We are using cookies to make this web site better.  By clicking the 'agree' button, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

Drunken Sailor (What Shall We Do With the Drunken Sailor) - Chords, Lyrics and Origins

Origins

Drunken Sailor (also known as 'What Shall We Do With The Drunken Sailor?' or 'What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?') is a sea shanty.  Sea shanties were sailors' work songs.  Drunken Sailor was probably a 'walk away' shanty, meaning that it was sung in time to tasks that were performed at walking pace - for example, hauling a rope by marching along the deck.  It first enters the historical record in the nineteenth century, and was one of the few shanties sung in the British Royal Navy.  Although it is first recorded as being sung aboard American ships, it sounds very much like a British song to me.

Drunken Sailor is perhaps the most widely-known of all sea shanties.  I remember singing it in primary school (for non-Brits, that means elementary school).  It's also very simple to play, with only three chords - E minor, D and G (some versions of the chords miss out the G, but it works really well - try it).  The lyrics are a moveable feast - you can add and remove verses at will.

Drunken Sailor has been recorded many times, including by The Irish Rovers, who you can hear in the second YouTube video on this page.  Also, notably, by Pete Seeger, and by The King's Singers (the first YouTube video on this page is of their recording).  You may also recognize it in the background music to many NFL Films.  You can find out more about Drunken Sailor's origins here.  

 

Chords

Verse

Em

What will we do with the drunken sailor?

D
What will we do with the drunken sailor?

Em
What will we do with the drunken sailor?

G       D         Em
Early in the morning!



Chorus

Em

Way, hey and up she rises,

D
Way, hey and up she rises,

Em
Way, hey and up she rises,

G       D         Em
Early in the morning!

Lyrics

What will we do with the drunken sailor?
What will we do with the drunken sailor?
What will we do with the drunken sailor?
Early in the morning!

Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Early, in the morning!

Shave his belly with a rusty razor,
Shave his belly with a rusty razor,
Shave his belly with a rusty razor,
Early in the morning!

Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Early, in the morning!

Put him in a long boat till his sober,
Put him in a long boat till his sober,
Put him in a long boat till his sober,
Early in the morning!

Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Early, in the morning!

Stick him in the scuppers with a hosepipe on him,
Stick him in the scuppers with a hosepipe on him,
Stick him in the scuppers with a hosepipe on him,
Early in the morning!

Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Early, in the morning!

Put him in the bed with the captain's daughter,
Put him in the bed with the captain's daughter,
Put him in the bed with the captain's daughter,
Early in the morning!

Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Early, in the morning!

That's what we do with a drunken sailor,
That's what we do with a drunken sailor,
That's what we do with a drunken sailor,
Early in the morning!

Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Early, in the morning!

Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Way, hey and up she rises,
Early, in the morning!

Other English Folk Songs
Other Traditional Folk Songs