Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Sailor Home From The Sea

Words: Dorothy Hewett
Music: Martyn Wyndham-Read

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Oh Cock of the North with a dream in his hand
My love has come home to this beautiful land
He bursts through the door with his eyes like the sun
And his kitbag crammed full of the treasures he's won

A coral from Broome and a tall Darwin tale
A pearl and a clam and the jaws of a whale
My kitchen is filled with the smell of the sea
And the leaping green fishes my love brings to me

Oh tumble your treasures from Darwin and Broome
And fill with their glory this straight little room
With the sun of the morning ablaze on his chest
My love has come home from the north of north-west

And deep in our bed we'll lie and we'll be
We'll kiss and we'll listen to the rain on the sea
Warm as the summer, we've lived winter long
My love has come home like King Solomon's song

From Martyn Wyndham-Read's 1973 LP, Harry The Hawker is Dead..

These notes from the folkcatalogue blog:

The poem, by Australian communist poetess Dorothy Hewett, was published in 1963, MW-R wrote the tune “back in about 1964” and played it to audiences in Britain on his return in 1967.

Some time after it morphed into a song called Cock of the North, a staple in the repertoire of Finbar and Eddie Furey. MW-R explains the, erm, folk process:

“I well remember singing my tune to Sailor Home From The Sea into Eddie Furey’s tape recorder circa late 1960′s and then in the early ’70′s being on tour in Germany and staying at Willy Schwenken’s house,” he recalled. “Willy made records of the vinyl variety and also had an extensive collection. While browsing through some of these I saw that there was a recording of the Furey’s live concert at some hall.

“One of the tracks was I think Cock of The North. So, being curious, I played that track, sure enough it was Sailor Home From The Sea having been, as Bob Bolton so accurately describes as ‘being painted green’, something about having learnt the song from their grandmother and it was all about gun running, to be honest I am not too sure about this bit being on the actual record but I am sure that I have heard them introduce it this way.

“One thing I am sure of is that each time I have seen Eddie and asked him about this he has always had a pressing engagement in a different direction.”

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