Bollochy Bill the Sailor

DESCRIPTION: A dialogue song in which Bill -- who "just got paid and wants to be laid" -- seeks to get the fair young maiden into bed.
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1917 (Greig/Duncan8)
KEYWORDS: bawdy dialog sailor seduction
FOUND IN: Britain(Scotland(Aber)) US Canada
REFERENCES (15 citations):
Greig/Duncan8 1759, "Blickerty Brown the Sailor" (1 fragment, 1 tune)
Greenleaf/Mansfield-BalladsAndSeaSongsOfNewfoundland 49, "Abram Brown the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Cray-EroticMuse, pp. 81-86, "Bollochy Bill the Sailor" (3 texts, 1 tune)
Shay-AmericanSeaSongsAndChanteys, p. 204, "Rollicking Bill the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune, probably truncated since it ends with Bill asking for a place to sleep and the girl declaring she has only one bed)
Shay-BarroomBallads/PiousFriendsDrunkenCompanions, p. 151, "Rollicking Bill the Sailor" (1 text, like the preceding, probably truncated)
Colcord-SongsOfAmericanSailormen, pp. 182-183, "Abram Brown" (1 text, 1 tune)
Harlow-ChantyingAboardAmericanShips, pp. 164-166, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hugill-ShantiesFromTheSevenSeas, pp. 440-442, "Abel Brown the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune) [AbrEd, pp. 331-333]
Hopkins-SongsFromTheFrontAndRear, p. 151, "Bollocky Bill the Sailor" (1 text, 1 tune)
Tawney-GreyFunnelLines-RoyalNavy, pp. 127-128, "Abraham the Sailor" (1 text)
Fuld-BookOfWorldFamousMusic, pp. 128-129, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor"
Morgan/Green-RugbySongs, p. 46, "Who's That Knocking At My Door?" (1 text)
Averill-CampSongsFolkSongs, pp. 104, 237, "Barnacle Bill"/"Banacle Bill the Sailor" (notes only)
ADDITIONAL: Simon J. Bronner _"Who's That Knocking at my Door?": Barnacle Bill the Sailor and his Mates in Song and Story_ (Occasional Papers in Folklore Number Five), Loomis House Press, 2016, includes about a dozen texts, various fragments, tunes, and related pieces, plus history

Roud #4704
Anonymous singers, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" (on Unexp1)
Bix Beiderbecke w. Paul Whiteman's Orchestra, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" (Victor 25371, 1936)
Bud & Joe Billings (Frank Luther & Carson Robison), "Barnacle Bill The Sailor" (Victor V-40043, 1929; Victor V-40153, 1929 [as Bud Billings & Carson Robison])
Ned Cobbin [pseud. for Irving Kaufman], "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" (Harmony 861-H/Diva 2861-G, 1929)
Billy Costello (Popeye), "Barnacle Bill, the Sailor" (Decca 1573, 1937)
Frank Luther & His Pards, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" (CYL: Edison 5678, c. 1929) (Edison 52532, 1929)
Arthur Fields, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor" (Harmony 861-H/Velvet Tone 1861-V, Diva 2861-G, 1929)
Carson Robison, "Barnacle Bill, the Sailor" (Broadway 4054, c. 1932)
Pete Wiggins, "Barnacle Bill, the Sailor" (OKeh 45295, 1929)

cf. "The Quaker's Wife" (tune, per Greig/Duncan8)
Frank Luther & his Pards "Barnacle Bill the Sailor, No. 2" (Edison 20008, 1929)
Bud & Joe Billings (Frank Luther & Carson Robison), "Barnacle Bill The Sailor No. 2" (Victor V-40102, 1929)
Bud & Joe Billings (Frank Luther & Carson Robison), "Barnacle Bill the Sailor No. 2" (Victor V-40102, 1929); "Barnacle Bill The Sailor No. 3" (Victor V-40153, 1929)
Carson Robison, "Here I Go to Tokyo, Said Barnacle Bill, the Sailor" (Bluebird B-11460, 1942)
Vernon Dalhart, "Barnacle Bill the Sailor - No. 2" (Harmony 1304, 1931)
Barnacle Bill the Sailor
NOTES [244 words]: For a history of this onetime sea song, see Cray, Erotic Muse II, pp. 83-85. - EC
Most of the printed versions of this song are fairly "clean." But Cray and Fuld are in agreement that it is properly a bawdy song, and Hopkins-SongsFromTheFrontAndRear has a version that is very coarse indeed. Fuld doubts the existence of its ancestor "Abram Brown the Sailor," but Cray quotes a text from the Gordon collection, Bronner, p. 27, has an image of a broadside version, [and there is a version in Greenleaf/Mansfield-BalladsAndSeaSongsOfNewfoundland- (BS)].
There is also a nursery rhyme about Abram Brown, found in Opie/Opie-OxfordDictionaryOfNurseryRhymes, #6, and in Baring-Gould-AnnotatedMotherGoose #230, p. 150, ("Abram Brown is dead and gone"), but if that is associated with any song, it is probably "Old Grimes Is Dead."
Carson Robison is sometimes credited with a popular version of this ("Barnacle Bill the Sailor"), but obviously his part was no more than a clean-up (and production of sequels).
Brophy/Partridge-TommiesSongsAndSlang, p. 228, record a World War I verse (not a song, I believe) that ran
Help, help, there's a woman overboard!
Who will save her? I will!
Who are you?
Ballocky Bill the sailor, just returned from sea. - RBW
In the interest of history, it is worth recording that the scientists of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, during the Sojourner mission, named a particularly lumpy rock on the surface of Mars "Barnacle Bill the Sailor." - PJS
Last updated in version 6.3
File: EM081

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Song List

Go to the Ballad Index Instructions
Go to the Ballad Index Bibliography or Discography

The Ballad Index Copyright 2022 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.