Original song by
William Shakespeare Hays

Printable version

MP3 Sample

Roll Out! Heave Dat Cotton

Minstrel song by William Shakespeare Hays (1837-1907), 1877
Slightly adapted by Charlie Ipcar ©5/21/16

Tune: after traditional Waterbound

Back to the List of Songs

Back to the
Charlie Ipcar Home Page

Now, I hear dat big bell ringin',
See de Captain wave his hand;
Boat done blowed her whistle,
I know she's g'wine to land;
Now I hear de Mate a-callin'
"Git out de long plank,
Run out wid de head-line,
Tie her to de bank."

Chorus:
It's roll out, boys! Heave dat cotton,
Roll out, boys! Heave dat cotton,
Roll out, boys! Heave dat cotton,
Aint got long to stay.

It's earl-ie in de mornin'
'Fore we see de sun,
"Roll aboard dat cotton, boys,
Git back on de run!"
De Captain's in a hurry;
Know jus' what he means;
Wants to beat de Sherlock,
Down to New Orleans. (CHO)

I hear dat Mate a-shoutin',
Shoutin' from de shore,
"Roll aboard dat cotton, boys,
Aint but fifty more!"
Now we aint got time to tarry
At dis cotton pile;
G'wine to git another,
Below here forty miles." (CHO)

We done took on cotton,
Shoved out from de shore,
Rollin' down de riber,
G'wine to land for more;
When you hear dat whistle,
An' de big bell ring,
G'wine to land for cotton,
Roll out, boys, an' sing. (CHO)

Roustabouts rolling bales of cotton ashore at Memphis, Tennessee, circa 1905, from Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress.

Roustabouts rolling bales of cotton ashore at Memphis, Tennessee,
circa 1905, from Detroit Publishing Co., via Library of Congress.

Back to the top


"Roll Out! Heave That Cotton" (1877)
[Roll Out! Heave Dat Cotton]
Song
by William Shakespeare Hays, 1837-1907

1.
I hear dat bell a ringin',
I see de Captain stand,
Boat done blowed her whistle,
I know she's g'wine to land;
I hear de mate a callin'
"Go git out de plank,
Rush out wid de head line,
And tie her to de bank."

Chorus:
Roll out! Heave dat cotton,
Roll out! heave dat cotton,
Roll out! heave dat cotton,
Aint got long to stay.

2.
Its early in de mornin'
Before we see de sun,
"Roll aboard dat cotton,
An' git back in a run,"
De Captain's in a hurry,
I know what he means,
Wants to beat de Sherlock,
Down to New Orleans.

(CHORUS)

3.
I hear dat mate a-shoutin',
An' see him on de shore,
Hurry, boys! Be lively,
Aint but fifty more;
We aint got time to tarry
Here at dis cotton pile,
We gwine to git another,
Below here forty mile.

(CHORUS)

4.
We done took on de cotton,
Shove out from de shore,
Sailing down de river,
We gwine to land for more,
When you hear de whistle,
An' de big bell ring,
We gwine to land for cotton,
Roll out, boys, an' sing.

(CHORUS)

Back to the top