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Annabelle Lee

Annabelle Lee – 5:11 – Instead of buying a cottage when our kids were young, we bought a sailboat, an old wooden ketch-rigged 40-footer, upon which we spent our summers. I have a love for vintage boats – and also boat-stories. Reading a book by retired sailor R. L. Boudreau, I came across the facts of what I thought would make a classic story-song. I embellished it a bit – all departures from the book’s text are mine. But the roots of this song – and the surprising actions of the German sailors – are quite factual.


The Annabelle Lee                         ©2002 Dave Hadfield

I was second mate in ’38 on the schooner Alice B.
We damn near sank on the Georges Bank in a dirty month at sea.
We’d just come down to Halifax Town all ready for a spree,
Before that treat I thought I’d eat, so I went into a Bakery.

There was icing- sugar, jam and cream; but the girl there looked like a sailor’s dream.
Eyes as blue as the deepest ocean sea,
I shook my head I’d’ve never said, it would ever happen to me.
My way was set the day I met the lovely Annabelle Lee.

I’m not the kind to waste much time, I knew what I had to do,
But times were lean and I was clean of cash and prospects too.
So from that day I changed my way; no longer went on spree,
And all my pay got stashed away, or spent in the Bakery.

In ’39 I was doin’ fine, skipper of the Annabelle Lee;
A barquentine, tall and clean, the prettiest ship at sea.
When war broke out I had no doubt the Navy would call me,
But they said stay and earn your pay as skipper of the Annabelle Lee.

One year on, a winter’s morn at dawn,
We were running north, hauling Cuban rum.
When close alongside, rose Hitler’s joy and pride:
A U-Boat, and on her deck a gun….

From overside came a voice, “Get in your boat; you have no choice.
We will let you live now boys, but we cannot linger.”
So my mates and I did go into our boat and then did row.
Our ship was sunk with guns and as they left I raised a finger.

For two whole weeks we drifted in the sea,
And the winter gales would try to strike us blind.
And one by one, my mates were overcome,
But I survived, a vision in my mind….

Of icing sugar, jam and cream; the girl was in my sailor’s dream,
Eyes as blue as the deepest ocean sea,
I would not rest, I fought my best against the raging sea,
I would not pass until that lass was mine, oh Annabelle Lee.

I was nearly gone when a rusty freighter wandered close,
And a dozen rough but gentle hands raised me from the boat.
Though I spent a month in bed, one morning did I see,
Before my eyes, to my surprise: the girl from the bakery.

And icing sugar, jam and cream, it seemed just like my sailor’s dream.
Eyes as blue as the deepest ocean sea,
I raised my head and what I said was “Will you marry me?”
She said yes and I was blessed with the lovely Annabelle Lee.

[repeat chorus, instrumental and end]