The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #148935 Message #3463543
Posted By: Charley Noble
09-Jan-13 - 08:57 AM
Thread Name: What does 'Roll and GO' mean?
Subject: RE: What does 'Roll and GO' mean?
Odd that Colcord doesn't discuss her choice of title for the first publication of her shantybook, later titled Songs of American Seamen.
The origins of "Roll & Go" may also go back to the stevedores who rolled bales of cotton on and off riverboats in their journey from the plantations to the gulf ports. There is ample photographic evidence of three-men teams rolling the burlap-wrapped bales of cotton and such working songs as "Roll the Cotton Down." The stevedore shanty "Roll the Woodpile Down" has "roll & go" in its chorus and "Roll & Go" is its alternative title.
So what we might have is initially a "shout" of "Roll & Go!" being transformed into a full labor song by stevedores, later being adapted by deep-water sailors for their own uses, and then the term itself picking up more meaning as a popular slang term, i.e., it's time to "roll and go."
"Sally Brown" also has "roll & go" in its chorus and given its West Indies origin "roll & go" might there refer to loading barrels of rum, or even launching boats via rolling them down to the water on logs.
There's lots of room for further speculation.