Drunken Sailor is a sea shanty, also known as What Shall We Do with a/the Drunken Sailor?
The shanty was sung to accompany certain work tasks aboard sailing ships, especially those that required a bright walking pace. It is believed to originate in the early 19th century or before, during a period when ships' crews, especially those of military vessels, were sufficiently large to permit hauling a rope whilst simply marching along the deck. With the advent of merchant packet and clipper ships and their smaller crews, which required different working methods, use of the shanty appears to have declined or shifted to other, minor tasks.
"Drunken Sailor" was revived as a popular song among non-sailors in the 20th century, and grew to become one of the best-known songs of the shanty repertoire among mainstream audiences. It has been performed and recorded by many musical artists and appeared in many popular media.
Although the song's lyrics vary, they usually contain some variant of the question, "What shall we do with a drunken sailor, early in the morning?" In some styles of performance, each successive verse suggests a method of sobering or punishing the drunken sailor. In other styles, further questions are asked and answered about different people.
The song is #322 in the Roud Folk Song Index.
Famous quotes containing the words drunken and/or sailor:
“In 1869 he started his work for temperance instigated by three drunken men who came to his home with a paper signed by a saloonkeeper and his patrons on which was written For Gods sake organize a temperance society.”
—Federal Writers Project Of The Wor, U.S. public relief program (1935-1943)
“The sailor is frankness, the landsman is finesse. Life is not a game with the sailor, demanding the long headno intricate game of chess where few moves are made in straight-forwardness and ends are attained by indirection, an oblique, tedious, barren game hardly worth that poor candle burnt out in playing it.”
—Herman Melville (18191891)