Let Go the Peak Halyards
DESCRIPTION: "Let go the peak halyards, Let go the peak halyards, My knuckles are caught in the falls. LET GO!" (last line shouted)
EARLIEST DATE: 1948 (Shay)
REFERENCES (1 citation):
Shay-SeaSongs, p. 125, (no title) (1 fragment)
cf. "Let Go the Reef Tackle" (form)
NOTES: Shay apparently thinks this a fragment of something. To me, it looks more like a curse -- and quite possibly cleaned up.
As a wild speculation, Don Nichols repeated a story Stan Hugill is is said to have told a story about a sailor who stuttered but was able to sing clearly. DoN recalled the story as follows:
There was a sailor... up the mast who was in obvious distress. He kept trying to tell what was wrong, and the stuttering got in the way. From the deck, the bosun cries "For God's
sake man -- *sing* it!". So, from the mast comes:
Slack off your reefy tackles
reefy tackles, reefy tackles.
Slack off your reefy tackles,
Me Bollocks are Yammed!
No words in common with this piece, of course, but the *feeling* sure sounds familiar. That song occurs in the Index as "Let Go the Reef Tackle," but with a much-cleaned-up feel. - RBW
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The Ballad Index Copyright 2017 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.