The Derby Ram Goes to Sea

Over the years we have sung several versions of ďThe Derby Ram,Ē from a midwinter visiting custom in Derbyshire. The song celebrating the gargantuan proportions of this magical animal has spread far and wide, as far as Australia and even to a New Orleans Dixieland version. This one, which we call The Derby Ram Goes to Sea, comes from Joanna Colcordís Songs of American Sailormen, from Capt. John Robinson who had published it in an article in The Bellman in 1917. Stan Hugill also gives a version in Shanties of the Seven Seas.


As I was going to Derby, upon a market day,
I met with the finest ram, sir, that ever was fed upon hay
     Chorus:
     Thatís a lie, thatís a lie, thatís a lie, a lie, a lie
     Thatís a lie, thatís a lie, thatís a lie, a lie, a lie

This ram and I got drunk, sir, as drunk as drunk could be
And when we sobered up, sir, we were far away out on the sea
     Chorus

Now this wonderful old ram, sir, was playful as a kid
He swallowed the captainís spyglass along with the boísunís fid
     Chorus

One morning on the poop, sir, before eight bells was rung
He grabbed the captainís sextant, he took a shot at the sun
     Chorus

Now the night Ďtwas wet and rough, sir, the wind was blowing shrill
He borrowed my suit of oilskins, he took my trick at the wheel
     Chorus

He climbed up to the gallant yard to furl the gallant tight
But half way down he lost his nerve, come back in a hell of a fright
     Chorus

Now the butcher that killed this ram, sir, was up to the scuppers in blood
The lad who told the tale, sir, was washed overboard in the flood
     Chorus

Now the fellows that sing this song for you are handsome, strong and brave,
The smartest bunch of wassailers, and always well-behaved
     Thatís the truth, thatís the truth, thatís the truth, the truth, the truth
     Thatís a lie, thatís a lie, thatís a lie, a lie, a lie


© Golden Hind Music