Exploring the Origins and Meaning Behind the Popular What Would You Do with a Drunken Sailor Sea Shanty

Exploring the Origins and Meaning Behind the Popular What Would You Do with a Drunken Sailor Sea Shanty

Introduction to the Song “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?”

“What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?” is a traditional sea shanty that originated in the 19th century and was first published in the Portsmouth collection of songs in 1882. The song follows the common structure of sailor songs of the time, providing a light-hearted story about life on board ship and reflecting their contrasting hard work and leisures time spent at sea.

The song tells the story of an inebriated sailor getting himself into a variety of scrapes with his drunken behavior. Some hilarious examples are when he tries to jump upstairs which ended up being an accident as he instead falls downstairs, or when he stuck his head in a bowl of dough resulting in him looking like a flour topped clown!

The title phrase “What Would You Do With A Drunken Sailor?” is actually quite amusing as naval captains often had no idea how to deal with this common problem at sea; isolating them from other sailors or punishments just not working their usual methods were nothing more than trial and error. This explains why this song was sung so often alongside its chorus which asks “What can you do with a drunken sailor”.

Despite it’s light hearted subject matter, this shanty provides us with some insight into maritime life during that era, showing us just how much fun could be had by sailors once they reached land after long months spent out at sea. The well known tune can still be heard sang today on many over seas voyages or tourist attractions to get people into the nautical spirit!

Origin and History of “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?”

“What Would You Do with a Drunken Sailor?” is a traditional folk song of British origin, likely dating back to the 18th century. It tells the story of a sailor who has consumed too much alcohol and needs to be taken care of by the people around him. The song was popularized in the mid-20th century by artists such as Pete Seeger and Burl Ives, who sang it at concerts, giving it an international reach. The themes explored in the song make it a favorite among sea shanties, from its humorous lyrics about dealing with an intoxicated friend, to its more serious reflections on death and mortality. It has been translated into multiple languages and remains a beloved folk staple all over the world today.

The exact origins of “What Would You Do with a Drunken Sailor?” are unknown but its earliest documented performances date back to the 19th century in Britain when several versions appeared in print including: “Ho! Ho! My drunken tar”, printed in 1840; ”Drunken Sailors” by London publisher George Stephens; as well as William Jerome’s 1876 book Nautical Songs which includes “That Good Old Song / What shall we do with a drunken sailor?”

By far one of the most successful renditions came during World War II when English singer Anne Shelton released her version on Decca Records which quickly became popular within military forces across Europe – becoming an unofficial anthem for soldiers stationed abroad then later making its way back home to become embraced by civilians during their post war celebrations. Though slightly differing lyrical variations have been discovered throughout different countries or even just within regions this basic narrative remains constant around growing concerns that crews would frequently get so drunk at port they were unable to fulfill their duties once out at sea again leading to this chant being sung before leaving dock as both warning reminder how bad overconsumption can turn out yet celebrate how rough occasional drunken nights could still be indulged briefly shoreside before hard labor continued away from land.

Today there are many incarnations of this sea shanty including versions recorded by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Mumford & Sons, Counting Crows amongst others iconically marking its place amongst some earlier pioneers till now — will surely live on through generations come providing listeners future stories that speak past good humour while explore deeper personal complexes regarding living life bordering love laughter sorrow grief without abandonment morality.

Popular Versions of “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?”

First of all, it is important to understand the origins of this age-old question and why it continues to endure as an interesting topic of conversation in many cultures. The phrase “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?” is an old sea chanty dating back centuries. These popular sea shanties were used by sailors while they were laboriously working aboard vessels out at sea and were their way of lightening their heavy workloads. Over time the song took on different versions based on region and culture; however, the main theme remained the same with these variations being about what could potentially happen in various contexts when a sailor imbibed too much rum.

The most common version that enjoys universal appeal around the world posits: “What would you do with a drunken sailor? What would you do with a drunken sailor?” To which the response would be, “Put him in a longboat ’til he’s sober.” From there, each different version can diverge greatly depending on who one speaks to or where its being sang from– some suggest putting him up in bed until he comes down from his hard-won stupor; some say place him up amongst barrels so that there’s more sobering air surrounding him; while others advise letting him sway his woes away while rowing/rocking away until morning daybreak.

In any case, understanding the original intention behind this classic lyrical inquiry goes deeper than just devising clever solutions for dealing with someone who has had too much tipple: Its recognition of our shared journeys of redemption and second chances acknowledges no matter how extravagant or unusual our troubles may look like at first glance – everyone deserves a chance at restoring their honour even within difficult situations.

Social Significance and Relevance of “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?”

The popular song “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?” is a universal expression of the unique and often mysterious life of a sailor which has made it one of the most beloved sea shanties ever to be heard. This traditional work song has been well-loved for generations due its cleverly crafted comic and witty verses, as well as its unmistakable melodious rhythm. But beyond being an entertaining earworm, “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?” also carries immense social significance.

In its time, the song was used by sailors to while away their long moments at sea without having to think too deeply or reflect on their fate in life; rather, they could focus on lighter topics such as what should be done with a sailor who is enjoying himself a bit too much. This focus not only serves as humorous distraction but also serves to remind these seafarers of the close ties that exist between them and their vesselmates – seafarers can look out for one another and help each other make light of difficult moments.

“What Would Your Do With A Drunken Sailor?” speaks directly to the extensive range of dangerous situations which seamen must confront daily when sailing across oceans in search of new opportunities and far flung destinations. The message is clear: ‘such hazardous shallow waters would defeat any one man if he missteps hence we should watch out for each other so that no sailor faces calamity alone.’ This could represent anything from weathering stormy seas or being held captive by international pirates, yet through it all lives are saved when comrades stay together despite obstacles like drunkenness or fatigue among them.

It is precisely this message — celebrating solidarity among crew members against treacherous winds while combating individual weaknesses — that has comforted generations of seafarers letting them know they are never truly alone at sea regardless how tough things may seem. For these reasons “What Would Your Do With A Drunken Sailor?” remains highly relevant in today’s world due to its ability to distill simple yet vibrant messages about unity amidst adversity into simple yet enduring melodies for everyone’s musical pleasure – something that continues to resonate with sailors on land or at sea in any era!

Cultural Expressions Captured in the Lyrics of “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?”

The traditional sea shanty “What Would You Do with a Drunken Sailor?” is a true sailor’s ditty, capturing the spirit and lifestyles of seamen on board ships traversing the ocean. The lyrics reflect common themes found in the group expressions of sailors, including humour and bravado, enforced sobriety and discipline imbued by their superiors. Also reflected are superstitions associated with people who spend extended amounts of time at sea such as their belief in draugs; malevolent spirits which haunt them during long voyages away from home. Although intended to be a light-hearted song, it lends an insight into the hard lives of crews at sea, also noting how they made use of whatever distractions they could find along their travels.

The origin of “What Would You Do with a Drunken Sailor?” is widely debated, although many suggest it was performed by sailors during celebrations or rebellious gatherings aboard 19th Century boats. The raucous and mischievous nature of the lyrics accurately depict the defiant attitude taken by some crewmen when celebrating jaunts around foreign ports. This behavior stands in stark contrast to more sober roles required by ship captains and other higher ranking officers responsible for keeping order at sea. The lines emphasizing discipline further evoke this clash between social constraints provided keelhauling punishments due to drunkenness or misdemeanors as well as draw attention to more levity filled activities like chorusing callbacks betweens ships passing by each other in deep waters or requests for trading goods while moored up in a port throughout life aboard a vessel.

Though its history cannot be determined definitively, “What Would You Do with a Drunken Sailor?” provides us with unique glimpses into days past representing cross-sections of both English maritime culture as well as sailor folklore collected over generations exploring far off sailing routes occurring since antiquity up until modern times today.

FAQs: Common Questions About the Song “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?”

Q: What is the origin of the song “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor?”

A: The traditional folk song, “What Would You Do With a Drunken Sailor,” dates back to 1824 and was likely inspired by accounts of naval seamen’s drunken malaise while participating in Royal Navy life. It originated in England, although there are some variations. Most commonly, it goes: “What would you do with a drunken sailor? Early in the morning. Oh! Put him in the scuppers with the hoses running on him! Take him and shake him ’til he sobers up.”

Q: Is there any meaning behind this song?

A: The intent of the song is not precise; however, many believe that it reflects upon both good-natured teasing and admiration for those seaman who exemplified tough-as-nails resilience during harsh days at sea. Either way, this classic traditional sailor’s chanty serves as an apt representation for seafaring life during times gone by.

Q: Who wrote the music for this tune?

A: The originator behind composing music to accompany these lyrics remains unknown; however, today it is typically performed utilizing a jaunty hornpipe melody.

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