Handsome Cabin Boy


Original version(s)


FZ album(s) in which song has appeared


Tour(s) on which song is known to have been performed (main source: FZShows, v. 7.1)



A partial list of "Handsome Cabin Boy" quotations, compiled by Charles Ulrich

1965 Pomona (Wedding Dress Song, as heard on Joe's Corsage)
66/06/24-25 San Francisco (Wedding Dress Song)
68/04/28 Detroit (Wedding Dress Song/Dog Breath/Little House)
81/12/12 (late) San Diego (Easy Meat)
88/04/26 Lund (Black Page)
88/05/01 Stockholm (Whipping Post)
88/05/03 Rotterdam (Illinois Enema Bandit)
88/05/04 Rotterdam (Cruising For Burgers)

There is reportedly a Handsome Cabin Boy quotation in "Berlin 1978".

Any more?

Marc De Bruyn (emdebe@village.uunet.be), August 28, 2003:

"Handsome Cabin Boy" was a popular broadside ballad of shipboard carryings-on. The sailors made up these tales to amuse themselves on their long voyages.

The song was performed by many artists, including Jeannie Robertson of Aberdeen (called "one of the greatest ballad singers of all times"), Martin Carthy (1965), Louis Killen, Roger McGuinn, Kate Bush (1990, "This Woman's Work, Vol 1"), and Jerry Garcia (recorded in 1990, released in 1996 on "Shady Grove").

The lyrics "full-blown":

It's of a pretty female as you may understand
Her mind being bent for rambling into some foreign land
She dressed herself in sailors clothes or so it does appear
And she hired with a captain to serve him for a year

The captain's wife she being on board, she seem-ed in great joy
To see her husband had engaged such a handsome cabin boy
And now and then she'd slip in a kiss, and she would have liked to toy
But it was the captain found out the secret of the handsome cabin boy

Her cheeks they were like roses and her hair all in a curl
The sailors often smiled and said he looked just like a girl
But eating of the Captain's biscuit her colour did destroy
And the waist did swell of pretty Nell—the handsome cabin boy

It was in the Bay of Biscay our gallant ship did plough
One night among the sailors was a fearful flurrying row
They tumbled from their hammocks for their sleep it did destroy
And they swore about the groaning of the handsome cabin boy

Oh doctor dear oh doctor the cabin boy did cry
The time has come I am undone and I will surely die
The doctor came a-running and a-smiling at the fun
To think a sailor lad should have a daughter or a son

The sailors when they saw the joke they all did stand and star
The child belonged to none of them they solemnly did swear
The captain's wife she says to him—my dear I wish you joy
For 'tis either you or me's betrayed the handsome cabin boy

Then each man took his tot of rum, and drunk success to trade
And likewise to the cabin boy, who was neither man nor maid
Here's hopin' the wars don't rise again, our sailors to destroy
And here's hoping for a jolly lot more like the handsome cabin boy


Conceptual Continuity



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This page updated: 2021-05-29