The Longest Song Wiki

This traditional tune has been performed by numerous bands and is the fifth track on Between Wind and Water.

The song's origins are dated to the middle of the 19th century, and it is presumed to have been written not long after Taylor's death in 1850.

Though both Hugill and MacColl popularized it in the 1960s, the song saw a resurgence in popularity following its inclusion on the Great Big Sea album "Play" in 1997.

It is, ironically, sung to the tune of Santiana. A tune which glorifies Taylor's opponent during the Mexican-American war.

Factoid

General Zachary Taylor, 12th president of the United States of America and Major-General of the United States Army, was a hero in the Mexican-American war. This song commemorates his victory over Antonio López de Santa Anna at the Battle of Buena Vista. Though the song implies he died nobly in battle, his death resulted from a disease of the digestive system some years after the battle of Buena Vista.

The "Stormy" referenced in the song is Alfred Bulltop Stormalong, a little-known mythical american folk-hero, with numerous legendary feats under his belt. For more details about him, review "A Treasury of American Folklore" published 1944.

Shellback is a term which originates in a ritual hazing practice of the age of sail, performed upon the crossing of the equator. During the ritual, sailors who had already travelled across the equator performed initiation rites for those who had not. Those who had been initiated were referred to as "shellbacks" having ascended from a "pollywog" state.

Lyrics

These lyrics are based on the version performed by the Longest Johns on Between Wind and Water. The original lyrics can be found here.

General Taylor gained the day
(Walk him along, John, carry him along)
Well General Taylor gained the day
(Carry him to his burying ground)

{Chorus}
To me, way, hey, Stormy
Walk him along, John, carry him along
To me, way, hey, Stormy
Carry him to his burying ground

Well I wish I was old Stormy's son
(Walk him along, John, carry him along)
I'd build a ship ten thousand tonne
(Carry him to his burying ground)

{Chorus}

We'll load her up with ale and rum
(Walk him along, John, carry him along)
That every shellback should have some
(Carry him to his burying ground)

{Chorus}

We'll dig his grave with a silver spade
(Walk him along, John, carry him along)
His shroud of finest silk is made
(Carry him to his burying ground)

{Chorus}

We'll lower him down on a golden chain
(Walk him along, John, carry him along)
On every link we'll carve his name
(Carry him to his burying ground)

{Chorus}

Well General Taylor's dead and gone
(Walk him along, John, carry him along)
Well General Taylor's dead and gone
(Carry him to his burying ground)

{Chorus}