Sally Brown

This capstan shanty is also known as Roll 'n' Go. There were several obscene verses in some versions. The shanty is probably from Jamaica where it was often sung ashore. It was also used by American lumbermen and in the West Indies as an 'axe-cutting' song. According to Stan Hugill, the earliest reference to the shanty is in a description of a passage to America in the 1830s.

 

Sally Brown
 
I shipped on board of a Liverpool liner,
Way, hey, roll and go!
And we pitched and we rolled all the way to Carolina
Gonna spend my money on Sally Brown
 
Now Sally Brown is a nice young lady
And she looks very sweet but her past’s a little shady
 
Her mother doesn’t like a tarry sailor
And especially one off a Greenland whaler
 
She wants her to marry a one-legged captain
But when Sally saw him well she damn near slapped ‘im
 
Her mother thinks that Sally’s as pure as the snow
But there’s a lot about Sally that her mother doesn’t know
 
She keeps an eye on me when she thinks that I’m about
But she doesn’t see what happens when the lights go out
 
For Sally’s window opens wide,
And she opens up and I slip inside
 
Sally likes to sport and play
And we roll all night and we roll all day
 
I shipped on board of a Liverpool liner,
And we pitched and we rolled all the way to Carolina