We'll Roll the Old Chariot Along

DESCRIPTION: Chorus: "And we'll roll the (old/golden/omit) chariot along (x3), and we'll all hang on behind." Sometimes sung as a shanty, with the sailors describing what they would want on shore; alternately, "If the devil's in the way, we will roll it over him..."
AUTHOR: unknown
EARLIEST DATE: 1901 (Dett)
KEYWORDS: shanty religious Devil
REFERENCES (9 citations):
Dett, pp. 192-193, "Roll de Ole Chariot Along" (1 text, 1 tune; pp. 106-107 in the 1901 edition)
BrownIII 650, "We'll Roll the Old Chariot Along" (1 text)
Lomax-Singing, pp. 48-49, "Holy Ghost" (1 short text, 1 tune)
Doerflinger, pp. 49-50, "We'll Roll the Golden Chariot Along" (1 text, 1 tune)
Gardner/Chickering 117, "Roll the Old Chariot Along" (1 text)
Sandburg, pp. 196-197, "Roll the Chariot" (1 text, 1 tune)
Hugill, pp. 151, "Roll the Old Chariot" (1 text, 1 tune) [AbEd, pp. 122-123]
Thomas-Makin', pp. 215-216, (no title) (1 text)

Roud #3632
Paul Robeson, "Roll the Chariot Along" (HMV [UK] B-4421, 1933)
Roll the Union On (various authors cited) (Greenway-AFP, p. 223; DT, ROLUNION)
NOTES [232 words]: This song has seen very diverse use; sailors used it as a "stamp and go" shanty; Sandburg had it from Salvation Army singers, and in another form it was quoted by Laura Ingalls Wilder in chapter 11 of The Long Winter. (Which, if her memory is right, gives us an EARLIEST DATE of c. 1880. But it must be remembered that the "Little House" books contain a great deal of historical fiction.) I wonder what she would have done if someone told her that sailors often sang, "Oh, a night with a woman wouldn't do me any harm...." - RBW
Not to mention the next verse, "Oh, a trip to the doctor wouldn't do me any harm...." - PJS
Some versions refer to "Nelson's Blood"; since Nelson's body was preserved in a vat of liquor after Trafalgar, alcoholic beverages came to be called "Nelson's Blood."
The Union adaption quoted by Greenway was a deliberate adaption (said to have been made up "in 1937 by a Negro woman in Little Rock"), but this song has so little plot that the versions cannot properly be separated. - RBW
Sorry, but this isn't the same tune as any version of , "Roll the Union On " I've ever heard, although they may be related. "Roll the Union On, " is, I think, derived from another, separate hymn. - PJS
It doesn't fit the tune I know for "Roll the Old Chariot" either, but it's the tune cited by Greenway. - RBW
I think Greenway may be wrong; see the notes to "Roll the Union On". - PJS
Last updated in version 4.0
File: Doe049

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