Jolly Tinker Lyrics

1. River Driving
2. The Southern Girl’s Reply
3. Only a Soldier
4. The Bonny Bay of Biscay-O
5. Baldheaded End of the Broom
6. Little Black Train
7. When the Shanty Boy Comes Down
8. Come Take a Trip in My Airship
9. Crossing the Bar
10. 1845
11. Yucky Bugs
12. The Snow Is on the Ground
13. The Bold Privateer
14. The Jolly Tinker
15. Mandalay

River Driving
Text collected by Jeanne Robert Foster, ca. 1916.

River driving on the Sacondog,
Floating on the slippery logs,
Sleeping in the frozen bog,
My girl’s waiting for me.

Hard-boiled eggs three times a day,
Wet as beavers we hit the hay,
Not much sleep, but great good pay,
My girl’s waiting for me.

Big French Joe and I went out,
To break the jam when I heard him shout,
“Prenez garde!” and the jam went out,
My girl’s waiting for me.

Big French Joe, the logs drowned him,
He had no chance to fight nor swim,
With the logs jammed up to the river’s rim,
My girl’s waiting for me.

His girl comes to me and cries,
“If he’s dead then I shall die,
‘Ma petite,’ he used to sigh,”
My girl’s waiting for me.

We will find him down below,
Around the bend where the water is slow,
Floating with his pike in tow,
My girl’s waiting for me.

“Ma petite” will wring her hands,
As we scrape away at the yellow sand,
And bury him by the river’s strand,
My girl’s waiting for me.

One more night and one more day,
And the logs will reach the river bay,
And I’ll skin off these togs and I will say,
My girl’s waiting for me.

The Southern Girl’s Reply
Collected and arranged by Frank Warner, ©1962.

I cannot listen to your words,
The land’s too far and wide,
Go seek some happy northern girl
To be your loving bride.
My brothers they were soldiers,
The youngest of the three
Was slain while fighting at the side
Of General Fitzhugh Lee.

Hoorah! Hoorah!
For the sunny south I say,
Three cheers for the southern girl
And the boy who wore the grey.

My lover was a soldier, too,
He fought at God’s command
A sabre pierced his galliant heart,
You might have been the man.
He reeled and fell, but was not dead,
A horseman spurred his steed,
And trampled on his dying brain,
You might have done the deed.

They left his body on the field,
Who the fight that day had won,
A horseman spurred him with his heel,
You might have been the one.
I hold no hatred in my heart,
Nor cold nor righteous pride,
For many a galliant soldier fought
Upon the other side.

But now I cannot take the hand
That smote my country sore
Nor love the one that trampled down
The colors that she wore.
Between your heart and mine there rolls
A deep and crimson tide,
My brother’s and my lover’s blood
Forbids me be your bride.

Only a Soldier
Collected and arranged by Anne & Frank Warner, ©1984.

I will tell you of a soldier who lately came from war,
He courted a lady who had riches in great store,
Her riches were so great that they scarcely could be told,
And yet she loved her soldier for he was brave and bold.

She said, my honored soldier, I fain would be your wife,
But my old Tory father would surely take my life,
He took his sword and pistols and hung them by his side,
And swore that he would marry her, whatever did betide.

As they had been to church and were coming home again,
They met her cruel father and seven well-armed men,
Let us flee, cried the lady, for fear we shall be slain,
Fear nothing, said the soldier to his charmer again.

But her father then addressed her and unto her did say,
What is this behavior, is this your wedding day?
Since you have been so foolish to be a soldier’s wife,
All in this lonesome valley I will surely end your life.

Oh no, cried the soldier, you know not what you say,
I have not been defeated and shall not be today,
He drew forth his broadsword, his pistol he did rattle,
And the lady held the horses while the soldier fought the battle.

Now the first one he came to, he had him quickly slain,
And the next one he came to, he ran him through the same,
Let us flee, cried the others, or else we shall be slain,
To fight a valiant soldier is surely all in vain.

The father cried, you butcher, you make my blood run cold,
But you shall have my daughter and a thousand pounds in gold,
Fight on, cried the lady, our portion is too small!
Stay your hand, cried the father, and you shall have it all.

So he took the soldier home and he made him son and heir,
But not for love he bore him, but just from dread and fear,
There never was a soldier who would ever fire a gun,
Who would ever flinch a hair till the battle it was won.

So don’t despise a soldier because that he is poor,
He truly is a knight, as he was in days of yore,
He’s bold, brisk and jolly, both sociable and free,
He’d soon as fight for love as to fight for liberty.

The Bonny Bay of Biscay-O
Collected and arranged by Frank Warner, ©1971.

Of all the harbors, east or west,
There is one port that I love best,
Whichever way the wind doth blow,
I’ll steer for the bonny bay of Biscay-o.

The girl I love is a-waiting there,
With her eyes of blue and her golden hair,
It’s eastward hi and westward ho,
But I’ll return to the bonny bay of Biscay-o.

At night in my hammock I will sleep,
While we sail upon the briny deep,
Though tempests rage and wild winds blow,
I’ll dream of the bonny bay of Biscay-o.

In one more year I will settle down,
With my bride in this fair seaport town,
She is sweeter and dearer by far, I know,
Than the winds of the bonny bay of Biscay-o.

Baldheaded End of the Broom
By Harry Bennett, 1877.

Well, love it is a funny, funny thing,
Catches both young and old.
Just like a plate of boarding house hash,
And many’s the man’s been sold.
Make you feel like a freshwater eel,
Cause your head to swell.
You lose your mind ‘cause love is blind,
And empty your pockets as well.

Boys, I say, from the girls keep away,
Give them lots of room,
For when you’re wed, they’ll hit you on the head
With the baldheaded end of the broom.

When a man’s in love with a pretty little girl,
He’ll talk to her gentle as a dove.
He’ll spend his money and he’ll call her honey,
And it’s all for fun and love.
But when the money’s all spent and he can’t pay the rent,
He’ll find the old story’s true.
A mole on the arm’s worth two on the leg,
And what is he gonna for to do?

With a wife and sixteen half-starved kids,
You’ll find it is no fun,
When the butcher comes around to collect his bill
With a dog and a double-barreled gun.
With a cross-eyed baby on each knee,
And a wife with a plaster on her nose,
You’ll find true love doesn’t run so smooth
When you gotta wear second-hand clothes.

When married folks got lots of cash,
True love runs smooth and strong.
But when they gots to live on hash,
That love don’t last very long.
So boys, I say, take my advice,
Don’t be in a hurry to wed.
You’ll think you’re in clover ‘till the honeymoon is over,
And then you’ll wish you were dead.

Little Black Train

We see that ballroom lady all dressed in earthly pride,
Well, death’s dark train is coming and she must surely ride.
We see that train with engine and one small baggage car,
Her wicked deeds and her idle thoughts will meet at the judgement bar.

There’s a little black train a-coming, get all your business right,
Better set your house in order, for the train may come tonight.

God sent to Hezekiah a message from on high,
Better get your house in order for you must surely die.
He turned to the wall a-weeping--we see him here in tears,
He got his business fixed all right, God spared him fifteen years.

A poor young man in darkness cared not for the gospel light,
When suddenly that whistle blew from the little black train in sight,
Oh death will you not spare me? I see my wicked ways,
I pray the Lord have mercy, come and set me free,
But death had fixed his shackles upon his soul so tight,
That before he got his business fixed, the train pulled in that night.

A rich old man in his mansion sits, I have no future fears,
My barns are overflowing, I’ll live for many long years,
I sure got plenty of money, and none but myself to please,
I’ve filled my barns and larder, I expect to take my ease.
But as he sat there planning, his God in all his might
Said, you rich old fool to the judgment come, your soul must be there tonight.

When the Shanty Boy Comes Down

When the shanty boy comes down,
In his pockets, fifty pounds,
He will look around some pretty girl to find.
If he finds her not too shy,
With a dark and rolling eye,
Then the shanty boy is well pleased in his mind.

So the landlady comes in,
She is neat and very trim,
She is like the evening star.
If she finds him in good trim,
She is always ready to wait on him,
And from one to two they’ll sit up on the bar.

So the shanty boy goes on
‘Till his money is all gone,
And the landlady she begins to fret.
“Oh,” he says, “My lady do not fret,
I will pay my honest debt,
And bid adieu to the girl we left in town.”

Back to the woods he’ll go,
With his heart so full of woe,
And he’ll wander ‘round from tree unto tree,
‘Till six months have gone and past,
All his cares have gone at last,
It is time for him to go upon a spree.

There’s a crew that’s in command,
So the old folks understand,
And it’s to the dark woods we must go.
With a bottle and a song,
We will shove the old canoe along,
And bid adieu to the girl we left in town.

Come Take a Trip in My Airship
By George Evans & Ren Shields, 1904.
Verse 2 by Jeff Warner, ca. 2001.

I once loved a sailor,
Once a sailor loved me,
He was not a sailor
Who sailed o’er the wide foaming sea.
He owned an airship,
Flew like a bird on the wing,
And every Saturday evening,
He’d fly through my window and sing.

Come take a trip in my airship,
Come have a sail ‘round the stars,
Come take a trip into Venus,
Come have a sail ‘round to Mars,
No one to tell while we’re kissing,
No one to tell while we spoon,
Come take a trip in my airship,
We’ll visit the man in the moon.

We sang with the birds in the morning,
Danced with the clouds in the eve,
He was lord of the mountains,
And I felt I was queen of the sea.
I love my sailor,
How I long for the day
When he flies through my window,
And these are the words he will say.

The original sheet music included this verse:

One night while sailing away from the crowds,
we passed by the Milky White Way.
While idly drifting, watching the stars,
he asked if I’d name the day!
Just by the Dipper, I gave him my heart,
the sun shone on our honeymoon.
We swore to each other, we never would part,
And we’d teach all the babies this tune.

Crossing the Bar
Text by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, 1889.

Sunset and evening star
And one clear call for me!
And may there be no moaning of the bar
When I put out to sea,

Twilight and evening bell,
And after that the dark!
And may there be no sadness of farewell,
When I embark;

But such a tide as moving seems asleep,
Too full for sound and foam,
When that which drew from out the boundless deep
Turns again home.

For tho’ from out our bourne of Time and Place
The flood may bear me far
I hope to see my Pilot face to face
When I have cross’d the bar.


I woke up one morning in 1845
I thought myself quite lucky to find myself alive
Hitched up my haul team, my business to pursue
And went to hauling coal as I used for to do.

Now the ale-house being open and the whisky running free
As soon as I had one glass, another stood by me
I only hauled but one load instead of hauling four
And got so drunk in Shippensport that I couldn’t haul no more.

I took my saddle on my back and I staggered from the barn
I saddled up my old grey mare thinking it no harm
I climbed upon her back and I rode away so still
I scarcely stopped for breath ‘till I came to Laurel Hill.

My father fast pursued me, he rode both night and day
He must have had a pilot or else he’d a-lost his way
He looked in every hole and corner where ‘ere he saw the light
‘Till his old grey head was wet from the dews of the night.

I have a bold companion whose name I will not tell
Invited me to go downtown with him to cut a swell
After much persuasion, with him I did agree
And we went down to the tailor shop a fiddler for to see.

Up stepped two young ladies all ready for to dance
Up stepped two young gentleman all in advance
The fiddler being willing and his arm a-being strong
We danced the night at Laurel Hill at least six hours long.

Yucky Bugs
© Dan MacArthur.

We planted the cabbage at the end of the garden
Sat back home and watched it grow
They aren’t much trouble; no one really likes to eat them
‘Cept some little tiny bugs we all know.
They don’t have to grow in very good soil
So it comes as a kind of a surprise
That those cabbage worms will eat ‘em ‘till there ain’t nothing left
If you don’t squash the little butterflies.

So come on down, let’s go out and have a bug-squashing party tonight
We’ll squish those little buggers as they begin to flutter
‘Till our fingers have turned all white.
We’ll clean the cabbage worms out of the cabbage patch
And everything will work out right
So come on down, let’s go out and have a bug-squashing party tonight.

Take a ramble through the brambles growing six feet tall
Grab some berries and pop ‘em in your mouth
‘Cause it takes a lot of time to keep your berries healthy
Takes water to keep away the drought.
And then those little green bugs will come along and eat ‘em
‘Till the vines fall over in the rain
But if you grab those little bugs, you can squish ‘em in your fingers
And your berry patch is healthy again.

So come on down....
We’ll kill those Japanese beetles in their shiny green armor
If they don’t get away in flight.
They’re loving each other all over the bushes
Completely unaware of their plight
So come on down....

Now slugs is bugs that nobody loves
But everybody understands
That they look disgusting, and they taste disgusting
And they feel disgusting in your hands.
But of all the little bugs that grow in the garden
Slugs have a special place in my heart
Because they like to drink beer, they’ll drink any kind of beer
And they never quit drinking once they start.

So come on down, let’s go out and have a slug-drowning party tonight
No, they can’t tell if they’re floating in Guinness
Or sinking in Miller Lite.
They ain’t particular and they got no taste
And they’ll drown in any beer in sight
So come on down, let’s go out, and have a slug-drowning party tonight.

Now, I never would have believed I’d be telling my kids
It’s okay to kill another living thing
And I know what you mean when you tell me even Japanese
Beetles can learn how to sing.
And I agree when you tell me every living thing
Should have a chance to live the way that they wish
But if I go and plant it, why then gol-dernit
If you eat it you’re gonna get squished.

So come on down....
‘Cause we don’t like to spray ‘em and we don’t want to zap ‘em
And we don’t want to cause ‘em any fright.
If they’d leave us alone, we’d leave ‘em alone
And everything would work out right
But come on....

The Snow Is on the Ground
Collected and arranged by Anne & Frank Warner, ©1984.

Cold winter is come with its keen cutting breath,
And the birds is all dropped from the trees;
All nature seems touched at the finger of death,
And the streams are beginning to freeze.
When the hills and the dales are all covered in white,
And Flora attends us no more,
When you sit by your fireside, reviving and hot;
Will you grumble to think on the poor?

When the north wind’s ascending and chilling the ground,
And the sportsmen again shooting go,
And the happy young lads o’er the rivers can slide,
And the bridges are useful no more,
When the lakes are all froze with winter’s cold breath,
And the rivers congeals to the shore,
When your bowl smokes with something reviving and hot,
It is time to remember the poor.

When the poor harmless hare he is tracked to the woods
With his footsteps all dandied in snow,
And the robin red-breast he approaches your cot,
And the icicles hang at the door,
But the time it will come when our Savior we’ll see,
And the grave is triumphant no more;
All the saints and the angels ‘Hallelujah’ shall sing,
And the rich will remember the poor.

The Bold Privateer

Oh, my dearest Molly, it’s you and I must part,
I’m going across the ocean, I’ll leave you with my heart.
Now my ship is sailing, fare thee well, my dear,
I’m going on board the vessel, the bold privateer.

Who will go with me?
Who will go with me?
Who will go with me, my love?
Going across the sea.

Oh, my dearest Johnny, great dangers have been wrought,
And many’s the sweet life on the sea has been lost.
Better stay at home with the girl that loves you dear,
Than to venture your sweet life, the bold privateer.

Oh, my dearest Molly, your friends do me despise,
Besides, you have two brothers who’d freely take my life.
Come change your ring with me, my girl, come change your ring with me,
And let it be a token when I am on the sea.

And when this war is ended, should heaven spare my life,
I’ll return home to my intended wife.
And now I’ll get married to my charmin’ Molly dear,
And forever bid adieu the bold privateer.

The Jolly Tinker
Collected and arranged by Frank Warner, ©1959.

I am a jolly tinker that goes from town to town,
I’ll mend your pots and kettles if you’ll only bring ‘em ‘round.

Tu-ra-laddy, tu-ra-laddy,
Tu-ra-laddy hi-row.

I know how to solder and I can mend a pot,
I can also stop a hole so it will not leak a drop.

I can mend umbrellas and I can tinker a clock,
The housewives are all smiles when they see the tinker stop.

A tinker never marries, has a girl in every town,
And they shower me with kisses as they bring their kettles down.

They feast me and regale me with choicest meats and wine,
At whatever house I stop at I can always sup and dine.

So many wait my coming, for I have many friends,
I never stored much gold, and yet I have a lot to spend.

My life is wild and free and I do not seek renown,
I’m just a jolly tinker with a girl in every town.

Text by Rudyard Kipling, 1892.

By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy out to sea
There’s a Burma girl a-waiting, and I know she thinks of me
For the wind is in the palm-trees, and the temple-bells they say,
“Come you back, you British Soldier, come you back to Mandalay.”
Come you back to Mandalay, where the old Flotilla lay
You can ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay
On the road to Mandalay, where the flying-fishes play
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay.

‘Er petticoat was yaller an’ ‘er little cap was green
An’ they called her Supi-yaw-lat jes’ the same as Theebaw’s queen
An’ I seed her first a-smokin’ of a whackin’ white cheroot
An’ a-wastin’ Christian kisses on an’ ‘eathen idol’s foot
Heathen idol made of mud – what they called the Great Gawd Budd
But a lot she thought of idols when I kissed ‘er where she stud
On the road to Mandalay…

When the mist was in the rice-fields an’ the sun was sinkin’ slow
She’d git ‘er little banjo an’ she’d sing ‘Kulla-lo-lo’
With ‘er arm upon my shoulder an’ ‘er cheek agin my cheek
We sit and watch the steamers an’ the hathis pilin’ teak
Elephants a-pilin’ teak in the sludgy, squdgy creek
Where the silence ‘ung so ‘eavy, you was ‘arf afraid to speak
On the road to Mandalay…

But that’s all shove be’ind me – long ago an’ far away
An’ there ain’t no buses runnin’ from the Bank to Mandalay
An’ I’m learnin’ ‘ere in London what the ten-year soldier tells
“If you’ve ‘eard the East a-callin’, you won’t never ‘eed naught else.”
No! you won’t heed nothin’ else, but them spicy garlic smells
An’ the sunshine an’ the palm-trees an’ the tinkly temple-bells
On the road to Mandalay…

I am sick o’ wastin’ leather on these gritty pavin’ stones
An’ the blasted English drizzle wakes the fever in my bones
Tho’ I walks with fifty ‘ousemaids outer Chelsea down the Strand
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, ah! but wot do they understand?
Beefy face an’ grubby hands – Lor’ wot do they understand?
I’ve a neater, sweeter maiden in a cleaner, greener land
On the road to Mandalay…

Ship me somewhere East of Suez, where the best is like the worst
Where there aren’t no Ten Commandments an’ a man can raise a thirst
For the temple-bells is callin’, an’ it’s there that I would be
By the old Moulmein Pagoda, lookin’ lazy out to sea
On the road to Mandalay, where the old Flotilla lay
You can ‘ear their paddles chunkin’ from Rangoon to Mandalay
On the road to Mandalay, where the flyin’-fishes play
An’ the dawn comes up like thunder outer China ‘crost the Bay.

Jolly Tinker ©2005 Jeff Warner