24th September 2004 at 01:00
The sea shanty "Cape Cod Girls" reflects the wild surreal humour of fishermen who faced the possibility of death on every voyage. The words come in many traditional versions, but in all of them pieces of the codfish from which the seafarers made their dangerous living are substitutes for combs, sleds and pills. With its call-and-response structure, it is plainly a work song, used for inspiring effort and for helping everyone on board keep time while undergoing heavy labour. It can easily be sung without instruments, though children can also invent simple drum patterns to back up the rhythm and an unvarying drone accompaniment on keyboard or xylophone. One child can be leader while the others echo the words and mimes the actions on "Heave Away, Haul Away." Children can also imitate the structure to compose their own classroom work song - ask them to use repetitive patterns and to add in a sense of local pride, as in Cape Cod Girls. A recording can be found at: www.corinnedemas.comsoundsccgirls.htm

For one version of the words go to: www.jsward.comshantycodfishjesse.html

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