The Longest Song Wiki

A staple of the folk music community, sometimes called "Roll the Old Chariot Along" due to its rousing chorus. This song has such a wide variation in lyrics and arrangement that it is nearly impossible to consider a version that might be "Original."

The reported earliest text publication of the song was in books of Spirituals published in the late 19th century, and it crops up in the published works of Doerflinger and Stan Hugill.

Factoids

The greatly varied versions of this are often heavy with nautical slang and references to other shanties.

Incidentally, Nelson's Blood is a nautical slang term for Rum, owing to a somewhat gruesome legend about the preservation of Admiral Nelson's body. In order to transport the corpse home after the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, he was said to have been preserved in a cask of rum to ward off decay. It is reported that the sailors aboard the ship drilled holes into the cask and drank the spirits.

There is some truth to the legend, in that Nelson's body was transported in liquor, though it is reputed to have been a mix of brandy, camphor, and myrrh. It is doubtful it was consumed.

Traditionally, someone with a booming bass voice attempts to hold the note of the "roll" in the chorus through to the end of the line.

Lyrics

These lyrics are based on the version performed by the Longest Johns in their Livestream from Christmas 2018, too many versions of the song exist to choose one that may be referred to as "original."

Well a drop of Nelson's blood wouldn't do us any harm
and A drop of Nelson's blood wouldn't do us any harm
and A drop of Nelson's blood wouldn't do us any harm
And we'll all hang on behind

{Chorus}
And we'll roll the old chariot along
we'll roll the golden chariot along
we'll roll the old chariot along
And we'll all hang on behind!

Oh, a nice drop of gin wouldn't do us any harm,
and a nice drop of gin wouldn't do us any harm,
and a nice drop of gin wouldn't do us any harm,
and we'll all hang on behind

{Chorus}

Oh a night with the girls wouldn't do us any harm,
and a night with the girls wouldn't do us any harm,
and a night with the girls wouldn't do us any harm,
and we'll all hang on behind

{Chorus}

Oh a roll in the clover wouldn't do us any harm,
and a roll in the clover wouldn't do us any harm,
and a roll in the clover wouldn't do us any harm,
and we'll all hang on behind

{Chorus}

And a strum on the twanger wouldn't do us any harm,
And a strum on the twanger wouldn't do us any harm,
And a strum on the twanger wouldn't do us any harm,
And we'll all hang on behind

{Chorus}

and a kappa in the chat wouldn't do us any harm,
and a kappa in the chat wouldn't do us any harm,
and a kappa in the chat wouldn't do us any harm,
and we'll all hang on behind

{Chorus}

And we've never sailed a ship, wouldn't do us any harm
And we've never sailed a ship, wouldn't do us any harm
And we've never sailed a ship, wouldn't do us any harm
And we'll all hang behind

{Chorus}