Canadee IO - Chords, Lyrics and Origins


This has been one of my favourite songs ever since I heard it on Nic Jones' album, Penguin Eggs (by the way, if you haven't got this album, get it - it's wonderful and you won't be disappointed). My guitar style, sadly, is nothing like Nic Jones's guitar style, but I love the poingnant words to this song.  Bob Dylan also recorded a version of the song on his 'Good as I've Been to you' album. The song itself was written at some point prior to 1847 and is thought to be of Irish and / or Canadian origin.

As with many a folk-song, there is at least one alternative set of lyrics to Canadee IO.

song - Canadee IO - on iTunes

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  D  G  DG
 D  GDG   
D  G  DG  
D    A7    
G     D   
D    A7    
D  G DG   
DG D      


Well, it's all of fair and handsome girl,
She's all in her tender years.
She fell in love with a sailor boy,
It's true she loved him well.
For to go off to sea with him
Like she did not know how,
She longed to see that seaport town
Of Canadee-i-o.


So she bargained with the sailor boy,
All for a piece of gold.
Straight away then he led her
Down into the hold,
Sayin', "I'll dress you up in sailor's clothes,
Your jacket shall be blue.
And you will see that seaport town
Called Canadee-i-o."


Now, when the other sailors heard the news,
Well, they fell into a rage,
And with the whole ship's company
They were willing to engage.
Saying, "We'll tie her hands and feet, me boys,
Overboard we'll throw her.
She'll never see that seaport town
Called Canadee-i-o."


Now, when the captain he has heard the news,
Well, he too fell into a rage,
And with the whole ship's company
He was willing to engage,
Sayin', "She'll stay in sailor's clothes,
Her colour shall be blue,
She'll see that seaport town
Called Canadee-i-o."


Now, when they came down to Canada
Scarcely 'bout half a year,
She has married this bold captain
Who called her his dear.
She's dressed in silks and satins now,
She cuts a gallant show,
The finest of the ladies
Down in Canadee-i-o.


Come, all you fair and you tender girls,
Wheresoever you may be,
I'd have you to follow your own true love
Whene'er he goes to sea.
For if the sailors prove false to you,
Well, the captain, he might prove true.
You'll see the honor I have gained
By the wearing of the blue.


Traditional, arranged by Peter Webster

Other English Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs


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