your daddy, my little laddie,
Dance to your daddy, my little man.

When you are a man and fit to take a wife,
You shall have a lassie; love her all your life.
Dance to your daddy, my little laddie,
Dance to your daddy, my little man.

She will be a lassie; you will be a man;
You shall have a family; love them all you can.
Dance to your daddy, my little laddie,
Dance to your daddy, my little man.

(repeat first verse)

Cilla Fisher sings Dance tae Yer Daddie

Dance tae yer daddie, my bonnie laddie,
Dance tae yer daddie, my bonnie lamb.

You shall get a fishy in a little dishy,
You shall get a fishy when the boat comes hame.

And ye'll get a coatie and a pair o' breeches,
And ye'll get a fishy when the boat comes hame.

Ye shall get a whippy and a birlie peerie,
You shall get a fishy when the boat comes hame.

Megson sing Dance to Your Daddy

Come here my little Jacky, now I've smoked my 'baccy,
We can have some crackey till the boat comes in.

Dance to your daddy, sing to your mammy,
Dance to your daddy, to your mammy sing.

Here's your mother coming like a canny woman,
Yonder comes your father, drunk, he cannot stand.

Chorus (repeated after each verse):
Dance to your daddy, sing to your mammy,
Dance to your daddy, to your mammy sing.
You can have a fishy on a little dishy,
You can have a fishy when the boat comes in.

Our Tommy's always fuddling, he's so fond of ale.
I know he's kind to me but I hope he'll never fall.

I like a drop myself when I can get it sly,
And you, my bonny bairn, will like it as well as I.