Billy Taylor

Words: traditional
Music: traditional arr. the London Sea Shanty Collective

A comic music-hall version of a traditional song that has spread around the world in various, more or less serious versions. We sang it as part of a commission from the British Library to bring printed songs to life.Billy Taylor: A Nautical Romance title page

Billy Taylor was a gay young fellow,
Full of fun and full of glee,
And his mind he did discover,
To a Lady fair and free.

Tiddy iddy ol tol lol tol ido,
Tiddy iddy ol tol lol ti dey,
Tiddy iddy ol tol lol tol ido,
Tiddy iddy ol tol lol ti dey.

Four and twenty brisk young fellows,
Dress’d they were in rich array,
And they took poor Billy Taylor,
Whom they press’d and sent to sea.

And his true love follow’d after,
Under the name of Richard Carr,
Her lily-white hands were bedaub’d all over,
With the nasty pitch and tar.

Now behold the first engagement,
Bold she fought among the rest;
Till the wind did blow her jacket open,
And discovered her lily-white breast.

When the captain came for to view it
Says he: “What wind has blown you here,”
“Sir I am come to seek my true love,
Whom you press’d I love so dear.”

“If you be come to seek your true love,
Tell to me his name I pray,”
“Sir his name is Billy Taylor,
Whom you press’d and sent to sea.”

“If his name is Billy Taylor,
He is both cruel and severe,
For rise up early in the morning,
And you’ll see him with his lady fair.”

With that she rose up early next morning,
Early by the break of day,
And there she saw bold Billy Taylor,
Dancing with his lady gay.

With that she call’d for sword and pistol,
Which did come at her command,
And there she shot bold Billy Taylor,
With his true love in his hand.

When that he came for to know it,
He very much applauded her for what she’d done,
And immediately made her the first lieutenant,
Of the glorious Thunderbomb.