John Kanaka

Interesting Facts about the John Kanaka

“John Kanaka” is a halyard shanty closely related to “Mobile Bay”. Stan Hugill informs us in his book, that this shanty is the first time it has been in print. This is one of the songs from a collection of wonderful shantymen, Harding of Barbados. “The last Shantyman,” says, that Harding sang it with many falsetto yelps and hitches almost impossible to imitate. Polynesian in origin chorus and the word “Tulai-ē” were Samoan. Also very unique for this halyard shanty are three solos and three refrains.
Because I always prefer the origin audio record (which rarely exists), to using music notation, I will try to reconstruct this fantastic halyard shanty base from an album by Stan Hugill with Stormalong John’s band “Chants des Marins Anglais” (1992).

The source of this sea shanty

The music: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed: p 288).
The lyrics: “Shanties from the Seven Seas” by Stan Hugill (1st ed: p 288, 289).

The Record of the John Kanaka

You also can find this record on my YouTube channel here or directly listen below. Additionally, if you want to share your opinion about the record or share your opinion you can do it in my Facebook forum here, or leave a comment at the bottom of this blog article.

John Kanaka - Halyard Shanty

The musical notation

John Kanaka - music notation

The full lyrics

John Kanaka

I heard, I heard the Old Man say,
– JOHN Kanaka-naka, TULAI-ē!
Today, today is a holiday,
– JOHN Kanaka-naka, TULAI-ē!
Tulai-ē! oooh! Tulai-ē!
– JOHN Kanaka-naka, TULAI-ē!

* 2 *

We’ll work termorrer, but no work terday,
We’ll work termorrer, but no work terday,
Tulai-ē! oooh! Tulai-ē!

* 3 *

We’re bound away for ‘Frisco Bay,
We’re bound away at the break o’ day,
Tulai-ē! oooh! Tulai-ē!

* 4 *

We’re bound away around Cape Horn,
We wisht ter Christ we’d niver bin born,
Tulai-ē! oooh! Tulai-ē!

* 5 *

Oh, haul, O haul, oh haul away,
Oh, haul away an’ make yer pay,
Tulai-ē! oooh! Tulai-ē!

Related to this sea shanty

Hilo Johnny Brown

Blow The Man Down (E)

Blow The Man Down (F)

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