The Bob Zentz Songbook



Bill’s Christmases

From Closehauled on the Wind of a Dream

Adapted from the poetry of C. Fox Smith (1882-1954)

Music and additional lyrics © 2003, 2007 Bob Zentz



1.  “Christmas,” said Bill, “on Christmas cards, is winders all aglow (D-D/C#-Bm-Bm7-G-A)

An’ lots of things to eat an’ drink an’ a good three feet o’ snow (D-D/C#-Bm-Bm7-G-A-D)

An’ a bunch o’ bouncin’ gals to kiss under the mistletoe (G-D-Bm-D-A-D)


2.  “Holly an’ robin redbreasts too, as rosy as can be

An’ weights an’ chimes an’ all such gear as you never gets at sea

But it’s different things that Christmas means to a ramblin’ bloke like me


3.  “Now, the first I ever had at sea, I was little more ‘n a nipper

An’ I’d gone an’ signed, bein’ young an’ green, on a dandy down-east clipper

With a bullnecked beast of a bucko mate an’ a rare tough nut of a skipper


4.  “An’ we dined handsome, so we did, sea biscuits, salt horse

An’ finished up with scrapper duff an’ sand-an’-canvas sorce

An’ them as growled got seaboot soup by way of an extry course


5.  “Well, I’ve had my Christmas here an’ there, I’ve had it up an’ down

I’ve had it sober out at sea an’ drunk in sailor-town

And I’ve had it where the folks was black, an’ where the folks was brown


6.  “And under many a tropic sky an’ many a foreign star

In Perim, Portland, Perambuck, Malacca, Malabar

Where the rum bird-headed totem poles an’ the guilded Buddhas are


7.  “I’ve had it froze in Baltic cold an’ burned in Red Sea heat

I’ve had it in a Channel fog as busy as a street

An’ once I had it off the Horn, an’ that was sure a treat!


8.  “I was in the clipper Seabright then, big ship, heavy sparred

With every sort o’ flyin’ kite an’ a seventy-foot mainyard

An’ handlin’ her in a gale of wind, I'll tell you, it was hard!


9.  “We come on deck for the middle watch, an’ save us how it blew!

A night like the devil’s ridin’ boots, that never a star shone through

An’ the seas they kept on poopin’ her till we had to heave her to


10.  “So we hove her to, we snugged her down, an’ there all night she lay

With one mainyard arm pointin’ to heaven an’ one to the deeps o’ the sea

Dippin’ her spars at every roll, in the thunderin’ foam alee


11.  “Till the wind, the sea went down a bit an’ the dawn come cold an’ grey

An’ we laid aloft, loosed the sails an’ squared the ship away

When a chap beside me on the yard says, ‘Bill, it’s Christmas Day!’”


God rest you merry gentlemen, let nothin’ you dismay!


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