Leaving of Liverpool, The

"(The) Leaving of Liverpool", also known as "Fare Thee Well, My Own True Love", is a folksong. Folklorists classify it as a lyric lament, and it was also used as a sea shanty, especially at the capstan.


The Leaving of Liverpool (WORD)
The Leaving of Liverpool (PDF)

It is very well known in Britain, Ireland, and America, despite the fact that it was collected only twice, from the Americans Richard Maitland and Captain Patrick Tayluer. It was collected from both singers by William Main Doerflinger, an American folksong collector particularly associated with sea songs, in New York.The Leaving of Liverpool has been recorded by many popular folk singers and groups since the 1950s. The Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem had a top 10 hit with the song in Ireland in 1964. The song has also been adapted by several artists, most notably Bob Dylan. The song was first brought into the Folk Revival by Ewan MacColl, who learned it from Doerflinger's book and recorded it on the album A Sailor's Garland, in 1962. That album featured Louis Killen as an accompanist and backup singer, so he learned the song for the album. Killen soon decided to perform it himself, and recorded it in 1963. He also taught it to his friend Luke Kelly. Kelly in turn taught it to the folk group The Dubliners and the singer Liam Clancy of The Clancy Brothers, who were then living and working in America. In 1964, both The Dubliners and The Clancy Brothers (with Tommy Makem) recorded their versions, making it very popular in the Irish music scene in both Ireland and the United States. The Clancy Brothers version reached #6 on the Irish singles chart. In 1966, the Liverpool group The Spinners recorded it, making it a revival standard in England as well. It has since become one of the most popular songs in the revival, and has been performed and recorded by dozens of artists.

****REVISED March 9, 2019 - SR****

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