THE COAST OF HIGH BARBARY (trad./ALMANAC SINGERS) (1600s/1941)


THE ALMANAC SINGERS, 1941: WOODY GUTHRIE, LEE HAYS, MILLARD LAMPELL, PETE SEEGER
(left to right)

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Until 1801 America and England paid yearly tribute to the four Barbary states of North Africa for free passage of merchant ships. This song celebrating the fight of the Prince of Wales with one of the Barbary pirates was written by Charles Dibdin, writer of songs for the British Navy.
Burl Ives, Burl Ives Song Book, New York, NY, 1966, p. 116.
Almost certainly the story once followed the same lines as "The George Aloe and the Sweepstake" [c. 1600; quoted in Fletcher's play The Two Noble Kinsmen, 1634; earliest extant copy: 1670], a reworking of which it seems to be....
The fighting ship's name frequently appears as Prince of Luther, but this is evidently a corruption of the far more plausible Prince Rupert, honoring the Stuart general and admiral.
Albert B. Friedman, The Penguin Book of Folk Ballads, New York, NY, 1977, p. 407.

Lyrics as reprinted (with minor corrections by Manfred Helfert) in Ronald D. Cohen & Dave Samuelson, liner notes for "Songs for Political Action," Bear Family Records BCD 15720 JL, 1996, p. 87.
ORIGINAL ISSUE: "DEEP SEA CHANTEYS AND WHALING BALLADS," General Album G-20
(Gen 5017-B), 1941. [PETE SEEGER, lead vocal]

There were two lofty ships from Old England came,
Blow high, blow low, and so sailed we.
One was the Prince of Luther and the other Prince of Wales,
Cruisin' down along the coast of High Barbary.

"Aloft there, aloft," our jolly boatswain cried...
"Look ahead, look astern, look the weather, look a lee."...

"There's naught upon the stern, there is naught upon the lee...
But there's a lofty ship to windward, she's sailing fast and free."...

"Oh hail her, oh hail her," our gallant captain cried...
"Are you a man of war or privateer or merchant ship?" said he...

"I am not a man of war or privateer," said he...
"But I'm a salt sea pirate a-lookin' for my fee."...

For broadside, for broadside a long time we lay...
Until the Prince of Luther shot the pirate's mast away...

For quarter, for quarter those pirates then did cry...
But the answer that we gave them, we sunk them in their sea...

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