original lyrics

Roll On The Ocean

© Richard Ridley

Open the dock gates, cast off the ropes
Steer the ship out from the quay
Sound the ship’s horn, drift over the bar
Once more we sail out to deep sea
Holds are all full, anchor chain stowed
Captain calls full speed ahead
Out from the harbour, Pilot boat leaves us
The last ties with land are now shed

Frigates and cruisers, tankers and liners
Roll on the ships of the sea
Roll on the oceans all the world over
Roll on the day I am free

Coast lights are fading, land slips away
There’s a red glow that lights up the sky
It’s the lights of the city, we’ve just left behind
As we leave it’s just one more goodbye
Up on the deck, guiding the ship
Watch keeper sees a green light
And he knows all is well, as a shadow drifts by
It’s just ships that pass in the night

Like a swan in the moonlight, we glide on the swell
A bow wave is all that we make
Take nothing away, leave nothing behind
Our passing is marked the wake
Night turns to day, day fades to night
Moonlight and stars in the sea
Oceans roll past us remorseless, relentless
And all else is just memory

The Steam Tanker SS Kayson was sat at anchor just off Galveston. We were carrying too much oil to get over the bar so had to wait 10 hours until high tide. Bill Hilton and me, the two Geordie engineers, were on watch together in the engine room waiting to dock in Corpus Christie, Texas, willing the tide to come in. Then we would be flying back from Houston to Tyneside after a six month trip. We sang every Glen Campbell/Jimmy Webb song appropriate to the occasion. This is another travelling song. I wrote it shortly after that long wait in Texas.—Richard

▲ return to list