Barnacle Bill (song)

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This article is about the folk song. For other uses, see Barnacle Bill (disambiguation).
"Barnacle Bill"
(adapted from "Bollocky Bill the Sailor")
Form Drinking song
Recorded by Carson Robison and Frank Luther, Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael, John Valby

"Barnacle Bill the Sailor" (Roud 4704) is an American drinking song adapted from "Bollocky Bill the Sailor", a traditional folk song originally titled "Abraham Brown".[1]

There are several versions of the bawdy song in the Gordon "Inferno" Collection at the Library of Congress folklife archive. The first printed version of the song is in the public domain book Immortalia (1927). Later versions feature the eponymous "Barnacle Bill", a fictional character loosely based on a 19th-century San Francisco sailor and Gold Rush miner named William Bernard.[2] Versions are also known in England and Scotland from the early twentieth century.

The earliest known recording is an expurgated adaptation by Carson Robison and Frank Luther in 1928. This version was also recorded on May 21, 1930 by Bix Beiderbecke and Hoagy Carmichael with Carson Robison on vocals and released as a Victor 78, V-38139-A and 25371. In 1996 it was released on CD on the album "Bix Beiderbecke 1927–1930".[3] According to Philip R. Evans, Bix Beiderbecke's biographer, in the second chorus of this recording, violinist Joe Venuti can be heard singing "Barnacle Bill the Sh-t-head," either to express his attitude toward the record producer, or typical of his wacky sense of humor. Esten Spurrier, a friend of Beiderbecke's, is quoted by Evans as saying that Beiderbecke told him he could not believe the record would be pressed and had felt that it had been done just for laughs. Beiderbecke cut loose on the tune with what is believed to be one of his finest cornet solos. John Valby (aka "Dr. Dirty") also recorded the song.

The tune has inspired a Fleischer Studios Betty Boop cartoon and two films, as well as the name of a rock on Mars. Louis Jordan (The Elks Rendezvous Band) recorded it in 1938.[4] In the first Fleischer Popeye cartoon, Popeye the Sailor (1933), "Barnacle Bill" was used as the recurring theme for the Bluto character. A later Fleischer Popeye cartoon, Beware of Barnacle Bill (1935), is a mock operetta based around a toned-down version of the song.

The theme tune of Blue Peter is similar to this.

Example of lyrics[edit]

One version of "Barnacle Bill" refers to an exchange between Bill and a "fair young maiden." Each verse opens with inquiries by the maiden, sung by women, or by men in falsetto, and continues with Bill's profane responses sung by men. There are however, several cleaner versions of the song which may be found on various sites on the internet.

"Who's that knocking at my door? Who's that knocking at my door?

Who's that knocking at my door?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"It's me and my crew and we've come for a screw!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"It's me and my crew and we've come for a screw!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

Alternate Responses:

"It's only me from over the sea" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"It's only me from over the sea" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"Open the door, you pox-ridden whore!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"Open the door, you pox-ridden whore!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"Open the door, you dirty whore!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"Open the door, you dirty whore!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"It's me myself and nobody else!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"It's me myself and nobody else!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What if I should lock the door? What if I should lock the door?
What if I should lock the door?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"I'll smash the lock with my diamond-hard cock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll smash the lock with my diamond-hard cock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

Alternate Response:

"I'll use my cock to pick the lock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll use my cock to pick the lock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll pick the lock with me wiry cock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll pick the lock with me wiry cock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What if my parents should come home? What if my parents come home?
What if my parents should come home?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"I'll kill your pa and then fuck your ma!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll kill your pa and then fuck your ma!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"Are you young and handsome, sir? Are you young and handsome, Sir?"
Are you young and handsome, sir?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"I'm old and rough and dirty and tough!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'm old and rough and dirty and tough!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What is your intention, sir? What is your intention, sir?
What is your intention, sir?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"Oh, off with your shirt, so you doesn't get hurt!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"Oh, off with your shirt, so you doesn't get hurt!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"Will you take me to the dance? Will you take me to the dance?
Will you take me to the dance?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"To Hell with the dance! Now off with your pants!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"To Hell with the dance! Now off with your pants!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"Will you vow to marry me? Will you vow to marry me?
Will you vow to marry me?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"No, we won't wed. Getcher ass in the bed!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"No, we won't wed. Getcher ass in the bed!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What's that thing between your legs? What's that thing between your legs?
What's that thing between your legs?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"It's only me pole to shove in your holes!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"It's only me pole to shove in your holes!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What if I should have a child? What if I should have a child?
What if I should have a child?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"We'll smother the bugger and fuck for another!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"We'll smother the bugger and fuck for another!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

Alternate Response:

"I'll open your crack, and shove it right back!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll open your crack, and shove it right back!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What if we should have a boy? What if we should have a boy?
What if we should have a boy?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"I'll take him to sea, teach him to fuck like me!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll take him to sea, teach him to fuck like me!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What if we should have a girl? What if we should have a girl?
What if we should have a girl?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"I'll dig a ditch and bury the bitch!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll dig a ditch and bury the bitch!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What if you should go to jail? What if you should go to jail?
What if you should go to jail?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"I'll smash down the walls with my forty-pound balls!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll smash down the walls with my forty-pound balls!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

Alternate Response:

"I'll pick the lock with me wagglin' cock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll pick the lock with me wagglin' cock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

“What if you should get the gas? What if you should get the gas?
What if you should get the gas?” said the fair Young Maiden.

"I'll stuff the gas right up my ass!” said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll stuff the gas right up my ass!” said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

"What if you should get the chair? What if you should get the chair?
What if you should get the chair?" said the fair Young Maiden.

"I'll lay a fart and blow it apart!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll lay a fart and blow it apart!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

Alternate Response:

"I'll absorb the shock with my steel-hard cock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.
"I'll absorb the shock with my steel-hard cock!" said Barnacle Bill the Sailor.

For comparison, here is Abraham Brown, from the mid-nineteenth century (to the tune My Heart and Lute)

"Who is it knocks at our door"

Says a very nice young lady.
"Who is it &c."

"It's I myself and nobody else"
Says Abraham Brown the Sailor,
"Ti's I myself, &c."

"Oh! Open the door and let him in"
Says this very nice young lady,

"And where am I to sleep to night"
Says Abraham Brown the Sailor

"You may sleep on my soft pincushion"
Says this very nice young lady

"And I've a pin, I'll run it in"
Says Abraham Brown the Sailor

"I feel it rise between my ––"
Says this very nice young lady,

"It's in your –– up to the rim"
Says Abraham Brown the Sailor

"Ah! now it's in let it remain"
Says this very nice young lady,

"I'll be d––d if I do, I shall want it again"
Says Abraham Brown the Sailor

"When shall I have your pin again"
Says this very nice young lady

"When I can make it stand again"
Says Abraham Brown the Sailor

From a copy in the Bodleian Ballad library, reference Harding B 11(2370)

References[edit]

  1. ^ Cray, Ed. (1992) The Erotic Muse: American Bawdy Songs. University of Illinois.
  2. ^ Boyes, Marcia Edwards (1936). The Legend of Yerba Buena Island. Berkeley, California:The Professional Press.
  3. ^ "Bix Beiderbecke". Answers. 
  4. ^ "Louis Jordan". 

Further reading[edit]

  • Reuss, Richard A. (1965). An Annotated Field Collection of Songs From the American College Student Oral Tradition (Masters thesis). Indiana University.