Song of the Day #728: ‘Canadee-i-o’ – Bob Dylan

I’ve long had a plan to turn three of Dylan’s 90s folk song covers, culled from Good As I Been to You and its sequel World Gone Wrong, into a screenplay. The idea would be to intertwine three war stories, touching on thin connections between each… sort of Babel meets Saving Private Ryan. World Gone Wrong would be the working title.

Two of the songs would come from Good As I Been to You. One is ‘Arthur McBride,’ a tale of a military recruitment attempt that ends in violence. That one has a definite Tarantino feel to it… like the underground bar scene in Inglourious Basterds moved to a battlefield.

The other is today’s SOTD, ‘Canadee-i-o.’ It’s a song about a woman who poses as a sailor to make it across the ocean to a Canadian seaport town. Her sailor boyfriend stows her away but she is discovered by the rest of the crew. When they plan to throw her overboard for the transgression, the captain comes to her aid and protects her until they arrive in Canada. Once there, they marry.

I see a lot of potential in this story, though you’d certainly have to address the sailor boyfriend in more detail. Does he turn on her as well out of cowardice? Or perhaps he’s killed in the skirmish? And I’d want this to be a more feminist tale than written… the lady’s fate should involve more than wearing “silks and satins.” I suspect she embarked on this perilous journey with a more meaningful goal in mind.

1. Well, it’s all of fair and handsome girl,
She’s all in her tender years.
She fell in love with a sailor boy,
It’s true she loved him well.
For to go off to sea with him
Like she did not know how,
She longed to see that seaport town
Of Canadee-i-o.

2. 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
Of Canadee-i-o.

3. 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
Called Canadee-i-o.

4. Now, when the captain he heard the news,
Well, he too fell in a rage,
And with the whole ship’s company
He was willing to engage,
Sayin’, “She’ll stay in sailor’s clothes,
Her color shall be blue,
She’ll see that seaport town
Call Canadee-i-o.

5. Now, when they come down to Canada
Scarcely ’bout half a year,
She’s married this bold captain
Who called her his dear.
She’s dressed in silks and satins now,
She cuts a gallant show,
Finest of the ladies
Down Canadee-i-o.

6. Come, all you fair and tender girls,
Wheresoever you may be,
I’d have you to follow your own true love
Whene’er he goes to sea.
For if the sailors prove false to you,
Well, the captain, he might prove true.
You’ll see the honor I have gained
By the wearing of the blue.

4 thoughts on “Song of the Day #728: ‘Canadee-i-o’ – Bob Dylan

  1. Alan Kind says:

    A brilliant song. I’d guess that Bob got it from the version by Britain’s Nic Jones, which is well sung and has an utterly superb percussive picked guitar accompaniment. Nic no longer plays due to car crash injuries, but his clutch of albums have become classics – deservedly so.

  2. Dana says:

    I believe this story has already been made into a movie….Mulan.

  3. Clay says:

    But my version won’t include a talking dragon.

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