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Musical

Sea Shanty

This is a folk song that Gabi, who grew up in Rhode Island learned from the “Provincetown Portuguese” side of her family.
“Cape Cod girls they got no hair.
Look away! Look away!
They make their hair with codfish fins,
We are bound for Australia.

Hey-ho, my Billy-billy boys,
We are bound for Australia,
Hey-ho my Billy-billy boys,
We are bound for Australia.

Cape Cod girls they got no combs.
Look away! Look away!
They make their combs with codfish bones,
We are bound for Australia.
(And so on it goes, replacing more and more obscene parts of Cape Cod girls with bits of codfish)”

Research reveals that sea shanties were developed as a way of occupying sailors as they toiled long hours on the seas. One aspect of them that this particular song reflects aptly is the fact that, because up until the early 20th century the American Navy did not allow female sailors, it was easy for the men to sing bawdy songs about females, reflecting a gender divide that existed for a long time in much of military culture (and can still be found in some long-standing traditions like the bawdy song).
The song could also be reflective of a rite of passage, with the sailors leaving home behind for the wilds (and wilder women) of Australia.

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