What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor?

Guestblogger Paul Spinrad is a freelance writer/editor with Catholic interests, and is Projects Editor for MAKE magazine. He is the author of The VJ Book and The Re/Search Guide to Bodily Fluids, and was an early contributor to bOING bOING when it was an online zine. He lives in San Francisco.


If it's true that British Naval history is written in rum, sodomy, and the lash, one can't help but imagine what colorful fates have befallen drunken sailors early in the morning. Like many folk songs, "What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor," is a great template for verbal improvisation. For each verse, you just need four counts of lyrics, which you repeat between choruses. This provides ample time to set down your mug and gesture to your buddies, "Hey– I've got a good one!" so they will give you the floor next time around.

I wish we could all be together now, singing sea chanties in some friendly tavern. That's not possible, but I think we can still have some fun coming up with and sharing new verses for What Shall We Do With A Drunken Sailor. I'll start, and if you have any, please post them in the comments:

• Ream his bunghole with a rusty scupper (repeat)
• Wring his sack in the starboard windlass (repeat)

• Soak his cheeks in the Devil's bath, now (repeat)

• Coat his mizzen-mast with tar and feathers (repeat)

(Obligatory Distancing Comment: Yes, this is totally immature.)