Advertisement

Woodpile

A traditional capstan shanty from the United States, the earliest written record of which dates back to 1888, it has been sung by numerous folk groups. Most recently it was re-popularized by cider punk favourites the Dreadnoughts.

Numerous variations on the title and chorus exist, such as "Haul the Woodpile Down", or "Hold the Woodpile Down", even "Row the Woodpile Down." There has been some significant speculation in recent years about the meaning of the phrase. Posited credible but unproven theories include:

  • Haul the Woodpile down refers to carrying wood to a moonshine still to keep the fire going
  • The song originated amongst riverboats transporting lumber between Georgia and Florida (most plausible, 19th century Savannah River had a very large amount of export lumber shipped along it.)
  • Woodpile is either the ship's name, or the sailors are calling the ship a woodpile
  • The song originates from railroad work songs, and the chorus is a holdover from unloading lumber cars
  • It is a reference to using cut timber to roll a ship from the beach to the water for launch
  • It refers to calling up on deck for more wood to keep the steam engine fired

Some have suggested the song is linked to historically racist tropes in the american south, though very little exists to prove these links. Though numerous variations of the song do contain racially charged lyrics, the use of them tend to say more about the singers than the song itself.

Lyrics

These lyrics are based on the version performed by the Longest Johns on their album, Between Wind and Water.

Ah-way down South where the cocks do crow! (Hey!)
(Way down in Florida)
Them girls all dance to the old banjo
(And we'll roll the woodpile down)

{Chorus}
Rollin'!(Rollin!) Rollin'! (Rollin!)
Rollin' the whole world round!
That fine gal'a mine's on the Georgia line!
And we'll roll the woodpile down!

Oh, what can you do in Tampa Bay? (Hey!)
(Way down in Florida)
But give them pretty girls all your pay
(And we'll roll the woodpile down)

{Chorus}

We'll roll'em high and we'll roll'em low! (Hey!)
(Way down in Florida)
We'll roll'er up and away we'll go!
(And we'll roll the woodpile down)

{Chorus}

Oh roust and bust her is the cry! (Hey!)
(Way down in Florida)
A sailor's wage is never high
(And we'll roll the woodpile down)

{Chorus}v
Oh, one more pull and that will do! (Hey!)
(Way down in Florida)
For we're the boys to kick her through!
(And we'll roll the woodpile down)

{Chorus til Finish}

Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.