The Golden Willow Tree

Brittish Ship, 17th. Century

Here is my adaptation of an old version of the widely known 'Golden Willow Tree' or 'Golden Vanity' (Child 286). It dates back to a late 17th. century broadside in which Sir Walter Raleigh is pictured as this nasty captain. Practically everyone who sings folksongs has recorded it: The Almanac Singers, Burl Ives, Lonnie Donnagan, Chad Mitchel, Paul Clayton, Ewan McColl, anyone named Seeger (Pete, Peggy, Mike ,,,), Johnny Depp sang a bit of it in 'Pirates of the Carribean'.

This version was inspired by Mike Seeger's rendition based on a 1937 field recording of Justis Begley of Hazard Kentucky. (Library of Congres AFS L7). The banjo arrangement is a typical mountain double-thumbing style.

Lyrics: 

There was a little ship in South Amerikee
Cried oh the land that lies so low
There was a little ship in South Amerikee
And the name of the ship was the Golden Willow Tree
As she sailed in the low land lonesome low
As she sailed in the lonesome sea

We hadn’t been a sailin’ but two weeks or three
Cried oh the land that lies so low
We hadn’t been a sailin’ but two weeks or three
When we were over taken by a Turkish Roveree
As she sailed in the low land lonesome low
As she sailed in the lonesome sea

Up stepped the captain says what are we gonna do
Cried oh the land that lies so low
Up stepped the captain say what are we gonna do
If we overtake her she’ll cut us in two
And they’ll sink us in the low land lonesome low
They’ll sink us in the lonesome sea

Up stepped a little carpenter boy
Cried oh the land that lies so low
Up stepped a little carpenter boy
Said what will you give me for that ship that I’ll destroy
If I sink ‘em in the low land lonesome low
If I sink ‘em in the lonesome sea

Oh I’ll give you gold and I’ll give thee
Cried oh the land that lies so low
Oh I’ll give you gold and I’ll give thee
The fairest of my daughters as she sails upon the sea
If you sink ‘em in the low land lonesome low
If you sink ‘em in the lonesome sea

So he turned upon his back and away swum he
Cried oh the land that lies so low
So he turned upon his back and away swum he
And he swum til he come to the Turkish Roveree
As she sailed in the low land lonesome low
As she sailed in the lonesome sea

He had a little instrument fitted for his use
Cried oh the land that lies so low
He had a little instrument fitted for his use
He bored nine holes in her hull all at once
And he sank her in the low land lonesome low
He sank her in the lonesome sea

He turned upon his breast and back swum he
Cried oh the land that lies so low
He turned upon his breast and back swum he
He swum til he come to the golden willow tree
As she sailed in the low land lonesome low
As she sailed upon the lonesome sea.

Oh captain oh captain come take me on board
Cried oh the land that lies so low
Oh captain oh captain come take me on board
And do unto me as good as your word
For I sank em in the low land lonesome low
I sank em in lonesome sea.

On no I won’t take you on board
Cried oh the land that lies so low
On no I won’t take you on board
Nor do unto you as good as my word.
Though you sank ‘em in the low land lonesome low
You sank ‘em in the lonesome sea

If it wasn’t for the love that I have for your men
Cried oh the land that lies so low
If it wasn’t for the love that I have for your men
I’d do unto you as I did unto them
I’d sink you in the low land lonesome low
I’d sink you in the lonesome sea

He turned upon his head and down swum he
Cried oh the land that lies so low
He turned upon his head and down swum he
He swum til he come to the bottom of the Sea
And the sank beneath the low land lonesome low
He sank beneath the lonesome sea.

Instruments: 
Tuning: 
G standard