THE HANDSOME CABIN BOY
SONGS FROM THE BALCONY
Cecil Sharp noted a version of The Handsome Cabin Boy in 1905, a fine old song which Isobel first heard sung by Kate Bush 1986 on the B side of "The Hounds of Love".
There are a number of ways of viewing this song, from a patriarchal point of view, what a delight to have a beautiful young woman on board your long sea voyage. From the feminine point of view, life for women was so restricted by convention and law that in order to do anything adventurous you had to dress up as a man. There are many folk songs that depict women dressing as men in order to travel, fight and adventure and this is a favourite of ours.