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I have known "A-roving" all my life under various titles ("The maid of Amsterdam" for example) but it was only when working through Andrew Gant's Folk Songs of the British Isles that I finally got round to working on it for the Vegesacker Whalermen. Andrew describes it as a traditional English sea-shanty (sic). Our revered Master Mariner W.B. Whall in his authoritative Sea Songs Ships and Shanties states: The motive of this favourite sea song is very old indeed, and appears (in slightly varying forms) in many writings, e.g., in Thomas Heywood's Rape of Lucrece.. The Master Mariner places the maid in Amsterdam and the two verse given hint at a bawdy encounter whilst Andrew prefers Plymouth and his verse are much sanitised.
As it is, this song goes down well with the Vegesacker Whalermen and it is a joy to hear Manfred Eichholz (the complete seaman) croaking his verses so convincingly. This is really a fine sea song which many a landlubber entertainer and entaineress have taken into their repertoires.
"A-Roving" has been recorded by:
Paul Clayton on "Sailing & Whaling Songs of 19th Century" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
Paul Clayton on "Whaling And Sailing Songs" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
Alan Mills on "Songs of the Sea" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
The Robert Shaw Chorale on "Sea Shanties" CD(s) & MP3 Album(s)
Various Artists on "A Treasury of Shanties and Songs of the Sea"
Various Artists on "Revels Celebration Of Spring Summer & Fall"
Norman Luboff Choir on "Songs of the South/Songs of the Sea"
Various Artists on "World Library Of Folk And Primitive Music - Vol. 1 (England)"
Various Artists on "Sea Shanties, Vol. 2"
Richard Dyer-Bennet on "The Art Of Richard Dyer-Bennet"
Joan Baez on "Joan Baez, 5"
Rocky River Bush Band on "Helge Arildsø Shanghaied Crew"