"Roll the cotton down, bullies,
Roll the cotton down!"
I thought I heard the Old Man say,
"Roll the cotton down!"

There's a song I hear resounding,
As a song will sometimes do;
It takes me away to my younger days
And the men and the ships I knew
To the men I knew in a time long gone
And a ship of some renown,
When I sailed away to Mobile Bay
Where they roll the cotton down! (CHO)

I mind the feel of the noonday sun
And the warm wet dockside smells
Rum and spice, and the stevedores,
And the Cajun demoiselles,
The shuffle and beat of the naked feet
On the levees all around
How I longed to stay in Mobile Bay
Where they roll the cotton down. (CHO)

It takes me away from the dingy streets
Of this cold grey Northern town;
I can hear the yarns my shipmates spun
And the rum old songs we sung,
The way of a ship at a twelve-knot clip
When we sailed the wide world round,
And I mind that day in Mobile Bay
When they rolled the cotton down. (CHO

It's the width of a world from here to there,
It's the half of my life since then,
And it's ill to tread, so I've heard said,
A trail where you've lost a friend;
So I may sail east or I may sail west,
Far from this northern town,
But I'll not stray to Mobile Bay
Where they roll the cotton down. (CHO2X)

(Based on a poem by Cicely Fox Smith
from Punch Magazine,
Volume 186, February 28, 1934, p. 248.
Adapted for singing by Charles Ipcar, 2008
Tune for verse after You Gave Me a Song
by Alice Gerrard, 1975.
Tune for chorus is after chorus of Let It Be
by the Beatles, )

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picture of Dick Dufresne

Dick Dufresne
Kennebunkport, Maine