The Longest Song Wiki

A traditional work song of United States river boat shippers that made its way through the folk community. It was a river steamboat song. The earliest textual record of this song occurs in 1924, but it likely predated that.

Sugar in the Hold is the thirteenth track on Between Wind and Water

Factoids

"Screwing Cotton" refers to the process of using large jack-screws to compress and force cotton bales into the hold, a process common in Mobile Bay, Alabama.

The J.M. White was a steamboat famed for its technological advancements that traveled the New Orleans to Greenville trade route, and was supposed to have been the fastest ship to have steamed that line. Famously, it was challenged to a race by the Natchez. During the race, the J.M. White suffered a severe mechanical failure and had to slow for repairs- and it appeared the race would be over as a result. However, once the repairs were completed, the White caught and passed the Natchez, setting a new speed record in the process.

The J.M. White was destroyed in a fire in December of 1888.

Lyrics

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

Well, I wish I was in Mobile Bay,
Screwing cotton all the day.
But I'm stowing sugar in the hold below,
Below, below, below.
(HUH.)

{Chorus}
Hey, ho, below, below
Stowing sugar in the hold below
Hey, ho, below, below
Stowing sugar in the hold below

Well the J.M. White, she's a brand new boat,
Stern to stem she's mighty fine.
'Can beat any boat on the New Orleans line,
Stowing sugar in the hold below.
(HUH.)

{Chorus}

Well the engineer shouts through his trumpet:
“Tell the mate we got bad news:
Can't get no steam for the fire in the flue,”
Stowing sugar in the hold below.
(HUH.)

{Chorus}

Well the captain's on the quarter deck,
Scratchin' 'way at his old neck.
He shouts out: “Heave the larboard lead!”
Stowing sugar in the hold below.
(HUH.)

{Chorus til Finish}