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The first of Fairport's long instrumental explorations; a 19th century tragic ballad, impeccably performed by all, very restrained initially, with a change of tempo and richness of sound midway through the song, and a long instrumental coda, apparently recorded live in the studio, that seems to re-express the meaning of the song through the tension and dynamism of the interplay. Dave Swarbrick guests.

Similar Tracks


A sailor's life, it is a merry life
He robs young girls of their heart's delight
Leaving them behind to weep and mourn
They never know when they will return

Fairport Convention - A Sailor's Life Lyrics


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  • This is definately the precursor to Matty Groves, in many ways better.
  • Seederman says it all - fantastic build and jam at the end.
  • Awesome.
  • Nowt wrong with Marquee Moon, which apparently was a rehearsal take, at least as far asa drummer Billy Ficca was concerned. Another wonderful long exploratory piece of space-folk well worth a listen (if you love A Sailor's Life) is 'Sally Free and Easy' by Trees, another 10-minute plus piece with some wonderful almost-psychedelic guitar
  • lol marquee moon
  • Space folk - great call on that bobgreen. I completely agree - a true masterpiece. Did anyone else mention that this was recorded in one take?
  • GPX
    Good song, good progression. Great jam.
  • This is just such a beautiful piece; not just the undeniably great vocals, but the instrumentation is stunningly gorgeous as well... I get a new thrill from this on each play.
  • An enormous groundbreaking beautiful masterpiece of a tune. beautifully sung and played by all - obviously Sandy's voice is a wonder, Thompson and Swarb go exploring magnificently, the rhythm section push it all along masterfully, but I want to make a special shout for Simon Nicol's rhythm guitar (an often overlooked art) that really shines, especially at the 'plateau' then wind-down that occurs from round about the 10:00 point. The track, although an old, old song is taken to almost mystical, cosmic proportions here, kind of space-folk almost. Can you tell that I absolutely love this song?
  • And i love this being i am actually a mariner!

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