The Rambling Sailor

from by Ed, Will and Ginger

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The Rambling Sailor is bawdy and popular. It tells of a young man, and his rapier sexuality when ashore after a long sea voyage. He is ruthless in his pursuit of pretty women, the archetypical roaming seducer, undeniable yet unobtainable.

It is collected from a 18th century broadside, meaning its earliest recorded existence is printed sheet sold at this time.

The version we sing was recorded onto wax cylinder by Vaughn Williams in 1907, from a chap named Peter Verrall, of Horsham, Sussex.

The name of any place can be fit into this song, which greatly helps to get passers-bylistening.

Singing this in Tunbridge Wells, a 6 year old boy steps up to ask: "What is that song about please?"

All we can offer is: "the sailor has come home from the sea, so he’s walking all over the country making lots of nice new friends."

The boy nods sagely. An elderly lady, standing nearby, guffaws uproariously.

There's kicks for all the family in these old songs.


I am a sailor brisk and bold that oft has sailed the ocean,
And I’ve travelled the country far and wide,
For honour and promotion.
My shipmates all, I bid you adieu,
Now I may no longer go along with you,
I’ll travel the country through and through
And they call be the rambling sailor.

And if you want to know my name, my name it is young Johnson,
I’ve got a commission from the king
To court all girls is handsome,
With my false heart, and flattering tongue,
I’ll court them all, both old and young,
I’ll court them all, and marry none,
And they call me the rambling sailor.

Now first I came to Faversham town,
And there were lasses plenty,
I boldly stepped unto a one,
To court her for her money,
Says I, “my dear, be of good cheer,
I will not leave you, do not fear,
I’ll travel the country far and near,
And they call me the rambling sailor.

Oh next I come to Canterbury town,
And there were lasses plenty,
And I boldly stepped unto a one,
To court her for her beauty,
Says I, “my dear, what do you choose,
Here’s ale, wine and rum punch too,
Beside a pair of silk satin shoes,
If you’ll travel with the rambling sailor.

Well then I rose up with the dawn,
Just as the day was peeping,
And on tiptoes down those stairs I went,
And I left my lover sleeping,
And if she waits, until I come,
Well she may wait right there till the day of her doom,
I’ll court some other girl in her room,
And they call me the rambling sailor.


from Songs, released January 1, 2010



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A Walk Around Britain UK

Our names are Ed and Will, and we walk around Britain.

With traffic jams, badger culls, Coldplay, and the future being sold to international investors, it’s easy to think you don’t like Britain.

But deep between the roads are the places we take for granted, and here the secret green heart of Britain beats on.

To these places we journey, with songs as old as seas and copyright-free.
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