32 - Grey Funnel Line

Words by Cyril Tawney
Tune by Cyril Tawney

Written by Cyril Tawney, this melancholy shanty reflects on his time in the Navy: 'This was the last song I wrote before I left the Royal Navy in 1959. 'The Grey Funnel Line' is the sailors' nickname for the Royal Navy-just as if it were another mercantile line. It's a straightforward song about a sailor leaving home and the loved one. He's extremely fed up with the Senior Service and he'd rather be outside, but he has to go away yet again. On occasions like this I think the close of the first day out, as the sun is setting, is the time when we're most vulnerable to nostalgia.'

Don’t mind the rain or the rolling sea
The weary night never worries me
But the hardest time in a sailor’s day
Is to watch the sun as it dies away
And it’s one more day on the Grey Funnel Line

The finest ship that sails the sea
Is still a prison for the likes of me
But give me wings like Noah’s dove
I’ll fly up harbour to the girl I love
And it’s one more day on the Grey Funnel Line

There was a time my heart was free
Like a floating spar on the open sea
But now the spar is washed ashore
It comes to rest at my real love’s door
It’s one more day on the Grey Funnel Line

Every time I gaze behind the screws
Makes me long for old Peter’s shoes
I’d walk right down that silver lane
And take my love in my arms again
It’s one more day on the Grey Funnel Line

Oh Lord if dreams were only real
I’d feel my hands on that wooden wheel
And with all my heart I’d turn her round
And tell the boys that we’re homeward bound
And it’s one more day on the Grey Funnel Line

I’ll pass the time like some machine
Until the waters turn to green
Then I’ll dance on down that walk ashore
And sail the Grey Funnel Line no more
And sail the Grey Funnel Line no more