"Sea Lion Woman" (also "Sea-Line Woman", "See [the] Lyin' Woman", "She Lyin' Woman", "See-Line Woman", or "C-Line Woman") is a traditional American folk song originally used as a children's playground song.[1]

The exact origins of the song are unknown but it is believed to have originated in the southern United States. According to Tom Schnabel of KCRW[1], he was told that: Nina Simone’s “Sealine Woman” is a 19th century seaport song about sailors and prostitutes. The sailors would come into port (Charleston or New Orleans perhaps). Women of the pleasure quarters would be waiting, lined up dockside. Their dress colors signified the specific delights they offered. That is what the song is really about. This would explain the term 'Sea line' (a line of women by the sea) or alternatively, 'See-line' (women standing in a line to be seen).

It was first recorded by folklore researcher Herbert Halpert on May 13, 1939.[2] Halpert was compiling a series of field recordings for the Library of Congress in Byhalia, MS, when he ran across Walter Shipp, a minister, and his wife Mary, a choir director of a local church. Halpert recorded Shipp's daughters, Katharine and Christeen, singing a spare version of "Sea Lion Woman" that defined the basic rhymes and rhythm of the song.

Notable covers include a version by Nina Simone (1964) under the name See-Line WomanOllabelle's version featured in the 2006 album Riverside Battle Songs under the name See Line Woman and Feist's cover featured in the 2007 album The ReminderThe Easybeats also recorded it, the song closing their 1967 album Friday On My Mind. A version remixed by Greg Hale Jones and Russell Ziecker entitled "She Began to Lie", contains extracts from the original traditional song performed by the Shipp sisters and was used on the soundtrack of the 1999 feature film The General's Daughter.[3]


 [hide*1 Lyrics


Sea Lion Woman (Sea Lion)
She drank coffee (Sea Lion)
She drank tea (Sea Lion)
And gamble, lie (Sea Lion)
Way down yonder (Sea Lion)
I'm going maul (Sea Lion)
And the rooster crow (Sea Lion)
And he got no lie (Sea Lion)
Sea lion woman (Sea Lion)
She drank coffee (Sea Lion)
She drank tea (Sea Lion)
And gamble, lie (Sea Lion)
Sea lion woman (Sea Lion)
She drank coffee (Sea Lion)
She drank tea (Sea Lion)
And gamble, lie (Sea Lion)

Nina Simone version[edit]Edit

Nina Simone popularized the song as "See-Line Woman" on her 1964 album Broadway-Blues-Ballads. The song was remixed by Masters at Work for the 2002 compilation Verve//Remixed, by J.Viewz in 2008 and by Ogris Debris in 2012.

Feist version[edit]Edit

"Sea Lion Woman (aka Sealion)"
digital download by Feist from the albumThe Reminder
Released 2007
Recorded 2007
Genre Rock
Length 3:39
Label CherrytreeInterscopeArts & Crafts
Writer Feist, George Bass, Nina Simone
The Reminder track listing
"The Water"


"Sea Lion Woman (aka Sealion)"


"Past in Present"


The song was covered by Feist on her 2007 album The Reminder. "Sea Lion Woman" is Feist's original title for this song but on the album it was shortened to "Sealion". Despite their version being based on the original lyrics, Feist and Bass were credited as writers for the Reminder recording. It charted in the Canadian Charts under the name "Sea Lion Woman".


"Sea Lion Woman" has charted only in one country through digital downloads.

Chart (2008) Position
Canadian Hot 100 94[4]

Bob Sinclar Version[edit]Edit

The song was used as a sample by Bob Sinclar on his 2013 album Paris By Night (A Parisian Musical Experience) on the track named "Sea Lion Woman". The sample used in the track is from the Nina Simone 1964 version of "Sea Lion Woman".

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