So she bargained with the sailor boy,
All for a piece of gold.
Straightaway then he led her
Down into the hold,
Sayin’, “I’ll dress you up in sailor’s clothes,
Your jacket shall be blue.
You’ll see that seaport town
Now, when the other sailors heard the news,
Well, they fell into a rage,
And with all the ship’s company
They were willing to engage.
Saying, “We’ll tie her hands and feet, my boys,
Overboard we’ll throw her.
She’ll never see that seaport town
(2nd and 3rd verse from Canadee-IO)
Canadee-I-O is the second song to feature here from Bob Dylan’s 1992 album Good as I Been To You. It’s my joint favourite song from the record along with Jim Jones. It’s another traditional English folk ballad believed to have been written before 1839. It’s an engrossing story and the melody is to die for. When I hear it I can’t help but sing it at the top of my lungs. I so admire Dylan for unearthing these old 19th century English ballads that would otherwise remain dust-ridden in some old folk collection and giving them his signature acoustic sound. He really does them enormous justice and his guitar playing is brash, but entirely unique and incapable of replication. It is is a rather straightforward (but skillful) melody-ish strumming, with hammer-ons and sus4-chords over a basically very simple three-chord skeleton. (Read more about the arrangement at Dylan chords).
According to Dylan’s friend Susan Ross, Good as I Been to You began life as a contractual filler. Dylan had scheduled two weeks at Chicago’s Acme Recording Studio sometime in 1992, hiring long-time associate David Bromberg as his producer. On the charts, Good as I Been to You reached No. 51 in the US and No. 18 in the UK, and helped to restore Dylan’s critical standing following the disappointing Under the Red Sky. Canadee-I-O by Dylan is lamentably unavailable for free public listening unless you have a You tube premium account.