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Leaving of Liverpool, The - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

A very well known and well-loved folk song indeed. It seems to me that this version at least is pretty clearly about a sailor about to set off on a long voyage. He does expect to return, after all, albeit in a long, long time. But having said this, there is a school of thought that the song is inspired by Irish emigration to the United States. Many Irish-Americans set off on their transatlantic journey from Liverpool, and apparently there was a special emigration train that ran all the way to Prince's Landing Stage, where they would board their outbound ships.

 

Whatever the truth of this - and it seems hard to pin down - it's certainly very popular in Ireland, perhaps because of the obvious redolence for any Irish man or woman about to leave for the new world by way of the River Mersey. Maybe, like many a folk song, it has been changed and added to over the years, and what has come down to us is the work of many hands. If you are interested in the Irish take on the song, there is a version by the Dubliners.

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Chords

Capo at 2nd Fret

C                                 F            G

Farewell to Prince's Landing Stage,

           C             F              G7
River Mersey - fare thee well.

         C                          F         G
I am bound for Cali - forn - ia

    C                  G7               C
A place that I know right well.

     G7                           F              C
So fare thee well my own true love;

           C               F                       G7
When I return united we shall be.

                    C
It's not the leaving of Liverpool

            F            G7
That's grieving me,


      
C                         G7        C
But darling when I think of thee.

Lyrics

Farewell to Prince's Landing Stage,

River Mersey - Fare thee well.

I am bound for California,

A place that I know right well.

 

Chorus

So fare thee well my own true love;

When I return united we shall be.

It's not the leaving of Liverpool that's grieving me,

But darling when I think of thee.

 

I am bound for Calafornia

By way of stormy Cape Horn,

And I'm bound to write you a letter love,

When I am homeward bound.

 

Repeat Chorus

 

I have signed on a yankee clipper ship,

Davy Crockett is her name,

And Burgess he is the captain of her,

And they say she is a floating hell.

 

Repeat Chorus

 

I have shipped with Burgess once before

And I think I know him well:

If a man's a sailor he can get along,

If not, then he's sure in hell.

 

Repeat Chorus

 

Farewell to Lower Frederick's Street,

Ensign Terrace and Park Lane;

For I think it will be a long, long time

Before I see you again.

 

Repeat Chorus

 

Oh the sun is on the harbour love

And I wish I could remain,

For I know it will be a long, long time

Before I see you again.

 

Repeat Chorus

 

Traditional, arranged by Peter Webster

Other Irish Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs


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