Narrow-boatman Blues by Dusty Miller and Dave Illingworth I’m not a man of the factory or one who ploughs the land My face is black as the ace of spades, all grimed and weather tanned You couldn’t call me a sailor ’cos I don’t sail the ocean blue I’m just a narrow-boatman, with me wife and me kids for crew Coal and cups and saucers and copper is me load As Jaguars speed past me on the M1 road But I’m not a man for hurrying, three miles an hour will do I’m just a narrow-boatman, with me wife and me kids for crew Fill up with coal at Hawkesbury then down to London town Through Braunston and Blissworth tunnels, for Brentford wharf I’m bound I only stop for fog or ice and not for rain and snow I’m just a narrow-boatman, it’s the only life I know Two of us close together as we motor up the cut I take the one with the engine, the wife’s behind on the butt Always stop the night for some lock-house where we have as pint or two I’m just a narrow-boatman, with me wife and me kids for crew Well I used to be a Number One, had my own boat and horse ’Til the government took me over, I tried to change my course But they couldn’t make it pay, those bowler-hatted men So I stayed a narrow-boatman and I worked for Willow Wren With my hold full of cargo we’re nearing Brentford docks Since I got up this morning we’ve passed through forty locks I’ll go to bed in smoke and smog, I woke with the morning dew I’m just a narrow-boatman, with me wife and me kids for crew Well they sold off all the faded boats, they took away our loads Had to work upon the land, the freight goes on the roads But if I was given half a chance I know just what I’d do I’d go back to the cut tomorrow with me wife and me kids for crew The sleeve notes state that "this was written by Dusty Miller and Dave Illingworth in folk song form in the mid sixties, lamenting the decline of commercial traffic on the waterways. At the 1999 Walsall Boaters' Gathering (fuelled by a few pints of Highgate Saddlers bitter) the band DPN+1 turned it into a 'Fulsom Prison' type country song." In the recorded snippet both versions can be heard. Dave has kindly provided the music for the original 'folky' version. Recorded on :
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WATERWAY          SONGS