This song sort of popped up after I happened across the 1954 film Long John Silver (a.k.a. Long John Silver's Return to Treasure Island), starring Robert Newton, the actor who gave us the quintessential "talk like a pirate" accent. There is a scene aboard the ship the evil Spanish pirate "Mendozer" (i.e. Mendoza) in which Long John Silver (Newton) is cutting a dirty deal when the grog runs out. Mendoza calls for the cabin boy, who turns out to be none other than young Jim Hawkins, Long John's protege from Treasure Island, who has been kidnapped and pressed into service on the pirate vessel.
Not wanting Mendoza to see that he knows Jim, Silver abuses him roundly and has him summarily flung from the cabin. As Jim collapses in misery at the foot of the stairs leading to the deck, thinking his friend has abandoned him, Newton's voice is heard in the background delivering a classic line: "Cabin boys - none of 'em be any good!"
That scene and that line got me to thinking about sea adventure stories, and I thought it might be fun to write a song retelling the story of the "boy who ran away to sea" from the point of view of the boy himself - in a letter back home to Mother, in which he talks of his folly and the misery it has caused him.
Sounds like a pretty terrible song, doesn't it? Well, I don't think you'll find yourself too depressed by the end result. Besides, you know how boys will exaggerate to get sympathy!
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I runned away to sea, dear Mother
To sea I runned away
And now I writes this letter
From far-off in Bombay
The life of a cabin boy is bad
Oh how I miss ye Mother and Dad
And how I'm wishin' I never had
Runned away to sea
A cabin boy to be
I'm the lowest form o' life aboard
The lowest form I be
The rats down in the bilges
Has got it better than me
From humble seaman to or’ficers
A rope's end's what I get
An’ I'm afeared ol’ Jameson
Will up an' drown'd me yet
The Captain hates the sight o' me
I'll tell ye how I know
Every time he sees me face
The blighter tells me so
The bloody bosun's soaked in rum
He flies like a Chinese kite
For the way he pats me on me bum
I'll kill 'im sure some night
Oh the crew is fed with lowly swill
And I am served the dregs
What crawls with little weevils
And smells like rotten eggs
A proper berth I hasn't got
I sleeps where I am able
Much better off I think I’d be
In some old smelly stable
Oh it's swab the deck! Empty that bucket!
Then stick it back inter the hole where ye tuck-it
Yes it's outta me way, the Divil take yer
Move yer arse, afore I break yer
Oh, woe... is... me!
Now I must go and send this letter
We sails again tonight
Please warn me little brother
About his brother’s plight
A fool I was, dear Mother
For runnin' away to sea
I fancied meself a Captain
But a Cabin Boy I be
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Written, performed and produced by Robert Palomo. Copyright ©2015 - All rights reserved.