Go To Sea No More - Shanty U.K. Archive

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Go To Sea No More

Shanties
Go To Sea No More
Go To Sea Once More
Off To Sea Once More



Stan Hugill says in Shanties from the Seven Seas (1961) that this was probably more of a forebitter (off-duty song) than a shanty, but that most of his old shipmates believed it was used as a shanty, both at capstan and at pumps. The first version he gives is titled 'Go To Sea No More', and has a grand chorus, whereas his other version, titled 'Go To Sea Once More' does not have an all-hands-in chorus, so he reckons that it was a forebitter. Other versions have been collected in Canada and the USA whose titles are the name of either the crimp, 'Dixie Brown', or his victim, 'Jack Wrack'.

Hugill's first version is set in San Francisco, with a crimp called Shanghai Brown; the second in Liverpool with a crimp called Rapper Brown. Nowadays, in Britain at least, you will almost invariably hear the Liverpool version, but with the grand chorus added to make it more of a fully-fledged shanty.

The Liverpool version may have been the work of A.L. Lloyd, who recorded it on the 1954 album 'The Singing Sailor'. Three factors point to the Frisco version being the original:

  • Most, if not all, versions collected prior to that (including those collected in Britain), are set in San Francisco and feature  Shanghai Brown.

  • Liverpool had no whaling industry to speak of in the mid-nineteenth century, as the Greenland fisheries had been virtually exhausted: San Francisco had a flourishing whaling fleet working the Bering Sea (the cold Kamchatka Sea)

  • No record has been found of a crimp called Rapper Brown in Liverpool, while Dixie 'Shanghai' Brown of Battery Street is well-documented in San Francisco

Roud Number 644
Click to play MIDI file
Go To Sea Once More
Go To Sea No More

When first I landed in Liverpool, I went upon a spree

My money alas, I spent it fast, I got drunk as drunk could be
And when my money it was all gone, it was then that I wanted more
But a man must be blind to make up his mind to go to sea once more

Once more, once more, to go to sea once more
A man must be blind to make up his mind to go to sea once more


I spent the night with Angeline too drunk to roll in bed
My watch was new and my money too, in the morning with them she'd fled
And as I walked the streets about, the whores they all did roar
"There goes Jack Sprat, the poor sailor lad; he must go to sea once more"

Once more, once more, go to sea once more
There goes Jack Sprat, the poor sailor lad; he must go to sea once more


And as I walked the streets about, I met with Rapper Brown
And I asked him for to take me on but he looked at me with a frown

He says, "Last time you was paid off with me you cut no score
But I'll give you a chance, aye I'll take your advance, and send you to sea once more"

Once more, once more, etc.


He shipped me aboard of a whaling ship bound for the arctic seas
Where the cold winds blow through the frost and snow and Jamaica rum would freeze
But worse to bear, I'd no hard weather gear, for I'd spent all my money on shore
It was then I wished that I was dead, and could go to sea no more

No more, no more, etc.


Well, sometimes you're catching whales, my lads, sometimes you're catching none,
With a twenty foot oar stuck in your paw from four o'clock in the morn.
And when the shades of night draw on, and you rest on your weary oar
It's then that you'll wish that you were dead, or safe with those girls on shore

On shore, on shore, etc.

So come all you bold seafaring lads, and listen to my song
When you come off them long trips, I'll have you not go wrong
Take my advice: take no strong drink, don't go sleeping with them whores
Get married instead; spend all night in bed, and go to sea no more

No more, no more, go to sea no more
Get married instead; spend all night in bed and go to sea no more


Recorded by Tom Perry
Play MP3
Go to Sea No More, sung by Tom Perry
Off To Sea Once More

This version is very unusual: it must be the only one to have a good word to say for the Boarding Master! It was collected by an American, Robert Frothingham, who published it in a feature called  'Old Songs that Men have Sung' in the magazine Adventure, which he edited during 1922-23.

Hugill gives no tune, but it will fit quite happily to the "usual" tune(s).


I met with a gay young Frisco girl, and my heart was not my own,
But when I kissed her goodbye at last, my money and watch was gone.
As I was walking down the street and people was gazing at me,
Said they, 'There's a brave young sailor lad who's off to sea once more.

Once more, once more, he's off to sea once more,
Oh, there's a brave young sailor lad who's off to sea once more.


A boarding master picked me up; his name was Shanghai Brown,
And I'll tell you the truth, he wasn't so ill, for he gave me half a crown.
"Look here, my brave young sailor lad, there's no more work ashore,
But here's your chance; take ten pounds advance, and go to sea once more."

Once more, once more, go to sea once more,
But here's your chance; take ten pounds advance, and go to sea once more.


So I shipped me aboard of a whaler that was bound for the Arctic Sea,
Where ice and snow and the cold winds blow, froze my toes all off'n me.

And the worset of it was, I had no clothes to keep me dry and warm,
And then I swore, if I ever get ashore, to go to sea no more.

No more, no more, he's off to sea no more,
Oh, there's a brave young sailor lad; he goes to sea no more.


Look here, my brave young sailor boys, take this as a warning from me,
Steer wide of the gay young 'Frisco girls, and do not go to sea;

Drink no more whisky, smoke no more cigars and run with the gals no more,
But get married,my boy, and stop ashore, and go to sea no more

Once more, once more, they all go to sea once more,
Oh, there's a brave young sailor lad who goes to sea once more.

... they all go to sea once more
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