Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sail Away Ladies

    Sail Away Ladies is an incredible song, but one which for some reason few people have ever heard of.  Vinnie Farsetta performs this as a banjo solo and it is also a mainstay for the Morgantown Brewing Company Wednesday Night Jam.    

    Sail Away Ladies has a leader/response format, in which the leader (Vinnie) sings a line, and the group sings back a response ("Sail away ladies, sail away.").  In the recording from the Gardner festival below, Vinnie sings both parts.




Vinnie Farsetta at the Gardner Worley Music Festival.  Thank you Kathryn Madison for the shoot.  


In Morgantown, every time Vinnie does this song it about brings the house down.  Some people might assume that it is a modern composition, but in fact it has a distinguished history.  Uncle Dave Macon recorded a great version of the song back in 1927.   I don't know where Dave picked it up; however, his family operated the old Broadway Hotel in Nashville, which housed many travelling entertainers including Vaudeville performers and minstrel show performers.  No doubt this was a perfect place to pick up banjo songs, and perhaps this is where he might have heard Sail Away Ladies.  According to the Fiddler's Companion (Andrew Kuntz) Uncle Bunt Stevens won the title of World Champion Fiddler in 1926 playing this tune beating 1,876 other fiddlers in auto magnate Henry Ford’s series of contests, held at dealerships through the East and Midwest. 


     Paul Wells  of Middle Tennessee State University believes that the song dates from at least the turn of the 20th century and seems to have been common to both black and white traditions. 

Uncle Dave Macon produced an inspired version of Sail Away back in 1927.  

The lyrics from the Vinnie version are transcribed below.  Note that Vinnie often skips singing the first "Don't you rock my Daddy-o" but plays it on the banjo.  You need to have all four lines for it to come out right :).     





Sail Away Ladies

G                      D               G
If ever I get my new house done,
G              D/G     G   
(Sail away ladies, sail away)
G                      D               G
I'll give the old one to my son,
G              D/G     G  
(Sail away ladies, sail away)

G                            C
Don't you rock my dad-dy-0,
                              G
Don't you rock my dad-dy-0
                              D
Don't you rock my dad-dy-0
                                   G
Sail away ladies sail away.

I’ll chew my tobacco and spit that juice
(Sail away ladies, sail away)
I love my woman, but it aint no use
(Sail away ladies, sail away).
Don't you rock him dad-dy-0,
Don't you rock him dad-dy-0
Sail away ladies sail away.
If ever I get my new house done,
(Sail away ladies, sail away)
I'll give the old one to my son,
(Sail away ladies, sail away)
Don't you rock him dad-dy-0,
Don't you rock him dad-dy-0
Sail away ladies sail away.
Don't you rock him dad-dy-0,
Don't you rock him dad-dy-0
Sail away ladies sail away.

*1000 extra verses optional*