Jack A Roe

Lyrics: Traditional
Music: Traditional

A traditional song performed by Jerry Garcia with the Grateful Dead from the late 70s, and also with some of his solo bands.

There was a wealthy merchant, in London he did dwell
He had a beautiful daughter, the truth to you I'll tell
Oh the truth to you I'll tell

She had sweethearts a plenty and men of high degree
But none but Jack the sailor her true love e'er could be
Oh her true love e'er could be

Jackie's gone a sailing with trouble on his mind
He's left his native country and his darling girl behind
Oh his darling girl behind

She went down to a tailor's shop and dressed in man's array
She climbed on board a vessel to convey herself away
Oh convey herself away

Before you step on board Sir, your name I'd like to know
She smiled all in her countenance 'they call me Jack A Roe'
Oh they call me Jack A Roe

I see your waist is slender, your fingers they are small
Your cheeks too red and rosy to face the cannonball
Oh to face the cannonball

I know my waist is slender, my fingers they are small
But it would not make me tremble to see ten thousand fall
Oh to see ten thousand fall

The war soon being over, she went and looked around
Among the dead and wounded her darling boy she found
Oh her darling boy she found

She picked him up all in her arms and carried him to town
She sent for a physician who quickly healed his wounds
Oh who quickly healed his wounds

This couple they got married, so well they did agree
This couple they got married, so why not you and me
Oh why not you and me
Grateful Dead Recordings
     Date Album
     13 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     15 May 1977 May 1977 Box Set
     17 May 1977 Fallout From The Phil Zone (note 4)
     21 May 1977 Dick's Picks Vol 29
     26 May 1977 Dave's Picks Volume 41
      8 Jun 1977 Winterland June 1977 - The Complete Recordings
     (studio) 14 Jul 1979 Go To Heaven (note 1)
      6 Nov 1979 Road Trips Full Show: Spectrum 11/6/79
      3 Dec 1979 Dave's Picks Vol 31
     10 Oct 1980 Reckoning (note 6)
     23 Oct 1980 Reckoning (note 2)
      6 May 1981 Dick's Picks Vol 9
      6 Dec 1981 30 Days Of The Dead (2020)
      6 Apr 1982 Road Trips Volume 4, Number 4
     12 Oct 1984 30 Trips Around The Sun
      3 Apr 1989 Download Series Vol 9
     10 Jul 1989 Giants Stadium 1987, 1989, 1991 Boxed Set
      9 Oct 1989 Warlocks Box
     19 Mar 1990 Spring 1990 (note 3)
     25 Mar 1990 Dozin' At The Knick (note 5)
      8 Jul 1990 View From The Vault (video/DVD & CD soundtrack)
     27 Oct 1990 30 Trips Around The Sun
     14 Jun 1991 View From The Vault II (video/DVD & CD soundtrack)
Jerry Garcia Recordings
     28 Feb 1986 Pure Jerry: Marin Veterans Memorial Auditorium Jerry Garcia/John Kahn
     24 Nov 1992 Shady Grove Garcia/Grisman
Other Recordings
     Date Album Recorded By
     1993 Rare, Live And Classic Joan Baez (note 7)
     2016 Day Of The Dead This Is The Kit

(1) studio outtake issued as a bonus track on the version in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)
(2) additional version issued as a bonus track in the box set Beyond Description (1973-1990)
(3) also on the compilation So Glad You Made It
(4) also in the May 1977 Box Set
(5) also in Spring 1990 (The Other One)
(6) also on The Warfield, San Francisco, CA 10/9/80 & 10/10/80
(7) backed by Jerry Garcia and Mkey Hart

The following piece is from Josephine McQuail's excellent piece "Folk Songs and Allusions to Folk Songs in the Repertoire of the Grateful Dead

"Another traditional song performed by the Grateful Dead is "Jack-A Roe," also known as "Jack Went A-Sailing." It is a ballad, like "Peggy-O," and, as befits the ballad form, starts out with what seems a tragic situation. This song tells the story of a woman forbidden by her father to see her lover, but who dresses as a man to follow him, a sailor who has been called to sea. Unlike most ballads, however, the song has a happy ending: she finds him wounded after a battle and takes him to a doctor who heals him and the reunited couple marries. Several versions, all collected in the United States, are given in Sharp's English Folk Songs from the Southern Appalachians, The version performed by the Grateful Dead leaves out details regarding the possessive father, although they include the first verse, they omit the following:

Her father heard the callin',
So quickly he came in.
Good morning, Mrs. Frasier,
Is that your sweetheart's name?
I will lock you in my dungeon,
Your body I'll confine
If there is none but Jacky Frasier
That will ever suit your mind.

You can lock me in your dungeon,
It is hard to be confined,
But there is none but Jacky Frasier
That will ever suit my mind.

Very early versions of the song go under a variety of different titles. One is "Jack Munro" - the following lyrics come from the Bodlean Library's ballad collection - and reveals some twists not present in the version played by the Dead. It is dated between 1774 and 1825.
In Chatham town there lived a worthy merchant man
He had an only daughter as you shall understand
This lady was courted by many a noble knight
But there was none but Jack the sailor could gain her heart's delight

Her waiting maid standing by unto her father went
And told him the secret, his daughter's whole intent
He call'd on his daughter with pride and disdain
Saying, good morrow, Mrs Fraser, this was her lover's name

Is this the news my daughter that I have heard of thee
Young Jack he shall be pressed and you confined be
It's here is my body, you shall it then confine
There's none but Jack the sailor can gain this heart of mine

It's here is twenty guineas, I give it to thee
If you'll press young Jack to the wars of Germany
As Jack has gone on board he'll never more be seen
I will wed at your disposal if you will set me free

It's now she's set at liberty dressed in man's array
Looking for an officer to carry her away
Jack is on board with a sore and troubled mind
For the leaving of his country and darling close confined

Your name we must have sir, before on board we go
That you shall have quickly, it is Jack Munro
This lady's gone on board with a troubled mind
To land in French Flanders it is her wish'd design

Now she's landed over, reviewed for to be
Standing in the ranks her own true love for to see
She stepped up unto him, and thus to him did say
By your features an Englishman you are

If that you be willing whatever may betide
I'll be your loyal comrade and lie down by your side
The drums did beat, and the trumpets did sound
Unto the field of battle they were called along

They fought on with valour, they fought courageously
Until two officers and a private by her side did lay
The officers took notice and unto her did say
For the valour you have shown preferred you shall be

A major's commission unto you we'll bestow
And you may push your fortune brave Jack Munro
Looking through the wounded men her own lover did see
She says loving comrade they have preferred me

A major's commission unto me they will bestow
The doctor that can cure you shall be paid by Munro
She called for a minister and bade them step aside
And would call them up again when he woo'd bride

It's I'll not be groom but groom's man I'll be
For I never will be married till my Molly I do see
She stripped down her snow white breast some private marks to show
Saying Jack won't you marry me Jack don't you know

The drums did beat and the trumpets did sound
And home to Old England they were all call's along
It's now there landed, the people all went to see
Saying yonder comes the heroes from the wars of Germany

As they were walking up the street, her father he did know
Saying good old merchant will you lit with Munro?
It's out spoke the mother, I had a daughter gay
There's not a feature in your face but resembles she

It's now they got married and lie side by side
The officers and privates begrudge Jack of his bride
When the queen heard of this she laughed heartily
Saying here is fifty guineas I'll give to that lady

Further Information
For an online discussion of the lyrics to this song see the deadsongs.vue conference on The Well.
For more information on recordings see Matt Schofield's Grateful Dead Family Discography
For online chords and TAB see www.rukind.com
For sheet music, see:
          Shady Grove (guitar TAB)


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