Grey Funnel Line

Cyril Tawney served in the Royal Navy (The Grey Funnel Line) in the 1950’s, he wrote many fine songs and this may be his finest. June Tabor’s version is particularly good


Grey Funnel Line
(Cyril Tawney)

Don’t mind the wind nor the rolling sea
The weary night never worries me
But the hardest time in a sailor’s day
Is to watch the sun as it fades away

It’s one more day on the grey funnel line

The finest ship that sails the sea
Is still a prison for the likes of me
But give me wings like Noah’s dove
I’ll fly up harbor to the one I love

There was a time my heart was free
Like a floating spar on the open sea
But now that spar is washed ashore
It comes to rest at my real love’s door.

Every time I gaze behind the screws
Makes me long for St Peter’s shoes
I’d walk on down that silver lane
And take my love in my arms again

Oh Lord, if dreams were only real
I’d have my hands on that wooden wheel
And with all my heart I would turn her ’round
And tell the boys that we’re homeward bound

I’ll pass the time like some machine
Until blue water turns to green
Then I’ll dance down that walk on shore
And sail the Grey Funnel Line no more.
And sail the Grey Funnel Line no more.

I was never in the Royal Navy, I always sailed on Merchantmen, but a ship is still a ship, and being separated from the one you love is the same where ever you are are. What he wrote, and June Tabor sings resonates with me.

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