DESCRIPTION: "Oh fare thee well, my own true love, Oh fare thee well my dear, For the ship is waiting and the wind blows free, And I am bound away to the sea, Mary Ann." The singer compares his pain at parting to that of a mourning dove or a lobster in a pot
EARLIEST DATE: before 1860 (broadside, LOCSinging as110580)
KEYWORDS: sailor separation love sea floatingverses
FOUND IN: Canada(Que) US(Ap,MA,SE) Britain(England(South))
REFERENCES (10 citations):
Williams-Wiltshire-WSRO Gl 147, "Farewell to Mary Ann" (1 text)
Brown/Belden/Hudson-FrankCBrownCollectionNCFolklore3 300, "My Martha Ann" (1 text)
Fowke/Johnston-FolkSongsOfCanada, pp. 142-143, "Mary Ann" (1 text, 1 tune)
Fowke/MacMillan-PenguinBookOfCanadianFolkSongs 48, "Mary Ann" (1 text, 1 tune)
Lomax-FolkSongsOfNorthAmerica 75, "Mary Ann" (1 text, 1 tune)
Henderson-VictorianStreetBallads, p. 61, "My Mary Ann" (1 text)
Heart-Songs, p. 246, "My Mary Anne" (1 text, 1 tune)
Silber/Silber-FolksingersWordbook, p. 147, "Mary Ann" (1 text)
Thatcher-ColonialMinstrel-Songsters, pp. 176-177, "My Mary Anne" (1 text, from the "Victoria Songster"; the text does not claim to be by Thatcher; it appears he added a few verses, e.g. comparing Mary Anne to a pumpkin and a calf "its nussin' days")
Bodleian, Johnson Ballads 1111, "My Mary Ann," A. Ryle and Co. (London), 1845-1859; also Firth c.12(366), Firth c.12(368), "My Mary Ann"
LOCSinging, as110580, "Our Mary Ann," J. Andrews (New York), 1853-1859; also sb30400b, "Our Mary Ann"; as109170, "My Mary Ann"; Harding B 15(288b), "My Mary Anne"
cf. "Who Will Shoe Your Pretty Little Foot" (floating lyrics) and references there
cf. "Fare You Well, My Own True Love (The Storms Are on the Ocean, The False True Lover, The True Lover's Farewell, Red Rosy Bush, Turtle Dove)" (lyrics)
cf. "The Lass of Roch Royal" [Child 76] (lyrics)
Ten Thousand Miles
NOTES [304 words]: Cazden et al report that the distinct subtext of "pretty little foot" group "...was written by stageman Barney Williams to a variant of the traditional tune, ascribed to M. Tyle. It was published as sheet music in Baltimore during 1856...." The ascription to Tyte also appears in Heart-Songs.
Don Duncan reports of this version, "The melody is clearly related to the version re-popularized by Ian & Sylvia; Revels lists it in their songbook as having been collected by Marius Barbeau from a Canadian who had learned it from an Irish sailor "around 1850." I&S's "lobster/bluefish" verse is from the Williams version, which apparently was a bit of a spoof; the fourth verse is downright funky:
The pride of all the produce rare,
That in our garden grow'd
Was punkins, but none could compare
In angel form to my Mary Ann,
In angel form to my Mary Ann.
The Library of Congress has at least three song sheets (that is, I found three, one published in Baltimore and two in New York) in their American Memory 19th century song sheets collection... These have almost identical lyrics to the original, but rather than
repeating the final line of each verse (as the original did) they use the first verse as a chorus. "Our Mary Ann," by de Marsan in New York... identifies it as a minstrel song."
It is likely that some badly worn down versions of this song are filed with "Fare You Well, My Own True Love (The Storms Are on the Ocean, The False True Lover, The True Lover's Farewell, Red Rosy Bush, Turtle Dove)"; the latter song is a catch-all for songs of this type that don't mention Mary Anne or have the Roch Royal plot. - RBW
Broadside LOCSinging as110580: J. Andrews dating per Studying Nineteenth-Century Popular Song by Paul Charosh in American Music, Winter 1997, Vol 15.4, Table 1, available at FindArticles site. - BS
Last updated in version 6.0
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.