The Close Shave

Words and Music Bob Bickerton


This example of "The Close Shave" is arranged & performed by Andy Irvine with Rens van der Zalm playing fiddle.
Please refer to Cantaria's Copyright information

This is a rewrite of the song Barrack Street. There are many songs in the tradition about the sailor being waylaid by a beautiful young woman. Here's a New Zealand version of the song set in the gold mining era of the late nineteenth century.

Come gather round you diggers who work the goldfields rare,
It's of a trick was played on me which caused me to despair,
I came to town the other day my hard earned gold to trade,
'Twas there I met a pretty maid, who did my heart betray.
Her lips were red as roses, her eyes a deep sky blue,
Her hair as yellow as the gold, she stole from me and you.

She took me to a public house and there we did imbibe,
In whiskey and strong porter, and dreadful stuff besides,
It's then she asked me up to bed, to which I did agree,
But truth to tell I fell asleep, before she earned her fee.

When I awoke next morning, no trousers could I find,
But scattered all around me were women's clothes so fine.
My jacket, shoes and gold had gone, and all that's left behind,
Is a woman's dress, a yellow wig and a shaving kit, not mine.

Why did she need the wig? Why did she need to shave?
It's then the truth it struck me, in a fit of blinding rage.
My pretty maid's a man I cried, be thanks I fell asleep,
I'd rather lose a bag of gold, than face that dirty creep.

To venture in the street again, I cautiously inclined,
I had a shave, put on the wig, and wore the dress so fine,
And as I walked along the road, a digger gave a wink.
I thought of all the gold he had, so I offered him a drink.

Now you might think it sinful, oh you might think it bold,
To take advantage of the lads who struggle for the gold.
It's easy putting on a dress and drinking whiskey neat,
But leave your shaving kit behind when they are fast asleep.