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Rolling Sally Brown!

Leggi in italiano

In the sea shanties Sally Brown is the stereotype of the cheerful woman of the Caribbean seas, mulatta or creole, with which our sailor  tries to have a good time. Probably of Jamaican origin according to Stan Hugill, it was a popular song in the ports of the West Indies in the 1830s.
The textual and melodic variations are many.


WAY, HEY, ROLL AND GO (halyard shanty)
I ROLLED ALL NIGHT(capstan shanty)
ROLL AND GO (John Short)


Roll, boys! Roll boys roll!

In this version the chorus doubles in two short sentences repeated by the crew in sequence after each line of the shantyman, here the work done is the loading of the ship
Roll, boys! Roll boys roll!
Way high, Miss Sally Brown!

Sean Dagher · Clayton Kennedy · Nils Brown from Assassin’s Creed 4: Black Flag (Sea Shanty Edition, Vol. 2)

Oh! Sally Brown, she’s the gal for me boys
Roll, boys! Roll boys roll!
Oh! Sally Brown, she’s the gal for me boys
Way high, Miss Sally Brown!
(Oh way down South, way down South boys
Oh bound away, with a bone(1) in her mouth boys)
It’s down to Trinidad(2) to see Sally Brown boys,
She’s lovely on the foreyard, an’ she’s lovely down below boys,
She’s lovely ‘cause she loves me, that’s all I want to know boys,
Ol’ Captain Baker, how do you store yer cargo?
Some I stow for’ard (3) boys, an’ some I stow a’ter
Forty fathoms or more below boys,
There’s forty fathoms or more below boys,
Oh, way high ya, an’ up she rises,
Way high ya, and the blocks (4) is different sizes,
Oh, one more pull, don’t ya hear the mate a-bawlin?
Oh, one more pull, that’s the end of all the hawlin’
Sally Brown she’s the gal for me boys

1) “Bone in her teeth” is the expression used for a bow wave, usually implying that the vessel in question was moving pretty fast. (see more here)
2) the southernmost of the Caribbean islands
3) the front and the back of a ship have a specific terminology
4) In sailing, a block is a single or multiple pulley


Not to be confused with “Spent My Money On Sally Brown”. Cecil Sharp ranks as capstan shanty.
In Short Sharp Shanties the project’s curators write”A
lthough, by Hugill’s time, ‘this shanty had only one theme – Sally and her daughter’, Short’s text is not on this ‘one theme’ – it is based around a less overtly sexual relationship.  Short gave Sharp more text than he actually published. It is always possible that Short may be self censoring – but there is no indication that this is the case, and from other textual evidence in Sharp’s field notebooks (e.g. see the notes to Hanging Johnny), rather the reverse. We have added just two floating verses at the end

Roger Watson from Short Sharp Shanties : Sea songs of a Watchet sailor vol 2

Way, hey, roll and go

Oh Sally Brown, Oh Sally Brown
a long time ago
She promised for to marry me
Way, hey, roll and go
She promised for to marry me.
a long time ago

Oh Sally Brown is the girl for me
Oh Sally Brown has slighted me.
As I walked down one morning fair
it’s there I met her I do declare.
And I asked for to marry me
to marry me or let me be.
She spent me pay all around the town
she left me broken bad and dow.
Than I will pack me bags and go to sea
and I’ll leave my Sally on the quey


Pubblicato da Cattia Salto

folklorista delle Terre Celtiche

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