This shanty comes as a suggestion from Lady Washington’s Captain Ben ‘Tiny’ Saint! The separation from loved ones and holding true to them is often a theme in maritime songs. The history of this shanty is debated but one version holds that ‘Ten Thousand Miles Away’ refers to the distance between Britain and Australia, where the singer’s lover Meg has been transported.

The version of ‘Ten Thousand Miles Away’ linked below is a favorite of longtime crew member and captain James ‘Shiney’ McClurg. It’s sung by a fellow tall ship sailor, John Kraus, who fell in love with tall ships as a youth and eventually pursued a maritime license to become a captain.

Note: The tunes, lyrics and history of a single sea song or shanty are often diverse and debated, given how these songs were passed along and changed (often simultaneously on many ships all over the seas). This is part of what is beautiful and fascinating about them. What we’re representing in this blog post is only one, and certainly not the only, version of a song and its history.

Full Lyrics - Ten Thousand Miles Away

I sing Ho for a brave and gallant ship

with a fair and a following breeze

With a bully good crew and a captain too,

to carry me over the seas

To carry me over the seas me boys

to my true love far away

I’m taking a trip on a government ship

ten thousand miles away

 

Chorus:

Blow me bully boys, blow

and a roving’ I will go

Stay no more on this old shore

hear the fiddler play

I’m on the morning train

and I won’t be back again

I’m taking a trip on a government ship

ten thousand miles away

 

Chorus

 

My true love she was beautiful

my true love she was young

Her eyes they shine like the diamond brine

and silvery was her tongue

And silvery was her long me boys

and though she’s far away

I won’t forget my own my own true love

ten thousand miles away

 

(Chorus)

 

Dark and dismal was the day

when last I’d seen me Meg

She government band around each hand

and another one around the leg

And another one round the leg me boys

as the big ship sailed away

Adieu, she said, remember me

ten thousand miles away

 

(Chorus)

 

I wish I was a bosun bold

or a sailor without fear

I build a boat and away I’d float

and straight to my true love steer

And straight to my true love steer me boys

where the dancing dolphins play

And the whales and sharks are having their larks

ten thousand miles away

 

(Chorus)

 

The sun may shine through the London fog

or the river run quite clear

Or the ocean brine turn into wine

or I forget my beer

Or I forget my beer me boys

or the landlord’s quarter pay

But I won’t forget my own true love

ten thousand miles away

 

(Chorus)