Lyrics to The Cruel Ship's Captain

Lyrics to the song The Cruel Ship's Captain as recorded by Bryan Ferry.


The boy to me was bound apprenticed
'cause his parents they were poor.
So I took him from St. James' workhouse
All for to sail on the Greenland shore.

One day this poor boy he did annoy me
Nothing to him then did I say
But I rushed him to my frozen yardarm
And I kept him there 'til the very next day.

When his eyes and his teeth hang before me
With his hands and his feet down bowed
And with a tarry gasket there I killed him
For I would not hear his cries below
I wouldn't hear his cries below.

Now all you sea captains that go out a-navyin'
Take a fair advice by me
Don't abuse your young apprentice boys aboard
Because its hanged that you'd surely be
Or else it's hanged that you'd surely be
Yes it's hanged that you'd surely be.

The Cruel Ship's Captain


Bryan Ferry recorded The Cruel Ship's Captain for the various artist album 'Rouges Gallery: Pirate Ballads. Sea Songs & Chanteys' was released on 22nd August 2006.

This song was probably first published as a broadside ballad in the mid 19th century. Many such songs were a form of popular protest against the cruelty and injustice of the times. Copies of the song, in sheet music, were sold on the street. They were often written anonymously. At sea, the captain was the absolute authority, with little or no restraints. A cruel captain could subject his crew to tortures we can hardly imagine today.

The album was produced by Hal Wilner who was also behind the Harry Smith project that Bryan Ferry took part in July 1999. Many of the artists from that show appear on this album like Nick Cave, Gavin Friday, Jarvis Cocker & Van Dyke Parks.

    * Andy Newmark drums
    * Bryan Ferry vocals & piano
    * Kate St. John oboe
    * Martyn Barker percussion
    * Peter Stanley banjo
    * Recorded in London at Sanctuary / Town House Studios
    * Rory McFarlane bass
    * Tim Roe Engineer
    * Tom Hough Assistant Engineer
    * Warren Ellis violin

Song Musicians

The Cruel Ship's Captain is on the following Roxy Music and Solo Albums