Rolling Sea

Mudcat sources suggest that the first 2 verses were collected by James Gardner in Gosport in 1781 and may be an ironic parody of the rest, which also appear as a song 'The Sailor Laddie'. The lines “sailors, they get all the money, soldiers they get none but brass,I do love a jolly sailor, soldiers they may kiss my arse” (sometimes sung as a chorus), was a well-known prostitute's ditty of the time. It probably refers to the fact that for centuries sailors had a share of "prize money" from their capture of enemy merchant ships as well as naval vessels. Soldiers on the other hand had no legal claim to any plunder. Although the sailors' share of the prize money might appear modest, compared with what the captain or his admiral got, it was still considerably more than their monthly pay and in some cases enough to start a small business ashore. Frankie Armstrong recorded The Sailor Laddie in 1973 and Eliza Carthy recorded Rolling Sea in 2006.


Rolling Sea
Don’t ya see the ships a’comin?
Don’t ya see them in full sail?
Don’t ya see the ships a’comin,
With their prizes at their tail?
Sailors they get all the money,
Soldiers they get nowt but brass,
How I love my rolling sailor,
Soldiers they can kiss my …
Oh, my little rolling sailor,
Oh, my little rolling he,
How I love my rolling sailor,
When he’s on the rolling sea.
How can I be blithe and merry,
With my true love far from me?
All those pretty little sailors,
They’ve been pressed and ta’en to sea.
How I wish the press were over,
And the wars were in the past
Then every bonnie sailor laddie,
Would be happy with his lass.
When the wars they are all over,
Peace and plenty come again,
All those brave sailor ladies
They’ll come back across the main.
Hope the wars will soon be over,
And the sailors, safely home,
Every lass will have her laddie.
I won’t have to sleep alone.