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Jack Tar

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Alternative title: The Saucy Sailor

Performer: Bishop, Emily
Place Collected: Bromsberrow Heath
Date collected: 1952
Collector: Kennedy, Peter
Roud Number: 531

Also known as “Jack Tar”, this song has proved very popular and is still doing the rounds in oral tradition. It can certainly be traced back to the early 19th century and one source claims to take it back to 1781 but this cannot be verified. It is certain that singers enjoyed the twist of the girl warming to her smelly sailor once she discovered that he had money, and then then sailor rejecting her. A similar theme occurs in versions of the song “Paper of Pins”.

It has been widely collected throughout England, Scotland, Canada and the USA and is regularly sung in the folk revival.

Notes by Gwilym Davies 3 April 2015