The Drunken Sailor polka

Also known as Johnny’s Gone To France.

There are 35 recordings of this tune.

This tune has been recorded together with

The Drunken Sailor appears in 1 other tune collection.

The Drunken Sailor has been added to 4 tune sets.

The Drunken Sailor has been added to 131 tunebooks.

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Two settings

X: 1
T: The Drunken Sailor
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gmaj
|:Bd dB|ce eG|Bd dG|cA AG|Bd dG|ce e2|d2 ef|g4:|
|:g3 f|e3 d|dB BG|AG G2|Bd dG|ce e2|d2 ef|g4:|
X: 2
T: The Drunken Sailor
R: polka
M: 2/4
L: 1/8
K: Gdor
GDB,D GABc|dcBA GFDE|Ffe/f/g|fdcA|1 BGGF G3F:|2 BGGF G3A||
B2BA Bcde|fcAB cAFB|AFcF dFcF|AFcF dcBA|
B2BA Bcde|fcAB cAFA|Gggf dcBA|1 BGGF G3A:|2 BGGF GABc||
dggf g2fg|agfe d3e|fcgc acgc|f3g agfe|
dggf g2fg|agfe d3c|dfe/f/g fdcA|1 BGGF GABc:|2 BGGF G3D||
GBdB GBdB|FAcA FAcA|GBdB GBdB|d3_e dcBA|
GBdB GBdB|c2 AF CFA|dfe/f/g fdcA|BGGF GABc:|
gdg/a/b gdg/a/b|fcf/g/a fcf/g/a|gdg/a/b gdg/a/b|fdcA dBcA|
BGBd AFAc|B3d cBcd|dfe/f/g fdcA|1 BGGF GABc:|2 BGGF G3F||
DGBd DGBd|c2AF CFAc|dfe/f/g fdcA|BGGF G3F:|

Fifteen comments


This march is from the collection of Samuel P Bayard taken from fifers and fiddlers… this arrangement is specific to one fifer who I will list later… Im at work and don’t have his name.

This tune served as marcjh for fife but was also fiddled for dancing or just plain fun… It is not always in 3 parts and arrangements of the melody vary greatly.

The second part is obviously from “Buttered Peas/Stumpie” etc.

The name is interesting but seems to be a name used for the tune back in the 1800s (or before) in the USA. (allegheny Highland region.)

The first part of the tune shows some characteristics of “pipe” tunes… Like a lot of American tunes from the region I speak of it is no doubt from the “old country”, but mysterious in that it doesn’t share the “old country “name or arrangement. Bayard supposes that some tunes with these characteristics could be earlier “preservations” of how tunes once were or just American reinvention… I think that sometimes both are true, but am not into romanticising over things like that. (sort of like those who say the Nova Scotia and Cape Breton music is “more” scottish than Scottish music.) Sometimes true, but not always.

Is there an r missing from the title?

“Dunkin Sailor” ~ ? 😉

I’m glad I’m not the only one wondering…

Dunkin Sailor ???
~ a seaman addicted to donuts?
~ a sailor being keelrowed?


Wow! How can you have a sailor without the “RRRRRRRRRRR Matey!” DRUNKEN is what it shouldve been and what I probably was when I put that title on!!

I actually Googled “dunken sailor” to see if maybe such a thing existed. I got over 50 hits, but they all appeared to be the same typo. There were about 350,000 hits for “druken sailor”, so it appears there’s about a 1 in 7000 chance of making that mistake.

MH ~ so edit it already as only you can. You don’t need an alternate title, just hit ‘edit’ on the details page and add the ‘r’… There now, then we can remedicate you for the evening… 😏

There its edited!

It is now officially the Drunken Sailor… thanks “One Who Gets Dunked on Music” for pointing me to the edit button.

Bobby Shaftoe

Very similar first part to Drunken Sailor first part. The second part of Bobby Shaftoe is used in many American tunes but I cant say Ive come across a “whole” version of Bobby in the USA collections… theres parts of him everywhere though… a leg here… a foot there in many tunes.

The Drunken Sailor

Surely this is a hornpipe rather than a polka?

Re: The Drunken Sailor

Just realised that it is also listed as hornpipe. Some of the recordings, however, feature only the hornpipe, not the polka, Cathal Hayden - Handed Down for example, as well as The Fire Aflame by Molloy, Keane and Ó Floinn.

Re: The Drunken Sailor

2 different tunes same name. Often happens.

Drunken Sailor hornpipe

This is the version that’s as close as my ear can suss to the version on The Liffey Banks by Tommy Potts-

T:The Drunken Sailor
S:Morgane Eranati
G3F GABc | dcBA GFDE | F3E FGAB | cAFA dcBA |
GDB,D GABc | dcBA GFDE | Ffe/f/g | fdcA |1 BGGF G3F :|2 BGGF G3A |:
B2BA Bcde | fcAB cAFB | AFcF dFcF | AFcF dcBA |
B2BA Bcde | fcAB cAFA | Gggf dcBA |1 BGGF G3A :|2 BGGF GABc |:
dggf g2fg | agfe d3e | fcgc acgc | f3g agfe |
dggf g2fg | agfe d3c | dfe/f/g fdcA |1 BGGF GABc :|2 BGGF G3D |:
GBdB GBdB | FAcA FAcA | GBdB GBdB | d3_e dcBA |
GBdB GBdB | c2 AF CFA | dfe/f/g fdcA | BGGF GABc ::
gdg/a/b gdg/a/b | fcf/g/a fcf/g/a | gdg/a/b gdg/a/b | fdcA dBcA |
BGBd AFAc | B3d cBcd | dfe/f/g fdcA |1 BGGF GABc :|2 BGGF G3F |:
DGBd DGBd | DFAc DFAc | DGBd DGBc | d3e dcBA |
DGBd DGBd | c2AF CFAc | dfe/f/g fdcA | BGGF G3F :|

Re: The Drunken Sailor

Those posting the Gm tune… different tune altogether.