From SHANTIES FROM THE SEVEN SEAS, Stan Hugill (1961; Mystic Seaport Museum,


pp. 211-212: A very fine halyard shanty closely related to _Mobile Bay_ is

_John Kanaka_. This is the first time it has been in print. I learnt it from

that wonderful shantyman, Harding of Barbadoes. He sang it with many falsetto

yelps and hitches almost impossible to imitate. The chorus is of Polynesian

origin and I should say the words "tulai e" were Samoan. It has the not so

common form of three solos and three refrains.

Dana in his _Two Years Before the Mast_ refers to the signing of work-

songs by the Kanaka (Hawaiian) crews of ships loading hides on the Californian

coast. In particular he mentions the singing-out of a certain Hawaiian called

Mahana (page 120). It seems feasible that these Kanaka songs would be adapted

for use by the white seamen, who would give them white men's solos nad keep

the Polynesian refrains. If this did occur, then, unfortunately, they have

all been lost--unless our _John Kanaka_ is the one survivor.


I heard, I heard the Old Man say,

John Kana kanaka tu lai e!

Today, today is a holiday,

John Kana kanaka tu lai e!

Tu lai e, ooh! Tu lai e

John Kana kanaka tu lai e!

We'll work termorrer, but no work terday,

_Chorus_ _John_ Kanaka-naka, _tu_lai-e!

We'll work termorrer, but no work terday,

_Chorus_ _John_ Kanaka-naka, _tu_lai-e!

Tulai e! ooh! tulai-e!

_Chorus_ _John_ Kanaka-naka, _tu_lai-e!

We're bound away for 'Frisco Bay,

We're bound away at the break o' day,

Tulai e, _etc._

We're bound away around Cape Horn,

We wisht ter Christ we'd niver bin born.

Oh, haul, oh haul, oh haul away,

Oh, haul away an' make yer pay.