4 - Barge Ballad

Words by © The Longest Johns
Tune by © The Longest Johns

The Longest Johns are a Bristol-based a cappella folk band and have kindly given us permission to include the words to some of their original compositions here. Barge Ballad can be found on their debut album, Written in Salt.

Once there was a barge lad

Way up atop the mast

Shouting to the skipper “we’ve made it home at last”

Well I was that barge lad

Way up atop the mast

But now I’m the skipper and that young nipper had better be holding fast

So we’re loaded down with bales so high
You’ve got to lean backwards if you want to see the sky
Oh, the Thames may forgive us, but the old never will
So eyes front and away we sail

Oh, you’ve got to be able

Way up atop the mast

Your legs better be nimble and your head better think fast

Well I was that able

Way up atop the mast

But now I’m the skipper and that young nipper is hardy enough to last

So we’re loaded down with bales so high
You’ve got to lean backwards if you want to see the sky
Oh, the Thames may forgive us, but the old never will
So eyes front and away we sail

Oh, you’ve eyes like an eagle

Way up atop the mast

Spotting all the obstacles that come across your path

Well, I was that eagle

Way up atop the mast

But now I’m the skipper and that young nipper will keep us from taking a bath

So we’re loaded down with bales so high
You’ve got to lean backwards if you want to see the sky
Oh, the Thames may forgive us, but the old never will
So eyes front and away we sail

Oh, you’ve got to remember

Way up atop the mast

Knowing all the river routes that you never learn from the charts

Well, I do remember

Way up atop the mast

But now I’m the skipper and that young nipper is taking the rivers to heart

So we’re loaded down with bales so high
You’ve got to lean backwards if you want to see the sky
Oh, the Thames may forgive us, but the old never will
So eyes front and away we sail

fill your pipe, hold on tight, look for the light and away we sail