Songs Of The Sea: A Drop Of Nelson’s Blood

Songs Of The Sea shares the history of some of the most memorable sea shanties. Plenty of shanties featured boozing and roving, with A Drop Of Nelson’s Blood doing a great job of capturing the spirit of drunk and rowdy sailors. A slang term for rum, Nelson’s Blood warmed the hearts of many mariners during long sea journeys.

Context

The sea shanty got its name from the story of Lord Horatio Nelson and the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805. During the fight, Nelson was fatally wounded and according to legend his men preserved his body in a barrel of rum. Finding that it had restorative qualities on the body, his men drilled holes into the barrel and drank the spirit, imbibing ‘Nelson’s Blood’ for courage and long life.

In reality, Nelson’s body was transported back to England in liquor, though the container was said to contain myrrh, campor and brandy as well. It’s highly unlikely that anyone drank the stuff. 

The song was used as a stamp and go shanty, sang at the capstan and during jobs where a runaway chorus was needed. Verses could be added where necessary to make it more jaunty and pump the men full of the energy. 

Lyrics

Oh, a drop of Nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a drop of Nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a drop of Nelson’s blood wouldn’t do us any harm

And we’ll all hang on behind.

So we’ll roll the old chariot along

An’ we’ll roll the golden chariot along. 

So we’ll roll the old chariot along 

An’ we’ll all hang on behind!

Oh, a plate of Irish stew wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a plate of Irish stew wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a plate of Irish stew wouldn’t do us any harm

And we’ll all hang on behind.

So we’ll roll the old chariot along

An’ we’ll roll the golden chariot along. 

So we’ll roll the old chariot along 

An’ we’ll all hang on behind!

Oh, a nice fat cook wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a nice fat cook wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a nice fat cook wouldn’t do us any harm

And we’ll all hang on behind.

So we’ll roll the old chariot along

An’ we’ll roll the golden chariot along. 

So we’ll roll the old chariot along 

An’ we’ll all hang on behind!

Oh, a roll in the clover wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a roll in the clover wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a roll in the clover wouldn’t do us any harm

And we’ll all hang on behind.

So we’ll roll the old chariot along

An’ we’ll roll the golden chariot along. 

So we’ll roll the old chariot along 

An’ we’ll all hang on behind!

Oh, a long spell in gaol wouldn’t do us any harm 

Oh, a long spell in gaol wouldn’t do us any harm 

Oh, a long spell in gaol wouldn’t do us any harm 

And we’ll all hang on behind.

So we’ll roll the old chariot along

An’ we’ll roll the golden chariot along. 

So we’ll roll the old chariot along 

An’ we’ll all hang on behind!

Oh, a nice watch below wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a nice watch below wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a nice watch below wouldn’t do us any harm

And we’ll all hang on behind.

So we’ll roll the old chariot along

An’ we’ll roll the golden chariot along. 

So we’ll roll the old chariot along 

An’ we’ll all hang on behind!

Oh, a night with the gals wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a night with the gals wouldn’t do us any harm

Oh, a night with the gals wouldn’t do us any harm

And we’ll all hang on behind.

So we’ll roll the old chariot along

An’ we’ll roll the golden chariot along. 

So we’ll roll the old chariot along 

An’ we’ll all hang on behind!

Want to know more about famous drinking shanties? Be sure to read The Rum Ration’s analysis of Whisky Johnny.

4 thoughts on “Songs Of The Sea: A Drop Of Nelson’s Blood

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  4. Pingback: Songs Of The Sea: Can Of Grog – The Rum Ration

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