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Maggie May - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Maggie May ('May' is sometimes spelt 'Mae') is a traditional British song from Liverpool.  It's not to be confused with the also excellent, but very different, Rod Stewart hit of the same name.  The lyrics tell the familiar tale of a prostitute who steals a gullible sailor's possessions (see Barrack Street for a similar tale).  In Maggie May, however, the prostitute gets her come-uppace - she is transported to Australia, which of course, used to be a British penal colony.  The earliest references to the song date back to the 1830s.  It became popular with skiffle groups in the 1950s, including a then little-known outfit called The Quarrymen.  The Quarrymen weren't to remain obscure for long.  They changed their name to The Silver Beatles, and then simply to 'The Beatles' and the rest is history.  Famously, you can hear a short burst of them performing 'Maggie May' on the last album they released, 'Let it Be'.  The song reputedly remained a favourite of John Lennon's until his death in 1980.

Chords


1st Verse

          C                                                        G7                 C

Now gather round you sailor boys, and listen to my plea

                                                                          G7
And when you've heard my tale you'll pity me

C                                         C7              F                    D7
For I was a real damned fool in the port of Liverpool

        G7                                                           C
The first time that I came home from the sea




All Other Verses

           F                                                C
I was paid off at the Home, from a voyage to Sierra Leone

                                                                   G7
Two pounds ten and sixpence was my pay

              C                       C7                     F                      D7
When I drew the tin I grinned, but I very soon got skinned

         C                G7                        C
By a girl by the name of Maggie May.




Chorus

       F                                                      C

Oh, Maggie, Maggie May, they have taken her away;

                                                                             G7
And she'll never walk down Lime Street any more;

             C                              C7               F                               D7
For she robbed so many a sailor, and skinned so many a whaler -

         C                         G7                       C
That dirty, no-good, robbing Maggie May.

Lyrics

Now gather round you sailor boys, and listen to my plea
And when you've heard my tale you'll pity me -
For I was a real damned fool in the port of Liverpool
The first time that I came home from the sea.

I was paid off at the Home, from a voyage to Sierra Leone:
Two pounds ten and sixpence was my pay.
When I drew the tin I grinned, but I very soon got skinned
By a girl by the name of Maggie May.

Oh dirty Maggie May, they've taken her away;
And she’ll never walk down Lime Street any more.
For she robbed so many a sailor, and skinned so many a whaler -
That dirty, no-good, robbing Maggie May.

I shan't forget the day when I first met Maggie May:
She was cruising up and down on Canning Place,
With a figure so divine, like a frigate of the line,
So, being a sailor, I gave chase.

Oh dirty Maggie May, they've taken her away;
And she’ll never walk down Lime Street any more.
For she robbed so many a sailor, and skinned so many a whaler -
That dirty, no-good, robbing Maggie May.

Next day I woke in bed, with a sore and aching head,
No shoes, or shirt, or trousers could I find.
I asked her where they were, and she answered, "My dear sir,
They're down in Kelly's knock-shop, number nine."

Oh dirty Maggie May, they've taken her away;
And she’ll never walk down Lime Street any more.
For she robbed so many a sailor, and skinned so many a whaler -
That dirty, no-good, robbing Maggie May.

Oh, you thieving Maggie May, you robbed me of my pay
When I slept with you last night ashore;
And the judge he guilty found her of robbing a homeward-bounder,
And she'll never roam down Lime Street any more.

Oh dirty Maggie May, they've taken her away;
And she’ll never walk down Lime Street any more.
For she robbed so many a sailor, and skinned so many a whaler -
That dirty, no-good, robbing Maggie May.

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Other Traditional Folk Songs