'Get up Jack, John Sit Down' was a common cry from the landlord or landlady when Jack had finally spent or been cheated out of all of his hard-earned pay. His seat given to John the landsman, he went back to his ship.
The song was collected in America by Frank Warner, who obtained it in New Hampshire from Lena Bourne Fish, whose ancestors had been the original settlers of Bourne, on Cape Cod. As far as we can ascertain it is the only collected version (printed in Lomax). Frank often sings it himself, as do his sons, Jeff and Gerret, but when we first learned it from the singing of Peter Bellamy, (formerly of the Young Tradition) it had changed somewhat from the way the Warners sing it. It was an interesting experience persuading Jeff and Gerret to do the chorus "our" way.
[NB: since these notes were written we have discovered that the original song was written in New York by Ed Harrigan & David Braham, for an 1885 theatre production entitled 'Old Lavender'.]
Well, ships may come and ships may go, just as long as the seas do run,
And a sailor lad, likewise his dad, he enjoys his pork and rum.
Now a lass ashore he do adore, one that is plump and round:
But when your money's all gone, it's the same old song,
Get up Jack, John sit down.
Come along, come along, my jolly brave boys,
There's plenty more grog in the jar,
We'll plow the briny ocean with a jolly roving tar.
When Jack's ashore, he'll make his way to some old boarding house,
He's welcomed in with rum end gin, likewise with pork and scouse,
And he'll spend and he'll spend, and he'll never offend, until he lies drunk on the ground:
Jack then will slip aboard some ship bound for India or Japan,
For in Asia there, the ladies fair, they all love a sailor man,
And he'll go ashore, and he won't scorn to buy some maid a gown:
When Jack is old and weather-beat, too old to sail about,
They'll let him stop in some grog shop till eight bells do ring out,
Then he'll raise his hands high, and loud he'll cry: Great God! I'm homeward bound: