Come Ashore Jolly Tar with Your Trousers On

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COME ASHORE, JOLLY TAR, WITH YOUR TROUSERS/TROWSERS ON. AKA and see "The Cuckoo," "Cuckoo's Nest (4) (The)," "Come Ashore," "Trousers On (The)," "Jacky Tar," "Spealadoir (An)," "Reaper (The)," "I do confess thou art sae fair." Scottish, Reel. E Minor (Aird): D Minor (Kidson). Standard tuning (fiddle). AB: AABBCC (Kidson). A large tune family that includes versions well-known under the "Cuckoo" or "Cuckoo's Nest" titles. The tune was published twice by late 18th century Glasgow publisher James Aird (in his A Selection of English, Irish, and Foreign Airs, adapted for the Fife, Violin and German Flute, vol. I, c. 1775 or 1776, which includes a fourth part), probably because of its association with the popular stage character dance 'The Sailor's Hornpipe', which Emmerson (1971) says was referred to as 'Jacky Tar' in that city's dancing schools of the time. The rather strange title may refer to the renowned sexual appetites of sailors released to port after a long voyage. Many captains refused shore leave when in port to prevent desertions, and instead ferried out boatloads of 'companions' for shipboard recreation. The tune also appears in the Gillespie Manuscript of Perth (1768). Of interest may be Cruickshank's drawing of "Tars Carousing," from one of Dibdin's song folios.

The melody also appears in a numerous British musicians' music manuscript copybooks, including those of Lawrence Leadley (Helperby, Yorkshire, c. 1840's), George Spencer (Leeds, West Yorkshire, 1831), John Clare (Helpstone, Northants, c. 1820), William Vickers (Northumberland, 1770), James Winder (Wyresdale, Lancashire, 1835), John Fife (Perthshire, Scotland, c.1780), and the Rev. Robert Harrison (Brampton, Cumbria, 1820). It does not appear to have been exported to America under the "Come Ashore...title," at least as evidenced by the absence of the title in American musicians' manuscript copybooks. See note for "Cuckoo's Nest (4) (The)" for more.

Source for notated version:

Printed sources: Aird (Selection of Scotch, English, Irish and Foreign Airs, vol. 1), 1782; No. 190, p. 66. Callaghan (Hardcore English), 2007; p. 16. Kidson (Old English Country Dances), 1890; p. 15 (from a MS. dated "Falkirk, 1824").

Recorded sources:




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