Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Mary Ann

A man goes sailing.
He promises to return
To sweet Mary Ann.

Mary Ann is a folk variation on the song "The True Lover's Farewell," which first appeared in a published version in the collection "Roxburghe Ballads" from 1710. Related songs include "A Red, Red Rose" by Robert Burns, as well as "My Dear Mary Ann," "The Turtle Dove" and "Ten Thousand Miles." Here are some lyrics that I turned up on a website called "Mainly Norfolk: English Folk and Other Good Music." I love the maritime air of this song. Dylan's version, which he recorded in 1969 or 1970, I think, was included on the "Dylan" album of 1973, an album full of songs released without Dylan's consent after he left Columbia Records under the lure of David Geffen. Dylan's voice is especially nasal, and few people find the track any good, but I'm a sucker for this recording, particularly the backup singers.

1. 
Then fare ye well my own true love,
Then fare ye well for a while;
The ship is a-waiting and the wind blows high,
I'm bound away to the sea, Mary Ann.

Ten thousand miles away from home,
Ten thousand miles or more,
The sea will freeze and the earth will burn
If I never no more return to you, Mary Ann.

Do you see the grass that's under your feet
Arise and grow again?
For love it is a killing thing,
Don't you ever feel the pain, Mary Ann?

Oh do you see yon crow fly high,
She'll surely turn to white,
If I ever prove false to you, my dear,
Morning turn to night, Mary Ann.


2. 
Oh fare you well my own true love,
Oh fare you well my dear;
The ship is waiting and the wind is high,
And I am bound away to the sea, Mary Ann,
Yes, I am bound away to the sea, Mary Ann.

Ten thousand miles away from you,
Ten thousand miles or more,
But the earth will freeze and the sea will burn
If I never no more return to you, Mary Ann,
If I never no more return to you, Mary Ann.

A lobster boiling in the pot,
And a blue fish on the hook,
They're suffering long but it's nothing like
The ache I feel for you, my dear Mary Ann,
Like the ache I feel for you, my dear Mary Ann.

Oh had I brought a flask of gin
With sugar here for two
And a great big bowl for to mix it in,
I'd pour a drink for you, my dear Mary Ann,
Yes, I'd pour a drink for you, my dear Mary Ann.

So fare you well my own true love,
Fare you well my dear;
The ship is waiting and the wind is high,
And I am bound away to the sea, Mary Ann,
Yes, I am bound away to the sea, Mary Ann.



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