Tom Paley now resides and performs
in the UK.

'Jackaro' is a Kentucky mountain variation on an old ballad called 'Jack Munroe.' You can see how we got from 'Jack Munroe' to 'Jackaro'. The song was collected in Kentucky by Loraine Wyman and Howard Brockway and in Arkansas by Max Hunter. Jean Ritchie knew it is part of her own family tradition. In the sixties it was recorded by numerous folk singers including Pete Seeger and Joan Baez.

I heard Jackaro on a 10 inch LP recording by Tom Paley called 'Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachian Mountains' on Elektra Records in 1953. I loved that little album and I learned every song on it. In 1957 Elektra combined it with another 10-inch album by Jean Ritchie and Oscar Brand under the title "Courtin's a Pleasure and Other Folk Songs of the Southern Appalachians" featuring a most flamboyant album cover that must have made the performers wince. You can find it on Amazon today.

The banjo arrangement is my own and although the right hand style is pure claw hammer, I use a tuning and chords you won't hear in traditional mountain music. I hope I may be forgiven for taking such liberties with this innocent ballad.


There was a wealthy merchant
in London he did dwell
He had a lovely daughter
The truth to you I'll tell
Oh the truth to you I'll tell

She had sweethearts a plenty
And men of high degree
But none but Jackie Frazier
Her true love err could be
Oh . . .

Oh daughter dearest daughter
Your body I’ll confine
If none but Jack the sailor
Will ever suit your mind
Oh . . .

This body you may prison
My heart you can’t confine
There’s none but Jack the sailor
Can have this heart of mine
Oh . . .

Now Jackie’s gone a sailin’
With trouble on his mind
To leave his native country
And his darlin’ girl behind
Oh . . .

She went into a tailor shop
And dressed in men’s array
Then went to find a vessel
To convey herself away
Oh . . .

Before you step on board sir
Your name I’d like to know
She smiled all in her countenance
They call me Jackaro
Oh . . .

You waist is mighty slender
Your fingers much too small
Your cheeks too red and rosy
To face the cannon ball
Oh . . .

I know my waist is slender
My fingers they are small
But it would not make me tremble
To see ten thousand fall
Oh . . .

The war soon being over
She hunted all around
Among the dead and dying
Her darlin’ boy she found.
Oh . . .

She picked him up all in her arms
And carried him to the town
And sent for a physician
Who quickly healed his wound
Oh . . .

This couple they got married
So well did they agree
This couple they got married
So why not you and me
Oh . . .