The Bob Zentz Songbook



Racing Clippers

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


(in Bm – capo 2)


1.  I’ve not made much of my life, Lord knows, I’m a has-been through and through  (Am-G)

And meaning’s as far as I mostly got with the things I meant to do  (G-Am)

Of muckin’ me chances and blowin’ me pay, I reckon I done my share  (Am-G)

But I was once one of the Clansmen’s crowd when we raced the Robin Adair  (Am-Em-Am)


2.  There was Dan and Clancy and Liverpool Bill, and them was the pick o’ the lot

And a Glasgow lad as --- like mad, but his name I clean forgot

A big black buck and a cross-eyed Swede and a fellow from County Clare

Them was the chaps in the starboard watch when we raced the Robin Adair


3.  And Dan was lost off the tops’l yard of the Fullstar years ago

And Clancy died with a knife in his side in a dive in Callao

And Bill, he’s married and livin’ ashore, and the rest of ‘em’s Lord knows where

I sailed with once on the Clanmen proud when we raced the Robin Adair


4.  Neck and neck to the stairs we was, and then it started to blow

And soon the Clansman was reelin’ ‘em off seventeen knots or so

And the skipper grinned, as he paced the poop, “that was the weather for her

And I’m thinkin’,” said he, “we’ve seen the last of the wonderful Robin Adair


5.  But there comes a time as we climbed the trade, the day was just begun

We sighted a ship haul down a-stern, and comin’ along like fun

And the old man claps a glass to his eye and you should have heard him swear

For out of the south with a bone in her mouth, up rocks the Robin Adair


6.  We started piling the canvas on and it had to stop near two

It was breezin’ up and we sighted her first and before it was dark it blew

I’ve seen some carryin’ on in my time, but I tell you, it made me stare

Crackin’ it on in the Biscay gales to beat the Robin Adair


7.  Well, we made the London River at last, it was twelve by St. George’s clock

I counted the chime as we made her fast with the boys in the London dock

As we’d run the race from the width of the world with the tail of a tide to spare

That was the way of it long ago, when we raced the Robin Adair


8.  The grand old ship’s been gone to chips these fourteen years or more

They sold her away to a dago bunch and the blighters run her ashore

And somewheres around by the rammeries and south of the Straits of lemare

With the fishes cruising amongst her ribs lies drowned the Robin Adair


9.  Ah, there ain’t no racin’ clippers now, nor never will be again

And most of the ships are gone by now, the same as most of the men

And nobody left but a few old shells like us in the world who care

For the great old skippers and great old ships and the great old days they were

And they way they had in the wool fleet once when we raced the Robin Adair



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