Haul Away Joe

Traditional | Roud 651, Ballad Index Doe015

When I was just a little lad, or so me Mammi told me
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe
That if I didn’t kiss the girls me lips would grow all moldy
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe

Way, haul away, we’ll haul away together
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe
Way, haul away, we’ll hope for better weather
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe

King Louis was the king of France before the Revolut-i-on
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe
But then he got his head chopped off and it spoiled his constitut-i-on
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe

Way, haul away, we’ll haul away together
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe
Way, haul away, we’ll hope for better weather
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe

The cook is in the galley boys making duff so handy
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe
The captain’s in his cabin lads, drinking wine and brandy
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe

Way, haul away, we’ll haul away together
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe
Way, haul away, we’ll hope for better weather
Way, haul away, we’ll haul away, Joe

Additional Verses

And I sailed the seas for many a-year not knowing what I was missing
Then I set me sails afore the gales and started in a-kissing

I got meself an Irish girl and her name was Flannigan
She stole me boots, she stole me clothes, she pinched me plate and pannikin

She stayed all night, Oh what a sight, where d’ya think I found her
In the back of the pub with her skirts clewed up and 20 men around her

I courted then a Frenchie girl, she took things free and easy
But now I’ve got an English girl and sure she is a daisy

So later in life, I married a wife, but damn it she was lazy!
She couldn’t cook, she wouldn’t clean, she damn near drove me crazy!

Oh, once I was in Ireland a-digging turf and praties
But now I’m on a Limejuice ship and a-hauling on the braces

Saint Patrick was a gentleman, and he came from decent people
He built a church in Dublin town and on it sat a steeple

From Ireland then he drove the snakes, then drank up all the whisky
This made him dance and sing a jig, he felt so fine and frisky

You call yourself a second mate and cannot tie a bowline
You cannot even stand up straight when the packet she’s a-rolling

I’m proud to be an Irishman, it is me lot in life, ya know
So I’ll drink a stout of whisky until the heavens I do go

Geordie Charlton had a pig, and it was double-jointed
He took it to the blacksmith’s shop to get its trotters pointed

Oh once I had a scolding wife, she wasn’t very civil
I clapped a plaster on her mouth and sent her to the devil

Featured On:
Songs of the Lakes, Rivers, and Seas

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About the Song:

“Haul Away Joe” is a short drag shanty first commercially recorded by Moses Asch during a performance by Lead Belly in the 1940s and has no known author. Despite its late first commercial recording, its earliest written recording is a fragment of the chorus found in Mary Bray’s diary in 1859 and is suspected to have originated from Yankee ships sometime between 1812 and the Civil War according to American folklorist and song collector Elouise Hubbard Linscott (Folk Songs from Old New England, MacMillan Co., NY, 1939).

This song was traditionally found mainly in the US and was “used mainly for hauling aft the foresheet after reefing the fores’l,” according to British folk legend and sea music historian, Stan Hugill. Everyone would all haul (nautical term for pulling on a rope) on “Joe”, and additional verses would be improvised by the shantymen until the job was completed. The Lords Commissioners of the Admiralty define “haul away” as “an order to haul steadily until further orders” (A Seaman’s Pocket-Book; June 1943). Short drag shanties were written for jobs that involved a burst of energy and quick pull like unfurling a sail.

Related songs: Haul Away for Rosie-O