This is a sea chantey that got distilled, and transformed into a love ballad in the Appalachian Mountains. The origin is English, but the lyrical style is obviously from the Southern United States. Many settlers to the New World brought their music with them, only to have it subtly changed over time.
Another example of this phenomenon is Jean Ritchie's song 'Nottamun Town,' which only survived by being brought to North America. When, as a Fulbright Scholar she visited Nottingham, England to research the roots of the song, it had completely disappeared in its original form.
The purpose of the Folk Den is to use the medium of the World Wide Web to continue the tradition of the folk process, that is the telling of stories, and singing of songs, passed on from one generation to another, by word of mouth.
In this electronic era, such a process is in danger of being overwhelmed by the commercial mass media. This page and others on the 'net are working to preserve the folk songs that have chronicled our global heritage for centuries.
In the Folk Den, a "new" folk song is uploaded every month as a "Global Community Service."